Breville BES870XL Barista Express – a versatile semi-automatic espresso machine

Lauded by many as the top pick for at-home (or small business) third wave coffee making, the Breville Barista Express takes you from beans to a gourmet espresso beverage in minutes, all from a singular machine.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of...
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of...
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all...
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature,...

The Barista Express is loaded with vital and quality of life features that are sure to improve your coffee making experience.

If you’re looking to upgrade your beginner’s setup or simplify your workstation, the BES870XL has a built-in-grinder, tamper holder, and swivel mounted steam wand. It might just be the versatile semi-automatic espresso machine that you’ve been looking for.

Let’s take a closer look at its extended list of features to determine if the Barista Express is for you.

What we love about the Breville Barista Express:

  • All-In-One Professional Set Up that Saves you Counter Space.
  • Attractive, Print-resistant Brushed Stainless-steel Finish.
  • Bean to Cup in Under a Minute.
  • Get Café Style 3rd Wave Coffee at Home.
  • Integrated Conical Burr Grinder with Dose Control.
  • Swivel Mounted Steam Wand.
  • Dedicated Hot Water Dispenser for Teas, Americanos, and Long Blacks.
  • Professional 15 Bar Pump with Pressure Gauge.
  • Pre-infusion/Aroma Function.
Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-brushed-stainless-steel-body

Components of the Breville BES870XL:

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-components

A. ½lb bean hopper
With locking system for easy removal, storage and transfer of coffee beans.
B. Integrated conical burr grinder
C. Grind outlet
D. Grinding activation switch
E. Hands free grinding cradle
F. GRIND SIZE selector – Espresso grind settings from fine to coarse.
G. GRIND AMOUNT dial – Adjust the amount of fresh ground coffee dosed into the filter basket to suit the fineness or coarseness of the grind.
H. FILTER SIZE button – Tell the machine if you are using a 1 CUP or 2 CUP filter basket and the grinder will dispense the required amount of ground coffee for a single or double cup dose.
I. POWER button
J. Integrated removable 54mm tamper
K. Group head
L. 54mm stainless steel portafilter
With commercial style spouts.
M. Extra-tall cup clearance for tall mugs
N. Removable wet & dry coffee separator drip tray with Empty Me! Tray full indicator.
O. Storage tray (located behind drip tray) –
Houses accessories when not in use.
P. 360˚ swivel-action steam wand
Q. Dedicated hot water outlet
R. Steam/Hot Water dial – Selector dial for steam and hot water.
S. Steam/Hot Water light – Illuminates to indicate that the steam or hot water function is selected.
T. 1 CUP and 2 CUP buttons – With preset, manual over-ride or re-programmable shot volumes.
U. CLEAN ME light – Illuminates when a cleaning cycle is required.
V. Espresso pressure gauge
W. PROGRAM button
Re-programs the preset 1 CUP and 2 CUP shot volumes.
X. Cup warming tray
Y. 67 oz. (2L) removable water tank – with replaceable water filter to reduce impurities and scale.

Design of the Barista Express

If you want to look like a pro, you can most certainly do so with the Breville Barista Express in your home kitchen, coffee bar, or small café. The machine is entirely stainless-steel to easily integrate into a modern kitchen or café setting.

This semi-automatic espresso maker is available in two colors – Brushed Stainless Steel and Black Sesame.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express - Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville BES870XL Barista Express - Black Sesame
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville BES870BSXL the Barista Express, Espresso Machine, Black Sesame
$699.95
$699.95
Breville BES870XL Barista Express - Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
$699.95
Breville BES870XL Barista Express - Black Sesame
Breville BES870BSXL the Barista Express, Espresso Machine, Black Sesame
$699.95

The polished buttons on the front look attractive and have cool toned lights around them when the machine is turned on. They surround the pressure gauge, which measures the water pressure through the ground coffee in the portafilter during extraction.

Breville’s design team was able to cleanly fit the tamper, grinder, espresso maker and steam wand all in one 12” W x11” D x13.5 H” machine in a way that looks organized.

Its square shape makes it easy to find space for, and if you’re coming from a set up with all separate components, you’ll certainly find yourself conserving counter space.

