Usually, if you want an espresso maker with all of the bells and whistles, you’ll need to be prepared to sacrifice a lot of countertop space. However, the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine is a space-saving option that’s packed with all of the features normally found in much larger models.
Reaches optimum temperature in 3 seconds
3 milk temperature settings
3 milk texture settings
Hands-free milk texturing
Stainless steel milk jug
Razor tool for precise measurements
Various color choices
No built-in grinder
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There are so many things to love about the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Maker. For starters, it’s a beautiful stainless-steel appliance, and the space-saving design doesn’t take up much space on my countertop. The espresso maker is only 7.7 inches wide and just a little over 12 inches tall. Also, the water tank is removable, making it convenient to both fill and empty. And these are only the icing-on-the-cake extras.
What really makes the compact Breville Bambino Plus so impressive is the precise espresso extraction method. The low-pressure pre-infusion process soaks the grinds to bring out the best flavors in the coffee grounds Using PID (digital temperature control), the espresso maker ensures the optimum extraction temperature. And, I can even adjust the temperature and texture of the milk to fit my taste – and create latte art. That's something you won't find with many of the top picks in our best coffee maker guide.
Keep reading to find out more about the Breville Bambino Plus and see why it gets such high mark in our Breville Bambino Plus review.
Breville Bambino Plus specs
- Dimensions: 7.7” x 12.6” x 12.2”
- Weight: 3.10 pounds
- Capacity: 64 fluid ounces
- Pump Pressure: 15 Bar Italian Pump
- Heating Prep Time: 3 seconds
- Warranty: 2 years
Who should buy the Breville Bambino Plus?
This is a great choice for at-home baristas looking for a great machine that won’t hog their countertop – or their wallet. It’s not exactly inexpensive, but among the Breville family of espresso machines – which can cost over $2,500 – it’s actually considered an economical choice.
It’s also ideal for people who want a well-designed machine that doesn’t have a 20+ page instruction manual. The Breville Bambino Plus has simple controls (along with corresponding icons), making it easy to use.
In addition, coffee aficionados who demand the perfect drink will appreciate the Razor precision dose trimming tool, low-pressure pre-infusion, and 15-bar Italian pump, as well as the ability to control the temperature and texture of the microfoam milk. It's certainly a contender in our roundup of the best espresso machines.
Unboxing and first impressions
The Breville Bambino Plus was well-packed and had various compartments to safely and securely house the many parts and accessories. In addition to the actual machine, the contents include a stainless steel milk jug, tamper, steam tip cleaning tool, Razor precision trimming tool, 1 cup and 2 cup dual wall filter baskets, cleaning disc, and cleaning tablets.
The steam wand is attached. The removable drip tray grid includes the drip tray and the milk jug temperature sensor.
Brushed stainless steel is always my finish of choice; however, the Breville Bambino Plus is available in a variety of other tempting finishes, including Black Truffle, Sea Salt, Damson Blue, Black Stainless Steel, Oyster Shell, Royal Champagne, Smoked Hickory, and Red Velvet Cake.
The controls are quite simple to understand. The first 3 buttons are for 1 cup, 2 cups, and steam, and there are tiny icons underneath each button. On the right side of the panel are two vertical buttons.
The top button is for the milk temperature (warm, ideal, hot), and the bottom button is for the milk foam settings (low, medium, high) To the left of the vertical buttons are the indicator lights for the milk temperature and milk foam settings.
The water tank is in the back of the espresso maker. In the photo above, I’ve turned the appliances to the side so you can see it. The water tank is removable, which makes it convenient to place under the sink’s faucet and fill. There’s a MAX line on the water tank.
The Bambino Plus is smart enough to detect if the water level is low or the water tank is not attached correctly, and the buttons will not light up – signaling that there is a problem.
What is the Breville Bambino Plus like to use?
After filling the portafilter with coffee grounds, I tapped it a few times to even distribute the grounds, and used the tamper to tamp them down. Then I placed the Razor dose trimming tool on top of the portafilter and then rotated it back and forth to remove excess coffee grounds. (Note: It’s called the “Razor” but it’s not sharp, so don’t worry about it cutting your fingers.)
After filling the water tank with water, and inserting the portafilter, I pressed the 2 cup button. There’s enough clearance that I could have used a much taller container if desired. Since Breville uses a proprietary thermojet heating system that reaches the best extraction temperature in 3 seconds, it doesn’t take long for the coffee to start flowing.
To froth the milk, I filled the milk jug and placed the steam wand into the milk jug. Then I selected the milk temperature and milk foam settings, and then pressed the steam button. (Note: there’s also an option to steam the milk manually.)
Cleaning the Breville Bambino Plus
As should be expected with espresso makers, the steam wand needs to be cleaned after each use. This entails raising the wand then wiping both the wand and tip with a damp cloth. Next, the wand is lowered, and it will automatically purge itself. If you forget to lower the wand, the milk temp and milk foam lights will turn on, indicating that the wand needs to be lowered.
The filter baskets and portafilter should be rinsed with hot water after use, and the group head interior and shower screen can be wiped with a damp cloth. The drip tray should also be removed, emptied, and then washed with warm soapy water. The exterior housing can be wiped with a damp clamp and then you can polish it with a dry, soft cloth.
After 200 extractions, the 1 cup and 2 cup buttons will start flashing alternatively to indicate that it’s time for a cleaning cycle. This entails putting a cleaning tablet in the cleaning disc (both included) and then placing in the filter basket. Then fill the water tank with water and press and hold the 1 cup and 2 cup buttons for 5 seconds to start the cleaning cycle.
When it’s time to descale the Bambino Plus, the 1 cup, 2 cup and also the steam button will flash alternately for 15 seconds. Fill the water tank and add descaling agent to the water, then press the 1 cup and steam buttons to enter descale mode.
How does it compare to other coffee makers?
Breville also makes a regular Bambino that’s even smaller (and $200 cheaper). However, among other things, that model has a smaller water tank, and does not have settings for the milk temperature and texture, a Razer, or clearance for extra-tall cups.
I’ve tested the De’Longhi Dinamica Plus, Philips 3200 with LatteGo, Nespresso Lattissima One, and Café Affetto, to name a few espresso makers. However, it’s difficult to compare the Bambino because it’s a different type of machine.
For example, the Nespresso Lattissima One is also compact, but it's technically a single-serve coffee maker – but it only uses capsules. The other machines are much larger, much more expensive, and include grinders.
Should you buy the Breville Bambino Plus?
If you don’t mind purchasing an external grinder for your coffee beans, the Bambino Plus Espresso Maker has everything else you need to be an at-home barista.
There are less expensive espresso machines on the market, but they may not offer as many features or have the level of quality associated with Breville appliances. I would definitely rate this as one of the best espresso makers that I’ve tested.
About this review, and our reviewer
Terri drinks (decaf) coffee every day – and can drink it with or in place of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. She has tested dozens of coffee makers – and can always find time to test more.
All our reviews, as in the case of the Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Maker, are based on the real-life experience of using these products at home. The products are given to us free of charge and we test them for as long as possible before sending them back to the brand unless we are able to keep them as we are with this coffee maker. This means that we can continue to use the product, which gives us the opportunity to return to our reviews for updating, so you can keep up-to-date with how it's fared over a period of time.
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Terri Williams is a journalist with real estate, home improvement, and product review bylines at Architectural Digest, Real Simple, Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, MSN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, and Apartment Therapy. She also covers business topics, with bylines at USA Today, The Economist, US New & World Report, Verizon, and several other brands that you’ve probably heard of. Follow her adventures on Twitter.
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