This is my Breville Barista Pro review.
I own this machine. I also spent half a day researching other users’ experiences with it online.
Please note that some of the images you will see in this article show a Sage coffee machine rather than a Breville machine.
This is because Breville is called Sage in the UK (where I live). The two machines (the Breville Barista Pro and my Sage Barista Pro) are identical.
Let’s get started.
Should I Buy the Breville Barista Pro (Quick Verdict)?
I would recommend buying the Breville Barista Pro as it is one of the best espresso machines on the market. It is also the best Breville espresso machine.
The machine’s superb brewing mechanism and powerful steam wand mean that it can make excellent espresso and milk-based drinks.
It’s easy enough for beginners to use but has enough customization options that experienced espresso drinkers will enjoy using it as well.
The Breville Barista Pro is an automatic espresso machine with an in-built grinder and steam wand.
It is one of the best espresso machines with a grinder available.
You select how much coffee the machine grinds and dispenses it into your portafilter.
You then have to tamp the ground coffee yourself before attaching the coffee-filled portafilter back to the machine and selecting the type of coffee you want (either a single or double espresso).
The machine then doses out the water for you once you have told it which coffee type to brew.
The machine has a manual steam wand, so you have to froth the milk yourself.
Below is a table of specifications for the Breville Barista Pro:
|Specification||Breville Barista Pro|
|Type of machine||Automatic|
|Dimensions (width x depth x height)||15.9” x 13.9” x 15.9”|
|Available drink presets||Single espresso, Double espresso|
|Milk Frother||Pinhole steam wand|
|Milk jug included||Yes|
|Control panel||Digital display screen with buttons|
|Grinder type||Stainless steel conical burr grinder|
|Number of grinder settings||30|
|Bean hopper capacity||8.8 oz|
|Portafilter size||54 mm|
|Portafilter basket used||Comes with pressurised and non-pressurised portafilter baskets|
|Water tank capacity||67 oz|
|Heating system||Thermojet system with PID|
|Heat up time||3 seconds|
|Number of temperature settings||10 settings|
|Removable drip tray||Yes|
|Is the drip tray dishwasher safe?||No|
|Available colors||Brushed stainless steel, Black truffle, Damson blue|
|Buy on Amazon||Check latest price|
I am now going to evaluate the Breville Barista Pro across four key criteria. These are:
- Quality of its Drinks
- Ease of Use
- Ease of Cleaning
- Design and Build Quality
- Value for Money
Quality of its Drinks
The Breville Barista Pro can make excellent espresso once you can get your brewing settings correct. I also really like how it can make large-bubbled and fine milk foam as this allows you to make “proper” lattes and cappuccinos.
Quality of Espresso
The best way of evaluating how well an automatic espresso machine makes espresso is by looking at both how well the machine’s internal brewing mechanisms work, and how far the machine facilitates the accurate dosing of your ground coffee and brewing water.
Internal Brewing Mechanisms
The Breville Barista Pro’s internal brewing mechanisms cannot be faulted.
The machine’s grinder can grind coffee to the consistency required for espresso.
Its pump is powerful and fine-tuned enough that it can brew for the barista-recommended 25-30 seconds at this level of grind size.
It also uses a PID heating system which heats the water just as it makes contact with the ground coffee. The machine, therefore, controls brewing temperature with a really high degree of precision.
In short, the machine’s brewing system has been really well-engineered meaning that it has a really high ceiling as far as the quality of espresso that it can create is concerned.
Ability to Dose Accurately
The machine is a bit flawed in how it doses out coffee and water.
This does make it difficult to fine-tune your espresso and squeeze every last drop of quality out of it.
Flaw 1: Ground Coffee is Measured by Time to Grind Rather than by Weight
The problem with how the Breville Barista Pro doses ground coffee is that it measures the volume of coffee by how long it takes to grind rather than by weight.
Measuring coffee dose by the length of grind time is flawed because the machine’s grinder grinds coffee more slowly the finer you set it.
