Breville Oracle Touch vs. Breville Barista Express

Two powerful home espresso machines from Breville. Which one should you buy?

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Breville Oracle Touch vs. Breville Barista Express.

When it comes to espresso, Breville offers a number of machines for the home user. There’s some lower end machines like the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine, but it will require a separate dedicated grinder for your coffee beans.

Luckily Breville offers a lineup of machines with integrated grinders that won’t take up anymore of your scarce and valuable counter space. On the lower-priced end of spectrum is the Breville Barista Express, and on the higher-priced end is the Breville Oracle Touch.

I’ve owned both of these machines. The lower-priced Breville Barista Express was my daily espresso machine for 6 years before I upgraded to the Breville Oracle Touch. My Barista Express was still working at the time of the upgrade, but as my career got busier, I had less time to clean up the coffee grounds that would inevitable spill over during the manual tamping process, and I found milk-based drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos, to be time consuming on a thermal block heating element machine (as opposed to a double boiler). I was hoping that the automatic tamper on the Oracle Touch would take care of that mess, and the programmable menu, automatic milk wand, and dual boiler would make milk-based drinks much more convenient. 

Integrated grinder on the Breville Oracle Touch.
The integrated grinder on the Breville Oracle Touch and Barista Express saves you valuable counter space!
Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville Oracle Touch: Best Overall Machine
Integrated grinder, auto-tamping, and a dual boiler. Plus a programmable menu for effortless and excellent espresso drinks..
$2,499.00
Get More Details
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, Large
Breville Barista Express: Best Budget Espresso Machine
The integrated grinder saves you counter space! Lacks auto-tamping and a dual boiler, but this machine will deliver excellent espresso drinks if you don't mind the clean up and waiting a bit longer to froth your milk.
$696.50
Get More Details
Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville Oracle Touch: Best Overall Espresso Machine
$2,499.00
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Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, Large
Breville Barista Express: Best Budget Espresso Machine
$696.50
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The Breville Barista Express Review

The Breville Barista Express is a thermal block heating element espresso machine that comes with an integrated grinder, a manual tamper that magnetically attaches to the underside of the machine for easy storage, and a steam wand for steamed milk. Because it utilizes a thermal block heating element, as opposed to a double boiler, you cannot brew and steam milk at the same time; you must do it one after the other. 

The reason I purchased this espresso machine in the first place was to save on counter space. At the time I was living in a small apartment, and because I drank coffee daily, an espresso machine would become a permanent fixture in my kitchen. I was willing to give up a bit of counter space for my coffee fix; however, it became unreasonable once I started to think of a dedicated grinder.

This is why the Barista Express was appealing to me. Having the grinder integrated into one unit seemed convenient and space saving. The steam wand was a bonus for those times when I want to treat myself to a latte. 

Making espresso on the Breville Barista Express is a breeze. You simply place the portafilter below the grinder and push to grind the coffee straight into the portafilter. You then detatch the tamper and tamp the coffee before transferring it over to the brew head. You push the brew button and watch as beautiful espresso and crema comes out like magic! You can either drink the espresso straight, make it an Americano by adding hot water using the dedicated hot water dispenser, or make a cappuccino or latte by steaming milk with the wand. 

It may take some time to dial in the right grind size, which you can adjust using a dial on the side of the machine. You will also need to get a feel for how much pressure you should apply when tamping. At first this can can be daunting; I wasted quite a bit of ground coffee the first time I used this espresso machine. However, after a few successful shots, you will get a feel for the machine and will be able to dial it in easily with very little, if any, waste.

This machine doesn’t come with a knock box for disposing of used espresso pucks and will need to be purchased separately. A knock box allows you to easily dispose of espresso pucks by knocking the portafilter against a bar that spans the box. The puck will fall into the box where it can later be thrown in the trash. 

