Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
Ease of Use
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is a professional-grade semi-automatic with an affordable price tag. It includes built-in features and customization options that make it ideal for beginners interested in learning about espresso, and experts who want to brew a quality cup without spending a lot of money.
- 1 Breville BES870XL Design Overview
- 2 Breville Espresso Machine BES870XL vs. Breville Barista Express BES860XL
- 3 Breville 870XL Stand-Out Features
- 4 Barista Express Breville Accessories
- 5 Breville Express Operation and Set-Up
- 6 Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine Cleaning
- 7 Breville Bes870 Pros vs. Cons
- 8 Breville Express Warranty
- 9 Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review Conclusion
Do you know what’s better than your favorite latte from the cafe? Making it at home, whenever you want.
Ask any coffee aficionado, and they’ll tell you that espresso is an art form. Now, you can shrug and head to the cafe, or you can splurge on a pricey superautomatic.
Or, there’s this…
A superior espresso machine for beginners and experts– one that won’t break the bank. Our Breville Barista Express BES870XL review covers it all!
Breville BES870XL Design Overview
The first thing you need to know about this nifty little espresso machine is that it’s semi-automatic. Now, if you’ve landed on this Breville Barista Express BES870XL review, that can mean 2 things:
- You’re a beginner who has never heard of terms like “hopper” or “tamper”, but you’re interested in learning the ropes of coffee making.
- You’re a seasoned pro who already knows how to tango with a semi-automatic, and you’re looking for a mid-tier machine that is easy on the wallet.
Does either of those sentences resonate? If so, you’re in the right place. The BES870XL is one of the only semi-automatics designed for both rookies and experienced brewsters.
There are enough built-in features to make it easier to pull a tasty espresso, while the option to adjust several settings gives more control over the alchemy of your coffee.
But know that it takes time to learn and use this machine. If you’re a busybody who likes it fast, then you’re better off with Nespresso pods or a fancy superautomatic like the Saeco Xelsis.
The Breville Barista is sleek and elegant with a compact design that measures 15.8 x 12.6 x 13.2 inches and weighs 23 pounds. It’s a great option if you live in a small apartment, have limited kitchen counter space, or need it to fit underneath wall cabinets.
Brushed stainless steel houses a plastic interior, giving you that polished metal look without the extra cost. If silver is not your cup of tea (or, in this case, espresso), then it also comes in cranberry red and sesame black for a fun pop of color on your countertop.
This machine has several parts, but the Breville Barista Express manual is easy to follow and explains the entire setup and process step by step. As we mentioned, there is a learning curve with the Barista Breville, so patience is key at the beginning of this relationship.
The origins of this super-star espresso maker start with its predecessor, the Breville BES860XL. Before we take an in-depth look at what makes the 870XL shine, let’s compare the 2 models first.
Breville Espresso Machine BES870XL vs. Breville Barista Express BES860XL
Breville takes customer feedback seriously to improve its products, which alludes to its sterling reputation. In this way, the 870XL was born- a phoenix rising out of the ashes of the Breville Barista Express 860XL.
Here are how the 2 models differ and the features that were improved for the Breville Barista BES870.
Difference 1: Coffee Bean Hopper
The Breville BES860XL’s flat coffee bean hopper design resulted in beans getting stuck inside the chute on their way to the grinder. Breville the Barista Express BES870 was designed with a taller, steeper bean hopper, so the beans slide down the chute with ease.
Difference 2: Brew Temperature
Many BES870XL reviews griped that the temperature wasn’t hot enough with the 860XL. Breville shushed the haters by designing a PID for the 870XL that lets users adjust the temperature by 2 or 4 degrees.
Difference 3: Hot Water Dispenser
The BES870XL features a brand spanking new hot water dispenser to make Americanos, hot cocoa, or tea. The Breville BES860XL does not have this feature.
Difference 4: Auto Sleep/ Auto Shut Off
It’s natural to forget to turn off the coffee maker, but with the BES860XL Barista Express, some users complained about the machine drying up from being left on for too long. The Breville espresso maker BES870XL amends this with an Auto Sleep function that puts the machine on sleep mode after an hour of sitting idle and shuts down completely after 3 hours.
Breville 870XL Stand-Out Features
Customization is the name of the game with the Breville Barista Express espresso machine, and the accessories are strategically placed to make it less overwhelming for rookies. You’ll find that the Breville Barista Express parts are cleverly designed to appeal to all barista levels.