The length of grind time is therefore not a constant variable and therefore not an accurate way of measuring the amount of coffee ground.
The quantity of coffee used should instead be measured by weight.
While you can buy a separate scale and measure the amount of coffee dispensed, this is really impractical.
Ideally, the machine should weigh out the coffee for you, or at least show you the weight that is being ground as it grinds…
Flaw 2: Amount of Water is Predetermined Rather than Based on Weight of Liquid Out
The Breville Barista Pro dispenses a preset quantity of water depending on whether you ask it to brew a single or double espresso.
While you can programme what these quantities are, in an ideal world the quantity of water used should be based on the weight of the coffee that ends up in your cup.
Espresso should ideally be a 2:1 ratio of liquid coffee in the cup to ground coffee in the portafilter.
The quantity of water used is irrelevant because not all the water that is used ends up in your cup. Some of it will stay in the portafilter, and the finer you grind your coffee, the more water will remain in your portafilter.
Therefore the machine should measure the water used by the weight of the liquid in the cup, not the volume of liquid dispensed.
Admittedly, pointing out these two flaws is me being very nitpicky.
Many commercial machines dose to water in the same way that the Breville Barista Pro.
I have made countless excellent espressos with this machine and, if you use its recommended settings, then you can too.
Quality of Milk-Based Drinks
The machine makes excellent milk drinks due to it using a pin head steam wand.
This allows it to make a better range of milk drinks compared to many of the at-home espresso machines that instead use a Panarello steam wand.
The Barista Pro’s use of a pin head steam wand means that you can create both larger-bubbled foam and microfoam with it.
This means that you can make proper lattes and cappuccinos rather than just that “generic foamy-milky coffee” that espresso machines with Panarellos only allow you to make.
Its steam wand heats up in under five seconds and is powerful enough to steam large enough quantities of milk for several servings of milky coffee.
Overall Quality of its Drinks Rating 9/10
The machine can make excellent espresso and milk-based drinks. Its internal brewing mechanism is superb and while it does not facilitate super accurate dosing, its default settings deliver consistently strong results.
Ease of Use
The machine is easy to make a coffee with, although it has a couple of quirks that you should be aware of.
Ease of Set Up
The machine is easy to set up.
The only fiddly bit in its set-up was running a rinse cycle.
I found that when I tried to get the machine to run its initial rinse cycle it would run the cycle for a couple of seconds and then cut out. This happened three or four times.
I resolved this issue by turning the machine off and on again and then running a rinse cycle.
The problem has not occurred subsequently.
I looked online to see if anyone else had encountered this issue, or if it was a one-off, and found one Reddit thread about it.
Looking at this thread it seems that turning the machine off and on again often solves this problem, but sometimes the machine just cannot run a rinse cycle and therefore is as good as useless.
I found at least 3 reports of the machine failing to get past its first rinse cycle online on both Reddit and Amazon reviews.
Ease of Making Drinks
To make a coffee with the Breville Barista Pro you need to select the coffee grind settings and dose the coffee yourself.
Ease of Grinding and Dosing Coffee
This grinding and dosing are quite tricky for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the grinder will jam if you grind finer than setting five. This is an easy mistake to make since the common convention with espresso is to grind the coffee as finely as you can.
When I did this, I had to remove the bean hopper and clean out the grinder with a combination of a brush (this comes with the machine) and my vacuum cleaner.
I must stress that the finest setting that the Barista Pro’s grinder can grind to without jamming is still easily fine enough for espresso.
Secondly, dosing accurately is difficult because coffee is measured by time to grind rather than by weight.
I have gone over why this is not an accurate way of measuring coffee earlier in this review.
As I said then, dosing out your coffee would be far easier if the machine measured the coffee by weight rather than by the amount of time it takes to grind it.
Fine Tuning Your Espresso
The other brewing variable that the machine gives you is brewing time.
The machine tells you how long it takes to brew your coffee, and you can use this metric to judge whether your coffee is ground finely enough and tamped with enough pressure.
Brewing times over 25 seconds require finer coffee and heavier tamping.
