The Breville Barista Pro is one of Breville’s more recent espresso machines. It’s a major upgrade with the latest heating system and a better display than its predecessor – the popular Barista Express.
After buying and using the Breville Barista Pro for some time, I highly recommend this espresso machine. We’ve reviewed other Breville models, and the Barista Pro is one of the best! The ThermoJet system, integrated conical burr grinder, and LCD display deliver delicious espresso drinks and it’s easy to use.
I’ll review what I’ve learned from making espresso over with the Breville Barista Pro, including a breakdown of the key features. I’ll compare the quality to the Breville Barista Pro’s price tag, and answer who should buy this espresso machine.
Breville Barista Pro at A Glance
Breville Barista Pro highlights:
- Dimensions: 13.9 in x 16.1 in x 16 in
- 250 g (½ pound) coffee bean hopper
- Integrated conical burr grinder
- 2-liter water reservoir
- ThermoJet heating system
- Intuitive LCD digital interface
- Advanced manual steam wand for milk frothing
- Four filter baskets for single and dual wall
- Programmed presets for grind size and time, brew time, and water temperature
3-second heat up with the ThermoJet heating system
Four-hole steam wand is faster and creates better microfoam
High-quality conical burr grinder with 30 settings means precise coffee grinding
PID and pre-infusion for optimal espresso extraction
Need to flush the brew head before every shot
No cup warmer tray, unlike some other machines
No pressure gauge
Breaking Down The Features
The Breville Barista Pro includes updated technology like the ThermoJet heating system, a more advanced steam wand with presets and better engineering, advanced temperature control, and a larger variety of grind settings for the integrated conical burr grinder. Let’s examine each of these aspects and why they matter.
Espresso Performance and Heating
The most important thing an espresso machine does is brew great espresso, and the best espresso machines do this the fastest and most consistently. The Breville Barista Pro espresso machine has a few key features that make it ideal.
The main contribution is the innovative ThermoJet heating system. Breville machines use a thermocoil system, which heats water via an intricate design of internal pipes in an aluminum block. Water comes in one end of the coil and exits the other end at 190o F.
The ThermoJet heater in the Barista Pro warms up in three seconds. This is amazingly fast! Many commercial-grade espresso machines use boiler systems, which usually take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute to come up to temperature.
The efficiency of the ThermoJet heating system does mean that you need to flush water through the brewing head to preheat. It detracts a little from the startup speed, but it’s still fast and you’ll appreciate the speed when making a latte or multiple espresso shots.
The ThermoJet system also means a faster temperature rebound between pulling shots and steaming milk. The ideal temperature range for brewing espresso is much lower than the temperature you need to steam milk. The ThermoJet’s efficiency means that the water jumps right up to steaming temperature within seconds.
Digital Temperature Control PID
As I mentioned before, the optimum extraction temperature for espresso is a pretty narrow range. The Breville Barista Pro incorporates a PID digital temperature control system with sensors and programmed presets that result in accurate, optimal temperatures to within about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature systems are important to me because the water temperature is critical to getting precise espresso extraction each time. I don’t want espresso to be bitter and burnt on Tuesday and Thursday, and sour and watery every other day.
This video explains the importance of PID system a little more:
I found the espresso from my Breville Barista Pro review was consistent every morning as I used the same bag of Dark Matter beans. Using ~18g of coffee with the preset two cup and dual wall filter got a pretty good body and balanced tasting cup.
The Breville Barista Pro’s PID system also gives control over the final temperature of your microfoam milk. The sensors built into the espresso machine give constant feedback to keep the temperature stable as I used the steam wand.
Optimal espresso extraction is also a function of thoroughly hydrated coffee grounds. The Breville Barista Pro incorporates a low pressure pre-infusion step in the brewing process, which gives the ground coffee a head start before the real brewing happens.
The pre-infusion means that your tamped puck of ground espresso is in the ideal state for brewing when the main process begins, so you extract the most flavor and a richer crema than you would get if the espresso machine went straight to high-pressure water through the grounds.
All in all, the Barista Pro does everything possible to make sure you pull a good shot of espresso every time, even if you’ve never used an espresso machine before.
Integrated Conical Burr Grinder
The Breville Barista Pro features a built-in burr grinder. We always recommend using a burr grinder, which produces consistent grind sizes. The Barista Pro’s grinder gets close to the performance as a standalone high-end Baratza grinder with higher ease of use.
The Breville Barista Pro burr grinder has 30 different “steps” or specific grind size settings. This is far more than most built-in grinders on espresso machines (the Breville Barista Express has 18), although my Baratza Encore still has 40.
