Staff Tested: Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

Make professional-quality espresso drinks from the comfort of your own kitchen with this high-end kitchen appliance

The pros

A built-in grinder grinds coffee beans as you need them and at a precisely blended grind size, meaning stale coffee will be a thing of the past. Steam the milk of your choice as you need it, too—Breville’s in-house chef even recommends steaming the milk before preparing the espresso so the coffee is extra-fresh. High-end features for discriminating tastes include a 15-bar pump, a pressure gauge and conical burr grinder, which crushes rather than chops the beans, a method that’s meant to result in better flavour. The attractive stainless-steel machine will look good on your countertop.

The cons

While the Barista Express comes with detailed instructions and claims to be practically foolproof for beginners (it comes with both a single-walled and dual-walled filter, the latter for espresso-making newbies), the reality is that there’s a learning curve involved in making your own espresso drinks—and first thing in the morning, before you’ve had your coffee, is a tough time to learn. It also takes up a lot of counter space, so those with small kitchens might want to stick with a stovetop percolator and their local coffee shop. And the price point isn’t exactly entry-level.

The verdict

Breville’s Barista Express espresso machine doesn’t come cheap, nor does it prepare your drink at the touch of a button or overnight programming function, but it’s the ideal appliance for serious latte lovers who want perfect control over their beverages—and to impress their dinner guests.

$699, at select retailers across Canada


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