Breville Barista Express Review 2023: Still Going Strong!

by Karen Hay on Jul 02, 2023

Breville Barista Express Review 2023: Still Going Strong!

In today's Breville Barista Express review I'll be putting one of the most popular espresso machines of all time through its paces. This incredibly successful work horse has been around for 10 years, and keeps selling like hot cakes.

It’s easy to see why – the Barista Express has a ton of advanced features that set it apart from other hybrid espresso machines. Plus, this is an approachable and relatively affordable option for beginner home baristas.

Still, the Australian manufacturer has released a bunch of new machines since launching the Barista Express, so is it still relevant? All will be revealed in this Breville Barista Express review!



Breville Barista Express

A solid step in your espresso journey.

Easy to use

Tons of adjustable settings

Great value

Stylish design

Solid and well built

Grinder is rather limiting

Not much steam pressure

Table of Contents

Breville Barista Express Review Overview

If you’ve had a chance to check out my home espresso machine guide 2023, you’ll know how highly I rate Breville. In fact, I’ve even compiled a separate guide to the best Breville espresso machines.

I’m consistently impressed by how the Australian manufacturer has carved out a unique niche for itself in the home espresso machine market. Its machines appeal to those who want to experiment with specialty coffee but without too steep of a learning curve.

The Breville Barista Express perfectly encapsulates this idea. I mean, one glance is all it takes to see what Breville was going for. There’s loads of brushed stainless steel, fancy knobs and buttons, and an impressive-looking pressure gauge on the front.

The Breville Barista Express with all accessories

In other words, this looks like something that a pro barista would practice on before going to work and slinging shots for the masses.

However, a second look reveals features that help automate espresso preparation, like a built-in grinder and magnetic tamper. Sneering espresso purists might claim this is just a super automatic espresso machine in disguise. Still, there’s a lot more to the Breville Barista Express than simply pressing a button and calling it good.

In reality, the Barista Express is capable of producing authentic espresso and sublime milk foam. Plus, it offers plenty of control over the brewing process without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Ultimately, you’ll be doing all the work, but the machine will be helping you out along the way.

Sure, there are always some compromises involved with a hybrid semi-automatic like this. Still, for $659.94, the Breville Barista Express is an affordable machine that’s ideal for novice home baristas.

Breville Barista Express Features

As you might have guessed, I’ve got plenty more to say about this successful hybrid espresso machine. Let’s continue this Breville Barista Express review by delving into all the features you can expect.

Size and Design

Earlier in this Breville Barista Express review I mentioned how impressive the machine is looks-wise. I mean, if you’re after an espresso maker that’ll seriously elevate the aesthetics of your kitchen, the Barista Express will deliver.

Aside from being visually appealing, the Barista Express feels really substantial. Thanks to its rugged stainless steel housing and weighty portafilter, this feels like a machine that’ll last. Trust me, when you’ve tested as many coffee makers as I have, finding one that keeps plastic to a minimum really means a lot!

Of course, the Breville Barista Express is far from compact, but it’s no behemoth. Plus, you won’t need to make room in your kitchen for a separate grinder. Still, the machine does clock in at 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) in height, so fitting it beneath overhead cabinets might prove tricky. Especially given the fact you’ll need to frequently access the bean hopper.


In my opinion, manufacturers tend to get a little carried away when it comes to color options. Breville’s product development department is as guilty as any other when dreaming up stupid-sounding colors for their espresso machines.

With that said, the team has been fairly restrained with the Barista Express. I ordered the Brushed Stainless Steel version to test out, seeing as that’s always my preferred vibe. However, you can also buy the Barista Express in Black Sesame if that’s your thing.

Do bear in mind that you’ll likely pay a little more for the black version. Why that’s the case is anyone’s guess.

User Interface

Closeup of the Breville Barista Express user interface

Seeing as I’ve tested plenty of Breville espresso machines, the Barista Express user interface was immediately familiar. Still, for newbies, there’s nothing that will seem overly intimidating. Everything is clearly labeled and the control panel layout is easy to navigate.

As it happens, there are tons of adjustable settings lurking beneath the surface, but you’ll have to refer to the user manual for an explanation. I mean, I don’t want to send you off to sleep! Just know that you’re able to program shot volume, water temperature and pre-infusion time by pressing the right buttons in the right order.

What’s most important here is that you’ll quickly be able to get started pulling shots and making simple adjustments without needing to spend hours consulting the user guide.

Incidentally, I was so happy to see the addition of a pressure gauge. Located front and center, the gauge provides valuable feedback as the espresso is extracting. Far from just a stylish gimmick, this feature really helped me dial in my espresso shots during my testing.

Water Tank

The Breville Barista Express water tank
The Breville Barista Express water tank with water inside.

