If you’re anything like us, you want an espresso machine with all the features and options you could ever want, without the need for a full-blown degree to learn how to operate it. That’s where Breville espresso machines come in; they’re accessible and affordable for beginners, with several models to choose from for every lifestyle.
Breville was founded in 1932 in Sydney, Australia, initially specializing in making radios. But eventually, they expanded to home and kitchen appliances in the 1950s. Today they are a leading manufacturer of home appliances, including coffee machines.
They offer a wide variety of espresso machines, all with their advantages and drawbacks and suited to every experience level. From beginner espresso brewers to seasoned professional baristas, there’s a model for everyone, including the Breville Barista Express and the Breville Barista Touch, two of Breville’s more popular models.
Espresso machines can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands, depending on the quality and features of the appliance. Admittedly, this can make the cost of home espresso brewing somewhat intimidating. Business Insider advises that you should expect to pay at least $400 for an acceptable machine, but that costs can run much higher for grinders or fully automatic devices.
But Breville espresso machines are firmly mid-range, intermediate models. You can readily get their more popular machines for well under $1,000, which is excellent for beginners looking for their first home espresso machine. However, these machines might not have all the features, customization, or specs that a professional barista wants.
What are the benefits of Breville coffee machines?
Breville creates powerful home espresso machines that are best suited for those just learning how to brew authentic espresso or who want to get started at home. Brewing creamy espresso is a daunting challenge, but Breville offers coffee drinkers the ability to create delicious espresso at home without intense training or trial and error.
The Breville Barista Express and the Breville Barista Touch are excellent daily espresso machine options for different audiences. But how do you choose the right one for you and your lifestyle?
Why choose one of these machines?
You can make various excellent espresso drinks with both Breville espresso machines, including lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, flat whites, Americanos, and more.
If you’re new to the world of espresso and aren’t sure exactly what to look for in a machine, check out this video for a comprehensive guide for first-time espresso machine buyers:
How to Choose Your First Espresso Machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAvaYCCNV1s
Barista Express vs. Barista Touch: Side by Side Comparison
When you’re buying your first espresso machine, you want to look at a few main factors, mainly your budget, your level of experience, the specific features you want, and whether the machine is readily upgradeable.
Another thing to consider is how long your espresso machine will last before you’re ready to move on to something more advanced. If the machine is too beginner-friendly, you may find yourself soon wishing you’d gotten a higher-end model after a few months. Upgradeable devices will last longer.
Breville Barista Express
If you’re looking for a compact, easy-to-use machine that creates a beautiful espresso beverage rivaling high-end appliances at a fraction of the price, the Breville Barista Express espresso machine is a fantastic option.
Those who are willing to put a little bit of work into tweaking and customizing their machine and manually going through the process of brewing espresso will be rewarded with beautiful shots of espresso, perfect for making their favorite espresso drink at home.
Things We Like:
- User-friendly and approachable operation: This machine includes everything you need to start brewing espresso right away, even without previous experience or know-how.
- The Barista Express includes a wide variety of customizable settings to tweak your cup of coffee, so it’s just right.
- The chic retro design might not appeal to all coffee fiends, but those who want an old-school approach will love this look!
- The machine produces adequate pressure for high-quality espresso extraction and an excellent milk froth.
- Quality construction and workmanship, plus its variety of options and features, make this machine an excellent value for the mid-range price tag.
- It features convenient accessories, such as a stainless steel milk jug, dual and single wall filter baskets, coffee scoop, and more.
- The 360-degree swiveling adjustable milk frother is convenient and versatile, allowing you to move the milk jug around for a better, more thorough froth, perfect for a variety of espresso drinks.
Things We Don’t:
- The attached grinder, while convenient, is perhaps the machine’s biggest let-down. At its finest setting, the grind size is much coarser than other competitive grinders.
- Since this is a hybrid semi-automatic machine, it’s more labor-intensive than a (more expensive) fully automatic espresso machine.
- Since it’s a single boiler machine, you cannot steam and brew simultaneously, which can be a disappointment to those who want a quick espresso brew in the morning.
- It takes time to learn to operate the machine and familiarize yourself with its parts, especially with many customization options. While it’s a relatively beginner-friendly machine, it’s still a steep learning curve for the first-time espresso brewer.
The Bottom Line:
Breville Barista Express is stylish and non-intimidating to coffee newbies; it’s an excellent choice for a first-time espresso machine with an extremely user-friendly design. It’s an outstanding value for its price and makes quality espresso that will thrill every beginner coffee fiend.
However, those on the fast track of their coffee-brewing journey may find that they’ll outgrow this machine quickly and may be better off with a more advanced device. Those who want a more modern iteration with the latest technology should probably go with the Breville Barista Touch.