The extra steps on the Pro’s grinder give you a lot more flexibility in dialing the espresso. Grind size is the most important variable in brewing espresso aside from the freshness of the beans. But the ideal grind for your beans can vary from day to day, depending on the hardness and freshness of the beans, the weather, and tons of other factors.
The Breville Barista Pro accounts for these factors with the extra grind setting, so you can get the right espresso every time. My standalone Baratza Encore delivered more consistent grinds over time, but the ease of use sets the Breville Barista Pro apart.
You can place the portafilter right under the grinder, tap it in, and get a preset amount of grounds. That’s easier than weighing the beans, grinding, and then transferring back to the brew head. You can own a better standalone burr grinder that empties into the portafilter, but then we’re getting into a higher price range.
It’s easy to modify the setting from the LCD display. You can pause in the middle of the dose with the “grind pause” function. That’s helpful to make sure you don’t get a mountain of grounds on the portafilter that go all over the drip tray en route to tamping.
The Breville Barista Pro gives you better control over the grind of your espresso, which helps deliver a premium third-wave specialty coffee experience at home.
Steaming and Milk Frothing
The steam wand on the Pro includes performance and engineering changes to make frothing milk both faster and easier–and deliver a better result.
First, the steam wand on the Breville Barista Pro has higher pressure than prior models. Water pressure and steam pressure are elusive in home espresso machines. You typically need a really heavy espresso machine to get strong pressure for a powerful steam wand.
The Barista Pro’s ThermoJet system and sophisticated Italian pump mechanics deliver on the pressure. Of course, higher pressure means better microfoam. And better microfoam means a smoother latte…and better latte art 🙂
The upgraded ThermoJet system brings a lot of speed to the milk steaming too. The efficiency means that hot water heats up to the right temperature for steaming milk in less than 10 seconds, and the milk frothing process only takes about 30 seconds. Compare that with the 20-second heat-up and 1-minute steam-time that the Barista Express requires.
Finally, the milk texturing gets a major assist from the structure of the steam wand on the Breville Barista Pro. The wand has four holes instead of the standard one-hole configuration for home espresso machines. That means a more even distribution of steam, better aeration, and better microfoam milk. If you want to up your latte art game, the Barista Pro gives you the tool you need to get the perfect milk frother.
Design and Functionality
The Breville Barista Pro has a sleek design. The brushed steel body is compact and the espresso machine weighs 20 pounds overall, lighter than you would expect for the internals.
At 14″ W x 16” D x 16″ H, it fits nicely on most countertops. It’s not as compact as the Breville Bambino, but the width is relatively easy to manage. I enjoyed the matte black to avoid the cliche shine of other kitchen appliances. (Unfortunately, I ended up trading in the Pro to test another machine, then bought it back, only to get stuck with stainless steel…).
LCD Digital Display
The second major standout feature of the Barista Pro is its display and controls. The LCD screen displays information like grind size, grinding time, temperature readings, and a brewing timer. The clear display also means that you know exactly what you’re doing. You don’t need to go to Starbucks University to understand the humming of the pump.
The Breville Barista Pro is technically a semi-automatic espresso machine, but it’s as close to an automatic as you get. You can change settings for water temperature, brew time, grind time, grind size, and pre-infusion time. It covers basically every aspect of the espresso-making and milk-steaming process. The presets are nice as you get comfortable with the espresso machine.
The Breville Barista Pro is preset to brew using the one-cup or two-cup buttons. That makes it easy to brew lattes out of the box. Changing the grind size and using the preset brewing will get you ~80% of the way to great espresso.
To get further, you’ll have to modify some of those settings. Every bag of beans requires slightly different settings, so you’ll have to “dial it in” by changing other factors, like brew time or water temperature. I liked increasing the water temperature to increase the extraction and body of the espresso.
The key point is it’s really easy to change those settings on the Barista Pro. You can set the water temperature to an optimal range, as well as the right grind time and size. It’s easy to change any of those settings by using the menu button and grind dial.
Build and Key Features
The brushed steel body of the Breville Barista Pro makes it a very sturdy espresso machine, from the top to the bottom, but there are other key build aspects of the Pro that set it apart in my mind. The 2-liter water reservoir includes a sensor that detects when water runs low.
The water reservoir is also removable, making it easier to clean and fill compared to many other espresso makers on the market.
The drip tray has a solid aluminum cover, although it’s a little small depth-wise. You’ll end up spilling some grounds on the counter as you move the portafilter from the grinder to the brew head. The nice part about the drip tray is there is a little storage tray behind it. You can store the extra filter baskets there, which is a nice touch with the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine.
