Mod/Upgraded Breville Bambino Experience

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Bradyvil

#1: Post by Bradyvil »

Hello H-B! My first post here.

I'm 99% ready to purchase the Breville Bambino (not the Plus; I don't want auto milk steaming).

I'm curious to see if anyone here knows anyone who has modded / upgraded either the Bambino or Bambino plus heavily.

To clarify, I would start the machine with the following changes:

IMS Shower Screen:
https://amzn.to/3nsA54T
Bottomless Portafilter:
https://amzn.to/3b6kbHz
IMS Basket:
https://amzn.to/3jziR4x
Single-Pole Dimmer Mod to control Water Debit (per Lance Hedrick):
https://amzn.to/3EbjaKH

I understand this is a lot of specifics, but I wanted to double check if anyone has done these mods/changes, and could contribute tips, other options, or regrets around these changes.

I am trying to stick within the lower price points. The main reason I am a fan of the Bambino is I have now seen multiple videos from YouTube baristas who have absolutely rocked latte art from this machine.
(for the record I am coming from Flair Signature v2, Mazzer Mini, and Nanofoamer. My big push is 1) Nanofoamed milk is fun, but it has a very bitter taste compared to steamed milk. And 2) I simply don't enjoy a 30-minute process anymore when I can probably get very similar espresso and way better milk from the Bambino... And who can deny a 3-second heater time, without much temperature inconsistency).

Thank you guys so much, the community here seems so dope, I love the support you all provide to inquirers. Hope I'm not being too specific or a pain :shock: also I have not been on a forum in ages!!! Takes me back to my childhood haha.

Brady V

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ira
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by ira »

As far as I've seen, there's only ever been 2 people on this board who owned a Bambino and one of them sold it before commenting. It sounds very attractive if what you want are milk drinks, but other that something I vaguely remember about the group cooling off if you just ran the pump with no coffee, i.e., flow higher than the thermoblock could keep up with, I remember nothing about it's ability to make a decent espresso. Sad, because I'd probably buy one if it did.

Ira

K7

#3: Post by K7 »

Agree with ira above. Breville thermoblock machines are quite nice for milk drinks where espresso flaws are masked by milk. But IMO they are not consistent temperature-wise and it's futile to try to pimp it up with premium baskets, shower screeen, OVP tweak, etc. It's one of those machines that you use as it is for solid milk drinks without spending extra money and time on add-ons.

Nunas
Supporter ♡

#4: Post by Nunas »

If you just want to drink passable espresso at low cost, without it becoming a hobby, then go for the Bambino but keep it as stock. IMHO, you can mess with it all you like, but those inexpensive thermocoil machines won't improve much in the cup, no matter what you do to them. Now, if you want a hobby and want to mess around with modifications but not spend a lot (relatively speaking), there are tonnes of machines that you could play with from simple levers (e.g., Robot), SBDU (e.g., Gaggia Classic, Silvia) HX (e.g., Magister Stella) and DB (e.g., Breville DB).

mycatsnameisbernie

#5: Post by mycatsnameisbernie »

In the US, the Bambino ships with a pressurized (Breville calls it dual wall) filter basket. The one upgrade I would recommend is a non-pressurized (single wall) basket such as the IMS you are considering. You might also find a bottomless portafilter useful for diagnosing your puck prep.

You never mentioned your grinder. You will need a proper espresso grinder to get good results with a non-pressurized basket. Minimum cost for this will be around $180 for a hand grinder, or $350 for an electric grinder. Trying to use a non-pressurized basket with an ordinary grinder will result in endless frustration and bad shots. If you don't have or can't afford a good grinder, then stick with the stock machine while you save up for a grinder.

I wouldn't expect the dimmer mod to make much of an improvement on such an inexpensive machine. If you are interested in getting the benefits of flow control, you need to seriously reconsider your budget.

James Hoffmann reviewed the Bambino Plus and was able to get some decent shots from it.If you treat the Bambino as a way to get your feet wet with espresso, knowing that you will want to upgrade if you like it, then I don't think you will be disappointed. But be prepared to get out your checkbook as you fall down the home espresso rabbit hole.

Edit: I see you have a Mazzer Mini. So your grinder should be OK.

