Breville Barista Express (BES 870) has been popular for over a decade. It’s many coffee lovers’ first espresso machine in their espresso journey. Finally, Breville released a newer Barista Express model – BES876. It’s called the ‘Barista Express Impress.’
Breville markets its Barista Express Impress as the perfect machine for brewing third-wave specialty coffee with less mess.
Is it the best espresso machine for beginners? Is it better than the basic Barista Express? You will know the answer after reading this Breville Barista Express Impress review.
Quick Summary Of The Breville Barista Express BES876
- Perfect for beginners with little espresso experience
- Simple to prepare the puck
- Sleek look
- More expensive than the basic Barista Express BES870 models
- Less control over the coffee puck preparation
- Still use the Thermocoil heating system instead of the faster ThermoJet
What Sets Barista Express Impress Apart From Other Breville Machines
The new Impress Puck System and the intelligent dose system make the Impress perfect for those who want to dip their toes into making espresso and are not confident in the basics.
Why Is Puck Preparation Important For Espresso?
If you are not familiar with the terminology, the puck is the firmly tamped freshly ground coffee in the filter basket.
Creating the perfect espresso coffee puck is difficult, especially if you are new to making espresso at home. You need to fill the filter basket with the exact amount of grounds at the perfect grind size. And then, you need to tamp it down with optimal pressure.
The coffee puck offers the required resistance to the pressurized water coming out of the group head, so that your espresso machine can extract the rich and complex flavors in 20 seconds or so. If you apply too much pressure, the water can’t get through the coffee. However, if the grounds are too loose, water can go through too fast, and your espresso shot will be under-extracted.
How Does Breville Barista Express Impress Make Things Easier?
Breville takes the guesswork out of the process by automating everything. On your first brew, Barista Express Impress will ask you to dose multiple times until you see the green light in the dose level indicator. After the first grind, it will record it and you will have the right amount of freshly ground beans delivered into your portafilter.
And you don’t need to worry about tamping down the grounds yourself, either. All you need to do is to pull the lever on the left-hand side. You’ll have the perfect dose and precise tamp in less than a minute.
Breville Barista Express Impress Review
Now you know what’s new about the Breville Barista Express Impress espresso machine. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Design and Build Quality
At first glance, the Barista Express Impress BES876 is designed based on the Barista Express BES870 and doesn’t change much in the layout and appearance. However, the newer Breville espresso machines incorporate the intelligent dose and auto-tamping system together, so the left part of the Express Impress looks a bit crowded compared to the Express.
The design is aesthetically pleasing, and many Breville users have a special affection for the analog pressure gauge on the front of the machine. While it may not look as sleek or modern as other Breville models like the Barista Pro, it has a charm to it. Currently, only Brushed Stainless Steel is available in the US, while there are Black Truffle and Sea Salt color options in other markets.
If you choose Breville, you would expect a high-quality build with durable parts. The Barista Express Impress mostly succeeds in this department, though it is not perfect. Breville built the Impress with mostly metal parts, though a few pieces of plastic are in the machine. Even though the tamping lever is also plastic, it’s relatively strong and durable and looks shiny.
The company designed the Barista Express Impress to be easy to use, and the information on the display will walk you through every step of the process. You will be able to understand each button instantly, and this design boosts its appeal for first-timers.
Making espresso is often frustrating for inexperienced baristas. The Barista Express Impress from Breville seeks to streamline the user experience with an interface that provides all the information you will need.
With the display and automation, you will never have to guess how much coffee you need in the puck or fret about getting the perfect tamp. This machine takes most of the guesswork out of the espresso process.
If you have ever attempted to use an espresso machine before and found it to be too arcane and byzantine, we recommend trying the Express Impress. You will find the workflow streamlined, and you can have a fresh cup of espresso in minutes.
Cleaning this espresso machine is a breeze. You simply remove the cover to access the ground chute and tamper base. From there, you can easily give the espresso maker regular care and always have fresh and clean espresso. And you also need to descale regularly. The manual has clear instructions. Or you can check our guides for descaling Breville machines.
As this is an entry-level semi-automatic machine, there is a tendency to think it will prepare subpar espresso. And while it may not have the same power as a higher-end machine that is magnitudes more expensive, the Barista Express Impress still produces a good-quality cup of espresso with relative ease.
