Breville BES920XL Espresso Machine Review for 2020

Breville BES920XL Review

Breville is a multinational manufacturer of espresso machines and accessories. And the Breville BES920XL is just one of their premium quality products. 

This is a large-sized semi-automatic espresso machine. It features full PID temperature control along with stainless steel construction. It structures two boilers, for brewing and steaming. You get an even consistency of shot saturation and temperature.

What’s more…! The Breville BES920XL highlights measurement control and parts out the right amount to give an ostensible immersion. That, alongside the Over-Weight Valve, keeps your shots from getting excessively immersed.

But the machine is not without flaws. It doesn’t have a built-in grinder, and your options are limited to just coffee grounds. Secondly, it’s a large and heavy model, which takes a toll on elderly people.

So what’s the catch? Is the Breville BES920XL as good as they say? Is it worth the high price? We dive into the question extensively. Take a look at our review.

Pros

  • PID temperature control.
  • Intuitive interface with pressure gauge.
  • Two separate boilers.
  • Fully articulated steam wand.
  • Stainless steel construction.
  • Over-Pressure Valve for optimum extraction.

Cons

  • Not for smaller families.
  • No ESE pod compatibility.
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
  • Dual stainless steel boilers and dual Italian pumps for simultaneous espresso extraction and steaming
  • Over-Pressure Valve (OPV) limits extraction pressure;Flexible Shot Control
  • Electronic PID temperature control for precise water temperature
  • Backlit LCD displays brew temperature, shot clock or time.We recommend using cold, filtered water. We do not recommend using water with no or low mineral content
  • Includes water hardness test strip, descale alert and LCD assisted descale procedure

Should You Choose A Fully Automatic or A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine?

Before we begin the review, let’s first decide if you need a semi or a fully automatic espresso machine. As the name suggests, semi-automatic machines have some level of automation for them. 

Cleaning, descaling, steaming, and fixing the portafilter are all manual. If your machine has a grinder, you need to transfer the portafilter from the grinder head to the brew group and tamp it yourself. 

Fully automatic machines, on the other hand, control everything for you. You just feed in a set of instructions, and the rest is history. Everything from cleaning to steaming and even tamping is automatic.

Breville Specialty:

Over the past few years, Breville has pioneered a few different technologies, some of which are as follows:

PID: This stands for, Proportional-Integral-Derivative. PID allows you to control the temperature of your espresso machine, which means more control and programmability than traditional semi-automatic machines.

Stainless-Steel Build: Almost all of Breville’s espresso machines are made of stainless steel. This material is the best as it is water-resistant, thermally conductive, and resistant to both corrosion and impact damage.

Dosage Technology: Breville also incorporates specialized dosage technology. What this does is to portion out the correct dose (usually 19-22 grams) of coffee for the perfect saturation. The dosage size varies with the portafilter.

Comparison Chart:

FeaturesBES920XLBES980XLESP8XL
Taste Special dosage technology with Over-Pressure Valve for optimum extraction. Does not allow the taste to get over-saturated. Also gives more control over the temperature. Dual-wall crema technology for elevating texture.
Brewing capacity 84 single, 42 double.84 single, 42 double, 0.5 lb. bean hopper.41 singles, 20 doubles.
User-friendlinessPressure gauge, digital temperature display, tamper holder.Digital steam and brew boiler temperature display, grinding control.Minimal interface with little to no control.
Design and materialsMostly stainless steel, including the brew group.Stainless steel with dual boiler construction. Stainless steel with some plastic parts. 
Cleaning and maintenanceEasy to descale, backflush, and wipe down.Convenient to descale, backflush, and wipe down.Effortless descaling, backflush, and wipe down.
FrothingSeparate steam boiler, fully articulated steam wand with rubber grip.Separate steam boiler, full temperature, and texture control.Shares the brew boiler, shorter steam wand with rubber grip.
GrindingNo onboard grinder.Includes onboard burr grinder with a large bean hopper.No onboard grinder.
Additional featuresPID temperature control, 1000W Thermoblock, espresso shot timer.PID control, Thermoblock, includes a grinder, espresso shot timer.Small and compact, manual shot volume control.
Value for moneyMeets the value.Meets the value. Seems underpriced. 

The Breville Bes920XL Coffee Machine Review:

Taste:

Taste has always been Breville’s strong point. Accurate coffee dosage and thermal stability enable this machine to extract the full flavor from grounds. The portafilter has been deliberately intended to hold between 19 to 22 grams of grounds. This is the optimal dose for maintaining a saturated and well-balanced coffee flavor.

The machine also maintains the right temperature and high pressure. What’s more is its PID temperature control, making it more programmable than others. The dual boiler is also laced with pre-infusion technology, allowing for maximum extraction.

