Breville Barista Express 860 Vs 870: Are There Any Significant Upgrades?

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Today, I’m going to compare the Breville Barista Express 860 vs 870, and without further ado, the newer 870 version is better than the 860 version for some improvements, like a PID controller and a hot water spout. That said, both still share the hallmark features of the Barista Express line, including a built-in grinder with 18 settings, a manual steam wand, and a Thermocoil heating system, among others.

Breville Barista Express 860 Vs 870: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
Model
Breville Barista Express 870
Breville Barista Express 860
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 12.7 x 16.2 inches /26.4 lbs
12.6 x 11.8 x 15 inches /26 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
1
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
18
Heating System
Single Thermocoil
Single Thermoblock
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/0.25 Kg
2 L/0.2 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$699.95
$1,199.00
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express 870
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 12.7 x 16.2 inches /26.4 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
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 BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
Model
Breville Barista Express 860
Dimensions/Weight
12.6 x 11.8 x 15 inches /26 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
1
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
Heating System
Single Thermoblock
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/0.2 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$1,199.00
More Info

Last update on 2024-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Barista Express 860 Vs 870: Differences

The 870 version won the 860 by a score of 4-2 for some big and small improvements. Let’s read on to uncover all of them!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Barista Express 870

Built-in Grinder 

The Barista Express in all versions is equipped with a stainless-steel conical burr grinder that fed beans from the top hopper and crushes them. The grinder is based on Barista’s awesome Smart Grinder Pro, but not as good. You’ll find a dial located on the left side of the machine that allows you to change between 18 grind settings, from fine to coarse.

the barista express has a stainless steel conical burr grinder with 18 settings
The Barista Express boasts a stainless steel conical burr grinder with 18 settings

Dosing & Tamping

The Barista Express is outfitted with Breville’s standard 54mm portafilter, which boasts a solid weight distribution and feels overall pretty sturdy. You’ll get a set of both single- and double-wall filter baskets for both single and double shots – four baskets in total.

the barista express comes with both single- and dual-wall filter baskets
The Barista Express comes with both single- and dual-wall filter baskets

Single-wall filter baskets are really forgiving, making them a perfect choice if you’re just starting out or if you occasionally make espresso from pre-ground decaf coffee. Still, you’ll get richer, more complex shots from single-wall baskets, which is why seasoned baristas always love them.

There is a handy tamper held in place by a magnet that sits to the left, so you’ll never lose it. The tamper isn’t too bad at all and is exactly what I want to get from a high-quality semi-automatic instead of a pathetically flimsy plastic one.

Heating System

The Barista Express operates with a single boiler, meaning it’s not built for multi-tasking. So, if you start off using the steam wand, you’ll need to steam your milk and then purge the wand before you can move on to brewing a shot.

Fortunately, that extra wait time is only a matter of a few seconds. Yes, the 870 features a Thermocoil heating system that heats up within 30 seconds. So by the time you’re ready to start your day with that first word, the machine is already warmed up and waiting for you. The 860 has a Thermoblock system, which is a bit faster.

And as I hinted earlier, one of the biggest upgrades in the newer version of the 870 over the 860 is the inclusion of a PID controller. It precisely maintains the temperature of the group head, ensuring a more optimal espresso extraction in the filter basket. Why is it important? Well, a mere two-degree fluctuation in temperature can significantly impact the quality of your espresso!

Brewing System

Nowadays, most of Breville’s semi-automatic machines, except the Cafe Roma, come equipped with this awesome pre-infusion function. The machine automatically soaks your coffee grounds with slow streams of water before extracting espresso, helping to extract more evenly. This method ensures a more uniform extraction, which is key to a great cup of espresso.

What’s even cooler is that you can tweak the pre-infusion length to get the taste just right for you. It’s amazing how a few seconds, more or less, can completely change the flavor of your espresso.

To do this, simply press and hold the brew button to adjust the pre-infusion interval. Let it go when you’re ready to start the extraction. And when you’ve got the perfect shot volume, press the button again to stop.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Barista Express 860Barista Express 870
Dimensions12.6 x 11.8 x 15 inches  12.5 x 12.7 x 16.2 inches
Weight26 lbs26.4 lbs

The Barista Express isn’t an especially large machine, so even if you have a small counter space, you won’t likely struggle to find a spot for it to call home. And even if you do, it’s lightweight enough to move without any hassle. 

