Breville, the iconic Australian coffee giant, has given the brewing world hit-after-hit of incredible coffee machines. Today, we’re looking at two machines, particularly, to determine which is better: the Breville Barista Express or the Breville Barista Pro. Spoiler alert: They’re both great machines and are able to produce excellent espresso and milk drinks.
- Analog controls with pressure gauge
- Slightly bigger reservoir at 68 oz.
- Includes cup warming tray
- More affordable model with less features
- 3-second heat-up
- Easy-to-use LCD control panel
- Integrated burr grinder with 30 settings
- Slightly higher price tag for considerable improvements
Two Giants at Eye Level?
The perfect espresso is within reach, but which machine will get you there? Many experts see the Barista Pro as the new and improved successor of the Express. And to be honest, we have to agree. For around $100, the Pro has considerable improvements in terms of integrated features, easy-of-use, and overall performance. But don’t take our word for it and have a look at our head-to-head comparison.
|12.5″ D. 12.5″ W. 13″ H.
|12.5″ D. 12.5″ W. 13″ H.
|Heat Up Time
|Over 1 minute
|Under 1 minute
|Removable Water Reservoir
|Analog controls with pressure gauge
|LCD interface controls
|One-hole manual steam wand
|Four-hole steam wand
The Breville Barista Express is an affordable, practical espresso machine for the at-home coffee lover.
With a single-button control operation featuring an analog pressure gauge, and an all-stainless design, the Breville Express is a slice of industrial, cafe-style espresso makers, all at an affordable price.
The analog steam pressure gauge allows you to find the sweet spot right for you, though we found that the manual steam wand doesn’t produce the frothy micro-foam at the right texture without it being runny.
But don’t let that fool you: you’re still getting a machine that delivers on its excellent coffee promise. The Italian 15-bar pump with 9-bar extraction brings you a cup of coffee with a velvety smooth mouthfeel and delicious taste.
Plus, the digital temperature control (PID) pumps hot water at the perfect temperature, ensuring an accurate espresso extraction.
The use of pre-infusion at low pressure makes sure your espresso’s unique flavor profile remains intact. Pre-infusion wets your coffee grounds and helps avoid channeling. You can also customize your ounces by using the pre-set volume controls.
The Barista Express comes with an included cup warming tray, making your cups of espresso nice and toasty, preserving the temperature of your coffee.
The downside to the Express is a longer heat-up time. In the age of “gimme more right now,” this may be a bit of a turn-off for some coffee lovers. The Express’s thermocoil integrated heating element warms your maker’s water in 30-45 seconds, with a brewing time of over 1 minute.
While the integrated conical burr grinder with 16 settings gives you a little less room to play around and customize compared to the Barista Pro’s 30 customizable pre-sets.
- Analog pressure gauge
- Included cup warming tray
- Digital water temperature control (PID)
- Stainless steel, jaw-dropping design
- Pre-set volumetric controls
- Longer heat-up time
- Sub-par milk steaming performance
- Conical burr grinder has fewer control options than the Pro
The Breville Barista Pro gives you coffee your way with a user-friendly, highly customizable coffee experience.
With an integrated steel conical burr grinder, you can grind however fine or coarse you like it at the single touch of a button, with 30 possible settings to choose from. The digital LCD display control panel makes for a user-friendly experience, whether grinding, brewing, or steaming.
The four-hole steam wand performs at the highest level, with a higher throughput of pressurized steam. This is an all-in-one espresso machine that goes above and beyond with dollops of savory microfoam.
The Barista Pro, similarly to the Express, brews with a 15-bar Italian pump and 9-bar extraction. Using low-pressure pre-infusion, the Pro ensures you get a rich espresso taste by delicately preserving the flavor notes of your coffee grounds. The espresso is extracted with PID, ensuring optimal temperature and extraction, just like the Express.
The difference between the two is, yes, versatility, but also the speed of the Pro. With a thermojet heat-up time of 3 seconds and brewing speed of less than a minute, you’ll be out the door on your way to that morning meeting faster than you think.
The Pro doesn’t include the extra feature of a cup warming tray and is more expensive than the Express, but you get what you pay for: an impressive, state-of-the-art espresso machine.
- Customizable coffee experience down to the minute details
- Thermojet heating fast heats in 3 seconds
- User-friendly LCD control panel
- High steam pressure with four hole steam wand
- Precision grinder with 30 settings
- More expensive than the Barista Express
- No cup warming tray
Features – A Comparison
Still not sure which one is the better choice for you? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the most important features of these two machines.
While we’re going to get into further detail about how these machines brew and bring you the best cup of coffee, ultimately, for performance, we’re looking at speed and efficiency.
The Pro is the stand-out winner in the performance category, as it grinds, heats, and brews fast. The innovative thermojet heating system extracts your coffee beans at the optimal temperature of over 200 °F in just 3 seconds and can effortlessly transition from espresso to steam.
You can make your best coffee without waiting for a cup that’s ready almost instantaneously.
