It's honestly impressive how many features are packed into a single machine. Features alone don't, however, make a product the best there is; quality does. And the Breville Barista Touch has both in spades.
I'll go into more detail on each of these points below.
The Breville Barista Touch comes with a bright, responsive touchscreen where most of your interaction with the machine will take place. It does the job well and makes sure to take out a lot of the guesswork in brewing.
Conveniently, the Barista Touch comes with 5 pre-programmed drinks and gives you the option to save up to 8 more drinks to however you like them (with their own custom icon and name for the drink) - especially handy if a lot of people are going to be using the machine often.
However, I want to be clear about this from the outset - this machine is not just plug and play and you will need to set it up and calibrate it before using it for the first time to get the optimal results.
The built-in conical burr grinder (readers of our blog will know I always recommend a conical burr grinder) is made of stainless steel burrs and has a bean hopper sat atop it with a capacity of 250g - enough for a standard bag of your favourite coffee beans from BeanBurds ;)
A wheel on the side of the hopper lets you adjust the grind size which shows up on the Barista Touch's screen while making your selection, and gives 30 options to tune and tweak your grind size.
The machine has a special cradle for the portafilter to rest on for hands-free grinding but you can also press the portafilter against a button to decide yourself how much grounds you want coming out. A tamping fan then distributes and applies just the right amount of pressure to the grounds before pouring the espresso shot.
Naturally, the Barista Touch has the right recommendations for the dose and grind size but no two coffee drinkers are the same and there will always be room for adjustments, which you can easily do here.
I've read that Breville's goal is help everyone to pour the perfect shot - one with the texture of warm honey; the perfect balance of body, aroma and fluidity. Much of how the Breville Barista Touch automates the calibration process makes this a breeze while still guiding you through the process of making adjustments if needed. I did find that it is lacking a feature to remind you to recalibrate your machine as the beans get old or other variables potentially change.
In terms of ease of use, it's not just the calibration, but the ways in which Breville holds your hand and gently pulls you towards a better cup of coffee is really quite awesome. Just one small example of this is how the Barista Touch monitors the temperature of the bottom of your milk pitcher while steaming your milk to adjust the steam pressure accordingly.
Most of the quality of life and convenience features that have been included here will be missed by many users, at least consciously, but they will definitely experience it in their coffee.
This does create a strange dissonance between the quality of coffee that is being made vs the skill of the person making it. Take someone who gets used to using the Barista Touch and put them in front of a fully manual machine and ask them to make you a cappuccino, for example - I honestly don't think they'd know where to begin anymore. However, it's a small gripe which is easily ignored when considering that someone who would want to brew completely manually honestly wouldn't be buying this machine in the first place and instead serves as a great machine for those that still want some input into their coffee or those working from fully automatic to fully manual and need a good in-betweener to act as a stepping stone in that direction.
Retailing at AED 4,379, the Breville Barista Touch is a little higher than the mid-range in terms of pricing, but at the top-end when it comes to what you're paying for. The Barista Touch incorporates a high quality burr grinder, semi-automatic espresso brewing and a milk-frothing unit that lets you control each little parameter to get the perfect foam for you - all in a single device. The device looks smaller in person than in the images I saw before getting the review unit which will be a positive as it will easily fit on most kitchen counters.
Its quality of life features and ease of use, along with the fantastic consistency of coffee makes it a must buy for anyone who is serious about their coffee and looking to tinker with their recipes.
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