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Breville Barista Touch Impress vs Barista Touch: Do You Need An “Impress” Add On

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By: Marina Maletic

Last Updated:

Are you in a dilemma choosing between the Breville Barista Touch Impress and the Barista Touch? We have the answer.

The difference is the Breville Barista Touch Impress has an advanced self-tamping feature, which totally automates the hardest part of espresso. If you can afford it, the easy, no-mess tamping system on the Touch Impress is worth it. 

However, it’s very close as both Barista Touch and Touch Impress make the same espresso and steamed milk. There are small differences, but the lattes are the same. If you don’t have the budget or don’t mind the extra effort of tamping, the Barista Touch is excellent with a great steam wand.

So, grab your favorite mug as we delve deeper into the nitty-gritty of these two machines. Whether you’re a latte lover or an espresso enthusiast, this comparison will give you all the insights you need to make an informed decision. Let’s get brewing!

Breville Barista Touch
Our Pick
Breville Barista Touch Impress
Product
Automated tamping
Automated tamping
No; time dosing and manual tamp
Yes; intelligent dosing and auto tamp for less mess
Steam wand
Steam wand
Automatic steam wand
Automatic steam wand with three non-dairy milk settings
Heating system
Heating system
Thermojet: 3-second heat up
Thermojet: 3-second heat up
Grinder
Grinder
Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 30 settings
Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 30 settings
Display
Display
Touchscreen
Touchscreen

Feature Comparison

Here’s how the features of these two espresso machines compare, including all the new features of the Touch Impress.

Breville Barista Touch Impress vs Touch comparison

Integrated Tamping System

The integrated tamping system is the biggest difference between the Barista Touch and the Barista Touch Impress. The extra “Impress” signifies the addition of this system. As the name says, the tamping process is integrated — meaning the machine does the work for you. 

Here’s exactly how it works:

  • Automatic dosing: The process begins with the machine automatically grinding the right amount of coffee into the portafilter. 
  • Precision tamping: Once the coffee is ground into the portafilter, the Integrated Tamping System comes into play. The machine has a lever that precisely tamps the coffee grounds, so you get a flat puck.
  • Consistent pressure application: The system applies uniform pressure across the coffee puck (22 pounds, to be exact). The right pressure ensures that water passes through the coffee grounds evenly during extraction, which is critical for a well-extracted espresso with balanced flavors.

By automating the tamping process, the Touch Impress makes it easier for users of all skill levels to make a great espresso. The espresso machine removes the guesswork and potential for human error, which is especially beneficial for those new to home espresso brewing. It also reduces the mess, as coffee grounds won’t fall out of the puck.

Breville Barista Touch Impress integrated tamping system
Breville Barista Touch Impress integrated tamping system

Another feature I liked is that the machine gives you feedback on the dose. Remember, you want to fill the portafilter with just enough coffee to get 80% full. The Touch Impress has a sensor that measures the puck depth to make sure it’s full. If it is too low, the espresso machine adds more coffee next time. And if it’s too high, it reduces the dose. When it’s just right, you get a green check on-screen.

asissted tamping on the Breville Barista Express Impress
You get feedback on the dose level, and the machine automatically adjusts (note: this is the Express Impress, but the Touch Impress works the same!)

The straight-A student in me loves seeing the green checkmark, which means everything is fine. But also, in case one of the parameters is off, the machine can adjust itself and produce better results next time.

This automation is impressive, and hence the “Impress” in the name.

On the other hand, the Barista Touch has a manual dosing. You insert the portafilter into the cradle, and the grinder doses the grounds based on time. You then have to tamp down the grounds with the included tamper.

time-based dosing into the portafilter on the touch; it’s a little messier and you should use a scale

You have to make sure there’s enough coffee and tamp down evenly. Tamping isn’t hard, and the portafilter holder makes the Barista Touch easy to use. I think anyone can pick it up easily.

What I miss more is the intelligent dosing, as I find myself weighing out coffee grounds with the Barista Touch. The Touch Impress does this automatically, but you will need a scale for the Barista Touch. 

Personally, I think the Impress system is really nice and worth the extra price. But, anyone can learn to tamp, and even without a scale, you’ll learn the optimal dose with the timer on a regular Barista Touch.

Espresso Performance

The espresso is pretty similar on the Barista Touch vs Touch Impress, as they use the same heating system. But, there are a few small differences that favor the Impress.

Breville Barista Touch espresso brewing
Breville Barista Touch espresso brewing

Let’s start with the pressure. Touch Impress has a lower brewing pressure. This espresso machine has been designed to operate at 9 bars of pressure, which is actually more in line with the traditional standard for espresso extraction. This is a slight reduction from the 10 bars of pressure seen in the Barista Touch.

We’ve done testing, and the 9-bar pressure is better. It provides a more balanced extraction, leading to a smoother and more nuanced flavor profile in the espresso shot. This pressure level is also closer to what you would find in professional-grade espresso machines used in cafes. But, it’s a small difference and most home baristas won’t notice. 

Another difference is the dosing method or volume vs. time. The Touch Impress has dosing based on volume, which is a significant shift from the time-based dosing method used in the Barista Touch. This means the Impress doses 30 grams of espresso out, while the original Touch doses espresso for 30 seconds.

