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Breville BES870SL Espresso Machine: Pros and Cons From an Owner

We love coffee. Most people do and so it's a pleasure to write about our new Breville Expresso Machine.

Breville BES870SL Espresso Machine

Breville BES870SL Espresso Machine

The Pros: What We Like

My wife prefers cappuccinos while I prefer espressos. We had an older model Deloghni that I've got to say was on the cheap end when we bought it so we decided to upgrade to the newer BES870XL. We liked the idea of having an integrated grinder and the ability to have finer adjustments.

We've had it for about 10 months now and the coffee we make is just so much better and quicker than the cheaper Deloghni we had. Cappuccinos don't appeal to me at all but expressos do—and after about two weeks of experimenting I reckon I can make the best espresso now that I've ever had. For the price of this and when I've finished my espresso to have crema on the side of my cup, I find pretty amazing. I let my wife make her own cappuccinos and she says the same thing. She says it's best to half fill the cup with milk. It takes her a couple of minutes to foam a cup which is a lot longer than a coffee shop but as their machines can be $5,000 and up we're pretty happy with that.

Plus, the BES870XL is a thing of stainless steel beauty on our kitchen bench. It's much easier to clean than our last model and its heavy, so when you're playing around with different shots it doesn't swing forward or sideways at you.

It will make a mess but when you take a look at the price that's to be expected. If you want mess free, you'll probably need to pay three times what the Breville costs.

The grinder is not the best, but it's not bad either. Can grind to super fine and fairly rapidly to. It can be opened up and cleaned to which is great. It's got a hopper so unused beans can be taken out and put back in their container. What we found works best with the grinder is to start course and then work your way down to fine. Doesn't take as long as it sounds and you'll end up with perfect fine grind coffee.

The temperature control for the price of this thing is incredible. You can turn it up or down by two-degree increments. Now that can really make a difference to the taste of your espresso.

My wife's even getting some pretty good looking leaf patterns on her cappuccinos now.

Breville BES870XL Features

  • 15 Bar (220Psi) Italian pump
  • 1600 Watt Thermo coil heating system
  • Electronic PID Temperature control for increased temperature stability
  • Automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for ultimate espresso extraction temperature to +/- 4 degrees
  • Preset one or two cup shot volumes
  • Removes excess water from the ground coffee in the filter basket
  • Stainless steel integrated burr grinder with 1/2 lb sealed bean hopper for up to 25 shots of fresh espresso. Uses freshly ground beans for each new cup.
  • Grind size and grind amount selector dials, so you can choose from fine to coarse
  • 67oz (2 litre) removable water tank with replaceable water filter
  • Replaceable water filter for reduced scale
  • Espresso pressure gauge monitors extraction pressure
  • Dedicated hot water outlet for making Americanos and pre-heating cups
  • Stainless steel 360° swivel action steam wand
  • Cup warming tray
  • Removable drip tray with 'Empty Me' tray full indicator
  • Storage tray that houses included accessories
  • Cleaning alert
  • Sleep mode after one hour of inactivity and 'auto off mode' after three hours
  • Volumetric control - preset for one or two cups
  • Clean me light - indicates when the BES870XL requires cleaning
  • Removable drip tray - for both wet and dry spills
  • Dimensions: 13 inches x 12 inches x 16 inches
  • Weight: 23 lbs.

What It Comes With

  • Dose trimming tool
  • Stainless steel portafilter
  • Single wall filter baskets (one and two cups)
  • Dual wall filter cups (one and two cups)
  • Coffee scoop
  • Integrated tamper
  • Stainless steel milk jug
  • Cleaning disc and tablets
  • Cleaning brush, tool and allen key
  • Water filter holder and carbon resin water filter

The Cons: What We Don't Like

  • The water tank is located at the back. This makes cleaning difficult if the only place for your Breville is on the bench and underneath some kitchen cupboards.
  • It does require cleaning quite often (about every two weeks). The BES870XL has as one of its features a light that comes on to say 'clean me.' It does come with cleaning tablets and they're cheap and readily available.
  • It took a while to get used to the settings to make great coffee. We found a lot of that was the beans we initially bought. You've got to shop around and get the best for what you want and then you'll be rewarded. Can be expensive at the start with a lot of wasted shots.
  • Remember that the Breville BES870XL is a single boiler, so it will either make a shot or froth milk but not both. We put up with that as a double boiler is a lot more money.
  • The frother works perfectly but can be messy—no getting around that. We use a nespresso frother to warm (or froth) up milk.
  • There is a learning curve. I'd say it took me about three days (and a lot of coffee) to get the settings right. (I was determined to use the single wall filter and make the perfect espresso.)
  • If you make espresso two to three times a day like me, you're emptying out the collection tray quite often.

Questions and Answers on the Breville BES870XL

I'll be using this mainly for long black/americanos. Any tips or downsides to getting the most brewed liquid? I love a big, hearty mug of joe.

Fill your mug with the desire amount of hot water FIRST and then top with freshly pulled espresso.

Do I need to buy any other thing besides the coffee beans to use this machine well? For example, "Stainless Steel Frothing Pitcher

It comes with a 16 ounce Milk Pitch, that works good.

What kind of warranty / guarantee?

1 year warranty from Breville

Can you make ristretto shots using this machine?

Yes you can

Is it programmable?

It is a manual unit, but grind size, grind time, and water quantity is adjustable.

What is the temperature range for brewing?

The BES870XL Barista Express can be adjusted from the default of 200 degrees (F) internally to plus or minus 4 degrees (F) either way

How many ounces in a shot of espresso ? or Americano?

An espresso shot is roughly 1oz. To be more precise you would measure by weight. An espresso shot is 2x as heavy as the coffee that went into the filter. An americano is 2 to 4x the volume of espresso you used

Biggest cup of coffee you can make?