Breville Barista Touch
If you’re looking for a much more precise brewing experience and not manually customizing your settings every time, you might be willing to pay a few hundred dollars more for the convenience, control, and features that the Breville Barista Touch has to offer.
The built-in touch screen takes you step-by-step through the brewing process, giving beginners more control over the result. With customizable drink profiles and preprogrammed espresso drink recipes, it provides all the convenience of a more high-end machine for a reasonable price.
Things We Like:
- The integrated stainless steel burr grinder with 30 different grindsw2ettings ensures you have complete control over your grind.
- The Barista Touch’s main feature is the touch screen for easy, hands-free operation, giving you the ability to create genuine, delicious espresso with a system that’s suitable for beginners.
- Its appearance is very similar to the Breville Barista Express, but with a more streamlined appearance due to the lack of buttons and premium brushed metal finish.
- The steam wand included with the Barista Touch has a built-in thermometer, allowing for more precise temperature and texture control over your milk froth.
- Its Thermojet Heating System means you can heat water in just three seconds.
- Eight customizable drink profiles and five preprogrammed drink recipes make this the perfect machine for office or family environments
Things We Don’t:
- It is not a fully automatic machine and requires manual tamping.
- The machine is relatively heavy, weighing about 23 pounds, which might be too bulky for some homes.
- The water tank is not accessible from the front, and with the machine’s weight, this could be inconvenient for some users.
- Lack of preheating system for mugs; this isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, but in a machine with this many features, it’s a little bit of a downer.
- The lack of a complete automatic cleaning system means there’s more work involved in keeping it clean (although the automated cleaning system for the steam wand is helpful)
- It’s a single boiler system, which means it can’t brew and steam milk simultaneously (however, this is mitigated by the Thermojet heating system).
The Bottom Line:
The Barista Touch is a step above the more manual Barista Express, with easy hands-free operation while offering many features that make the much pricier Barista Oracle Touch such an excellent machine.
However, the high-tech specs of the Barista Touch come at a cost. If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t mind spending a bit more time manually working your machine, you’ll likely prefer the lower-priced Breville Barista Express.
Are Touchscreens a Touchy Subject?
The most significant difference by far between these two machines that might have you hung up is the presence or lack of a touch screen. The more manual design of the Barista Express has you physically pulling the espresso shot yourself and controlling every aspect of the process. The Barista Touch, automatically does all of that for you, and you program your settings with the push of a button.
Some people may find this interface much more intuitive; it can help prevent user error when pulling espresso and take a lot of the guesswork out of the process. But others may feel that they don’t get an authentic brewing experience by interacting with a touchscreen. If this is you, you can save money by choosing the Barista Express or going with an even more simple model like the
How Beginner Friendly is Too Beginner Friendly?
Another consideration is whether you think you’ll outgrow your machine too quickly. Espresso machines are usually a significant investment for a new espresso enthusiast, so it’s crucial to choose a basic and approachable machine like the Barista Express.
But despite the steep learning curve, users may feel like they’ve moved past their machine only a few months into owning it. If you want a more advanced device with more features that will likely meet your needs for longer, you may prefer the Barista Touch.
Do You Have a Need for Speed?
As much as we’d all love a leisurely sit-down to enjoy our drinks, this doesn’t always work out in real life. If time is of the essence, you may prefer not to use a manual machine like the Barista Express. Its manual brewing process takes a bit longer to brew coffee fully.
With the Barista Touch, all it takes is the touch of a few buttons, and you’re on your way to a great cup of coffee. You can use the preprogrammed espresso drink recipes to quickly choose your beverage or set up your custom user profile, so you’re never more than a few minutes from your usual favorite.
You can’t go wrong with either of these machines for your first espresso maker. We love the Barista Touch because of its high-tech precision, preprogrammed recipes, and more. It makes excellent espresso drinks at a much lower price than other high-end machines and offers the best of both worlds: the precision, control, and ease-of-use of an automatic espresso machine, paired with the quality build and functionality of a solid intermediate level espresso machine.
But the Barista Touch may not be suitable for everyone. Those who don’t mind the steep learning curve and hybrid function of the Barista Express may prefer paying less for a quality beginner machine. Also, those who like a more hands-on approach to the brewing process or don’t want to deal with computer systems in their device may prefer a more manual design.
Whichever you choose, be sure to thoroughly learn your machine and all of its features so that you can get the most out of every brew!
Finally, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option than these two, consider the Breville Infuser, which has a similar build and design to the Barista Express sans the coffee bean grinder, which frankly, you can do without.