The Best Espresso Machine for Life

The Best Espresso Machine for Life and the money is the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL. I have used this machine daily for over 8 years.

Coffee Coffee Coffee

Coffee is a part of my life. I drink 3-6 cups of coffee each day. I prefer the strong coffee taste that I get from Starbucks. Virtually all my friends prefer Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts’ coffee.

I try to never drink coffee after 2 PM (unless I am working quite late.)

The Boiler core of the Best Espresso Machine for Life
BES870XL Single Boiler

How to Save over $3000 per year

I was ordering 3 Venti Americanos from Starbucks on a daily basis. I did not know it at the time, but this was costing me over $4000 a year.

When I switched to using the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL I saved 75% on my coffee budget. I just love using this machine and I am happy to make my own coffee (or one for the family) at any time. This machine is so easy to use and makes just fantastic tasting coffee.

I easily did a full cost recovery for the purchase of the Breville Barista Express in under 2 months!!

TIPS for using the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL

1. Use your Pressure Gauge

This first tip that took 2 years to determine, will make it easy to achieve the perfect espresso shot when using the BES870XL. It will save a lot of time and effort when changing from various coffee bean brands.

Adjust Your Grind Size

It is very important to adjust the grind size and fine grind settings correctly to achieve the perfect results on the Breville Pressure gauge.

Grind Size and Tampered Weight

The grind size combined with the tampered weight will affect the rate of water flow through the coffee in the filter basket and the resultant flavor of the espresso.

These 3 things are contributing to the “perfect” draw and delivery of the most consistent flavor of each shot of espresso.

When setting the grind size, it should be fine but not too fine and powdery.

Setting the Grind Size

Breville BES870XL Grind Size Dial located on the side of the machine.
Breville BES870XL Grind Size Dial located on the side of the machine.

There are 18 settings on the “grind size” select dial – located on the side of the BES870XL. The smaller the number, the finer the grind size. The larger the number, the coarser the grind size. I recommend you start at the No. 5 setting and adjust as required.

12 O’Clock

Breville Pressure Gauge on the Best Espresso Machine for Life
The Breville Pressure Gauge hitting the sweet spot
during the drawing of a shot of espresso.

Your goal is to have the pressure gauge move as close to the 12 o’clock position when pulling a shot. Once you are close to the 12 o’clock sweet spot you can further adjust the grind of the coffee using the grind amount dial.

Lastly Set the Fine Tune of the Grind

Fine Tuning the Grind Amount Dial on the BES870XL
Fine Tuning the Grind Amount Dial on the BES870XL

You can fine-tune the grind amount. Firstly set the GRIND AMOUNT dial to the 3 o’clock position as a starting point for the dose amount. Then adjust towards LESS or MORE as required to adjust the dose amount so the cap on the supplied tamper is level with the top edge of the filter basket rim, AFTER tamping.

NOTE: You may need to adjust the GRIND AMOUNT dial a few times to achieve the correct grind amount and hit the 12 O’Clock “sweet spot” on the pressure gauge when drawing a shot. (see video below)

Video of the perfect Draw using the Breville Barista Express
Espresso Machine BES870XL

2. Use a Utility Board for Quick Clean Ups

Make use of a utility board (cutting board). I use a 10″ cutting board and slide the board adjacent to the front of the BES870XL. Make use of the board when grinding your beans and tamping your portafilter. The board will collect coffee grounds from the setup process. The use of the board is a real time-saver and makes clean-up a snap.

Make use of a utility board for easy clean up and use.

Excellent Add-Ons for your BES870XL

1. The Breville Knock Box

The Breville Knock Box is the prefect companion for the Best Espresso Machine for Life
the Knock Box

The Breville Knock Box is an excellent add-on to your BES870XL. This is where you empty your coffee pucks from your portafilter. Make sure to save your coffee grounds for your garden! Available here.

