Barista Express Vs Barista Touch: Which One You Should Choose?

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Between the Barista Express Vs Barista Touch, I decided to take a leap, going for the Barista Touch over the Express version. It’s because the Touch is customizable, intuitive, and easier to use for beginners than its rival.

The Barista Touch provides the convenience of a near super-automatic while letting you have some control over the grind and tamp of the coffee. What impressed me when purchasing the machine is its automatic steam wand that can produce a nice and velvety milk texture. Moreover, this auto-milk steam wand can be used manually if you want to control your milk texture in your own way. The machine also has 5 coffee drink presets and 8 extra profiles to be personalized and saved.

The Barista Express comes with a more affordable price tag but takes you more time and effort to get decent brews, especially when you have no experience. Its automation is limited, including auto grind and auto dose. It does not have a touchscreen for easy customization, but it features a pressure gauge to assist you in producing good espresso shots. Thus, if you are looking for a machine to get to know every step of the process to make an espresso drink, the Barista Express is a nice option.

Barista Express Vs Barista Touch: Comparison Chart

Image
The Winner (#1)
Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine BES880BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Runner-Up (#2)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Touch BES880BSS
Breville Barista Express BES870
Dimensions (LxWxH)
12.7 x 15.5 x 16 Inches
12 x 11 x 13.5 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
24 lbs / 1680 W / 110-120 V
23 lbs / 1600 W / 110-120 V
Water Tank Capacity
67 oz
67 oz
Bean Hopper Capacity
8.8 oz
8 oz
Grinder Type / Settings
Stainless steel conical burr / 30 settings
Stainless steel conical burr / 16 settings
Heating System
Single ThermoJet + PID control
Single thermocoil + PID control
Heat-up Time
~3 seconds
Within 5 mins
Milk System
Auto MilQ steam wand (Manual + Automatic)
Manual steam wand
Pump Pressure
15 bar
15 bar
Pre Infusion Function
No. of Coffee Drink Presets
5
-
Interface
Touchscreen control
Button control & Pressure gauge
Water Filter
Auto-Purge
Auto-Off
What I Like
Price
$999.95
$699.95
The Winner (#1)
Image
Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine BES880BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Touch BES880BSS
Dimensions (LxWxH)
12.7 x 15.5 x 16 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
24 lbs / 1680 W / 110-120 V
Water Tank Capacity
67 oz
Bean Hopper Capacity
8.8 oz
Grinder Type / Settings
Stainless steel conical burr / 30 settings
Heating System
Single ThermoJet + PID control
Heat-up Time
~3 seconds
Milk System
Auto MilQ steam wand (Manual + Automatic)
Pump Pressure
15 bar
Pre Infusion Function
No. of Coffee Drink Presets
5
Interface
Touchscreen control
Water Filter
Auto-Purge
Auto-Off
What I Like
Price
$999.95
More Info
The Runner-Up (#2)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express BES870
Dimensions (LxWxH)
12 x 11 x 13.5 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
23 lbs / 1600 W / 110-120 V
Water Tank Capacity
67 oz
Bean Hopper Capacity
8 oz
Grinder Type / Settings
Stainless steel conical burr / 16 settings
Heating System
Single thermocoil + PID control
Heat-up Time
Within 5 mins
Milk System
Manual steam wand
Pump Pressure
15 bar
Pre Infusion Function
No. of Coffee Drink Presets
-
Interface
Button control & Pressure gauge
Water Filter
Auto-Purge
Auto-Off
What I Like
Price
$699.95
More Info

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Barista Express Vs Barista Touch: Differences

The Barista Touch wins 3-0 against the Breville Barista Express. For me, the Barista Touch is a nice upgraded version of the Barista Express, providing more automation for convenience while allowing hands-on experiences for coffee enthusiasts to practice.

Coffee flavor & Brewing system

Winner: Breville Barista Touch

Grinder & Tamper

Both appliances feature a nice built-in grinder with a hardened stainless steel conical burr. However, the Barista Touch has more grind size settings than the Express, allowing me to dial in the coffee ground fineness more precisely. Specifically, the number of grind settings of the Barista Touch is 30, and of the Barista Express is 16.

