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Breville Ikon - Mark Barber's Review
Posted: April 14, 2008, 5:04am
review rating: 9.0
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Breville Ikon Espresso BES400XL
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More About This Product
Arrow The Breville Ikon has 7 Reviews
Arrow The Breville Ikon has been rated 7.09 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since June 29, 2007.
Arrow Breville Ikon reviews have been viewed 79,007 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Mark Barber 9.00
Ray Taylor 7.50
Rob Gillette 7.33
Michael Rankin 7.00
Mario Béland 6.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 6.4
Manufacturer: Breville (Chinese origin) Quality: 5
Average Price: $300.00 Usability: 7
Price Paid: $299.95 Cost vs. Value 5
Where Bought: Williams-Sonoma Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 year Overall 5
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: I can't recommend this machine to anyone who is seriously interested in pulling good espresso shots.
Positive Product Points

Aesthetic appeal; this machine has it.
Drip Tray

Negative Product Points

Pressurized portafilter baskets
Small, irregular portafilter size (51mm)
Tamper/Scoop combo
Breville Customer Service
Inconsistent pump
Sloppy wet pucks (with the pressurized filter)

Detailed Commentary

I love the look of this machine, but have been endlessly frustrated with its performance.

In short, here's the problem. Either the espresso pours but blonds very quickly or it doesn't pour at all. I don't come to this conclusion lightly. Some might try to explain that I ground too fine or tamped too hard, or didn't grind fine enough or didn't tamp enough, but this isn't so. I've been through the range of variables and without fail, one of these two possibilities obtains. I've had other coffeegeek friends try to pull shots with similar results.

I think that most of the problem here comes down to the pump. It is extremely variable and very tempermental. After filling the portafilter and temping, you place the portafilter into the group head. Then, press the button and cross your fingers. Inevitably, the sound the pump makes will fluctuate a great deal, sometimes calming to a soft hum at which point, no espresso pours. At this point, the only option is to stop the machine and remove the portafilter to dump the grinds at which point you end up with the awful "sneeze" that shoots nasty wet grounds all over the pretty machine. You could avoid this step by waiting a few minutes, but who has time to do that when you're trying to make a drink. Especially if you've already steamed milk for a latte or cappuccino.

I hope, at this point, you're getting the sense of how frustrating this endeavor can be. That accounts for a taste of the lows of the machine, which really are quite low.

On a better note, the steam wand on this machine is decent. With the right technique, it is capable of producing a proper microfoam. It can take a bit long to steam the milk, so I've gravitated towards the Steam first, pull shots later.

Don't be sucked in by the pretty look. For $299, I'd recommend trying to find an extra hundred dollars and find a used Miss Silvia, for $199, I'd recommend looking at one of the cheaper Gaggia machines, you'll be much happier.

Buying Experience

Williams-Sonoma is a great company. If you buy from them and have problems with your purchase, they will fix it, guaranteed.

Breville has a terrible customer service department. I emailed them asking about the non-pressurized basket, only to be told that the Ikon couldn't be used with any other basket. Now, I don't mind them saying "we don't recommend it", but that it couldn't be done? Either they don't know what they are talking about or they are lying. Neither is good. Breville makes some pretty stuff, but this experience makes me wary of the quality.

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review rating: 9.0
Posted: April 14, 2008, 5:04am
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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