Finally, the hot water spout for the Breville Barista Pro dispenses at an angle right over the brew head. This means that you can make an Americano without having to move your cup a single inch. No holding the cup at a weird angle or fiddling with getting it under the hot water spout.
The accessories in the box include:
- Razor Precision dose trimming tool
- 480 mL stainless steel milk jug
- Magnetic tamper
- Single- and double-walled filter baskets
- Water filter
- Cleaning kit
While the milk jug is a pleasant bonus, and the water filter is a good addition as well, the accessories I really want to focus on are the filter baskets and the Razor precision dose trimming tool.
Filter baskets make a big difference in how quickly you master the art of pulling the perfect espresso shot. The Breville Barista Pro comes with four filter baskets (shown above):
- Single-shot pressurized filter basket
- Single-shot non-pressurized filter basket
- Double-shot pressurized filter basket
- Double-shot non-pressurized filter basket
We have discussed different portafilter baskets, where pressurized filter baskets help you “cheat” your way to quality espresso. The increased pressure inside the filter means you’re more likely to get a good shot even with the wrong dosage or grind size.
Once you’ve got a better handle on brewing espresso, you can graduate to the non-pressurized baskets. The non-pressurized baskets can add more nuance to the espresso along with more error.
Breville even offers a “bottomless” filter basket (sold separately) that can help you to diagnose brewing issues and problems in the espresso machine. But for newbies, having the option to start easy with a pressurized filter basket and work up is great.
Razor Precision Dose Trimming Tool
The Razor tool is a fairly simple accessory. Once you tamp your portafilter basket, position the trimming tool in the basket, give it a spin, and you know your dose is correct! It means you don’t need to bother weighing the espresso or worrying about an uneven tamp. If you’re new to home espresso, it is a great failsafe.
You need to tamp the portafilter before using the tool, and hold the portafilter sideways so the coffee grounds fall out. After a few uses, you’ll configure the right design and won’t need the tool. It’s good for starting out, though.
Who is The Breville Barista Pro Ideal For?
The Breville Barista Pro is the ideal espresso machine for the espresso beginner who wants something that’s easy to use but also can develop into. The high-quality burr grinder built into the machine, combined with well-designed presets means that you have a lot of room to learn without the risk of bad coffee drinks.
The Barista Pro is a solid option for experienced espresso professionals. The ability to program almost every part of the espresso shot allows anyone to step up their espresso game.
The one group that won’t need the Breville Barista Pro is those who already have a standalone burr grinder. You’re paying extra for a feature you already have. However, the portafilter auto-fill with the Pro’s grinder really makes espresso easy.
Breville has spent decades establishing its reputation in the kitchen appliance industry. Their appliance lines include toasters, microwaves, electric kettles, and–of course–coffee makers.
Breville was founded in Sydney, Australia in the 1930s, and the brand moved into the premium kitchen appliances sector after WWII. They began offering home espresso machines decades ago. Breville consistently launches new products aimed at getting the coffee shop experience at home.
The Breville Barista Pro launched in 2019, and went on to receive the Best New Product award at the Specialty Coffee Expo in the same year. The Pro is the follow-up to the Breville Barista Express and incorporates key upgrades and tweaks to an espresso machine that has already stood the test of time.
Alternative: Comparing Barista Pro vs Breville Barista Express
The Breville Barista Pro is the successor to the Breville Barista Express. The main differences between the Barista Pro and Barista Express come down to some of the technology that goes into each machine, as well as some tweaks that make the Pro friendlier for newbies.
The biggest difference is the heating element, as the Barista Express uses a thermocoil heating system. The Breville Barista Express takes a minute to heat compared to seconds for the Pro, although the Express is still pretty fast.
The Breville Barista Express includes a built-in grinder and a high-quality manual milk wand, although it has an analog display. The Express is a good option if you want a simpler espresso machine at a lower price point, but we still recommend the Breville Barista Pro and the price difference isn’t that large.
Final Thoughts on the Breville Barista Pro Review
The Breville Barista Pro espresso machine is a significant step up from the competition in the home espresso machine market, with smart features and key improvements. The innovative ThermoJet heating system heats up in 3 seconds, and the temperature control system bounces between milk steaming and brewing on the metaphorical dime.
Breville Barista Pro is our favorite Breville espresso machine. It uses the latest Thermojet technology, has more grind settings, and includes a four-hole steam wand. The display is easy to program across multiple inputs. The perfect semi-automatic espresso machine.
The Barista Pro is a great starter machine for espresso lovers who want to bring the cafe experience home, offering the safety of presets and programmed options. You can stick with the suggested settings, or challenge your own skills.
If you’re buying your first espresso machine, see our buying guide for beginners and recommendations.