An incredibly well made die cast machine using a thermoblock system, making a excellent tasting coffee and easy to use -
Positive Product Points
Very well built. Its all dies cast metal - finely curved - see the picture ? Well, its all metal and well put together.Uses a thermoblock to heat the water as it passes through to the coffee. Very consistent tasty coffee made. Will produce steam & start foaming withing some 30 seconds.
Negative Product Points
Like some reviewer found, I did not find the temp to be unstable nor did I ever find the coffe sour or bitter, using freshly roasted beens. I also use a Rancilio grinder and a heavy tamper & not the plastic one that comes with the machine. Yes, a better tamper would be nice.... It does not procude a dry puck of coffee after the coffee is made & requires a bit more work to clean out the filter. It will not produce as good a coffee as a Rancilio Silvia, or an ECM Giotto or my 77 pound Elektra commercial machine at work , but I can easily live with the difference in taste.
The machine replaced a Gaggia Tebe I was using. My wife wanted to kill me since she was happy with the Gaggia. But on the very first cup of coffee made, she made a complete 180 degree turn and declared the coffee taste from the Breville to be superior. I must agree. I first bought the machine out of curiosity because it was relatively inexpensive and uses a thermo block to heat the water. A thermo block is a heating block that the water passes through. This is basically the same principle as a commercial machine with a very large water boiler; the coffee water is heated by a tube passing through the heated water in the boiler. So, while a regular espresso machine like a Gaggia uses a small boiler to heat the water that is expelled into the coffee when the pump is activated, the Breville does away with this system and simply pushes water through a heated block or thermo block. It has a large 2.2 litre water tank that can be filled from the front or the top. Also it can accommodate a mug. The drip tray is also quite large. The difference in performance/taste is quite noticeable in favour of the Breville system using the thermo block compared to a machine in a similar price range. Some may not agree; however it’s worth a try for yourself. Warm up is a matter of about a minute or so. A light flashes when you turn on the machine & very shortly after the light stops flashing and the machine is ready. It also pre-infuses the coffee grains...a very nice touch, for a machine in this price range. To steam milk, you turn the dial to the steam position; in about 30 seconds only you are ready to steam the milk. It does an excellent job at steaming the milk very fast. When you revert to the regular position, it sort of flushes out the excess heat, just like a steam iron would do - very interesting..
I recently stopped by the Montreal coffee and espresso machine store I often buy coffee. They now sell the Breville 800 ESXL. An employee explains to me that they received many inquiries about the Breville and thus decided to sell it. I also was told that the thermo block used in the Breville is the same used in the Quick Mill machine.
I recently had to clean the top screen. The machine was spitting water; a sign that the screen was partly blocked with coffee grind. Taking it out is very simple and I washed it easily with an ordinary brush. On the Gaggia or a commercial machine, it was a far more involved procedure that took much more time.
I bought the unit at ‘’Le Centre du Rasoir’’ in Montreal. It’s a store that sells all kinds of small kitchen appliances & the seller was not a coffee drinker. Any event he was very nice. The machine is also sold at some department stores & over the internet.
Just today, November 9 2006, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada,I open the Gazette and find a flyer of Deco Decouverte; they sell the RED Breville for $269 Can only. (www.decodecouverte.com) they seem to be related to the Hbc.com chain of stores in Canada. Must be a store special at Deco Decouverte because they want $449 on line - go figure...
Three Month Followup
3 months after the review, I am still very pleased with the machine. I did notice that it is more and more popular; so much so, its price history has gone back up to the $400 level, from being discounted in the fall of 2006. I