Making the perfect espresso is an art form. Most people who like espresso usually get theirs in a coffee shop, made by a barista who has gone through special training in order to be able to deliver at the highest standards. But what if you want that perfect espresso every morning before going to work? This is where an espresso machine designed for home use comes in handy. There’s been a lot of refining going on during the last decade in order to manufacture espresso machines that are precise enough to compare to a barista. I’ve tested multiple espresso machines over the last years, so I’m not easily impressionable. But I have to admit that this time I’m pretty impressed by a few of this machines’ features. This is my Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch review.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Review PROS & CONS
- 2 Design
- 3 Features
- 4 Setup and Operation
- 5 Brewing Capacity and Process
- 6 Cleaning and Maintenance
- 7 Accessories
- 8 Is the Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch right for you?
- 9 Conclusion
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Review PROS & CONS
|Brushed stainless steel exterior
|Water tank is not accessible in the front
|Adjustable milk temperature and texture control
|Lack of preheating system for mugs
|Adjustable coffee intensity
|Lack of an automatic cleaning system
|Five possible beverage preparation
|Water filter is difficult to replace/find
|Milk wand automatic cleaning system
|PID control temperature
|Dosage control grinding
The first design element that pops out when you take a look at this espresso machine, is the brushed stainless steel body. This element is not found on many espresso machines in this price range, and even in higher price ranges. It’s supposed to make the machine sturdier and easier to clean.
The 67 oz. water tank is made of BPA-free plastic and is easy to fill. If you want, you can even remove it in order to fill up. I like its size. You can make a considerable number of espressos before having to refill it. It also has a filter, which keeps impurities from the water to end up in your cup of coffee.
This espresso machine has been designed with an integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder. You can fill up to eight ounces of coffee beans into the bean hopper on top. From there, the beans get into the portafilter. You can also adjust the exact size of the grind by using the wheel on the side. There are in total thirty steps of grind size you can choose from. The size you set will be visible on the display on the front.
One of the greatest fears of most coffee drinkers is that the machine will take up a lot of counter space. Well, you don’t have to worry about that with the Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch, because it’s pretty compact. It has total dimensions of 17.6 x 16.7 x 14.5 inches.
The ThermoJet heating system, made of aluminum lined stainless steel does a pretty good and fast job. The machine works at 110-1120V and 1680 Watts. Overall, I’m very pleased with the design of this espresso machine. There are not many things I can object to with regards to the design of the Barista Touch.
When deciding to buy a certain item, many people tend to base their choice on emotional aspects. These can be influenced by an attractive design and diverse bells and whistles. One of these elements might be a stainless steel exterior, or a color display on the front control panel. But most of the times, you should look past these easily visible elements and delve deeper into the features and functionalities of a product before spending your hard earned money.
Many people might have already made their decision by now, but what I want to obtain with this Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch review, is helping you discover the advantages and disadvantages of this espresso machine. This way you can make an informed decision that you can be proud of years to come. So, lets not get carried away by the attractive design just yet, and analyze the features and functionalities of this product.
Here are some of the features that I liked, and I think you might too:
Touch Screen Display
These days, touch screens all over around us. Starting from your phone and ending with touch screen displays in cars and coffee shops, you’d be hard pressed to avoid getting in contact with a touch screen an entire day. At first, I must confess, I found this feature to be a bit of an exaggeration, maybe something to boost the price tag. But after using the espresso machine, the truth couldn’t be farther from my first impression. Browsing settings and making customizations to your coffee drinks has never been easier than with the help of this touch screen. It’s truly not just a fancy addition, it’s a very helpful one that makes the Breville BES880BSS much more user friendly than other espresso machines.
Push Button Operation
With many espresso machines, there’s a proper technique that you need to get into place before being able to enjoy your favorite hot drink just the way you like it. In other words, there’s a lot of trial and error before finding the sweet spot. With the Barista Touch it’s different. Once you have everything set up, the entire process from bean to cup is automatic, so you can be sure of the same quality every time you feel like enjoying the perfect espresso.
