Breville Oracle Vs Barista Express: Which One Is The Better?

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For years, the Breville Barista Express has been the flagship model and a bestseller for a reason. Then, Breville launched the Breville Oracle at a premium price tag. What is the difference between the Breville Oracle vs Barista Express? I will help you answer this question via a detailed comparison. But first of all, the Breville Oracle is the undisputed victor.

The Breville Oracle is better in almost all the categories: it has up to 45 grind settings, allows you to adjust the length of the pre-infusion process, has an all-in-one steam wand, and more. Meanwhile, the Breville Barista Express is a go-to choice for those with limited space or budget constraints.

Breville Oracle Vs Barista Express: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Oracle
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
17.8 x 14.7 x 16.1 inches/36 lbs
12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches/26 lbs
Interface
Non-touch Display
Buttons & Knobs
One Touch Drink Options
2
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
Hybrid Steam Wand
Traditional Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/ 4 inches
Dual/ 4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 liter/0.24 liter
1.9 liter/0.29 liter
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$2,199.95
$684.99
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Oracle
Dimensions/Weight
17.8 x 14.7 x 16.1 inches/36 lbs
Interface
Non-touch Display
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
45
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Hybrid Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/ 4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 liter/0.24 liter
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$2,199.95
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches/26 lbs
Interface
Buttons & Knobs
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
Traditional Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/ 4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
1.9 liter/0.29 liter
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$684.99
More Info

Last update on 2024-04-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Oracle Vs Barista Express: Differences

The Oracle defeated the Barista Express with a score of 4-2. Keep scrolling down to see more!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Breville Oracle

Built-in Grinder

The Barista Express features a built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder with 18 grind settings. This one is based on Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro, but not as excellent, of course, but after all, the convenience factor of having a grinder and an espresso machine in one package can’t be overstated. Likewise, the Breville Oracle uses the same type of grinder but ups the ante with up to 45 grind settings, which, admittedly, might be more than what the average user requires.

the stainless steel conical burr grinder
The stainless steel conical burr grinder

Changing grind sizes on both of these machines is as easy as turning a knob. Remember to only do it when the grinder is running to prevent the grinder from jamming or experiencing undue stress. Additionally, I would advise you to avoid oily beans because they can clog the grinder, especially in finer settings. If you prefer dark roasts, which are often oilier, crush the beans with a separate grinder.

only change grind settings while the grinder is operating
Only change grind settings while the grinder is operating

Dosing & Tamping

Instead of the grinder and tamper automatically working like in the Breville Oracle, the Barista Express requires you to manually tamp. And this one comes with a tamper that conveniently attaches magnetically to the machine, so you can easily store it away when you’re not using it.

the barista express requires you to tamp manually
The Barista Express requires you to tamp manually

The tamper that comes with the Express isn’t a game changer.  This one isn’t too heavy, yet it has enough heft to make tamping effective. At least it’s better than the subpar plastic ones that are shipped with some premium machines. It can be attached to the machine magnetically, which might explain why it isn’t quite heavy.

As for the Oracle, this one has an automatic tamper, which not only cuts down on mess but also cuts down on waste. It is a lifesaver for those who have busier careers and have no time to clean up the coffee grounds that inevitably spill around during the manual tamping process.

the automatic tamping and dosing station of the oracle
The automatic tamping and dosing station of the Oracle

The Express comes with a 54mm portafilter, which is smaller than the commercial-grade 58mm one used on the Oracle. In return, the Express comes with one single-wall basket filter and one double-wall filter for both single and double shots, while the Oracle only has two single-wall filters. In case you don’t know, double-wall filters can produce a decent crema even if the coffee isn’t ideally ground or tamped, which is why they’re often used for pre-ground coffees.

Heating System

The Express uses a single thermocoil heating system – it can’t multi-task but it heats water on the fly and does so super quickly, which makes a huge difference when time is tight. 

