Breville Barista Max VCF126 review


The Barista Max is a bean-to-cup device for individuals who need to make high quality espresso at house. It received’t be the very best device for individuals who need zero-effort espresso, and it received’t attraction to hobbyists who need a device that they may be able to tinker with and alter.

For the remainder of us, I’d say it’s the most productive of each worlds: you’ll use contemporary beans and get a scrumptious coffee and there are sufficient settings (grinding fineness, water temperature, infusion profile) to mess around with to get a in point of fact nice extraction. But essentially, it is a dependable, smooth to make use of device that delivers persistently excellent espresso. And for its value level, it’s very good.

Because the Barista Max has an in-built espresso grinder and milk frother – and is derived with a tamper, milk jug and portafilter – you received’t want anything to your coffee-making equipment. That’s a excellent factor as a result of it is a giant device (31 x 31 x 33cm) and the trade-off for its top of the range espresso is that you simply’ll want to surrender a correspondingly huge area to your kitchen counter.

Don’t even take into accounts striking it in a cabinet while you’re no longer the usage of it. This is a device that are meant to be used day by day – it’s too heavy (accurately) and bulky to be dragged out on particular events.

Barista Max

If you don’t need to make right kind espresso each day, this may not be the application for you. But if you happen to’ve wavering over whether or not or no longer an coffee device is definitely worth the faff, the Barista Max could be the only to steer you. It’s a lot more uncomplicated and not more messy than the usage of a separate grinder and coffee maker. It’s additionally a lot more cost effective than a completely computerized device.

The device itself is oblong, with curved edges and a brushed aluminium plate at its entrance. It’s sexy sufficient however no longer as gorgeous because the Smeg Espresso Coffee Maker.

However, it has the good thing about the in-built burr grinder and it prices round the similar value. To get the similar capability because the Barista Max, you’d have to shop for each the Smeg Espresso Coffee Maker and the Smeg Coffee Grinder, spending £500.

Features

The Barista Max is a forged device that feels smartly made. All the detachable portions click on into position pleasingly and except a couple of flaws, it’s effectively designed. There’s a big drip tray with a glide to warn you when it’s getting complete. There’s a separate trough to catch spilt espresso grounds, and a garage house to carry equipment. There’s additionally quite a lot of peak between the cup stand and the espresso spout – greater than sufficient to suit an strange mug.

There’s no drive gauge at the device, which is some other signal that this isn’t a purchase order for espresso hobbyists. You can not trade the drive in a espresso device however the quantity at the gauge can provide you with a clue as to how coarse or or advantageous your grind must be. 

The device has a 2-litre frosted plastic water tank that clips into the again. I don’t love the glance of the tank, or its placement however nearly all espresso machines characteristic a reservoir in a in a similar way inaccessible place. In this example, it’s moderately much less demanding than same old, because the tank has an easy-access flip-up lid, this means that you’ll upload water with out moving all of the equipment, even though you continue to received’t get the clearest view of the method with out shifting the device.

Water tank

One small flaw is the lowered area on best of the device for preserving your cups heat. There’s handiest in point of fact room for a few coffee cups. That’s as a result of a considerable amount of house is taken up with a 250g bean hopper.

Hopper and cup warmer

The hopper isn’t hermetic, so that you’ll nonetheless need to stay your beans in a jar within sight and handiest upload what you wish to have to make use of for every grinding. It has 30 grinding settings (no longer all of which will probably be helpful) and you’ll have to experiment a little bit to search out the very best fineness on your beans. How you are feeling about that are meant to provide you with extra of an concept of whether or not or no longer you’ll revel in this device.

I’ve written earlier than about how a excellent burr grinder could make the entire distinction to the standard of your espresso at house. In a nutshell, there are two causes for this: freshness and the dimensions and evenness of the grind.

Buying freshly floor espresso is excellent. But grinding beans simply earlier than use is far better. It’ll give an enormous carry to the style of your espresso. You should buy a separate grinder – and from right here you may have the choice of going for a guide grinder (less expensive however calls for a little bit of elbow grease) or computerized (more uncomplicated, quicker however costlier – for a excellent one, no less than).

A excellent grinder will make certain that you don’t finally end up with an asymmetric grind, which will depart your espresso sour. The Barista Max has an overly first rate conical burr grinder that produces even grinds.

Measuring out beans, grinding espresso and moving it in your portafilter is messy and time-consuming, specifically within the mornings if you’re (like me) the kind of one who wishes that first caffeine hit to get up correctly.

The Barista Max makes this a little bit more uncomplicated with its “Tap & Go Grinding Cradle”. This is an terrible title for a in point of fact effectively made mechanism. Essentially, underneath the grinder, there’s a part hoop that you simply stick the portafilter into. When you press down, the grinder begins up and occasional is deposited proper into the portafilter basket. A gentle even comes directly to remove darkness from the method. It’s very enjoyable to make use of.

Tap and go mechanism

However, there’s no getting round the truth that you continue to must care for the portafilter. This signifies that the method isn’t fairly so simple as with a completely computerized device, the place you upload beans to the hopper on the best, press a button and get contemporary espresso delivered from a spout.

If that’s what you’re after, we’d suggest the Gaggia Naviglio. At £400+, it’s costlier but it surely’ll prevent having to care for espresso grinds (no less than till the time comes to drain them into the bin – there’s unfortunately no break out from that).

However, the good thing about a device like that is that it doesn’t have to transport espresso grinds round inside of, this means that it’s much less prone to ruin down. If you care for your Barista Max through the usage of filtered water (particularly if you happen to reside in a difficult water house) and cleansing it continuously, it must serve you smartly for future years.

The device could make one or two photographs of coffee at a time, which you select through urgent a unmarried button. Altering the water temperature, which comes set at 92°C, is extra sophisticated. You’ll want to seek the advice of the guide and use a chain of multifunction button presses however this will likely permit you to make a choice a temperature from 88-96°C.

You too can trade the infusion profile in order that roughly water is added to the bottom espresso earlier than the whole go with the flow, which is able to subtly regulate the style.

The device handiest has a unmarried heater, so you’ll’t extract espresso and use the milk wand on the similar time and it wishes a little bit of time to transport from one procedure to the opposite. However, if you happen to’re in most cases handiest making two cups of espresso, the overtime it takes isn’t a lot of an issue.

The milk wand itself could be very manoeuvrable, with a heat-resistant silicone band to give protection to you from scalds. The wand is valuable and makes foamy, creamy milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

Price and availability

The Barista Max is handiest to be had to buy from Currys PC World. The value has jumped round a bit of and is these days at £349. If you’ll’t in finding it to your area, Breville espresso machines also are offered underneath the Sunbeam logo title, relying on the place you might be on the planet. 

Your different choice, if you’ll manage to pay for to spend extra, is to go for the more recent style: the Barista Max +. It’s these days to be had for £399 and has a virtual show with an extraction timer, an clever grinding device and the IQ shot era, to provide you with a extra granular degree of regulate over your espresso.

Verdict

For its value, you get so much on your cash with the Barista Max. It’s no longer going to attraction to hardcore espresso lovers, however for other folks having a look to improve their espresso revel in from pod machines or a identical same old of espresso maker, this will probably be a very good acquire. 

To see which different espresso machines we charge extremely and the way the Barista Max measures up, take a look at our round-up of the most productive espresso machines we’ve got examined.

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