Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine – A Review

The Breville BES870XL Barista - One Hundred Per Cent Flavor

One thing has to be clear from the start. The Breville BES870XL Barista is an espresso maker that can extract all the flavor from fresh coffee beans and deliver you an espresso brewed to your exact requirements every time, and fast.

To do this, it has a number of formidable weapons in its armory. First of all, it's powered by a 1600 watt thermocoil heating system (coupled with a 15 bar Italian pump) significantly more powerful than its predecessor, the 860. This is made of a superior aluminum, with a stainless steel lining, so it isn't going to give out anytime soon.

Breville BES870XL Barista
Breville Barista

Table of Contents
Total Control
From Beans to Espresso About the Cleaning
Features & Specs Pros and Cons
Consumer Ratings Summary

Also of stainless steel is the conical burr grinder at the top of the machine. That and the integrated, sealed bean hopper (taller than the previous model) means you can grind your beans as finely or as coarsely as you want.

The grinder actually works separately from the machine itself, so you could use pre-ground beans if you want, but there's really no point because the Barista Express will do it all for you so you can enjoy freshly ground beans.

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Then there are the filters. Four of them. Two are dual walled, and two single walled. Each pair also has one that is pressurized, and one that is non-pressurized. The pressurized is probably best while you're learning the art of being a barista, and the non-pressurized is for more experienced coffee-makers.

There's also a charcoal filter in the massive 67 fluid ounce water tank to ensure your tap water doesn't spoil the taste of your espresso. Many users filter their water anyway, so this provides an extra filtering stage.

Regulation of the water temperature is vital to producing great tasting espressos. The purge function takes care of this, so any excess steam is expelled and not trapped inside.

No less important is how the brewing is actually done. You must have the water distributed evenly throughout the grinds. The pre-brew function and the flat shower head mean that all your grinds without exception are saturated with water and contribute towards the taste.

In short, this espresso maker solves the age-old problem of coffee beans beginning to lose their flavor from the moment they're ground. The integrated burr grinder on the Barista Express 870 doesn't give them the chance.

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Total Control From Start To Finish

This is a semi-automatic machine, so you have as much control as you want. Many users will be happy to let the 870 run most functions on auto, but there are some that require your input so as to produce an espresso to your exact requirements.

First off, how much do you want to brew? The volumetric control lets you select one cup or two, with manual over-ride, and is reprogrammable. On top, the burr grinder and sealed bean hopper can take half a pound of beans, and you have the grind size and grind amount selector dials there, as well as the grind adjuster wheel.

The filter size button lets you tell the machine whether you're using a single or dual wall filter, so it dispenses the correct amount of grinds. Probably the default temperature setting will give you water that's quite hot enough, but this is adjustable to make it hotter or cooler.

Finally, you have control over the milk texturing of your lattes and cappuccinos. The stainless steel steam wand has a 360 degrees swivel action so you can perfect your latte art whenever you want.

Breville even give you non-slip feet to prevent the machine from moving around on your kitchen worktop. They really do seem to have thought of everything.

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From Beans To Espresso In Less Than A Minute

Just because we want complete control in what we produce, and the fullest flavor espressos that extract everything the coffee beans have to offer doesn't mean we want to hang around while our Breville BES870XL Barista Express does its job.

This machine warms up in just 45 seconds, and Breville claim that it's then less than a minute from beans to espresso. The YouTube video embedded below will help you judge if it really is that fast. We think it is.

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About The Cleaning . . .

Breville obviously thought a great deal about the cleaning aspect when this product (and its predecessor, come to that) was still at the design stage. You have a whole lot more than the obligatory removable drip tray and removable water tank that comes with a handle.

When the machine needs cleaning it activates a "Clean Me" light. But it's not such a chore as you'd expect. The Breville BES870XL Barista Express removes excess water from the filter basket after the coffee has been extracted, which makes for quicker cleaning.

