The Breville Barista Express (BES870) has been one of the more popular entry-level espresso machines on the market in recent years. However, you can now also choose the upgraded Breville Barista Pro (BES878) or Breville Express Impress (BES876). This guide compares them so you know which one is the best option for you.
If you’re short on time, here’s a summary of the key differences among these three Breville machines:
- The Barista Pro (BES878) stands out with its advanced features, such as a quicker heating system, LCD interface, superior steaming performance, and a greater number of grind settings (30). However, these advancements come at a higher price.
- The Breville Barista Express Impress (BES876) is the most recent model and offers unique features like an auto-dosing and tamping system, making it an excellent choice for users prioritizing ease of use. While it boasts more grind settings (25) than the Express (16), most other features are similar to the Barista Express.
- The Barista Express (BES870) , although somewhat outdated and offering fewer features, remains a more budget-friendly option suitable for home brewing.
Breville Barista Express vs. Pro Vs. Express Impress – Differences
Design And Build Quality
The Breville Barista Express espresso machine has been on the market for several years. Because of this, it inevitably has a more dated design than the two newer models. Nonetheless, its aesthetic is still sleek enough to look appropriate in most modern kitchens.
The Barista Express measures a relatively compact 12.5 inches wide x 13.8 inches deep x 15.9 inches tall. However, the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine is not much different. It is slightly wider at 13.9 inches but with a depth of 13.5 inches and a height of 16 inches. Meanwhile, the Barista Express Impress is 12.9 inches wide and is the deepest of the three at 14.9 inches, with a height of 16.1 inches.
The casing of each coffee machine is brushed stainless steel giving them a high-end aesthetic. However, the Breville Barista Express and Impress have a slightly more cluttered appearance due to the prominence of buttons and an analog gauge on the front.
On the other hand, the Barista Pro espresso machine has an intuitive LCD interface. Because of that, there are fewer buttons, and neither there is an analog gauge.
You may find more color options overseas, but in the US, the Barista Express has two color options – silver and black. Meanwhile, the Impress has just a silver option. However, the Barista Pro has many color options meaning you are likely to find one to suit the aesthetic of your kitchen.
Overall, regardless of which semi-automatic espresso machine you choose, the overall impression is of a premium build quality.
While the Breville Barista Express has 16 espresso grind settings, the Impress has 25. However, the Barista Pro has even more, with 30. That means the Barista Pro best suits domestic brewers who wish to have more control over the brewing process. The grind size of your coffee beans is essential for a perfect espresso shot.
The adjustment dials are on the side of each machine. However, while the dials of the Barista Express and Express Impress sit horizontally in the machine, the Barista Pro has a full exterior dial. Other than that, the integrated grinder on each machine is identical.
Auto Dosing and Tamping System On Barista Express Impress
The Barista Express Impress has two distinct advantages over the other two models – auto dosing and a tamping system.
That means it will tamp the grounds to give you a compact and smooth puck, calculate the optimal dose, and record it for the next use.
So, you just need to insert the portafilter in place and start grinding. It can determine whether more grounds are needed to perfect the tamp. The machine will then advise if you need to add more grounds and learn the settings.
Once grinding is done, pull the lever down, and the machine will tamp your grinds perfectly.
This is particularly helpful for anyone who lacks the expertise to tamp for the perfect espresso or struggles to find the time needed to master the tamping process. That automated tamping also improves the consistency of the shots and ensures optimal espresso extraction. The workflow will also be smoother because one of the most crucial parts of the espresso brewing process is taken care of.
One of the big differences between the Barista Pro and the other two coffee machines is the LCD of the former. This means aspects including brew temperature, shot timing, and the cleaning cycle can be controlled at the push of a button.
In contrast, the Barista Express and Express Impress use buttons and an analog pressure gauge. This makes the process of finding the correct settings somewhat more convoluted.
However, despite their similarities, the Barista Express Impress still represents an upgrade on the control panel of the Express as it has extra features, including a dose level indicator.
Heating Element Efficiency
The Barista Express and Express Impress use a Thermo coil heating element. This is significantly slower than the ThermoJet heating system of the Barista Pro. Nevertheless, neither the Barista Express nor the Express Impress is slow at heating water to the correct brew temperature, completing it in around 30 seconds.
