Breville 800ESXL Review

Overall Rating
84
Coffee Quality (40%)
84
Design & Features (20%)
82
Durability (20%)
85
Ease of Use (10%)
84
Brand Reputation (10%)
90

The Bottom Line

An entry-level, semi-automatic machine, the Breville 800ESXL features a Triple-Prime Pump for pre-infusion and a Thermoblock heating element, but it doesn't include a grinder. For that, check out the Breville BES870XL.
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Key Features of the Breville 800ESXL

Key Features of Breville 800ESXL

  • 15 bar Italian pump
  • 75 oz removable water reservoir
  • Thermoblock heating system, die-cast aluminum
  • Triple-Prime Pump to moisten grounds for optimal extraction
  • Auto-Purge automatically adjusts water temp after steam for optimal extraction
  • Stainless steel 360° frothing wand
  • Stainless steel frothing pitcher with froth enhancer, which slides onto frother nozzle
  • 50 mm single and double-shot pressurized portafilter baskets
  • ESE pod filter attachment
  • Selector dial for steam, espresso, or hot water
  • Cup warming tray
  • 4.5″ cup clearance
  • Combination scoop and tamper
  • Needle cleaning tool for portafilter
  • Storage compartment behind drip tray
  • Comes with instruction manual containing espresso recipes
  • BPA-free
  • 1 year warranty

Breville 800ESXL Overview

The Breville 800ESXL is designed for novice and intermediate espresso lovers who aren’t ready to splurge for a $1,000+ machine.

It has a compact design with sturdy, stainless steel construction and comes with everything you need to pull a quality shot with a beautiful crema.

For those who crave full control and want to shoot for the best shot possible, replacing the pressurized filter baskets with non-pressurized baskets is cheap and will give you cafe-quality espresso for well under a grand.

Pros

  • Triple-Prime Pump preinfuses your grounds for optimal extraction
  • Comes with Thermoblock heating element and Auto-Purge
  • Heavy-duty, durable, stainless steel construction
  • Massive 74 oz water reservoir

Cons

  • Included pressurized filter baskets put a ceiling on espresso quality (but can be upgraded affordably)
  • Can’t pull shot and steam milk at the same time
  • No Auto-Off when extraction is complete

Is the Breville 800ESXL for you?

Is Breville 800ESXL for you?

The Breville 800ESXL is a solid semi-automatic espresso machine for novice and intermediate home baristas, but it has two major downsides:

  • It's discontinued
  • It doesn't have an integrated grinder

Full Disclosure: The lack of an integrated grinder actually is a good thing! Your grinder is the most important part of your shot, even more important than your machine, and integrated grinders rarely measure up to dedicated espresso grinders. The catch? The 800ESXL is an entry-level machine. Most beginner baristas don't have a $250+ espresso grinder. At this stage, it's arguably better to have a do-it-all entry-level espresso machine to keep things simple and keep overall startup costs down.

For that reason, we recommend you check out the Breville BES870XL instead. It has the same basic features and overall design/feel as the 800ESXL, but it comes with an integrated grinder and is just a better machine that pulls better shots for a similar price.

Breville 800ESXL Review: An In-Depth Look

Design & Performance

The Breville 800ESXL has all the necessary functionality, plus some nice additional features:

  • The 15 bar, made-in-Italy pump is durable and gets the job done right.
  • The Thermoblock heating element flash heats water to the proper temperature.
  • The Triple Prime Pump preinfuses your grounds before extraction, allowing them to absorb water and bloom in the filter. This has 4 benefits described in the Standout Features section below.
  • The Auto Purge feature ensures the water is always at the right temperature when switching from steam wand to extraction.
  • The froth enhancer attaches to the end of the wand and makes frothing milk incredibly simple. You can make better foam without the enhancer, but the enhancer allows anyone to make good foam.

This model does lack some of the features of the more expensive brands — no Auto-Off, no pressure gauge, can’t steam/extract at the same time — but overall I’m impressed with the Breville 800ESXL’s design and functionality for its price range.

Note: The Breville 800ESXL doesn't come with a built-in grinder. Personally, I like having my grinder separate. But if you’re looking for an all-in-one espresso machine take a look at the Breville BES870XL Barista Express.

Built like a brick, the Breville 800ESXL is a solid piece of slick stainless steel. The buttons on the display panel are big and bold, and I like the water level indicator on the back panel.