This is what makes this coffee maker great…
You Get 4 Filtered Baskets
The Barista Express comes with 4 filtered baskets: 2 single wall (for grinding fresh, whole beans) and 2 dual wall (for pre-ground coffee), with a pressurized and non-pressurized version for each set.
The pressurized baskets are great for beginners because there’s more room for error when it comes to adjusting the grind settings. In other words, you can skimp a bit on the setup and still turn out a fantastic espresso.
The non-pressurized baskets are for the experts, as you’re required to dial in the shot using the Breville 870’s custom controls.
Built-in Conical Burr Grinder and Bean Hopper
Because the coffee grinder is built-in, you’ll save $300 or more on buying it separately (like you have to do with other espresso machines). Breville is also known for manufacturing top-quality stainless steel burr grinders, so your coffee beans will be handled with finesse.
The airtight bean hopper traps flavors and aromas for impeccable taste, and it can be removed, making it easier to refill or clean the burrs. It holds up to 8 oz of beans and can make up to 50 standard cups, which means fewer refills.
There are also plenty of adjustable settings…
- Grind Size: You can choose between 16 levels to customize how coarse or fine you want your ground coffee to be.
- Grind Amount: After your coffee beans are freshly ground, you can choose the amount you want to be dosed into the filter basket by selecting 1-Cup or 2-Cups.
- Hands-Free Grinding: Select ‘Auto Stop’ and the ground coffee goes straight from the grinder into the porta filter automatically.
Honestly, this isn’t the most technical grinder, as it touts 18 settings compared to the 50 or 60 you’ll find with more high-end machines.
For beginners, adjusting the grind amount may be the trickiest part of the learning process. Since the grind knob is not numerical, you have to guess how much ground coffee you want to be produced, but this is something you can master over time with practice.
1600-watt Thermocoil Heating & Improved Pid
With the Breville Barista Espresso machine’s integrated stainless steel coil, start-up takes less than a minute. The water temperature is also better regulated, thanks to an improved PID.
The PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) is one of the highlight features. You have total control over the temperature for optimal extraction– and it is accurate to boot. You can adjust in 2- 4º increments, starting from a 200º F default setting.
The ability to adjust the temperature is an option you usually only find with expensive machines that cost $1,000+.
Attached 360º Steaming Wand
The milk frothing system on this machine is superb for making cappuccinos and lattes. It’s another money saver too since you don’t have to buy this part separately.
The wand moves 360º in any direction, offering more flexibility for when you want to store the machine in a small space without any delicate parts poking out. This also allows you to angle it around the milk jug to achieve your desired thickness of milk froth.
Here’s how it works:
1. Fill your jug with your preferred amount of milk. Locate the knob on the right side of the machine and switch it to ‘Steam.’ Point the wand towards the hole in the drip tray.
2. The pump will start pulsing, and shortly after, the wand will produce steam and water.
3. Shut off the steam once the water has been purged from the wand. The ‘Hot Water Steam’ button will begin blinking, and then you can switch on the Steam again.
4. Position the wand into the jug and hold it down until the milk froth is rich and thick.
Barista Express Breville Accessories
This espresso machine arrives at your doorstep with everything you need to get the brewing party started, except for your favorite roast beans, of course.
Here is a list of goodies you’ll find in your package;
- Stainless steel milk jug
- Dual/ single wall filter baskets
- Razor for leveling coffee grounds in the puck
- Coffee scoop
- Water filter and holder
- 54 mm stainless steel portafilter
- Breville Barista Express cleaning tablets, disc & brush
Breville Express Operation and Set-Up
One look at the Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine, and you might feel intimidated, but not to worry- once you get it down, the operation is as simple as 1,2,3. We’ll take you through the basics.
1. Initial Cleansing
Start by opening the Breville Barista Express water filter and placing it in a cup of water to soak for 5 minutes. The filter will prevent scale build-up, and you won’t have to descale as often if you replace the water filter every 2 months. There’s even a handy date dial you can set, so you know when to change out the filter.
Clean all of the parts and accessories by hand using warm water and gentle dish soap. Closely follow the steps outlined in the manual to complete the 15-minute cleansing before you can start brewing. The wait might be annoying if your caffeine demon is screaming to be fed, but all good things take time- right?
