If you have a small kitchen countertop, a common issue is where to hold your appliances. After all, you’re already likely to have appliances like a toaster, blender, and microwave. But what if you want freshly brewed coffee each morning, too? Is there a coffee machine that gives you a beautiful caffeine fix without taking up too much more of your precious space?
Thankfully, the answer is “yes.” The Breville Bambino looks gorgeous, is compact, and makes delicious espresso and specialty beverages. Hold on, though – there are two models, and they look virtually identical. So, why is one far more expensive than the other?
This guide compares the Breville Bambino with the Bambino Plus, so you’ll know exactly what makes them so desirable, and understand which is the best for you.
Breville Bambino And Bambino Plus Review
- Comact, so ideal for smaller kitchens
- You can use the steam wand as a hot water dispenser
- You need to steam the milk manually
- You’ll need to buy the milk pitcher separately
- There’s only a one-year warranty
Breville Bambino Plus
- Automatic milk frothing
- You can select the milk temperature and texture
- Larger water reservoir than the Bambino
- More and higher-quality accessories
- Two-year warranty
- It doesn’t have a hot water outlet
- It’s considerably more expensive than the Bambino
Design And Build Quality
The two models have very similar designs and build quality. In keeping with the company’s larger, more expensive espresso machines, both the Bambino and Bambino Plus have brushed stainless steel builds, which gives them a robust feel. Even the part of the steam wand built from plastic is identical in touch and feel to the Breville Barista Express and Breville Barista Pro (Read our review).
Both the Bambino and Bambino Plus have minimalist designs, ensuring that their control panels have no more than five buttons. The Bambino’s control panel has single and double shot buttons on the left, while on the right are water dispense and steam buttons. Meanwhile, the Bambino Plus sees the steam button positioned beside the espresso shot buttons. This leaves space for the temperature and texture buttons.
Both models have a cup warming space at the top and have large removable water reservoirs on the back. However, the Bambino’s water tank capacity is significantly smaller than the Bambino Plus’s – 47fl oz and 64fl oz, respectively.
Because both the Bambino and Bambino Plus are such compact machines, they each have a small drip tray, meaning they’ll need regular emptying to avoid the water spilling onto your countertop.
Compared to other compact espresso machines, both models look high-end and stylish. However, while the Bambino is only available in stainless steel, the more expensive Bambino Plus has several colors to choose from, giving it the edge over the two in the design stakes. After all, with the Bambino Plus, you should be able to find a color to suit your kitchen.
Each machine has 54mm single and double shot dual-wall filter baskets. This is appropriate because neither machine has a built-in grinder. This type of filter basket ensures that even if you’re brewing with pre-ground beans, you can expect a high-quality espresso shot even with inconsistent grind size.
Our Verdict – Bambino Plus Wins
While both the Bambino and Bambino Plus each have premium build qualities and similar designs, we prefer the variety of color options offered by the latter. Not only that, but the Bambino Plus also has a two-year warranty instead of the one-year warranty of the Bambino. Therefore, the pricier machine offers more peace of mind. However, you can expect each machine to work well for years.
One of the most attractive designs of both models is their compact sizes. Indeed, the Bambino is Breville’s smallest product. Let’s break down those dimensions:
- Bambino: 7.7in x 12.6in x 12.2in
- Bambino Plus: 9.6in x 16.3in x 16.9in
As the measurements show, the Bambino is more compact and slimmer than the Bambino Plus. However, both machines are small enough to fit on almost any kitchen countertop. So, if you’re living in a place with limited space, such as a college dorm or urban apartment, you can still brew a top-quality espresso.
Our Verdict – Bambino Wins
The Bambino is slightly smaller than the Bambino Plus. However, the quality of the coffee it produces is undiminished as a result. Therefore, it edges out the Bambino Plus because of its slightly smaller size.
Just because both machines are compact, it doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful. Indeed, these machines outperform many larger espresso machines.
Firstly, each machine has Breville’s propriety ThermoJet heating system. This sounds great, but what does it do? In short, the machines reach their optimum extraction temperatures after three seconds. This is seriously impressive and quicker than the Breville Barista Express, Infuser, and other Breville machines with inferior thermocoil heating.
Also, each machine has a low-pressure pre-infusion feature to ensure maximum flavor extraction. This is significant as you’d normally only find it in higher-end machines. This feature dampens the coffee grounds before pulling the espresso shot. This makes the grounds expand slightly to produce a better, more even extraction.
Additionally, both the Bambino and Bambino Plus have PID digital temperature control. This feature ensures constant and optimum extraction temperature for perfect espresso shots.
Finally, the 15-bar Italian pumps offer consistent nine-bar pressure while brewing.
Our Verdict – A Draw
Both the Breville Bambino and the Bambino Plus brew excellent espresso. Indeed, the brewing performances of the two are identical, taking advantage of the precise temperature control, rapid heating system, pre-infusion, and optimal pressure to produce balanced espresso shots at the touch of a button. This is why we picked it as one of the best semi-automatic espresso makers, check the full list if you are interested in more options.
There are a few ways to ensure the highest quality of the coffee your machine produces.
Firstly, freshly ground beans are crucial for an exquisite cup of coffee with rich and complex flavors.
Secondly, you can try many different coffees, and they’re readily available either from third wave specialty coffee roasters or your local coffee shop.
