Breville’s Bambino Plus is a firm favorite with our team. All stainless steel and style, it’s a must-have for coffee connoisseurs who are struggling for space. The espressos are exceptional and there are some premium features too.
Makes really good coffee
Easy to use
No integrated grinder
Can't steam and pull espresso at the same time
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If you’re a coffee connoisseur with compact countertops, the decision can be tricky. Do you want quality coffee or room to roam around your kitchen? Breville has the answer: the Bambino Plus.
As a barista, I’ve battled with some extravagant espresso machines. I’ve handled ones that cost twenty times the price of the Bambino and I promise that the coffee isn’t twenty times as good. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to taste the difference.
I took the Bambino Plus and tested it against the best espresso machines, including other Breville models. It’s brilliant. This slim, stylish, espresso machine is compact and makes espressos which are packed with flavors.
If you want a coffee that will get you out of bed in the morning, go for the Bambino Plus. If you’re short on space, go for the Bambino Plus. If you’re looking for style and substance, go for the Bambino Plus.
|Dimensions||7.7 x 12.6 x 12.2 inches|
|Pressure||15 bar Italian pump|
|Capacity||64 fl. oz.|
|Milk jug||16 fl. oz.|
Breville hasn't quite caught up with other brands when it comes to packaging. The box feels premium and has some lovely imagery on it, but the amount of polystyrene and plastic is disappointing. It would be good to see more recyclable materials in the future.
Once I had peeled-back the plastic, the Bambino Plus was in perfect condition and pretty much ready to brew. It comes with a collection of premium extras: a stainless steel milk jug ($25.95), razor ($29.98), tamper ($22.70), portafilter ($45), four portafilter baskets ($31.80), a cleaning tool ($5), and a cleaning disk ($5). That totals $164.43, then add in the hassle, postage, and time that it would take to source all of those. Instead, you’ve got useful accessories and an espresso machine that is ready to go.
Lifting the Bambino Plus onto the countertop, I was struck by just how light it is. Handling it was a joy, especially after using other espresso machines, which needed plenty of muscle just to set on a countertop. However, compared to other Breville models, the Bambino is a little lacking in finesse. The reservoir doesn’t click into place and the lid isn’t as solid. However, it’s still really good.
What is it like to use?
After filling the reservoir and bean hopper, and turning the machine on, the Bambino was ready before I was. If the buttons are illuminated, it’s ready to go. I pressed the one cup button, so that the machine could have a run through. That way, no factory dirt or detritus ends up with the coffee grounds.
Test 1: Espresso
I put 18 grams of ground coffee in my portafilter and tamped it using the provided tamp. When I slotted the portafilter into the machine, I used one hand to brace the machine pulled the portafilter handle until it was tightly locked in. I tested a double shot first. The machine was shaking a little bit and was relatively noisy on the first shot, but, it was much quieter after the first coffee. My espresso was faultless. The crema was hazelnutty and thick, it was smooth to drink, and the was perfect temperature too. The espresso splattered up the back of my cup a little, but it was fine apart from that.
Test 2: Americano
Lots of the mechanisms on the Bambino Plus are intuitive, but I had to refer to the instructions to get hot water. You press the one cup and milk texture buttons to get a steady, powerful jet of hot water from the milk wand. It splashed my espresso around the cup a little, because it was strong. By the time my cup was full, it was fine. The espresso wasn’t burnt by the hot water, so my cup was really well balanced. None of the flavors were overpowering and it was a really smooth drink.
Test 3: Cappuccino
The steam wand is really good if you aren’t a confident milk frother. You choose between three temperature and three frothing settings. Once selected, all you need to do is hold the jug: the rest of the process is automated. Just make sure to wipe the steam wand clean when you’re finished. The water pump was quiet throughout the process and both my oat and dairy milks had light, tight, and glossy textures. Adding this to my perfect espresso made a cappuccino from heaven. The loops on the milk wand, which are also on the reservoir, are a very useful addition. They make moving parts of the machine really easy.
