How To Use Breville Espresso Machine (Barista HQ Guide)

Breville produces a range of high-quality espresso machines that are popular the world over.

There are models for various budgets and barista levels, but it can be difficult to know the best place to put your coffee beans, so to speak.

Wondering how to use Breville espresso machine models? We have all you need to know on how to get started below.

Setting Up

The first step to getting to know your Breville Barista Express is to read the manual.[1]

I know it's boring, but Breville manuals are fairly straightforward and will help you use the machine safely.

Keep it close to your machine to ensure you always have it ready if you need help or to troubleshoot anything.

Once you have read the manual, you can set it up according to its instructions. The specifics are all slightly different depending on the model, but the basic way to set up is as follows:

  • 1
    Wash all of the metal and removable plastic parts to remove any dust or factory residue
  • 2
    Dry and reassemble those removable parts
  • 3
    Install the water filter according to manual instructions
  • 4
    Fill the water tank with bottled water without going over the max
  • 5
    Put a container that is at least 17 ounces and place it under the steam wand and portafilter
  • 6
    Press the one-cup button without any coffee beans to flush the machine
  • 7
    Add more water
  • 8
    Add coffee beans and check the level

Once you have done the above and any other steps the manual suggests, you can make your first brew.

Breville Espresso Machine in a Kitchen

The First Brew

To get started with your first brew, you need to let your machine preheat for at least 15 minutes.

If you do not let it preheat, the water temperature may not be hot enough to extract the coffee grounds properly, affecting the taste of your morning brew.

While it heats, put your mug on top of the machine to warm it up on the warming tray at the same time - this will keep your espresso hot for longer.

If your Breville Barista espresso machine has a grinder, place a good amount of coffee beans into the hopper or a separate grinder.

We recommend setting your grind size to level five or the middle for now - you can adjust it to your tastes as you get used to your Breville espresso maker.

Weigh your portafilter before zeroing the scale and adding between 8 and 10 grams for a single shot or 15 and 18 grams of coffee for a double.

Carefully tamp down the freshly ground coffee grounds. Put your portafilter into the head and lock it in.

Wipe away any coffee grounds on the machine or counter, set your mug under the machine, and press the button.

Once your coffee is ready, you can steam milk or add anything else you want before enjoying your warm cup of coffee.

Grinding

Grinding is more complex than it seems, but it gets easier over time.

Quality coffee is not just for snooty coffee lovers - freshly roasted coffee has the best flavor 2-10 days after it has been roasted but can stay fresh up to 30 days after.

Store them in a cool, dry place in a sealed container for optimal freshness.

In the world of grinding, size does matter.

We recommend starting with a medium grind on the grind size dial or level five coffee grinds.

You can experiment with your coffee bean grind size and adjust the grind as you learn to use your Breville Barista and your own preferences. 

You typically are aiming for a grind a little finer than table salt for optimal coffee extraction and the grind amount we mentioned before.

Tamping

Tamping refers to flattening the grinds so that the portafilter can go in the brew head with very little mess and provide optimal coffee extraction.

Once you have weighed your grinds, press the grounds down with your hands and compress them with the tamper before twisting it a quarter.

Ideally, you would like to leave a quarter inch of space once you lift the tamper away.

As your coffee is brewing, pay careful attention to the espresso range meter. If the needle is firmly in the grey area, then you are making the perfect coffee.

If the needle is under, you need to apply more tamping pressure next time.

If it is over, the grounds are packed too tight, and you need to ease off the tamping pressure next time you make a cup.

Milk Frothing

Breville espresso machines typically come with various tools to aid your coffee brewing, including a milk pitcher that steams milk for frothing, which is my favorite feature.

Not all Breville coffee makers come with a built-in frothing wand, but you can get a separate milk frother if necessary.

When it comes to frothing milk, the colder the milk jug, the better - keeping it in the fridge next to your milk or the freezer is a good way to achieve excellent foam.

When it comes to steamed milk, the milk you choose matters. If you love a latte, we recommend whole milk for a thick microfoam.

If you prefer cappuccinos, skim milk creates the best foamy layer. You can foam other kinds of milk, like oat and soy milk, if that is your preference.

Before you get steaming, we recommend purging your steam wand.

You can do this by finding a separate container and running your wand into it for at least 15 seconds until the dripping water turns into steam.

When you have filled the jug to just below the V of the spout, hold the steam wand under the surface of the milk and make a whirlpool until the jug is hot and foamy.

Make sure to purge and wipe down the steam wand for a few moments after each use to avoid clogs and make for easier cleaning.

Person Using Breville Espresso Machine Milk Frother

What Is A Breville Espresso Machine? (Different Models Explained)

A Breville espresso machine is designed to make the perfect espresso or a shot of espresso for your delicious latte.

Each Breville machine comes with its own unique features and drawbacks and the price tag tends to reflect that.

The range of espresso machines that Breville currently offers consists of models like these.