Finally, if you own a coffee grinder good enough to grind for espresso that can fine-tune your grind size, it’s worth using a single-wall filter basket instead of the double-wall pressurized basket. Doing this will allow you to greatly improve the coffee quality from both the Bambino and Bambino Plus.
Milk Frothing Performance
While both machines froth milk for milk-based espresso drinks, the Bambino Plus is more impressive.
Each machine has a professional steam wand that can deliver barista-quality performance. Indeed, each machine can create authentic microfoam milk with a rich, velvety texture, so they’re perfect for producing latte art. This is quite unusual for a machine in this price category, as many others have the inferior Panarello wand that generates thicker foam suitable for a cappuccino.
Also, both machines use the ThermoJet heating system, meaning you can begin steaming immediately after pulling a shot. This is a significant advantage over many competitors because with a single-boiler espresso machine without this feature, it takes between 30 and 50 seconds for the water to heat to the optimal temperature for steaming.
So, how is the Bambino Plus the better of the two for milk frothing? Well, the Bambino Plus’s milk wand is automatic. In addition, there are two buttons on the control panel that let you choose between three milk temperature levels and three milk texturing levels. The drip tray also has a temperature sensor. So, you just need to place the pitcher there, press a button, and the Bambino Plus will automatically steam your milk at the correct temperature.
On the other hand, with the Bambino, there is a learning curve to properly texturing the milk, which isn’t straightforward. You’ll have to control the air to introduce, perfect the temperature, and the timing to mix the milk froth. However, with practice, you can create foam fit for latte art.
Finally, the Bambino Plus’s steam wand has four holes compared to the Bambino’s one. Which is the most effective is open to debate. However, most people agree that steam wands with four holes are more efficient.
Our Verdict: Bambino Plus Wins
In general, the Breville Bambino Plus is built with milk frothing in mind. The automatic frothing with adjustable milk temperature and texturing ensures it’ll easily make a beautiful cappuccino, flat white, or latte at home. In other words, the Bambino Plus takes care of the perfect milk frothing for you, leaving you to concentrate on honing your latte art skills.
One area where the Bambino’s steam wand is superior to the Bambino Plus’s is its ability to dispense hot water for Americano or tea. However, while this is useful, it isn’t enough to sway the verdict the Bambino’s way.
Ease Of Use
The small number of buttons on the control panels of each machine tells us that making coffee with them isn’t difficult.
For example, if you’re making espresso, you just need to press the relevant button for either a single or double shot. All you need to worry about is using the correct size of ground coffee and applying consistent tamp pressure, and the machine will produce a consistent espresso shot.
However, the minimalist design of the machines does have a disadvantage – when you want to customize your shot, you’ll need to press and hold more than one button to do so. However, this is not a major issue and should become second nature with practice.
Finally, the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand is significantly easier to use than the manual steam wand on the Bambino.
Our Verdict – Bambino Plus Wins
Making espresso with both machines is straightforward. However, the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand is perfect for beginners.
Value For Money
It’s quite surprising that there’s such a large gap in price between the two models.
The Bambino espresso maker offers excellent value for money compared to its rivals, considering it makes beautiful espresso and milk foam. However, it costs just 60% of the price of the Bambino Plus, making it particularly attractive.
However, the Bambino Plus espresso machine is more user-friendly in coffee brewing and milk frothing. Therefore, it’s an excellent option for novices. Nevertheless, you can purchase a semi-automatic machine that makes barista-quality espresso for a similar price or an entry-level super-automatic machine for a hands-free experience. Still, the Bambino Plus is a great option if you want that level of automation and brewing performance in a compact espresso machine.
Our Verdict – Bambino Wins
Considering the price, it’s hard to find another machine as compact that makes such good espresso shots as the Bambino. Meanwhile, it contains Breville’s latest technology and comes with a commercial-style steam wand.
In contrast, the Bambino Plus is far more expensive, but it’s more user-friendly.
Overall, the Bambino offers better value for money. However, whichever you choose, it’ll pay for itself in the long run as it’ll save you from needing to go to a coffee shop.
Each machine has the following accessories:
- One-cup and two-cup dual-wall filter baskets
- Cleaning tools
However, the Bambino Plus also has:
- 16fl oz (480ml) stainless steel milk jug
- Razor™ precision dosing tool
The Bambino Plus’s tamper is identical to the one you’ll get with the Breville Barista Espresso or Pro. In contrast, the Bambino’s tamper is completely plastic.
Our Verdict – Bambino Plus Wins
The Bambino Plus has some better-quality accessories than the Bambino, and more of them. This can save money on purchasing additional equipment, such as a milk jug and quality tamper, which are essential for brewing espresso drinks.
Final Verdict Of Bambino vs Bambino Plus
Breville has a solid reputation in the coffee world for producing high-quality espresso machines across all price categories. Here are our top-picked Breville espresso machines.
Both the Bambino and Bambino Plus are excellent options if you want a good, compact, entry-level espresso machine. Therefore, depending on your preference, here’s what we suggest.
The Breville Bambino espresso machine is the best option if you usually drink espresso and are happy to steam your milk manually. However, if you prefer milk-based espresso drinks, we recommend the Breville Bambino Plus espresso machine. The automatic milk frother is extremely useful, and it’s the extra convenience it brings that largely costs the extra money.
Whichever machine you opt for, though, we’re confident that you’ll be impressed with the coffee quality it offers – and you won’t need a large kitchen to enjoy it!