Breville BES840XL Infuser Espresso Machine Review

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breville-bes840xl-espresso-machine

Introduction

Expect great espressos from this compact Breville BES840XL Espresso Machine without breaking the bank. In fact, the quality of the shot is just as good as the BES900XL that costs more than double of this machine.

The BES840 is a semi-automatic machine that incorporated some of the best features in a high-end espresso machine and fine tuned them to offer you this affordable model with style and performance. The only sacrifice you’d be making is some of the convenience features in the Breville Dual Boiler.

This is a replacement model of the Breville BES830XL with one significant improvement in the boiler. The BES840XL is engineered with a thermocoil instead of the previous thermoblock. Why is this so important? Let’s take a look.

Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits

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  • Thermocoil Heating System: In the BES830, the single boiler is heated by a two-piece thermoblock system glued together via a gasket. Overtime, the glue and gasket are worn out resulted in two separate pieces of coil and thus leakage. In the BES840 model, a one-piece thermocoil has replaced the thermoblock to eliminate the leakage issue altogether with accurate controls of the water temperature by using electronic PID. The more stable and reliable water temperature, the best outcome of the espresso.
  • Pre-Infusion and 15 Bar Pump: This is the biggest selling point in this machine as the pre-infusion deploys low pressure to wet and expand the coffee beans to allow optimal extraction at a higher pressure for better flavor and crema.
  • Volumetric Control: It’s designed for you to use the pre-programmed one cup or two cup, manual override or reprogram the setting to your liking. For the novice, it’s a no-brainer to use the machine default setting. But for the experienced baristas, you can really fiddle with the volume flow and brew time to refine the shot.
  • 61 Fl. Oz. Water Tank: The water tank is in the back of the machine with top fill access. It comes with a water filter cartridge and a reminder wheel to keep track of when the filter was replaced last time.
  • 360-Degree Swivel Steam Wand: A commercial-grade wand is used for steaming and frothing to make lattes and cappuccinos.
  • Auto-Purge: There is a built-in auto-purge function to adjust the temperature from steam to brew automatically. The “recovery” takes about 15 seconds.
  • 54mm Integrated Tamper: The tamper is magnetically attached to the machine to save you counter space and for easy storage. You may use the tamper to tamp on board while it’s attached to the machine or on the counter with more control of the tamping pressure. The choice is yours.
  • Pressure Gauge: As extraction pressure is such an integral part of a perfect shot, this machine allows you to monitor and test extraction pressure through the Pressure Gauge. If you’d like to experiment things like a mad scientist, you are in luck with this feature.

Brewing

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Breville is one of the best as far as product documentation goes. Follow instructions on its website to do what’s required before the first use.

To brew an espresso, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the machine and let it preheat to be ready for brewing.
  2. Preheat the cup, the portafilter and the filter basket with hot water.
  3. Select a filter basket from single-wall or double-wall for one or two cups. Single wall baskets are non-pressurized more suitable for seasoned baristas while double-wall ones for the newbies as pressurized.
  4. Dose the basket with coffee grounds. The partical size of the grind is very important in the outcome of the espresso. If too coarse, it will result in “under extraction as the water will flow through the ground coffee too quickly. On the opposite if the grind is too fine, it will over-extract resulting in bitter taste and dark color.
  5. Wipe off any excess grinds from the basket and tamp (using approximately 30 to 40 pounds of pressure) either on board or on the counter described earlier. This is one area you can test with varying tamping pressure.
  6. Purge the Group Head by pressing the 1 cup button to allow some hot water run through it to purge any coffee residue and warm it up for extraction.
  7. Attach the portafilter to the group head and rotate the handle towards 12-6 o’clock position until you feel the resistance.
  8. Place the warmed cup/s underneath the portafiler and press the button for the appropriate volume (1 cup, 2 cup)
  9. Wait for appropriately 15 seconds for the pre-infusion time until the espresso starts to flow. If the flow starts at 5 seconds, you might have an underextraction issue either due to underdosed basket or the grind is too coarse. The opposite is true if the flow doesn’t come after 15 seconds, an overextraction may occur due to too fine of the grinds or an overdosed basket.

Steaming

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To make a latte or cappuccino, you need to get the steam wand ready by positioning the tip towards the drip tray and turn the Steam/Hot Water dial to the “Steam” position. As soon as the Steam/Hot Water light flashes, it tells you the machine is ready to steam. It’s normal to see some water purge through the wand.

Place the steam wand into the cold milk about 3/4′ below the surface until the milk is twirling around to be heated around 140-150 F. Turn the Steam off and knock down the air bubbles in the milk jug and swirl the jug to incorporate the texture. Pour the milk into the espresso and it’s ready to drink.

Display & Control

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The Display Panel is clean and organized from left to right: Power, Program, Clean Me, Pressure Gauge, 1 Cup, 2 Cup, Hot Water/Steam Light. On the right hand side of the machine, you find the dial for Steam/Hot Water.

