Providing essentially all of the performance of the Editors' Choice Award winning Breville Barista Express but without a built-in grinder, the Breville Duo Temp Pro is one of the best espresso machines we've tested. It pulls a rich, delicious shot, has a high quality steam wand that can create great texture, and is relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machine. If you already have an espresso-quality grinder, would prefer to buy one separately, or plan to buy pre-ground specialty espresso coffee, this machine is an excellent choice. However, if you want to reduce the countertop footprint of your espresso setup, the Barista Express offers a nice all-in-one rig.
Breville Duo Temp Pro Review
Pros: Great taste, great milk steaming
Cons: Has a learning curve, no pressure gauge to help beginners, no grinder
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Breville Duo Temp Pro has the ability to make cafe-quality rinks right in your own kitchen. It is a semi-automatic machine, so it presents a bit of a learning curve for beginners. It also does not have a built-in grinder, so you'll have to buy a separate grind capable of creating very fine espresso grinds, or buy some of the specialty espresso pre-ground coffee.
Should I get the Duo Temp Pro or the Barista Express?
Many readers will be choosing between two of the top machines we tested, the Breville Duo Temp Pro and the Breville Barista Express. The main difference between these two machines is that the Barista Express has a built-in grinder, while the Duo Temp Pro does not. If you already have an espresso capable coffee grinder (we're talking one that can produce multiple sizes of fine espresso grinds, not one that simply claims its finest grind size is small enough for espresso), then the Duo Temp Pro is the clear choice.
However, apart form grinders, the Barista Express does have one main advantage over the Duo Temp Pro: its pressure gauge. This gauge lets you see whether or not the brewing process is hitting the right pressure, which in turn will let you know if you need to adjust your grind size or tamping pressure. This is a great feature for beginners, who may not be able to pick up on the subtle clues that they need to switch things up. So overall we think the Barista Express, with its pressure gauge and all-in-one construction, is the more beginner friendly of the two options. It also costs $200 more than the Duo Temp Pro, but that's about how much you'de have to spend on a separate espresso grinder anyway.
The Breville Duo Temp Pro made some of the best espresso milk drinks we tasted, matched only by its sibling, the Barista Express. However, it does carry some of the difficulties inherent in a semi-automatic machine. For the finer pros and cons, check out our full review below.
The Duo Temp Pro was one of the top performers in our taste testing, sharing the top slot with its sibling and the Rancilio Silvia.
This machine was one of the few models we tested that could truly match the quality of a cafe drink. Its espresso produces a rich, bold espresso with a nice crema and red hues during extraction. Combine that espresso with the nearly perfect microfoam this machine's steam wand can produce, and you've got a cappuccino or latte that tastes like your favorite neighborhood barista just handed it to you.
Ease of Use
Like all of the machines we tested that can make truly cafe quality drinks, the Duo Temp Pro is a semi-automatic machine. This means you have to grind, tamp, and brew the coffee yourself, and also steam the milk manually with a steam wand. This process isn't particularly difficult but does present a bit of a learning curve to beginners. Because of this, the Duo Temp earned a somewhat average user friendliness score of 6 out of 10. If you're looking for a more automated and convenient option, take a look at a super-automatic machine like the Gaggia Brera. Just remember, moving to a super-automatic machine generally brings a drop in taste quality.
Though the Duo Temp does present the inherent challenges of a semi-automatic machine, it does a fairly good job of lessening those difficulties as much as possible. The portafilter is well designed, doesn't leak, and thus generally dos not make a mess. The steam wand is easily moved and is short enough to hang over the drip tray, meaning excess milk ends up in the tray and not on your counter. Intuitive controls make it clear which settings need to e selected to pull a shot or use the steam wand. The tamp has a nice feel and heft to it, and conveniently stores in a magnetic slot. Both the drip tray and water tank are easy to remove and carry over to the sink.
While we do think the Duo Temp makes the semi-automatic brewing process relatively easy, the Breville Barista Express is definitely the more user and beginner friendly of the two machines. Along with all of the nice touches of the Duo Temp, the Barista Express also has a pressure gauge that lets you know whether your brew process is hitting an ideal pressure. This can let you know whether you need to adjust your grind size up or down, or use more or less pressure when tamping. The Barista Express also has a built-in grinder that dispenses the perfect amount of coffee for a double shot at the push of a button. The Duo Temp requires that you buy a separate grinder and that you make sure you're grinding the right amount.
Overall we think the Duo Temp is slightly easier to use than the similarly designed Rancillio Silvia. This mostly comes down to the Duo Temp's pre-infusion feature, which hits the grinds with a splash of relatively low-pressure water before ramping up to full pressure. That pre-infusion tends to flatten out the coffee and correct for any small errors in tamping, and to an extent grind size, resulting in a greater success rate for beginners. The Silvia which we still think is an excellent machine for the experienced barista, does not have this feature, and thus is less forgiving to unpracticed hands.
Ease of Cleaning
Here again, the fact that the Duo Temp is a semi-automatic machine means that it requires a bit more work than most of the automated super-automatic machines. You have to clean and wipe out the portafilter, wipe down the steam wand, and periodically empty the drip tray. All of this pushed its score down a bit relative to some of the other machines, but it still earned a resp[ectable 6 out of 10.
That being said, the Duo Temp doesn't have and egregious water of coffee spillage issues, so all of those extra semi-automatic related cleaning tasks aren't too arduous. ITs descaling process can be done with vinegar and water, so you don't have to buy any fancy solutions. The whole process took us 30 minutes, which was slightly above average, but didn't feel too ridiculous for a task that only needs to be completed every 4-6 months. Bottom line, the extra cleaning required of the Duo Temp when compared to super-automatic machines isn't too bad, and is well worth the upgrade in quality of taste.
Along with the Barista Express and Rancillio Silvia, the Duo Temp's steam wand was one of the few that was able to make perfectly creamy microfoam. Our professional barista remarked that it was easy to get similar results to what she makes in the cafe with this wand, and even beginners were able to get some really nice texture in their milk after just a few attempts. If you're looking tpo truly recreate a coffee shop latte at home, this steam wand is up to the task.
One thing to note is that the Duo Temp cannot both steam milk and pull a shot at the same time. In fact, after pulling a shot it sometimes takes up to a minute for the machine to be able to get enough pressure to the steam wand. During this time your espresso shot is oxidizing and getting more acidic and bitter. This can be stopped by putting just a splash of cold milk in the espresso right after it's brewed, or even just putting whatever syrup you might be planning to use in your drink. This holds the espresso's flavor and will improve your end result
It is a bit hard to pin down the Duo Temp's value. It lists for $400, well less than the Breville Barista Express' list price of $600. However, an espresso capable grinder will probably set you back around $200, so that difference is negligible. We have recently seen the Duo Temp selling for as little as $300. At that price it is a slightly less expensive alternative to the Barista Express, as long as you have the space on your counter for an espresso machine and a separate grinder.
The Breville Du Temp Pro can make cafe quality espresso drinks at home, but does take a little bit of practice for beginners and requires that you buy a separate, espresso quality coffee grinder.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata