Breville Dual Boiler Vs Barista Express: Which One Ends Up As The Winner?

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Breville Dual Boiler vs Barista Express: My vote went to the former. The Dual Boiler isn’t the best Breville, but it’s close, while the Barista Express is a mid-range one.

What would you get with the Breville Dual Boiler? An automatic machine with two boilers, a commercial-grade 58 mm portafilter, and a more powerful steam wand. Still, it’s quite bulky and lacks a built-in grinder.

On the flip side, the Breville Barista Express is a more compact and budget-friendly option. It features a stainless steel conical burr grinder with 18 settings, giving you a lot of control over the grind size.

Breville Dual Boiler Vs Barista Express: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville BES920BSXL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, 84 ounces, Black Sesame
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
Model
Breville Dual Boiler
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
16.3 x 15 x 15 inches/30 lbs
16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches/26 lbs
Interface
LCD Display & Buttons
Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Cone Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Single Thermocoil Boiler
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
2.5 L/None
2 Liter/0.25 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
Price not available
$670.00
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville BES920BSXL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, 84 ounces, Black Sesame
Model
Breville Dual Boiler
Dimensions/Weight
16.3 x 15 x 15 inches/30 lbs
Interface
LCD Display & Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 L/None
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
Price not available
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches/26 lbs
Interface
Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Cone Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
Heating System
Single Thermocoil Boiler
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 Liter/0.25 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$670.00
More Info

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

Breville Dual Boiler Vs Barista Express: Differences

The Dual Boiler won the Barista Express with a 4-2 lead. Let’s compare them to unravel the factors that give one a distinct edge over the other!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Tie

Built-in Grinder

As for the Barista Express, I really appreciate how it integrates a grinder right into the machine. This feature is a game-changer because it eliminates the need for a separate grinder. Think about it: not only does this save money and spare you countless hours lost in the abyss of researching various coffee grinders, but it also saves valuable counter space since you won’t need room for an additional appliance. 

The Barista Express’s grinder is surprisingly quiet during operation, which is a significant advantage for early birds or those living with noise-conscious roommates. What’s more, the machine features a dial on the side that lets you choose from 18 grind settings, meaning you’re never stuck between two grind sizes to achieve the perfect espresso shot.

the barista express has up to 18 grind settings
The Barista Express has up to 18 grind settings

On the flip side, the Breville Dual Boiler doesn’t have an integrated grinder, so this one necessitates the separate purchase of a grinder. In this scenario, I highly recommend pairing it with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, also from the Breville collection.

the breville dual boiler with breville smart grinder pro
The Breville Dual Boiler with Breville Smart Grinder Pro

Dosing & Tamping

The Dual Boiler comes with a professional-grade 58-mm portafilter, while the Barista Express uses a 54-mm one. Holding them, you can immediately feel their quality. They fit comfortably in the hand, which is important for achieving a consistent tamp. Both are made from high-quality stainless steel, known for their durability and resistance to corrosion, which is crucial as a portafilter is one of the most frequently used components of an espresso machine.

the dual boiler uses a 58-mm portafilter
The Dual Boiler uses a 58-mm portafilter

The 58 mm portafilter is superior in many ways, and it is considered to be the industry standard for professional espresso machines. This size allows for a larger coffee puck, which, in turn, provides a greater surface area for water to pass through. Well, I’m not joking! A more even extraction of coffee is crucial for achieving a balanced and nuanced espresso shot. 

Both machines come with options for single- and double-shot filter baskets. What’s even more impressive is that you can choose between single- and double-wall versions of these baskets.

The single-wall filter basket (or non-pressurized basket) is great for those who want more control over their espresso extraction. They require a precise grind size and tamping technique, as they rely on the coffee itself to create the necessary pressure for extraction. This can be a bit challenging for beginners, but it’s incredibly rewarding once you get the hang of it.

On the other hand, the double wall, or pressurized basket, is more forgiving and ideal for beginners or those using pre-ground coffee. Its design creates pressure during extraction, which can help compensate for less-than-ideal grind sizes or tamping inconsistencies. This means you can still enjoy a decent espresso shot, even if your barista skills aren’t quite at a professional level yet.