The Cafe Roma

One of the cheaper coffee maker models that Breville has to offer, the Cafe Roma is a compact machine that packs a punch.[2]

The Roma comes with a stainless steel milk jug and a combination tamping tool, measuring spoon, and cleaning tool to help you adjust the grind amount for the perfect single shot or double shot of espresso.

You also have the option to insert a pod alongside the shot grind settings, making it perfect for convenient espresso.

The sleek stainless steel outside comes with an aluminum warming tray to heat your cups and keep your steamed milk or cappuccino at a suitable temperature for longer.

A steam wand is perfect for getting creative with milky drinks, and a finger loop ensures that you have maximum control of your froth.

A one-year limited warranty helps you fix any potential issues with your coffee machine.

This Barista Express espresso machine does not have a built-in hopper, meaning that you will need to have a separate coffee bean grinder to customize your grind setting or grind size for your morning cup of espresso.

Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Maker

The Bambino

The Bambino espresso machine is one of the more affordable models that are good for compact counters and coffee newbies.[3]

This compact model has a built-in steam wand and a portafilter, milk jug, and tamper. You can choose between two finishes and make a single or double shot of espresso.

The Bambino has a fast startup, but the wait between pulling shots and steaming your milk is quite long.

There is also no built-in grinder and it is manual tamping only, which is not too bad if you want a cheaper grinder and to practice your tamping.

The Duo-Temp Pro

The Duo-Temp Breville espresso machine is the next step up from the Bambino and is another good model for beginners.[4]

This has a compact counter footprint and works like The Bambino with some key differences in build.

There is a hidden storage spot for the tools, along with a manually adjustable espresso dial and maintenance and steaming indicators to help you with your brewed coffee.

The Duo-Temp Pro does not have auto tamping and has manual milk steaming, which provides good practice for beginners to the coffee espresso craft.

The Bambino Plus

The big brother to the Bambino, the Bambino Plus has some key upgrades compared to the previous model.[5]

It comes with a speedy three-second heating time and fast shot pull to milk-steaming time.

The milk frother is automatic and can be adjusted to three different temperatures and textures - no more burnt milk.

As with the Bambino, there is no auto-tamping or built-in grinder.

The Infuser

Starting at around $600, the Infuser Breville espresso machine includes a built-in pressure gauge along with shot customization.[6]

The milk frother is manual, allowing for optimal milk frothing. Unfortunately, the Infuser has a slow heat time and no built-in grinder.

Barista Express

The Breville Barista Express[7] is one of the mid-point models in terms of its $700 price point.

This model has a built-in dosing grinder and a steam wand alongside two color options. The Barista Express is the lowest-priced Breville espresso machine that comes with a built-in grinder.

The grinder weighs your grounds for proper espresso shot preparation, removing the need for a scale.

Additionally, you can choose between pressurized and non-pressurized brew baskets for further customization.

For all its extra features, this bestselling model has manual tamping and a single boiler for both steaming and pulling shots. These are not huge drawbacks but are worth considering.

Breville Barista Express Coffee Machine

The Barista Pro

Starting at around $850 and available in eight different colors, the Barista Pro has plenty to love.[8]

It comes with a built-in dosing grinder, steam wand, pressurized and non-pressurized brew baskets, a powerful heating element, and consistent shot pulls.

Unlike other models, an LCD and one power button control the entire system. This fast-heating tech-savvy Pro model has manual tamping and one boiler for shot-pulling and steaming milk.

The Barista Touch

Another excellent Breville espresso machine option for newbies with money to spend is the Barista Touch.[9]

Available in three color options, this model has an LCD and power button to make creating your daily espresso cup a breeze.

The LCD provides step-by-step instructions on how much coffee you need for the perfect espresso shot.

A more powerful heating element is available to help you steam milk and extract your coffee. Tamping is also manual but that helps give a traditional feel to using your espresso maker.

The Dual Boiler

The third most expensive Breville espresso machine model available is the Dual Boiler.[10]

Part of the price comes from the two-year repair warranty as well as the powerful boiler - this boiler makes the Dual Boiler the most powerful option outside of the Breville Barista Oracle line.

The Dual Boiler also has an over-pressure valve to limit the bitterness of your cup of espresso.

Unfortunately, this model does not have a built-in grinder, but this is not a drawback if you already have a favorite grinder.

The Oracle

The second most expensive Breville espresso machine is the Oracle.[11]

The Oracle packs a punch in terms of features, with its two-year repair warranty, overpressure valve, built-in dosing grinder, and auto tamper.

This espresso machine is incredibly expensive but is a high-quality way to prepare your coffee beans in the morning.

The Oracle Touch

The pinnacle of the Breville espresso machine line is the Oracle Touch.[12]

Not only does it have all the features of the Oracle, but it also has increased firepower, fast preheat times, consistent pulls, a step-by-step LCD, and complete convenience.

This is both an expensive and larger machine that creates an exact grind size and the perfect shot every time.

Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine

What Types Of Coffee Drinks Can You Make With A Breville Machine?

