This post contains affiliate links.
Looking for a good espresso machine for at home and can’t really make heads or tails of the popular line-up of Breville espresso machines? Here you can find out what the differences are and what’s the best machine for your situation.
For most people, the Breville/Sage Barista Express Pro is a great machine that has all the features that are needed to brew good espresso and milk drinks for a reasonable price. The Breville Infuser and Dual Boiler are good machines for people that want more manual control.
Below you can find all the specific differences between the different models and which one is right for you.
- 1 Breville Espresso Machines
- 2 Which Breville Model Should You Choose?
- 3 Will a More Expensive Breville Make Better Espresso?
- 4 Breville or Sage?
- 5 Recommended Espresso Equipment
Breville Espresso Machines
There is a whole line-up of Breville (or Sage) espresso machines. What’s the difference between these? Here is an easy chart to see exactly what you want to know.
Click the blue links (affiliate) to find the model on Amazon.
|Model||Grinder Features||Screen||Automatic/Manual Volume Control||PID Temperature Control||Unique Features|
|The Bambino||X||No||Automatic||Yes, Non-adjustable||Very compact|
|The Duo-Temp Pro||X||No||Manual||No. Does have auto purge to keep temperature consistent||Low temp, low pressure pre-infusion. Maintenance alerts.|
|The Bambino Plus||X||No||Automatic||Yes, Non-adjustable||Adjustable milk steam temperature and texture|
|The Infuser||X||No||Automatic or Manual||Yes, Adjustable||Pressure Gauge, Maintenance alerts,|
|The Barista Express||Stainless steel conical burrs. 16 settings. Adjustable amount or pre-set amount||No||Automatic but programmable volume for 1/2 shots||Yes, Adjustable||Pressure Gauge, low pressure pre-infusion|
|The Barista Pro||Stainless steel conical burrs. Adjustable grind size with 30 settings. Adjustable amount or pre-set amount||Yes, LCD.||Automatic but programmable volume for 1/2 shots||Yes, Adjustable||Low pressure pre-infusion|
|The Barista Touch||30 settings, hardened steel conical burrs, pre-sets for different drinks||Yes, Touchscreen||Automatic but programmable volume for all different drinks||Yes, Adjustable||5 pre-programmed coffee drinks at the touch of a button. 8 custom programs. Programmable milk temperature and texture.|
|The Dual Boiler||X||Yes, LCD||Automatic, programmable and manual options.||Yes, Adjustable. Separate adjustments for both boilers||Separate brewing and steam boilers with separate temperature controls. Pressure gauge,|
|The Oracle||45 settings, hardened steel conical burrs,||Yes, 3 LCD screens; Grinder, steam temperature, espresso control||Automatic but programmable volume for 1/2 shots||Yes, Adjustable. Separate adjustments for both boilers||Separate brewing and steam boilers with separate temperature controls. Heated group-head. Shot clock|
|The Oracle Touch||45 settings, hardened steel conical burrs,||Yes, Touchscreen||Automatic but programmable volume for 1/2 shots||Yes, Adjustable. Separate adjustments for both boilers||Separate brewing and steam boilers with separate temperature controls. Heated group-head. Shot clock|
Which Breville Model Should You Choose?
Which one you should choose? I don’t know you and your needs and since all the machines are for different target audiences, it’s a bit difficult to recommend one model for everyone. Sure, I could recommend the most expensive and feature rich Oracle Touch but for many people this will be way too much although it’s a good espresso maker.
Of course it all depends on your budget. Click here to find an article on how much espresso machines cost.
So let’s go over a few different combinations of wants/needs and which machine fits best for that case. You can pick what’s most applicable to you. Also, while Breville is probably the most popular choice for a domestic espresso maker and for good reason, be aware that there are other brands out there.
Also, none of the Breville machines are so called; ‘super automatic’. That means you just push the button and it grinds, fills the basket and brews completely by itself. All Breville machines require you to fill and prepare the filter yourself. Many Breville espresso machines have a grinder built in buy you still have to put the filter under the grinder, prepare the puck and twist the portafilter into the group head.
Wondering if you should get an espresso machine with built in grinder? Click here to find my article on that question.
Simple, Easy and Cheap
You just want a simple machine that brews espresso at the push of a button. The Bambino is a good choice. Is it going to brew great espresso? Don’t expect coffee shop level brews from this little (it is very compact) machine. But, combined with a good grinder and open basket, you can get good results if what you’re looking for is just an espresso in the morning.
