Breville Barista Max at a glance
This bean-to-cup coffee machine sits at the more affordable end of the price spectrum but is accompanied by most of the trimmings of a professional espresso machine, including a stainless steel milk jug and a milk steam wand.
- Available from: Currys (£349)
Your own barista skills are required to get the hang of dosing and tamping the portafilter before locking it in place. Then its single espresso, double espresso and manual settings are ready to use. The hands-on experience gives you a gratifying connection to the resulting cup of coffee.
- Read our full guide to the best bean-to-cup coffee machines
What is the Breville Barista Max like to use?
Assembly is a simple affair, requiring the attachment of a bean-hopper which contains the fresh whole beans for grinding. The instruction manual does a good job at walking you through this. Pushing the portafilter into the cradle starts the grinding and you control the amount by varying downward pressure.
There are 30 grind settings to choose from – an extensive amount for coffee lovers of any experience. Think of each increment of 10 as increasing from fine (great for espresso), to medium, to coarse. Breville recommends level 20 for practicing.
One downside of this machine is the inability to adjust its drip stand for shorter espresso cups. We found the espresso was brewed from such a height that the coffee splashed over the edges.
There’s a pause pre-extraction before the coffee begins to be brewed, of around eight seconds, indicating an adequate brew time for the coffee to release its full flavour. The single espresso is richly dark, flavourful and topped with a glossy crema.
When frothing milk, the steam only takes around 20 seconds to fully pressurise. The wand also has a good range of movement, although it still proved tricky to manoeuvre the jug around and the process is loud enough to wake you up fully in the morning. Importantly, though, it didn’t run out of pressure before we’d finished making velvety steamed milk – ideal for practicing latte art.
The whole process for making a cappuccino and latte takes less than two minutes, despite you not being able to steam milk and brew espresso at the same time.
Is the Breville Barista worth the money?
Although the £350 price range is still an investment, we consider the Breville Barista Max to be excellent value for money considering the quality of espresso and steamed milk it produces.
The brushed metal exterior takes some effort to keep free of finger marks, but is worth the effort for its sleek and robust feel. Style-wise, you’d also be proud to keep it out on the countertop. You could mistake it for a much more expensive counterpart.
Product weight: 7.75kg
Ground capacity: single and double espresso filters
Average pressure: 15 bar
Water capacity: 2.8L
Dimensions: 407 x 347 x 322 mm
Material: Polished chrome, stainless steel, plastic