The Breville Infuser

Published by Mark
December 3, 2014 4:34 pm

If you’re looking for a entry-level espresso machine that delivers great value for money, the new and slightly improved Breville Infuser is well worth considering. We had reviewed this machine over a year ago and decided not to carry it because of the brewing temp – we found it to be far too cold, making the shots taste sour.

Breville contacted us about some recent improvements, most important that it now brews at a more proper 202 degrees. We here at Clive went over its features and functionality with a fine-toothed comb to see what we could find.

The first thing you notice when you open the box is the range of shiny, useful accessories that come with the machine. These include a milk jug, cleaning equipment and ‘the Razor’ – a dose trimming tool that Breville have thoughtfully designed to aid dose consistency for the up-and-coming barista.

Although we recommend always freshly grinding your coffee immediately before brewing, the folks at Breville know that not everyone has their own grinder at home. Therefore in addition to the standard single wall filter baskets, they provide dual wall filter baskets for use with pre-ground coffee. With single and double shot versions provided in both single and dual wall formats that brings our grand total of filter baskets provided with this machine to four. It’s good to have options (but to be honest, we’ve never had a good shot made with preground espresso and we kind of doubt you will be able to either).

The 54mm tamper that Breville supplies with this machine is fairly light in weight but it certainly does the job. It just doesn’t have the same feel as other tampers out there. Their great advantage is that they magnetically click into place near the machine’s group head, keeping it dry, warm and out of the way. And this isn’t the only convenient storage feature the Infuser has. When you pull out the drip tray a hidden accessory storage tray is revealed. You can store all your spare filter baskets in here, with room for a few other bits and pieces too.

We dialed in our coffee and proceeded to pull some shots. The Infuser didn’t disappoint. It produced sweet, juicy espresso shots with great crema. The only catch is you have to need the right grind setting and allow a good twenty minutes for the machine portafilter to be warm enough to produce a good extraction.

The Infuser is so named because it pre-infuses the coffee with low pressure hot water for a few seconds before transitioning into full extraction mode. This allows a more even extraction and produces a full-flavoured cup of coffee. This feature is programmed into the machine. While the overall shot volume can be set to your liking the pre-infusion time cannot be reprogrammed, although it can be manually overridden.

A great feature of this machine is the ability to adjust the brewing temperature up or down 2 or 4 degrees from the factory setting. The temperature is not displayed and is changed using various combinations of button presses as prescribed in the user manual. This is a little tedious, but it’s a much needed feature for those that want to dial in the temperature for their favorite coffee.

This machine steams beautiful, silky milk for your cappuccinos or lattes. However, it is a slow process. The steam wand isn’t overly powerful. If you wanted to make a whole lot of milk based beverages for your family or friends, you might not want to be in a rush . But the machine can efficiently pull consecutive shots so producing several espressos or americanos would be no issue. The inclusion of a small hot water tap on this model is a handy feature, though it should be used sparingly to prevent the boiler being overworked.

The pressure gauge, despite its ambiguous scale, is a useful indication of how your extractions are faring. If too low during the extraction phase (after pre-infusion) the coffee is being under-extracted. A high reading means the coffee is over-extracting. Breville’s user manual has great hints and tips to help rectify the situation and get the best out of your beans.

An allen key is provided with the machine. It is used to remove the shower screen to replace the silicone seal when needed. While this is only an occasional requirement, it is inevitable as the seals do wear out over time so it’s nice to see Breville has the forethought to allow users to get this done without the need of a technician.

All in all, we found this to be a well thought-out machine that for a great price can produce a good quality espresso beverage in the home.  We are curious as to how a side by side comparison between this machine and the Rancilio Silvia V3 would pan out. Keep an eye out for a future post on this in the next few weeks.