Coffee Customization Capabilities
The Breville BES880BSS is first and foremost an espresso machine. But, most of us like to enjoy a different coffee based drink from time to time, like cappuccino, for example. In order to make specialty coffee drinks, there are certain barista techniques that you need to learn. Nothing easier with the Barista Touch. You can program every aspect of the coffee making process in detail, and save up to eight different settings to the internal memory of the machine. This way, you only have to fill the parameters once into the machine and enjoy your specialty coffee drink every time you feel like it with the push of a button.
Automatic Milk Frothing
This feature is connected with the one above. In order to make the perfect cappuccino or latte, you need to know how to obtain the perfect milk foam. This is usually done by a lot of trial and error. But with the Barista Touch, everything is automatic. The milk frothing technology is capable of producing the perfect milk foam without any intervention on your part. Because of a micro-foam technology you can conveniently enjoy your perfect latte whenever you want without any hassle.
Quick Heat Up
The ThermoJet heating system of this espresso machine is capable of heating up to the right temperature in a matter of seconds. This way you will not have to wait around too much to enjoy your coffee. This is an advantage especially in those moments when time is scarce, like the mornings before going to work.
Conical Burr Grinder
The built-in conical burr grinder gives you the ability to adjust the exact amount of coffee that goes into one cup as well as the grind size. Optimizing your perfect cup of coffee has never been an exacter science. True, there’s some trial and error involved in the beginning, but once you find that sweet spot, you can count on that perfect combination every time you make a cup of coffee.
Setup and Operation
Although I really like this espresso machine, I want to be as accurate as possible in this Breville BES880BSS Barista Express review and say that setup and operation is more difficult than with a machine that works with pods. You can’t just get it out of the box, plug it in and enjoy your first coffee. There’s somewhat of a learning curve involved in the process.
First, you have to add water to the reservoir, which is situated in the back. If you want to add water from the tap, you will have to remove the water tank every time you want to refill. Then, you need to add coffee beans at the top and set the right grind variables so that you obtain a coffee cup that’s tailored to your taste. This is as much an advantage as a disadvantage. You will have to go through some trial and error before you will be able to determine the right settings for you. Some people like this customization capability, some don’t.
The grinding process is automatic, but if you want you can intervene by pressing the portafilter. So, as I said, there’s a certain learning curve. If you have an acquaintance who’s knowledgeable with coffee machines, you can benefit from their knowledge and get more easily past these steps. If not, you have to learn from your own experience.
You can even play around with the brew temperature, although it’s set to an optimum level. But if you feel that it’s not optimal for you, you have the possibility to adjust it. You can easily go hotter or colder, as per your personal observations. The Barista Express has internal systems meant to extract as much flavor as possible from the coffee grounds, due to a pre soaking and slow pressure building mechanism.
Brewing Capacity and Process
Making your favorite hot drink every morning is very easy with this machine due to the touchscreen display located on the front panel of the espresso machine. Basically, we’re talking about a simple process with this machine. First you have to grind the beans, next the grounds are brewed and last, if it’s the case, the milk is prepared and added. But, you will not be able to make more than a single serve at a time because the machine has only one boiler. You will have to repeat the process more times if you want a carafe of coffee.
The first step of the process is selecting the type of coffee beverage you would like from the ones programmed on the machine. These are: espresso, cappuccino, latte, americano and flat white. Once you’ve done this, you can let the machine go through the program according to its preprogrammed settings, or you can adjust the grounds according to your expectations.
Although most people will be more than covered by these preprogrammed beverages, the machine lets you introduce eight more drink combinations of your choice into its internal memory. You’ll need to set grind time, froth level, milk temperature and brew time. After setting all these parameters, you’ll have to save the settings and your entry will appear among the beverage options on the display.
Once you start the grinding process, the coffee will be automatically ground in the amount set in the drink combination of your choice. The grounds will fall directly intro the portafilter. Then you can remove the portafilter, arrange the coffee with a tamper. Now you can put the portafilter back in place and continue the process.
