Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review – Is It The Right Buy?

Imagine this: you no longer have to worry about visiting the coffee shop to buy espresso, a latte, or cappuccino.

The reason? You have an espresso maker that lets you pull cafe-quality espresso shots, is easy to maintain, and works faster all from the comfort of home.

It gets better: It’s a high-quality, Italian-made espresso maker going at half the price and nearly every espresso lover praises it.

The question is, is Barista Express the right buy for you?

Keep reading our Breville Barista Express BES870XL review to understand all this in detail and make the best decision for you.

We want you to know this post contains affiliate links. If you click on a product and decide to buy it we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Breville Barista Express Short Review  

Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast who wants to venture into espresso brewing or a professional barista with a love for brewing espresso at home as well, you’ll enjoy what the Barista Express can do.

Not only does it come with tons of features to fiddle around with, but also a lot of pressure that turns espresso brewing into a fun experience. 

Breville Barista Express BES870XL
$599.95
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
12/04/2021 09:11 am GMT

Feature Highlights

The Breville Barista Express BES870XL comes with pretty much everything you might need to start brewing quality espresso.

The features I found remarkable on this espresso maker include a big 67oz water tank, a built-in conical burr grinder, portafilter baskets (both regular and pressurized), and programmable shot buttons.

Who’s It For?

If you’re a beginner looking to familiarize yourself with espresso-making, you’ll find this machine valuable. 

You may be wondering, what if I know a thing or two about espresso? Do I still need the Breville Express?

Yes, you do!

Advanced users like yourself can find features, such as pre-infusion, really useful.

What We Like

  • The espresso maker comes with all the features you need to brew espresso
  • It can generate enough pressure to steam milk and brew coffee to your satisfaction
  • It’s among the top semi-automatic espresso machines that give you value-for-money
  • It suits both beginners (there is a learning curve) and experienced users

Could Be Better

  • The portafilters are smaller compared to commercial ones
  • Being a single boiler espresso maker means you can’t steam and brew simultaneously 

Bottom line: The beautiful and easy-to-use Breville Barista Express brews tasty espresso and provides a lot of bang for your buck.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine Review

Breville Barista Express BES870XL Full Review 

Are you looking for a high-tier semi-automatic espresso machine to improve your espresso at home experience?

The BES870XL could just be what you’re looking for.

This machine has legions of fans, but is it really worth the hype?

The best way to find out is to go through a detailed Breville Barista BES870XL review.

Let’s dive right in.

Breville Barista Express BES870XL Key Features and Accessories

  • 15 bar pressure pump (Italian-manufactured)
  • 67 oz (2-liter) removable water reservoir
  • Stainless steel portafilter (54mm) with commercial-grade spouts
  • 1600-watt Thermo coil heating system
  • A built-in conical burr grinder
  • Volumetric control with preset 1-2 cup volumes
  • The dedicated hot water outlet
  • Super-tall clearance to accommodate taller mugs or a coffee thermos
  • Comes with single-wall and dual-wall filters plus a filter selector button
  • Amount and grind size selector dials
  • Flat showerhead to ensure water distributes evenly through the puck
  • Hot water/steam selector dial
  • Adjustable water temperature with + or – 4o Fahrenheit in increments of 2o Fahrenheit
  • Espresso pressure gauge for monitoring pressure during extraction
  • Auto-purge to automatically adjust water temperature so the initial water doesn’t burn the ground coffee
  • Cup warmer 
  • 360-degrees stainless steel, swivel-action steam wand
  • Auto-off mode is the machine has been inactive for 3 hours
  • Sleep mode if the machine has been inactive for 1 hour
  • A feature that removes excess water from the filter basket after extraction
  • Dimensions are 13.2″W by 12.5″D by 15.8″H 
  • Weighs 23 pounds
  • Other specs: 110V | 1600W | 60Hz
  • Warranty: 1 year

Accessories 

We’ll cast light on the functionalities of some of the top features that users praise frequently. 

These are:

  • Cleaning disc
  • Allen key
  • Stainless steel milk jug
  • Cleaning brush
  • Cleaning tablets
  • Water filter and filter holder
  • Dual Wall filter baskets (2 cups and 1 cup): useful when brewing pre-ground coffee
  • Coffee scoop
  • Single Wall filter baskets (1 cup and 2 cups): ideal when grinding fresh beans
  • Patented Razor for precision dose trimming

The Conical Burr Grinder

The BES870XL comes with an integrated conical burr grinder (stainless steel) with adjustable grind settings and dosing controls to ensure you only brew freshly ground coffee for each cup.