2. Fill the Water Tank
The built-in water tank can be unlocked and removed by lifting on the handle. Locate the fill line, and make sure not to exceed it. The water tank will hold up to 67 oz of water. Fill it up with cold, filtered water and then place it back on the machine, double-checking that the handle is locked in firmly.
3. Power on the Machine
Once the power button stops flashing, locate the hopper on top of the machine and fill it with half a pound of your favorite coffee beans. Set the grind size and grind amount.
[pull quote] Pro Tip: If you don’t know where to start, Breville recommends a Grind Size of 5 and setting the Grind Amount dial to a 3 o’clock position.
4. Press the “filter Size” Button and Choose 1-cup or 2-cups
Place the portafilter into the grinding cradle located underneath the hopper. This is where the freshly ground coffee will pour out directly into the portafilter.
It will stop on its own, but you also have the option to stop it whenever you want by releasing the portafilter.
Proceed to tap the portafilter a few times and then pack it down using the tamper until the surface is even. You can also use the razor accessory for trimming the coffee puck.
5. Place the Portafilter Into the Group Head and Lock It Into Place
You’re now ready to transform into an espresso wizard. Place your cup under the portafilter. Choose either the 1- cup or 2- cup option, and say abracadabra– the machine will begin extracting.
Hit ‘Brew,’ and espresso will shoot into the cup. You’re ready to savor the nectar of life- brewed right in the comfort of your home.
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine Cleaning
Espresso machines are notorious for being a pain in the bum to clean. This is where Breville the Barista Express excels, with a focus on making clean-up fast and effortless.
Besides having several parts periodically removed and cleaned, there is a light that will turn on to let you know that it’s time to clean the machine, as well as a function in the drip tray that lets you know it’s time to empty the contents.
The steel burrs can be reached by twisting off the bean hopper, and then you can remove the burrs for cleaning. The same goes for the water tank and filter- these parts are also removable for easy cleaning and refilling.
[pull quote] Pro Tip: After each use, try to rinse the portafilter and basket with hot water to dissolve the coffee oils and clean the steam wand to prevent dried milk build-up.
Breville Bes870 Pros vs. Cons
- Superb value for the price
- Built-in water tank, burr, coffee grinder, and steam wand
- Suitable for beginners and professionals
- Customizable options
- Compact size suitable for small kitchens/apartments
- Steep learning curve for beginners
It’s no wonder that Breville Barista Express espresso machine reviews rave about this semi-automatic- the pros outweigh the cons.
You just can’t beat that price. The quality of the features and brewing capabilities are top-notch. Plus, the machine comes with many parts that you’d otherwise have to purchase separately.
No one likes cleaning, but at least Breville managed to make it less of a hassle. Many of the parts can be easily removed without much elbow grease, and the water purification system (when properly adhered to) can reduce the need to descale frequently.
What it comes down to is what you want to get out of your coffee machine. If you are interested in the alchemy behind making the perfect espresso but have never dabbled in the art- this is a good machine for beginners.
If you are a seasoned espresso maker who likes having the ability to customize your recipe, then this machine will let you get as creative as you want.
The only downside is that there is a steep learning curve. If you just want a quick espresso with the push of a button- go for a pod system. Or, if budget ain’t a thing and you want fast great tasting coffee- go buck wild and opt for a superautomatic.
Breville Express Warranty
A 1-year limited warranty is offered from the date of purchase. If there is a defect in the material or workmanship during this period, you can return the product, and Breville will replace it with an identical or similar product. Some products may have longer warranty periods. Please consult Breville for more information.
Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review Conclusion
Now seasoned brewers who want to make coffee at home and beginners with an interest in learning the art of espresso can do so without having to pay thousands for a professional-grade machine.
The learning curve is the biggest battle, but if the fire to learn is inside you, then that shouldn’t matter. You’ll be able to get brewing in no time with the thoughtfully designed built-in features, customizable options, and by following the Breville BES870XL manual.
To conclude this Breville Barista Express BES870XL review, the machine is the perfect middle ground option that rewards patience with a delightfully aromatic shot (or two) of espresso.
References & Resources:
- Breville, Official Brand Website.
- Breville Barista Express BES870XL User Manual.
- Why Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Are the Best Option, TRUiC.
- Which Type of Home Coffee Machine is Right For You?, Perfect Daily Grind.
- Automatic vs Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines, MyFriendsCoffee.