With the Barista Touch, I prefer my grind setting at 17, and the espresso flow is about 30 seconds with a nice, pleasant honey color and a full-bodied flavor. And for the Barista Express, my preference grind size is 5 for the balanced and rich crema shot.

With these two machines, you have to do the manual tamp, and their included tamper is nice. I can do a proper tamp with their tamper, so I believe you don’t need to buy the new one. Note that you should keep your hand at a 90-degree angle when tamping down the coffee ground so that the coffee can be uniformly packed.

The grind size adjustment on Barista Touch
The grind size adjustment on Barista Touch

Heating system

The Barista Touch and Barista Express use a single-boiler system, so they cannot brew and steam at the same time. In addition, they feature the PID element to control the water temperature so that the temperature consistency can be well maintained throughout the brewing process. 

The difference is in their key heating element. The Barista Touch has the ThermoJet heating technology, enabling a quick heat-up time of about 3 seconds. Meanwhile, the Barista Express features the conventional thermocoil heating element. The heat-up time of the Barista Express is a bit longer, taking about 1-3 mins to reach the optimal temperature.

Brewing performance

For me, both machines can produce robust and full-bodied espresso shots with a nice crema layer. However, again, making good espresso cups is easier using the Barista Touch than Barista Express owing to the former’s automation.

The Barista Touch and Barista Express offer automatic coffee dosing based on the selected volume, which is convenient but exhibits inconsistency. The auto dose often gives about 0.5-1.5 grams more than the amount I want, leading to inconsistency in espresso flavors. Fortunately, I can do the manual dosing with these two machines so that I can precisely weigh the amount of coffee ground to get the best results.

Both of the machines feature the pre-infusion mechanism and 15-bar pump pressure for optimal extraction, delivering a full-bodied espresso shot of 9-ish bar. They allow me to change the brewing time (manual override) to get the coffee volume and strength at the way I want it to be.

I can also adjust the brewing temperature, which I really appreciate. Specifically, I can change the brewing temperature by ±4oF (2oF increments at a time) on the Barista Express. Meanwhile, in the settings section of the Barista Touch, the brew temperature can be increased or decreased by 4 levels from the ideal point (factory setting).

I found that the default brew temperature delivered decent hot espresso cups every time. I took a test on the water hotness at the factory-setting brewing temperature of these machines. The result was in the range of 197-199oF, which was quite close to what the brands described.

Adjustable brew temperature on the Barista Touch
Adjustable brew temperature on the Barista Touch

Design & Convenience

Winner: Breville Barista Touch

Capacity & Dimension

The dimensions between the Barista Touch and Barista Express are quite similar to each other. With their 16-inch height and 13-inch depth, they will need more space on the counter and under the cupboard to accommodate them.

They also boast the same capacities of bean hopper (8 oz) and water reservoir (67 oz). Their water reservoir is positioned at the back of the machine, which is not really convenient for re-filling because I need to move the machine out quite often.

Drink programmability

When it comes to beverage options, the Barista Touch truly stands out for me. It presents 5 pre-programmed coffee drinks (Espresso, Americano, Latte, Flat White, Cappuccino, and Hot Milk), offering me the delightful convenience of crafting my favorite cup with just a simple touch. Moreover, the Barista Touch helps me reduce the daunting task of remembering every customized recipe by allowing me to save 8 personalized drinks. This feature also comes in handy in situations where you have frequent visits from friends and cousins.

On a different note, the Barista Express takes a divergent approach from its counterpart, lacking the ready-made drink presets akin to the Barista Touch. On this machine, my one-touch beverage repertoire is limited to single and double-shot espressos. Beyond that, I need to master and keep note of the recipes and techniques for creating superior espresso-based drinks.

Create customized recipes on the Barista Touch
Create customized recipes on the Barista Touch

Interface & Hot water spout

Both the Barista Touch and Barista Express come equipped with their own separate hot water spouts, which I find very useful for making americano or pre-heating cups. However, the hot water spout on the Barista Express is not situated close to the group head like the one on Barista Touch. So, I need to take an extra step to move the cup after the espresso shot has been pulled when I want to make an americano.