The machine gives off a vibe of lasting durability with its sturdy stainless steel body and hefty portafilter. I’ve got to say that when it comes to coffee machines, the less plastic, the better – and the Barista Express really nails it.

Both the 860 and 870 versions are available in a brushed stainless steel finish, but the 870 also comes in Cranberry Red and Black Sesame. I went for the Black Barista Express 870 since black stuff is always my thing!

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

The Barista Express keeps it simple with just a few buttons and knobs on the control panel. That way, you’ll be whipping up shots in no time, and there’s no need to bury your nose in the user guide for hours. Plus, there is a handy pressure gauge that gives you real-time feedback during extraction, making it a breeze to perfect your espresso shots.

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Barista Express 860Barista Express 870
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches4 inches

Just like all other semi-automatic machines, the Barista Express doesn’t have height-adjustable coffee spouts. There is generally enough space to place espresso cups of all sizes there, but if you want to brew straight into an insulated mug, you need to remove the drip tray. By the way, the drip tray houses an “Empty Me” floating thing that pops up to remind you when it’s time to drain it.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Barista Express 860Barista Express 870
Water Reservoir2 liter2 liter
Bean Hopper0.2 kilogram0.25 kilogram

Both versions boast a roomy water tank with a slot for a water softener filter. I always highly recommend using the water filter, as this will result in better-tasting espresso since, after all, great coffee starts with great water! Plus, filtered water reduces build-up, which means you’ll spend less time descaling your machine. Win-win!

There is a slight difference in the shape of their bean hoppers. The one on the 860 has a cubic shape, while the 870 has an inverted cone shape, which does a better job of preventing spills and encouraging the beans to fall into the inbuilt grinder. See, every improvement matters!

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Tie

The Barista Express hit a home run with its professional-style steam wand, offering you killer precision in milk frothing. Sure, beginners might lean towards an auto-frother for hands-off ease, but for real latte art magic, you need a manual wand like this.   

The steam wand’s 360-degree rotation, thanks to its ball joint, really eases the process of manual milk frothing. I managed to create beautiful, high-quality microfoam quite quickly with it, but remember, there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the same result yourself.

the barista express features a one-hole manual steam wand
The Barista Express features a one-hole manual steam wand

DRINK OPTIONS & PROGRAMMABILITY

Winner: Barista Express 870

Drink Options

Barista Express 860Barista Express 870
EspressoEspresso
Hot Water

The Barista Express doesn’t bombard you with a bunch of one-touch drink options, sure. But at least it brews amazing coffee and gives you the freedom to create all the milk-based drinks, as long as you’re up for a little time and effort.  

The newer 870 version also has a hot water outlet right near the steam wand, which is super convenient for whipping up an Americano or brewing hot tea. I’m always a fan of those small yet thoughtful touches!

the hot water outlet
The hot water outlet

Programmability

Adjustable SettingsBarista Express 860Barista Express 870
Coffee StrengthYesYes
Coffee TemperatureNoYes
Milk Foam TemperatureNoNo
Milk Foam TextureNoNo

Both versions allow you to decide the grind amount and the length of the shot, but the 870 adds a twist with its PID, allowing a +/- 4-degree variation in brewing temperature. That way, the 870 gives you extra room to dial in your perfect shot.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express 870

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Visit earn-cashback.breville.com purchase to claim. 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 2024-06-19 / 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 Barista Express 860

Breville BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
  • Stainless steel conical burr grinder with ½lb bean hopper
  • 15 bar Italian pump
  • 1450W stainless steel thermocoil heating system
  • Adjustable grind size and grind amount settings
  • Preset, manual over-ride or re-programmable shot volumes

Last update on 2024-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Built-in grinder with 18 grind settings.
  • Thermoblock fast-heating system.
  • Adjustable pre-infusion.
  • High-build quality.
  • Larger water tank.
Cons
  • No PID controller.
  • No hot water outlet.

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References

5/5 - (2 votes)