Breville Barista Pro Review – The BES878 Espresso Machine

For anyone looking to invest in a semi-automatic espresso machine, Breville’s products must be on your radar. Breville espresso makers are the choice for many coffee lovers. Their best-selling Barista Express has been popular for a decade. In this article, we’ll take a detailed overview of its big brother, the Breville Barista Pro.

We bought the Breville Barista Pro for testing and have been using it for several months. This article will demonstrate all you need to know about this aesthetically handsome espresso machine, including why it is worth your consideration and how to use it. So you can be fully aware of its pros and cons before making a purchase.

Being a successor and upgrade option to the popular Barista Express, naturally that we’ll make some comparisons between these two models in this review. So you’ll know whether to opt for the Barista Express BES870 or the Pro BES878.

Breville Barista Pro Summary

Overall, the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine offers a very intuitive and user-friendly interface, great single boiler steaming, and a built-in burr grinder.

Pros:

  • A contemporary and classy appearance with an easy-to-operate LCD display control panel.
  • The ability to start up in just three seconds courtesy of the ThermoJet heating system.
  • Rapid brewing and steaming transition
  • Powerful milk-steaming

Cons:

  • More costly than the Barista Express model

Breville Barista Pro Review – A detailed hands-on review

Aesthetics

The Breville Barista Pro is a classy-looking addition to Breville’s range of espresso machines. When you remove the packaging, you’re likely to be seriously impressed by what you see.

The aesthetic design was undoubtedly the first thing that caught our attention. Keep in mind that we have put many home espresso machines to the test. However, the Barista Pro is probably the one we find has the most appealing appearance.

Barista Pro on the table

We have the “black truffle” model, and to our eyes, it’s simply gorgeous. Take a close look and you can even see a delicate metallic flake in the design. Also, there are a few other color options, which are also stunning.

The impressive finish, coupled with an angular look and easy-on-the-eye curved, glossy high plate, gives this espresso machine a contemporary appearance that is likely to stand the test of time.

What’s more, when you turn the machine on, the blue backlit LCD screen looks even more premium.

Accessories In The Box:

When you unbox the Breville Barista Pro, several accessories will greet you, namely:

  • Single and dual wall filter baskets (one and two cup)
  • A portafilter
  • The Razor™ Precision Dose Trimming Tool
  • Stainless Steel Milk Jug (480ml)
  • Water filter
  • Cleaning kit
unbox-barista-pro-accessories

Among those accessories, we’d like to take a little more about the filter baskets.

Four Filter Baskets – With Newbies And Professionals In Mind

The Barista Express has four filter baskets, and the Barista Pro is no different. These consist of a single and double non-pressurized and pressurized filter (these are often referred to as single and double wall filters).

BES878 filter baskets

If you’re inexperienced with espresso making, the pressurized baskets are the best place to start. This basket leaves more room for error, meaning there’s no need to dial in for the perfect shot of espresso by precisely altering the dosage and grind size.

Once you’ve become used to the espresso machine, it’ll be worth giving the non-pressurized filter a try for a better-quality espresso. However, this will necessitate a more precise measurement of coffee grounds and grind size, as well as a more nuanced tamping technique.

However, once you’re confident you have the necessary skill level, your ability to pull great espresso shots time after time will be enhanced with the Barista Pro’s non-pressurized basket. You can even purchase an extra bottomless portafilter for easier diagnosing the espresso extraction. Many compatible options are available for Breville Barista machines since they are so popular.

If you’d like to find out more about the best ways to dial in with the Barista Pro, as well as a range of other espresso machines, take a look at this step-by-step guide – How to Make Espresso At Home.