Additional Features

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While it doesn’t have all the convenience features as in the Breville BES900XL, it does have a few nice-to have features:

  • Cup Warming Tray: It’s located on top of the machine. The tray is passively heated by the heat generated from the machine but not heated for this sole purpose. Please note that the cup clearance for this model is higher than average, 4″ which can fit taller espresso cups/glasses.
  • Drip Tray: It’s very easy to remove and reattach for cleaning.
  • Storage: There is a storage box behind the drip tray to store cleaning tools and supplies.
  • Dedicated Hot Water Outlet: Nice to have to make Americanos or use the hot water for tea or just for warming up the cups before extraction. The same dial on the right hand side is used for dispensing hot water as it does for steaming.
  • Dry Puck Feature: Makes cleanup very easy as the used coffee should come out like a piece of brownie if everything were done correctly.

How to Clean

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The purchase includes a cleaning disc and tablets (for one time use) and an allen key. Make sure you do the cleaning after each use to wipe down the steam wand, drip tray and rinse the portafilter and the basket after purging the used grinds.

The water filter is to be replaced every two months. The machine also has an indicator saying “clean me” when you can run the automatic clean cycle. Descaling is recommended to be done by a Breville service location for the Breville BES900XL model. I am not 100% sure about this one but assume it might apply here as well. If so, be prepared to find a service location near you and ship the machine at your cost for the service and shipping.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

2 x 54mm single and double-wall baskets for 1 and 2 cup, 54mm tamper, 20 oz stainless milk jug, coffee scoop, water filter holder and one-time use filter. Plus the cleaning supplies mentioned under How to Clean section.

Optional Accessories

If you ask a pro, he or she will most likely advise you to invest a good amount of money on a quality coffee grinder. The grind size is so critical to produce a perfect shot. A good rule of thumb is that the coffee grinder should cost 50% of a low-end espresso machine (approx. under $500), 25 to 30% for a high-end espresso maker (above $1000).

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1600
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 110 – 60
  • Regular cord

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 10.25″ x 12.25 x 13.25
  • Weight (lbs): 17

Warranty

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1-year limited warranty

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Smaller footprint takes less counter space in the kitchen.
  • Brews consistent quality espressos with good mouth feel, full-body and crema without the high price tag.
  • Pre-infusion “preps” the coffee beans to extract flavorful espresso due to the pre-soaking at a lower pressure.
  • The single thermocoil design prevents potential break-down and leakage and promotes stable brew temperature for optimal extraction.
  • More forgiving for lower-end grinders and takes slightly coarser grind.
  • Instant water spout for warming cups, making Americanos and hot tea.
  • Sleek design with stainless steel casing and quality plastic.
  • Easy to operate Display Panel and Drip Tray with extra storage space.
  • Pressure Gauge lets you observe and tinker with extraction pressure.
  • A few nice touches such as a “Clean Me” cycle indicator in the Display Panel and “Empty Me” sign in the Drip Tray when it’s full.

Cons

  • The water tank is only 61 fl. oz. and may require more frequent refills and no water indicator in the front.
  • The construction is not as solid as the BES900XL as it might slide across the counter when attaching the portafilter to the group head.
  • The steam wand only has 1 hole in the tip and it takes longer to steam the milk.
  • Only 1 year warranty.
  • 54mm tamper instead of 58mm.

Consumer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5.0

86% of the online reviewers on Amazon gave it 4-5 star ratings. Many customers were very pleased with this model as a replacement to the BES830XL with an improved thermocoil. What was more important to these customers were the consistent quality shots they were able to pull without taking out a small bank loan.

Price

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The BES840XL is packed with great features found in a much higher-priced machine. It deserves a five-star based on the value for the money.

Summary

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This is a great machine for those who have tried to make espressos at home and decided to up the game. While it provides the ease and speed for the novice to pull a good shot, it’s also designed with features for those who enjoy experimenting with making a good shot great. The single-wall filter basket, the pre-infusion and consistent brew temperature and the auto-purge from steam to brew all mark a high-end machine without costing an arm and a leg. The excellent customer service and the commitment by Breville are just the icing on the cake.

 

For current price information, click on the button below.

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  1. SCY says:

    After 3 years my rancilia silva either needed repairing or to be dumped. While it was highly recommended and that’s why I bought it, I never really liked it, was disappointed in the espresso, but because of the $ and time I invested in it, tried to make it work. I was hardly ever successful, although I followed all the suggestions offered. Finally it ceased to heat up the water. I thought it was the thermostat but it was the entire heating element that needed replacing. Warranty was up. Just as well. With the cost of repair just about 50% of the original purchase price, it was time to “let it go”. After hardly as much research as I did for the rancilia silva I purchased the Breville 840. At the same time I bought a capresso infinity grinder, and from Peets 1/2 pound of espresso forte (recently roasted). Here is the bottom line: I am AMAZED that this Breville was not suggested to me before. Pulling shots.. following the clear instructions, even from the first shot– excellent. Yes, I would recommend this to friends. No I do not have buyers remorse. Very happy with this purchase. Just mad that I stuck with the other one for so long. I should have sent it back upon arrival.

    • Espresso Queen says:

      SCY,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your great experience with the Breville BES840XL espresso maker.

      Lei

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