Breville is one of the most well known and trusted brands when it comes to espresso machines. They produce high-quality, user-friendly machines that make it easy to enjoy espresso based coffee in the comfort of your home.
The Breville Barista Pro and the Barista Express are two of their most popular machines and are both great options for making espresso at home. The Barista Express is a common selection for a first machine as it offers a great entry point where people can learn how to craft espresso in their kitchen. The Barista Pro costs more but comes with many more features. This comparison of the two machines will help you pick the one that is best suited to your needs.
High-Quality Burr Grinder
Both of these Breville espresso machines come with a built-in burr grinder. This is a quality grinder that lets you grind coffee beans to the preferred setting with minimum noise and minimum heat to produce optimal flavour. They also feature the same heavy steel tamper which is top quality, magnetic and simply slides next to the grinder.
Both machines have a 2 litre water tank capacity and 227g bean hopper, allowing for uninterrupted espresso making.
PID Temperature Control
Both Breville espresso makers feature Electronic PID. In contrast to a traditional thermostat, which turns itself off when the desired temperature is reached, a PID is a device that ensures temperature stability.
Temperature stability and control is extremely important in espresso making so this is an excellent feature to be included on these machines. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to retro-fit PIDs to home espresso machines (that don’t include them already) to achieve greater control over temperature.
Both the Express and Pro feature pre-infusion, a technology increasingly found on high-quality home espresso machines. This allows water pressure to increase gradually, meaning grinds gently expand for even extraction.
When you look at these two home coffee machines side by side you will see they look very similar. They each feature a grinder and tamper on the left hand side and a manual milk wand and a dedicated hot water spout on the right.
Stainless Steel Finish
Both machines are finished with Brushed Stainless Steel but note that the Barista Pro does come in a lot more colour options.
Adjustable Grind Settings
Both machines allow you to adjust the grind settings to suit how coarse/fine you want the coffee beans to be ground.
While each espresso machine offers the same high and low grind setting, the Pro does offer more incremental options giving you more control over the grind size. The Breville Barista Pro gives you a choice of 30 grind settings and the Express gives you 18 to choose from.
Controls and Display
One of the more obvious differences between these two coffee machines is the controls and displays.
The Barista Express espresso machine has an analogue display and various push buttons and dials that have different functions.
The LCD display on the Barista Pro espresso machine lets you make a broad range of adjustments without the need for lots of independent control buttons. This helps the Pro look simplified and less cluttered.
Another thing you might notice is that the Barista Express has a pressure gauge on the front of the machine. Many coffee lovers like using a pressure gauge as it helps dial the espresso process. The Breville Pro doesn’t have this feature.
If you’re in a hurry in the morning then the Barista Pro is your best bet. It has an impressive 3-second start-up time thanks to Breville’s Thermojet heating system so it can reach the necessary temperature faster. The Barista Express isn’t far behind with a 30 second start-up time using a slower thermocoil system.
Cafe quality flat whites and lattes are easy to make with both of these machines as they both feature a good quality manual steam wand.
The steam wands are, however, slightly different. The Barista Pro steaming wand has 4 holes which makes frothing milk faster and makes it easier to get the milk to the desired texture. The Express has a 1 hole milk wand which is going to take longer to steam milk and it isn’t as easy to get silky textured milk.
Size and Weight
Both of these machines will take up a bit of space on your kitchen bench, so size is definitely a consideration.
The Express is the smaller of the two, with measurements of 33.8cm (width) x 31.3cm (depth) x 40.7cm (height). It weighs in at 12.5 Kg.
The Pro has measurements of 35cm (width) x 41cm (depth) x 41cm (height). Despite its larger stature, at 9.1kg it weighs less than the Barista Express.
These two machines come in at different price points. At the time of writing, the Barista Express retails at $999 while the Barista Pro is going to set you back a bit more at $1,299. The Pro is going to cost you more due to the LCD user interface and the increased features.
The more expensive of the two machines, the Barista Pro, comes with an extended warranty of 2 years, while the Express has a warranty of 1 year.
Making Your Selection
Both the Breville Barista Express espresso machine and the Barista Pro espresso machine are excellent choices; they are high-quality, packed full of features and look great too. The biggest deciding factor between the two is going to be the control interface and whether or not you want a machine with a pressure gauge (as the Express has a gauge and the Pro does not).
If you are looking for a coffee machine that has an analogue pressure gauge then the Express is the machine to go for. It is slightly slower, louder and isn’t as advanced as the Pro but it is a great machine if you’re looking for lower cost, manual controls and a pressure gauge.
If you don’t mind whether the coffee machine has a pressure gauge or not then the Pro is, without doubt, the better of the two machines. It outperforms the Express and has a more intuitive control system. The Barista Pro is a high-quality model that lets you craft the perfect coffee for you in no time at all. It offers all the features you need in one neat package and only costs slightly more than the Express.
Breville Coffee Machine FAQs
How long does a Breville espresso machine last?
Breville espresso machines are high quality and should last between 5-10 years if well maintained.
How do you descale a Breville Barista Pro?
The Barista Pro has a descaling process built-in so all you need to do is fill the water tank to the descale line and add the descaling agent. Select descale on the menu and that’s it. The machine will descale and when this is complete it will need to rinse, then it will be ready to use again. Scale slows down your coffee machine and can impact the temperature and taste of your coffees so descaling is important.
How do you get a good crema on an espresso machine?
Crema is difficult to achieve but if you use fresh coffee that is finely and uniformly ground and make sure the grinds are even in the portafilter then you’re all set to get a decent crema on your espresso. Other things that may help include giving the machine time to warm up and using a cup that has been prewarmed.