The one thing you want to beware of, and what ultimately pushed me towards upgrading to the Breville Oracle Touch, is that when you are grinding the coffee there will likely be some grounds that spill over the portafilter and onto the drip tray and your kitchen counter. For this reason, I’d always lay down a paper towel for easy cleanup. However, even with the paper towel, I found coffee grounds would end up on my counter. It’s not too big of a deal, but it’s a nuisance nonetheless. Also, with just a thermal block heating element, you will have to wait until the espresso is done brewing before using the steam wand; which is a bit of pain when you are in a hurry in the morning. For these reasons, and others, I decided that after six years of being a happy Breville Barista Express user it was time for an upgrade.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, Large
Breville Barista Express: Best Budget Espresso Machine
The integrated grinder saves you counter space! Lacks auto-tamping and a dual boiler, but this machine will deliver excellent espresso drinks if you don't mind the clean up and waiting a bit longer to froth your milk.
$696.50
Get More Details
Breville BCB100 Knock Box, Die-cast
Essential Accessory: Knock Box
The Breville Barista Express does not come with a knock box. A knock box allows you to easily dispose of espresso pucks by knocking the portafilter against a bar. The puck will fall into the box where It can later be thrown in the trash. This knock box from Breville is roomy and will fit several mornings worth of espresso pucks before needing to be disposed of.
$54.00
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Breville Oracle Touch Review

The Breville Oracle Touch is a pricey upgrade; no doubt about it. However, after owning and using the machine for several months, I think it’s worth it if you drink espresso-based drinks daily.

The Breville Oracle Touch has different colour options. You can go with the classic stainless steel look, but I decided to change things up with the “black truffle” option. The color is exquisite and makes a bold statement in my kitchen. 

The primary benefit of the Breville Oracle Touch over the Barista Express is the automatic tamping system. This system cuts down on counter top mess greatly. No longer do you end up with coffee grounds all over your drip tray and kitchen counter. Instead, 99.9% of the coffee that is ground ends up inside the portafilter! Not only does this cut down on mess, but it also cuts down on waste. The tiny amount that gets wasted is dust that gets stuck in the tamping mechanism and slowly falls down onto the drip tray. The drip tray contains it all and none of it ends up on your counter. Once you’ve extracted your espresso, you can get rid of grounds inside the portafilter using the provided knock box. 

Manually tamping coffee grounds on the Breville Barista Express vs. automatic tamping on the Oracle Touch.
Manually tamping coffee grounds on the Breville Barista Express vs. automatic tamping on the Oracle Touch

 

The dual boiler, programmable menu, and automatic milk wand have me trying milk-based drinks more often; allowing me to get more value out of the machine! First, I can begin steaming my milk as I grind my coffee. I can continue letting the milk steam while I transfer the portafilter, with the grounds, over to the brew head and start brewing. When my espresso is done brewing, my milk is also done steaming, so I can make my latte or cappuccino right away; no more waiting! The bonus is that the steam wand is automatic so it will stop once it reaches my desired temperature. Best of all, everything is programmable. If you like you milk a little hotter than average for a latte, just set the wand to a higher temperature. The machine will remember this anytime you select latte from the menu. Every preset drink is programmable, and you can even program in your own drinks. The possibilities are endless.

My go-to drink is an Americano, which is simply hot water added on top of an espresso. As a North American who has grown accustomed to drip coffee, an Americano gives me the best of both worlds; the rich taste of European espresso but enough liquid to last me through the morning. On the Breville Barista Express, you have to transfer your espresso over to the water spout after brewing; this isn’t needed on the Oracle Touch because the water spout is located directly under the brew head. Simply select “Americano” from the menu and push brew. The machine will automatically brew the coffee and dispense the hot water; best of all, this is completely programmable! If you like your Americano less watered down, just go into the menu and reduce the amount of water dispensed. The same is true if you want more water dispensed. Customizing your own drinks is easy once you get the hang of it.  

pouring an americano on the breville oracle touch.
Pouring an Americano on the Breville Oracle Touch. The water spout located directly on the brew head allows you to create an American with a push of a button.

 

Another bonus that the Oracle Touch has over the Barista Express is that you can monitor your water level and fill up your water tank from the front of the machine. The water tank, and brew area, is illuminated with a LED light, making it easy to see when you are getting low on water. No more checking at the back of the machine to see if you need a refill. But if you need to reach the back of the machine, you can engage the retractable wheels and slide the espresso machine across your countertop with ease!

