It looks great on the outside, and it might satisfy people who drink mostly milk drinks, but it doesn't have what it takes to make real espresso.
Positive Product Points
Beefy die cast case, looks great on the counter, full-length swivel steam wand, large drip tray, fairly heavy portafilter.
Negative Product Points
Small, thermoblock boiler. Pressurized portafilter. Wimpy steaming ability. Sour espresso. Wet puck. Overpriced for what you get. Need I say more?
I decided to post this review even though we owned our Breville less than a week as a warning to other potential buyers. Don't be fooled by the sexy looks of this machine. It's what's inside that counts, and this machine doesn't have what it takes to make great (or even good) espresso.
My wife and I recently remodeled our kitchen, so we decided to upgrade from our five-year-old Gaggia Espresso to a nice stainless steel machine. We looked at some superautomatics, but decided they were too flimsy and plasticky for the money. Then we looked at the Breville, and were immediately impressed by its heavy weight, solid construction and the beautiful curves of its die cast stainless steel case. I also liked some of the nice, professional style touches like the swivel steam wand and large drip tray. We decided that the Breville was the machine for us, and off I went to Amazon to buy one.
Unfortunately, I didn't bother to do enough research on espresso machines in general before buying, so I didn't find out some of the hidden flaws in the machine until after I had ordered it. Once I did some reading here on Coffeegeek, I realized that I might have made a mistake.
The biggest problems with the Breville are the pressurized portafilter, which prevents the formation of natural crema in favor of a bitter faux-crema-like substance, and the small thermoblock style boiler that heats up fast but doesn't allow sufficient temperature stability to brew a great shot of espresso. I tried dialing in our Gaggia MDF to several different settings, but was unable to get a good 25 second shot. Instead, the coffee squirts out of the portafilter in 10 seconds or less. The flavor of the resulting shot was predictably sour, probably because the thermoblock and grouphead weren't hot enough to allow the espresso to brew at the right temperature. Steaming milk was less than satisfying too, again probably due to the small thermoblock boiler.
After trying for a day to get good results on the machine, I bowed to the inevitable and sent it back for a full refund. Then I ordered a Gaggia Classic and Rocky grinder from Whole Latte Love and never looked back. Now I can actually enjoy a rich, naturally crema-laden shot whenever I want.
Excellent. Fast delivery, and Amazon gave me a full refund when I returned the machine with no questions asked.