But what is the thermocoil, really? Imagine a spiraled steel tube nestled within a block of aluminum. As the cold water embarks on its journey from the bottom, it winds through the coil, gradually warming up to the ideal temperature before reaching the group head.

The Oracle uses a pair of boilers, heating up water for both brew and steam at the same time. This one doesn’t use the thermojet technology that the Express does, meaning you will have to wait a little longer during the initial startup. But its multi-tasking ability really is a game-changer for large settings where there’s a constant demand for preparing large quantities of milk-based drinks.

the breville oracle can brew and steam at once
The Breville Oracle can brew and steam at once

Brewing System

When it comes to brewing espresso, each machine showcases a two-phase process: they begin with a low-pressure pre-infusion, followed by an extraction process at a pressure of 15 bars to produce a superbly crafted espresso.

As you might already know, pre-infusion involves introducing a small amount of water to the packed ground coffee at low pressure, quite like pour-over or French press coffee making. This short set enables carbon dioxide to escape and aromas to begin to develop.

adjust the pre-infusion step
Adjust the pre-infusion step

It’s worth mentioning that the Oracle offers the option to fine-tune the pre-infusion period to suit your taste. This is particularly exciting since a shorter or longer pre-infusion can dramatically alter the espresso’s flavor nuances.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville OracleBreville Barista Express
Dimensions17.8 x 14.7 x 16.1 inches12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches
Weight36 lbs26 lbs

The Oracle and Barista Express aren’t spaceship-esque machines like Jura machines. They lean towards a more classic aesthetic instead, enhancing the feeling of being an authentic barista. The Oracle features a brushed stainless steel finish. I opted for a different version of the Barista Express for testing, but you can also buy this one in stainless steel casing if that’s your thing.

Unlike the Express, the Oracle is a behemoth machine and surely takes up a lot of kitchen space. But this is just a thing to consider, not a big deal, as at least you don’t need to make room for a separate grinder. It has a roller system, allowing for easy relocation within your space.

the roller system
The roller system

And compared to the modern touch screens on high-end espresso machines, the Oracle has a trio of simplistic LCD displays and some dials. The Express just boasts various dials and buttons and a  big gauge, displaying whether the internal pump is pushing hot water through the coffee grounds within the perfect pressure range.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville OracleBreville Barista Express
Water Reservoir2 liter1.9 liter
Bean Hopper0.24 liter0.29 liter

The Express’s tank features a nice, sturdy handle that makes it easier to remove it from the rear of the machine for refilling. Be extra careful when putting it back in place since there’s a risk of inadvertently splashing water around.  The Oracle has a top slot so you can refill its tank without needing to remove it, and it even has a small window on the front so you can easily monitor its water level.

the front-facing window to track the water level
The front-facing window to track the water level

Both come with a water filter to ensure your espresso is always brewed with high-quality water. Despite this, I advise against filling the tank and letting the water sit for extended periods of time. Instead, use fresh water every day, and your taste buds will thank you for that and reward you with a more delightful espresso experience.

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Breville Oracle

They have steam wands but they aren’t really the same. The Express features a professional-style steam wand, while the Oracle is more forgiving with an automatic wand.

Let’s talk about the Express first, shall we? It can rotate 360 degrees, so you can find the right angle for the pitcher with ease. Oh, by the way, it ships with a stainless steel milk pitcher, so you don’t have to buy one. 

the oracle's hybrid wand compared to the traditional wand of the barista express
The Oracle’s hybrid wand compared to the traditional wand of the Barista Express

To steam milk with the Express, position the steam wand in the center of the pitcher, then slightly tilt it to maintain a distance of about 1/4 of the pitcher’s diameter from the wall, then just hold it still until it’s too hot to hold by your bare hand. It sounds easy, but you really need to put in the time and effort to practice before you can create some perfect milk-based beverages.

