Breville Dual Boiler Review

If you have found this article and are willing to spend the time reading it then chances are at least three things are true about you
1) you love espresso (a good start!),
2) you are at least considering buying an espresso machine (exciting times), and
3) You are interested in quality rather than a cheap joke of a machine (a sign of the true coffee lover). 

And if you do fit the bill for these assumptions then you are at an exciting stage of your coffee journey. You love espresso, you want to make it and make it well, and you are willing to invest to make the dream a reality. So if this is you then we are excited you are here and who knows maybe the Dual Boiler by Breville might be the next step for you.

So who or what is Breville? Breville is a fairly new Australian company which is actually primarily known for kitchen appliances in general. So in our kitchen as well as our Breville Dual Boiler we have a Breville toaster, a Breville kettle, a Breville crepe maker, and even a Breville waffle maker. 

So you could assume a company like that knows next to nothing about decent coffee gear, and yet surprisingly you would be flat wrong. This company from down under has been making waves in the coffee world for a number of years now and has come to be associated with excellence, especially when it comes to espresso. 

The Dual Boiler comes in as their top-of-the-range semi-automatic espresso machine. In fact part of their advertising for this coffee maker is Commercial features and performance in a domestic footprint. 

It is a big claim, but is it true? Well let’s find out. 

Breville Dual boiler BES920XL Espresso Maker

  • Customisation 4/5
  • Build Quality and Aesthetics 5/5
  • Ease of Use 5/5
  • Additional Features 5/5
  • Price 4/5

The Dual Boiler is an excellent mid-range espresso maker that is capable of producing superb coffee, is very easy to use, and allows for a high level of control over brewing parameters 

4/5

Who is the Breville Dual Boiler For?

The Breville Dual Boiler is really designed for the coffee lover who is serious about espresso. This coffee maker is Breville’s top-of-the-range semi-automatic espresso machine and as such is intended for those who already have at least some previous exposure in making espresso. 

While it could easily function as a first espresso maker, it would be a little bit of an overkill considering the price. If you are looking for an entry-level or first espresso maker then we recommend the Breville Infuser, you can read our extended review here

As such the Breville Dual Boiler is for the coffee lover who is seeking to refine the espresso-making process. The real strength of this machine is the number of parameters you can experiment with in the extraction process. These include pre-infusion time and pressure, extraction temperature, and steam wand temperature. As the name indicates this is also a dual boiler which means you can both extract coffee and steam milk at the same time. This is real strength and a major step up from most entry level machines. 

So the Dual Boiler is for the coffee lover with both some previous experience in espresso and the desire to really develop in this method of coffee brewing.

Pros:

  • Can make superb coffee 
  • Easy to use with LCD interface
  • Allows a wide range of customisation 
  • Easy to clean and maintain 
  • Excellent build quality
  • An abundance of features

Cons:

  • A fairly bulky machine
  • Doesn’t allow for extraction pressure adjustment
  • Steam pressure is weaker than on commercial machines

Breville Dual Boiler Review

What’s to Love about the Breville Dual Boiler?


Makes Great Coffee 

It is almost too obvious to mention but perhaps the best thing about the Dual Boiler is that it can make some really delicious espresso. And while you can still make fantastic coffee on cheaper machines, this machine is just better. Prior to owning this machine we used and loved the model below it which is the Breville Infuser. The Infuser is a great coffee maker and is definitely our favourite entry-level espresso maker.  But the Dual Boiler simply makes better coffee. It has a stronger steam wand which aids milk texturing and the customisation allows you to really refine the extraction process. 

A shot being pulled on the Breville Dual boiler showing good crema
Coffee made with the Breville Dual Boiler showing latte art

Highly Customisable

Perhaps the biggest strength of the Breville Dual Boiler is the level of customisation it allows. As you probably know, people who really love espresso like to be as involved as possible in the extraction process. That is why many end up transitioning to entirely manual espresso machines such as the Flair, so that they have complete control over every parameter in the extraction process. Well the Dual Boiler is about as close as you can go to manual without sacrificing some of the conveniences and strengths of semi-automatic machines. 

Most of the customisation possible on this machine is done through the LCD interface on the front of the machine. This interface is incredibly user-friendly and simple to use. Some of the customisation possible includes adjustable brew temperature between 86C (190F) and 96C (205F) in +/- 1C segment, the ability to set the pre-infusion power and duration (or do it manually each time), adjustable steam wand temperature between 130C (265F) and 140C (285F), and single and double cup buttons which can be programmed either based on duration or volume. 

This level of customisation makes it a great machine for those who are interested not only in making a good morning brew, but in really experimenting with espresso, and playing around with different parameters.  

A Range of High End Features 

As you will have no doubt gathered by this point the Dual Boiler is about as feature-rich as coffee machines get. Even after owning this machine for almost a year I feel like I am constantly learning about new things that it is able to do. 

Some of these features are centred around the extraction process. Because it is a stainless steel dual boiler you can steam milk while extracting the coffee. This both saves time and makes for nicer tasting coffee. The Dual Boiler has what is called a Triple-Heat System. This simply means that there are three different boilers in the machine which respectively control the temperature of the steam wand (900w), the grouphead (100w), and the water for extraction (700w). These boilers are all governed by an electronic PID (Proportional Integral Derivative for the coffee geeks out there) temperature control for a high level of precision. It also comes with an Over Pressure Valve (OPV) which limits maximum pressure for optimal extraction. 

