Breville Barista Express Review 2023: Still Going Strong!

Dialed Java Nov 14, 2023
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Breville Barista Express and coffee mugs

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My fellow at-home baristas! Or at least many of us like to think we are. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings here but putting a pod into your Keurig doesn’t make you any closer to a barista, it makes you convenient. BUT you know what will? Making café quality espresso shots in the comfort of your home with the Breville Barista Express. Today, we're bringing the café experience right into the heart of your home with the world’s most popular at-home espresso machine.

Straight to the point here, let's talk Starbucks. Let’s face it those iconic drinks can have a magnetic pull. But what if we told you that you could recreate that Starbucks magic in your kitchen? Enter the Breville Barista Express, your passport to espresso nirvana. Starbucks drinks are, at their core, espresso-based, and the Barista Express empowers you to dial in the perfect shot. Imagine crafting your own Starbucks-quality beverages, tailored to your taste buds, and all while keeping that hard-earned cash in your pocket.

Breville Barista Express pros and cons list

Who is it for?

This is a fantastic entry point for aspiring or developing home baristas. If you're someone who enjoys experimenting with different coffee blends, perfecting your espresso shots, and appreciates the artistry of coffee-making, the Barista Express is your go-to. It's tailored for individuals who want to elevate their at-home coffee experience. Truth be told, an espresso machine such as this will require more involvement and manipulation on your part to obtain your cup of coffee as opposed to say your standard single-serve makers. But that is the beauty of it! I have taken pride, and have found a therapeutic release to my morning ritual of making coffee with a more hands on approach with the Breville Barista Express.

Please do not feel overwhelmed or intimidated by this. Yes, you will have more involvement and manipulation to crafting your cup of coffee. But this intuitive machine provides all the control you need over the process and will even help you along the way.

At the publication of this review the Barista Express is priced at $699 on Amazon, you can find it here:

Breville Barista Express Features

The overall build and materials of the Barista Express scream durability and craftsmanship, making it a reliable and long lasting companion that will endure the test of time. The Barista Express has that traditional barista-like feel to it with the large interface buttons and analog gauge in the front, it is aesthetically pleasing. While not compact, it's not a behemoth either. The machine stands at 16 inches in height, making it a snug fit beneath overhead cabinets, though accessing the bean hopper might require some maneuvering. Mine is positioned under a countertop and I have to pull it out to refill both the bean hopper and the water reservoir. But it's not that big of a deal to me.

Now let's break down the Breville Barista Express piece by piece.

Conical Burr Grinder

Breville Barista Express conical burr grinder

Breville Barista Express side view

First off, it has a high-quality built-in conical burr grinder with stainless steel burrs. This little powerhouse transforms your coffee beans into the perfect grounds, and does so relatively quietly. Up top you'll find the 8.1 ounces bean hopper that feeds your whole beans directly into this grinder. The grinder is going to act as your dose control. You'll have to dial it in alongside everything else but it works off of a timer. Set the timer of the grinder to get the exact among of coffee grouns you want and it will then automatically shut off. On the side of the machine shown in the picture above you have a dial to easily adjust between the 18 different grind settings. Everyone's process can be different, and different coffee call for different settings. But just for your starting reference I have mine set right in the middle at 9 and it is perfect.

Water Reservoir

Breville Barista Express water reservoir

The Barista Express comes with a 67.6-ounce (2-liter) water tank, equipped with a sturdy handle for easy removal. You can refill it while still attached to the machine or at your sink. It comes with a water filter right out of the box that is placed in a plastic housing that connects to the outlet on the bottom of the reservoir. This housing has an adjustable month and day dial on it to remind yourself when it may be time to change your filter. The reservoir also has clearly marked labels on the side for maximum and minimum fill lines.

PID Temperature Control and Thermacoil Heating System

Breville Barista Express pouring an espresso shot

Now, let's talk tech. The PID temperature control and thermacoil heating system ensure that your brew maintains the perfect temperature, resulting in consistently excellent espresso.

PID Temperature Control 

Breville's PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) temperature control is a system designed to ensure precise and stable temperatures during the brewing process. PID technology essentially monitors, calculates, and adjusts the temperature of the water and brew head to consistently achieve optimal brewing conditions. This is crucial for extracting the best flavors from your coffee grounds. Even minor adjustments of 1-2 degrees can make massive differences in the quality and taste of your shot. Breville's PID technology acts as your coffee's guardian, ensuring that each cup is brewed at the perfect temperature for a consistently delicious result.

Thermacoil Heating System

Unlike traditional heating systems, Breville’s thermacoil uses a coil of thermoblock technology to heat the water consistently and efficiently. This design minimizes heat-up time, providing a quick start for your brewing process. The machine is literally ready to go in a matter of seconds after start-up. The thermacoil system, alongside the PID temperature control, maintain a stable temperature throughout the extraction, contributing to the overall quality and consistency of your espresso. In essence, it's a reliable heating mechanism that plays a crucial role in delivering the perfect cup of coffee with each brew.