At this stage of the process, after putting the portafilter back in place, you can start the brewing process. You can choose a single, double dose, or decide manually the quantity of coffee you want in your cup. After this stage, the next stage is frothing the milk. The Breville Barista Touch offers a lot of control of this part of the process. You can adjust the temperature of the milk between 110 and 170 degrees and even the density of the foam in eight increments. You can go from micro foam to airier foam and everything in between. All you have to do now is adding a quantity of milk that is between the two signs and start the frothing process. When the milk froth reaches the temperature that you selected, the machine will stop. Now you can remove the container and add the milk froth to the coffee, creating the beverage of your choice.
After wiping the wand and pushing it down, an automatic cleaning process will start which will assure the good state of the wand and a good working condition the next time you’ll need to use it.
Although the Breville BES880BSS is made for serious use, you will not be able to brew coffee and froth milk at the same time because it only has one boiler. But, on the other hand, because of the speed of the heat up system, there’s no waiting around when you want another cup of coffee.
Cleaning and Maintenance
A very important aspect that you need to take into account when talking about espresso machines is the cleaning process. Because of the oils in coffee, and other dirt particles, coffee machines need to be cleaned regularly. It’s not always the easiest thing.
Lucky you, the Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch has systems in place that make cleaning a very easy task. The exterior of the espresso machine is made of stainless steel, so it’s pretty easy wipe clean with a cloth.
As I mentioned before, the steam wand also has a cleaning system that will start the moment you push it back down. All you have to do after using it is wiping it off with a cloth and then pushing it back down. The hot water that will flow through the steam wand will dissolve any remaining particles.
If you want more detailed information on the cleaning processes that the Breville Barista Touch needs, don’t refrain from reading the instructions. There you will be able to find everything you need in order to keep your espresso machine functioning well for years to come. And as a last thought on cleaning, don’t forget to descale once every few months and clean the water tank and drip tray every week.
There are a number of accessories that come with the Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch. These accessories will help you in making your favorite hot beverage. One of my favorite accessories is the portafilter. It’s made of stainless steel and has a dimension of 54mm. You get two filter basket options: pressurized and non pressurized. You also get a precision dose trimming tool and a tamping tool that will help you a great deal in leveling your coffee amount and obtaining predictable results.
The package also contains a stainless steel milk pitcher that has 480 mm. The ClaroSwiss water filter is responsible for filtering any particles in the water that are not supposed to end up in your cup. There’s also a test strip which will help you determine the hardness of the water pretty fast.
There’s a place in the back of the machine where you’ll be able to store the included cleaning kit very conviently.
Is the Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch right for you?
Regardless of the multiple advantages of this coffee machine, the most important question that needs to be answered in this Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch review, is whether it is right for you or not.
After testing this machine and all its functions I came to the conclusion that most people will find it very attractive. There are many reasons, but one greater, more general reason is the versatility of this machine. Beginners can take advantage of all the automatic systems and make coffee drinks easily. Those who like to play the barista, can do so as well with the Barista Touch because of the extensive customization abilities in terms of grind size, brewing temperature and milk froth texture.
Although it has a respectable price tag at around a thousand dollars, this espresso machine is surely going to cover most coffee drinking needs of most people. But remember, it is made for home use, so if you look for something to use in a bar, you should search further.
It’s a pretty good value for money, considering all its functions and the fact that you get an espresso machine and a grinder in one package. You would most likely be spending more if you buy an espresso machine and a grinder of this quality separately.
All in all, the Breville BES880BSS Barista Express is a very complex and feature rich espresso machine and grinder combo, put together in a compact package. The ease of use and ease of maintenance make it one of my favorite coffee makers yet.
The fact that it has all these automatic systems that enable you to enjoy your coffee drink fast and through the push of a button but also gives you the ability to adjust almost every aspect of the way is fantastic. I also like the fact that they used stainless steel in all the important places, lending it durability and ease of cleaning. Overall, I recommend this coffee machine for anyone looking for a modern solution for their coffee needs.