As for the Oracle, all you have to do is place the wand in the milk pitcher, pull the lever, and then you’re free to step away and return once the steaming process is complete. You can adjust the temperature from 104 to 167 °F and the texture from latte to cappuccino foam

the temperature sensor on the tip of the oracle's wand
The temperature sensor on the tip of the Oracle’s wand

There is a smart sensor located on the tip of the Oracle’s wand that monitors the milk and ensures the wand stops heating once it reaches your preset temperature. And for those who prefer a hands-on approach, the Oracle’s wand can also be used as a traditional one (but it can’t compare with the Express’s wand in this respect).

Pre-programmed Coffee Options  & Programmability

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Breville OracleBreville Barista Express
Espresso
Hot Water
Espresso
Hot Water

These machines don’t have a long list of pre-set drinks, but that’s not to say you can’t whip up all the classics like espresso macchiato or flat white. It’s just about rolling up your sleeves and doing things yourself. There’s a dedicated hot water outlet, which is handy when you want to brew tea or prepare an Americano (a diluted espresso). I always value such a thoughtful feature.

Speaking of customization, both allow you to play around with almost every aspect of brewing, but you can’t adjust the dosage of coffee grounds on the Oracle. I said “technically” since there are some tips and tricks on YouTube that will help you, but obviously this isn’t as convenient as just turning a knob on the Barista Express.

Other Features

Winner: Breville Oracle

The Breville Oracle features programmable auto-start and auto-off functions that allow you to set a specific time for the machine to turn on and off automatically. This feature is particularly convenient for those who want to have their espresso machine ready for use as soon as they wake up or at a specific time of day. 

Breville Oracle Vs Barista Express: Similarities

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville OracleBreville Barista Express
Spigot TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches4 inches

Both machines feature a 4-inch clearance beneath their portafilter spouts, which is enough to fit any espresso mug, but you might fail trying to brew into an insulated coffee mug. A simple workaround is just to remove the drip tray, and voilà, extra room for your bigger mugs. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Speaking of hygiene, I’d say the more you clean the group head and portafilter, the better, as coffee oil and leftover coffee grounds will quickly turn them into a haven for bacteria and mold. All you need is to put a cleaning disc (aka a blind filter basket) on the portafilter, pull a shot, and then rinse the portafilter under the tap.

Their brew groups are non-removable, and cleaning them relies on a fully automatic cycle. This is convenient, but experienced nuts-and-bolts guys like me often prefer to disassemble things for a bit more thorough cleaning.

Cleaning their steam wands is easy enough that you can do it in your dream. After using the Oracle’s wand, simply return it to its original position, and it will automatically emit a steam jet to clear any milk residue. For the Express, a simple turn of the knob to the steam position achieves a similar effect. To finish, a quick wipe with a damp cloth ensures the wands are impeccably clean.

Cup Warmer

Both have a built-in cup warmer. This feature ensures that your cups are preheated, keeping your beverages at the optimal temperature for a longer period of time. Enjoying a hot coffee or espresso from a warm cup enhances the overall coffee experience, and it’s indeed a thoughtful addition to these machines.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Oracle

Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • AUTOMATIC MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: Self-cleaning steam wand, powered by a dedicated boiler, automatically textures milk to your liking and delivers barista quality microfoam that enhances flavour and is essential for creating latte art at home
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Dual stainless steel boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve limits the maximum pump pressure throughout extraction, helping prevent bitter flavours; Low pressure pre infusion gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction
  • SHOT CONTROL AND LCD DISPLAY: Choose between one shot, two shots or manual control on the LCD display to control how much espresso ends up in your cup to make the perfect coffee/espresso every time

Last update on 2024-04-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Automatic grinding, tamping and steaming.
  • 45 grinding settings.
  • Both manual and automatic milk frothing.
  • Easy to use and clean.
  • Has dual boilers.
Cons
  • Costly.
  • Few one-touch drinks.

Quick Rundown Of 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 2024-04-19 / 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.

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