Breville BES870XL Barista Express Review

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Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard – Anne Spencer

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Review.

Coffee is the water of life. Even though Gaelic speakers would probably disagree and argue vehemently against it being so, for most of us coffee is the elixir that keeps us on track and the economy’s gears turning. For the vast majority of Americans and everyone everywhere else, that’s more than enough and that’s all that coffee needs to, and should ever have to, do. But we’re not like the vast majority of people, and neither are you. We’ve experienced the hidden, flavor-filled world of the drink that’s so much more than a universal morning kick start and working world ignition key.

We’ve always demanded and expected more from our coffee than a hastily brewed cup of java that all too often either tastes like it’s been burned, has sat on a warming plate for too long, or, in the worst-case scenario of nothing at all. That’s why we’ve always subscribed to the European idea of coffee, and believe that it’s something that needs to be savored and enjoyed at leisure and appreciated on the multiple levels that incredible coffee should be. It’s also why the continuing rise in popularity of coffee shops is something that we embraced wholeheartedly, as it’s helping to spread the message, and gradually seed the idea, that coffee can be so much more than it is if you want it to be.

While we’re more than happy to spend as much time as humanly possible in our local coffee shop, sometimes, for one reason or another, we just can’t get there. Work and life commitments get in the way, and faced with that inevitable dilemma, we needed to find a solution to our coffee problem. If we couldn’t get to our local coffee shop, how were we going to get the great coffee we had become accustomed to? Consequently, we have an ongoing quest to find some of the best coffee making machines and this has led us to review the Breville BES870XL Barista Express.

Making Coffee…The Breville Way? 

Breville isn’t the first name that springs to mind when we think about great coffee. An incredible array of well-designed and expertly engineered kitchen appliances, sure. But great coffee? Not so much. Having been a leading light in the manufacturer of all things kitchen related since nineteen thirty-two, this Australian company’s name has become a byword for excellence, and have acquired a devoted and loyal global fanbase who swear by their products and refuse to use any other brand in their home, they’ve cemented their place at the top of the kitchen tree.

That said, given their sterling reputation for forging the sort of culinary equipment that generations of chefs have relied on to help them create their delicate masterpieces, we shouldn’t have been all that surprised that somewhere in their arsenal, Breville had made a coffee machine that would elevate caffeine to a whole new level of home-based taste.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express – Review

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Our rating:
5 cup rating

After hearing the way that our fellow coffee obsessives talked about this machine, we finally decided that enough was enough and that we’d have to find out if there was any substance to the excited hubbub and brouhaha that underpinned and drove every Breville related conversation. So we ventured forth into the previously unexplored realms of everything Breville and invested in our very own Barista Express.

Saddling a coffee maker with a name like Barista Express is a bold statement of intent, as right off the bat it encourages delusions of grandeur among amateur coffee makers, a group that we happily include ourselves in. It might make them think, like we did, that they too, with a touch of a button and a little Breville flourish, could turn out coffee that tasted as exquisite as that served by trained, professional baristas in coffee shops all over the country.

As it turns out, we really didn’t have anything to worry about as getting to grips with the Breville immersed in us in a crash course in coffee making that was almost as much fun and enjoyable as drinking the coffee that we were finally able to brew, was.  Like most things in life, if you want the best, you have to work for it and earn it, and the Barista Express makes sure that you really do have to work for your coffee reward.

Okay, it doesn’t really make you work that hard, but it does help you to understand the intricate nature of coffee and how complicated and complex it can be to make great, rather than just good, coffee.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express – Buyers Guide

It’s All About The Grind

Great coffee always starts with the grind and the Barista isn’t an exception to that rule. After loading your chosen beans into the grind hopper (which can hold around half a pound or so of beans at a time) the machine allows you to grind just enough coffee for either a single or double shot of rich espresso by choosing the appropriate program. After you’ve made your choice, you simply hit the button and it’ll grind exactly the right amount of coffee to make your chosen brew.

If, however, you’re open to a little more experimentation and want to delve deeper into the secret art of the Barista, the Breville Express is more than happy to indulge your curiosity. It won’t just grind your coffee beans, it allows you to control the size of the grind so that you can, through trial and error, discover if you’re a fan of the big, small, or medium grind and the different flavors that each can, and will produce. We’re not going to lie, we spent far too much time adjusting the size of our grind, and we still haven’t made any firm decisions about which camp we fall into. It’s true, great coffee really does take a lifetime to master.

Beginning the Brew

Now for the good part. Well, the slightly better part, as we have to admit that we had far more fun than we probably should have trying to figure out, and playing with the grinding controls.  As the Barista has a sixty-seven-ounce water reservoir, you can fill it up in the morning and not have to worry about adding any water throughout the day, as you’ll have more than water on hand to happily brew espresso all day long without having to refill the reservoir.

Thanks for negotiating the amount of coffee that you’ll need for either a single or double shot of espresso during the grind, all you need to do is place your cup under the delivery tap, push the right button and let the Barista do what it does best, brew coffee. All of those wonderful noises that you hear the coffee shop machines making? The steam and water pressure and pre-soaks that make sure that the water is just the right temperature to create a perfect cup of espresso? The Barista makes them too, it just does it in a far more dignified, and quieter, fashion.

And the espresso that it finally serves? It was worth the wait, and the greatly simplified crash course in being a barista that the Breville subjects you to. As you’re fully in control of every stage of the process, the color, texture, aroma, and taste of your espresso will be determined by all of the decisions that you make, but even if you just opt to keep things simple and stick an average-sized grind, the coffee that the Barsiat makes is absolutely divine.

The Micro-Milk Froth Wand

We know that a lot of coffee devotees are fanatical about the amount of froth and texture of the milk that’s part of their espresso experience. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, we’re not those types of coffee people, as we believe that coffee should only be served one way in order to preserve every delicate molecule of its flavor; black.

That’s why we didn’t even attempt to use the frothing wand, that’ll help you to create the exact amount of foam and froth that you want, that’s part and parcel of the Barista.  It seems to be easy enough to use, but as we had no use for it, it didn’t even occur to us to try it out. As we said, we only like our coffee one way. And that’s black.

It Isn’t All All Coffee Gold

We’ve waxed lyrical about the incredible versatility of the Barista and the great espresso that it can, and will, make at the touch of a couple of buttons, but the Barista does have one major flaw. And that’s its price.

The Barista is far from cheap, and that’s partly due to its brand name (which is a guarantee of quality), but it’s mostly due to the fact that it’s a semi-professional coffee maker. Unless you’re incredibly serious about coffee and your demand for excellence controls your pocketbook, you might want to think twice before you part with your hard-earned dollars and invest in your own home-based barista.

The Final Word

While it is an exquisite coffee maker whose functionality is rivaled only by its incredible looks and serves an incredible cup of coffee, there are plenty of other machines that’ll gradually guide you through every stage of your coffee journey until you’re ready to step up the Barista plate.

And while we don’t say it often, if you’re thinking about adding a Barista to your kitchen, make sure that it’s a decision that you make with your head and not your heart. But if you do decide to pursue the path to coffee heaven with a Barista, if you’re anything like us, it’ll transform the way you think about coffee forever, and change your life for the better.

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