Easily fill water from the front on the Breville Oracle Touch.
Easily fill water from the front on the Breville Oracle Touch.

 

A disadvantage of the Breville Oracle Touch when compared to the Barista Express is that the water filters cost a lot more money. The Oracle Touch uses a Claro Swiss water filter, which is costly when bought directly from Breville. Meanwhile, the Barista Express uses a standard charcoal filter which you can get for a much lower cost. However, there are alternatives to the Claro Swiss water filter; you can save money by buying a set of two or three from a third party.  While the filters for the Oracle Touch are more costly than the filters for the Barista Express, the Oracle Touch’s  filters will also soften your water, which should improve the longevity of the espresso machine–especially if you have hard water.

The Oracle Touch is cleaned the same way as the Barista Express, but it has a key advantage; on-screen reminders and instructions. On the Barista Express, all you get a is blinking light that says “clean me”. I will admit that I’d often go a long time without cleaning my Barista Express because it was inconvenient to have to look up the instructions each and every time I needed to do it. With the Oracle Touch, I haven’t missed a cleaning because the on-screen directions are a breeze to follow. And if you are in a rush to get out the door, don’t worry, you can dismiss the reminder, make a quick espresso, and be reminded to clean the machine the following day. 

A final bonus feature of the Breville Oracle Touch over the Barista Express is that you can program the machine to turn on in the morning so it’s ready to use immediately when you wake up! You can even set a different time for each day of the week, and one for the evening if you are someone who enjoys a coffee after dinner. A pro tip is to keep an empty portafilter in the brew head; the heat from the machine will transfer to the portafilter. A hot portafilter is one of the keys to creating a perfect espresso shot!

Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Breville Oracle Touch: Best Overall Machine
Integrated grinder, auto-tamping, and a dual boiler. Plus a programmable menu for effortless and excellent espresso drinks..
$2,499.00
Get More Details
Fette Filter - Replacement Water Filter Compatible with Breville Claro Swiss For Oracle, Barista & Bambino - Compare to Part #BES008WHT0NUC1 - Pack of 3
Substitute: Claro Swiss Water Filter Alternative
While the water filters for the Breville Oracle Touch are costlier than the filters for the Barista Express, they also soften your water, which should improve the longevity of your machine. You can save money by buying a set of two or three from a third-party rather than from Breville directly. The alternative Claro Swiss water filters featured here are from Fette Filter, and they work just as well as Breville Claro Swiss water filters.
$32.99
Get More Details

Breville Oracle Touch vs. Barista Touch and Non-Touch Oracle 

There are options in between the Breville Barista Express and the Oracle Touch. Such as a touch-version of the Barista Express and a non-touch version of the Oracle Touch. The features of each machine are similar enough though, with the touch-version of the Barista Express gaining the programmable features of a touch screen, while the non-touch version of the Oracle Touch loses them.

I hope you found this review helpful in making a purchase decision. As an Amazon Affiliate, I make a small commission, at no cost to you, for every purchase made after a user clicks on one of my links.

Learn How to Make Five Popular Espresso Drinks

If you decided to buy an espresso machine, we’ve listed off five different espresso drinks that you can make. Learn how to make an Americano, a cappuccino, latte, macchiato, and ristretto.

If you have any questions about these two espresso machines that I reviewed, feel free free to ask in the comments below!

alternative espresso cleaning tablet for breville espresso machines.

Breville Espresso Cleaning Tablets Alternative

Check out these alternative espresso cleaning tablets for Breville machines.These tablets are much cheaper than the ones provided directly from Breville, and they contain sodium percarbonate, just like the Breville branded tablets. They are safe to use on your espresso machine.

Read More »
Breville Oracle Touch vs. Breville Barista Express.
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Gemma
5 months ago

I love my Oracle Touch. The touch screen makes it easy for the entire family to use without having to give them much of a training session 😉 It is the best espresso machine I’ve owned and I’ve owned several over the last two decades.

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