Being from the same makers, the Breville BES980XL features PID control as well. This is a strong point for espresso machines since it allows more control over the machine’s output. It also features the Over-Pressure Valve that maintains a 15 bar constant pressure to prevent aftertastes.

The Breville EPS8XL utilizes a special dual wall crema technology that elevates the taste and texture of the coffee. It also structures a 1-kilowatt Thermoblock that automatically monitors temperature.

Brewing Capacity:

Breville BES920XL Capacity
Breville BES920XL Capacity

The Breville BES920XL is a great choice for households and offices with more pieces. It features a water tank that can hold up to 84 ounces of water. You can easily make 84 single-shot espressos and 42 double shots. 

You don’t need to refill the tank very often. It’s recommended to use in commercial restaurants, as its a bit inexpensive. For small to medium-sized households or personal use, consider a smaller Breville coffee machine.

Breville BES980XL and Breville BES920XL, both are extra-large versions and you get the same amount of tank capacity. However, what’s different here is, you get a half-pound bean hopper along with a built-in grinder.

If you want a small-sized Breville espresso machine, try the Breville ESP8XL. It has the capacity of 41 fluid ounces that makes it smaller than some regular-sized espresso machines.

User-Friendliness:

Breville BES920XL User friendliness
Breville BES920XL User friendliness

Breville’s espresso leads the market in providing full control to the end-user. The Breville BES920XL is no different and features a highly intuitive display with PID control. There’s a pressure gauge in the middle of the interface for monitoring the constant 15 bar pressure.

The digital screen displays the temperature of the coffee, which can be controlled conveniently. A tamper holder along with a rubber-padded steam wand gives the final touches to your coffee. You can also use the hot water wand to make Americano and hot chocolate.

The Breville BES980XL takes the digitization farther with three separate screens. One screen is for monitoring the time, other for the steam wand, and the third one is for the grind size. You also get control over the temperature and texture, however, there is no pressure gauge.

As for the Breville ESP8XL, its interface is mostly minimal. You get a single knob to change the mode of the machine along with an enormous power button. There is a window to check the water level though, along with a rubber-padded steam wand.

Design and Materials:

Breville BES920XL Design
Breville BES920XL Design

The Breville BES920XL boasts an all-round stainless-steel construction. Almost every part of its exterior body is made of stainless steel. This not only makes it more resilient but also easier to clean and maintain.

Both its boilers are made of the same material, allowing for maximum thermal conductivity and retention. The portafilter, brew group, and the milk jug are also made of steel that makes them heat up fast and maintain a steady temperature for your perfect barista.

The Breville BES980XL is made of stainless steel as well, with a steel portafilter and brew group. This allows the machine to retain the maximum heat. Since stainless steel is conductive, it dissipates some heat to the surroundings and prevents overheating.

Stainless steel construction is also featured on the Breville ESP8XL, but it has some aluminum elements. A warming tray will be the perfect example, which is a plus point since aluminum is more conductive than steel.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Taking care of your brand new Breville BES920XL won’t take a toll on you. While cleaning is not automatic, this machine is relatively easier to maintain. Regular cleaning pods come with its cleaning kit, and you have everything in one place.

This machine can be backflushed and descaled easily. But you’ll have to do it manually to some extent. Since it’s made of stainless steel, you simply need to wipe it with a damp cloth. Harsh abrasives can spoil the layer of steel.

The Breville BES980XL is no different either. It’s relatively easier to take care of and tends to resist scale buildup. There’s a high-quality water filter that prevents hard water from entering the system. So descaling isn’t required as often.

As for the Breville ESP8XL, it’s a smaller product but with the same cleaning ease. The external body is not easy to clean though.  

Frothing:

Breville BES920XL Frothing
Breville BES920XL Frothing

The Breville BES920XL is one of the very few espresso machines that features a separate steam boiler. You can froth milk and brew your coffee at the same time.

There’s also a fully articulated stainless-steel steam wand. The wand has a rubber-padded holder, which prevents you from burning your hand, a common problem with steam wands. Additionally, you also get a hot water dispenser for Americano, although the spout is short and not articulated.

A comparative plan is followed in the Breville BES980XL, with a different steam heater and PID control. The steam wand is additionally explained with an elastic cushioned elbow. What’s more, you get both temperature and surface control.

The Breville ESP8XL has a shorter steam wand, with little to no temperature control. And it only functions on one boiler. It features a thumb rest on the rubber-padded elbow, along with high thermal stability.

Grinding:

Breville BES920XL Grinding
Breville BES920XL Grinding

The Breville BES920XL features practically no grinding. And there isn’t much in terms of what you can feed into the machine. It only accepts pre-ground coffee, with no flexibility on ESE pods.

You can find some suitable grinders to pair with the BES920XL, though. The Smart Grinder Pro Coffee Bean Grinder is a good choice, as it’s from the same company. It’s little, convenient, and incredible for business and individual use. 

