Quick Answer: I recommend most people get the Breville Bambino instead of the Bambino Plus. While the Bambino Plus is a marginally better machine, it doesn’t come close to costing $200 more than the Bambino.
The key difference between the Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus is that the Bambino Plus has an automatic steam wand that can steam your milk to one of three temperatures and textures hands-free.
The Bambino just has a standard manual steam wand.
In this comparison of the Breville Bambino vs. Bambino Plus I’ll explain why, after testing both machines, I don’t think it’s worth paying an extra $150 – $200 for the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand.
I’ll also go through the two machine’s other differences so you know exactly which one better meets your needs.
Let’s get started.
Should I Buy the Breville Bambino or Bambino Plus?
I’d recommend the Breville Bambino over the Bambino Plus to the majority of people.
Go for the Bambino if any of the following apply to you:
- You want the best value-for-money espresso machine on the market (I firmly believe that the two best value-for-money espresso machines are the Breville Bambino and the Gaggia Classic Pro.)
- You want an espresso machine and grinder combo for under $500 (pair the Breville Bambino with the Baratza Encore ESP for this).
- You are happy to spend a couple of hours learning how to use a steam wand over spending an extra $150 – $200.
- You want to make latte art.
- You just drink plain espresso (no milk steaming)
The Breville Bambino Plus is a slightly better-performing espresso machine than the Bambino – it’s just not $200 better.
I’d recommend the Breville Bambino Plus over the Breville Bambino if any of the following applies to you:
- You’d rather just spend $200 than spend three hours learning how to use a steam wand.
- You want a machine that family and friends can easily make a latte on.
- Price doesn’t matter to you, you just want the best machine possible.
What are the Differences between the Breville Bambino and Breville Bambino Plus?
These are seven differences between the Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus, listed in order of importance:
- Price: The Breville Bambino Plus is $200 more expensive than the Bambino (in the US at least, their prices are much closer where I live in the UK.
- Steam wand: The Breville Bambino Plus’s steam wand has an “automatic mode” that will steam your milk to one of three preset temperatures and textures hands-free. The Bambino’s steam wand can only be used manually.
- Available colors: The Breville Bambino Plus is available in three colors on Amazon or eight colors on Breville’s website. The Bambino is only available in silver.
- Three-way solenoid valve: The Breville Bambino Plus has a three-way solenoid valve that stops its portafilter from dripping after you brew. The Bambino does not have this and drips a good handful of drips from its portafilter spouts after every shot.
- Accessories: The Breville Bambino Plus comes with a better quality tamp than the Bambino. It also comes with a razor trimming tool, backflushing disc, and backflushing tablets which the Bambino does not have.
- Drip Tray: The Bambino Plus’s drip tray is shallower than the Bambino’s. Although they can hold a similar amount of liquid, the Plus drip tray’s shallowness makes it a lot easier to spill when you are carrying it to the sink.
- Size: The Bambino Plus is one inch deeper and one and a half inches wider than the Bambino.
The table below shows the key specifications for both these espresso machines:
|Breville Bambino (recommended)
|Breville Bambino Plus
Thermojet (3 second heat up time)
Thermojet (3 second heat up time)
Manual steam wand (one hole in tip)
Automated steam wand which can also be used manually (four holes in tip)
Eight (three on Amazon)
Three-way solenoid valve
Dimensions (width x depth x height)
6.3” x 13.7” x 12”
7.7″ x 12.6″ x 12.2″
Water tank capacity
47 fl oz
64 fl oz
I’m now going to run through each of these differences in more detail.
The steam wand is by far the biggest feature difference between the Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus.
I’m going to describe how each of these machine’s steam wands work in turn, but first here’s my assessment of the two in a nutshell:
You can steam milk to a higher quality with the Breville Bambino’s manual steam wand than with the Bambino Plus’s automated steam wand after a couple of hours of watching YouTube tutorials and practicing. The Bambino Plus’s automatic milk frothing is still impressive nonetheless and will please friends and family members who want to make a latte but who have never steamed milk before.
This is why I said if you value $200 more than a couple of hours of practicing steaming milk, then get the Breville Bambino instead of the Bambino Plus.
Breville Bambino Plus’s Automatic Milk Frothing
The Breville Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand works by putting your metal milk jug on a heat sensor in its drip tray.
You then put your steam wand in the down position into your jug and set the machine to one of three temperature and texture settings on its control panel (see below).
The machine will then steam your milk to your chosen temperature and texture.
You don’t need to hold your milk jug while steaming, you can even go into the other room while it’s happening.