The largest shot that can be pulled on the Breville® BES870 Barista Express™ is a 2oz shot. However, the dedicated hot water spout can be used to add hot water to make a larger drink.

What size is the included pitcher?

Enough to froth milk for a 20 oz cup of latte

does it stop making the coffee on its own or will i need to stand there and manually stop it myself?

You can program it to stop when you want. The time will change per the coffee and the grind.

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More Thoughts

I bought this Breville mainly because I was tired of loading up my Starbucks card, and I missed real Italian espresso‘s from Italy.
First like everyone else, I had a problem getting the dial to register correctly in the espresso range. Finally I settled on the Starbucks espresso beans with the grind set at 3. When you begin to grind the beans start by just filling the filter, then press the grounds gently to the sides. Following that, grind a little more just so you make a small round hole. Then, tamp firmly.

Frothing milk is as easy as well. There are a lot of YouTube videos to watch just to get an idea of how to do it. Quite honestly it’s not a difficult machine to use at all. My 11-year-old daughter can do the whole process thing down pat and has become the family barista.

Unless my daughter makes my wife a cappuccino she won’t drink it.

Don’t hesitate to call customer support when you’re unsure of what’s going on. We had a problem to do with the pressure and found out through Customer Support that because of the beans I was using I needed to change the grind size to a finer grind. Customer Support not only helped me figure it out, they also sent me some Brevelle descaler and cleaning tablets at no cost because the espresso machine was still under guarantee. That’s definitely worthy of an extra star in my book!

I have waited many years to get this machine, and an espresso machine is not exactly essential even for a coffee snob like me. The first thing I notice is my home feels more posh with this sitting on the counter (we have a small home in the country). Secondly, I decided I don’t need another thing. An espresso machine of this calibre makes my life complete.

Here’s the details... Italians make the very best espresso! I visited many regions of Europe before buying this machine. When you find the best you buy the best. This Breville espresso machine is excellent quality and makes a fabulous espresso coffee (the quality of the beans matters). I am very domestically challenged but I’d still say this is easy to use. But I am having issues getting a cappuccino although I know I have a large learning curve as I’m not someone that enjoys being in the kitchen. My fiancé generally makes the drinks and he adjusted perfectly to this Brevelle espresso coffee machine. The fully automated features for single or double shot make this idiot proof. If you know how to use the steamer it works well and as long as you clean the wand immediately after use then cleanup is easy. If you want to save money and stay away from coffeehouses, this is the way to do it. This is top-quality, top espresso fantastic cafe type coffee.

I’m a manager for a cafe and we have a $25,000 4- group La Marzocco, and a $7000 grinder but with this Brevelle espresso it’s like I have never even left the cafe. I can’t understand how this thing is only $500. Everything about this machine is stellar. The packaging and the presentation is fantastic, it comes with absolutely everything you require to brew a great shot. All you require is a knock box. I was kind of worried that it might feel cheap due to the price but I was wrong.

  • The portafilter is heavy duty, I was concerned it might be flimsy. It’s not at all.
  • The grinder makes a consistent grind every time.
  • The Brevelle espresso itself looks beautiful and is heavy duty. Not much plastic at all to be found.
  • The frothing pitcher is of perfect dimensions and is heavy duty.
  • The steam wand is the perfect amount of power. It allows you to really get the froth and the temperature perfect. Skilled baristas will have no issue at all doing great latte art with this espresso machine.
  • It’s all in one. No separate grinder is necessary, and the grinder which is included is very high-quality.
  • It has a manual dose option for those who are picky about the grams used in the shot.
  • It comes with four different filter baskets.
  • It will alert you when the machine requires descaling and cleaning. It comes with all required cleaning supplies as well.
  • It’s very easy to set up.
  • Shots have great crema, Great flow rate, but of course this will depend on the beans that you use and proper dosing, But just realise you can make very very good espresso.
  • I was really considering a La Pavoni for my home use, but after reading many reviews on this espresso machine, I decided to go with the Brevelle. Without question it’s the best decision I’ve made. It’s perfect for people who want to get into espresso – coffee and don’t want to spend a fortune. Yet its of such high-quality that a skilled barista can just fine tune everything for their idea of a perfect shot.


Before buying the Brevelle espresso I blew through three cheaper alternatives. This is the machine that I wanted for a long time. I’ve now owned it for 14 months and I’ve used it almost every morning to make cappuccino for myself and for my wife. I estimate that I’ve pulled around 700 double shots of espresso for my wife and myself and guests, or when we’ve had seconds ourselves, without a hitch.
It’s a breeze to use if you follow the directions. Plan to spend about 40 minutes the first time out to set it up and to familiarise yourself with its operation.
As long as you have the grind size and tamping amount correct and that's a trial and error process, it will pull a creamy, smooth shot every time. Once you learn the technique it works brilliantly. The best shots I achieve are better than most Coffee shops.

The Brevelle espresso has already more than paid for itself in our home. And the quality is so much better than all the cheaper machines, it’s more than worthy of the cost. Assuming it will last longer than our previous Coffee machines which seemed to conk out after a year or so it will be the best quality and value yet.

If you are considering buying this espresso machine I highly recommend it.

The Verdict

We highly recommend the Breville based on its price point. In its range it has a staggering amount of features and makes a truly great cup of coffee. It's not in the same league as the barista machines down at your favorite cafe but remember their's cost at least six times more. With a few weeks' practice you'll be stunned at how well you can make a genuinely great cup of coffee and after awhile you might start getting creative and design some latte art.

We had one occasion to call the Breville support and they were truly amazing. We had a steam pressure problem or thought we had. The support rep patiently took us right through and solved everything for us. Our fault, not theirs.

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