Breville BES980XL Espresso Machine Review for 2020

Breville BES980XL Review

The Oracle is a semi-automatic machine that can produce a rich aromatic flavor, and it won’t be overpowering. The machine can create some exciting latte art, and your coffee tooth will crave for more. But is there a better machine available for a lesser price? We’re here to solve it once and for all. 

For those coffee aficionados who want to be more in control of the final cup, this machine would be an ideal choice. It will allow you to gauge the pressure and temperature according to your requirements. You can produce a taste that will match the coffee from your local cafe, or might even far better. 

But you will spend a lot of time to mend your recipes and extract different flavors. If you have a hectic schedule, it can be a problem then. 

So does it produce an authentic barista coffee? We are going to find everything about it in this review.

Pros

  • Automatically purges its steam wand.
  • Intuitive display.
  • Controllable buttons and knobs.
  • Variable temperature, pressure, and shot dosage.
  • Durable commercial grade.
  • Stainless steel construction.

Cons

  • Non-adjustable coffee grind size.
  • No energy saver.
Breville Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Oracle Touch
  • SWIPE. SELECT. ENJOY: With automation at every stage, simply swipe and select for espresso, long black, latte, flat white or cappuccino and enjoy caf? quality coffee at home
  • DOSE AMOUNT: The integrated conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of coffee, similar to the commercial machine in your favorite cafe
  • PRECISE WATER TEMPERATURE: The difference between an ashy or balanced tasting espresso can be caused by temperature change as little as 2?F. The Oracle Touch uses digital temperature control (PID) technology, this ensures the temperature is kept at its optimum range.
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve (OPV) is a commercial feature included in the Oracle Touch. This limits the maximum pressure throughout the extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors in the coffee shot. It also has true low pressure pre-infusion, which gradually increases the pressure to gently expand the grinds for an even extraction.
  • SUFFICIENT STEAM PRESSURE: A cafe quality coffee is a delicate balance of espresso flavor and rich sweet milk with a micro-foam texture. The steam wand, powered by a dedicated steam boiler, automatically textures milk to your taste and preferred temperature, delivering barista quality silky micro-foam that enhances the flavor of coffee. Then it cleans itself!

Should you choose a fully automatic or semi-automatic espresso machine?

Both of these machines have their pros and cons. A semi-automatic machine puts you in control of how your final cup tastes in the end. You can experiment around with the coffee dosage in each of your shots as well. 

But creating coffee with this kind of machine will take time, and you need to understand how different coffee recipes work. Therefore, you need to have time and experience in running these machines. 

On the other hand, a fully automatic machine provides you with a convenience to not interfere with the recipes. All these recipes come inbuilt, and you just need to press the button for a real hassle-free bean-to-cup experience. 

For a person with a busy schedule, this would be an ideal choice. But you are relying on the taste that a machine can produce and it might not taste like your local cafe. 

Breville Specialty

Breville has truly made inroads recently with the introduction of some subtle features in its coffee and espresso machines. Some of the cutting-edge technology features are as follows.

PID

PID means Proportional Integral Derivative, and it is a temperature controller that an espresso machine features. This controller regulates temperature to keep it precisely the same as you need to be for your final cup. For a good tasting cup of coffee, your temperature needs to range between 195F and 205F.

Stainless-steel build

One of the best features of these machines by Breville is that they are made of stainless steel. It means that they are very durable, and most of them are commercial-grade. 

Dosage Technology

Another excellent feature of Breville machines is their dosage control technology. You can conveniently choose between single or double shots but just pushing a button. You can manually control how much coffee gets into your cup. With the integrated burr grinder, the machine grinds coffee on demand. 

Comparison Chart

FeaturesBES980XLBES870XLESP8XL
TasteSilky smooth, rich-tasting coffeeThe aromatic and flavorful cupSlightly milder with a rich crema
Brewing capacity10.5 cups (84.5 fl oz) 8.5 cups (67 fl oz)5 cups (40.5 fl oz)
User-friendlinessIntuitive display with easy to use buttons and knobsLess user-friendly due to more manual controls and you will learn with timeVery simple to use its 2-control system
Design & materialsStainless steel construction with a robust yet lightweight designPretty heavy with stainless steel constructionVery lightweight with a compact footprint
Cleaning & maintenanceAutomatic steam wand purging and very easy to clean and descale Slightly tricky for new users but gets comfortable with timeStraightforward cleaning and descaling process
FrothingRich and creamy Rich and creamy Airier and less creamy
GrindingInbuilt burr grinder with 8 oz bean hopperInbuilt burr grinder with 8 oz bean hopperNo grinder
Additional featuresAutomatic wand purge, intuitive display, dual boiler heating system, single touch Americano, and removable bean hopperAdjustable grind size, dose control grinding, microfoam frothing, and dual boiler heating systemThermoblock pump, dual walled filtering system, frothing pitcher, cup warming plate and froth enhancer
Value for moneyExceeds the valueMeets the valueCheap

The Breville BES980XL The Oracle Review

Taste

The taste that the Oracle BES980XL can produce is rich and aromatic. If you are looking for that silky-smooth flavoring coffee without any boldness, you need to invest in this machine. From coffee beans to your final cup, the Oracle makes sure that it preserves the rich taste and fragrance that you crave for. 