You’ll start by filling the removable, transparent 8 oz bean hopper, then grind the beans, followed by dosing directly into the filter in less than a minute.

To brew a cup that’s customized just for you, select from the 18 grind size options or a dual wall preset’s grind setting.

In a similar fashion, you can use the pre-programmed dual-wall setting on the front panel’s knob. There’s also an option of manually selecting the ground volume. 

Here’s an interesting feature that most of us overlook when it comes to grinding: a hands-free, auto-stop function that lets you grind directly into the unit’s portafilter.

And did I mention that Breville Barista Express has detachable burrs for easy maintenance?

Thermocoil for Super Fast Heatup

This espresso machine uses PID or precise temperature control. 

In basic terms, this is a digital temperature control to ensure the brewing water temperature is optimal enough for extraction.

If the water turns out to be extremely hot, part of the heat will be released and find its way to the drip tray.

Typically, commercial espresso makers use boilers for steam and water. 

A boiler is a high-pressurized metallic tank containing hot water. A machine that uses a traditional boiler can take approximately 20 minutes to heat up for brewing.

The boilers’ wait time, weight, and size make them unsuitable for home brewing.

That’s why Barista Express uses a thermocoil to heat water. Imagine a coiled-up steel tube encompassed by an aluminum block. 

As cold water gets into the coil from the bottom and moves to the group head, it undergoes heating at a perfect temperature. The thermocoil system heats water expeditiously 

The Breville Barista Express BES870XL will bring water to the right brewing temperature in approximately 60 seconds.

The Pressure Gauge Enhances Brewing Visibility

The golden standard for espresso brewing is 9 – 10 bars even though some cafes do brew at lower or higher pressure depending on what they believe is ideal.

That said, if your machine can hit 9 bars, you can brew excellent shots.

The Barista Express machine’s control panel features a pressure gauge, which displays the brewer’s pressure.

The machine’s ‘Espresso Range’ is between 8 and 10 bars. If the grounds are too fine or too coarse, the pointer may fall outside of this range. And that simply means your shot doesn’t fall within the required espresso range.

4 Filter Baskets

This coffee maker has 4 portafilter baskets. These baskets hold your freshly ground coffee during brewing.

Each Breville Barista machine consists of a double and a single shot filter basket of the normal and pressurized variety.

A normal filter basket refers to a metal basket with numerous small holes at the bottom. What this means is that you should prepare a perfect grind particle size to brew delicious espresso.

For normal filter baskets, nothing can create resistance except for the grounds themselves. 

Thus, if you set the grinder too coarse, espresso might flow faster, resulting in a sour and watery shot.

On the other hand, pressurized portafilters have fewer perforations at the bottom. So, they create artificial pressure and they don’t depend on standard tamping processes or (somewhat) on the grinder’s ability to form proper grinding profiles for your ground coffee. 

While pressurized portafilters won’t give you the tastiest espresso, they’ll at least give you an easy time to brew decent quality coffee.

If it’s your very first time using an espresso maker, I recommend you start by using the pressurized baskets for the first couple of tries. You may also find them handy during those times when you’re not in the mood to dial in the grinder. 

With that being said, I personally think you’ll move away from the pressurized filters real quick.

The espresso maker has a 54 millimeters portafilter, which is smaller compared to the industry standard of 57 – 58 millimeters. 

Here, Breville missed an opportunity to create a sizable portafilter that’s heavier for better heat retention and with a larger diameter for better extraction.

Breville provides two single baskets and two double ones for a double or single shot.

Single baskets are generally not ideal for brewing specialty coffee, as their shape contributes to uneven extraction.

While some espresso aficionados find the singles useful, I often leave them in the box. They’re good if you’re in a pinch and have zero time – good, not great. 

Performance and Design

The Breville BES870XL performs better than its counterparts in the same price range. 

Not only does it pull a powerful shot with super-rich crema, but it does so fast, allowing you to make your drink as complicated as you possibly can.

Speaking of a complicated espresso, here are some of the things you may want to experiment with:

  • Want to figure out the perfect strength for your espresso? Adjust the grind size to find a sweet spot.
  • Want to change the water temperature? Of course, you can.
  • Still not sure how significant the tamp is? Try varying it to see the outcome.