Both come with a tamper –  and I must say they aren’t crummy plastic ones, but they are far from perfect. Their tampers can be magnetically attached to the body of the machine, which not only keeps your workspace organized but also ensures the tamper is always at hand when you need it.

Heating System

The Dual Boiler has two boilers, as its name implies, of course, whereas the Barista Express features a single system. Right off the bat, the Dual Boiler can perform both functions simultaneously, which is a huge plus if you’re making multiple drinks back-to-back or if you just don’t want to wait between pulling a shot and frothing milk.

The Barista Express might not multitask like the Dual Boiler, but it compensates with its ability to heat up rapidly thanks to thermocoil technology, heating water on the fly. The thermocoil system heats water on the fly, reaching the right temperature for the first espresso pull faster, and you don’t have to wait too long for the machine to switch between brew and steam.

Both machines have their own unique strengths, so I called this round a tie!

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville Dual BoilerBreville Barista Express
Dimensions16.3 x 15 x 15 inches16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches
Weight30 lbs26 lbs

I think it’s worth mentioning that both of these espresso machines offer a bit of variety in terms of color options. This is great for those who like their appliances to match their kitchen’s aesthetic. Among the color choices of both, the stainless steel finish is a standout option. Not only does it have a sleek and professional appearance, but it also tends to be the most readily available. 

The Dual Boiler is truly a beast in terms of dimensions. Even without the bean hopper, it’s still taller than the Barista Express. The Dual Boiler’s bulkiness isn’t just about this – you’ll need to factor in additional space for a separate grinder. Have you seen how a built-in grinder not only brings convenience but also saves valuable space?

Both have a pressure gauge, as noted above, which is a fantastic tool for any home barista. The Dual Boiler also features a small LCD display that provides a wealth of information about the brewing process.

the dual boiler's roller system
The Dual Boiler’s roller system

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Dual BoilerBreville Barista Express
Water Reservoir2.5 liter2 liter
Bean HopperNone0.25 kilogram

The Dual Boiler has no built-in grinder, so it also has no bean hopper at all. Just talk about their water tanks.

With these generously sized tanks, you can go for days without needing a refill, depending on your coffee consumption, of course. This is great for someone like me, who enjoys multiple cups a day but doesn’t want the hassle of constantly refilling the tank.

The Dual Boiler, though, has a couple of features that make water management a bit easier. Firstly, there’s a slot on top of the machine, which allows for easier refilling. You don’t necessarily have to pull the entire tank out – just simply pour water in from the top.

the top slot for refilling
The top slot for refilling

Additionally, the Dual Boiler features a front window that lets you easily see the current water level. With this front window, you can keep an eye on the water level at a glance and avoid any mid-brew surprises. Oh, it has a wheel system to make it easier for you to move it to remove its water tank.

the window for water tracking
The window for water tracking

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

The steam wands on both the Dual Boiler and the Barista Express are incredibly important for any home barista who’s serious about their craft. These steam wands are essential not just for heating and frothing milk but also for achieving that perfect, latte-art-worthy microform.

both have a steam wand
Both have a steam wand

Their wands can rotate 360°. I’ve used some machines in the past where the wands only moved in two directions, so I can tell you that 360° swivel action makes a world of difference. It enables you to use different sizes or shapes of milk jugs as well as allows for a range of angles during steaming. By the way, both also come with a stainless steel milk jug as part of the package.

Still, there is a difference: the Dual Boiler’s wand has three holes compared to the one-hole wand on the Barista Express. With more holes, the steam is distributed more evenly throughout the milk, which can lead to a quicker heating and frothing process. This is particularly advantageous when you’re aiming for that silky, smooth microfoam that’s ideal for latte art.

the barista express's one-hole wand
The Barista Express’s one-hole wand

Other Features

Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Auto Start

This is a feature that you can only find in the Dual Boiler in these two. By pressing the MENU button on the panel, the current auto-start time is displayed on the LCD screen, and you can then set a specific time for the machine to automatically turn on each day. 

