The Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine is one of the most impressive devices in the semiautomatic class. With an overwhelming feature set, with a modern look, and a great reliability, the BES870XL is a great choice for any serious espresso enthusiast. If you are on the market for a new semi automatic espresso machine, you probably looked at least at another few options including Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia, which are the standard for the price bracket. What is it that makes Breville BES870XL so wished for, and how does it compare with the other two? Read on for a comprehensive review of the BES870XL.
Don't get me wrong, I respect both Gaggia and Rancilio, they are great espresso equipment manufacturers, and they are especially great in the semi automatic range, but the BES870XL beats them in many aspects.
This is a great espresso machine, with features from both the semi-automatic and the automatic classes. Here are a few things that made me fall in love with this machine:
- It has advanced programming options, to allow you to pull a customized shot the same way every day.
- Integrated conical burr grinder makes equipment compact on the kitchen counter.
- Very easy to use even by beginner baristas, very forgiving.
- A lot of included great accessories.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express – Features
This machine has a lot of features which appeal to an espresso aficionado, allowing a fine tuning and tweaking of almost every aspect of the brewing. For a beginner barista, the abundance of options could be a little overwhelming, especially if there is no one to explain the functionality. You can however, ignore most of these, and focus on the essential – pull the shot. The Breville BES870XL is very forgiving for the beginner, even if make silly mistakes, you will still get a decent shot. Here is a list with most important features of this technological wonder:
- The BES870XL has an integrated grinder with conical burrs, and a half-pound bean hopper. The burrs are made from stainless steel, and they will last you a very long time.
- You can grind directly into the filter basket grace to the built-in doser.
- There is also a cradle for your portafilter, for a hands free grinding.
- The doser will adjust the amount of coffee dumped into your portafilter grace to a dial button.
- It is possible to select a single or a double wall filter basket by just pressing a button.
- The built-in grinder has adjustable grind size. Don't expect it to grind coarse though, because it is calibrated for finer grinds, from espresso to maybe a coarser drip.
- There is a great tamper included, which should work for any barista with a good hand. However, if you need extra precision you might want to read this post on how to tamp espresso.
- The machine comes with a great 54mm portafilter, and two filter baskets. One filter basket is pressurized, (dual wall), and the other is a non-pressurized, (single wall).
- The water tank is removable, so you can easily take it off the machine and fill it up, or clean it. With a 67oz volume, the water tank has enough capacity to last for a while.
- There is also a replaceable water filter to reduce the scale, and improve water taste.
- All the parts that come in contact with the beverage, (water, milk and coffee), are BPA free.
- The convenient Clean-me light announces you when it’s time to run a cleaning cycle.
- By the way, you get a cleaning kit included with the purchase.
- A great 360-degree swivel action steam wand ensures effortless milk steaming and frothing.
- The removable drip tray is conveniently partitioned for both wet and dry spills
- The bean hopper can be easily removed for easy cleaning.
- The top burr can be also removed for easy access inside the integrated grinding machine.
- The tamper has its own magnetic storage space for an organised space around the machine.
- There is a water dispenser for conveniently preparing teas or other beverages.
- Nice drip tray that separates ground coffee from spilled water or coffee.
- 360 degrees rotating steaming wand.
- Auto power saving mode for saving energy.
- It's a beginner friendly unit, which is forgiving for new baristas.
Now the geeky features that set this machine apart from competitors:
- The machine has a built in PID to ensure the delivery of an accurate temperature.
- Espresso pressure gauge, to monitor the pressure during the extraction.
- The volumetric control button allows you to program the machine in order to set your custom volume for a shot. The button also lets you conveniently switch between one or two cups shot.
- The water is heated with a thermocoil heating system for fast heating, and accurate temperature control.
- The water temperature is automatically adjusted after steaming by using the auto purge function.
- The pre-brew function helps for a perfect extraction by pumping just a small amount of water to moisten the grounds uniformly.
- The flat shower head takes this a step further, to ensure all the grounds are wet when the shot pulling starts, in order to avoid espresso channeling.
Reliability of the Breville BES870XL Barista Express
The machine is pretty reliable, and if you use it at home for personal use, and you take care of it, it can last you a long time. Sure, it’s not as reliable as a Rancilio Silvia, which one of the most reliable machines. But Silvia is nowhere near the Breville BES870XL’s feature set. And by stubbornly keeping it simple, Rancilio has managed to make an incredibly reliable machine.
Getting back to our Breville, if you want your BES870XL to last you a long time, use distilled water, and descale it when it needs it.
And getting back to our comparison, it’s almost unfair to compare the two machines. One is built to allow you to explore espresso brewing, and play with various settings until you find the magic match between tamping, grind size, and shot volume. The other one is built to last you forever, but it is very fussy, if you missed something your shot is going to be under average.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express – Critique
Is this machine perfect? No it’s not, but it is pretty damn close to perfection. Here is my critique about it.
One of the problems with all Breville products is the long waiting times for customer support. But in all fairness other manufacturers have even worse customer support. You probably won't have any problems with your machine, they are pretty reliable, but if you do, you might have to wait on hold for 15-30 minutes. Otherwise, the customer support is very helpful, knowledgeable, and most important willing to help fix your problem.
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is NOT a super-automatic espresso machine, as many people think. So don't buy it if you expect a one button push espresso machine. Sure it does have a lot of features, but ultimately it needs to be operated by someone who has some knowledge about espresso. For a super-automatic espresso machine within this price range, you could check our review of the Krups Espresseria.
The warranty is one year.