However, because the Barista Pro uses ThermoJet heating, the correct brewing temperature is achieved in just three seconds. This is much faster than all single-boiler coffee machines on the market.
The auto-dosing and tamping system features of the Barista Express Impress make it particularly user-friendly. As we explained earlier, this feature ensures you don’t need to spend time perfecting your tamping technique, as the espresso machine does it for you. This is an important element in brewing the perfect espresso, meaning you will need to spend more time getting this aspect right to achieve a similar quality to the other two machines.
However, the Breville Barista Pro comes into its own thanks to its intuitive LCD, meaning many of the settings can be carried out at the touch of a button. You don’t have to refer to the manual and be guided as to which combination of buttons needs to be pressed to deploy similar features – an issue with the other two espresso machines.
Because of these reasons, the Barista Express is the least user-friendly. The Barista Pro and Barista Express Impress each has different elements to simplify the brewing process, either in achieving the correct settings with the Pro or simplifying the brewing process with the Impress.
Breville Barista Express, Pro, and Express Impress all come with PID temperature control, meaning they’re optimized for regulating temperature and pressure. The main difference in the short quality depends on the grind size and puck preparation. If everything’s done right, they produce the same quality shots.
However, they don’t have the ability to brew and steam simultaneously. The Barista Pro’s ThermoJet System is quicker, meaning that if you regularly brew multiple batches of milk-based espresso drinks, you can do so far more quickly with the updated machine. And you will have a longer waiting time between brewing and steaming with the Barista Express and Express Impress.
The Barista Express and Express Impress have a one-hole steam wand rather than the improved four-hole steam wand of the Barista Pro. As a result, milk steaming is quicker on the Pro. It steams milk in around 45 seconds rather than the 60 seconds of the other two espresso machines. However, the steam wands of all three machines can still make creamy microfoam.
More tip holes don’t always mean better, especially for beginners. One-hole tip gives you more time to froth milk to the desired texture for better latte art.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cheapest of the semi-automatic espresso machines is the Barista Express.
On the other hand, the Barista Express Impress is the most expensive and the newest. However, it is only slightly more pricey than the Barista Pro. Therefore, if you are considering the latter two, your choice as to which buy could be determined by the importance of auto dosing and a tamping system offered by Barista Express Impress.
The Barista Pro, while not substantially more expensive than the Barista Express, still represents a relatively significant leap in price. Therefore, you will need to decide if the Pro’s aesthetic design and improved features – such as the LCD – are worth the extra money.
Overall, each model is in keeping with the cost of other entry-level semi-automatic machines.
Breville Barista Pro vs. Express – Similarities
Each machine has a 38mm integrated conical burr grinder. You don’t need an extra high-quality burr grinder to get the proper espresso grounds. However, they have different grind settings.
So, the Breville Barista Express offers 16 grind settings, while the Pro has 30. This means that if you like to dial in your espresso and hone your barista skills, the Barista Pro offers the most scope to do so.
Hot Water Outlet
All three machines have an independent hot water outlet located next to the group head. This is useful for making drinks like Americano or simply brewing tea.
Each espresso machine has a 54mm portafilter with both pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets.
Meanwhile, each also comes with a 480ml milk jug and a Razor precision dose trimming tool for trimming down the coffee puck to the perfect size to achieve more consistency between uses. Each also has a water filter and cleaning kit.
Meanwhile, the hopper and water tank capacities are identical. There is a 1/2 lb hopper in each and a 67 fl. oz capacity in the water tank.
The Verdict – Who Is The Breville Barista Express, Express Impress, and Pro Suitable For?
We recommend choosing the Barista Express if you have a smaller budget and regularly only brew coffee in small batches. The machine is also suitable if you enjoy espresso but are not an expert and don’t mind having your ability to dial in limited.
The Barista Pro is a good machine if you are looking to take your barista skills to another level, thanks to the greater number of grind settings available compared to the Barista Express. If time constraints are an issue, the Barista Pro also assists with its LCD, which makes selecting features and settings straightforward. There are also more color options meaning you’re more likely to find a machine suited to the aesthetic of your kitchen.
The latest Barista Express Impress is the best espresso machine for improving workflow thanks to its assisted tamping and auto-dosing features. If you don’t have the time to make the perfect espresso, it will automate a significant part of the brewing process. Because of those advantages, it is also a good option for coffee enthusiasts who lack the expertise to pull beautiful espresso shots.