The Breville Barista Express is equipped with a 67.6 ounce (2 liter) water tank. There’s a nice, sturdy handle that makes it easy to remove the tank from the rear of the machine. Still, be extra careful when you’re putting it back in place – it’s all too easy to slosh water all over.

As you might expect, Breville has included a water filter for the reservoir. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend filling the tank and letting water sit in there for days. Rather, use fresh water every time and let the tank dry out in between. Believe me, your taste buds will thank you!

Conical Burr Grinder

Looking dow into the Breville Barista Express grinder.
Coffee beans in the Breville Barista Express hopper.

One of the main reasons for the enduring success of the Barista Express is that it offers a convenient all-in-one package. Rather than having to shell out for an additional burr coffee grinder, this espresso machine has one built in.

Up top there’s an 8-ounce (230-gram) bean hopper, and a dial on the side of the machine allows you to choose from 18 grind settings. The Barista Express’ stainless steel conical burr grinder is based on the manufacturer’s awesome Smart Grinder Pro. It’s actually nice and quiet during operation, which is a big plus. However, I found the grinder to be rather limiting for espresso.

That’s not to say it’s terrible. Rather, the inability to make precise micro-adjustments between grind setting clicks makes it difficult to achieve consistency. As I already mentioned, an affordable hybrid machine always involves some amount of compromise.

Automatic Dosing

Using the Breville Barista Express automatic dosing feature

I’ll admit that I was a little worried about the dosing function on the Barista Express. Fortunately, the included dosing funnel does a marvelous job of directing all the ground coffee into the portafilter.

The automatic dosing function works on a timer, so I’d definitely recommend using a coffee scale while you’re adjusting the dose. However, once I’d found the right setting, the Barista Express was remarkably consistent. I got the same amount of ground coffee in my portafilter every time and experienced minimal static buildup.

With that said, changing the grind will put you back to step one, so keep that scale handy!


The Breville Barista Express making espresso

As you may already know, pre-infusion is a vital stage in espresso extraction. It’s the same principle as letting the coffee bloom when you’re making pour-over coffee or French press. By slightly dampening the bed of ground coffee, carbon dioxide can escape and aromas begin to develop.

Fortunately, the Breville Barista Express features a preset pre-infusion function before the full 9 bars of pressure kick in. Even better, you’re able to adjust the pre-infusion time to suit your taste. This is really cool, seeing as a longer or shorter pre-infusion can drastically alter your espresso’s taste profile.

During my testing I timed the factory set pre-infusion at precisely 10 seconds. For the coffee I was using, that was just too long. Fortunately, the machine’s manual mode is easy to use. You simply hold down the brew button to control pre-infusion time, then release it to start the extraction. Once you’re satisfied with the shot volume, simply hit the button again.

Digital PID Temperature Control

The first sign that the Breville Barista Express is serious about the pursuit of perfect coffee is the PID temperature controller centered on the actively heated group head. So what the heck is a PID controller, anyway?

It’s basically just a sensor that constantly monitors and maintains the temperature of the brew head, ensuring a more perfect espresso extraction in the filter basket.

What’s more, you can also finely adjust the water temperature between 187 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (86-96 degrees Celsius). Believe it or not, a two-degree change in temperature can make or break an espresso.

Forget about other beginner machines giving you that kind of temperature control!

Don’t worry if you’re still finding your feet here. The default temperature setting is a good starting point until you’re comfortable making adjustments. Some people complain that the temperature of their espresso is on the cool side, so being able to increase that is ideal. Oh, and pre-warming espresso cups with hot water helps too.


Rather than a single boiler that takes half an hour to heat up, the Breville Barista Express is equipped with a thermocoil. Believe me, this makes a huge difference. In my experience, the Barista Express was ready to go in around 30 seconds, which is marvelous.

Still, I recommend waiting a little longer before making coffee. That way, the group head and portafilter will have enough time to get nice and toasty.

By the way, you can’t steam milk and pull espresso shots at the same time. That said, the Barista Express switches quickly and seamlessly between functions. Plus, you won’t need to temperature surf in order to make an espresso shot right after steaming. The machine takes care of everything.

Some folks will try to tell you that the ThermoJet system on some of Breville’s newer offerings is superior. Don’t listen, though. Sure, the thermojet is even quicker to get going. However, it’s very slow in terms of bringing the group head up to temperature. I guess sometimes even Breville can overthink things!

Milk Foam

Steaming milk with the Breville Barista Express

I have to say that Breville hit a home run by adding a professional-style steam wand to the Barista Express. To top it all off, the manufacturer includes a stainless steel milk pitcher as part of the package.

The steam wand rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to really get to grips with manual milk frothing. If you’ve ever used an espresso machine with a steam wand that only moves in two directions, you’ll be overjoyed!

My main gripe here is that the steaming function takes a long time to get going. Rather than an instant jet of power, you’re faced with a gradual increase in pressure that seems like it might just peter out.

