Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Which Is The Better Semi-Automatic Machine?

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So you may be wondering, the Breville Oracle Touch vs Barista Express, which should I buy? Don’t have time to waste – my choice is the Oracle Touch! 

Both promise a superb coffee experience from the first brew, but the Breville Oracle Touch wins for the additional features it gives you. Still, you can go with the Breville Barista Express if you’re budget-conscious and don’t mind a bit of manual tamping.

Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine BES990BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Oracle Touch
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
14.7 x 15.4 x 17.9 inches/37 lbs
16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches/26 lbs
Interface
Touch Display
Knobs & Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
8
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
45
18
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Single Thermocoil Boiler
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Auto-Frothing Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 L/0.28 Kg
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
$684.99
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine BES990BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Oracle Touch
Dimensions/Weight
14.7 x 15.4 x 17.9 inches/37 lbs
Interface
Touch Display
One Touch Drink Options
8
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
45
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Auto-Frothing Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 L/0.28 Kg
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 BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches/26 lbs
Interface
Knobs & Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr 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
$684.99
More Info

Last update on 2024-04-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Differences

The Oracle Touch won 5-1 against the Barista Express. Let’s explore all the factors that set these two espresso machines apart from one another.

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Breville Oracle Touch

Built-in Grinder

Both of these Breville machines have an integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder, which is a significant advantage. It not only saves space but also simplifies the coffee-making process. You don’t have to buy a separate burr coffee grinder, which is not only an additional expense but also another device to fit into your kitchen.

Now, about the grind settings. The Barista Express has a dial on the side that lets you choose from 18 grind settings. This range is quite decent, allowing you to experiment with different grind sizes to find the perfect match for your coffee beans and preferred brewing style. But the Oracle Touch takes it a step further with up to 45 grind settings, giving a lot more room for experimentation.

Dosing & Tamping

The Oracle Touch really sets itself apart with its automatic dosing and tamping station. After you’ve chosen your grind setting, all you do is place the portafilter in the grinding cradle, and the machine takes over from there – everything from grinding to dosing and tamping is handled internally, neatly out of sight. It’s perfect for those who don’t have the time or interest to learn all the intricate steps of espresso preparation.

the oracle touch's automatic dosing and tamping station
The Oracle Touch’s automatic dosing and tamping station

The Barista Express, on the other hand, requires manual tamping. Its tamper is not exactly top-notch, but until you can upgrade to a better tamper, it’ll certainly do the job. I really wish other manufacturers would take note and follow Breville’s example in this regard. It’s time premium machines came with accessories that matched their quality.

What’s also neat about the Breville tamper is that it’s magnetic and attaches directly to the machine. This is a clever design choice, and it might explain why the tamper isn’t as heavy as it could be. Perhaps Breville was concerned about it constantly falling off due to its weight.

The Oracle Touch uses a 58-millimeter portafilter, while the Barista Express features a 54-millimeter portafilter. Both portafilters feel sturdy and well-made, fitting nicely in the hand. Now, size might not be everything in life, but in the world of espresso, it can make a notable difference.

The 58mm portafilter used by the Oracle Touch is considered the gold standard in the espresso industry, especially for commercial machines. This larger size has a few advantages. First, it allows for a more even distribution of water over the coffee grounds, leading to a more consistent extraction.  Also, the larger size generally means you can fit more coffee grounds, which is great for pulling stronger or larger shots.

Last but not least, the Oracle Touch ships with single-wall filter baskets, whereas the Breville Barista Express offers both single- and double-shot filter baskets of both single-wall and dual-wall versions.

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

Double-walled baskets are indeed meant for beginners. They have just one tiny hole for the espresso to pass through, which compensates for inconsistencies in grind size and tamping technique. 

Sure, single-wall baskets require more skill to use effectively. You’ll need to get your grind size, tamping pressure, and other variables just right. But when you do, the difference in taste is undeniable – the espresso shot you get is richer, with more nuanced flavors that the double-wall baskets just can’t replicate. And most importantly, you don’t feel like a “big old cheater!”

Heating System

The Oracle Touch has two independent boilers, whereas the Barista Express is fitted with a thermocoil. Each has its own advantages, I promise.

First off, the Breville Oracle Touch, with its two separate boilers, can froth milk and pull an espresso shot at the same time, which is pretty handy when you’re in a rush to get your cup of Joe. The dual boiler system also offers greater thermal stability. Just know that patience is key with the Oracle Touch, as it initially takes about half an hour to warm up.

On the flip side, you can’t steam milk and pull espresso shots at once with the Barista Express, but it can heat up in about 30 seconds, which is astonishingly fast. But, even with this speedy warm-up, I recommend giving it a bit more time to allow the group head and portafilter to get properly heated.

Brewing System

Pre-infusion is indeed a crucial step in espresso extraction, much like letting coffee bloom in pour-over or French press brewing. It’s all about gently dampening the coffee grounds, allowing carbon dioxide to escape and those delicious aromas to start developing.

Both the Oracle Touch and the Barista Express have a pre-infusion function, but the Barista Express adds a twist by allowing you to adjust the pre-infusion time to suit your taste preferences. This is really neat since altering the pre-infusion time can have a significant impact on the taste profile of your espresso. All you need to do is simply hold down the brew button to control the pre-infusion time, then release it to start the actual extraction. 

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville Oracle TouchBreville Barista Express
Dimensions14.7 x 15.4 x 17.9 inches16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches
Weight37 lbs26 lbs

The Barista Express, while not exactly what I’d call compact, isn’t overwhelmingly large either, but the Oracle Touch is definitely a behemoth. If you’re planning to fit either of these machines under overhead cabinets, you might want to break out the measuring tape. This is especially important given that you’ll need regular access to the bean hopper on top of the machines.