It’s cheap (for an espresso machine) which means there are some cost saving measures which will show. The included portafilter is aluminum covered in chrome looking plastic. This just doesn’t last long and will start looking bad quite quickly. This doesn’t necessarily impact brewing but doesn’t look good in your kitchen. And after buying a new portafilter and baskets, it’s not actually that cheap anymore. If you don’t care about this, The Bambino is a good deal.
Some people report issues with the water temperature as well, it being too low and there is no way to change that. It results in espresso that’s a little too cold and under extracted. A lot of this can be fixed by longer warm up times and heating up the group head and portafilter.
There is a steam wand but don’t expect miracles from it. The Bambino Plus has a better steam wand and better steam control so that’s a better choice if you want to make many milk drinks.
Be aware that there is no grinder built into this machine. If you plan on using pre-ground coffee, that’s OK. If you have to buy a separate grinder, be aware that upgrading to the Barista Express is likely now within striking range of the price of the Bambino + separate grinder. And the Barista Express is a better espresso machine overall with built in grinder.
Affordable and Controllable Without Grinder
You want an espresso machine that doesn’t have a built in grinder and allows you full control over the brew volume and temperature but is still affordable.
The best option for you is ‘The Infuser’. This machine is quite affordable in the world of espresso machines while also allowing for manual volume control and temperature control. The temperature can be set in 4 degree F increments. It doesn’t have a built in grinder so you can use the money you save over a model that does have one to buy your own grinder.
Why choose it over the Duo-Temp Pro? Despite the name of the Duo-Temp Pro, it doesn’t have much in the way of temperature control while The Infuser does. This is a massive benefit if you like to tinker with your espresso and like to brew different roast levels. The Infuser also has the standard 1 or 2 cup setting if you want easy and those settings are adjustable. You can also use The Infuser manually if you want.
The Breville Dual Boiler is a great espresso machine with a lot of manual control and much higher quality parts and build than The Infuser. However, I wouldn’t say that machine is ‘affordable’ at least it’s not for me. Also, at that price point, there are a lot of great machines from other brands.
Getting a bit confused with all the types of espresso machines? Here is an article I wrote on all the different types of domestic espresso machines.
Affordable, Complete and Easy
Good espresso at the push of a button but without too much fuss? You don’t want to bother with keeping track of how much is brewed already and just want to choose between a single or double. A built in grinder makes everything easier but the machine should still be affordable.
The two choices are the Barista Express and the Barista Pro. Out of those two, the Barista Pro is the better choice even though it costs a bit more. That +-$100 extra is worth it.
Both machines have built in grinders with adjustable grind size and dose. They look very similar although the pro has a display instead of a pressure gauge. While a pressure gauge looks nice, it’s not super useful.
The Pro is worth the extra money because of the following differences;
|The Barista Express||The Barista Pro|
|Heating||3 minute heat up||3 second heat up|
|Steam wand||4 hole steam wand||1 hole steam wand|
|Grinder||16 settings||30 settings|
|Interface||Buttons||Buttons and screen|
The grinder is the same, it just has more adjustments. This is a good thing because espresso is very sensitive to grind size and very small adjustments can have a big effect on taste.
The faster heat up time is always nice to have, it means you’re brewing quicker after turning on the machine which also means less energy consumption in the end.
The steam wand with more holes allows you to create better microfoam that’s more like from a coffeeshop and is better for latte art.
With the LCD display, making adjustments in settings is much easier. You can actually see what’s going on instead of guessing from flashing LED’s.
Both machines are capable of brewing good espresso, the Pro just makes it a bit faster and easier and does better milk drinks.
The Robot Barista
You want the best you can get and want to brew different drinks at the push of a button. There are two choices for you; The Barista Touch or The Oracle Touch. Both have a built in grinder and touch screen that allows you to brew different drinks with the touch of your fingertip. So what’s the difference and which one should you get?
Check out the chart below of the differences between the Barista Touch and the Oracle Touch.
|The Barista Touch||The Oracle Touch|
|Boiler||Single Heat Exchange||Dual boilers|
|Group head||Not heated||Heated|
|Grinder||30 settings, Hardened Burrs, dose control||45 settings, Hardened Burrs, dose control|
|Steam Wand||Auto clean||More powerful. Temperature control, Auto clean|
|Bean hopper capacity||1/2 lbs||1/2 lbs.|
|Water tank capacity||67 oz.||84 oz.|
The Oracle Touch is a higher quality machine with the features of a high end espresso machine like dual boilers and heated group head. It also takes a 58mm portafilter instead of a 54 mm one. Dual boilers means more temperature consistency and quicker switching between brewing and steaming which is great for brewing multiple shots in quick succession.
A 58 mm portafilter has more surface area and is more prone to channelling which is why it requires a better grinder which the Oracle has. It also has a larger surface area which means the pump has to create higher pressures. In the end that leads to more consistent extraction which means better tasting espresso.
The Oracle touch is going to brew better espresso more consistently. It has a better grinder which helps quite a lot if you know how to use it. The grinding and tamping is automated to make your life easier
That said, the Oracle is more than double the price of the Barista. If the Oracle is too expensive for you, you can get 95% of the drinks quality from the Barista as long as you don’t brew too many after each other. The Barista requires a bit more work on your part to get things right that the Oracle does automatically like; tamping the puck. Both machines brew the same 5 drinks at the push of the screen.
Both are good choices at their respective price points.
Will a More Expensive Breville Make Better Espresso?
You might wonder if all these espresso makers make the same quality espresso and if you’re just paying for more features.
In general, within the Breville range, you’ll get better espresso and cappuccino out of the machine the more the machine costs. Things like separate temperature controls for steam and brew water, heated group head, automatic pre-infusion and pump quality have a pretty profound impact on the quality of the final drink.
Wondering if paying more for an espresso machine is better and why they’re so expensive to begin with? Here is my article on that topic.
That doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get better coffee by upgrading to the next model that costs a bit more. But going from the bottom end to the mid-range to the high end machines will definitely brew different quality coffee.
Also, the more expensive models will brew more consistently, especially when brewing more than one shot in a row. The temperatures and pump pressures will be more consistent which results in even shots of espresso. This is a big benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you brew for more than one person often or more than one shot in quick succession.
Breville or Sage?
Confused about what the difference between Breville or Sage are? Put very simply, they are the same products. Breville is the brand name used in North America while Sage is used in Europe. Just the branding is different. Both brands are owned by the Australian Breville group Ltd.
However, you might see some appliances branded Breville in the U.K. This brand is actually unrelated to the Australian company but is owned by the U.K. based Jarden Group. They also sell coffee makers which makes it a little confusing. This brand is also the reason why the Australian Breville group Ltd. chose to use the Sage name in Europe.
Sage and Breville have largely the same line-up of espresso machines. There are a few models from each brand that are unique to the specific brands but most of the line-up is the same.
These brands don’t only make espresso machines. They produce all kinds of kitchen appliances.
Recommended Espresso Equipment
Besides an espresso machine, there are a few other tools that can make your espresso better. Here are my favorites:
- Espresso Machine: The Breville Barista Express (Amazon) is the sweet spot in price and quality for most casual home baristas. It comes with a built in grinder and most tools you need to brew espresso.
- Tamper: A nice tamper helps you tamp your grounds in the filter for the best result. Any correctly sized tamper can do the job but a nice heavy one just feels so much better in your hand than a plastic model. This Luxhaus one (Amazon) has a nice trick up it’s sleeve to make tamping very consistent.
- Beans: Good espresso starts with good beans. Using fresh beans is a big improvement over pre-ground coffee.
- Scales: Getting consistently good espresso means you have to know how much grounds is going into the machine and how much is coming out and how long this takes. A coffee scale is going to make your espresso much more consistent and also makes adjustments a lot easier. The Apexstone coffee scale (Amazon) is cheap and doesn’t look too sleek but is just as accurate as more expensive scales. The TimeMore scales (Amazon) look and feel a lot nicer but cost a bit more.
- Grinder: To make the best of your fresh beans, a good grinder is necessary. Espresso requires a good grinder to get the best results. The Baratza Sette 30 (Amazon) is a good espresso grinder that can also be used for other brewing methods and while not cheap, is good value for money. If you prefer hand grinders, the 1ZPresso JX-PRO is one of the best options (Amazon)
- Distribution tool: After grinding you can get some clumps in the coffee grounds. Those clumps should be broken up so the water can extract all the coffee grounds equally. Distribution tools are very simple things but this one (Amazon) is beautifully made and will look good in your kitchen.