Breville Barista Express Impress review
The Breville Barista Express Impress was Breville’s new flagship, until recently.
The Australian brand just launched a new model: Breville Barista Touch Impress.
It’s a logic follow-up on the Barista Touch, in comparison lacks the Barista Express Impress the fancy LCD-touchscreen and forces you to do more of the work.
The Breville Barista Express Impress is cheaper. And it’s also easy to use, especially for beginners.
The machine will guide you when you dose and tamp the coffee, it’s a perfect espresso machine for beginners.
What’s even better about the Impress is that it’s less messy around the machine.
The freshly ground coffee always makes a mess while you do the tamping next to the machine.
You’d also need a seperate tamper, and a tampingmat.
That is no longer with the Impress, due to the Puck-Press-System.
I really enjoy the clean workspace around the espresso machine.
But I like tamping myself, so at first I was not really impressed.
But after using the Impress for a couple of weeks I started liking the tamping system. It saves me time cleaning.
This machine has the least amount of work and also the most ‘steady’ results for beginners.
But as a barista or home coffee lover, it’s a thing to have control over your espresso.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one espresso machine that will give you a great espresso at a reasonable price, read on.
Breville Barista Express Impress review
After 6 months of using the Breville Barista Express Impress, I found things I like and things I don’t like.
I’m not completely blown away, but the Barista Express Impress does a good job at pulling espresso without much work.
Where I found the Breville Barista Express to be limiting in grinder settings (12) has the Impress-version 25 settings.
A big improvement there, but I still can’t decide between setting 10 and 11. The sweet-spot lays somewhere in between.
- Less cleaning around the machine
- Easy for beginners with auto-dose
- Assisted tamping
- 25 grinder settings
- Good milk foam
- The espresso is great
- Works best with Specialty Coffee
- Expensive in comparison to Barista Express
What’s in the Box?
When you open the box, you’ll flooded with accessories. Additional included:
- Stainless steel milk jug (without temperature gauge)
- 4 filter mands
- Water filter with holder
- Razor tool
- Cleaning tool for the brew group and steam pipe
- Cleaning tablets
- Cleaning brush
- Descaling powder
If you decide for a Breville espresso machine, you always get a complete package.
Size and design
The Barista Express Impress is not the smallest coffee maker I’ve come across when compared to home espresso machine standards.
But that’s not for no reason: the Impress has a build-in coffee grinder. This could cost you an extra 300 dollars for a proper grinder, next to the space it takes up in your kitchen.
The machine is 16.1 inches tall. That’s also because of the bean hopper on top.
This is pretty tall, so make sure you have room left for taking out the watertank and filling the hopper with coffee beans.
It’s a decent espresso machine as for the quality. But not much different from the Barista Express. It does look fancy and it feels as if it’ll last for long (which my Barista Express has proven for 4+ years!).
The display: if you’ve used the Barista Express before…
If you’ve used the Barista Express before and stepping up to this new model:
The power switch has been moved on the Barista Express Impress. It’s moved to the other side.
It makes sense, because the dosing-button is located under the hopper.
I have The Barista Express and the Impress next to each other.
Often I press the power button if I want to pull the espresso.
But if you’ve never used a Breville before that wouldn’t be any point of issue.
The user interface is pretty straight-forward. It has 4 big buttons:
- DOSE: For grinding coffee
- 1 cup: for 1 espresso
- 2 cups: for a double espresso
- Power: on or off
Then there are two smaller buttons. One for the filter size you’re using, and one for manual dosing control.
I’d suggest starting on auto, but more on how to use the Impress later.
The built-in grinder got an upgrade. As mentioned earlier the grinder has 25 settings vs. 12 on the Barista Express.
This grinder is perfect for a hybrid espresso machine. It has a broad range of settings, where the Barista Express leaked some range.
The grinder is best set at 10 or 11.
- Reminder: only chance the grinder setting when the grinder is running, otherwise you will ruin your new Breville on it’s first day.
The grinder is a stainless steel conical burr grinder.
The bean hopper on top can easily be filled from the top. It has a capacity of 8.8 ounces.
The steam wand: does it deliver?
The steam wand keeps on delivering at Breville. The steam wand from Barista Express was good, and the Impress is just as good.
It’s not been a point on the agenda at Breville to improve it.
Fair enough, because it’s working really good.
You will have enough room to move the wand around, so you can make your foam great.
With PID-temperature control, you’re Breville is up and running within 30 seconds.
The thermocoil heating system is made by Breville, it’s like a thermoblock but faster.
A single boiler machine usually takes up to 30 minutes to heat up. So this is nice.
Because it’s digital, it has the ability to keep the water temperature on exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
200 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature for an espresso, but it can vary on roast date and origin of your coffee beans.
Therefore it’s possible to change the temperature a little bit in 3 different settings.
I’m always impressed by the quality of the portafilter Breville delivers. It’s completely made of stainless steel.
The portafilter feels heavy in the hand, which is nice. It feels like it’s good quality.
In comparison to e.g. the Delonghi Dedica this is a big upgrade.
The only ‘negative’ point about the portafilter is that it’s a 54-mm portafilter.
This is smaller than a professional portafilter (58-mm), which we found on the Solis Barista Gran Gusto.
Barista Express Impress: temperature and sound
How to use the Breville Barista Express Impress
The best way to use the Breville Barista Express Impress is by keeping the machine clean.
It’s also important to note that coffee beans make all the difference. Without good beans, your espresso won’t be great.
