Breville Bambino Plus Review
Pros: Great taste, exceptional lattes and cappuccinos, mostly automated milk steaming
Cons: No built-in grinder, automated steam wand isn't ideal for microfoam or latte art
Compare to Similar Products
Breville Bambino Plus
$499.95 at Amazon
|$300 List||$450 List|
$420.00 at Amazon
|Check Price at Amazon||$199 List|
|Pros||Great taste, exceptional lattes and cappuccinos, mostly automated milk steaming||Great espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact design||Pulls excellent shots, great milk steaming||Good espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive||Easy to use, quick and convenient, good taste, makes brewed coffee also|
|Cons||No built-in grinder, automated steam wand isn't ideal for microfoam or latte art||No built-in grinder||Has a learning curve, no pressure gauge to help beginners, no grinder||Doesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder||Uses expensive capsules, only a limited number of espresso flavors available|
|Bottom Line||A top-notch machine that pulls great shots and offers the best mostly-automated milk-steaming we've found||One of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality results||An excellent machine if your familiar with the process of manual brewing, and already have a high-quality grinder||Offers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price||Great if you don't mind paying for convenience and want the ability to make brewed coffee too|
|Rating Categories||Breville Bambino Plus||Breville Bambino||Breville Duo Temp Pro||Gevi||Nespresso Evoluo|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (15%)|
|Milk Steaming (15%)|
|Specs||Breville Bambino Plus||Breville Bambino||Breville Duo Temp Pro||Gevi||Nespresso Evoluo|
|Dimensions||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||15.5" x 13.3" x 17.6"||13" x 10" x 16"||9" x 12.2" x 12.3"|
|Milk Frother||Automatic Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||None|
|Water Tank Capacity||65 oz||47 oz||61 oz||42 oz||54 oz|
|Cost per Shot||$0.47||$0.45||$0.47||$0.45||$0.85|
|Lifetime Cost per Shot||$0.68||$0.58||$0.64||$0.50||$0.93|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price||198||118||158||51||93|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price||118||70||94||30||52|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For those wanting cafe-quality espresso at home without spending thousands of dollars, the Breville Bambino Plus should be on your shortlist. It can truly recreate cafe-quality drinks at home, and it is among the easiest to use.
The Bambino Plus is one of the few machines we tested that could get close to the quality of both straight espresso and milk drinks made in a cafe on much more expensive machinery, earning it one of the highest scores in our taste testing.
Very few machines that we've tested at this price point have been able to truly recreate a cafe-made espresso experience at home, but the Bambino Plus is one of them. Its espresso is rich and creamy with beautiful hues during extraction. It offers a strong, bold flavor without over-extracting any bitterness. The steam wand is also quite capable, allowing for those luxurious espresso shots to be turned into great cappuccinos and lattes.
Ease of Use
The Bambino Plus offers about as easy of a user experience as one could expect from a semi-automatic machine, but it can't compete with the super-automatic machines in terms of convenience.
When it comes to brewing espresso, the Bambino Plus offers pretty much the same experience you'll get from any semi-automatic machine. You'll have to grind the beans, tamp them into the portafilter, and make sure the extraction is going smoothly. This is one area where something like the Breville Barista Express has a slight advantage, as it has a pressure gauge that gives visual feedback as to whether you need to adjust your grind size and/or tamping pressure. However, the Bambino's manual suggests that you should see espresso pouring 7-10 seconds after pressing the brew button, and we found this guideline to be sufficient in getting all associated factors dialed in. Also, the Bambino's pre-infusion stage makes it fairly forgiving to inconsistencies in grinding and tamping technique.
Milk steaming is where the Bambino Plus offers a huge convenience factor over other semi-automatic machines. Instead of requiring you to learn the ways of a manual steam wand, it simply asks you to fill its included pitcher with milk and place it underneath. Then you can select your desired settings for milk temperature and foam level, press a button, and the rest is taken care of. If you're very picky about your milk and want to learn how to steam on your own to get the exact texture you desire, this may be a slight limitation. If you're working on your latte art, for example, the steam wand will likely be more of a hindrance than a help. However, for many people, this feature makes the Bambino Plus the easiest way to get a cafe-quality cappuccino at home.
To top it all off, the Bambino Plus has a huge 65-ounce water tank that is very easy to fill, and a fairly intuitive control panel. Our minor gripe is that the drip tray is a bit shallow, so you'll have to empty it fairly often (there is a full indicator that should prevent any overflowing messes). Don't forget that this machine also does not have a built-in grinder, the lack of which requires spending quite a bit extra and which negates any gains from the machine's relatively compact form factor.
Bottom line, the only way to get a more convenient cappuccino is to get a super-automatic machine that does all of the grinding, tamping, brewing, and steaming for you. However, in our experience, this inevitably comes with a significant tradeoff in terms of taste.
Ease of Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning, the Bambino Plus is fairly average. Cleaning it falls short of feeling like a nonexistent chore (as it does with pod machines) but certainly doesn't feel like an onerous undertaking that will ruin the tasty drink you just made.
Like all semi-automatic machines, the Bambino Plus requires that you clean the portafilter and drip tray, both of which are not time-consuming chores. The milk wand conveniently purges itself after every use, so it only really requires a quick wipe down to clean the milk from the outside. All said and done, you should expect a couple of minutes of cleaning required after each use.
Longer-term cleaning, namely descaling, is a fairly straightforward process. It took us 30 minutes to complete, but it only required hands-on attention for about half of that time.
In terms of automatic milk frothing, the Bambino Plus is far and away the best we've come across. With the touch of a few buttons, it can create milk that will much more closely approximate a latte or cappuccino from a cafe than any other automatic frother.
The only way we've found to create higher quality milk (and by "higher quality" we mostly mean the kind of microfoam production that can make a truly luxurious latte or latte arm) is to steam milk with a manual steam wand. This process takes a minute or 2 of hands-on attention, and probably a few weeks of trial and error before you get dialed in. If you're picky about your milk this extra effort is certainly worth it, but if you're not fussy the auto steam wand on the Bambino Plus will get you 80% of the way there with about 4% of the effort.
It's a bit tricky to pinpoint the value of this machine, specifically because it does not include an espresso-ready grinder. If you already have a grinder that is capable of producing the superfine grinds required to make espresso (and many of even the nicest standard grinders can barely make it into the espresso range, so you may need to upgrade) then the Bambino Plus offers a lot of taste for a reasonable price. If you don't already have a grinder, there are options with a built-in grinder that are a more economical choice, though you may have to learn how to steam milk manually.
The Breville Bambino Plus provides a truly convenient way to make a great cappuccino at home. It doesn't have a built-in grinder and the automated steam wand may stifle the barista-minded folks that want full control, but for most people, this machine expertly bridges the gap between manual and automated.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata