Breville’s Barista Mini bears greater than a passing resemblance to Sage’s household of espresso machines, which maybe isn’t stunning provided that each manufacturers are owned by the identical firm in some components of the world. Nonetheless, the one comparatively massive distinction is its value. Even at its RRP, the Barista Mini is only a mite extra reasonably priced than any of its doppelgangers in Sage’s line-up – and it manages to serve a decent espresso, too.
Breville Barista Mini VCF125 overview: What do you get for the cash?
The Barista Mini is a compact guide espresso machine – a miniature model of the full-sized espresso machines you’ve seen in espresso outlets. Merely press (or tamp, in espresso parlance) some floor espresso into the Barista Mini’s portafilter, twist it into place and it’ll serve up single or double photographs of espresso. A steam wand means that you can manually steam a jug of milk, too, so you may put collectively milk-based coffees reminiscent of cappuccinos and flat whites with ease.
The design is sensible. It’s just a little wider than Sage’s Bambino or Duo Temp Professional, however that’s no massive deal. There are just a few panels of stainless-steel throughout the entrance, and these mould seamlessly into gray plastic across the sides. It’s an excellent wanting little machine.
The design is usually slick and smart, too. The Barista Mini makes use of a 58mm diameter portafilter – that is the usual width for skilled machines, so uncommon to see at this value.
A two-litre water tank slots onto the rear, and there’s a ridged space on the highest of the machine the place you may heat cups earlier than serving. Similar to Sage’s machines, the drip tray slides out to disclose just a little storage space the place you may maintain a few spare filter baskets – and possibly a small cleansing brush, in case you have one handy.
Talking of equipment, you even get some bundled free of charge: there’s a small, stainless-steel milk jug; a plastic espresso tamper; and a pair of filter baskets for producing single and double photographs of espresso. All it is advisable to do is add some floor espresso – and milk, if that’s your factor.
Breville Barista Mini VCF125 overview: What’s the espresso machine like to make use of?
As all the primary controls are positioned on a single dial, that is a simple machine to make use of. The thermocoil design signifies that it heats up fairly shortly, too – way more so than machines with conventional water boilers. By the point you’ve tapped the facility button, crammed the portafilter basket with espresso, tamped it down and twisted it into place, the Barista Mini is nearly able to brew.
Flip the dial to the one cup icon and it’ll pour via sufficient water for a single shot; flip all of it the way in which to the left and also you’ll get a double shot. It will get you in the correct of ballpark for pulling single or double photographs of espresso, however you could be a little extra exacting if you happen to select to be: turning the dial again to the centre manually stops the brew, or alternatively you may customise how a lot water is used for the one and double photographs.
In contrast to some machines, reminiscent of Sage’s Bambino Plus, the milk frothing is a guide affair. It does take just a little apply to supply a silky, creamy microfoam, however even newbies will be capable of get alongside simply fantastic – the steam wand is significantly better than those you’ll discover on price range rivals reminiscent of De’Longhi’s Dedica Fashion.
Admittedly, the steam wand hasn’t bought an enormous quantity of steaming energy behind it, so it takes longer to steam milk than the Sage Bambino (~£329) or Gaggia Traditional (~£400), however the single nozzle does produce good outcomes if you happen to’re keen to be affected person. You can even use it to supply sizzling water if you wish to make an americano, which is a pleasant contact – not all guide espresso machines present this feature.
It’s not all good, although: the steaming controls are a tad fiddly, for one factor. It’s a necessity to show the dial to the steaming setting, at which level the LED gentle begins to flash to point that it’s heating up. As soon as it’s heated up, the LED stops flashing and the wand simply begins spraying out sizzling steam – and infrequently a little bit of water – which can catch individuals unawares. To be truthful, you solely have to attend round 45 seconds for it to succeed in temperature, however in our expertise that’s loads lengthy sufficient to get distracted after which discover steam and water spraying in all places.
Equally, the drip tray isn’t at all times that good at catching drips and splashes. It appears good, however it doesn’t clip as firmly into place as we’d like and it could possibly be just a little deeper, too.
And whereas we’re as regards to mess, the pressurised baskets are terrible for it – they produce a horribly damp, squidgy puck of espresso that’s exhausting to get out of the portafilter and that makes a horrible espresso spattered mess while you try to knock them into the bin. That in itself is motive sufficient to shell out for some pressurised baskets, and we’ll focus on the advantages of these intimately within the subsequent part.
Breville Barista Mini VCF125 overview: Does it make good espresso?
The million greenback query is whether or not the Barista Mini can produce an excellent cup of espresso, and as ever that relies upon fully in your definition of excellent. Sure, it may well produce a superbly drinkable cup of espresso, cappuccino or any mixture of espresso, milk and/or water than you may dream up – it’s genuinely not unhealthy in any respect for the cash – however it’s not going to get espresso snobs into an enthusiastic froth.
A part of the issue is that Breville solely provides pressurised (or double-wall) baskets within the field. This kind of basket is nice for newbies and unfussy espresso drinkers, as they don’t require the espresso to be floor completely – you should use just about any floor espresso you will get your palms on. Because the basket has a single gap within the outer shell, a lot of stress builds up inside and this helps to extract flavour from coarsely floor espresso, reminiscent of you’ll discover on grocery store cabinets.
If you wish to take the time to purchase good espresso beans and grind them simply so, you should purchase unpressurised or single wall baskets from Breville. These will produce much better outcomes in case you have an excellent high quality grinder: as the hampers have a lot of evenly sized and spaced holes on the underside, they depend on the espresso being floor fantastic sufficient and persistently sufficient to supply the correct amount of resistance to make sure that all the nice flavours are extracted. For sure, that course of requires just a little time and data to be able to dial in the very best outcomes.
That stated, I’m not satisfied Breville has a large killer on its palms right here. As an example, I seen that the pump doesn’t push water via the machine’s bathe display as evenly because it ought to, and additional inspection revealed that the used espresso pucks did certainly are typically a bit wetter on one facet than the opposite. With regards to getting absolutely the most out of your espresso, this isn’t one thing you need to see on a machine.
For these of you already interested by upgrades: don’t rush into shopping for third-party equipment. The Breville may use a 58mm portafilter, however its locking mechanism is a three-ear design, so that you’d want to ensure to purchase the fitting sort. Equally, not all 58mm baskets match the Breville: those from our Gaggia Traditional have been too tall, as have been our VST baskets, so that you’ll both want to purchase Breville’s personal model ones or take a punt on ridgeless options from third-party retailers.
Breville Barista Mini VCF125 overview: Do you have to purchase it?
All of it comes down to cost. If the Breville is retailing for its £299 RRP, and also you need the perfect, most constant espresso expertise attainable, then this in all probability isn’t the machine for you. Usually, you need to save up for a Gaggia Traditional (~£400) as an alternative: that’s a much better all-round machine that can final for years and in addition offers an improve path to all kinds of third-party upgrades reminiscent of PID temperature controls and brewing stress changes. The Sage Bambino (£329) is a splendidly hassle-free various, too – its superior construct, extra compact design and extra constant brewing marks it out as the higher selection.
If the Breville’s avenue value dips again down under the £200 mark, nevertheless, it’s unimaginable to quibble with the worth for cash on provide right here. This can be a compact, attractively styled machine that produces respectable espresso straight out of the field; if you’ll find it for an excellent value, it will trounce another sub-£200 machine on the market. Feed it grocery store espresso and it’ll serve up coffees that can shortly wean you off the big-name excessive avenue espresso chains – feed it higher espresso, and it’ll offer you a tantalising style of what you’re lacking. For the fitting value, you may’t say fairer than that.