However, once you get used to it, the steam wand is pretty fantastic. Seriously, I was able to create beautiful, silky microfoam with the Barista Express. Incidentally, there’s a dedicated hot water spout next to the steam wand, which is handy when you’re making an americano. I love thoughtful features like that!


Earlier in this Breville Barista Express review I alluded to the quality of the 54 millimeter portafilter. Well I wasn’t kidding! The portafilter feels sturdy and well-made, and fits nicely in my hand.

Profile view of the Breville Barista Express portafilter

Not only do you get single and double shot filter baskets with this espresso machine, you can choose between single and double wall versions.

For those who don’t know, double wall baskets are meant for beginners. They have only one hole for espresso to pass through, so they hide inconsistencies in grind and tamping. Essentially, you’ll get a good-looking espresso shot with loads of crema every time.

However, I always recommend ditching these in favor of single wall baskets. Sure, you’ll spend more time honing your technique, but the difference in taste will be worth it. As an added bonus, you won’t feel like a big old cheater!


The Breville Barista Express magnetic tamper attached to the machine
Closeup of the Breville tamper

It isn’t unusual to find a tamper included with an espresso machine. Still, I can’t count the number of times I’ve unboxed a premium machine only to find a crummy plastic tamper. So, I implore other manufacturers to follow Breville’s example and include something that’s actually usable!

Listen, the espresso tamper that comes with the Barista Express is far from perfect. However, it’s got enough weight to make it effective. Let’s just say it’ll do until you can get hold of something better.

By the way, the Breville tamper is magnetic and attaches neatly to the machine. Maybe that’s why it isn’t quite heavy enough – Breville didn’t want it constantly falling off!

Cup Height

Profile view of the Breville Barista Express with a mug under the spouts
Brewing into a travel mug with the Breville Barista Express

I’m happy to report that the Breville Barista Express offers a generous amount of headroom under the portafilter spouts. So much so that I’d recommend elevating espresso cups somehow to prevent splashing

I found that there was plenty of room for my Coffeeness mug and I was even able to squeeze my favorite travel mug under there. With that said, my usual hack for brewing into taller insulated coffee mugs didn’t work out.

Oftentimes I’ll recommend removing the drip tray to give more cup height. However, the Barista Express has annoying plastic nodule things on the base below the drip tray. And they’re right where your cup needs to go! Oh well, you can’t win ’em all I guess.


As with all Breville espresso machines, the Barista Express comes with a one-year limited warranty. So, if you end up with a lemon, the manufacturer will take care of any repairs or send you a new machine.

To be honest, I wouldn’t worry too much. Breville products are known for being super well-made, so you’d be unlucky to receive a faulty machine. Still, it’s good to know the manufacturer has your back!


The Breville Barista Express accessories

Whenever I review a Breville coffee maker I make a special point of giving kudos to the manufacturer for its accessories. Seriously, these guys don’t hold back when it comes to loading you up with barista stuff. Anyway, here’s what you’ll get with your purchase of the Breville Barista Express:

  • Dosing Funnel attachment 

  • Razor Dose trimming tool

  • 4 x filter baskets

  • Tamper

  • Coffee scoop

  • Stainless steel milk pitcher

  • Cleaning disc and tablets

  • Cleaning brush, tool and Allen key

  • Water filter

That’s pretty generous, right? Now, if only I can convince Breville to include an espresso knock box too!

How to Use the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

Inserting a dosed portafilter into the Breville Barista Express group head

If you’re at all familiar with espresso preparation, getting started with the Breville Barista Express will be a piece of cake. Once you’ve unboxed your new toy and set it up, make sure to wash all removable parts, including the water tank. Once that’s done, fill up the tank with water and press the power button.

The Barista Express will take a little while to heat up, and once it’s ready all the lights will stop flashing. Personally, I like to leave the machine for a few more minutes so that the group head and portafilter heat up nicely.

If you’re using the machine for the first time, the manufacturer recommends flushing the machine. I’d say that’s probably a good idea – it’ll get rid of any factory dust and detritus that could be hanging out.

After that’s taken care of, you’re ready to get started. Add coffee beans to the hopper and insert the portafilter into the grinding cradle. As I already mentioned, you’ll need to adjust the Grind Amount dial until you’re happy with your dose. Same goes for the grind adjustment dial on the side.

Oh, and you’ll need to tell the machine which filter basket you’re using too.

Next, tamp the bed of ground coffee and insert the portafilter into the group head. Start extraction by pressing either the single or double cup button. I’ll leave it to the user manual to explain the intricacies of reprogramming shot volumes, water temperature and preinfusion time!


A fresh shot of espresso from the Breville Barista Express

I enjoy a challenge, which is why I had a great time during my Breville Barista Express review! As I mentioned earlier, the machine’s built-in grinder is rather limiting. However, I was able to get some pretty tasty espresso from the thing. Sure, it wasn’t mind-blowing. However, this is a relatively inexpensive machine for beginners, so I wasn’t expecting perfection.

