Is the Breville Infuser right for you? This superb little coffee machine was actually our first functional espresso machine and the beginning of a long journey into the world of espresso and third wave specialty coffee.
The Infuser is a great coffee machine that is easy to use, reliable, and comes with a proven track record. It has excellent features for its price point, can pull a fantastic shot, and will last the distance. When mastered it may even replace some of your local coffee shops for quality.
This continues to be, we believe, the best entry-level espresso maker on the market.
beginners Espresso Machine
The Breville Infuser is an excellent machine – it is simple to use and produces an excellent shot of espresso. However, what really sets this coffee maker apart, is the pre-infusion function for crema-rich shots, the PID controlled and adjustable water temperature, and the auto-purge function, which allows for a quick transition from steaming milk to optimal shot extraction. These features are typically unheard of on machines at this price point.
Specifications of Breville bes840xl The Infuser Espresso Machine
Breville Infuser In Depth Review
What’s to love about the Infuser?
Probably the biggest attraction of the Breville Infuser is the pre-infusion function from which the machine derives its name. Pre-infusion is where a small amount of water, at low pressure, is poured over the coffee grounds, before the rest of the water at high pressure.
This initial water “infuses” all the irregularities in the puck and so makes for an even extraction and consequently better tasting coffee. This is a feature which is common in high-end and commercial semi automatic espresso machines and is great for both beginning brewers and professional baristas. The Infuser is one of the few entry-level machines that comes with this feature.
Customisable Volumetric Control
The Infuser is a great option for both the beginner and the experienced home barista. The Infuser has both pre-programmed single and double shot buttons for the newbie, as well as an optional manual override for the veteran, which can be set as the new norm.
For playing around with shot volume for the single or double shot we recommend that you read our Beginners Guide to Espresso.
PID Controlled Adjustable Water Temperature
As you will likely know, water temperature is a key parameter for pulling shots on espresso machines. The Infuser boasts a PID Temperature controller (Proportional-Integral-Derivative for those who love acronyms) which carefully regulates the water temperature with great precision.
This is actually the same temperature controller that is used Breville’s other high-end espresso machines. Again a great feature for the price tag.
Additionally, the water temperature can be adjusted in 2F increments up to 4F above or below the standard temperature. This is a great feature for the espresso expert, allowing them to adjust the brew temperature for different roasts.
Water is heated in this semi automatic espresso machine by circulating it around a 1600W heating block called a “thermocoil heating system.” When you transition from steaming milk to pulling a shot, the water is often a lot hotter than is required for brewing.
The auto-purge function automatically purges the hot water, bringing the temperature down to the optimal extraction temperature. This feature removes the need for temperature surfing and makes for a quick transition between steaming and brewing (maximum of 15 seconds normally). Short of a dual boiler this is about the best option there is.
Usability and functionality
As noted above, we bought the Infuser espresso machine as relative newbies to the espresso world. We have found the Infuser to be easy to navigate and very user-friendly. The buttons are well labelled and straightforward to navigate. The Infuser comes with both pressurized (double wall), or unpressurized (single wall) portafilter baskets, giving you the flexibility to use either pre-ground or whole coffee beans.
However, you will find that this Breville model pulls the best shots, with the richest crema, when using freshly ground coffee rather than pre-ground.
The Infuser is commonly paired with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro or the Rocky Rancilio. It is also worth noting that you will find it far easier to transition to the single wall baskets when using freshly ground coffee beans (provided you are using a decent burr grinder!).
The manual steaming wand is also easy to use and master. The wand is fairly slow, especially if you are used to a commercial steam wand. So this can be a frustration for the more experienced barista, but on the other hand, tends to be a positive for the new home brewer as it gives you time to learn and perfect the technique. It certainly has the ability create microfoam of a quality sufficient for latte art.
Another feature that really sets this espresso machine apart in terms of functionality is the pressure gauge. This gauge on the front of the machine shows you the pressure used in the extraction process with area between two screws colored to show the optimal extraction pressure of 9 bars. We have found this gauge to be immensely helpful for the process of dialing in different beans on the a grinder.
The stainless steel Infuser is well-built and incredibly durable and lasting. We used our Infuser multiple times every day for around two years before upgrading to the Breville Dual Boiler. During that time we didn’t have even a single technical issue or malfunction with the machine.
Having used a number of Breville products over the last few years, we can attest that they tend to be of a high quality. We have had next to no problems with any of our Breville espresso machines or Breville appliances.
Design and Aesthetic
In terms of design we do quite appreciate the Infuser. It comes with a relatively small footprint for an espresso machine, and can fit comfortably on any benchtop and under any overhanging cupboard.
The design itself overtly follows the backward C shape that many espresso machines favor. As with many stainless steel Breville products, it favors rounded edges and gentle curves. It is quite an ergonomic machine to use and we always found that we liked the understated design.
Other Notable Features
What’s not to Love about the Infuser?
There are a number of relatively minor complaints that we, and others, have had with this espresso maker.
Inadequate Cup Warmer
This Breville model maximizes on space, and so converts the top of the machine into a cup warmer (as many other espresso machines do). However, the sad truth is that this cup warmer is rather pathetic, unless you want to wait forever. We almost always opted to heat our cups with the hot water dispenser instead.
Small Drip Tray
The drip tray on this machine is both small and lacks functionality. We probably ended up emptying it after every two or three coffees which can be a pain. Even more irritating is that almost without exception water had leaked into the storage container which sits behind the tray (for which reason we never used this for storage).
Cannot extract and steam simultaneously
Because Breville the Infuser is a single boiler machine it cannot steam milk and pull a shot simultaneously. This means that you have to steam your milk prior to pulling the shot. To be fair, almost no other machines in this price bracket have double boilers which allow for simultaneous use, but it would be nice.
This was actually the factor that led us to upgrade although we loved this machine. The single boiler could be an issue if you were intending on making multiple coffees in a row, for guests for example.
Also, as noted above, while the steam wand works well, it would be nice if it was more powerful.
Light and cheap Tamper
The Infuser comes with a free tamp, which is better than many other free tamps, however it is rather light. While it may be fine for beginners, the partially plastic and lightweight design will likely not satisfy the more experienced barista, and may require an upgrade. For a guide to the best espresso tampers check out our article here.
Who is the Infuser Intended for?
The Breville Infuser is a particularly good option for beginners who are serious about learning to pull a decent shot. As mentioned above, this was the machine we cut our teeth on, and we found it a superb espresso machine to learn on. It is very intuitive to use, the less powerful steam wand is quite forgiving for learners, and it can pull a fantastic shot of balanced espresso.
So while the more experienced espresso enthusiast will no doubt appreciate this machine, and use it rather effortlessly, we believe it is particularly suited for the beginning brewer. While it is certainly on the more expensive end of entry-level machines, you are paying for quality and the ability to actually make nice espresso.
So Should you Buy It?
Well it depends on what you are looking for. The Infuser is a worthwhile investment for either the beginning brewer, or the more experienced brewer, wanting quality without breaking the bank.
The genius of the Infuser is that it combines high-end features like PID control and pre-infusion into an entry-level espresso machine.
So should you buy it? Our answer and experience is, absolutely yes! We loved our Infuser and still hold it in the highest regard.