You may want to look for a model with a grinder if you have whole coffee beans. Grinding your beans means you can control the texture and grind size. 

The Breville BES980XL is different though. It features a single burr grinder along with a large 0.5-pound bean hopper. Simply plug the portafilter in the grinding station and wait a few seconds for the beans to get ground. 

This is great since you can add any type of bean you want to the hopper and control grind size and texture. As for the Breville ESP8XL, it doesn’t feature a grinder.

Additional Features:

Breville BES920XL Features
Breville BES920XL Features

Aside from all the features mentioned above, the BES920XL hosts a ton of different technologies. The most prominent one is the Thermoblock technology, which helps retain heat and maintain thermal stability within both of its grinders. 

There is also an espresso shot timer that shows how much time it will take for your shot to get ready. You also get full PID control, which adds a level of programmability to your device. It lets you precisely control the temperature, with an error of 2 degrees F.

To keep the incoming water free from impurities, the BES920XL features a special water filter. This not only limits the amount of scale formation but also inhibits odd aftertastes. 

The Breville BES980XL makes use of a pre-infusion function. It allows the grounds to get soaked well in hot water before beginning the extraction. So the resulting coffee is heavily infused with flavor. 

While it may seem small, the Breville ESP8XL is no bystander. This machine features a Thermoblock technology that generated barista-style texture and aroma. You also get to manually control the volume of the shot, so it’s great for filling larger cups.

Value for Money:

Now it’s time for the real question: Is the Breville BES920XL worth the high price? 

Well, for starters, just take a look at the programmability. PID control is no joke, and you get a fully articulated steam wand that makes it more or less worth the price. 

Also, consider the fact that it has a full stainless-steel build with two separate and highly immersive boilers. Even with all those things, the price of this machine is pretty normal for its range and qualities. 

The only thing it lacks is a grinder and ESE pod compatibility, but a lot of people still buy it. Plus, it’s extraordinary for use in business settings, as it has a bigger limit and more prominent strength.

The Breville BES980XL makes up for all BES920XL’s shortcomings. It has both, a grinder and an ESE pod compatibility. You can control the temperature and texture of the steam. However, you don’t get a pressure gauge, but that shouldn’t lower the price.

Perhaps, the cheapest in this review is the Breville ESP8XL. It’s small, has a lower level of functionality, and doesn’t provide much control. There’s only one boiler. However, even with all that, the price is still too low. So it’s relatively underpriced. 

Who Should Buy the Breville Bes920xl?

The Breville BES920XL is a large-capacity semi-automatic espresso machine. It’s recommended for use in larger households and cafes. For personal use, however, you should look for a smaller model.

This is a great choice for its PID control functionality. You get to adjust the temperature in very precise increments, making it the best for optimizing saturation.

If you’re looking for quick and easy espresso-making, this is the perfect pick for you. It hardly takes more than a minute to create a generous espresso shot. The taste is highly saturated and free from traces.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Breville Bes920xl?

Being a higher capacity, this machine isn’t recommended for personal use. A smaller, much cheaper machine would do better. This also isn’t the best for those who like to use whole beans or ESE pods. There is no grinder and you’ll need to purchase one separately.

This is also a heavier model, taking up more counter space. So don’t go for it if your kitchen is already cramped, or if you can’t pick up heavy objects.

Pros

  • PID temperature control.
  • Intuitive interface with pressure gauge.
  • Two separate boilers.
  • Fully articulated steam wand.
  • Stainless steel construction.
  • Over-Pressure Valve for optimum extraction.

Cons

  • Not for smaller families.
  • No ESE pod compatibility.

FAQs for the Breville BES920XL:

Is the Breville BES920XL Travel-Size?

No, this Breville machine won’t fit in a standard suitcase for traveling. It’s too big and heavy for that. Also, if you don’t have proper packaging and cushioning, you could very easily break the product. Consider a smaller model, preferably one made for traveling, instead.

How Can the Big Water Tank Be Accessed?

The Breville BES920XL features an 84 oz water tank that doesn’t require to move the entire machine to access it. Simply pull the tank up from the back and you can refill it with ease. This is a better way to access the tank since you don’t have to move the entire machine around.

What Accessories Do You Get with The Breville BES920XL?

The Breville BES920XL comes with a horde of accessories. You get a tamper, a stainless-steel milk jug, a tool for trimming the dose, basket filters, descaling tablets, and much more.

The Verdict:

Breville has certainly put out some of the world’s best espresso makers, and the BES920XL is a testimonial to justify that. From precise temperature control to two boilers and even an over-pressure valve. 

This is the best espresso machine for those who want a saturated espresso shot in a short time. It has a larger water tank, enabling it for commercial and professional use. 

However, it could still benefit from a few improvements. Namely the inclusion of a grinder along with pod compatibility.

You may proudly use this machine for daily purposes as well as for running your café.