I like the volume dosing on the Touch Impress. Volume-based dosing tends to be more accurate and consistent compared to time-based dosing. Remember, your dose time depends on the grind size, but you really care about the volume. After all, you order a double shot of espresso at a coffee shop, not a “30-second” espresso.

With volume-based dosing, the Touch Impress offers a more precise and consistent espresso shot, as the exact amount of coffee needed for the ideal extraction is used each time.

Apart from these, both machines have the same features, such as a ThermoJet system, which heats the machine in three seconds and keeps the water at around 200 degrees F (96 C), which is best for even extraction. 

Both machines have an integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder with 30 settings, which gives you plenty of options to dial in.

Breville Barista Touch Integrated Grinder
Breville Barista Touch Integrated Grinder

There’s also PID temperature control and pre-infusion. The PID constantly monitors the water temperature so there aren’t any temperature spikes, and the temperature is always at the optimal 200 degrees.

Pre-infusion means the coffee grounds are dampened at a lower pressure before the extraction starts. This lets the coffee bloom, and you have a more aromatic espresso. 

Overall, the espresso is more similar than different. That is a GOOD thing because both Touch models make good espresso with the heating system, PID, and pre-infusion. But the Impress has some extra touches (unnecessary pun intended).

Milk Steaming

Both machines have an automatic steam wand with a built-in thermometer on the drip tray. 

Overall, the milk frother is easy to use and is hands-free. Simply set the temperature and the texture level, and the machine will do the rest. 

milk frothing on the Barista Touch
Milk frothing on the Barista Touch; no hands with automatic!

You can adjust the milk temperature between 100 to 170 degrees F (40 to 75 degrees C) and choose between eight levels of texture. It’s really easy to use and very consistent, and I think both of the steam wands are excellent. In fact, I recommend the Barista Touch over the Pro for the steam wand.

Note: you need to make sure the drip tray sensor detects the milk container or it won’t stop frothing (and you can guess what happens).

However, one big difference between the steam wands is that the one on the Barista Touch Impress is focused on non-dairy milk. We all know oat, soy, and alternative milk have become more popular (including for myself). These kinds of milk steam differently than dairy milk due to variations in protein and fat content.

There are three new settings for almond, oat, and soy milk with special air injection times and temperatures according to the kind of milk you choose. 

Breville even claims you’ll always get “at least one million microbubbles per ml.” I’ll take their word for this, as there’s no way to actually check it.

That said, I didn’t notice much difference in milk texture with the extra Touch Impress settings. After using lots of espresso machines, I’ve found milk steaming is really nuanced – starting milk temperature can make a difference. The Touch already has eight settings, and you’ll likely have your own preference aside from Breville’s preferred settings.

Overall, the enhanced features for non-dairy milk in the Touch Impress are not a game-changer, but they do add an extra layer of versatility to the machine.

Display and Ease of Use

Not much is different in terms of design and ease of use between the Touch and the Touch Impress. Both machines have a full-color touchscreen, which you use to control every aspect of the brewing process. 

Breville Barista Touch display overview
Breville Barista Touch display

In terms of ease of use, both machines are designed to be approachable for users of all skill levels. The touchscreen interface guides you through the process, making it straightforward to select and customize drinks.

Overall, the machines are user-friendly and accessible, but I will say the Touch Impress has a more aesthetically pleasing design. 

Value

The Touch Impress, with its advanced features like the Integrated Tamping System and enhanced milk steaming capabilities for non-dairy alternatives, is more expensive than the Barista Touch. However, these features justify the extra cost if you want convenience. The tamping system is really nice, and anyone who wants a one-touch experience should lean towards the Touch Impress.

The Barista Touch, while less expensive, still offers a good set of features, including its intuitive touch screen and customizable settings. If you’ve already used an espresso machine, the Touch is a great option. It brews high-quality espresso and steam milk at home without the additional bells and whistles (and cost) of the Touch Impress.

Recommendation: Which Is Better

If your budget allows, go for the Touch Impress. Like I said, the Integrated Tamping System really simplifies the coffee brewing process, making it more accessible. It’s especially helpful for beginners or those who want convenience in their daily routine. 

However, if the higher price point of the Touch Impress is a concern, or you don’t want an almost completely automated brewing process, the Barista Touch remains a high-quality option. It offers a great balance of features, including a good grinder and an excellent steam wand.




Breville Barista Touch Impress vs. Touch: Final Thoughts

To recap, the Touch Impress, with its innovative Integrated Tamping System and enhanced features for non-dairy milk, offers convenience and consistency. It’s an ideal choice for those who prioritize ease of use and have a flexible budget.

The Barista Touch is perfect for those who seek a high-quality espresso experience without the extra expense.

If you aren’t sold on either of these, Breville has many more options. We’ve rounded up the best Breville espresso machines and included a buyer’s guide so you’ll know how to choose the best machine for you.

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Marina Maletic
Marina has written hundreds of coffee articles for publishers including Craft Coffee Spot, Gourmesso, and HomeGrounds. She comes from a family of coffee addicts but appreciated java fairly late — around 25 years old. Her coffee journey began with her passion for writing. Her first coffee assignments led her to fall in love with the drink that means so much to people all over the world. For the last six years, she starts every day by brewing a cup of coffee. Nowadays, if she’s not writing or thinking about coffee, she can be found trying out the latest social media coffee trend.
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