The Barista Express weighs 23 pounds and has a ½ pound bean hopper capacity on top, and a 67-ounce water tank at the back.

The top of the machine features enough space to store mugs.

The bottom has an easily removable drip tray with lots of space for a variety of mug sizes or two espresso cups side by side.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-dose-control-grinding

Features & Performance:

Make Any Espresso Beverage Your Heart Desires

Few espresso machines on the market offer the capability to make any espresso beverage your heart desires in one self-contained machine as the Barista Express does.

Enjoy rich, full bodied and balanced silky-smooth espresso alone or, with the steam wand, in any white drink imaginable from lattes to Mochas and Cortados.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-to-create-the-ultimate-coffee-experience

It even has a dedicated hot water dispenser for black beverages like the Americano or Long Black. With the hot water dispenser, you can go beyond coffee and easily make tea, cocoa, or even foods like oatmeal or ramen.

Accessories Included

The Breville team wants you to be ready to brew from the moment your Barista Express arrives at your doorstep.

Inside the box, you’ll receive a Breville patented razor dosing tool, an espresso tamper that fits into a holder on the machine, cleaning tools, and even a stainless-steel milk mug for frothing in and pouring latte art.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-accessories-included

Integrated Grinder with Dose Control

The BES870XL’s ½ pound capacity, cone-shaped burr coffee grinder takes design cues from the Breville’s highly rated stand-alone Smart Grinder.

The built-in grinder offers just the right amount of coffee on demand and hands free, with knobs to perfectly dial in on the grind amount and milling with a whopping 18 grind settings.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-half-pound-bean-hopper-capacity

About the grind size, the smaller the number, the finer the grind size. The larger the number, the coarser the grind size.

 Tip:  we suggest you start at the No. 5 setting, and adjust as required.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-18-grind-sizes

Depending on the brand of coffee beans, and your taste, you will likely adjust the grind size and amount a few times to achieve the correct extraction rate.

Pre-Infusion/Aroma Function

The Express includes a function allowing you to use the popular pre-infusion method, gradually increasing the pressure of the water to gently expand the grind for a more even extraction.

You can activate this function by pressing and holding the shot button on the machine until sufficient pre-infusion time has elapsed.

Precise Automatic Temperature Control

Take the guesswork out of consistent espresso shots. The Barista Express automatically controls the temperature for you digitally to ensure your espresso is extracted optimally every single time.

Still, you can slightly adjust your brew temperature – up or down 4 degrees in 2-degree increments (Fahrenheit). There’s even an auto-purge function that returns the machine to an optimal espresso extracting temperature after using the steam wand.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-optimal-espresso-extracting-temperature

Large Capacity

The Barista’s 67 oz. water tank keeps you pulling more shots and making less refills. This large capacity makes the machine ideal for small cafes or bed and breakfast owners.

Energy Efficient

The BES870XL has a built-in sensor to a Sleep mode after 60 minutes. It will switch to Auto-off mode after 3 hours. While it’s in the off mode, the power button light will flash slowly.

  • You can re-activate the Barista by pressing any button (except for the Power button). The Power light will continue to flash during the re-heat period.
  • When it has reached the correct operating temperature, the Power light will stop flashing, and the button lights on the control panel will illuminate.

Maintenance

Like most machines, this appliance needs to be descaled every 2-3 months. There is a dedicated and clearly marked “descale” light that comes on when it’s time. The box comes with some descaling pellets to get you started on your first descale.

The machine’s fingerprint resistant exterior is easy to keep shiny with a microfiber cloth. The water tank and drip tray may need to be soaped down once a week if used frequently. We might even recommend every day, as the drip tray does get clogged up with grinds more easily than drip trays on other machines we’ve used.

Warranty

This semi-automatic has a one-year limited product warranty by Breville.

Things to Think About

The “express” in the name and the all-in-one nature of the Breville Barista Express machine might give some consumers the impression it is beginner friendly, but this machine is not for beginners.

There will be a learning curve if you’ve never made espresso before or grinded beans before, and it will not be easy for you to get the hang of.

If you’re a passionate beginner who wants something you can grow into, we could still comfortably recommend the machine. However, where it really shines is with intermediate and advanced coffee lovers looking to streamline their home or small café set up.