Imagine waking up each morning to a pre-heated espresso machine, ready to brew your first cup of coffee without any waiting. It’s like having a personal barista waiting in your kitchen!

Breville Dual Boiler Vs Barista Express: Similarities

Brewing System

Just like all Breville automatic machines, both the Dual Boiler and Barista Express have a pre-infusion step. Better yet, you can adjust the duration of this step.

Pre-infusion is a process where the machine gently soaks the coffee grounds with water before applying full pressure. This step is crucial because it allows the coffee to expand and leads to a more even extraction, resulting in a smoother, more flavorful shot of espresso.

Both feature a 15-bar Italian pump to ensure the espresso extraction process always receives the right pressure. What’s equally impressive is that both machines have a brew pressure gauge, which is incredibly helpful during the dialing-in process. By monitoring the gauge while pulling a shot, you get immediate feedback on whether the pressure is in the ideal range.

Pre-programmed Coffee Options  & Programmability

Breville Dual BoilerBreville Barista Express
Espresso
Hot Water
Espresso
Hot Water

Both are designed to help you prepare espresso easily with minimal effort. Still, when it comes to preparing milk-based drinks, there’s a bit of a learning curve with the steam wands on these machines. I always say be prepared to roll up your sleeves and embrace some trial and error. 

Especially if you’re new to frothing milk, you might find yourself with a few cups of what I affectionately call “latte soup” – a less-than-perfect mix of coffee and hot milk. But here’s the thing: this process of experimentation is not just normal; it’s actually part of the fun. Getting the hang of using a steam wand to achieve that silky, smooth microfoam for lattes or cappuccinos can be incredibly satisfying.

Both also allow you to fine-tune most aspects, including the volume shot, temperature shot, and brew one or two shots.

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville Dual BoilerBreville Barista Express
Spigot TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches4 inches

If you’ve had experience with super-automatic espresso machines, you’re likely accustomed to the convenience of height-adjustable dispensing spouts. Still, with the Dual Boiler and the Barista Express, this convenience is notably absent.

In my experience with these machines, fitting standard espresso cups under the portafilter spouts is no issue at all. It can be a bit of a tight squeeze due to height limitations when you want to brew directly into something larger, like a travel mug. But don’t worry; you can easily create more room by simply removing the drip tray, although this isn’t as seamless as having an adjustable spout.

Other Features

Water Filter

Using a water filter in your espresso machine, like the ones you can use in the Dual Boiler and the Barista Express, comes with several benefits, particularly if you’re not using pre-filtered water. 

Another advantage of implementing a water filter is the enhanced longevity of your espresso machine. Over time, the impurities and minerals in water can accumulate and obstruct the internal workings of the machine, potentially causing malfunctions and diminished efficiency. Regular filtration of water can greatly reduce the occurrence of such issues, ensuring the machine runs seamlessly for a more extended period.

Built-in Cup Warmer

the breville dual boiler has a larger cup warming plate
The Breville Dual Boiler has a larger cup warming plate

Both have a built-in cup warmer on top. It means there’s no need for a separate cup warming method, saving both time and space in the kitchen. Just place your cups on top of the machine while it’s running, and they’ll gently heat up from the residual heat of the machine.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Dual Boiler 

Breville BES920BSXL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, 84 ounces, Black Sesame
  • 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 Dual Boiler with commercial features delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula; It has a professional Dual Boiler construction that delivers unparalleled temperature control and simultaneous extraction and steaming
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Achieve a consistent and balanced espresso using the right amount of ground coffee; The 58mm porta-filter with 19-22 grams is the key for full flavor and third wave specialty coffee
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve limits the maximum pump pressure throughout extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors; Low pressure pre infusion gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Dual stainless steel boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID) brings water to precisely the right temperature (+/- 2?F) to extract maximum flavor potential every time

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

Pros
  • Dual boilers.
  • The water tank is large and easy to refill.
  • Powerful steam wand.
  • Comes with a professional-grade portafilter.
  • Intuitive control panel.
Cons
  • No built-in grinder.
  • Bulky.

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.

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