As a lover of great coffee, there’s nothing I love more than a fresh cup of espresso, made from freshly ground Guatemalan beans so it develops this fresh cream right on top. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find such a thing without driving to a metropolitan area and paying $4 or more for a single cup. So I began researching and trying to find the best espresso machine. Under $1000 was my goal, but I found this model on several sites for less than $600.
However, one need look no further for high-quality homemade espresso than the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine.
It has the capability of grinding the beans, brewing a delicious espresso, and steaming the milk, all without taking up too much of my counter space, and the process is customizable from grind to pour.
The Barista Express line is made by Breville, a company that offers a wide variety of home and kitchen appliances and items. Breville was founded back in 1932 by Bill O’Brien and Harry Norville in Melbourne, Australia, and they originally made mine detectors and radios for the military. After around 1956, post-WWII and the introduction of the television, they adjusted their focus to small appliances. It makes me wonder if they ever thought their company would once aspire to make the best espresso machine, under $1000 even?
It’s easy to see how a company with such a long history of customer satisfaction can offer such a fun and relatively easy-to-use machine. This machine is easy for anyone, from an early espresso enthusiast to an experienced espresso aficionado, to operate and produce a fresh and delicious cup of espresso, a tasty latte, or even a cappuccino, making it a top contender for best espresso machine under $1000.
At first glance, the machine looks very sleek and professional with the stainless-steel finish. However, one of the first things I noticed was the finish is soft, scratching easily. It is also slightly frustrating to clean the fingerprints off some days.
Even though the various dials and gauges were intimidating at first, they became incredibly useful (and interesting) once I learned how to use them to personalize my brewing settings. The personalized settings include grind settings (coarseness of grind and how much to grind), brew settings such as filter size, and monitoring gauges such as the espresso pressure gauge.
Throughout the rest of this review, I will be addressing the product features, advantages, and disadvantages, as well as doing a comparison to another machine within the Barista Express’s price range.
Features of Product
- Item dimensions: 12.5 x 13.25 x 15.75 in.
- Item weight: 23 lb.
- Moderate pricing
- 15 bar Italian pump
- 1600W Thermocoil heating system with integrated stainless-steel water coil
- Automatic purge function to adjust the water temperature for optimum espresso extraction
- Integrated stainless steel conical burr with ½ lb. sealed bean hopper
- 2L (67 oz.) removable water tank with handle and space for charcoal filter (sold separately)
- 360-degree swivel action steam wand for effortless milk texturing
- Espresso pressure gauge: monitors espresso extraction pressure
- Volumetric control: preset 1 and 2 cup volumes with manual over-ride and reprogrammable shot volume options
- Grind size and grind amount control dials
- Filter size control dial: effortless switching between single- and double-wall filters
- “Clean Me!” service light
- 54 mm stainless steel portafilter
- 54mm tamper to perfectly match portafilter, magnetic for easy storage
- Removable drip tray: partitioned for both wet and dry spills, with “Empty me!” Indicator for when it’s full
- Cleaning kit
- Single- and Double-Wall filters
- Instructions manual
- Ability to grind beans, make espresso, and steam milk with the same small machine
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- 1600W Thermocoil heating system heats the water for the espresso relatively quickly
- 2L removable water reservoir for easy refilling and cleaning
- Portafilter cradle for hands-free grinding: insert portafilter into cradle and your freshly ground espresso will be dispensed directly into the portafilter
- The grinder is automated to dispense the perfect amount of ground coffee to match settings
- Cleaning tablets and instructions included, as well as “Clean Me!” service light to let you know when to run the cleaning cycle
- Removable drip tray has an “Empty Me!” Indicator to let you know when it’s getting too full
- Stainless steel conical burrs pull the best flavor from the bean by maximizing the surface area of the grinds. I use freshly ground beans every time for a stronger espresso flavor.
- Great reviews on many sites show that thousands of people agree it’s the best espresso machine under $1000.
- Steam wand uses the thermocoil heating system rather than a traditional water-boil system, so it will take a little bit longer to heat up the steaming system and quite a bit longer to foam the milk (but the milk does come out great nearly every time, so there’s a plus)
- If you’re a novice in the at-home espresso world (like I am), using the steam wand to properly froth milk and using the tamper will take some practice
- The stainless-steel finish is prone to scratches and fingerprints
For product comparison, I’m going to be looking at the Barista Express versus the Ascaso Dream-Up, two machines that are in a comparable price range but offer very different benefits, meaning either one of them could be the best espresso machine. Under $1000 for either one is an easy goal to meet as they can both be found for under $600.
The Dream-Up is much smaller than the Barista Express, at 11 x 9 x 13.6 in., but it does weigh the same as the Barista Express at 23 lbs. While it may take up less counter space, the Dream-Up does offer a smaller water tank (about 45 oz.), while the Barista Express boasts a 67-oz. tank with option for a charcoal filter. The Dream-up also requires a standalone bean grinder whereas the Barista Express has the grinder built-in.
One unique benefit of the Dream-Up over the Barista Express is that it has a filter to accept espresso pods as well as grounds, whereas the Barista Express has the filters to use with grounds.
Conclusion: Truly the Best Espresso Machine Under $1000?
If you were asking me, I’d have to say the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is a strong contender for the best espresso machine (under $1000 anyway) for many reasons.
Firstly, it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has everything I need all in one machine. On top of that, it makes a great latte.
If you’d like more information, here is a link to another review that shows some of the wonderful qualities I’ve outlined in this article, as well as another comparison video comparing the Barista Express to the Dream-Up. Click the following link for other Coffee Maker Reviews, including other contenders for the best espresso machine, under $1000, too.