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Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review

by Brodie Inguaggiato Updated: May 18, 2021 9 min read

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If you’re in the market for your first espresso machine or are looking to upgrade from the machine you currently own, we’d like to spotlight the Breville Barista Express BES870XL, a fantastic semi-automatic option that very well could end up being your forever machine.

With a nice mix of semi-automatic and super-automatic features like an integrated conical burr grinder to maximize ground coffee surface area for a full espresso flavor, a stainless steel dual-use single boiler that utilizes Thermocoil technology, and pre-programmed espresso options that will allow you to make a single or double shot by simply pressing a corresponding button, it’s evident that the experts at Breville know how to make a well-rounded machine.

Breville Barista Express BES870XL Overview

Check it Out
Breville BES870XL Barista Express

Breville BES870XL Barista Express

44 Reviews
Owning the Breville BES870XL Barista Express The Breville Barista Express BES870XL has an integrated conical burr grinder with dosing controls so your coffee is ground fresh for every cup. You’ll b...

The Barista Express has a 15-bar pump and thermocoil heating system to make brewing and frothing simple, a removable see-through bean hopper that holds 8 ounces of beans and utilizes detachable burrs for hassle-free maintenance, and a low pressure pre-infusion system that applies low water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction.

Also included are two double-wall filters; one for single shots and one for double shots. This, in addition to pre-programmed espresso options that allow you to make a shot by simply pressing the corresponding button, is ideal for beginners as it will allow you to take the guesswork out of tamping. You can also override the preset espresso options if you want to customize your drink volume.

If you prefer to enjoy the art of making espresso yourself, the Barista Express also comes with a set of single-wall filters that allow you to apply your own tamp, as well as a special tamper with a magnetized lock that can be attached to the machine if you intend to work with a double-wall filter.

The commercial-style 360 degree swivel commercial-style steam wand comes with a stainless steel frothing attachment that allows for better frothing of large amounts of milk, and the dedicated hot water spout is perfect for making tea, hot chocolate, or Americanos. If you prefer to use capsules or pods, the Barista Express is also compatible with E.S.E pods.

Visually, the Barista Express is available with a modern brushed stainless steel or sleek jet black finish.

Also Available in Black
Breville BES870XL Barista Express in Black

Breville BES870XL Barista Express in Black

7 Reviews
Owning the Breville BES870XL Barista Express The Breville Barista Express BES870XL has an integrated conical burr grinder with dosing controls so your coffee is ground fresh for every cup. You’ll b...

Button and knob-based controls make this an exceedingly intuitive machine, while the pressure gauge, mounted on the front panel, is large and simple to read. Overall, the Barista Express is built to be a durable, user-friendly machine.

Breville Barista Express vs Breville Barista Pro

If you’ve looked into getting a semi-automatic espresso machine with an integrated grinder or are planning on doing so, you might also come across the Barista Express’ sister machine, the Barista Pro and wondered what similarities and/or differences there are between the two machines.

Compare and Contrast
Breville BES878BSS1BUS the Barista Pro Espresso Machine

Breville BES878BSS1BUS the Barista Pro Espresso Machine

Made for home baristas who value precise extractions and quick heat up times, the Breville Barista Pro is a stellar espresso machine made for brewing cafe-quality drinks right at home.

What’s the difference?

Firstly, there is the difference in price. We currently offer the Barista Express at about $100 less than the Barista Pro. The reason for this are some of the improved features and design choices incorporated into the Barista Pro. The question you need to ask yourself is do they warrant spending the extra money to get?

The biggest functional difference between the two machines are their water heating systems. The Barista Express uses thermocoil heating, where water is channeled through a heated coil to reach an ideal brewing temperature. On the other hand, the Barista Pro uses thermojet heating. To compare the two systems, thermocoil requires a minute to 2 minutes to heat up before use, while thermojet fully heats in just 20 seconds after powering on. Long story short, both heating systems are excellent, the Barista Pro will just get the job done faster.

As for visual differences, the Barista Express features an analog display, while the Barista Pro has a digital display. Determining your ideal display type is largely up to personal preference. The Barista Express uses buttons for different functions and an analog pressure gauge, while the Barista Pro uses a backlit digital display with small buttons.

Both have an aforementioned built-in burr grinder, as well as a dedicated hot water spout. The difference here is that the water spout on the Barista Pro is angled slightly to allow for direct pouring into your cup without having to move it.

The Barista Pro also offers 30 grind fineness settings to 18 with the Barista Express. This may not be a huge deal to those who stick to a small rotation of their favorite drinks. However, the added control could make a significant difference for those who like to tinker with their drink settings and explore new options.

What it boils down to is whether you prefer faster prepared drinks, more grind settings and a digital display but a higher price tag with the Barista Pro or slightly slower prepared drinks, less grind settings and an analog display and gauge at a lower price with the Barista Express. In our opinion, you truly can’t go wrong with either machine.

Breville Barista Express Cleaning and Maintenance

Please be aware that all parts of the Barista Express should be cleaned by hand using warm water and a gentle dishwashing liquid. Do not use abrasive cleansers, pads or cloths which can scratch the surface. DO NOT clean any of the parts or accessories in the dishwasher.

How to Descale the Breville Barista Express

Recommended Descaler
Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler

Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler

44 Reviews
Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler is specially formulated to protect and care for all high-end espresso machines. Thanks to a patented solution, Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler not only cleans and decalcifies, it also lubricates and protects your brewing components to extend the life of your machine. Available in packs of two 4.2oz bottles.

