Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine Review

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breville-bes900xl-espresso-machine

Introduction

If you are in the market for a semi-automatic espresso machine with lots of prosumer features at a very reasonable price, Breville BES900XL may be the answer for you.  With dual boilers for brewing and steaming, the temperature stability is one of the best product strengths that allows you to pull excellent espresso shots at the precise temperature and pressure time and time again. Espresso machines with similar features or even fewer can easily cost you 3 to 5x more money.

You might be wondering since when the Aussies have become experts in designing and making espresso machines. A lot of coffee geeks had asked the same question. The success of the design by Breville was that they had researched the best features from the commercial espresso machines and designed some of those features in this residential model. Their painstaking effort in listening to the professional baristas and espresso enthusiasts around the world has paid off as reflected in a 4.8 out of 5.0 star ratings across many online retail outlets. So what are the innovative features exactly?

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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  • Dual Boiler: One of the markings of a high-end espresso machine is the dual boilers. With one dedicated for brewing and another for steaming and two pumps for each, you can brew and steam milk at the same time without recover and wait time. The electronic PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) temperature control makes it possible for you to adjust the brew boiler from 190 to 205F to accommodate different varietals of coffee beans and roasts. Another temperature control provides steam on demand whether frothing milk for one cup of cappuccino or many.
  • 2 Italian Pumps: The 15 bar pump is designed with over-pressure valve protection to ensure water is delivered at the optimal extraction of 9 bars to avoid over extraction resulting in bitter taste. The other pump is at 3 bar pressure exclusively for the steam boiler. The two independent pumps ensure no pressure interference issues occur at the group head while pulling a shot.
  • Low-Pressure Pre-Infusion: It enables you to program the water pressure and duration of the pre-infusion so that the coffee grind is presoaked evenly at the right temperature for optimal extraction.
  • Heat Exchanger: Water is delivered to the brew boiler pre-heated through the steam boiler contributing to thermal stability. The more constant the temperature stays, the better the extraction will be.
  • Heated Group Head: The temperature of the group head is controlled by PID technology which helps maintain thermal stability through the entire extraction.
  • 84 Fl. Oz Water Tank: The generous water tank allows you to refill from the top and rear. The backlit water level indicator lets you know when it’s too low to refill or too full to avoid overflow. A thoughtful design touch is that the overflow of water will be directed into the drip tray in the event it occurs. The integrated water filter is housed in a basket inside of the water tank to help purify the impurities in tap water.
  • Shot Clock: This is one of the innovative features in the BES900XL which allows you to monitor the shot timing in seconds to experiment with the shot duration vs. the quality of the espressos.
  • Pressure Gauge: It functions as a monitor for you to tinker with different pressure levels for optimal extraction.

Brewing

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You have the options on volumetric control for one cup (1 oz.), two cups (2 oz.) or manual control to personalize the pour volume. It’s as easy as push of a button for each preference. Remember a perfect shot is contingent upon the coffee beans, grind size, dosing, tamping pressure, the right brewing temperature and extraction pressure and timing of the shot. Don’t forget to warm the cup before pulling the shot. You may do it either in a microwave for 30 seconds with some water or on the cup warming tray in this machine.

Steaming

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The steam tip is of a 3-hole commercial-grade with a lever to open or close the steam. The lever is ergonomically designed and easy to operate. Fill the milk pitcher half full to the spout level. Turn on the steaming and stick the wand into the milk pitcher to start texturing the milk. You may judge by the warmth of the pitcher or via a thermometer. After steaming is finished. Knock down and smooth out the bubbles. Swirl around to integrate the texture to give it more flavor.

Display & Control

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The backlit Display Panel is designed for you to program (from left to right) the extraction temperature, shot clock and timer.

The default temperature is set at 200F/93C. You may modify it from 190 to 205F (86 to 96C). The temperature changes at an increment of 2 degrees Fahrenheit or 1 degree Celsius.

Next to the Display Panel, it’s the Pressure Gauge (explained under Features & Benefits). On the far right, it’s the volume for 1 cup, 2 cup or manual control. The hot water dial is on the left and the steam lever on the right hand side.