On top, the hopper unlocks easily for cleaning, and the upper part of the burr grinder releases at a twist for removal and rinsing. You can just vacuum the lower part.

In addition, Breville provide cleaning tools for the 870. There's a little storage compartment where they're all kept - out of the way but always accessible.

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Here's a video showing the Breville BES870XL Barista Express being put through its paces:

Features and Specifications:

  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 12.5 x 15.8 inches ; 23 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 29 pounds
  • Item model number: BES870XL
  • Motor: 1600 watt superior aluminum thermocoil stainless steel lined
  • Pump: 15 bar Italian pump
  • Autopurge function
  • Stainless steel conical butt grinder
  • Sealed bean hopper with half pound capacity
  • Water tank: removable, with handle and charcoal filter
  • Water tank capacity: 67 fl oz / 2 liters
  • Removable drip tray with "Empty Me" warning
  • Brewing time: less than one minute
  • Filters: dual wall pressurized, dual wall non-pressurized, single wall pressurized, single wall non-pressurized
  • Integrated burr grinder and half-pound bean hopper
  • Cup warmer
  • Stainless steel 360-degree swivel-action steam wand
  • Non-slip feet
  • Stainless steel casing
  • Storage compartment for the included cleaning tools
  • 54mm tamper
  • Hands-free grinding cradle
  • 54mm stainless steel portafilter
  • Volumetric control
  • Espresso pressure gauge
  • Clean Me light
  • Sleep mode: 1 hour
  • Auto shut-off: 3 hours

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Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Produces delicious espressos from fresh beans in around 1 minute
  • Auto adjusts water temperature after purging steam
  • You have total control over every stage of the brew
  • Or you can leave most functions on auto
  • Very easy to clean

Cons:

  • There's quite a lot to learn!
  • You have to experiment with the settings to learn your preferences
  • You should run a hot shot through before brewing an espresso

Breville BES870XL Barista
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Consumer Ratings

It's little wonder that reviewers on Amazon love this machine. They like its speed and that there's no guess work involved. They love its stylish stainless steel casing and robust build, and the fact that after a short time they can program it to produce what to them is the perfect brew.

The Breville BES870XL Barista Express scores just under 4.5 stars on average from over 900 reviews at the time of writing, with nearly three-quarters of reviewers giving the full 5 stars.

One or two reviewers have left adverse comments about the taste of the coffee, but bear in mind when reading these that there are a few "rules" that have to be observed. For example, if you use cheap coffee beans that you have ground a couple of weeks earlier then you're obviously not going to get a great taste, even with this machine.

To get the best out of the Breville BES870XL Barista Express you have to use good quality beans, freshly roasted, and preferably espresso roasted. When you use the grinder for the first time, set it to its coarsest level, and then dial it down when it starts ejecting the grounds.

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Keep the steam wand clean by letting some steam out of it for about 10 seconds after each brew. This prevents milk from backing up into the machine and spoiling the taste of the next brew. Do this even if you've just brewed black coffee.

Make use of the cup warmer on top of the machine. Coffee houses never serve their coffee in cold cups (except for iced coffee), and there's a reason for it. If you warm the machine and accessories before use it all helps to ensure better-tasting espressos.

If you ever find that the beans fail to be fed into the grinder, it may be because they're a little oily, in which case just tap the hopper and they'll go in all right.

It's a great espresso maker, as long as you read and follow the instructions, and that should help ensure you'll be giving a 5-star rating to the 870 when it's your turn to review.

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Summary

If you can't take in all of what's written here, then please just accept that this espresso maker is wildly popular with its users, who can't all be wrong. It delivers coffee house quality brews in an incredibly short time and gives you almost total control over each stage.

The Breville BES870XL Barista Express Coffee Machine is a versatile, solid, good looking machine that won't disappoint you. Click the button below to check the latest deal on Amazon.

Breville BES870XL Barista
Breville BES870XL Barista

'Coffee Lover'

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