Brewing times under 25 seconds require coarser coffee and lighter tamping.
Fortunately, the machine saves your dose and grind settings after every espresso you make.
This means that once you have achieved your ideal brewing time and espresso taste you can just keep it on that setting in the future.
Is the Machine’s Lack of a Pressure Gauge a Problem?
Although some reviewers of this product criticise the fact that it does not have a pressure gauge, I don’t think this is a problem.
Brewing time gives you a better indication of what you need to do to fine-tune your coffee than a pressure gauge does.
The machine clearly tells you how long it takes to brew each espresso, so you can fine-tune your coffee dose and grind size based on that.
You can make a good espresso using pressure between 6-9 bars. What really matters is how much is the coffee dose, coffee grind size and brewing time,
Pressure is just a means of getting these variables right.
As the machine gives you data on all these other variables, its lack of a visible pressure gauge does not detract from your ability to make excellent espresso.
Pressurised and Non-pressurised Portafilters
Breville clearly appreciates that not everyone wants to put a huge amount of work into making their espresso.
They have therefore included pressurised portafilters in with the machine.
Pressurised portafilter baskets assist you in getting a good extraction from your espresso even if your grind and tamping are not the best.
While it does put a lower ceiling on how good an espresso you make, it can help you make a decent espresso if you have never made one before or cannot be bothered dosing and tamping everything precisely.
This significantly reduced the difficulty of making espresso with this machine.
Overall Ease of Use Rating: 8/10
While the machine does call for some work on your part, it is very easy to use relative to how good espresso it can make. It also comes with pressurised portafilters if you want to make it even easier to use.
Ease of Cleaning
The machine can get quite drippy after brewing. This means that even though most of its parts are removable, it still requires a fair bit of wiping down after use. I would recommend getting a machine in a darker color if you want to reduce this work.
What Parts of the Machine are Removable and Dishwasher Safe?
Almost all of the machine’s parts that come into direct contact with milk, ground coffee or water are removable so can easily be washed in the sink or dishwasher.
The main notable exception to this is its grinder.
Unfortunately, since the machine is made out of a lot of plastic, only a few of its components are dishwasher safe.
The table below shows what parts of the Breville Barista Pro are removable, dishwasher safe or self-cleaning:
|Part||Removable||Dishwasher safe||Self Cleaning|
Messiness of the Machine
The machine unfortunately gets quite drippy after it steams milk.
This means that you need to clean its drip tray after each time you steam milk as milk residue gets in the drip tray.
If you do not do this then the drip tray will start reeking of sour milk.
The version of the machine in brushed silver (which I have) especially shows up any spills and smudges.
If you want to have to wipe down the machine less to keep it looking clean I would recommend going for a darker color finish.
Ease of Descaling
Descaling this machine is super straightforward
The machine uses a water filter. This filter needs to be changed every three months and you should descale the machine when you change its filter.
You can set the filter to tell you when it needs to be changed. This will also tell you when the machine needs to be descaled.
The machine can be put into descale mode by its control panel. Then all you need to do is fill up its water tank with a descaling solution (the tank has a line marking where it needs to be filled with descaling) and have it brew a cycle.
The machine even comes with a sachet of descaling solution to enable you to do this.
You will need to rinse out the machine a few times after descaling, and you can do this by putting it in rinse mode on its control panel.
Overall Ease of Use Rating: 6/10
The machine gets quite messy, especially after milk steaming, and you might get frustrated with having to wipe it down all the time
Design and Build Quality
The machine has an excellent brewing mechanism, although its grinder can be a bit temperamental. It does not appear to succumb to too many technical issues, however.
External Build Quality
The machine is very large and will dominate most kitchen countertops.
I would not recommend this machine if you have limited countertop space or a small kitchen.
The machine feels very weighty and solidly built.
The only part of the machine that feels at all flimsy is its drip tray.
The internal parts of the drip tray do not slot in that well which means they can slide around when you remove it and carry it to the sink, sometimes sloshing water around in the process.