The Express’ longer thermocoil heat-up time at 30-45 seconds, with a brew speed of over 60 seconds and a more extended transition from espresso to steam, impacts how quickly that sweet java is delivered. If you’re someone who’s chronically late or an impatient coffee drinker, this is a no go for you.
The grinder champ is, once again, the Barista Pro. Weighing these two integrated grinders makes these espresso machines not even close.
The Barista Pro’s single-touch built-in grinder has over 30 programmable espresso grind settings to match any preference of coarseness. While both grinders function as conical, you have a higher resolution of settings with the Pro compared to the Barista Express, which only has 16 settings.
Finding the perfect grind size will give you the perfect shot of espresso, and the versatility of the Pro’s grinder makes it great for beginners new to the espresso game.
Another feature we like about the Pro’s grinder is the grind pause button. This function allows you to pause the grinding process of your pre-set dose to distribute the pilling coffee to the stainless steel portafilter, then continue grinding.
Steam Wand & Milk Frothing
Again, while both steam wands may appear the same, the resulting milk foam is entirely different.
For latte art lovers, you want microfoam with enough of a body to prevent it from being runny; scoops of light, frothy milk. The Barista Pro delivers on this and then some.
The thermojet heating system with four hole steam wand gives the Barista Pro the edge over the Express. This highly pressurized, powerful steam process gives you the perfect consistency for microfoam while also making it almost 25% faster than Express’s single-hole steam wand.
That said, because of the thermojet’s efficient heating, it is no longer used as a cup tray warmer or heater; you’ll have to heat your mugs the old-fashioned way using some hot water.
Which brings us to our next point; another helpful extra feature of the Pro is the implementation of a hot water outlet. The placement is designed to allow you to leave your cup right under the brew head.
The Express’s steam wand gives you spotty performance, with some online reviewers claiming they get runny hot milk more often than not.
This is a little bit of a toss-up because both coffee machines depend on what you prefer in overall look and feel when it comes to the display. Both machines feature a digital interface, where the Pro has an entirely digital display screen. The Express features analog, single-touch buttons.
The Barista Pro’s digital LCD allows you to control the pull of your shot of espresso. It displays the time of the extraction process, a feature most baristas look for in cafe-inspired coffee flavor.
The Pro’s LCD screen is a little easier to navigate than the Barista Express, as you can simply press the menu button and use the dial or shot buttons to begin brewing.
The Barista Express’s analog control with single-touch buttons and included pressure gauge is sure to turn heads wherever you find it, from the office to the kitchen countertops. While you ultimately have less customizable options and control over your espresso shot, many online reviewers highlight just how gorgeous this machine really is.
The Express brewing operation will be a little less intimidating for brewers who are used to the classic old-school feel of a traditional machine.
Ease of Use
From experienced espresso makers down to novices, ease of use is essential when shopping around for espresso machines. No one wants a machine with an arduous brewing process that takes a lot of time and trial and error.
Both machines operate in a user-friendly way, with the slight advantage going to the Barista Pro’s effortless versatility. You can easily tailor your coffee to you with the advanced brew controls, changing the shot volume, water temperature, and/or pre-infusion time.
Move the Pro’s dial to the right, select your shot size, and use the dial again to adjust your water temp. Once the machine is on, you can continue to monitor the temperature of your water.
For the Barista Express, you can still change your brew settings and temperature preferences. However, it requires a combination of different buttons that you’ll have to undo and redo each brew cycle or if you have varying palettes in the same house.
Both brewers are striking, visually appealing machines with classically inspired design choices that lean on stainless steel. The Barista Pro comes in more color options than the Express, with options like oyster shell, royal champagne, black truffle, or the go-to brushed stainless steel.
Each machine is designed to support its internal components, with a hulking weight of 20 lbs, yet small enough dimensionally to fit almost anywhere, at a height of only 13″.
One design choice we were surprised not to see in the Express was a removable water reservoir. It’ll be a bit of a pain to clean, especially at the XL size of 68 ounces. The Pro includes a removable water tank with a 61-ounce capacity.
Both brewers include four filter baskets with single or dual walls for one-shot or double-shot sizes. They each have a dual-spout portafilter allowing you to make two shots simultaneously.
Price & Value
The winner, by default, has to go to the Express in terms of pricing. At around $100 cheaper, the Express is still an excellent choice of espresso machine for the espresso lover looking for affordability first.
But in terms of value, the Barista Pro clearly takes the cake, as that extra $100 gets you next-generation engineering that brings you coffee shop quality right from home.
We’ve delved into all things Breville, with a battle between the Barista Express and the Barista Pro to determine which brewer is better.
The Barista Pro is the better espresso machine as it features a highly tailored coffee experience with easy-to-use LCD controls, an improved stainless steel conical grinder, and four hole steam wand for highly pressurized, frothy milk drinks.
The Barista Pro will make a welcomed addition to any coffee lover’s at-home routine: happy brewing!