2. CAFIZA espresso machine cleaning tablets

The Cafiza Cleaning tablets are mandatory for the Best Espresso Machine for Life
Urnex Cafiza Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets

It is very important to do regular maintenance on your BES870XL. Regular Cleaning is mandatory. An excellent product that I have use monthly is the CAFIZA espresso machine cleaning tablets. Available here.

3. Geesta Charcoal Water Filters

Geesta Charcoal Water Filters

As part of your regular maintenance, it is important to regularly change your Charcoal Water Filters. This will ensure the ultimate taste and consistency of your draws. Available here.

4. OXO Utility Board

Recommendation: OXO Utility Board

For the day to day use of your BES870XL the addition of a utility board is a real time saver. Make use of the board when grinding your beans and tamping your portafilter. The board will collect coffee grounds from the setup process. It will make clean up a snap. Available here.

Breville BES870 Maintenance

Decalcification of your Applicance

Over time hard water can cause mineral build-up in and on many of the inner functioning components of your Breville BES870XL This build-up will reduce the brewing flow, brewing temperature, power of the machine, and taste of your espresso. It is strongly advised to decalcifying the machine every month and especially if you are not using the machine for an extended period eg. before going on vacation.

  1. Press the POWER button to switch the machine off.
  2. Pour a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and cold tap water into the water tank.
  3. Remove the portafilter from the group head and place a large container beneath the group head and steam wand.
  4. Press the POWER button to switch the machine on.
  5. Wait for the machine to fully warm-up (5-15 minutes.)
  6. When the temperature has been reached and all the button lights on the control panel have illuminated, press and hold the 1 CUP button to commence a manual pour. Release the button once half the mixture of white vinegar and water has run through the group head.
  7. Set the STEAM/HOT WATER dial to the HOT WATER position and allow hot water to run through the hot water outlet for approximately 30 seconds. Return the dial back to the STANDBY position.
  8. Set the STEAM/HOT WATER dial to the STEAM position and allow steam to run through the steam wand for approximately 2 minutes. Return the dial back to the STANDBY position.
  9. If any of the mixtures remains in the water tank, press and hold the 1 CUP button to commence a manual pour. Release the button once the tank is empty and nothing runs through the group head.
  10. In harder water environments, we recommend repeating this cycle.
  11. After decalcifying, remove the water tank, rinse thoroughly then refill with fresh cold water only. To rinse the machine, repeat steps 3–7.

When you see the Clean Me Light

The CLEAN ME light indicates that a cleaning cycle is required. A cleaning cycle is a back-flushing cycle that thoroughly cleans the primary boiler and group head unit. This is a different process than decalcifying.

Breville Clean Me Light on the Best Espresso Machine for Life
What to do when you see the Breville Clean Me Light
  1. Fill your BES870XL water reservoir with fresh cold clean water.
  2. Insert the 1 CUP single wall filter basket into the portafilter.
Breville Cleaning Disc
Breville Cleaning Disc
  1. Place the cleaning disc into the portafilter basket. It will basically just fit at the very top of the basket in the portafilter.
  2. Add a cleaning tablet in the center of the cleaning disc.
  3. Lock the portafilter into the group head and place a large container beneath the portafilter spouts. You can use a 2 Quart measuring cup or a mixing bowl.
  4. Ensure the water tank is filled with cold water and that the drip tray is empty.
  5. Press the POWER button to switch the machine off.
  6. Press the 1 CUP and 2 CUP buttons simultaneously, then also press the POWER button. Hold all 3 buttons together for approximately 10 seconds.
  7. The cleaning cycle will start and last for approximately 5 minutes. During this time, water will intermittently flow from the portafilter spouts. Once the process is complete you will hear 3 beeps.
  8. Remove the portafilter and ensure the tablet has completely dissolved. If the tablet has not dissolved, use a fresh cleaning tablet and repeat until the tablet completely dissolves.

Manual

The BES870XL Manual is available here.

Do you Disce? iDisce!

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One thought on “The Best Espresso Machine for Life

  1. Thank you Charles! Very informative and easy to use instructions. I appreciate your review and I also know that I will look into purchasing a Breville Bariata soon.

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