Like other Breville machines, it comes with a 54mm stainless steel portafilter, single and dual wall filter baskets. The Barista Express Impress also features low-pressure pre-infusion to reduce channeling for more even extraction. It has PID to ensure precise temperature control and 9 bar optimal water pressure. Now you also have the smart dosing system and assisted tamping, making it a good home coffee machine for even beginners.
Espresso, like gridiron football, is a game of inches. Minor errors or imperfections greatly affect the espresso quality. With extra automation handling most of the minutiae, you consistently get a great cup of coffee with minimal effort and tinkering.
The steaming performance is likely the weakest aspect of this machine, and, unfortunately, Breville did not update the steaming wand for the Express Impress. It uses the same steaming wand that the original Barista Express used, and you will feel the slowness when trying to steam milk for a latte. It takes almost a minute to steam for one drink.
However, less powerful steam pressure is not always bad for beginners. You have more room to get the right milk texture for your barista-style coffee drinks. Even though it’s slower, you can definitely get the same velvety microfoam milk created by professional cafe machines for your latte art.
The Barista Express Impress and Barista Express use the Thermocoil heating system, which takes longer to heat up than the ThermoJet. You’ll need to wait a bit longer between brewing and steaming.
Value for Money
Despite all these features you have heard about in our Breville Barista Express Impress review, you may wonder if this is worth a purchase.
We think this is excellent value for your money, though you will pay more for simplicity and automation.
This coffee machine is more expensive than purchasing an original Barista Express. What you are paying for here is the simplicity of preparing the puck and the simpler workflow.
If you are new to making espresso and are not keen on spending hours tinkering, the Barista Express Impress is likely the best value purchase you can make. But if you don’t mind learning how to prepare a puck yourself, you will save money purchasing the original Barista Express.
Although intelligent dosing and assisted tamping delivers an easier user experience, you cannot remove the portafilter to use a WDT tool to redistribute the grounds. If you take the portafilter out after grinding, the grounds will make a mess on your table.
While this may not be a big deal to some, others may wish for the option to have more control over the coffee before the tamp. A professional barista may find this product a bit too simplistic and long for more manual control instead of automation.
The heating time and weaker steaming pressure are the weak points of this coffee machine.
These are all minor drawbacks, but worth considering for an expensive purchase.
Breville Barista Express Impress Alternatives and Comparison
Breville Barista Express Impress Vs Barista Express (BES876 Vs BES870)
The Barista Express and Express Impress share much of the same construction, as you may suspect based on the similar name.
The Express is a cheaper model than the Express Impress but comes with fewer quality-of-life improvements. The basic model requires much more manual input from the user to produce the same quality coffee as the Barista Express Impress.
The integrated conical burr grinder in both machines is the same, but they are different in the grind settings. The Express Impress has 25 grind settings compared to the 16 you find in the basic Barista Express. Having more variety of grinds allows you to improve your espresso and adjust it every time you get new beans.
The Express Impress also contains improvements to the tamping system. The machine handles all preparation of the puck for you, making it easier for beginners or those who do not want to put effort into their espresso.
Aside from these differences, the two models use the same technology and parts. Neither have the better heating systems of other models like the Barista Pro.
If you want to know a detailed comparison between these three models, check this:
Breville Barista Express Impress Vs DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio
The DeLonghi La Specialista was introduced a few years before the Barista Express Impress. You can consider the Express Impress as Breville’s response to DeLonghi.
The La Specialista accomplishes most of the same feats as the Impress, including handling puck preparation and taking much of the guesswork out of making espresso. And they have the same price tag.
Here are the key differences between them.
The Express Impress offers more grind settings and a larger portafilter. La Specialista does have a few advantages, including its dual heating elements. You can start to brew your espresso faster and steam immediately.
When it comes to the tamping system, we think the Barista Express Impress does a better job in the puck prep. And the larger portafilter is also better for extraction. Other than that, you also need to decide which machine looks better on your kitchen counter, since they have quite different aesthetic designs.
The Verdict – Is It Worth Buying from Barista Express?
If you are interested in brewing espresso at home but are afraid it may be too complicated, the Barista Express Impress from Breville is a product worth investigating. It automates the technical steps and produces an excellent shot of espresso at the price point. While there are minor hiccups with the machine, we have found it to be one of the best beginner espresso machines.
If you already own Barista Express and it’s still working well, there’s no reason to upgrade to the Impress.
We hope you found our Breville Barista Express Impress review informative and are looking forward to making espresso at home. It is a rewarding way to enjoy your morning coffee.