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  • Written by: Lara

    Hi, we just purchased this machine and have been getting sour shots that seem quite cold despite good pressure. I finally pulled out a digital thermometer and decided to check the water temp coming out. I used a warm cup. The water temp is only 170 degrees F even with warming the machine. I’m wondering if we got a model without the improvements. One like your first model. If I’m correct the temp should be close to 200 degrees F, correct?

  • Written by: Hayley McNabb

    Hi there, thanks for your question! The temperature of the water coming out of the group head can only be accurately measured with a Scace device as the temperature of the water drops as soon as it leaves the dispersion screen. The machine needs to be heated for at least 20 minutes with the portafilter attached before use too, to ensure maximum heat retention. So by the time you measure water in the cup the temperature differential can be significant but this is normal. Breville provides great technical support if you wanted to contact them for more information.

  • Written by: Private

    Lara & Hayley, I had the same question and got the same response from Breville, that is, the water drops 20 degrees after leaving the screen. I’m not totally convinced though. I pre-boil my water to 150 and get much better, more consistent results. I haven’t tried pre-heating for 20 minutes, but the manual does not say anything about pre-heating. This is not a brass boiler machine that would take a long time to reach a stable temp internally.

  • Written by: Hayley McNabb

    Hi there, thank you for the feedback. For best results, we recommend pre-heating any espresso machine for at least 20 minutes before use. Even if the boiler is at temperature within a few minutes, having the external group head and portafilter all warmed up too helps to minimize loss in temperature during brewing.

  • Written by: Samia

    Hello there … I recently bought breville barista express .. I am confused about the grind size and grind amount setting for pre ground coffee … Can you guide Mein about that … Thanks

  • Written by: Victoria Gormley

    Hi Samia,

    You want your double shots to take about 24-27 seconds to pull. If its longer than that, coarsen up the grind. If the shots are coming out very quickly, fine it up. Our showroom model is at 2 right now– hope this helps! If you still are having trouble, give us a call.

  • Written by: Andy

    Instead of waiting for 20 mins, my suggestion is to pull a shot with the portafilter attached and with empty basket.. the hot water is going to quickly heat up the group head as well as the portafilter. Wipe clean and dry the portafilter and you are ready to pull your first shot.. it works every time for me.

  • Written by: kevin

    I found using the single-wall baskets produces inferior espresso with freshly ground beans — little crema, watery drink. I couldn’t seem to dial in the proper grind/tamping combo, but when i switched to the dual wall basket, things improved immensely, rich crema (actually, at times, too much crema) and a deeply flavored drink. i also found the preset timings for both single and double shot quite a bit off the mark, so i use the manual override option. tip: we have a counter-top hot water heater for tea with temp set at 175, so i dunk the portafilter/basket in the tank for about 5 seconds and this properly heats the unit. i found that it takes even longer than 20 minutes to heat the unit in place on the machine. Thanks for reading.

  • Written by: Ben Piff

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Can you tell me what grinder you’ve been using? A burr grinder with precise adjustment and solid grind consistency is the key to being able to produce proper manual espresso like they do in your favorite coffee shop. When your shots are watery, can you tell me how long the extraction took? A 1.5oz double shot should take 25-30 seconds, so typically watery shot is under-exctracting because the coffee isn’t ground fine enough to restrict the flow of water and dissolve oils from the coffee. The double wall baskets can compensate for a variety of grinds, because they restrict the water flow to effectively steep the coffee as it’s extracted. I say keep using that tool as long as you can, and when you want greater control over your espresso flavors let us know. We may have a grinder that has easier adjustment and the ability to program the grind time, so you always get consistent coffee volume (the biggest variable in making espresso is the amount of ground coffee).

    Regarding your portafilter, it is a very heavy stainless steel unit and getting it warmed up is key. Preheating in the hot water sounds like a good idea, but I also find that drawing 3-4oz of water through the machine and portafilter speeds up the warmup time a lot. The Infuser will say it’s ready to brew in minutes, but simulating a couple double shots should cut your warmup time down to 5 minutes or less.

    Ben Piff

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