Moreover, the two machines feature distinct interfaces and controls. The Barista Express boasts a pressure gauge and button controls, whereas the Barista Touch uses a touchscreen for every operation. The touchscreen of the Barista Touch offers convenience in terms of visual feedback. It enables easy interaction with the machine, providing a clear display of the adjustments made during the brewing and frothing processes. This visual aid simplifies the process of learning to pull a great shot.

However, a minor drawback of the touchscreen is its inability to display extraction pressure during the shot. In contrast, the pressure gauge on the Barista Express allows me to monitor the extraction pressure and determine whether it falls within the optimal range for the best shot. However, without the visual confirmation, I must make adjustments based on guesswork if the pressure deviates from the ideal range.

Interface of the Barista Express (above) and Barista Touch (below)
Interface of the Barista Express (above) and Barista Touch (below)

Milk system

Winner: Breville Barista Touch

I find the milk steam wand on the Breville Barista Touch to be more appealing than that on the Barista Express. What impressed me about the Barista Touch’s steam wand is its versatility in offering both automatic and manual milk frothing. Additionally, it grants users the freedom to adjust milk foam levels and temperature according to their personal preferences.

The MilQ automatic milk wand featured on the Barista Touch has proven to be remarkably user-friendly, producing good froth without a need to know the skills of texturing milk. The process is quite straightforward: put the milk in the jug, place the jug in alignment with the temperature sensor for precise control, put the milk wand in the jug, press to start the process, and let the machine do the rest. 

Furthermore, the Barista Touch provides an option to switch to manual steaming mode so that I can have time to refine my frothing techniques. However, you still need to pre-purging the steam wand is necessary to achieve dry steam, preventing an unintended addition of excess water to the milk.

In contrast, the milk system of the Barista Express is entirely manual. It does not include options for adjusting milk temperature or froth levels. Consequently, acquiring the desired milk texture for various milk-based espresso drinks relies on mastering the skills of frothing and steaming. This aspect does demand an investment of time and effort, but for those dedicated to the craft of espresso-making, especially crafting lattes and cappuccinos, it is an enjoyable and rewarding journey.

Barista Touch's Auto MilQ wand and Barista Express's manual milk wand
Barista Touch’s Auto MilQ steam wand and Barista Express’s manual milk wand

Cleaning & Maintenance

Tie!

As both the Barista Touch and Barista Express involve manual steps in making coffee specialties, there are messes and parts to clean regularly. After each brew, it’s necessary to empty and clean the portafilter, a process that often results in some spillage on the countertop. Moreover, its auto-purge steam wand has a tendency to cause water splashes, leading to a relatively quick filling of the drip tray. So, regular cleaning is essential, and a swift scrub with soap can prevent any unpleasant odors from developing.

Furthermore, both machines are equipped with alerts to signal when it’s time to initiate the descaling cycles. Carrying out the descaling procedures for both models is uncomplicated; all that’s required is to follow the step-by-step instructions provided in their instruction manuals.

Additionally, both machines include a water filter and water filter holder in their packages, although their utilization remains optional. From my personal standpoint, I would recommend making use of the water filter, as it effectively softens the water, reducing the need for descaling. Moreover, it’s advisable to replace the filter cartridge every 2-3 months to maintain optimal performance.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Touch

Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine BES880BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Item Package Dimension: 17.39L x 16.19W x 16.19H inches
  • Item Package Weight - 28.25 Pounds
  • Item Package Quantity - 1
  • Product Type - COFFEE MAKER

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Intuitive touchscreen interface
  • ThermoJet heating system heats up in ~3 seconds
  • Auto MilQ steam wand for hands-free milk texturing process
  • Have 5 drink presets
  • Save up to 8 personalized coffee drinks
  • Auto off after 30 mins of inactivity
Cons
  • Quite expensive

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Visit earn-cashback.breville.com purchase to claim. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute, helping you make the perfect cup of Cappuccino or Latte
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Good built-in burr grinder
  • Easy to track extraction pressure with the pressure gauge
  • Great temperature consistency controlled by PID controller
  • Ergonomic steam wand for learning frothing skills
Cons
  • Many manual steps to know, not really begginer-friendly

Product Video

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