Espresso lovers rejoice – the Breville 800ESXL is a great café-quality machine, at a price reasonable enough for home use. We’ve heard a lot of good things about many different Breville machines out there – whether their coffee grinders, their espresso machines, or even their non-coffee-related units (although we do, of course, have a soft spot for the coffee machines). The 800ESXL is no exception, and an overwhelming number of customers are impressed with theirs, too.
Naturally, you won’t want to take these reviews at face value, though – what are the real details we’re looking at, here?
This is an entry-level espresso machine, so if you’re looking for something fancy, keep looking. Those who just want a great morning espresso experience without going to Starbucks every day, this machine will blow you away!
In-Depth Breville 800ESXL Review
When opening the box for your new Breville 15-Bar espresso machine, you’re first going to see the machine itself. It has an attractive finish, although the cord was a bit shorter than we’d like. If you have an outlet quite close to where you’d like to place your machine, this won’t be an issue, but if you have an overhead cabinet sitting in the way, you’ll need to either use an extension cord (which isn’t really a good idea, given the mechanics of an espresso machine) or find a different spot to keep it.
In addition to the machine itself, there are a few basic accessories included – but only the ones that you’ll be able to figure out easily. There are three portafilters included: one single-shot, one double-shot, and one pod filter, which holds prepackaged coffee pods. The pod filter is shaped like a flattened tea ball, and will go in the same spot as the other filters. All of these portafilters are double-walled, so if you would prefer single-walled filters, you will have to purchase those separately.
Breville has also included a double-sided coffee tool. This tool has an espresso-grind scoop at one end and a tamper at the other end. Be sure to know the right tamp for the grind you’re using – packing too tightly will cause overflowing and generally a big mess. You also need to leave about 1/8 of an inch at the top of the filter to allow room for the water to flow through. Neglecting to do this will also lead to a big mess. Thankfully, the included filters are very resistant to over-tamping, which we feel makes it a good choice for beginners.
Breville 800ESXL Review continued
Next, we have the actual shot-puller, which screws in the front-center of the machine. It’s best if you warm your machine up before adding your coffee – this keeps it a little fresher. Of course, the quality of your coffee is going to make a huge difference, too, as well as your experience with espresso makers. This machine is quite forgiving to new espresso lovers, so with a little practice, you can master it and, if necessary, move onto a more advanced machine later.
The water reservoir is quite large – approximately two liters, in fact – but it’s important that you don’t fill it more than you’ll be able to use in 2-3 days. By nature, espresso machines are not meant to be stored with water inside, as this can create mold and other problems. The reservoir can be filled by pulling it straight out. You will need to remove the shot-puller and portafiller before you can fill the reservoir.
Once it’s fully primed, you’ll need to set up the steam wand, if you will be steaming milk. You’ll need the milk jug, the frother, and (optionally) the texturizer. The buttons for the steam wand are directly over the steam wand itself – which can rotate easily for storage or use. It is best if you steam your milk before pulling your shot, as the milk takes much longer (and the warming tray on this machine is entirely uninmpressive).
- Automatic Espresso Machine
- Under $500
- Two Cup Device
- Ground Coffee
Now that you’ve got all your pieces ready, you can pull your shot. This machine gives a good amount of crema at the top, and the steam wand works quite well for a beginner’s unit. Cleaning is easiest to do if done immediately – wipe down the steam wand and rinse the filter as soon as possible. There is a storage compartment behind the drip tray that is perfect for keeping your tools. The drip tray itself holds a decent amount of overflow, and even has a small indicator to tell you when it’s full – although we recommend emptying it daily.
One thing beginners may have some trouble adjusting to is that this machine does not offer an automatic function – you must stay near it while brewing, otherwise you can expect to come back to a mess. This shouldn’t be a big concern, as this machine is pretty simple to learn (give yourself 2-3 days to get it just right), but for those who hope to set it and walk away, you’ll be doing this at your own risk.
Breville 800ESXL Overall
Overall, this machine is amazing for beginners, and not terrible for more experienced espresso pullers. There are no major flaws, although there isn’t really anything unbelievable, either. This device isn’t going to win any awards, but if you’re new to home espresso machines and just want something to help learn the basics, this is one of the best available for the price.