First use: 101 on making your first espresso perfect
I will just say it: clean the whole machine before use. It’s not fun, but it’s for the best.
Wash the watertank and hopper thoroughly and make sure to follow the instructions in the manual for first use. This means a lot of flushing.
When cleaning the hopper: make sure it’s 100% dry before you attach it to the machine.
Also before you start, make sure to use filtered water.
If you have water with chalk, you’ll need a waterfilter to make sure the pipes will last longer.
Automatic dosing: start with auto!
Have you never ever used an espresso machine? You might start learning about coffee beans and dual and single wall filters.
- Use dual wall filters for >30 roasted coffee, single wall for <30 days roasted coffee.
This often means supermarket vs. local coffee shop. But check the package!
Take your desired filter (for a single or double shot espresso) and put it in the holder.
Now onto dosing the coffee. I’d suggest to go with auto for the first time.
Just make sure to select the corresponding filter (1 or 2 shots) just above the ‘auto’-light.
That’s all! Click on ‘DOSE’ and the machine start to grind coffee for you.
Done grinding? It’s time to start tamping, after which you’ll see a sad or happy smiley.
This makes making espresso a breeze!
Puck Impress System: less messy and steady results
The first thing you notice about this machine: the lever on the left.
We also saw this earlier on the Delonghi La Specialista.
To use the Puck Impress System, press the lever down. The ground coffee is automatically tamped.
- Tip: for the best results, tamp slow! Pull the lever down slowly, and release slowly. this will create better results.
Tamping is done with a constant pressure of 10 kg, according to Breville. I can’t measure tamping-power, but it does work.
At the last moment the tamper turns in a circle, also called the finishing twist.
This is a barista-twist we do at the end of the tamp, to make sure it’s clean.
After tamping, the fun begins.
The Breville Barista Express Impress displays a light next to the smiley on how the dosing went:
If you’re in the middle you’ve done great. If not, adjust!
Adjusting the dosing: it’s not always right
Sometimes you need to adjust the dosing. The espresso machine can dose extra for you, but it can’t reduce the amount.
Too much coffee: what to do?
If you ground to much coffee on the Breville Barista Express Impress, use the Razor-tool to remove the coffee.
Too little coffee: what to do?
Add coffee to your filter by pressing the flashing ‘DOSE’-button again.
The machine will remember the amount it just displayed on the tamping-lights.
Now it will automatically dose enough extra coffee for you.
Try to tamp again, after which the machine will repeat this proces once more if there isn’t enough coffee in it the second time.
The Express Impress learns from the past servings (if you let the setting be on auto).
And after a few espresso’s, the machine will adjust the settings to dose perfectly.
If the machine overdid it again, you should use the Razor-tool to remove the additional coffee.
By now your dosing should be right.
Pulling the espresso
When you’re done it’s time to start pulling the espresso. To do this, take the portafilter and move it to the next station.
Make sure to tight it fully to the right, not just halfway.
Press the button for one or two cups, and there it goes.
You’ll see the manometer in the middle of the machine go to the ‘espresso zone’.
This is the perfect zone of where the pressure needs to be to pull a good shot.
What could possibly go wrong?
Breville Barista Express Impress troubleshooting
A lot can go wrong when making an espresso. There’s always a lot to adjust to your type of coffee beans.
Third Wave Coffee – it’s probably about the beans
What Breville is trying to say with ‘Third Wave Coffee’ is that it’s made for better coffee.
Does your espresso not have a nice crema to it? Or is it too strong, too sour or too light?
Coffee that’s been roasted <30 days ago, instead of over 1 year ago, does better in Breville.
Freshly roasted coffee beans have lesser oil and are better for your machine.
It’s a craft to roast beans properly. This can’t be done with millions of pounds at the same time.
Looking for good coffee? Check your local coffeeshop for beans in small bags. In particular ask for the roast date. It should work a lot better now!
Espresso is too hot
Is your espresso too hot? That’s possible: you’ve overheated the Barista Express Impress.
This happens when you make a cappuccino or latte first, and then try to make an espresso right after.
The steam for milk frothing is a lot more hot than the espresso needs to be. Therefore the machine has to cool down when a cappuccino or latte is made.
You can speed the cooling-process up, by simply pushing the button for two shots without the filterholder in the machine. It flushes the heat away!
Maintenance light flashing
Run a cleaning cycle on your Barista Express Impress to fix a flashing maintenance light.
Grab the silicon cleaning disc and a cleaning tablet from your collection of supplies.
Follow the below tutorial on how to start a cleaning cycle:
Coffee doesn’t come out right
Is your coffee not coming out or your coffee puck water logged? Than make sure to change dosage or grinder setting. Also make sure that you didn’t change the grinder setting before while the grinder was not grinding. This is how you can mess your grinder up.
Sometimes the grinders from Breville are lacking consistent results. It can be annoying if you didn’t change the setting, but the grinder is giving you something different.
Try asking Breville on their site, they have a live chat support where you can ask for live help with your machine.
FAQ Breville Barista Express Impress
Is the hot water function good for tea?
If you set it to hot water, it will deliver water that’s hot enough for tea. But to fill a cup would take some time, as water drips out.
So I’d not recommend to use the hot water function for tea if you’re in a hurry. An occasional tea must work, but if you’re a lover I would not recommend it.
Would you recommend to left-handed people?
Yes, the Breville Barista Express is perfectly useable by left handed people. It’s easy to put the portafilter in the machine. Because the steam wand is 100% rotatable, it’s also very easy for left handed people to make a cappuccino.