You can make all these tweaks to find out what works for you. If you’re still new to home espresso-making, don’t worry. 

Experiment with one feature at a time to establish what works for you. Sooner or later, you’ll take the shortest time possible to brew a mighty cup.

Brewing

OK, let’s cut to the chase – can the Breville BES870XL brew well? Absolutely!

This machine ticks all the boxes feature-wise that let it brew tasty espresso.

Like all espresso machines (domestic or commercial), it takes a bit of a learning curve to use it fully. Remember, espresso brewing isn’t a skill you obtain overnight. It takes practice!

So, after experimenting with the dose, shot size, pressure, temperature, and grind size, you’ll finally brew the tastiest cup of your life!

And it won’t just happen – you need to grind high-quality espresso beans for the best results.

Just take everything a step at a time and learn to know what works and what doesn’t. Minor tweaks that you can track are what will lead you to brewing espresso that you love. 

Breville Barista Express Steam Wand

Milk Frothing

Sure, Barista BES870XL can help you brew quality cappuccino.

But there’s a catch: you should master the art of frothing and steaming milk with the machine. Remember, it’s a semi-automatic espresso machine, right? That simply means the machine doesn’t do all the work for you.

But when it comes to frothing milk, the Barista Express is very easy to use. Thanks to the 360o wand, finding the right angle for the steaming pitcher is a piece of cake.

Simply put, the wand can swivel any direction you’d like it to.

And the infuser does a fantastic job, whether you’re looking for a silky microfoam for your latte or a milk froth for your cappuccino. Not to mention, Barista BES870XL is among the best latte makers on the market.

What’s more, the BES870XL uses a traditional thermoblock wand. In a nutshell, it gives you control over the frothing process – you should get the air into your foam. 

First-timers should take some time to practice first. It won’t take long before you get it right, though. 

Build Quality

Barista Express has Italian manufactured parts to ensure that the espresso brewed is tasty and of the highest quality.

The company has made some compromises to reduce the costs without interfering with the product’s quality. 

For example, the heating system is made of aluminum and stainless steel and it’s Italian made. The portafilters along with the double and single baskets are also made of steel.

The machine’s casing is brushed stainless steel enclosing a plastic body but, for the price, you shouldn’t expect a fully stainless steel unit.

Unsurprisingly, users are happy with the machine’s build and there’s a one-year warranty to accompany it as well.

Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning this espresso machine is pretty darn simple. You only have three things to focus on:

  • Descaling the steam wand and other interior parts. You should do it every 1 to 2 months (it takes approximately 5 minutes).
  • Steam wand cleaning (takes about 10 seconds to wipe it down after each use).
  • Grinder cleaning. You should clean the grinder after 2 to 3 months (takes about 5 minutes).

Let’s look at decalcification and grinder cleaning in a little detail:

Descaling

  • Add white vinegar in cold tap water in the 50:50 ratio and pour the mixture into the espresso maker’s water tank.
  • Remove the portafilter and position a big container below the steam wand and spout.
  • Press the 1 CUP button and continue holding until 50% of the mixture passes through.
  • Press the STEAM/HOT WATER button and set it to HOT WATER. Let it run for about 30 seconds.
  • Press the STEAM/HOT WATER button and set it to STEAM. Let it run for the next 2 minutes.

Grinder Cleaning

  • Start by detaching the bean hopper
  • Empty the beans
  • Re-attach your hopper
  • Now, run the grinder until there’s nothing left on it.
  • Take off the hopper again to access the burrs
  • Move the top burr into the UNLOCK state
  • Take off the top burr
  • Use the included brushes to clean it
  • Reassemble the parts

Espresso Quality

While it might take a number of attempts to find what works for you, this machine provides everything you need to brew cafe-quality beverages.

Experiment with the dose, water volume, grind size, tamping, pressure, and water temperature to find a perfect combo for your needs.

Take advantage of the integrated grinder to brew fresh coffee.

Only brew the best espresso beans to increase the likelihood of pulling tasty shots.

The built-in frother allows you to brew delicious cappuccino and latte drinks with a flavorful and creamy foam.

To be honest, I can’t complain about the Barista Express BES870XL’s espresso quality.

Espresso Brewing Into A White Cup

Considerations Before You Buy A Breville Barista Express BES870XL

If you already scouted the market and are leaning towards the Breville Barista Express, you’ll want to know what’s in store for you.

