Breville Bambino Plus Vs Barista Express: Breville Semi-automatic Machine Showdown

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Before delving into the comparison of the Breville Bambino Plus vs Barista Express. I’d say the Barista Express is better, or at least it’s better value for money.

The Breville Barista Express is the more expensive option, but once you order it, there’s no need for additional expenses. It includes all essential accessories and features a high-quality integrated conical grinder with up to 16 grind settings.

If you opt for the Breville Bambino Plus, you’ll need to spend more money on a quality grinder, which isn’t cheap, not to mention you’ll need to buy single-walled for professional-level coffee.

Breville Bambino Plus Vs Barista Express: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
Model
Breville Barista Express
Breville Bambino Plus
Dimensions/Weight
16.2 x 12.5 x 12.7 inches/26.4 lbs
7.7 x 12.7 x 12.3 inches/12.3 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
1
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
16
Heating System
Single Thermocoil
Single Thermojet
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Auto-Frothing Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/4.5 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/0.25 Kg
1.9 L/None
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$699.95
$499.95
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
16.2 x 12.5 x 12.7 inches/26.4 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
16
Heating System
Single Thermocoil
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/0.25 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$699.95
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
Model
Breville Bambino Plus
Dimensions/Weight
7.7 x 12.7 x 12.3 inches/12.3 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
1
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Single Thermojet
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Auto-Frothing Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4.5 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
1.9 L/None
Filter
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$499.95
More Info

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Bambino Plus Vs Barista Express: Differences

The Barista Express defeated the Bambino Plus with a narrow score of 3-2. Keep reading to discover what each of these machines has to offer!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Built-in Grinder

Using freshly ground beans is always best. That’s where a coffee machine with a built-in grinder, like the Breville’s Barista Express, shines.  

The Barista Express is the most budget-friendly model in Breville’s lineup and boasts an integrated burr grinder. This nifty feature allows you to grind coffee directly into the portafilter, and with a simple twist of a knob, you can explore 18 different grind sizes. Pretty cool, right?

the barista express has an integrated burr grinder with 18 different grind sizes
The Barista Express has an integrated burr grinder with 18 different grind sizes

As for the Bambino Plus, it doesn’t have a grinder, so if you opt for this one, keep in mind you’ll need to budget for a separate grinder. But frankly, I actually prefer having an independent grinder. Sure, it might seem like a step back from the convenience of a 2-in-1 machine, but it’s not without its perks.

If your standalone grinder breaks or if you want to upgrade, it’s a breeze to replace or upgrade just the grinder. Plus, cleaning a clogged grinder is way easier when it’s not attached to your coffee machine. Trust me, you don’t want to be that person trying to unclog a grinder while your machine mocks you with its unbrewed potential!

Dosing & Tamping

Unlike those super-automatic bean-to-cup machines from other brands that do everything but drink the coffee for you, Breville lets you show off your barista skills. You get to tamp the coffee yourself, use the razor tool to level it just right, and even steam your own milk.
Breville doesn’t just throw you into the deep end without a life jacket. They kit out these machines with all the necessary accessories, so you won’t find yourself suddenly needing to buy a bunch of extras. Still, the Barista Express gives you a better and bigger set of accessories.

Both come with a 54mm portafilter, but the one that ships with the Bambino Plus is a tad more amateurish and not as robust. What’s more, the Barista Express comes with both single- and double-wall filter baskets, while the Bambino Plus only includes double-wall versions.

the bambino plus comes with a cheaper-feel 54mm portafilter (left)
The Bambino Plus comes with a cheaper-feel 54mm portafilter (left)

The dual-wall filter baskets are ideal for pre-ground coffee, which is useful for creating decaf. Meanwhile, the single-wall baskets are designed to pull out the best possible flavour and aroma from fresh ground beans, but they demand a bit more skill and practice on your part.

the breville barista express uses a manual wand
The Breville Barista Express uses a manual wand

Both come with a tamper, which isn’t bad at all. Okay, although it’s a bit lightweight, it has sufficient heft to be effective and surpasses tampers from many espresso machines that cost over $1,000. Notably, the Barista Express’s tamper has a magnetic feature, allowing it to attach neatly to the machine, which could be why it’s not very heavy.

the barista express has a magnetic tamper
The Barista Express has a magnetic tamper

Heating System 

The Bambino Plus uses a thermojet system that is faster than the Barista Express’s thermocoil. The Bambino Plus can go from the off state to ready to brew in 3 lightning-fast seconds, compared to the Barista Express’s 50 seconds.

Neither the Bambino Plus nor the Barista Express can steam milk and pull espresso shots at once. But it’s not a biggie since they switch between these functions in the blink of an eye. Both also come with a PID to keep the temperature stable.

Oh, by the way, both have a plate on top to warm the cups when they heat up. Still, their cup warmers are passively heated, so they are not as effective as actively heated ones.

both have an indirectly heated cup warmer
Both have an indirectly heated cup warmer

Brewing System

Speaking of espresso extraction, both have a customizable pre-infusion function and a 15-bar pump. I’m no espresso guru, but I’m confident in saying this combo can help create barista-quality coffee at home.

The adjustable pre-infusion itself is a cool feature. The machine gently wets the ground coffee, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape and the flavors to start mingling and developing. And the best part? You can adjust the pre-infusion time to your taste. 