You may also set the machine on “Auto Start” to preheat at a pre-defined time. For example, if you get up at 6 a.m. in the morning and would like to have the espresso machine ready to brew, set it up for 5:50 a.m. The preheat takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Additional Features

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One of the reasons this model is raved by so many customers is that features you get at such a reasonable price. Besides all the features mentioned earlier, there are so many thoughtful touches in this BES900XL. For example:

  • Cup Warming Tray: The size can fit 6 espresso cups.
  • Hot Water Outlet: A dedicated outlet for you to make an Americano or hot tea, warming the cup before pulling the shot.
  • Hidden Storage: Extra space to store the cleaning tools and supplies behind the drip tray.
  • Drop-Down Swivel Foot: Behind the Drip Tray, there is a knob that you can turn from 12 to 6 clock to move the machine for cleaning or for filling the water tank from rear. Resuming to 12 clock position, the machine will be locked down on the counter.
  • Drip-Tray: To catch any drops from espresso or dry ground coffee.
  • Empty-Me: An indicator in the Drip Tray will be shown when it’s full.

How to Clean

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As usual, cleaning should be done after each use such as wiping down the group head, the steam wand and the drip tray. There are also periodic tasks such as replacing the water filter every two months and run an automatic cleaning cycle to clean up the built-up coffee oil. The cleaning supplies provided with the machine are stored behind the drip tray. The cleaning cycle runs about 5 minutes. There is a video at Breville to show you what to use and how to run the cycle.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

2 58mm dual-wall and 2 58 single-wall filter baskets, 58mm integrated tamper, stainless steel milk pitcher, cleaning tool, cleaning disk and tablets, water filter holder and water filters (1 year supply)

Optional Accessories

Quite a few customers recommend getting the Rattleware 58 Tamper and 2.2lb bag of Lavazza Beans was also mentioned as good espresso coffee.

It might be a surprise to some aspiring home baristas that you should consider investing at least 25% of the money on a good coffee grinder as it largely determines how good your shot will be. One of the recommendations was Baratza Previso Coffee Grinder.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1700
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 110 – 60
  • Regular cord

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 16.25″ x 15.00 x 15.00
  • Weight (lbs): 30

Warranty

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Breville offers a standard one-year warranty for this espresso machine. Many consumers thought that they should have provided a 3-year warranty due to the cost. One remedial solution is to purchase an extended warranty to buy yourself some peace of mind in case something goes wrong beyond the first year.

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Dual Boilers to control temperature for the brew and steam boiler simultaneously for optimal extraction while steaming milk.
  • The heated group head helps maintain the water temperature throughout the extraction.
  • Double-pumps ensure appropriate pressure for brewing as well as steaming.
  • Pre-infusion deploys a low pressure pre-soaking of coffee grinds for even extraction and better tasting espressos.
  • Backlid LCD lets you customize the pre-infusion temperature and duration, shot timing and volumetric control of espressos. You can also set the machine to preheat at the same time every day to save you 5 to 10 minutes from preheating.
  • Two ways to fill the water tank provides flexibility to do from the top or from the rear.
  • The stainless steel casing blends so well with a modern kitchen and earns you a bragging right.
  • The swivel foot makes it so effortless to move the machine around for cleaning.
  • Where Breville excels is their excellent customer service. The phone number to call in the U.S. is 1-866-273-8455, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
  • The BES900XL is one of the most reasonably priced espresso machine with dual-boilers and loads of other features.

Cons

  • Breville asked that you ship the machine to one of their designated locations for descaling after 6000 shots or every 4-5 years. It costs up to $100 for the service, plus a shipping charge. Make sure you check into the service locations first if the extra costs and hassles are of a concern to you.
  • It’s big. If you have a small kitchen which is short on counter space, you may want to prioritize what appliances go where.

Consumer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5.0

At the time of this review, the BES900XL was rated 4.8 out of 5.0 on Amazon and a few other online retailers. Many customers were very pleased with the prosumer/commericial features packed in a home espresso machine. It consistently brews excellent espressos with great crema. The precise temperature controls make it one of the best machines with dual boilers under $2500. You will be getting the maximum bang for your buck in this segment of the market.

As I mentioned earlier, the common quibble is that it has to be shipped to one of Breville’s service locations for descaling. This has dissuaded some customers from buying.

Price

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This is a steal for an espresso machine with dual boilers/pumps. Some of the Italian brands would cost a lot more with even fewer features. Nonetheless, it’s still an investment for long-term enjoyment and perfecting your barista skills.

Summary

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While the Breville BES900XL is designed to please beginners and experienced baristas, it’s clearly a better investment for the seasoned veterans due to the ability to customize the brewing temperature, pressure and shot timing.

The 4.8-star rating is not a mere coincidence, but a true reflection of an exceptional buying and servicing experience Breville strives to deliver to the end users. Find out why only one customer out of 60 rated it below 4-5 stars on Amazon.

 

For current price information, click on the button below.

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