No matter what Breville products or Breville machines you prefer, there are plenty of drinks you can make. You can choose to make the following:

  • Perfect latte
  • Cappuccino
  • Macchiato
  • Mocha
  • Espresso shots
  • Cold brew
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot water for tea

As you practice, you will find yourself able to make coffee shop quality drinks at home - you can even practice latte art to top your delicious latte.

Once you have mastered making espresso, you can use each shot of espresso to create fancy drinks at home.

Two Lattes in White Coffee Mugs

How To Take Care Of Your Breville Espresso Machine (Cleaning & Maintenance Tips)

Part of caring for the brewing process is knowing how to clean it properly.

We have an in-depth article on daily and deep cleaning your Breville machine, but we will give you a pretty easy run-down below.

Materials:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Pin cleaning tool
  • Cleaning tablets
  • A cleaning disk
  • Allen wrench
  • Stiff bristled nylon brush
  • Microfibre cloth or towel
  • Bowl or pot
  • Descaling solution
Cleaning Kit for Breville Espresso Machine

Daily Clean Tasks

  • 1
    Flush The Group Head
    A good starting point in the cleaning process is to start with the group head. Once you have finished pulling your shot, remove the portafilter and press the preset or manual double shot button to run water through it. This should fish out any coffee residue or particles in the system.
  • 2
    Purge And Wipe The Steam Wand
    Purge the steam wand for a few moments after use before wiping it down with a damp cloth. Clear any blockages with a toothpick or insert the steam wand cleaning tool that comes with your espresso machine.
  • 3
    Clean The Portafilter And Basket
    Knock the puck from your portafilter into the knock box and remove the basket. Rinse both items with hot water and pin out any blocked holes with the filter basket. Let them completely dry before reassembling them.
  • 4
    Clean The Drip Tray
    Tip out excess water into the sink before washing it with hot soapy water. Dry the drip tray before reassembling it.
  • 5
    Clean The Knock Box
    Empty the old pucks and grounds into the bin before washing and drying your knock box.
  • 6
    Wipe Down The Outside
    At the end of the day, wipe down the outside of your new machine with a damp microfibre cloth, including the warming tray.

Deeper Cleaning Tasks

  • 1
    Run A Backflush Cleaning Cycle Using A Cleaning Disk Or Just Water
    Using a Breville cleaning disk, place the disk into your filter basket and portafilter and select the backflush setting according to manual instructions.
  • 2
    Change Out The Water Filter
    Unwrap your filter and prepare and change it according to the packaging instructions. Remember to update your Breville Barista Express internal calendar if applicable.
  • 3
    Clean Out The Coffee Grinder
    Unlock your hopper, remove any old coffee beans, and brush away any old grinds. Add a new batch of different beans and do a small initial grind to completely remove any old beans from the hopper.
  • 4
    Descale Your Machine
    Using a water-vinegar solution or commercial cleaner, fill the reservoir with your cleaner and run a descaling cycle. Make sure to remove the water filter before starting and flush the system with just water to prevent subsequent shots from tasting like cleaner. This should remove limescale and old residue from your Barista Express espresso machine.

Part of knowing how to use Breville espresso machine models is knowing how to clean them correctly.

Each of these steps is vital to ensuring that you can keep making perfect cups of coffee every time.

Cleaning your espresso machine regularly and keeping it on top of regular part inspections helps ensure it lasts for years to come.

Cleaning will also help prevent or fix many common Breville Barista Express issues.

However, if that does not work, we recommend that you contact customer service or consult your user manual.

Unboxed Breville Espresso Machine

Breville Espresso Machine FAQs

Why is my Breville espresso bitter?

The most common reason for bitter coffee is that the grind setting was too high, causing the burr grinder to create ultra-fine grounds that affected the extraction process. Alternatively, the coffee may be too darkly roasted or over or under-extracted.

Can you use pre-ground coffee in the Breville espresso machine?

You can sometimes use pre-ground coffee, depending on the Breville model you have. However, we recommend grinding the beans in a bean hopper or individual grinder for optimal taste.

What is the difference between a Breville coffee machine and a drip coffee maker?

Breville coffee machines are designed to make the perfect espresso shot in the traditional Italian sense. Drip coffee is a more modern form of coffee creation that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee and letting it steep and drip.

What is the difference between a Breville machine and a Nespresso?

Breville espresso machines are designed to make great espresso from freshly ground coffee. Nespresso coffee machines, on the other hand, are designed to create coffee or other hot drinks from prepackaged capsules filled with coffee and milk powders.


Conclusion

Breville espresso machines are a popular and convenient way to create coffee shop quality coffee every time!

Knowing how to use a Breville espresso machine can seem intimidating, but it is easy once you know how.

We recommend setting a budget for yourself before doing your research to decide if the Breville Barista Express or another model is best for you.

References:

1. https://mybreville.force.com/BrevilleCustomerCommunity/s/knowledge-list?language=en_US®ion=us&brand=Breville
2. https://www.breville.com/ca/en/products/espresso/esp8.html
3. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes450.html
4. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes810.html
5. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes500.html
6. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes840.html
7. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes870.html
8. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes878.html
9. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes880.html
10. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes920.html
11. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes980.html
12. https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes990.html 

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