Setup Process:

The setup process for the Barista Express is slightly more involved than smaller machines, but it’s straightforward and easy to follow!

  • Step 0: Remove and discard of all labelling and packaging and wipe the outer housing of the bean grinder and machine with a soft damp cloth.
  • Step 1: Clean the machine’s removable parts and accessories using water and a gentle soap, rinse well, dry, and reattach the machine’s parts. The water filter inside the tank will need to be removed before washing said tank. Place the filter in cold water for five minutes before reattaching it to the water tank.
  • Step 2: Fill the water tank with fresh water, then turn on the machine and wait for it to heat up.
  • Step 3: Run a two shot with just the water, then operate the steam wand for 10 seconds. Alternate this process until the entire tank is empty.
  • Step 4: Refill the water tank and you’re ready to start making your first drinkable beverage!
Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-brushed-stainless-steel-body

Comparable Models: Breville BES870XL Barista Express vs. Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch

The Barista Express and the Touch are featured on our list of the Best 5 Breville espresso machines for every budget.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
12” W x 11” D x13.5” H
12.5” W x 15.5” D x 16” H
23 lbs.
26.8 lbs
Brushed Stainless-Steel
Brushed Stainless-Steel
1 boiler
1 boiler
Analog interface
Touch screen interface
$699.95
$1,099.95
Breville BES870XL Barista Express
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
12” W x 11” D x13.5” H
23 lbs.
Brushed Stainless-Steel
1 boiler
Analog interface
$699.95
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
12.5” W x 15.5” D x 16” H
26.8 lbs
Brushed Stainless-Steel
1 boiler
Touch screen interface
$1,099.95

Design Comparison

The Barista Express and the Barista Touch are nearly identical in overall design, but where they differ is in the front panel.

Some prefer the manual look with the polished nobs and dial, while others might like the higher tech look of the Barista Touch’s center touch screen.

Due to the sensors on the Touch, you’ll want to be more vigilant in keeping it clean after each use, so it stays functioning.

Most notably, the Barista Touch has a larger footprint. However, even with its 15.5-inch height, it will fit under most kitchen cabinets.

Breville-BES880BSS-Barista-Touch-Espresso-Machine-intuitive-touch-screen-display

Function Comparison

The Breville Barista Touch boasts the same features of the Barista Express, only automated – aside from the tamping which you’ll do manually still with this machine.

It takes the work out of being an at-home or small business barista, giving you the same great taste. The Touch is ready to go in an astounding 3 seconds, just select your drink and you’re ready to go. Even the milk automatically steams itself, allowing for a hands-free latte.

But of course, the ease of use comes at a cost both in price and an inability to put your own twist on classic beverages. Even if the touch allows you to program drinks, you’re limited in the settings you can adjust, whereas with the Breville Barista Express, you can be hands on and take better control of your beverage.

Which model should you get?

The Barista Touch is significantly more beginner friendly, considering the ability to swipe and select your drink right from the touch screen, but it’s more expensive than the Barista Express. On top of that, it’s a bit bulkier, and it might not offer the customization a more advanced barista would want.

If you’re a beginner that’s passionate about espresso and want to learn the ends and outs of it, the Barista Touch also may not be for you, as it would over automate in that case. On the other hand, you might value an easy experience after working on a manual machine for a while.

Depending on which camp you fall into, either the Touch or the Express will be right for you.

Final Thoughts:

The Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine (view on Amazon) is feature-rich, and comes with all the essential accessories. They are easy to use for intermediate and advanced home baristas.

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-brushed-stainless-steel-body

This semi-automatic unit has been on our top 10 best-seller list for the last three consecutive years. It’s easy to see why – it allows you to have all the controls along with an integrated conical burr grinder, and a pre-infusion function. And, it has a small footprint on your counter.

As for beginners, there will be a learning curve that might be good for a passionate newbie but could be overwhelming for a casual coffee fan.

Brushed Stainless-Steel, analogue button control, integrated conical burr grinder, manual milk texturing, digital temperature control.

Whether you’re a small business owner or an at-home barista, if you’re looking for an all-in-one professional espresso machine loaded with features that you didn’t even know you needed – the Breville Barista Express is for you.