Breville Oracle Touch vs Barista Express, my pick is the Oracle Touch. However, the Barista Express is a competitive counterpart with a much lower price and comparable espresso shot quality.
The Breville Oracle Touch is the winner mostly for its dual boiler heating system, auto-tamp convenience that reduces the mess when pulling shot after shot, and auto-steam wand. With all that automation, I can totally step back and enjoy watching the machine makes beautiful espresso drinks. Moreover, the Oracle Touch is user-friendly and suitable for espresso lovers who want to make amazing espresso-based beverages without learning all the complicated processes.
Meanwhile, the Barista Express is not friendly to beginners like the Oracle Touch. As its name implied, Barista Express will require you to learn the essential skill set to get the optimal shots. You need to know many manual steps like tamping, dosing, and milk frothing. So, I could say this machine is ideal for espresso enthusiasts who want to have more control over the brewing process.
Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Comparison Chart
Last update on 2023-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Breville Oracle Touch Vs Barista Express: Differences
The Breville Oracle Touch wins 3-1 against the Barista Express. The Oracle Touch is relatively superior to the Barista Express owing to its automated functions, such as auto-tamp, auto-steam, etc. However, for me, the Barista Express is better in terms of price for value because it offers a great experience and good beverage quality at a much lower price tag compared to its rival.
Let’s dive into details to see whether the Oracle Touch or Barista Touch is the right pick for you.
Coffee flavor & Brewing system
Built-in grinder & tamper
The Oracle Touch and Barista Express both feature built-in grinders with stainless steel conical burrs. However, the Oracle Touch’s grinder has more grind settings, up to 45 settings, while the grinder of Barista Express has 16 grind settings.
The greater number of grind settings allows me to choose the right coffee fineness more precisely, although it needs time to adjust figuring out. My grind size preferences are 27 for the Oracle Touch and 5 for the Barista Express. With these grind levels, I can get a full-bodied shot within 30 seconds of brewing time.
In addition, the Oracle Touch has a convenient auto-tamp function, making brewing espresso a breeze. The auto-tamp function helps you get free from the mess often encountered with manual tamping. However, the Oracle Touch does not allow me to adjust the tamping force, which can be modified on the original Oracle. Sometimes, the tamping fan does not get the coffee grounds distributed evenly, leading to the channeling issue.
On the other hand, with the Barista Express, you need to tamp your coffee ground manually. The machine does come with a standard tamper for you, so you don’t have to buy a separate one. Regarding manual tamping, getting the right tamping force every time is critical to pull consistent shots after shots, which may take you quite a time to manage. I prefer doing tamping by myself, as in this way, I can limit the channeling issue most of the time.
The heating system is one of the features that set the Oracle Touch and Barista Express apart. The Oracle Touch comes with a dual-boiler system, while the Barista Express features a single thermocoil heating system. Both of them all equipped with PID temperature controllers to ensure the optimal temperature during the brewing and steaming operation.
The dual-boiler heating system enables the Oracle Touch to have the milk steamed/frothed while the espresso is being brewed. Moreover, the double-boiler system is known for its better consistency of water temperature compared to other heating systems. With two separate stainless steel boilers, it can keep the group head heated and the steaming temperature consistent during the operation.
In addition, the Breville Oracle Touch has the option to change the default brewing and steaming temperatures so that I can adjust the hotness levels of my drinks. However, the dual-boiler heating system takes a longer time to reach the optimal temperature for brewing and is more expensive than the thermocoil one.
The Barista Express, on the other hand, has the single thermocoil heating system, meaning it cannot brew espresso and steam or froth milk at the same time. It may be inconsistent in temperature as the machine need to switch the temperature levels between brewing and steaming. Nevertheless, the Barista Express is equipped with PID control, which is also featured on the Oracle Touch, so the inconsistency in water temperature is effectively addressed.
Moreover, the Barista Express has a quicker heat-up time than its rival, while allowing me to increase or decrease the water temperature by 4˚F. However, with the factory temperature setting, the espresso pulled using the Barista Express still got the desired hotness.
Dosing & Brewing
Either the Barista Express or Oracle Touch has the auto-dosing function. However, the auto dose is not as precise as expected, often delivering 0.5-2.0 grams more or less coffee into the portafilter baskets. Such numbers can lead to inconsistent flavor between shots, which can be a problem for users who want to have precise and consistent espresso shots.
However, the Barista Express provides the manual dosing option by pushing and holding the portafilter under the grind outlet. In this way, I can use my little scale to weigh the amount of coffee ground to achieve the right dose perfectly and easily.