The only other slight flaw I can find in the external design of the machine is that its water tank attaches to the back of the machine.
This means that you have to lean over the back of the machine to remove/reattach its water tank which can be a challenge if you have a low cabinet to countertop clearance in your kitchen.
Internal Build Quality
I find it difficult to evaluate the Breville Barista Pro’s internal build quality because its day-to-day performance is excellent, but it does have a couple of really bad technical flaws.
The machine brews espresso really well, and I mean really well. This would not be possible if its internal pump heating mechanism and aspects of its grinder weren’t really well built.
It also heats up in a matter of seconds. This again is only possible because of the excellent quality of its heating system
There are two glaring technical problems with the machine, namely that its grinder clogs up on its finer settings and that it sometimes struggles to complete its initial rinse cycle.
As far as the clogging of the grinder is concerned, I don’t understand why Breville can’t just reduce the fineness that the machine can grind at.
It feels like Breville has aimed for its grinder to be able to grind coffee to a certain fineness and has implemented this at all costs, even if this means effectively breaking the machine.
The problematic rinse cycle is an even bigger problem. If the machine cannot complete its first rinse cycle, it will never be able to brew a coffee.
Although I fixed the problem by restarting the machine, it did not feel like a convincing fix and I am not surprised that others were not able to solve the problem in this way.
In short, the Breville Barista Pro’s day-to-day performance is excellent, but its glaring technical issues do indicate some lack of oversight in how its internal parts function together.
Overall Design and Build Quality: 7/10
The machine is robustly built and its excellent performance indicates that its internal parts are of high quality. It does have a couple of glaring technical flaws though.
What Users Say
As of September 2022, the Breville Barista Pro has been reviewed 1,651 times on Amazon with an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5.
Positive reviews of the machine often talk about how powerful its steam wand is, especially compared to previous Breville espresso machines like the Breville Barista Express.
Amazon review, May 2022: “The steam is much stronger than previous. I make two latte’s at a time and froth using a double pitcher. Using this machine is much faster and the 4 hole nozzle helps to produce a more velvety foam.”
Negative reviews of the machine talk about how its grinder has a tendency to clog up.
Amazon review, June 2022: “While the grinder came on, the beans did not grind or produce coffee. I troubleshooted, watched YouTube videos, took out the burrs to clean, and tried everything for half of a day before giving up. After reading other reviews online, this seems to be a common problem. Grinder does not grind the beans!!! Bummer!”
The machine’s exceptionally high average ratings suggest that these technical issues are not that common (although I experienced them – make of that what you will).
Two good alternatives to the Breville Barista Pro are the Breville Barista Express and the Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio.
Breville Barista Express – More Affordable with a Similar Performance
The Breville Barista Express is a one-step downgrade from the Barista Pro. This is reflected in its cheaper price
The machine is very similar to the pro, save for four key differences:
- The machine does not have a digital display screen
- The machine has a weaker milk frother
- The machine has a pressure gauge (this is an advantage over the Barista Pro)
- The machine has a smaller footprint than the Barista Pro (this again is potentially an advantage)
For more information on this please see my comparison of the Breville Barista Pro vs Barista Express.
Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio – Easier to Use but a Slightly Lower Quality Ceiling
The Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio is very similar to the Barista Pro and costs roughly the same as it.
The main difference between the two is that the Prestigio uses an automatic tamping system that tamps your grinds for you as soon as it is ground. The tamper is literally built into the grinder and does all the puck prep for you.
While this makes the machine a lot easier to use and (especially) clean, automating such an important part of making the espresso does put a slightly lower ceiling on the quality of espresso that you can make.
Still, if you are willing to make this slight sacrifice in order to improve the ease by which you make your espresso, the La Specialista is an excellent option.
You can find out more about how Breville and Delonghi machines compare in my article on Breville vs Delonghi espresso machines.
I’d recommend buying the Breville Barista Pro.
The machine makes amazing espresso, its milk frother is excellent, and it is easy to use considering its high performance.
I have not regretted buying this machine for one second.