The Barista Express’s default pre-infusion is 10 seconds, while the Bambino Plus is 8 seconds. If those are too long or too short for you, you can always adjust them.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville Bambino PlusBreville Barista Express
Dimensions7.7 x 12.7 x 12.3 inches16.2 x 12.5 x 12.7 inches
Weight12.3 lbs26.4 lbs

Size and space in the kitchen can be a real deal-breaker, can’t they? The Bambino Plus is more compact than the Barista Express. But if you pair the Bambino Plus with a separate grinder, you’re back to square one in terms of space-saving. The Bambino Plus is available in more color options, and both models offer that sleek stainless steel finish, which is timeless and screams good quality.

The Bambino Plus features a simple user interface with a few buttons for single and double shots and for starting the wand. Plus, there are additional buttons on the right side for tweaking milk temperature and foam texture.

the bambino plus's control panel
The Bambino Plus’s control panel

The Barista Express’s user interface also won’t scare off newcomers with its clearly labeled controls and easy-to-navigate layout. But, and it’s a big but, there’s a variety of adjustable settings beneath the surface that takes time to get used to. The pressure gauge, front and center, is a fantastic addition, giving you real-time feedback during espresso extraction.

the barista express's control panel
The Barista Express’s control panel

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville Bambino PlusBreville Barista Express
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4.5 inches4 inches

Both offer a generous amount of headroom under the portafilter spouts, especially the Bambino Plus. You may even need to find a way to elevate espresso cups, like using a small stand or even a saucer (as they don’t have any built-in cup raisers). But for jumbo-sized insulated mugs, you might have to remove the drip tray to accommodate them.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Bambino PlusBreville Barista Express
Water Reservoir1.9 liters2 liters
Bean HopperN/A0.25 kilogram

The Bambino Plus is significantly smaller than the Barista Express, but their water tanks have almost the same capacity. They’re so roomy that the only complaint I have about them is their rear-facing position, which makes removing them a bit awkward. 

The Barista Express has the option of attaching a water filter to its tank to soften the water, ensuring the water is soft and pure, free of any unwanted essences that could spoil the taste. Even so, I strongly recommend avoiding letting water sit in the tank for days on end. Rather, you are better off using fresh water every time you make coffee and allowing the tank to dry out between uses.

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Breville Bambino Plus

The Breville Barista Express features a standard manual wand – nothing more, nothing less. Meanwhile, the Bambino Plus’s automatic wand brings a greater range of functionalities to the table.

the barista express uses a manual wand
The Barista Express uses a manual wand

The Barista Express has a good steam wand, giving you all the controls over the milk’s temperature and texture. It’s a hands-on experience, and getting that perfect, silky microfoam might take some practice with how long you steam your milk with it and where you place the wand in the jug. The steam wand’s ability to rotate 360 degrees really helps during the process.

The Bambino Plus’s auto wand can also be used for manual steaming, and it performs identically to the Barista Express in this mode. But if you do that, you’re missing out on the icing on the cake of this one. It’s automatic, which means you can make a latte or cappuccino almost hands-free.

the bambino plus uses an automatic steam wand
The Bambino Plus uses an automatic steam wand

You just fill your pitcher, place it on a little sensor on the drip tray that’s like a milk thermometer, dip the wand in, and hit go. Then the machine does the job itself and stops the steam once the milk hits your preset temperature.

the temperature sensor
The temperature sensor

This one is quite capable of creating convincing latte art. And once you return the wand to its resting position, the machine automatically purges it by pumping water through it. No more milk clogging your steam wand.

Drink Options & Programmability

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Drink Options

Breville Bambino PlusBreville Barista Express
EspressoEspresso
Hot Water

One nifty feature where the Barista Express edges out the Bambino Plus is its dedicated hot water spout, which is conveniently located right next to the steam wand. This is super handy, especially for Americano lovers or tea aficionados.

Compare this to other models like the Breville Bambino, which uses the same wand for both hot water and milk. It’s a bit like using the same knife for butter and jam: you might end up with a little cross-contamination. With the Barista Express, however, you’re guaranteed that the hot water for your tea or Americano is just hot water with no unexpected traces of milk.

Programmability

Adjustable SettingsBreville Bambino PlusBreville Barista Express
Coffee StrengthNoYes
Coffee TemperatureNoYes
Milk Foam TemperatureYesNo
Milk Foam TextureYesNo

In terms of similarity, both allow you to adjust the amount of water used to brew coffee to match your exact taste preference. 

But the Barista Express allows you to control the brewing temperature and dosage of coffee, while the Bambino Plus gives you control over the temperature and texture of milk foam on three levels. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all these settings combined on a single machine? But alas, finding a machine with all these bells and whistles under $1000 is like hoping to find a unicorn at the local zoo.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute, helping you make the perfect cup of Cappuccino or Latte
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Adjustable grinder with 18 grind settings.
  • Good built-in steam wand.
  • A lot of adjustable settings.
  • Brews a tasty espresso.
  • Simple to use and clean.
Cons
  • No milk temperature control.
  • Requires trial and error to froth milk.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Bambino Plus

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
1,795 Reviews
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
  • Item Package Dimension: 17.64L x 16.99W x 10.24H inches
  • Item Package Weight - 15.74 Pounds
  • Item Package Quantity - 1
  • Product Type - COFFEE MAKER

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Tiny footprint and lightweight.
  • Temperature sensor for milk frothing.
  • ThermoJet fast-heating system.
  • Adjustable pre-infusion.
  • Very easy to use.
Cons
  • Cheap portafilter.
  • No single-wall basket.
  • No brewing temperature control.

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References

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