Breville Barista Express Review

By Will Laurance on 11/18/2020


Like many of you coffee lovers, particularly espresso and cappuccino drinkers, I had a hard time getting a good coffee bar drink since the pandemic and shutdowns began back in March.

I want to share my espresso story with my reviews on the Breville Espresso machine I purchased along with the other equipment necessary to make a perfect shot.

The Espresso Machine

You need a machine that can produce 15 bars of pressure. There are many cheap and inexpensive steam based machines for less than $100, but this will not produce the crema you desired.

I ended up choosing the Breville because of its price point, capabilities, and availability on Amazon.

Breville BES840XL Infuser Espresso Machine:

I knew I didn’t want to be locked in to the built in grinder so I opted to explore that separately.

Pros of the Breville Infuser

Cons of the Breville Infuser

If the Breville Infuser had a double boiler, meaning I could pull a shot and steam milk at the same time, I could go even faster. Besides that I can still produce a great capp in about 5 minutes.

Overall this is a great machine at its price point. With normal maintenance you will be pulling shots for many years with this thing. It gets you a true espresso pump capable of pulling quality shots. And that is essential for producing bar drinks.

I am able to pull great shots with this machine. All it took was the proper attitude and equipment. Trust me, your first 50-100 shots probably won’t be consistent. It’s really about developing a pattern of motions with your equipment. It’s like a song and dance for me.

The Grinder

I had a burr grinder I used for regular coffee, Bodum BISTRO Burr Coffee Grinder, but it doesn’t have the precision needed to make a good shot of espresso. So below is the espresso grinder I’m using today:

Baratza Sette 30 Conical Burr Grinder

This grinder is amazing and makes it so easy to dial in for every roast or type of bean. My first few shots are typically for adjustment. But eventually I get the grind just right.

After a while the old burr grinder wasn’t cutting it and I needed something more powerful. The Barzatta was the perfect combination and budget.

Caring for the equipment

I live in Austin, TX and if you live here or ever visited you know we have hard water with lots of minerals. Cleaning and caring for the equipment is crucial to obtaining proper temperature and pressure for the perfect crema.

Cleaning Tablets

Espresso and Cappuccino Accessories

The next two accessories help get a perfect puck every time. The dosing ring ensures all the coffee from my grinder makes it in. And the distributor pushes evenly on the fine grounds to create even pressure.

With a simple tamper down with even pressure I am ready to go.

Dosing Ring

Coffee Distributor

Gram Scale

If you are serious about getting espresso right at home you’ll want to purchase a scale with at least tenth of a gram precision. Anything more than that is a bit overkill in my opinion.

My filter basket can fit 20g if I really try. But I usually go for 16-18g depending on the coarseness of the beans.

Finally the scale allows me to measure with a timer my yield. In general I love to get exactly 30g of liquid espresso over 30 seconds from 18g of grounds. For me this is a bright, bitter, and sweet combo.

Of course every bean is different and I think that’s what makes being your own barista all the more fun.

Happy brewing everyone!

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