Breville BES870XL Review 2020
It is almost sacrilege to not love the Breville Barista Express BES870XL. With a great reputation, huge sales and a long list of features, you can see why critics universally review it well and recommend it. Taken on its own, it is a great machine and at a reasonable price. And while it does have a lot going for it. But there are several world-class, but perhaps less well-known brands and models, that are just better automatic espresso machines.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Breville BES870XL
The Breville the Barista Express is loaded with great features and technology. But its superpower is marketing and reputation and we consider it a pretender to the crown. With all it has going for it the one big negative is competition. The king of the world (or Italy at least) super automatic espresso maker companies have all started offering value priced automatics with the same fantastic brewing, milk foam and steaming technology of their more expensive models. Often they will also include more adjustable settings and automation for good measure.
Better than the Breville
Espresso machines are getting to be a better deal all the time. So, it can surprise people to know that it is possible to get a world class Italian designed automatic espresso maker for the same price as a Breville BES870XL. Gaggia ships a lot of the same, world class brewing technology in some of its lower priced automatics as comes in its award-winning super automatics costing a few thousand dollars.
The Gaggia Naviglio is an amazing machine that has better automation and brewing. Like the other Gaggia’s listed below you will notice a difference in the espresso and the milk. Gaggia brewing uses mainly boilers and has better temperature management than the Breville PID. You will get thicker espresso with noticeably better aroma and higher crema.
Delonghi ESAM 3300
In our Breville vs Delonghi matchup, we rated the DELONGHI ESAM3300 as the better machine than the Barista Express. Like the Barista Express, the ESAM3300 is a strong contender with a long list of features but comes out just a little ahead in several areas.
Gaggia Anima or Brera
But if you want your cake and want to eat it to just spend a few dollars more and get a Gaggia Anima. The Anima does everything better than the Breville BES870XL. This ships with an excellent boiler, you can adjust the milk and brew temperatures and it ships with a nice Pannarello Wand for much better foam. It has few flaws and the automation, precision controls, espresso and microfoam are both dramatically better.
If you only drink espresso and never want a milk-based drink you can get the Gaggia quality espresso cheaper than a BES870XL Barista Express with a Gaggia Brera. It does foam and steam milk but doesn’t deliver the same quality microfoam as the other recommendation on the list.
Breville BES870XL Brewing
Our BES870XL Barista Express review determined that it comes with some solid espresso brewing. The espresso is very good, although a bit watery and thin compared to the richness of the machines mentioned above. The Barista Express has Breville’s precise espresso extraction (PID) system. This control is essential in quality and consistent espresso. The aroma is good, aided by an excellent grinder, which we will cover later.
The BES870XL ships with 54-millimeter stainless steel porta filter single and double walled filter baskets, an integrated tamper, which works well and scooper. Each new Barista Express also ships with a water filter holder and water filter.
Breville BES870XL Milk Foaming and Steaming
The quality of the microfoam in your automatic machine is probably second in importance only to espresso quality. Our BES870XL review found that it ships with a pretty run of the mill wand that makes credible micro foam. It doesn’t have a control to adjust the milk temperature, a major shortcoming. However, as we have said repeatedly, one argument for upgrading to a super automatic over any automatic mentioned here is that it is hard to make microfoam like a barista consistently.
Breville the Barista Express Grinder
One thing that really boosted the reputation of the Breville BES870XL is it includes a conical grinder with some basic dosing control. At this price this is pretty rare and is a great feature. We wrote in our blade vs burr coffee grinder article why we prefer conical burr grinders over flat ones. The basic dosing feature dispenses the right amount of grounds for your shot. You adjust the coarseness setting with a turn of a knob control and it is precise enough for espresso only machines. It also ships with the Razor dose trimming tool which makes the somewhat manual process easier.
Breville Barista Express Cleaning & Maintenance
The Breville is reasonable easy to clean and maintain. The milk wand cleans reasonably well which is what need the most upkeep. The Breville Barista Express manual can be downloaded here at the bottom right of the page. It doesn’t have the sort of self-cleaning systems that a full super automatic has. But it comes apart easily and ships with cleaning disc and tablets a cleaning brush, tool and Allen key.
Breville Barista Express Review Bottom Line
If you decide to buy a Breville the Barista Express BES870XL you won’t be making a mistake. It is a great machine. Our BES870XL review finds it to be attractive and it comes in a classic looking brushed stainless steel, red cranberry, and black sesame. All are attractive and the Red Cranberry is pretty distinctive.
But, starting around $600 there are a lot of great competitors out there. In addition to head to head competitors like DeLonghi, you can get yourself a lower priced Italian model like a JURA or Gaggia, and many of those are just better in some critical ways.
Where to buy a Barista Express
One reason Breville is successful is you can buy them in so many better stores. But, easily our Breville BES870XL review found lowest price we found was on Amazon which also offers Prime delivery and returns. Do not buy a Breville on Breville.com. It is over $100 more; they charge for shipping and you don’t get any better manufacturers warranty. It isn’t even worth waiting for a Breville BES870XL sale because Amazon seems to offer pricing as good every day. Also, walking into a store is risky because the prices and availability is unpredictable.
Breville Barista Express Specifications
- Product Dimensions 13.2″ x 12.5″ x 15.8″
- Weight 23 pounds
- Shipping Weight 29.6 pounds
- Manufacturer Breville
- ASIN B00CH9QWOU
- Item model number BES870XL
- Warranty 1 Year Limited Product Warranty
- Brushed Stainless Steel.
- Bean Hopper Capacity: 8 ounces.
- Water Tank Capacity: 67 oz.
- Single or Double Shots.
- Adjustable Grind Amount & Manual over-ride.