Is the Breville Infuser right for you? This superb little coffee maker was actually our first functional espresso machine and the beginning of a long journey into the world of espresso.
The Breville Infuser espresso machine is a great coffee maker that we used multiple times a day for years. It is user-friendly, customisable, can make a fantastic shot of coffee, and comes with excellent features for its price range!
What really sets apart the Infuser from other comparable machines 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.
This continues to be, we believe, the best entry-level espresso maker on the market.
Who is the Breville Infuser for?
The Breville Infuser is a particularly good option for the beginning brewer who is serious about learning to pull a shot. As mentioned above this was the machine on which we cut our teeth with espresso brewing and we found it a superb espresso machine to learn on.
We really bought our Breville Infuser espresso machine with no prior experience in brewing coffee or steaming milk. And almost from the get go we loved it and found that it could make some delicious coffee. It is very intuitive to use, the less powerful steam wand is quite forgiving for learners, and it can just pull a fantastic shot.
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 end-level machines, you are paying for quality and the ability to actually make nice espresso.
Specifications of Breville bes840xl The Infuser Espresso Machine
Breville Infuser Review
What’s to love about the Breville Infuser bes840xl?
Probably the biggest attraction of the Infuser is the pre-infusion function from which the machine gets its name. Basically the espresso maker inserts a small amount of water at low pressure which soaks the ground coffee and allows it to expand before the main extraction at full pressure.
This initial water “infuses” all the irregularities in the tamped grinds and so makes for an even extraction of the coffee puck. Basically it helps prevent channeling and provides for a more even extraction which results in a more delicious shot. This is a feature which is common in high end and commercial machines and is great for both beginning brewers and professional baristas.
This is one of the few entry-level machines that comes with this feature.
Customisable Volumetric Control
The Breville Infuser Espresso Machine is a great option for both the brewer just beginning to dip his toes into the espresso world and the experienced home barista who is all about pulling the perfect shot. 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 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 excellent shots on espresso machines. The Infuser boasts a PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative for those who love acronyms) controller 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.
In fact, in the Infuser the espresso expert can even manually adjust the water temperature in 2F increments up to 4F above or below the standard temperature. This is a great feature for the advanced espresso lover.
Water is heated in the Infuser by circulating it around a 1600W heating block called a “thermocoil.” The auto-purge function automatically adjusts the water temperature after using the steam wand for a quick transition (max 15s normally) to optimal extraction temperature.
As noted above, we bought this machine as relative newbies to the espresso world. We consistently found the Infuser to be easy to navigate and very user friendly. The buttons are well labelled and straightforward and the option of either pressurised (Double Wall), or unpressurised (Single Wall) portafilter baskets is great for beginners.
As with virtually all decent espresso machines, Breville the Infuser pulls the best shots with the richest crema when using beans that have just been ground rather than beans that have been pre-ground. We used a Rancilio Rocky with the Infuser and find they work a treat together. It is also worth noting that you will find it far easier to transition to the single wall baskets when using freshly ground beans (provided you are using a decent burr grinder!).
The manual steam wand is also easy to use and master. As mentioned the steam 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 barista as it gives you time to learn and is quite forgiving.
Another feature that really sets apart the Infuser 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 coloured to show the optimal espresso pressure of 9 bars. We have found this gauge to be immensely helpful both for the process of dialing in a grinder and for experimenting with tamping pressure.
It is also worth noting that we found the Infuser to be incredibly durable and lasting. We used our Infuser multiple times every day for around two years before upgrading to a dual boiler espresso 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 and we have had nest to no problems with any of our Breville appliances.
Other Notable Features
What’s not to Love about the Breville Infuser?
There are a number of relatively minor complaints that we and others have had with this espresso maker.
Useless Cup Warmer
The Breville Infuser bes840xl maximises on space and so converts the top of the machine into an intentionally designed cup warmer as do many other espresso machines. However, the sad truth is that this cup warmer is rather pathetic unless you want to wait forever. We almost always opted instead to heat our cups with the hot water dispenser.
Less than satisfactory Drip Tray
The removable Drip Tray on the Infuser is both too small and lacks functionality. We probably ended up emptying the drip tray 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 drip tray (for which reason we never used this for storage).
Cannot extract and steam simultaneously
Because Breville the Infuser only has a single boiler it does not allow the user to steam the milk while the coffee is being extracted. 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 our Breville Infuser. It could be particularly frustrating if you are intending on making multiple coffees in a row, for guests for example.
Also, as noted above, while the steam wand works well, but it would be nice if it was more powerful.
Relatively Light Free Tamp
While the free tamp is okay and better than many other free tamps, the experienced home barista will likely find it too light. While it is fine for beginners, the partially plastic and lightweight design will likely not satisfy the more experienced barista and may require the purchase of a better tamp. For a guide to the best espresso tamps check out our article here.
So Should you Buy It?
Well it depends on what you are looking for. We believe that this great little machine is a very worthwhile investment for either the beginning home barista who is passionate about mastering espresso or the more experienced brewer who wants quality without breaking the bank. Breville is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the coffee world and the Breville bes840xl The Infuser espresso machine is a great example of why.
The genius of the Infuser is the combination of high end features and remarkably easy functionality and usability and all at a great price! So should you buy it? Basically our answer and experience is, if you are already looking in the up to $500 or so range and are passionate about understanding and mastering espresso then absolutely yes! We loved our Infuser and still hold it in the highest regard.
However, If you are completely new to the espresso scene then this is certainly at the higher price and skill end of what you should be looking for. While from experience we think it is a great machine to learn espresso on, some of the advanced features such as adjustable water temperature are probably more than you need at least to start with. A great alternative for you might be the Breville Duo Temp.
The other group that might find the Infuser unsatisfactory is the espresso expert with a wide range of experience on mid-range machines. Because the Infuser is only single boiler it can’t simultaneously extract and steam. Also there is only partial control over temperature and no control over pressure which the trained barista might find frustrating. To be honest though, if this is you then you should probably be looking in the $500-$1000 price bracket rather than under $500. We would recommend looking at the Breville Dual Boiler which we currently own and use.
Breville Infuser bes840xl- The Final Verdict
We owned our Breville Infuser for around two years and truly fell in love with this great little machine. It is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to make great tasting espresso. And that is really our takeaway.
While there are all sorts of nifty features to recommend this espresso maker, the main thing is that it makes a great shot of coffee. So whether you are a beginner or veteran home barista, the Breville Infuser is deeply worthy of your consideration. If you are interested in checking out the Breville BES840XL Infuser, you can check it out here.