|Table of Contents (jump ahead!)|
|Taste is Everything||Breville Build Quality & Design|
|Total Control||No Hassle Cleaning|
|Features & Specs||Pros and Cons|
This espresso maker looks similar to the BES870XL, except that it has no burr grinder or outlet port built in. It comes in at nearly $100 cheaper. So is there anything else you don't get, that you would with the 870?
Taste is Everything
What everyone wants from an espresso maker like this is great tasting coffee. Of course, good looks count as well, but these come as secondary by quite a margin.
The Breville Infuser does, in fact, look good, and is compact enough for small work tops. But its main distinguishing feature is what Breville call its pre-infusion function, which enhances the taste of the coffee.
We all know how the coffee grinds have to be completely saturated so as to release their flavor fully, and that this is invariably done through a sprinkler method with the water being forced in under high pressure.
The trouble with this is that if there are gaps and other irregularities in the coffee puck (as there often are) the water can sometimes bounce off parts of it and fail to capture the full flavor, and this weakens the final taste.
The Breville 840XL overcomes that problem by releasing the water onto the grinds under low pressure at first. This allows it to seep into all the grinds, allowing them to expand at a more natural rate. Then the water pressure is increased to squeeze all the goodness out of the grinds and into the coffee itself.
A little complicated, perhaps, but it results in superbly tasting coffee from this remarkable espresso machine. It heats to the right temperature in around a minute, and in 5 minutes it will have made 2 cups of coffee. This is fast by any standard. It also takes only 45 to 60 seconds to steam regular fat milk, and is equally fast with other kinds of milk.
Full Temperature Control
Other models from Breville feature an auto purge function that automatically adjusts the water temperature downwards after it has steamed the milk, so it's not too hot for extracting the espresso. The Breville BES840XL has that very same function as well.
The replaceable water filter in the 61 fl oz tank will deal with all the impurities in your water supply. The result of all this is to bring you some of the best tasting coffee that it's possible to make.
No-one can say that Breville are taking any chances with the taste of your coffee.
Breville BES840XL Build Quality and Design
The build quality and design features of Breville domestic machines are legendary. At the heart of the Infuser is the 1600 watt thermocoil heating system with control over the water temperature being achieved through an integrated stainless steel water coil.
A 15 bar Italian pump ensures that you won't have any problem getting the water pressure sufficiently high. Automatic settings, such as temperature and pressure, work in tandem with programmable settings such as the volume of grinds you use, and the degree of grinding and tamping you decide upon.
Indicators show when the drip tray needs emptying or the machine itself needs cleaning. And, of course, Breville's distinguishing feature - the pressure gauge - tells you whether or not the extraction pressure is correct.
The design oof the Breville BES840XL is such that you don't have to stick with your usual coffee cups or mugs - a travel mug can be accommodated as well.
Total Control With Complete Ease of Use
The volume of each shot is pre-set, and you can accept these or over-ride them manually, or even re-program with your own preferences. And as with other Breville espresso machines the steam wand that dispenses the milk froth can be rotated round 360 degrees for complete control over your lattes and cappuccinos.
From the cup and mug warmer on the top to the magnetic tamper that clings to its appointed place when not in use, Breville have gone to a lot of trouble to make this espresso maker easy to use.
No Hassle Cleaning
The Breville BES840XL has a system that removes excess water from the ground coffee in the filter basket, making removal of the resulting residue very easy. The drip tray and water tanks can easily be removed, and you should replace the water filter every two months or so.
Even though you have a water filter, as with all coffee makers, it's best to use filtered water anyway and to decalcify your espresso machine every three or four months using white vinegar. But at least you don't have a grinder on it to clean as well - a separate grinder is invariably easier to clean.
Take a look at this 3-minute video showing the Breville BES840XL in action:
Features and Specifications:
- Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 12.5 x 13.2 inches ; 17 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 23 pounds
- Item model number: BES840XL
- ASIN: B0089SSOR6
- 1600 watt thermocoil heating system
- 15 bar Italian pump
- Pre-infusion function
- Auto purge function
- PID temperature control
- Sleep mode 1 hour; Auto shutoff 3 hours
- Water tank: 61 fl oz / 1.8L
Pros and Cons
- Great tasting coffee consistently
- Good looking and compact
- Easy to use and clean
- Semi-automatic, giving you complete control
- Steep learning curve required
- You need a good burr grinder as well
At the time of writing, over 580 users have left reviews on Amazon and awarded this espresso maker an average score of over 4 stars. Well over 60 per-cent have awarded the full five stars.
Most of them love how easy it is to use, clean and understand. Most agree it's a great machine for the price, though the alleged savings of $300 have been called into question.
Some reviewers have had a problem in getting the pressure gauge to register any reading at all. It turns out that they may have been using too coarse a grind. The answer seems to be to use a finer grind, even a Turkish grind, to fill the portafilter in two or three stages, and to tamp down after each stage so that your grind is compact and firm.
I've mentioned that the BES840XL is around $100 cheaper than the BES870XL, largely because it doesn't have a burr grinder built in. But that's about the only thing the BES870XL has that the Infuser doesn't.
Whatever the savings this product is still expensive at nearly $500. However, if you're a serious coffee connoisseur then it will be money well spent, and if you're a regular at Starbucks then doubly so. One user claims that their BES840XL paid for itself in three months!
It's fun to learn how to use, and once you've mastered the art then, provided you clean it when the time comes, the Breville Infuser BES840XL will provide you with world class coffee of all types without complaint for years to come.