After regular use, hard water can cause mineral build up in and on many of the inner functioning components, reducing the brewing flow, brewing temperature, and taste of the espresso. We advise descaling the machine every month and especially if not using the machine for an extended period. Follow the steps below to properly descale your Barista Express.

  1. Press the POWER button to switch the machine off.
  2. Pour Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler into the water tank.
  3. Remove the portafilter from the group head and place a large container beneath the group head and steam wand.
  4. Press the POWER button to switch the machine on. When the brewing temperature has been reached and all the button lights on the control panel have illuminated, press and hold the 1 CUP button to commence a manual pour. Release the button once half of the descaler liquid has run through the group head.
  5. Set the STEAM/HOT WATER dial to the HOT WATER position and allow hot water to run through the hot water outlet for approximately 30 seconds. Return the dial back to the STANDBY position.
  6. Set the STEAM/HOT WATER dial to the STEAM position and allow steam to run through the steam wand for approximately 2 minutes. Return the dial back to the STANDBY position.
  7. If any of the mixture remains in the water tank, press and hold the 1 CUP button to commence a manual pour. Release the button once the tank is empty and nothing runs through the group head.
  8. In harder water environments, we recommend repeating this cycle.
  9. After decalcifying, remove the water tank, rinse thoroughly then refill with fresh cold water only. To rinse the machine, repeat steps 3–7.

Breville Barista Express Accessories and Features

In addition to the standout features detailed below, the Barista Express comes with the following accessories:

  • Stainless steel milk jug
  • Cleaning disc
  • Cleaning tablets
  • Dual Wall filter baskets (1 cup & 2 cup): Use with pre-ground coffee.
  • Allen key
  • Single Wall filter baskets (1 cup & 2 cup): Use when grinding fresh whole coffee beans.
  • Cleaning tool
  • Water filter holder and filter
  • Coffee scoop: Measures the amount of pre-ground coffee when using dual wall filter baskets.
  • Cleaning brush
  • Patented Razor™ precision dose trimming tool

Breville Barista Express Grinder

The Barista Express has an integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder with dosing controls and adjustable grind settings so your coffee is ground fresh for every cup. You’ll be able to fill the removable see-through 8 ounce bean hopper, grind your beans and dose directly into the coffee filter in under 60 seconds.

Choose from a Dual Wall preset grind setting or 18 grind size options to achieve your desired results. Similarly, a knob located on the front panel lets you take advantage of the pre-programmed Dual Wall setting or manually select your grind volume.

Also present is an easy to overlook option for hands-free grinding thanks to an auto-stop function when grinding directly into the portafilter. The included burrs are also detachable for hassle-free maintenance.

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Breville Barista Express Portafilter

Included with the Barista Express is a 54 millimeter stainless steel portafilter with commercial style spouts and a plastic handle. This machine also ships with single, double, pressurized single and pressurized double portafilter baskets.

When used with the Barista Express’ hands-free portafilter holder, all you’ll need to do is select the filter size (single or double) and put the portafilter in place. The machine will automatically dose the proper amount of coffee. A button, located by the portafilter holder, allows you to push once for an auto dose or push and hold to manually determine the grind amount.

Breville Barista Express Water Filter

Recommended Water Filter
Breville Replacement Water Filters

Breville Replacement Water Filters

15 Reviews

Designed to reduce water hardness to extend the life of your machine and improve the quality your water to protect the flavor of your espresso and coffee, this pack includes 6 filters or 1 year's supply. Breville suggests that you change your filter once every two months.

Compatible for use with the following Breville machines:

BES980XL, BES920XL, BES900XL, BES870XL, BES878XL, BES860XL, BES840XL, BES810BSS, BKC700XL, BKC600XL

The Barista Express sports an ample 67 ounce removable reservoir and comes with a carbon resin water filter for clean water and great tasting espresso. Using a water filter helps prevent scale build-up in and on many of the inner functioning components. Replacing the water filter every 2 months will reduce the need to decalcify the machine. If you live in a hard water area, it is recommended that you change the water filter more frequently. To install a water filter into your Barista Express, follow the instructions below:

  1. Remove the water filter and water filter holder from the plastic bag.
  2. Soak the water filter in a cup of water for 5 minutes, then rinse under cold running water.
  3. Wash the water filter holder with cold water, taking specific care to rinse the stainless steel mesh.
  4. Insert the water filter into the two parts of the water filter holder.
  5. Set Date Dial 2 months ahead.
  6. To install the assembled water filter holder into the water tank, align the base of the water filter holder with the adapter inside the water tank. Push down to lock into place.
  7. Slide the water tank back into position at the back of the machine, ensuring to push down completely to lock into place.

Summary

There you have it! Hopefully we’ve provided you enough information on the Breville Barista Express BES870XL to join us aboard the hype train for this magnificent semi-automatic espresso machine.

If you’d like even more information, we suggest checking out our video review of the Barista Express, in addition to looking into our robust selection of Breville products. For in-depth content and information about everything else coffee and espresso, we recommend checking out our blog catalog, video library and support center.

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Brodie Inguaggiato
Brodie Inguaggiato

Brodie joined Whole Latte Love in 2020 as a technical copywriter and is brand new to the world of coffee. He writes and edits product copy, blog posts and additional content with the viewpoint of a novice to (hopefully) provide a fresh take on some of the more daunting coffee-related topics. He aspires to become a coffee master and enjoys watching and debating any and all sports in his spare time.