That’s why our Breville Barista Express BES870XL review has all the information you need regarding this unrivaled espresso machine. 

Keep reading for more insights and things you need to consider before getting your Breville Barista Express.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Aren’t For Everyone

The Breville Barista Express BES870XL is a semi-automatic espresso machine. Not everyone goes for a semi-automatic coffee maker. 

Some have different preferences, probably because of the learning curve. That’s why you have to consider if you want a semi-automatic espresso machine or an automatic espresso machine.

Making a perfect cup of espresso is all about forcing high pressure (9 bars at least) hot water through fine coffee grounds.

If you are just learning this technique, you may need to understand processes like coffee grinding, espresso extraction, frothing milk, tamping, and dosing. 

Out of the many semi-automatics out there, we can say that Breville Barista Express is the easiest to operate and an excellent espresso-making tutor.

It gives you control over your brew’s timing and outcome since you have to brew the shot yourself. It’s easy to perfect your espresso this way.

While you should prepare to put in a little more effort, there’s a lot to appreciate about semi-autos like the Breville Barista Express. First, it’s friendly on the pocket. 

It also comes packed with more features for the same price and is made with high-grade materials. It offers an excellent blend of price and performance.

Milk Frothing Capabilities

Steaming milk on the Barista Express ensures quality microfoam. With a few tweaks, you can prepare steamed milk and even pour latte art. 

The machine steams slowly, which will favor you when you’re just learning the art of espresso making. It allows you time to mix air with the milk, pivot the wand to get the jug in the correct position for better outcomes.

Brewing Standards

The features below help to improve the brewing standard of the Breville Barista Express:

Filter Baskets

The Barista Express comes with four portafilter baskets that hold the beans during brewing. It has both single and double shot baskets for a pressurized and standard option. 

The pressurized baskets are built with fewer holes to help create pressure and produce a shot of heavy crema. 

Thermocoil

The thermocoil improves the heat-up process. Using precise temperature control, the water will remain at the optimal temperature to ensure proper espresso extraction. When the sensor notices the water is too hot, it will release the heat through the valve into the drip tray. 

The thermocoil heating system makes sure the water is heated quickly and remains at the right temperature. 

Pre-Infusion Capabilities

Espresso needs to bloom. Blooming entails releasing trapped carbon dioxide from the coffee to make the brew even. For espresso, it is known as pre-infusion.

Before pressure kicks in, some water should be released when beginning your shot to saturate the coffee fully in the portafilter. 

This will let the coffee puck expand, minimizing channeling risk that causes under or over-extraction.

Barista Express is built with this feature, which makes it stand out.

The Pressure Gauge

The Pressure Gauge provides excellent brewing visibility on the pressure being used by the brewer. You can quickly get visual feedback on whether your shot is within or outside the espresso range.

The pressure gauge of the Barista Express machine is on its control panel. 

If your shot is far from the espresso range, this may mean that your coffee grinds are too fine or too coarse. 

Having the ability to know such developments will help you adjust your brew accordingly.

What Functions Do You Need?

What differentiates Breville Barista Express from the rest is its design. 

All its accessories are placed in convenient places to ensure they do not obstruct the unit’s functionality.

The Barista Express comes with customizable settings that let you adjust your grind amount, grind size, and tamp. This is what you need to brew a perfect shot of espresso and other coffee brews. The steam wand will come in handy when you crave your cappuccino, macchiato, latte, and more.

Performance – An excellent performing machine will deliver quality drinks within a short time. That’s what the Barista Express does. It is not just easy to use once you master its features; it is also fairly fast. It takes only three minutes to grind, tamp, and extract your brew. Plus, it will deliver delicious espresso drinks consistently.

Cleaning – As with every other coffee maker, regular cleaning is essential. Although Barista Express needs to be cleaned after every use, the cleaning process is hassle-free. Some features like the drip tray will alert you when it needs to be emptied. There’s also the indicator light that blinks when it’s time to clean/descale. The Breville Barista Express comes loaded with tools like a cleaning tablet, cleaning disk, and showerhead for deep cleaning.

Ease of operation – The Barista Express has clear markings on its dial to help you select and adjust to the right grind size and coffee dosage for the perfect extraction.   

Control Panel – with Breville Barista Express, you can program anything and save your personalized settings. Its front control panel is clearly displayed for you to see the essential factors without consulting the manual. The pressure gauge will help you control the pressure in the brew unit.