The steam wand can also be used manually, just pull the steam wand out towards you and this will turn it into a manual steam wand where you press the steam button to start and stop steaming (just like with the Bambino).
Overall, I’m impressed with how well the Bambino Plus’s automatic milk steaming works.
The quality of milk foam you get from it is better than what an absolute beginner would make if they were trying to steam milk manually (this is particularly true when you take into account how consistent the Bambino Plus’s automatic milk frothing is).
It’s also miles better than what you’d get from the automatic milk frother on a Delonghi or Jura super-automatic espresso machine.
This is why I’d recommend the Bambino Plus to someone who wants a super-automatic espresso machine to primarily make milk drinks with (the Bambino Plus paired with a decent grinder is still cheaper than most super automatics).
That being said, the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand isn’t perfect. Here are its five flaws:
- Decent but not amazing milk texture: The steamed milk that you’d get from the Bambino Plus’s steam wand in automatic mode doesn’t quite have as consistent a texture as what you can get with a manual milk wand if you have a lot of experience with steaming milk. Its steamed milk is more frothy at the top and thinner at the bottom, and as you pour it the thinner milk comes out first. This isn’t a huge problem, but it means that you’ll struggle to make latte art with milk steamed in automatic mode.
- Its texture settings don’t really do anything: I did blind tastings with my two housemates of milk steamed to the machine’s three texture presets and they both said that they could not tell which texture was which. If you want to froth milk to a specific texture (for a foamy cappuccino for example) then I’d recommend steaming manually.
- You can only steam a certain volume of milk at a time: Since your milk jug needs to be in a certain position for the automatic steam wand to work, you can only steam enough milk so that the tip of the wand just touches the surface of the milk when you start steaming. This is around 4 oz of milk. This is too much milk for one drink (for me anyway) so you end up wasting a lot of milk.
- You get much worse results with non-dairy milk: The automatic steam wand was clearly designed to be used with dairy milk. Non-dairy milk requires a longer stretching period, so you’ll be underwhelmed with the amount of added volume you get if you try to steam non-dairy milk with the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand. I tested soy and oat milk with this, and both had the same problem.
- The steam wand completely fills your drip tray when it auto purges: While I do like the Bambino Plus’s auto-purge feature, I think that it purges a bit too much water. It purges enough water to fill your drip tray to about 75% of its overall capacity. You’ll need to empty your drip tray after every milk drink that you make.
Breville Bambino’s Automatic Steam Wand
The Breville Bambino’s steam wand has one hole in its tip and is on a ball joint, meaning that you can pull it out to the side when steaming.
This single hole means that it’s on the slower side, bringing your milk temperature up to 150 Fahrenheit in about 50 seconds.
This makes it really good for beginners to learn as you have a lot of time to roll your milk around to get a consistent texture before it starts to scald.
As you get better at steaming milk, you might find it annoyingly slow. However, I think that the Breville Bambino was specifically made with beginner home baristas in mind, so having a gentler steam wand is a good shout.
Other than its slowness, it’s hard to fault the Breville Bambino’s steam wand. It can create super consistent milk texture if you use the proper technique, and you can make latte art with it.
Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus: Manual Milk Frothing
The Bambino Plus has a slightly larger, four-hole steam wand meaning that you can bring your milk up to temperature in about 35 seconds compared to the Bambino’s 50 seconds
The Bambino Plus’s steam wand is on a pivot joint, rather than a ball joint, so you have to position it towards yourself rather than the standard position off to the right.
While I’ve seen some reviewers say this is a downside of the Bambino Plus’s steam wand, I personally don’t think that it’s a problem.
Even with the steam wand pulled forward you can still get the correct angle with your milk jug while still seeing what you’re doing perfectly easily.
Both espresso machines can dispense hot water from their steam wand. The Bambino has a dedicated button for this whereas with the Bambino Plus, you have to press down the one cup and steam button at the same time.
The Breville Bambino Plus is available in eight colors, the Bambino is only available in silver.
I think that these extra colors give the Bambino Plus a noticeable advantage over the Bambino.
This is because the Bambino Plus’s silver finish smudges at the slightest touch (like a mirror).
The Bambino Plus’s darker colors don’t show fingerprints anywhere near as easily, making the machine much easier to keep clean.
Breville Bambino Plus has a three-way solenoid valve, the Breville Bambino Does Not
The Bambino Plus’s three-way solenoid valve means that its portafilter spout does not drip after you pull an espresso shot. It also allows you to backflush the machine, something you cannot do with the Bambino.
Lack of Portafilter Drippiness
The Breville Bambino drips a noticeable amount of coffee after every shot you pull.