Image showing Breville Dual Boiler triple heat system

These, along with the pre-infusion function, are features that are regularly found on commercial machines and set apart the Dual Boiler from many similarly priced espresso makers.

Ease of Use 

Breville machines tend to be a real pleasure to use and the Dual Boiler is no exception. Almost all the customisation is done through the LCD interface which is both easy to navigate and just enjoyable to use. Similarly, our experience using the machine is that everything sort of makes sense. From how to fill up the water reservoir to using the steam wand and pouring out the drip tray, everything just works well and makes life easy.

Breville also tends (perhaps because they make so many other home appliances) to think of handy features that few other coffee machines have. For example, because this machine is both bulky and heavy it comes with handy retractable wheels which can be switched on or off with a knob under the drip tray, making it easy to move. It is little things like this that make life that little bit more simple. 

Image showing retractable wheels and tool storage tray under the drip tray of the Breville dual boiler

And the Dual Boiler has a range of little features like that to make your experience with the machine that little bit more enjoyable. Some of these include a timer that starts on the interface as soon as your coffee starts extracting, the ability to programme your machine to start up 15 minutes before you get up in the morning, and the option to fill up your water tank from behind or from the front. 

Photo showing front of Breville Dual Boiler, shot timer and how to fill the water tank

What we have personally loved about this machine is that it fits into the narrow niche of coffee makers that is user-friendly to both the espresso beginner and the expert. That while this coffee maker allows you to play around with extraction temperature and pre-infusion, it is still simple and easy to use for those with less experience. 

Also, as with all Breville Espresso machines, this comes with almost everything you need to get started on espresso. It comes with a tamp, a milk jug, Breville’s own grind level, the portafilter, and four different portafilter baskets (single and double of both pressurized and non-pressurized). These accessories are a great place to start but for those who want to go places with espresso we recommend both the milk jug and tamp designed by Matt Perger from Barista Hustle which are of a far better quality.

The recommendation is that this machine should be switched on 10-15 minutes before use and we usually do this but if pushed for time it can heat up in around 3-4 minutes which is also handy. So if you tend to like the style of Breville coffee makers and want lots of features then the Dual Boiler may well be the machine for you. This is not a coffee maker for the minimalist!

Easy to Clean and Maintain

One of the biggest differences between this model and the older BES900XL is that the newer Dual Boiler provides the ability to easily drain the boilers for descaling. This means that the machine can be descaled from home rather than having to pay for the professionals to do it which is a handy option. Similarly the Dual Boiler is easy to clean and maintain. It comes with cleaning tablets which can be placed into the portafilter for cleaning cycles. 

What is not to Love about the Breville Dual Boiler?


While we have personally loved our Dual Boiler, there have been some common complaints about this machine. Many of these have to do with comparison to a commercial espresso machine and so are really only weaknesses for those who are actual baristas or regularly use commercial machines. 

Lacks the Ability to Adjust the Extraction Pressure 

One of the most common complaints about the Dual boiler is that it doesn’t allow the user to alter the pressure at which the water is passed through the grinds. This seems to have been an intentional choice by Breville and will make little difference to most home brewers but is a pain for those looking for complete control of the brewing parameters. While this can be altered by rewiring parts of the machine, it is a pity that Breville didn’t include this in their range of features. 

Weak Pressure in Steaming Wand

Another common complaint is that the steam wand lacks the pressure of a commercial steam wand. This is undoubtedly true and will frustrate those used to working regularly with commercial machines. It simply does take longer to texture the milk.

Milk frother on the Breville Dual Boiler

However, if you are not used to commercial machines this weaker pressure actually works to your advantage as it means that it is easier to get your milk the right texture and is more forgiving. So personally my wife and I really appreciate the steam wand and find it easy to use and that it still doesn’t take particularly long. 

Quality of Materials Used

Again some users have found that parts of the machine age easily and can break over time. We have not personally found this to be the case with our machine but it is true that there is plastic in the design. However, this issue is somewhat offset by the warranty that comes with the machine.

Size 

Finally, it simply is a bit of a monster of a machine. It is big, bulky, and heavy. So if you like minimalistic decor or have limited bench space then this may not be the machine for you. It simply is a big machine and in physical size is significantly bigger than its younger brother the Infuser. 

So Should you Buy it? 

Well as we have hopefully shown throughout this article, we have been thoroughly satisfied with our investment in this coffee maker. The Dual Boiler is a superb espresso machine that can aid in the making of delicious coffee, has more features than you will ever need, and is a pleasure to use.

We recommend this machine for those who love espresso, have at least some prior experience in this brewing method, and are willing to spend the money for quality. This is one of the few espresso makers which fits in the space between entry level machines and the high end machines which often cost thousands. 

So if you want to take your espresso game to the next level then this may well be the machine for you. As a side if you are spending this amount of money on an espresso maker then you really do need a decent burr grinder alongside it. We use a Rancilio Rocky alongside ours and have found it works a treat so if you are interested you can read our review of the Rocky here

Takeaway

Well we hope this article has been informative and has shed some light on whether this might be the machine for you. We have personally loved our Dual Boiler and haven’t regretted our purchase of it for a second. This espresso machine is easy to navigate, allows a wide range of control over the brewing parameters, and most importantly can make delicious coffee!

If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them below.

Happy Buying!

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