Meanwhile, the Oracle Touch does not feature that manual dosing function just by pushing a button. The way to change the coffee dosing amount on the Oracle Touch is to adjust the tamping height, which is demonstrated in the instruction (page 17). By increasing the height of the tamping fan (loosening the fastener), I can reduce the amount delivered into the portafilter and vice versa.
Both of the appliances feature low-pressure pre-infusion and 15-bar pump pressure to get the espresso extraction at 9 bar. The pre-infusion time of these machines is about 6-7 seconds, which can be considered a good duration to get a well-rounded shot. After dialing in the grind size and dosing, I managed to brew a nice honey-colored espresso shot with a balanced taste and amazing crema!
Design & Convenience
Winner: Breville Oracle Touch
Drink options & Programmability
In terms of drink presets, the Oracle Touch gets one score from me because it offers 5 pre-programmed coffee drinks, allowing me to make my favorite beverage with a touch of a fingertip. The beverage presets include Espresso, Americano, Latte, Flat White, Cappuccino, and Hot Milk.
Besides, I can customize and save up to 8 drink recipes on the Oracle Touch, which is a useful feature as my friends and my cousins come over very often. In terms of customizing the beverage, I can change the grind size, the shot volume (single, double, or adjusting the brewing time), and the milk froth temperature and texture levels.
On the other hand, the Barista Express does not have drink presets like the Oracle Touch. The beverages I can make with a touch of a button on the Barista Express are single- and double-shot espressos. Apart from that, I have to learn and remembers the recipes as well as the technique to make the best espresso drinks. This means the machine does not have the option to save personalized recipes like its rival.
Capacity & Dimension
The Barista Express is more compact than the Breville Oracle Touch. The Oracle Touch is larger and taller, boasting a height of ~18 inches (including the bean hopper). Meanwhile, the height of the Barista Express is about 16 inches, making it well-fitted on most of the kitchen counters with hanging cupboards.
However, with the greater dimension, the Oracle Touch boasts a bigger water tank, whose capacity is 84 oz (~2.5 liters). The water reservoir capacity of the Barista Express is relatively smaller, about 67 oz (~2 liters). Moreover, the water tank of the Oracle Touch can be filled from the front, which is very convenient and quick. Yet, its water tank can be only removed from the back, like the one on the Barista Express.
Interface & Hot water spout
The Oracle Touch and Barista Express are equipped with all separate hot water spouts, convenient for preparing americano or pre-heating the cup. However, the spout position on the Barista Express is not close to the group head, like the one on the Oracle Touch. Thus, when making americano, I have to move the cup to get hot water after the shot is pulled.
Besides, both machines have different interface and control. The Barista Express features a pressure gauge and button controls, while every action on the Oracle Touch is navigated through the color touchscreen.
The touchscreen is convenient in terms of visuality. This means you can easily interact with the machine and know what variables you have made in the brewing or frothing process. So, it is easy to follow and track every adjustment, making learning to brew the good shot easier.
However, a little drawback of this touchscreen is that I cannot evaluate the extraction pressure of my shot. Meanwhile, the pressure gauge on the Barista Express allows me to track extraction pressure if it is in the optimal zone for the best shot. However, if the pressure does not get in the right range, I have to guess and adjust many variables without any visual confirmation, like when using the touchscreen.
Winner: Breville Oracle Touch
The Oracle Touch won this round for its Auto MilQ steam wand, allowing me to have a hands-free frothing milk experience. Moreover, it has the option to operate the manual milk frothing if I want to play around with latte arts.
I really love the Auto MilQ milk system because I can have a beautiful milk froth texture with ease, without holding the milk jug. I just need to place the milk jug on the sensor, put the steam wand in the jug, touch some button on the screen to adjust the milk temperature (104-167°F) and texture (9 levels), and then, the machine does all the work.
On the other hand, the milk system of the Barista Express is completely manual. No adjustment to the milk temperature or froth level is available. This means you have to learn the frothing and steaming skills to get the desired milk texture for different milk-based espresso drinks. It definitely takes time to manage, but if you are an espresso enthusiast and want to know more about the process of making a latte or cappuccino, I believe the manual steam wand of the Barista Express is the right choice.
Cleaning & Maintenance
These two appliances have descaling and cleaning alerts to let you know it is time to do the descaling. Executing the descaling cycles is quite simple; I just follow the steps shown in the instruction manuals. Furthermore, the Breville Oracle Touch and Barista Express include water filters in their packages. These filters play a crucial role in water softening, subsequently diminishing the necessity for frequent descaling.
