How do the high-end coffee shops with bearded hipster baristas make that full-tasting cup of espresso every time? As we’ll see in the Breville BES870XL review, it has something to do with the espresso machines (newsflash, huh?) that professional baristas are using.
If you’ve discovered a real passion for great coffee with coffee makers by Nespresso or Keurig (a superior espresso machine company like Breville doesn’t make simple coffee makers), you’ll pretty much suspect that coffee can taste even better – the ultimate step is to start making your own espressos.Espresso, in essence, is the very essence of how coffee should be enjoyed.
For the step up to something as professional like Breville espresso machines, you’ll need two things:
- Coffee enthusiasm – to master the delicate settings of the BES870XL Breville model.
- Coffee budget – because high-end espresso makers don’t come free.
One of the best things about the Breville BES870XL is the integrated burr grinder. You can choose your own coffee beans and the BES870XL grinds them for you. Of course, you can (and should) experiment with different filter size and pressure gauge and so on, but beware:
The Breville BES870XL is only for people who love to focus on creating a perfect espresso. If you want a simple ‘just-make-me-an-espresso’ machine that’ll do everything for you, steer clear of this espresso machine. As I’ve said – for enthusiasts with a heart for espresso making only.
That being said, this Breville model is hands-down as close as it comes to a perfect espresso machine.
A stainless steel upper-budget espresso machine can cost quite a bit compared to simple coffee makers – making this Breville an eye-watering experience if you appreciate the finesse when it comes to making espresso. However, as I’ve reviewed the Breville BES870XL, I’ve found it to be a fantastic machine and, when you master it, you’ll know how to appreciate the machine in full. But be sure to check how much the BES870XL costs before buying it:
There is a good chance that you’ll be able to make as excellent an espresso as the bearded barista guy at your local barista. You won’t have to pay $5 for it, though, but it does take some finesse to master the Breville BES870XL espresso machine.
Breville BES870XL Review – Does A Beard Help?
One thing you will notice straight away if you’re upgrading from a cheap espresso machine or coffee maker is the complexity of BES870XL espresso machine by Breville. You notice it immediately when you try to get it up and running.
Does a beard help when setting up an espresso maker? Not really, but adds to the image and hopefully boosts screwdriver abilities – you’ll almost need one according to several Breville BES870XL reviews.
It’s not an ‘outta-box’ espresso machine. You’ll need to take some time in putting the Breville together but this is the general rule when it comes to high-end espresso machine:
The more difficult it is to set up, the better espresso it makes. Simply put, the entire process of making your brew is upgraded.
With the high-end espresso machine, there’s no single feature that improves the quality of coffee you produce; numerous smaller improvements make the espresso’s brilliance. As I’ve pointed out, brewing an espresso requires a finesse.
Design And Use Of Control Panel (The Finesse Starts With Buttons)
When having to think about changing different espresso machines settings, it’s nice to have an easy to handle control panel and Breville BES870XL has one. In fact, most of Breville machines have a more user-friendly control panels than, let’s say, DeLonghi machines.
The control panel is well laid out and offers quality dials you’d expect on a machine like the Breville. Most settings you’ll recognize. However, you’ll also discover settings for filter size, built-in grinding and a pressure gauge similar to the ones found on all commercial barista machines:
If you check closely, you’ll that there are quite a few espresso settings to play with:
- Grind amount (more grounded coffee beans means stronger espresso)
- Grind size (with espresso, usually the fine grind is better than rough grind)
- Choose filter type (you can choose a single- or double-wall filter basket)
- Tamper (if you don’t know what a tamper is, you can check it out here)
- Single or Double shot option
- Heart of the BES870XL: Gauge control – you can monitor the pressure that shots the water through the well-tempered and freshly ground coffee beans.
After few espressos, you can pretty much figure out all the settings and focus more on the gauge control. There is where the magic happens.
The machine takes about 1 minute and 20 seconds to heat up. This is a bit more than with cheaper models but it’s common for the complex and fine-tuned machines like Breville BES870XL to use some extra seconds.
Stainless Steel Design Of Espresso Machine
The Breville BES870XL is almost entirely made out of stainless steel.
Generally, the higher the price of an espresso machine, the more high-quality stainless steel you get. The majority of cheaper machines are made at least in part out of plastic.
Stainless steel is not only durable and a mark of high-quality design. It also gives the Breville BES870XL a genuine look of an espresso maker. If you look at it again – that’s exactly how espresso machines used by bearded baristas look like (and they’re probably a Breville model).
As with most espresso machines in this price range, solid, shiny and polished steel adorns the Breville making it a really pleasant machine to look at. There’s no denying it will make an easy addition to a kitchen counter – if you have some silverware, it the Breville BES870XL should fit in perfectly.
