We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Breville’s new espresso machine, the Breville Dual Boiler, what follows is a summary of what we found.
The idea behind the machine was to make high end coffee technology available to the home user.
What a way to bring the cafe into the home, for the everyday person to be able to produce a coffee as great or better than the one they buy from their local cafe and for that coffee to be consistent.
My first impression and the lasting impression is one of an intuitive, natural ease of use. It is a feeling of coming home.
As with anything new there is a learning period but it is simple enough for the beginner, I feel that it is something that they won’t have to be hesitant about, they can just get in there and have a go, but also has the ability to become more interactive as the user progresses through their coffee journey, having full control over temperature and settings.
The machine has a swivel base that does away with the difficultly of removing and cleaning the water tank, simply turn the dial in the base and you have full access as you turn the machine around. To fill the tank there is no need to move cups to gain access, the tank fills from a section at the front of the warming tray. Speaking of warming tray, it is very warm, bordering on hot to the sensitive hand, that is impressive not a burn hazard!
I love that the hot water outlet is ‘hidden’ slightly behind and in between the steam wand and the portafilter and has an easy to use dial on the left hand side of the machine, it holds a nice stream that won’t go everywhere. Steam from the steam wand is instant with nary a trace of water at the start.
The inclusion of something as simple as a tamper is great, sure it’s not the market leader in being ergonomically made to fit your hand but they have gone to the extent of making it so you know how far down the tamper should go into the basket when tamping, another way of taking out the variables for people that are only new to manual coffee machines. I discovered that I don’t know my own strength and over extracted a few shots while we played with grind settings and tamping weight. (Noting the excellent convenience of being able to monitor the brew feed pressure to see how you are going with tamp force) I backed off the tamp and pulled a few shots that were drinkable, even a small latte that was delicious.
Have to poke a bit of fun at the comments about material selections. Regarding the use of Teflon in the machine, (aside from the issue that if you’re getting it hot enough for the Teflon to degrade then you’re going to have some… uh… burnt coffee!) see the attached pictures – the Teflon components are not even in the water flow path. Most conclusively not a concern, in my mind. The use of plated alloy in the grouphead is the best SAFE choice. Brass has been mentioned as an alternative, but to those who might consider such an option, I implore you to do some research on the content of brass; lead… arsenic… !!! The suggestions regarding degradation of the stainless components via production of chlorides from the chlorine contained in water, facilitated by the pressure in the system, is quite dubious. At 9,000 bar, perhaps, but at 9 bar this is not a sensible concern.
Overall the choices of materials for the machine are, from an engineering standpoint, as optimal as one could rationally expect – particularly in regard to corrosion and trace contamination of the water and steam. The water path appears to be almost entirely stainless steel; noting the few Coffee Snob comments criticising this choice, I challenge anyone to offer a superior, practical alternative (unobtainium does not constitute practical!).
As home roasters it really does suit us as we can tweak the settings to suit each individual bean we roast to be able to get the most out of the bean.
In the short time we experimented with the machine we have already found things that we would do differently in the set up compared to how the machine was set up on the night but that is purely an individual preference about taste, we love that the machine allows us to do this, after all it is about us and not about what others might or might not like.
On a final note, noise being a critical factor for us, the machine is very quiet. We will be purchasing one!