Design appeal is subjective, but I think this is a good-looking machine.

Quality of Espresso

Espresso is very much the definition of “you get out what you put in.” The Thermoblock heater gets sufficiently hot, and the included pressurized filter basket will produce a consistent shot of very good espresso with a noticeable crema almost every time.

Unfortunately your espresso won’t go from “very good” to “great” unless you upgrade from the pressurized filter basket to a non-pressurized filter basket, as discussed in the Potential Shortcomings section below.

Durability

Breville offers a 1 year warranty, but that doesn’t speak to the longevity of this machine. If properly maintained, you’ll have it for years. The stainless steel components hold up extremely well, and the 15 bar pump is made (well) in Italy.

The biggest complaint that’s turned up in my supplemental research is occasional clogging of the pressurized portafilter basket. This can be solved by switching to non-pressurized filter baskets, the pros and cons of which are noted in the Potential Shortcomings section below.

Maintenance & Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning is a breeze. After every shot just remove the portafilter and wipe down the showerhead. The exterior and drip tray can be wiped down as needed. You should descale every 2-3 months with a mixture of 2 parts white vinegar and 1 part water.

To clean the frother, unscrew the tip of the frothing wand and let it soak in hot water to break up any solids. Then run the frother without the tip to loosen any debris in the wand.

Standout Features on the Breville 800ESXL

Triple-Prime Pump preinfuses grounds for optimal extraction

Click. Pause. Click. Pause. Click.

That’s the sound of the Breville 800ESXL’s Triple-Prime Pump preinfusing (or pre-wetting) your coffee grounds before beginning extraction.

Pre-infusion has multiple benefits, which makes me happy Breville included this feature:

  • Allows grounds to bloom, increasing pressure in the filter basket
  • Decreases channeling
  • Improves uniformity of extraction
  • Decreases fines making their way into the shot

Overall this results in stronger, cleaner, more uniform extraction and a better shot of espresso.

Thermoblock rapidly heats only the water you need

The Thermoblock system siphons off only the water needed for extraction and steam instead of heating the whole tank. This means quicker heating but has the downside of less precise temperature control.

Large 74 oz removable water reservoir with rear access

The water reservoir is large, which means you won’t need to refill it as frequently. To slide it in/out you need to remove the drip tray, but this isn’t required for refilling. At the top-back of the machine there’s a panel which folds down where you can pour in water to fill the tank, as shown below.

Potential Shortcomings on the Breville 800ESXL

Comes standard with pressurized portafilter baskets

There are two types of filter baskets: pressurized and non-pressurized.

The Breville 800ESXL comes with pressurized portafilter baskets, which are great options if you want to take additional complexity out of your espresso.

The following image shows the difference between the two:

Pressurized portafilters (which come with the Breville 800ESXL) are easy to use and great for beginners but put a ceiling on how great your shot can be. Thankfully, it's easy to upgrade by purchasing compatible 50 mm non-pressurized portafilter baskets.

Benefits of Pressurized Filter Baskets: They’re more forgiving and will provide a more consistent shot even if the grind itself lacks consistency. You’ll get a crema every time, but it will result from aeration and not be a true crema.

Downsides of Pressurized Filter Baskets: They put a ceiling on how great your espresso can be. Non-pressurized filter baskets aren’t forgiving, which means the range of outcomes is much wider. A poor grind will result in sub-par espresso without a crema, and a great grind will result in something magical.

This is only a potential shortcoming if you want complete control over your shot. For these folks, you can swap out the pressurized baskets for non-pressurized baskets. Breville sells a pair of properly sized 50 mm non-pressurized filter baskets for around $50. If you want simplicity, the pressurized filters are actually a benefit.

No Auto-Off feature and can’t steam/extract at the same time

Water is controlled by the selector dial, and there is no auto-stop feature. If you don’t move the dial to the off position, the machine will keep extracting your shot. You’ll just have to pay attention and turn it off when you want it to finish. I also wish it had a pressure gauge, but these are more small annoyances than anything else.

Pump is loud

Compared to other espresso machines, this one is a noticeably noisier.

Check out the Breville 800ESXL!

Check out Breville 800ESXL!

Breville 800ESXL
An entry-level, semi-automatic machine, the Breville 800ESXL features a Triple-Prime Pump for pre-infusion and a Thermoblock heating element, but it doesn't include a grinder. For that, check out the Breville BES870XL.

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