During my testing, the biggest obstacle I faced was a lack of wiggle room. It was a challenge to find that sweet spot wherein the dose and grind setting work perfectly together. I started out setting the grinder to 5 and dosing the portafilter with 18 grams of coffee. However, I ended up getting the best results using 20 grams of coffee and setting the grinder at 8.

A latte made with the Breville Barista Express

While the automatic dosing feature works great, it doesn’t allow you to pause grinding and settle the bed of ground coffee. In my experience, that resulted in some serious channeling issues during extraction. Moreover, I experienced a lot of grounds clumping which didn’t help.

So, when you’re pulling shots with the Barista Express, I’d recommend bypassing the automatic dosing altogether and relying on your scale. That way you can settle the coffee during grinding. Also, consider investing in a distribution tool to get rid of clumps in the filter basket.

Lastly, I got the best results when I used manual mode with a pre-infusion time of around five seconds. Plus, I reduced the water temperature slightly. By the end of my testing, I was producing some sweet and complex espresso shots that went down easy. I was also bouncing off the walls!

Breville Barista Express Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning and descaling, Breville makes it pretty easy on you. It’s worth paying close attention to the different lights and symbols that indicate when cleaning or emptying is required. If in doubt, refer to the Breville Barista Express manual.

I’d recommend changing the water filter more frequently than absolutely necessary. Mineral buildup can be the death of an espresso machine.

Accessing and maintaining the grinder is easy peasy. Although, as an experienced nuts-and-bolts guy, I like to disassemble things a bit more thoroughly than what’s described in the Breville Barista Express manual.

In addition to using a mild detergent, you have to be extra cautious about cleaning the portafilter, especially on a Breville semi-automatic espresso machine. The reason is that there are a lot of coils and features packed tightly into a small space. They need to be well maintained.

Sounds like a hassle? It’s not that bad. Make a habit of it and cleaning the Breville Barista Express cleaning won’t take longer than washing a plate. OK, so I’m exaggerating a little, but you’ll thank me for it.

Speaking of hygiene, the more you clean the brew group, the better. Again, this entails flushing in short bursts — preferably before and after every brewing cycle.

Another aspect of Breville Barista Express cleaning is polishing all that brushed stainless steel, which is a big part of the retro-cool look that got you to open your wallet in the first place. The problem is every fingerprint shows so you’ll have to stay on top of it.

A final word of advice: no part of this machine should go in the dishwasher. Well, maybe the milk pitcher. But that’s it!

Breville Barista Express Specifications

Breville Barista Express


Model number


Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials



User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

54 mm



Removable water reservoir


Water reservoir capacity

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers


Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm


Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels


Bean hopper capacity

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks




Adjustable coffee temperature


Adjustable milk foam temperature


2-cup function


Hot water function


Hot milk function


Milk foam only option


Water filter


Power consumption

1600 W


23.0 lb / 10.4 kg


15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 in
40.4 x 31.8 x 35.1 cm


1 year


Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Magnetic tamper, Trimming tool, Coffee scoop, Milk jug, Water filter and holder, Cleaning supplies.

Current price on Amazon



Breville Barista Express vs Other Espresso Machines

At the start of this Breville Barista Express review I wondered aloud whether the machine is still relevant. So, let’s pit the machine against a couple of its stablemates to see how it stands up!

Breville Barista Express vs Barista Touch

The Breville Barista Express vs Breville Barista Touch

If you want a home espresso machine that’s even more automatic, the Breville Barista Touch is worth considering. With that said, at $1,099.95, it’ll set you back a lot more.

So what does all that extra cash get you? Well, there’s a cool touchscreen display that walks you through the whole espresso process. Plus, the ThermoJet heating system is frighteningly fast.

That’s all well and good, but you’ll sacrifice the Barista Express’ commercial style steam wand in favor of a more automatic system. It’s still a steam wand, but it’s designed to do all the work for you and doesn’t rotate. Depending on the experience you’re after, that’ll either be a bonus or a disappointment.

See Also: Breville Barista Touch Review 2023

Breville Barista Express vs Barista Express Impress

The Breville Barista Express vs Barista Express Impress

The Breville Barista Express Impress is the manufacturer’s latest offering. In a lot of ways, it’s an improvement on the original, and at $845.95 I would hope so!

There’s an automatic tamping station and a nifty display giving you feedback on your dose. Plus, the Barista Express Impress has a whopping 25 grind settings on board. Still, I felt a little let down by this updated machine.

To be honest, the automatic dosing and tamping features felt a little limiting. However, I believe this machine could be a game changer for espresso newbies.

See Also: Breville Barista Express Impress Hands-On Review 2023