So you’ve finally hit that critical moment as a coffee enthusiast: you’re ready to dive into the world of espresso machines and invest in your own. But if you’re unsure of where to start or want to compare two of the leading espresso machine brands on the market, we’ve got your back. Read on to learn more about the Calphalon Temp IQ and how it stacks up against the Breville Barista Express.
So Who Are These Machines For?
Breville started as a radio manufacturer in the 1930s before moving into other home and kitchen appliance markets throughout the decades. Today, Breville’s espresso machines are some of the most popular in the industry, and they’re a highly trusted name for home espresso makers and equipment.
Calphalon, on the other hand, got their start a little differently. Ronald M. Kasperzak founded Calphalon in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1963 to supply the restaurant industry with bakeware, cutlery, cookware, and appliances.
Today, they’re a leading name in home cookware and appliances and known for their durable quality and selection of products.
Their one-touch espresso machine, the Calphalon Temp iQ, is a budget-friendly machine designed for homebrewers looking to balance the convenience of a home espresso machine with the versatility of a professional cafe-style machine, all for a highly affordable price tag.
These machines are designed with the home brewer in mind, with plenty of useful features that you would typically find on a full-sized professional espresso machine, but at a more accessible price and with a more user-friendly design.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these brands when you consider their quality of build and the thought put into the design of their machines as a whole.
Both espresso machines are made with a beginner home brewer in mind, with features to help even those without much training create beautiful, delicious-tasting espresso shots.
They’re also great machines if you’re interested in specialty espresso drinks like macchiatos and cappuccinos, lattes, and more.
Both devices feature easy-to-use steam wands to help you create whatever coffee drink your caffeinated heart desires.
The Temp iQ may be more suitable for households with more than one espresso drinker since its unique double spout feature means you can brew two shots of espresso at a time to share (or keep for yourself, we don’t judge).
As for ease-of-use, there is definitely a much steeper learning curve with the Barista Express than with the Temp iQ, but this could be a pro or a con, depending on the person. Beginners can easily use the Barista Express to create a cafe-quality brew with just a little practice and effort, but some may not want that and instead would like to go with a more automatic machine like the Temp iQ.
Calphalon Temp IQ vs. Breville Barista Express: Side-By-Side Comparison
Breville Barista Express
One of Breville’s most popular machines, the Barista Express, aims to provide a nice balance between a beginner-friendly espresso machine with simple instructions for first-time home brewers and all the features that you’d expect from a higher-end product for experienced users.
However, with its steep learning curve, it may only be suitable for those willing to put a lot of time and effort into learning the ins and outs of the machine. Those who do will be rewarded with a delicious, flavorful espresso and the feeling of accomplishment you can only get with a great pull.
Things We Like:
- This machine has a simple brewing process that’s easy to use (once you’ve taken the time to practice).
- The swivel ball-mounted steam wand gives you control and flexibility over your creamy froth.
- The Barista Express produces 15 bars of brewing pressure, the ideal pressure level for genuine espresso drinks.
- The retro design and variety of available colors will be a hit with many homebrewers since the machine can fit onto just about any kitchen counter.
- The superb quality of the build and materials make this machine an excellent value for the mid-tier price tag.
- There are six types of available coffee settings with tons of opportunities to practice. With enough practice, a user can learn to brew high-quality espressos, lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, ristretto, and Americanos.
- All the accessories that you need to brew fresh espresso drinks are included, like a stainless steel portafilter, dual-wall filter cups, a stainless steel milk jug, a cleaning disc and tablets, and more.
Things We Don’t Like:
- It’s a bit on the pricey end for an entry-level machine, so while it’s a worthwhile investment, it may not appeal to all new homebrewers.
- All parts should be cleaned by hand, and cleaning is required relatively often (about every two weeks). Cleaning can be difficult since the water tank is located at the back of the machine.
- The integrated conical burr grinder could be better, and the frother is a bit messy.
- There’s a steep learning curve with this machine, but those who are willing to put some time and effort into learning it will see great results.
- The Breville Barista Express is a single boiler heating system, which means you can’t steam milk and brew simultaneously.
The Bottom Line
The Breville Barista Express may be slightly intimidating to some users, with the higher price tag and manual brewing system. Since there is a learning curve, some consumers may be put off if they’re looking for a more hands-off brewing process.
However, the quality of the build, the available accessories, and the delicious espresso it creates all make this machine a worthwhile investment to the right buyer.
Plus, the steep learning curve could be an exciting prospect for coffee lovers who are ready to dive head-on into the world of espresso brewing and want to use the manual brewing process as a learning opportunity. It also makes some darn good coffee once you know how to use it.
Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine
While not as well-known or popular as the Barista espresso machine, there’s a lot to recommend in this machine.