Build Design And Comparison With Barista Express

One of the big plusses of the Breville Barista Pro is its built-in grinder. The integrated conical burr grinder can save you a chunk of money buying a standalone expresso grinder.

conical burr grinder

Not only that, but the sizeable, two-liter detachable water reservoir housed at the rear of the machine comes with a sensor to detect when the water is running low – a feature that the Barista Express lacks.

barista-pro-water-tank

The LCD screen is found at the front of the machine and is operated by a pressable and rotating knob with a more high-end appearance than the Barista Express. However, some users may miss the pressure gauge.

barista-pro-lcd-display

Furthermore, the four-hole steam wand of the Barista Pro outdoes the Barista Express’s wand, which only has one hole.

The water outlet is also beneficial for either getting hot water quickly to make tea or making Americano. The hot water spout is pointing in the cup direction, so you don’t even need to move the cup after pulling a shot. While the hot water outlet in Barista Express is placed on the right side of the portafilter.

There are several features you’ll find on the Barista Pro that are also included in Breville’s other espresso machines. These include a magnetic tamper holder, a cup warming rack, a drip tray complete with space for storage behind it, and a single 54ml group head.

barista-pro-drip-tray

Put together, you’ll find almost everything you’ll ever need from an espresso maker within the Barista Pro’s price range.

Design Difference – Breville Barista Pro vs Express 

DesignBarista ProBarista Express
Control panelLCD digital display panelButton and pressure gauge
Grind settings30 steps18 steps
Low water sensorYesNo
Steam wand4 holes1 hole

Built-In Burr Grinder

One of the most critical aspects of espresso making is the coffee grinding. Housed on top of the Barista Pro espresso machine is a conical burr grinder boasting 30 different settings. This is another feature of the Barista Pro that leaves the Barista Express trailing, as the former machine only has 18 grind steps. With the Breville Barista Pro, then, you can dial in your espresso shots more accurately and efficiently.

The dose control grinding feature makes it possible to alter your dosing in increments of half a second. Meanwhile, another nice touch is the readout of the time (dependent on dose size) on the LCD interface.

dose-control-grinder

Our preferred method is to measure out and fill the precise amount of beans we need into the hopper, as this gives a more accurate result than dosing according to time.

Grind settings: Breville Barista Pro vs Express

The bottom line is that the Barista Express lacks in the grind steps compared against the Barista Pro (18 instead of 30). Because of the Barista Pro’s more comprehensive range, there will be fewer times when the shot flavor you’re looking for is somewhere between two grind settings.

Performance And Efficiency

Rapid Heat-Up Time

Where it comes to performance and efficiency, the Breville Barista Pro is a particularly attractive option at this price, thanks to Breville’s unique heating system, known as the ThermoJet.

Impressively, the Barista Pro can attain its ideal operating temperature in just three seconds. Not only does this save precious time when preparing your morning beverage, but it also provides a quick way of getting hot water for things like a cup of tea, rather than having to wait for a kettle to boil.

BES878 hot water spout

While the previous model Barista Express uses the cylinder coil which needs about 30 seconds to reach the temperature.

Brewing Tips: While it’s true that the Breville Barista Pro heats up very rapidly, it’s also good to keep in mind that you’ll have to ensure the portafilter is adequately preheated before extracting coffee. The recommendation is to run a few blank shots and wipe the filter basket before grinding.

Rapid Transition Between Brewing And Steaming

Every single-boiler espresso machine needs some time to transition from extracting coffee and steaming the milk, as these devices cannot do both simultaneously. Because of the aforementioned ThermoJet heating system, there is no doubt the Breville Barista Pro is among the quickest single boiler devices concerning transitioning quickly from brewing to steaming.

Breville Barista Pro takes only 8-10 seconds to start steaming right after brewing, while the Barista Express needs about 26 seconds to see the steam coming out of the steam wand.

BES878 steam

PID And Pre-Infusion For Maximum Extraction

The Breville Barista Pro is equipped with Digital Temperature Control (PID) which produces water at the perfect extraction temperature.

At the beginning of the process, pre-infusion uses low water pressure that gradually builds up, nine-bar brewing pressure courtesy of its 15-bar pump, which helps make sure that an expresso with a balanced flavor is produced thanks to the even extraction of flavors. 