Cleaning, Storage, and Maintenance
As this is a small machine, the drip tray fills up quickly. There’s a colorful tag that will indicate when it needs emptying, which, if you aren’t emptying lots of water in, shouldn’t be often. Always wipe the steam wand with a microfiber cloth after frothing milk. That way, you’ll never have dry milk clogging the wand. Make sure to keep an eye on your water filter too and give the reservoir a proper clean in warm soapy water every two days. There’s little other cleaning and maintenance that you’ll need to do, aside from a cosmetic wipe-down with a damp microfiber cloth after use.
As espresso machines go, this is a really compact machine. Though comparatively lightweight, it's still fairly heavy, so I would keep it on the countertop. However, you won’t need much room for it and it looks really smart too.
How does it rate online?
As with all the Breville espresso machines that we’ve tested, this is well reviewed. On most sites, it has at least a 4.2 star average. I read reviews from people who had owned a Bambino for over 4 years and it still worked like it would have on the first day: a testament to how well these machines last. I found a number of long-time Bambino owners were having trouble achieving good froth, but Breville suggested that this was because the steam wand was clogged. That’s why it’s important to wipe down and steam the wand after use. Lots of people loved how fast this was, noting how much quicker it was than other models.
The main advice offered by reviewers was to play around with the machine. A number of users referred to tutorial videos for how to use the machine; how to find the perfect grind; and how to choose which coffee to make. It’s a big investment for a small machine, but lots of user reviews will tell you, it’s worth it.
How does it compare?
If you look at Breville, you’ll see there’s a Bambino and a Bambino Plus. Both machines look very similar, but the Bambino is cheaper. They differ on a few points. The Bambino has a manual steam wand with 360 degree rotation, which is brilliant if you know how to froth milk yourself. The Plus has automatic pre-sets, so you don’t need to do much when it comes to cappuccinos and lattes. The Plus also has another 17 fluid oz capacity in the reservoir. The Plus comes with a metal, rather than a plastic, tamper and a precision dosing tool on top of the Bambino’s, already copious useful accessories. If you’re looking for extra luxury and a little less faff, the Bambino is a fantastic buy.
If you’re looking at the Bambino Plus because you want a smaller footprint espresso maker without compromising on quality, it’s worth considering the Wacaco Picopresso. This takes compact to the next level and could fit in the palm of your hand. It doesn’t make any noise and doesn’t require any electricity, which is better than the Bambino Plus if you need to be quiet in the mornings. However, it’s more hands on and limited to making one espresso at a time. The Bambino Plus can froth milk, make coffees back to back and is easier to clean between coffees.
Who would it suit?
As a slim, compact espresso machine, this naturally suits small kitchens. It’s also a good option for those who don’t want a statement espresso machine. The functions are more limited: there’s no integrated grinder, but if you already own a good coffee grinder, this is a great way to save on space and money. As with most espresso makers, it’s quite hands on. Although, the semi-automatic milk frother takes away some of the guesswork that more other models require.
Should you buy it?
If you have big coffee dreams, but want a small espresso machine, this is perfect. It’s a petite, but premium coffee maker. You’ll want to buy a grinder so that you can make really incredible coffee, but you’ll never look back from the Bambino Plus.
How We Test
We take the market-leading espresso machines to our dedicated test kitchen, so that we can replicate the home environment. Here, we put them through their paces, making espresso, Americano, and cappuccino coffees.
We make notes on everything from the unboxing process, to coffee flavors, to how easy it is to clean. That way, there will be no surprises when you buy something for yourself.
Our team of experts are well trained and well acquainted with coffee makers. Laura, who tested this espresso machine, is a qualified barista, so has used a range of different espresso machines. For more information on how we test, you can visit our page.
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Laura is our eCommerce editor. Before Homes & Gardens she studied English at Oxford University. Alongside her studies, she qualified as a barista and trained as a master perfumer. This makes her our certified expert for all things coffee, candles, and fragrance. She has passed our five-step tests to become a certified Customer Advisor, making her our resident expert. Laura has worked for luxury retail brands, reinforcing the importance of quality and style over quantity and fads. She looks for products which have been designed with thoughtful finishes.
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