It’s a high-quality espresso machine and a solid competitor to the Barista express, especially for those who don’t want to put in the time and work it takes to get over the learning curve associated with that machine.
Things We Like:
- Simple and elegant design with stainless steel and BPA-free materials
- It’s an excellent machine for inexperienced users due to its minimal design; it’s easy to use with minimal training after the initial setup.
- It produces delicious espresso in single or double shots, with the ability to make two espresso cups simultaneously.
- Its digital water temperature control feature helps achieve perfect espresso extraction at the optimal espresso temperature, and it also means your coffee will be piping hot every time.
- The powerful steam wand is easy to use and creates an excellent microfoam for creamy espresso drinks.
Things We Don’t Like:
- The body and accessories are made up partially of plastic, which leaves the whole machine feeling a little less high-end.
- The initial setup can be time-consuming and a little confusing; however, it translates into simple operation down the road.
- It’s a little noisy when brewing or steaming, which could be annoying to some buyers.
- There’s no built-in burr grinder which could be inconvenient for some brewers, especially if they’re brewing for many people at once.
The Bottom Line
The Calphalon Temp iQ offers delicious, cafe-quality, perfect espresso drinks in a simple, non-intimidating package that’s ideal for first-time espresso brewers who aren’t looking to compromise on taste or efficiency. After its initial setup, it has great ease of use.
Though it requires a bit more hands-on effort than a super-automatic espresso machine, it’s not as labor-intensive as more manual models such as the Barista Express can be.
We’d recommend this machine to anyone who wants to get into brewing quality espresso drinks from home but doesn’t want a steep learning curve to achieve excellent results, or for those who may have several espresso drinkers in their household and need a faster, less involved brewing process.
How Important Is the “Feel”?
Every brewer is different, and some people won’t care as much as others if the feel of their machine is more or less “premium.” But the difference is definitely there, and if you’re taking the time to invest in a machine that will last for years, you want to make sure that the look and feel of that espresso maker match up to your budget and expectations.
The Breville Barista Express blows the Calphaon Temp iQ out of the water in terms of looks and build quality. The Barista Express feels like a much higher-end machine with its full stainless steel body and accessories.
At the same time, the Temp iQ, while more affordable, has several plastic components and accessories that bring down the experience, at least to those who care about aesthetics in their machine.
Two is Company
Another consideration you should put some thought into before investing in either of these semi-automatic espresso machines is how often you’ll be using your coffee maker and how many people you’ll be brewing for.
If you live in a household with multiple coffee drinkers or espresso lovers, you may want to choose a machine designed for more than one user.
The Barista Express makes an excellent cup of coffee, but it only really can make one cup at a time. The Calphaon Temp iQ has the unique double spout feature, which you can use to pour a double shot for yourself or share with others.
If you’re planning to brew for more than just yourself daily, this feature can be a real timesaver.
Is Bigger Always Better?
When it comes to investing in a home espresso machine, you should consider the size of the device and the capacity of its water reserve to determine if it will fit into both your lifestyle and your kitchen setup.
A bigger, heavier machine could be entirely impractical for some users who can’t move or pick it up if needed, but a coffee maker that’s too small may not have the water capacity to keep up with you and your family.
The Barista express measures 13.2″ x 12.5″ x 16″, making it a fit for most homes and kitchen cabinets. Plus, its 67-ounce removable water tank is likely to handle even the heaviest espresso drinkers.
We’d recommend this machine to single users who will brew one or two shots of espresso drinks daily and have the available space for a standard-sized espresso machine.
The Calphalon Temp iQ has a slightly bigger footprint at 5.6″ x 14.5″ x 17.3″, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may make it a tighter fit in some kitchens. However, the Temp iQ also has a much larger water capacity at 94 ounces compared to the Barista Express with its 67-ounce water tank capacity.
Overall, this machine may be better suited to handle the demands of larger groups like families with multiple coffee drinkers or office environments.
If you’re looking for an amazing espresso machine that’s going to give you a great cup of coffee and you’re not afraid of a challenge, you’ll enjoy the Breville Barista Express immensely.
However, you should be prepared for a bit of a learning curve, especially if you haven’t pulled espresso by hand before. That said, those who want a more automatic system might want to go with the Calphalon Temp iQ.
The Temp iQ is an excellent choice for those people just starting out and may feel intimidated by the Barista Express. It’s also great for those who want a little more control over their shots, especially with the Temp iQ’s advanced adjustable settings like the built-in digital temperature control to maintain a consistent brew temperature.
If you want the best brewing experience possible with the shortest learning period, take the time to learn everything about your machine right from the start. You’ll be enjoying amazing coffee with none of the guesswork, and even the most neophyte home brewers will feel like full-blown baristas!