If you do everything correctly, this machine can produce classical espresso. Barista Express features the same PID control and pump, meaning both machines can make a great shot of espresso.

Additional Brew Settings

The Barista Pro has five settings for altering the brewing temperature. This gives greater scope for honing the extraction to your particular taste and coffee preferences. The temperature menu is right on the screen. It’s much more straightforward than the Express, which requires many more steps to adjust the water temperature in the hidden advanced setting. However, we do hope Breville can show the exact temperature on the screen of each setting instead a bar without value.

BES878 temperature setting

Performance: Barista Pro vs Express

DesignBarista ProBarista Express
Heating systemThermojetCylinder coil
Heat-Up Tim3 seconds30 seconds
Brewing to Steaming Transition8 seconds26 seconds

Milk Steaming And Frothing

The Breville Barista Pro stands head and shoulders above older models in two ways: steaming milk and making lattes. The most significant advantage offered by the ThermoJet isn’t the heat-up time in 3 seconds but the incredible strides made in speeds of steam transition and steaming power.

For these reasons, if you’re looking for an espresso machine primarily for brewing drinks using milk, the Barista Pro will be an excellent choice.

It’s great if you need to make several coffees one after the other, too, as just as there’s time needed between brewing and steaming, it also needs time to move the other way – from steaming back to a brewing temperature.

Once again, the Barista Pro excels thanks to the innovative ThermoJet heating system. While the Barista Express has to rely on covering its heating coil in cool water to bring the temperature back down, the Barista Pro completes the job far more efficiently.

BES878 steam wand

Greater steaming power also means the Barista Pro can accommodate a four-hole steaming wand for more straightforward milk foam texturing. This is particularly helpful if you’re more used to working with commercial-level machines. It takes about 45 seconds for the Barista Pro to steam the milk to 140 F (60 C), while 60 seconds for the Barista Express.

Milk Steaming – Barista Pro vs Express

DesignBarista ProBarista Express
Steam wand4 holes1 hole
Steaming speed (Reach 140 F)45 seconds60 seconds

Value For Money

It’s common knowledge that espresso machines are not usually cheap, and the Barista Pro espresso machine is in the middle-of-the-range price bracket. However, it is one of the best models around considering its broad range of functions.

You can buy a basic super-automatic espresso machine for a similar price, but you won’t have the same control as the Barista Pro offers, and you will find it more challenging to use. For its cost, then, you won’t find many alternatives that look as good and have the same number of features.

Cost – Breville Barista Pro vs Express

While the Barista Pro is more expensive than the Barista Express, both can make excellent lattes and espresso once you’ve learned how each works. However, we prefer the Barista Pro, which has more up-to-date tech.

However, if you are already using Barista Express and it still serves you well, we don’t think it’s necessary to upgrade to Barista Pro.

How to Make Espresso with Breville Barista Pro?

Since this Barista Pro espresso machine is designed for home use, it’s relatively easy to use compared with those commercial-grade machines. If you are using the coffee machine for the first time, you’ll need to pull a few shots to dial in. Once you find your sweet spot, you can get barista-quality coffee every time. 

Step by step instructions:

1. Preheat the machine and portafilter

Turn the espresso machine on. Lock the portafilter in the brew head, then pull a few blank shots with only water to preheat the machine and portafilter.

preheating the espresso machine

2. Measure your coffee beans

Use a scale to measure the amount of coffee you use. 18 grams for a double shot (Using the double wall filter basket) is a good starting point. Fill the beans to the bean hopper on the top.

Tips: Using a scale is much easier to control. We don’t use the timer on the built-in burr grinder since it’s not easy to find the precise dosing for the first time. You can set the timer later once you can pull consistent shots. 

weigh beans for espresso

3. Grind the beans

There are 30 steps of the grind settings on Barista Pro. 15 is the default setting, which is good to start with. 
Place the portafilter in the grinding cradle and push it forward, the grinding will begin. Grind all the beans you weigh into your portafilter.