The only drawback we found with the Breville 870XL was the lack of a dual boiler system. That’s usually what you need if you’re running a coffee shop and have to whip out an espresso every minute or so.
How Does Breville BES870XL Perform? (Testing)
Before making a review of Breville BES870XL, we tested it for two weeks in the office. It was quite exciting even before the BES870XL was shipped – you can almost feel how great the first espresso will taste from the look of the Breville machine.
The Breville does take up more space than a simple ESE pod or single shot espresso machine. This is to be expected as the Breville is a far more complex beast with more features.
Even so, it’s only 13” x 12” x 15” (or there about) so although larger than cheaper espresso machines, it’s not exactly a huge beast either. We found it nestled quite easily into our office kitchen.
Easy Burr Grinding (In-built)
One of the great things about the Breville BES870XL espresso machine is that is it a complex high-end machine but it also takes out a fair chunk of the guesswork, particularly with grinding.
It comes with an in-built grinding machine that doesn’t require an awful lot of pre-setting to get the correct grind.
That’s not to say you can’t have a play about with it though – this is a machine for the enthusiast barista after all!
Water Reservoir (67 oz.) And Water Temperature (198.3F)
The water system is also an improvement on the Breville (remember what we said about small upgrades?) with a quality regulator that keeps your brew at precisely the right temperature.
The espresso maker comes equipped with a big 67 oz. water tank. How many espressos can you make with the BBES870XL without refilling the water? Well, given that 1 espresso is 1 oz., you can do the math easily.
During our Breville BES870XL review we tested the water with a thermometer. The perfect espresso temperature is around 196 degrees Fahrenheit. The result?
The measured water temperature with our Breville BES870XL was 198.3 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty much on the spot! With only 2.3 degrees away from the perfect temperature, we were pretty impressed by the Breville and its ability to consistently keep the water temperature right in the sweet spot.
Tip For Brewing Espresso With BES870XL
The hopper for coffee beans is located on top of the machine, slightly offset to the left and front, making a refill nice and easy. The water tank is located further to the back, fairly typical for most coffee machines. We suggest mounting the BES870XL on the kitchen counter and give it a bit of space for the hopper. You’ll have to access the hopper much more frequently than the water tank; so don’t worry about water, make sure you can supply the espresso machine the beans it loves!
When you first start using this machine, you’ll see that it takes some time to actually begin the espresso pour. There’s a great reason behind it. The Breville has a low pressure pour system that attempts to saturate the coffee puck before layering the pressure in behind it.
That’s one of those little things that make the espresso perfect.
This ensures the entire puck releases its flavor. It’s a joy to know all those lovely beans are being used properly and if you have the good ones, you’ll be able to extract the full essence of coffee.
How Do You Clean The Breville BES870XL Coffee Machine?
Who doesn’t hate cleaning the espresso machines?
A good thing about the Breville is that they use a lot of stainless steel. For example, as you’ve seen in the BES870XL review, the machine is comprised entirely of stainless steel. How to clean a stainless steel espresso maker?
A quick wipe down with a damp cloth should do the trick. Note: Don’t use too much washing up liquid – we got a sparkling machine with a minimum amount easily.
The hopper and grinding mechanism need a little attention as well. Those are usually the areas where you have coffee bean mush mixing and it can get nasty – if a machine adds water there. Luckily, the BES870XL doesn’t add water there (that comes later), and what you have is actually the coffee bean powder. That stuff doesn’t stick that much and you can use a damp cloth again.
Thankfully, the cleaning of Breville BES870XL isn’t a daily event and you can quite easily leave the machine for a week between hoper cleans. We wouldn’t leave it any longer though as the stale flavor can easily ruin an otherwise a perfect brew.
The basket, steamer wand (that’s used for cappuccino, you can read more about how to make a cappuccino here), and drip tray come apart nicely and as with most machine at this level, everything clicks together satisfyingly.
Pros And Cons Of Breville Machine
We always try to gather the findings of our reviews in pros and cons section. Here is the quick review of Breville BES870XL :
The Verdict On Breville BES870XL Espresso Machine
This machine separates someone who likes to make coffee from someone who loves to make coffee. It is a fine barista-level machine at a reasonable price.
Hand down, this should be your first Breville machine. You’ll be able to drink the superior espresso once you master the machine. The only drawback is the lack of dual boiler system – but those machines can cost more than $1,000. You can buy the Breville BES870XL below:
We’re glad we spent two weeks reviewing our BES870XL, now we’re just scared of the mornings without the Breville perfect coffee.