Breville Dual Boiler (BES920XL) · Espresso Machine User Review

Coffee and espresso equipment reviews by the site's members.
From the Team HB Breville Dual Boiler (BES920XL) Review:

Image The Breville BES920XL is a feature-laden, attractively-priced double boiler espresso machine designed for the prosumer market. Like most Breville products, the BES920XL is an aesthetically pleasing home appliance, with a high "significant other" acceptance factor. It is sized appropriately for most kitchens, and fits neatly under standard countertops.

Its ergonomics are, quite simply, outstanding. There is an impressive attention to detail at all levels. For example, rather than legs, the espresso machine sits on retracted wheels. Under the drip tray is a lever than allows you to lock the front wheels up, so the machine stays in place. For minor adjustments, tilt the machine back slightly, and you can roll it on the back wheels. Other welcome ergonomic touches include a small storage area under the drip tray, the ability to refill the water reservoir from either the front or back of the machine, and a cute popup float that warns you when the drip tray should be emptied. Little touches like this make a big difference in user friendliness.

ESPRESSO: The Breville Dual Boiler offers stable brew temperatures, plus the ability to manipulate brew temperature precisely and reproducibly. This translates into a full range of flavors in the cup, and a greater realization of the potential of a given roast. Dual boiler machines generally excel at milk-based espresso beverages, allowing you to pull the shot and froth the milk simultaneously. The Breville Dual Boiler espressos demonstrated very good sweetness, clarity, and separation of flavors.

STEAMING: Because latte art quality microfoam is easy to obtain from the Breville Dual Boiler, but somewhat slow, it gets mixed reviews from cappuccino and latte lovers. The Breville Dual Boiler takes 25-30 seconds to steam 4 ounces of milk, even after bumping up the steam boiler temperature (the menu allows adjustments from 265-285°F). The steam wand itself is nicely designed, the lever/dial allows good control over steam, and it is easy to produce good, latte art-quality steamed milk. However, due to the somewhat anemic steam power, it's difficult to recommend this machine to "big gulp" latte lovers.

CONCLUSION: The Breville 920XL is an impressive new offering in the prosumer espresso market niche, providing an attractive, ergonomic, feature-laden double boiler espresso machine at an unprecedented price point. The Breville Dual Boiler is a pleasure to use, and delivers excellent performance where it counts the most: in the cup. The only negative factors are anemic steam power, lack of brew pressure adjustment, and unknown reliability (largely mitigated by an excellent two year warranty).

This is the first time a major appliance manufacturer has successfully brought a reasonably priced, top-performing espresso machine to market. I might quibble over some of their choices (no easy brew pressure adjustment, inclusion of pressurized baskets, Razor tool), but Breville deserves credit for getting almost everything right. Paired with a good grinder, this is an espresso machine that is suitable for home baristas at all skill levels.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (no reviews)