Tips: We recommend a dosing cup or dosing funnel, which helps you dose more precisely and make less mess on the table. Grinding 18 grams into the double-wall filter, you’ll get a small hill and need to level them. For most beginners, the grounds on top will roll off the basket resulting in less dosage and a messy table.

BES878 grinding coffee

4. Distribute the coffee grounds

After grinding the beans into your portafilter, tap it several times to distribute the ground coffee more evenly and get rid of the air gaps. You can use your finger to swipe the grounds to level the surface.

Tips: Consider getting a leveler or distributor, which helps you make a flatter surface and distribute the coffee grounds more evenly and easier.

coffee grounds distributor

5. Tamp the coffee

Take the tamper, tamp down firmly with certain pressure. How do you know how hard you should tamp? Check the edge of the cap on the tamper. The line should be level with the top of the filter basket.

Tips: Consistent tamping is important for a good-tasting cup of espresso. It requires some practice. To make tamping easier, you can invest in a calibrated tamper or a palm tamper that you can set the height. So you can get consistent tamping every time.

tamping coffee grounds

6. Pull a shot

Lock the portafilter to the group head. Press the double shot button to start extraction. It will use the preset program to pull a double shot, which extra about 60ml of liquid in your cup.

Tips: We prefer weighing the yield which is more straightforward for dialing in. Most people agree that a traditional espresso’s ratio is about 1:2, meaning 18 grams of coffee you’ll get 36 grams of espresso. If you have a scale, put a cup on the scale, place them right beneath the portafilter, and weigh the yield.

BES878 pulling a shot

7. Adjust and repeat

Check the timer on the screen. We aim to get 36 grams of espresso within 30-35 seconds to get a drinkable espresso, including the default pre-infusion time. If the extraction time is shorter than 30, adjust the grind finer, for example, change the setting from 15 to 14. If the time is longer than 35, grind coarser, try grind setting 16. Repeat a few shots until you get into that time range.

Tips: Getting into the time range is not the final goal. You may still want a tweak to the coffee taste. If you can’t fine-tune the grind size or extraction anymore, try to adjust the temperature control.

grounds in dosing funnel

8. Steam the milk

You can enjoy the espresso, or rotate the steam dial knob on the right to add hot water to make Americano.

If you want to steam milk and make latte, cappuccino, or any other milk-based espresso drinks. Turn the steaming on. In about 8 seconds, you’ll see the steams coming out from the steam wand, meaning Barista Pro is ready to steam. 

Fill the milk jug with cold milk, position the steam wand at 2-3 o’clock of the milk surface, insert it 1 cm below the surface. Turn the steam dial on, the milk will spin clockwise. Lower the jug a bit to bring the tip to the milk surface. Keep the vortex until the pitcher is too hot to touch.

Turn the steam off, wipe the steaming wand with a clean cloth and turn it on again to purge the residue out.
Now you can pull the milk to the espresso and make latte art or other milk drinks.

barista-pro-steaming-milk

Overall, the Breville Barista Pro is very easy to use and friendly to beginners. Even though, like most semi-automatic espresso machines, there’s a learning curve for making the perfect espresso. 

Any Alternatives?

If you have a decent espresso grinder:

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine is a great choice. It features a commercial-grade 58mm portafilter with great brewing performance and stronger steaming power. We reviewed the latest model of Rancilio Silvia, check it out for more information.

If you are not confident about your brewing skills:

De’Longhi La Specialista is also a grind and brew espresso machine like the Breville Barista Pro but it’s built with beginners in mind. It offers more assistance in grinding, tamping, and brewing. You’ll have more consistent espresso quality but less control over the brewing process. Read our De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine review.

Conclusion

For espresso lover who wants to make barista-quality espresso at home, the Breville Barista Pro is a great choice no matter how experienced you are. With this great machine, you don’t need to get your morning coffee from the coffee shop anymore.

If you’re in the market for a contemporary machine that looks beautiful in your kitchen or want a device that brews espresso and steams milk effectively, the Barista Pro should be your first choice.

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