Steam Wand

Breville Barista Express steam wand

Breville Barista Express side view

The steam wand deserves its own applause, it is professional grade and creates silky microfoam for those lattes and cappuccinos you crave. It does take a few moments to get going, it has a gradual increase in steam and pressure but once it is up and running it again adds to that barista feel. The wand has 360 degree travel so you can position it however you'd like to be most comfortable. Plus, it's equipped with automatic purging when you push the wand back down to its resting spot, all you'll need to do is give it a quick wipe with a towel. On the right side of the machine (pictured above) is the controller. Turn the dial counter clockwise for steam wand control and clockwise for hot water out of the dedicated hot water spout. Yes, the machine underneath the interface next to the group head has a dediscated hot water spout which has come in handy making tea or Americanos for me.

Low-Pressure Pre-Infusion

The low-pressure pre-infusion is a game-changer, extracting maximum flavor from your coffee grounds. Essentially the pre-infusion period saturates the coffee grounds prior to blasting them with pressure to extract the flavors. Think of this like blooming when you are making pour over coffee.

User Interface

Breville Barista Express user interface

As I was mentioning before, you will grow to appreciate the more hands on approach of crafting your coffee and espresso. The user interface makes this easy to do with plenty of controls that are clearly labeled. Moving fro left to right; On the far left you have the power button, followed by the grind amount which is that timer we were discussing. Next is your filter size either single or double and is clearly identified with the LED below it. Your machine is going to come with multiple filter baskets for single or double shots and you want to match this setting with your basket. Moving on to the star of the show here right in the middle you have a very handy pressure gauge that will give you valuable feedback during your extraction. The darker grey part in the gauge is your "espresso range" and you want to try to keep your extraction within this range. To the right of the pressure gauge is the programming button which is primarily used to program your single and double shot volumes, but has additional features further explained in the manual.


Breville Barista Express accessories

When you purchase the Barista Express you are purchasing an all-in-one complete unit and system to start pulling shots right out of the box. It comes with everything you need:

  • Dosing Funnel Attachment

  • Razor Dose Trimming Tool

  • 54mm Stainless Steel Portafilter

  • 1 cup & 2 cup Single & Dual Wall Filter Baskets

  • Coffee Scoop

  • Integrated Tamper

  • Stainless Steel Milk Jug

  • Cleaning disc and tablets

  • Descaling solution

  • Cleaning brush, tool and Allen Key

  • Water Filter Holder and Water Filter


Breville Barista Express specifications

Things to Consider

Now, let's address the elephant in the room—the cons. The grinder, while powerful, lacks a bit of precision and can be messy but the machine also does come with a dosing funnel to mitigate this issue. The Barista Express is not the quietest machine, so early morning brewing might wake up the household. Being a single boiler, it requires separate operations for pulling shots and steaming milk. Keep in mind; the steam wand lacks a bit of strength and it takes a few moments to get going. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Breville Barista Express remains a top contender for those who crave barista-quality coffee in the comfort of their home.

Using the Breville Barista Express

So, first things first, obviously powering on the machine. It only takes a few moments to be operational thanks to the thermacoil system. However, I recommend securing the portafilter into the group head (without coffee) and placing your mug on top of the unit upside down if space allows for 5-10 minutes. This gives all of the components time to heat up just for that added temperature regulation.

Now I’ll attach the included dosing funnel and grind my beans directly into the portafilter. I have dialed in my dose to what works best for me which is a grind setting of 9 and time of 18 seconds to give me the right dose. I’ll give the portafilter a gentle shake to settle the grounds.

The Barista Express doesn’t come with this but I use a WDT tool to first break up any clumps and to evenly distribute the grounds in the portafilter. Now tamping, the machine comes with a basic flat tamper that fits securely into the machine via a magnet when not in use. Rest your portafilter on the edge of the counter and push down hard on the grounds, compressing the puck. You can’t push too hard here, but you can push too soft. And ensure that it is even.

I’ll give the rim of the portafilter a quick wipe with the finger to protect the group head gasket and then lock it into place into the group head. Ensure you have the right filter size setting and start your extraction by pressing either the single or double shot button to the right of the gauge.

Once your shot is pulled, remove the portafilter and run the group head again momentarily on its own to flush any coffee grounds left. Give it a quick wipe.

Now onto the milk. Lift the steam wand into the position that is comfortable to you and turn the dial on the right side of the machine counter clockwise for steam production. Once you are happy with your froth and temperature remove the pitcher and lower the steam wand for that automatic purging feature. Quick wipe to the steam wand as well as to the drip tray and back wall. Add your frothed milk to your shot and bam! Café quality coffee.

Keep in mind here this is a basic explanation of the process it takes to use the machine. All of your setting and parameters such as water temperature, extraction time, grind dosing, etc. is going to be something you will adjust through trial and error.


The Breville Barista Express retains its relevance as a formidable contender in the espresso machine market. For those embarking on their espresso-making journey, it offers a compelling entry. The inclusion of an integrated grinder adds significant value at an attractive price point. Yet, it's worth considering how quickly one might outgrow the Barista Express as expertise develops. As with any entry-level machine, there's a natural progression towards more advanced equipment. However, for now, the Barista Express continues to captivate with its blend of functionality and aesthetics. For your average at-home barista, I’d say you can’t go wrong with this machine. Be patient with it and enjoy the process of dialing in your shot. Once you have everything set the way you want it, you will be enjoying incredible coffee, for cheaper, for a long time to come.