In terms of milk system cleaning, both machines do have the auto-purge function. This function gets the excess steam and milk residues released automatically. Note that the steam wand’s tip on the Oracle Touch is detachable, allowing for a comprehensive rinse to eliminate any potential blockages (as shown on page 33 of the manual).
Additionally, it’s essential to meticulously clean the milk wands using a damp microfiber cloth after each use. Doing this helps prevent the accumulation of residues, contributing to preserving the quality of milk froth.
Winner: Breville Oracle Touch
The Oracle Touch offers programmable auto-start and auto-off functions to save energy. Meanwhile, the Barista Express only features the auto-off mode but it is not programmable. The Barista Express will enter auto-off mode after 3 hours of inactivity.
In the advanced setting menu, I can create the auto-start schedules for the Oracle Touch, depending on my routine. With this feature, I can get the machine turned on, heated up, and ready to use by the time I need to prepare my coffee. Besides, the machine allows me to adjust the auto-off time from 30 mins to 8 hours after the last use.
In addition to the auto on/off function, the Breville Oracle Touch has other unique features contributing to its usability, including the locking wheel and working area lighting. Specifically, I can effortlessly move the Oracle Touch by unlocking the wheel beneath its removable drip tray. Besides, Oracle Touch incorporates LED lighting to light the drip-tray workspace, which is useful for making espresso at night. The light brightness can also be adjusted through advanced settings.
Price for value
Winner: Breville Barista Express
When talking about the price for value, I think the Oracle Touch is not great because of its automatic tampering. As I mentioned, the auto-tamp sometimes does not get the coffee ground distributed evenly, leading to channeling. That the Oracle suffers from channeling is annoying and kind of disappointing for its 2000$ price tag. I wish it had the option for me to do the manual tamp.
However, the surplus price of the Oracle Touch is understandable. I believe I pay extra for the convenience, the Auto MilQ milk system, and the consistent dual boiler heating system.
Meanwhile, at a lower price range, the Barista Express brings me great experiences and results, making me feel that the machine worth every penny. It offers enough automated features to support my journey of making authentic espresso beverages. Yet, there is a trade-off because there are various manual stages I need to learn and practice to make it right. But for an espresso enthusiast, it is better to have more control over the espresso preparation to pull beautiful, flavorful, and consistent shots.
It depends on your priorities. If automation and convenience are your priorities, the Oracle Touch is the right choice. If practicing skills and enjoying the learning journey of making espresso drinks are what you are looking for, go for the Barista Express, especially when your budget is under $1000.
Besides, if you’re not a fan of the touchscreen interface but still want the great auto milk system and dual-boiler heating system of the Oracle Touch, you can go for the Breville Oracle version to save about $500. Besides, the Oracle version allows you to change the tamping force and pre-infusion time, which is not available on the Oracle Touch version.
Quick Rundown Of Breville Oracle Touch BES990
- Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted.Please refer to user guide or user manual or user guide (provided below in PDF) before first use
- The Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine with automation at every stage with touch screen operation to simply swipe and select for espresso, long black, latte, flat white or cappuccino and enjoy third wave specialty coffee at home.
- Dose Control: The integrated conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 18-22 grams of coffee, similar to the commercial espresso machine in your favorite cafe.
- Espresso Machine with precise water temperature: Achieve balanced tasting espresso with the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine complete with a digital temperature control (PID) technology, which ensures the temperature is kept at its optimum range
- Optimal Water Pressure: The Over Pressure Valve (OPV) is a commercial feature included in the Oracle Touch. This limits the maximum pressure throughout the extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors in the coffee shot. It also has true low pressure pre-infusion, which gradually increases the pressure to gently expand the grinds for an even extraction.
Last update on 2023-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express BES870
- 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.Grind Settings : 16 precision grind settings, Tamping : Manual removable magnetic tamper,.Pressure Gauge : Extraction Feedback pressure gauge. Interface : Simple button control.
- 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
- MANUAL MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: The powerful steam wand performance allows you to hand texture microfoam milk that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
Last update on 2023-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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- Breville Oracle Touch: https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes990.html
- Breville Barista Express: https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/espresso/bes870.html
I’m Floyd J. Alcock, an experienced barista with a deep love for coffee. I curate personalized coffee experiences, guiding customers through diverse flavor profiles and suggesting ideal brewing methods. My extensive knowledge of espresso machines enables me to recommend the best equipment to match specific needs and budgets. Sharing my expertise and passion with coffee enthusiasts brings immense satisfaction. I look forward to continuing my journey of coffee discovery with every customer I serve, fostering connections over a shared love for this magical beverage.