One thing that really stands out with the Oracle Touch is its rugged stainless steel housing, which gives off a vibe of durability and longevity. After testing as many coffee makers as I have, I can tell you that finding a machine that minimizes plastic is a real breath of fresh air. The Barista Express, while offering more finish options, fortunately includes stainless steel in its lineup. 

Speaking of the control panel, if you’ve used a super-automatic espresso machine before, adapting to the Oracle Touch’s touchscreen control panel will feel like a walk in the park. It might require a bit more interaction than just pressing a button, but the quality of espresso it produces is well worth that extra effort. 

the oracle touch's user interface
The Oracle Touch’s user interface

The Barista Express’s control panel is non-touch, but it is clearly labeled, and the layout is straightforward. Sure, there are plenty of adjustable settings lurking beneath the surface, but the user manual is there if you need it, and you don’t need to dive into those right away. You can begin pulling shots and making basic adjustments quite quickly.

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

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Oracle TouchBreville Barista Express
Water Reservoir2.5 liter2 liter
Bean Hopper0.28 kilogram0.25 kilogram

The Oracle Touch’s water tank can be removed from the rear like the one on the Barista Express, but you can fill the tank directly from the top of the machine via a slot. What’s more, there is a window on the front to help keep an eye on the current water level. I always love thoughtful features like that.

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Breville Oracle Touch

The Barista Express has a manual steam wand, and it’s pretty fantastic, to be honest. At first, it’s a bit challenging, and there might be a few spills (or splatters, in this case), but once you get it, the sense of accomplishment is immense. Best of all, you can create beautiful, silky microfoam yourself to the awe and admiration of others.

the barista express's manual steam wand
The Barista Express’s manual steam wand

The Barista Express wand’s 360-degree rotation is a game-changer. If you’ve ever struggled with a steam wand that only moves side to side or up and down like the one on the Oracle Touch, you’ll understand the difference immediately.

the oracle touch's auto steam wand
The Oracle Touch’s auto steam wand

The Oracle’s steam wand, on the other hand, is a hybrid of auto and manual steaming, and, my friends, it’s extremely smart. In auto mode, the Oracle’s steam wand becomes almost like a set-it-and-forget-it tool. You simply set your desired temperature, and when the milk reaches the temperature you’ve set, the built-in sensor will automatically stop steaming. If you want more control over the frothing process, just switch it to manual mode.

the temperature sensor
The temperature sensor

Pre-programmed Coffee Options  & Programmability

Winner: Breville Oracle Touch

Breville Oracle TouchBreville Barista Express
Espresso
Americano
Long Black
Latte
Flat White
Cappuccino
Hot Milk
Hot Water
Espresso
Hot Water

Right from the Oracle Touch’s interface, you can choose from a few one-touch drinks. Want an espresso or a cappuccino? Just swipe on its touch screen and wait. It also allows you to adjust the shot length and brewing temperature, as well as the temperature and texture of the milk foam. 

The Barista Express doesn’t offer a list of one-touch drinks and doesn’t give you the option to change the milk foam’s temperature and texture. In return, it has something important that the Oracle Touch doesn’t  – the option to adjust the coffee strength.    

Other Features

Winner: Breville Oracle Touch 

User Profile

The Oracle Touch allows you to save up to eight drink recipes. This feature is less like saving a user profile but still very useful. Once you’ve dialed in all your preferences for a particular drink, you can save this custom recipe and give it a unique name. Then, when you’re craving that perfectly customized drink again, all it takes is a simple press. 

Auto On/Off

The Barista Express automatically turns off after 3 hours, while the Oracle Touch allows you to program the auto-off interval to suit your schedule. 

Moreover, the Oracle Touch steps up the convenience game by allowing you to program it to start automatically. Imagine waking up in the morning to the Oracle Touch already warmed up and ready to brew your first cup of coffee.

Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Similarities

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville Oracle TouchBreville Barista Express
Spigot TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches4 inches

Both offer generous cup clearance. So much so that I’d recommend elevating the espresso cups somehow closer to the spouts, like placing an additional saucer under the cup. If you’re really keen on using a taller mug, consider removing the drip tray. 

Built-in Cup Warmer

There is a built-in cup warmer on top of both of these machines. Its role? To ensure your cups are nicely warmed before you pour your espresso into them. A warm cup helps maintain the temperature of the espresso, keeping it hot and delicious for longer. 

Water Filter

The last thing these machines have in common is compatibility with a water filter. The main job of the water filter is to remove impurities from your tap water. This is more important than you might think, as minerals and other impurities can affect the taste of your espresso.

By filtering out these extras, you’re left with water that’s better suited for brewing, leading to a cleaner and more pure espresso flavor. Plus, the filter can help reduce the need to descalize your machine. 

The filter needs to be replaced regularly, adding a bit to the monthly cost of your coffee habit. It’s just a small price to pay for better-tasting espresso and less maintenance. If you’re already using pre-filtered or bottled water, you can sidestep the extra cost and hassle of replacing the machine’s water filter. 

Quick Rundown Of Breville Oracle Touch

Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine BES990BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
458 Reviews
Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine BES990BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • 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 Oracle Touch with touch screen 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: The integrated precision conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of freshly ground coffee, for maximum flavor
  • 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: Achieve balanced tasting espresso with the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine complete with digital temperature control (PID), delivers water at precisely the right temperature ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-04-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • 45 grind settings
  • A pair of boilers.
  • 58-mm commercial-grade portafilter.
  • Automatic dosing and tamping system.
  • 2-in-1 milk steam wand.
Cons
  • Costly.
  • Bulky.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
24,077 Reviews
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. 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 2024-04-21 / 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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References

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