Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler semi-automatic espresso machine Review

There’s no doubt about it, the Breville BES900XL semi-automatic espresso machine would take top billing on B&O Espresso top list of the ten best home espresso makers if it wasn’t for its hefty price tag.  But if you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks for the privilege—yes, privilege—of working with the top of the line model from the top of the line espresso company, then the Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler is for you.

By packing the power of a commercial espresso machine into a smaller, counter-friendly footprint, Breville has truly delivered the art of espresso making from the finest restaurants in Italy right to your home kitchen.  With dual stainless steel boilers, you’ll get the most precise pressure and temperature control ever available in a home espresso machine.

Thanks to the electronic PID temperature control, you’ll be able to completely adjust for different coffee bean types, roasts and origins completely separate from the steam boiler.  This means the ultimate in customization, giving you the power to extract the perfect shot while using the 360-degree swivel steam wand to simultaneously stream the frothiest milk this side of the Atlantic.  Add in the fact that you can program the pre-infusion pressure, duration and brew temperature with user-friendly controls and options such as Auto-Start, and it’s easy to see why the Breville BES900XL is at the top of the game.

Product Features

Here are some of the amazing espresso machine features that really make the Breville worth the price:

  • Dual Pumps and Boilers.  Dual Italian pumps combine with the dual stainless steel boilers giving you simultaneous extraction and steaming perfection
  • Over-Pressure Valve (OPV).  Limits the extraction pressure to create a perfect shot every time.
  • Electronic PID.  Precise water temperature every time with the electronic PID, actively heated group head and HX heat exchanger for ultimate in thermal stability
  • Backlit LCD.  Makes it easy to read shot clock, time and brew temperature.  Also has programming buttons for shot volume and temperature, pre-infusion duration, power and auto-start
  • Raise-able Body.  Lift the machine up with a drop-down swivel foot, giving you easy access to the rear and top-fill water tanks (84 oz)
  • Dedicated Hot Water Outlet.  For Americanos and preheated cups.

What Do Owners Like About the Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler?

Here’s what customers really like about the Breville BES900XL espresso machine:

  1. Drip tray tells you when it needs to be emptied so overflowing doesn’t occur, plus lever wheel makes it easy to clean
  2. Magnetic insert stores the tamp neat and clean while entire unit is sturdy enough to not turn when removing porta-filter and body
  3. Shot pulls easily with two choices—manual and automatic
  4. PID temperature control allows you to change temperatures mid-stream
  5. Fill the water tank from the top or the rear, whichever is easiest for you
  6. Easily capable of handling even large dinner parties without making guests wait too long for espresso shots

What Could Be Better About the Breville BES900XL?

Even with the most perfect models, people will always find things that can make it better.  Here’s what customers are saying might be a good addition for future Breville models:

  1. The brushed steel finish on the housing does show fingerprints, which can drive the tidy homeowner crazy
  2. You cannot descale this espresso machine on your own so every four to five years you will have to take it in for service and maintenance by a professional (since it’s a dual boiler you can cut down on mineral deposits by using distilled water)
  3. Vibration pump is a bit noisy
  4. If you don’t dry the outside of the porta-filter between shots, it might back itself out of the machine while pressurizing, pushing the cup and the contents of the cup out of the machine (and hopefully not onto the floor)

Who Should Buy The Breville BES900XL?

If you’re looking for the top of the line, here it is.  As long as you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks, this is the crème de la crème in semi-automatic espresso machines.  You get full control over the most precise areas of making an espresso shot, meaning you can create your ideal taste for you and your guests.  This is the luxury car of the semi-automatic espresso world, a must own if you’re truly serious about your espressos.

Who Should Not Buy The Breville BES900?

If you’re on a budget or looking for a one-touch espresso maker, this isn’t the way to go.  As we mentioned, there’s a nice sized price tag on this unit and it’s also a semi-automatic, meaning you won’t get the convenience you get in a super-automatic.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Breville BES900XL is the closest you are going to get to having a professional unit in your kitchen without taking up the amount of space a professional espresso maker takes.  The Breville can get your temperature within one degree Celsius of whatever you set, giving you precise control and precision handling over all of your shots.  You can unleash your inner barista and be as snobby as you want about it because it’s your kitchen! 

The PID temperature control, OPV and pre-infusion pressure technology gives you everything you need to customize your espresso just the way you want it.

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