Bradyvil (original poster)

#6: Post by Bradyvil (original poster) »

Thank you everyone for your seemingly unanimous replies!
Nunas wrote:If you just want to drink passable espresso at low cost
So, currently I have a Flair Sig v2, what do you all say about the espresso quality from that? Leagues above Bambino or? Cause I'm trying to determine what we all think is "passable." My buddy has a
the Breville Duo Temp and I can't tell a huge diff between that and my Flair... we both go pretty hard for puck prep, WDT etc.

Bradyvil (original poster)

#7: Post by Bradyvil (original poster) »

mycatsnameisbernie wrote:You never mentioned your grinder.
Sorry, I didn't know how much the "profile info" is displayed, it's listed in my equipment.

I'm on a Mazzer Mini that I modded to be single dose. Usually outputs < 0.1g or 0.2g of input.

All I drink is fresh (within 1-14 days of roast is how I personally prefer), light roast stuff from Pair Cupworks or Mythical Coffee here in Phoenix.

I don't have a TDS meter so I can't speak to exacts, but both my buddy on his Duo Temp and me on my Flair produce some pretty bang-on espresso. I've been doing home Espresso & cappuccinos (4.5-6.5oz) for a little over 1 year. I've been extremely pleased with what I've come up with, way better than I expected.

I weigh the beans, dial them usually to 20-30s extractions at 6-9 bars w pre-infusion most times. Always pulling with 200-208F water, milk to 140°.

I'm listening to all these replies, but I wonder how Intense this community is regarding espresso taste. I am not like some of you seem to be, where you can notice the dif between 1s of extraction & things like that... I just appreciate when every variable is intentionally completed; I'm not insanely picky. I only get mad picky about beans. I probably simply need someone local who can borrow me a Bambino.

(Edit: I see you see I have a Mazzer, but I'll leave my reply here for anyone else who was curious. Thanks for checking that)

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Nunas
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Nunas »

Bradyvil wrote:<snip>So, currently I have a Flair Sig v2, what do you all say about the espresso quality from that? Leagues above Bambino or? Cause I'm trying to determine what we all think is "passable." My buddy has a the Breville Duo Temp and I can't tell a huge diff between that and my Flair... we both go pretty hard for puck prep, WDT etc.
That was pretty much my point. I don't have "golden taste buds" either, and I have had a number of Breville thermocoil machines that I've messed with. Nothing made much of a difference. As another poster mentioned, the one thing you could do is go to standard baskets. I should have thought of that, as I did switch my Breville Barista to them, and it does change the taste. However, the downside to that is that you have to get the grind right, as pressurized baskets are more forgiving in this regard. As for the Flair, I don't know, as I've never had one. I do have two other lever machines, mostly for display and to mess with. I can't say that they do better than my Synchronika, but they cost WAY less. :lol:

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#9: Post by Jeff »

With a good grinder and coffee, in the hands of someone with experience with the unit, I'd wager that a Robot, Flair, or one of the better vintage lever machines can more reliably pull a better shot than a Bambino or similar-class machine.

Bradyvil (original poster)

#10: Post by Bradyvil (original poster) »

Nunas wrote:That was pretty much my point. I don't have "golden taste buds" either, and I have had a number of Breville thermocoil machines that I've messed with. Nothing made much of a difference. As another poster mentioned, the one thing you could do is go to standard baskets. I should have thought of that, as I did switch my Breville Barista to them, and it does change the taste. However, the downside to that is that you have to get the grind right, as pressurized baskets are more forgiving in this regard. As for the Flair, I don't know, as I've never had one. I do have two other lever machines, mostly for display and to mess with. I can't say that they do better than my Synchronika, but they cost WAY less. :lol:
Thank you for more feedback, by "nothing made much of a difference" do you mean you couldn't get the Breville to succeed, or are you saying the Breville didn't taste a ton different than other options?

As for standard baskets, I'd be using IMS basket and shower screen. So that may help a smidge.

I'm not just trying to be cheap, I'm trying to tell if Breville, with a few mods, is onto something. I fully grasp the "cheap" side of this machine, how it doesn't have temp change, but I don't change temp anyway with the flair. If I get one I'll be sure to update this thread with my findings. Sounds like I'm one of few to consider the Bambino for this cause, most others seem to receive it as a wedding gift and know little to nothing about beans or regions or weighing their doses. Sorry for the intangibility here friends. Ha