Investment

Is the Breville Barista Express a worthy investment? Absolutely.

With this coffee maker, you can brew a variety of espressos and coffees. It lets you grind your beans to the right consistency before you start brewing. 

It fully extracts coffee to ensure a full, rich flavor. With its precise temperature controls, you are assured of optimal espresso extraction.

The powerful steam wand never disappoints with milk texturing either.

It comes with added accessories including razor dose trimming tool, milk jug, one and two cup single and dual wall filter baskets, tamper, cleaning disk, 54mm portafilter, coffee scoop, water filter, and filter holder, brushes tool & Allen key, and tablets.

Besides precision temperature controls and custom grind settings, Breville Barista Express also features 15 bar pump pressure. This is what gives the brew flavor consistency.

Barista Express is a user-friendly model that produces flavorful, quality coffee. It’s designed with simplicity. The design is pretty clean, and you can save money on other types of beverages by making your own iced coffee, latte, espresso, and more.

Final Word

As you can tell from our Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review it has some unique features, making it an excellent buy that will make coffee brewing a fun experience. Imagine taking a hot cup of espresso, cappuccino, or latte in different flavors and the possibilities each morning! 

Plus, you get to grind your own beans on the integrated burr grinder, dose, brew, and clean your machine without a hassle. The people don’t lie, this popular machine has thousands of raving reviews and lives up to the hype!

Breville Barista Express BES870XL
$599.95
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
12/04/2021 09:11 am GMT

Breville Barista Express BES870XL FAQs

Is the Breville Barista Express BES870XL dishwasher safe?

Yes and no – only the parts are dishwasher safe. You can clean Barista Express parts in the dishwasher without any problem. But you cannot immerse the whole machine in the dishwasher.

How Can I Clean My Steam Wand?

To clean the steam wand, use a wet towel or damp cloth after every use. Run the steam for a few seconds to make sure milk doesn’t clog up the wand. Don’t use a paper towel because it is too thin and may not clean it well.

How do I Take Out the Filter Basket from the Portafilter?

If you have a flat screwdriver or a spoon, you can use it to remove the filter basket.

Which Drinks Can I Brew with Breville Barista Express BES870XL?

Apart from the beautiful brewing experience this machine provides, you also get to make various drinks, including lattes, cortados, espressos, macchiatos, cappuccinos, Americano, flat white, and more.

What Does the Pressure Gauge Do?

The pressure gauge shows the pressure level the machine is using to pull your espresso shot. Once you press the start button, the needle on the pressure gauge starts moving to indicate an ongoing extraction process. The ideal pressure zone that will deliver delicious espresso is the gray area. Always make sure the needle remains in the solid gray area.

How Can I Use My Breville Barista Express BES870XL?

To use your Barista Express effectively, make sure its water reservoir is filled up. Don’t over-tighten the unit’s portafilter; too much force will push it down into the filter basket. This will cause under extraction of the espresso because of the lack of extraction space. When tightening the portafilter, check to ensure there’s a small space between it and the handle before applying pressure.

In How Many Colors or Designs is Breville Barista Express Available?

The Breville Barista Express machine comes in three different colors, namely silver, red, and black. 

How Often Can I Descale my Barista Express?

Breville advises users to descale their machines every one to two months. Frequency will vary depending on how much you use your machine.

Is The Barista Express Easy to Operate?

Using your Barista Express will take you a little practice and experimenting. If you’re new to brewing espresso start with the pressurized portafilter baskets. This will help you get comfortable with the basics before you dive into the more complex features.

Does Barista Express Bes870XL Have Hot Water?

Yes. The Breville Barista Express comes with a dedicated hot water outlet you can use for your tea or Americano. The temperature cannot be adjusted, though. The water comes out directly without passing through the group head.

How Many Bars Does Breville Barista Express Have?

Breville Barista Express is built with 15 pressure bars, an integrated grinder, and a milk frother.

How Can I Change My Barista Express’ Water Filter?

You should always change your Barista Express’s water filter every three months. 

Replacing the water filter is a simple process.

  • First, you have to remove the water tank and empty any residual water.
  • Take out the new filter and let it stay in water for about 15 minutes. Use a mug to keep it submerged in water.
  • Remove the old filter out of the tank by pulling it out. Then unclip its holder by pressing the clasps as you pull it apart.
  • Place the new filter in the filter holder and clip it together before adding it to the water tank.
  • Fill the water tank with water and return it to the machine.