As a coffee enthusiast, you want to wake up every morning to a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, which is costly if you have to rely on coffee shops.
What if there’s a way you can make your cup of espresso professionally at home? Breville makes some high-quality third-wave specialty espresso machines that you can use to brew cafe-quality espresso.
So, which one will you choose? The Barista Pro and Barista Express are the most affordable all-in-one (with built-in grinder) espresso makers in their lineup. We will compare the two so that you pick the one you feel is better for your kitchen.
Breville Barista Express
We will start with the Barista Express, which is one of the most popular Breville espresso coffee machines. It is capable of converting espresso beans to perfect espresso in under a minute.
“Simple” and “old school” are some of the adjectives that describe this entry-level espresso machine. It has manual buttons, knobs, dials, and analog display for the user interface, which might take some time to learn how to use. However, with the user manual and experimentation here and there, it gets easier with time.
Heating and Steaming
With its heating coil and digital temperature control, the Barista Express delivers water at the optimum temperature for espresso extraction and steam for milk frothing.
Transitioning from extraction to steaming takes a few seconds to allow the coil to heat up. The reverse is faster because the machine dumps cold water on the heating coil to lower the temperature. The process looks pretty cool as steam evaporates out of the heating coil.
Adjusting to the ideal temperature for steaming requires a knob turn on the right side of the machine, which releases steam via a single hole in the manual milk wand. When frothing, this steam creates bubbles in the milk to capture the delicate flavors of the shot of espresso while unlocking the milk’s sweetness.
One of the main downsides of this machine is its controls. Compared to the Barista Pro, this one lacks digital display controls, which are much easier to use.
Both iconic espresso machines feature a 67 oz capacity tank on the rear side, but the Express lacks a low water level indicator. Though the water lasts for some time in the tank, this feature makes it easy to refill the water tank on time.
The machine also produces an irritating noise when you turn it on. It also takes a bit longer to get to the operating temperature compared to the Pro. The single-hole steaming process still works perfectly for frothing here but does not match the power of the four holes in the Pro.
Lastly, the Express has only 18 grind size settings, a little over half of the 30 grind settings its sibling has.
Breville Barista Pro
As the partial successor to the Barista Express, the Barista Pro is the perfect embodiment of precision meets speed. It offers excellent single boiler steaming, a backlit, intuitive digital display, and of course, a high-quality burr grinder.
This is a more advanced espresso machine than its predecessor, and the biggest difference is the digital LCD display. From this screen, you can make any adjustment using a single rotating and pressable knob.
The addition of subtle animations when brewing and adjusting the settings is an excellent feature that gives the machine a futuristic feel while making it look marvelous.
One of the unit’s essential features Breville’s new faster water heating technology called thermojet, which operates way faster than the coil in the Express.
Once you switch it on, the thermojet can get to the optimal extraction temperature in only three seconds. Therefore, you can get hot water almost instantly for making drinks like tea.
However, for the espresso brewing process, you need a hot portafilter. As such, you need to run multiple blank shots, then wipe the filter basket, or leave it in the group head for roughly 10 minutes to warm up.
Perhaps the best advantage the Breville Pro has over the Express is its milk steaming and latte-making performance. The thermojet’s rapid water heating significantly improves the transition speed from extracting espresso and steaming milk.
Single boiler machines cannot do both simultaneously, so it takes a few seconds to heat up for steaming or cool to the perfect brewing temperature for espresso extraction. The Barista Pro is quick during these transitions due to its thermojet heating.
In addition to quickening the transition times, the thermojet also increases steaming power. The increased steaming power comes via a four-hole milk steam rod for quick and easy milk texturing.
As you know, creating micro-foam begins with powerful steam, so the system heats the milk more efficiently than the Express.
In the process, it creates thousands of tiny bubbles that form the perfect flavor balance of authentic espresso and sweet milk.
Additionally, the thick micro-foam milk makes it easy to create your favorite latte art, such as the tulip, heart, or Rosetta.
Compared to the Barista Express, this model is more expensive, but it is worth the price. Also, it only shows hotter or colder when setting the shot temperature instead of the actual reading.
It feels like Breville failed to utilize the digital display to its full potential here because showing the actual temperature doesn’t look like a difficult task and would give you more control over espresso brewing.
The Barista Pro looks good with its modern design, brews faster & better, and is easier to use. If you plan on steaming lots of milk and brewing multiple shots of delicious espresso, this is the best option. Ideally, this will come in handy if you host many friends or family and serve them coffee.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not discrediting the Breville Express. Granted, it is slower and lacks modern helpful features, but it is perfect for a single person or a small family of espresso lovers. On top of that, it costs much less than the Pro. If you are on a tight budget, go for this one.
However, if you have the money, I highly recommend the Pro as the perfect choice because it is a significant upgrade from the Express. If you are all about flavor precision, its 30 espresso grind settings make it easier and more accurate to dial in your espresso shot to produce your preferred taste.