The Bambino Plus does not do this.
The Bambino Plus’s coffee pucks also knock out a lot firmer than the Bambino’s making its cleanup a bit easier than the Bambino.
The Bambino Plus allows you to backflush the machine, you can’t do this with the Bambino.
Backflushing is where you run a shot with a rubber disc and cleaning tablet in the portafilter. Your brewing water will be forced (along with the dissolved cleaning tablet) back through the brewing unit, cleaning it out.
You can see a video of someone backflushing Breville Bambino Plus below (watch from 0:44 – 3:40):
The Bambino Plus comes with a backflushing disc and two cleaning tablets so you can do this twice.
Being able to backflush your espresso machine can help it maintain its espresso brewing performance quality, however, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
There are lots of espresso machines that don’t have a three-way solenoid valve and therefore cannot be backflushed, and they work just fine for years and years.
I think that the lack of spout drippiness post-espresso shot is the biggest advantage you get from the Bambino Plus’s three-way solenoid valve.
The Breville Bambino Plus has a better quality tamper and a dose-trimming tool, which the Bambino Plus does not have.
The table below shows the accessories that the two machines come with:
|Breville Bambino Plus
Single and double pressurized and non-pressurized baskets (4 in total)
Single and double pressurized and non-pressurized baskets (4 in total)
Aluminium milk jug
Aluminium milk jug
Backflushing disc and tablets
One ounce plastic tamp
Three ounce plastic and metal tamp
Razor dose trimming tool
The big differences between the two espresso machines, as far as accessories are concerned, are that the Bambino Plus has a better quality tamper and comes with the razor trimming tool.
Since the Bambino cannot be backflushed, its lack of backflushing disc compared to the Bambino Plus isn’t an issue.
The Breville Bambino’s tamper is unacceptably light.
Its lack of weightiness makes it unnecessarily difficult to get a level tamp.
If you buy the machine then you’re going to want to get a 54mm metal tamper to use with it. This ranges from around $10 – $30.
The Bambino Plus’s tamper still is a bit lightweight, but it’s acceptable. You might still want to get a replacement tamper anyway.
I also think that the Bambino’s lack of razor trimming tool is an annoying omission. Trimming your puck helps prevent channeling which is one of the most common causes of bad-tasting espresso.
I’d buy this razor trimming tool too if I were to get the Bambino instead of the Bambino Plus (it costs $11 on Amazon).
So you can get all the additional accessories that you get with the Bambino Plus vs the Bambino for around $30. This still leaves you with a $170 difference between the two machines.
The Breville Bambino Plus’s drip tray is shallower and has edges with a gentler gradient than the Bambino. This makes the Bambino Plus’s drip tray harder to spill liquid from compared to the Bambino.
The Bambino Plus’s poorer-designed drip tray is to accommodate its steam wand’s heat sensor.
A lot of people complain on Reddit that the Bambino Plus drip tray is too small (example thread), but it actually holds the same volume of liquid as the Bambino.
I think that people think that the Bambino Plus drip tray is too small because the machine purges too much water from its steam wand. This fills up the drip tray after every milk drink you make.
Still, the shallower gradient on the Bambino Plus’s drip tray does make it harder to carry when full than the Bambino’s.
The Breville Bambino Plus is one and a half inches wider and an inch deeper than the Bambino.
This added depth is because the Breville Bambino Plus’s water tank can hold 14 oz more water than the Bambino. That’s enough water for about four espresso shots or three milk drinks.
I think that the difference in size between these two machines is so small that it shouldn’t factor into your buying decision.
What do the Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus have in Common?
The Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus have the following in common:
- Espresso brewing: Both machines use the same thermojet heating system with a PID, have automatic volume dosing for single and double shots, and have automatic preinfusion. So if you pair them with the same beans and grinder, you should get the same quality of espresso.
- Basic design and build: Both machines are largely made out of plastic. They are both so lightweight that you have to place your hand on top of them to hold them down when you lock in your portafilter. Neither machine can be easily opened up or modded, and they probably won’t last you more than five years.
Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus: Final Verdict
I recommend that the vast majority of people buy the Breville Bambino over the Bambino Plus. The Breville Bambino offers better value for money than the Bambino Plus.
I can’t justify paying an extra $200 for automatic milk frothing when I can steam milk to a higher quality after a couple of hours of practice. I doubt that many of you can justify this extra cost either.
The only situations that I’d recommend the Breville Bambino Plus over the Bambino are if:
- You want a machine that friends or family members can make a milk drink without any prior experience using a steam wand.
- If the price doesn’t concern you and you just want the most feature-rich machine of the two.