Whether you are an avid coffee drinker or drink it occasionally, this machine will leave your taste buds fully satisfied. Even if you are looking for some creamy latte art in your cup, this machine won’t disappoint you at all. And this machine is fully equipped with such skills. 

When we talk about the Barista Express BES870XL, the taste and aroma match the results that the Oracle produces. The only difference is, the Barista Express is more analog than the Oracle. The Cafe Roma ESP8XL focuses more on a compact footprint, but when it comes to taste, it creates a slightly mild coffee with a rich crema. Therefore, it works better with fine-ground coffee only. 

Brewing capacity

Breville BES980XL Brewing
Breville BES980XL Brewing

The brewing capacity of the Oracle BES980XL is 10.5 cups before you need to refill. Its water tank has a capacity of 84.5 fl. oz, and if you are a frequent coffee drinker, then this machine is an ideal pick for you. You can even entertain some of your coffee fellows if they choose to join you. 

Hence, the Oracle BES980XL is a suitable machine for office setup or home with multiple coffee drinkers. It might be a bit too much if you are the only one who drinks coffee because there are other less expensive options available as well. But if you have decided to go with it, rest assured, you won’t be needing any refills in a day provided you drink more than 10 cups a day. 

On the other hand, the Barista Express comes with a slightly low brewing capacity of 8.5 cups with a 67 fl oz water tank. It is a much better choice if you are not surrounded by heavy coffee drinkers, both at your home or office. It allows you to control everything to make your perfect barista. 

The Cafe Roma comes with a brewing capacity of 5 cups, and it won’t work in an office environment given you are using it for yourself only. For individual use, this is the best choice out of three. 

User-friendliness

If you enjoy drinking coffee but don’t want the manual control on your coffee recipe, the Oracle would be a suitable choice. It comes with various buttons and knobs to enable you to control various aspects. These aspects include pressure, temperature, dosage, and frothing, etc. You will get the taste you are looking for, but that barista-like feel will not be there. 

For that, you have to go for the Barista Express, as this machine gives you full control over each cup. You can control dodge, pressure, and temperature, the result will be exactly what you want in your cup of coffee. The machine is not very user-friendly because you need to have some experience if you want to get that great tasting coffee. 

Cafe Roma is the best in terms of user-friendliness because there is only a dial that allows you to brew the coffee, just froth it afterward and you’re done. You don’t have any control over your cup. For a busy individual who wants a cup instantly to start the day, this is a better option. 

Design and materials

Breville BES980XL Design
Breville BES980XL Design

Oracle’s design is focused on convenience as it keeps everything right in front of the user to explore. The display provides you with all the information about the current status of your machine. All the buttons and knobs are well within reach and easy to use. 

But if compactness is what you are looking for, this machine is not the right option for you. It is the largest of the three machines we are comparing here and the heaviest as well. If you don’t move around your coffee machine, the Oracle will suit you a lot.

When talking about the design of the Barista Express, it is slightly more complicated than the Oracle. You have to get used to it to understand what each control does. They are all straightforward to access, so it’s just the matter of getting accustomed to your machine. 

Cafe Roma has a minimalistic design with a simple power button and a control dial with three positions. One is Standby, and the other two are brewing and frothing. 

All these three machines are made of stainless steel and very durable. The Oracle and the Barista Express is made of commercial-grade steel. 

Cleaning and maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance of the Oracle are uncomplicated. But you need to go through it a few times to ensure you get everything right. There are different kinds of descaling tablets available to quickly get rid of any residue that accumulates in the coffee dispenser. 

But there are times when you have to disassemble the machine, clean it manually from the inside and then reassemble it. One of the best features of this machine is an automatic purge of the wand when you are done using it. Thankfully, the instructions manual lists down various cleaning methods in detail, and you have to go through them to get the job done.

The Barista Express is slightly tricky to clean and you should be experienced in understanding which part goes where during the assembling and disassembling process. Again the manual will help you out, but you will be on a learning curve in the beginning as it is a time taking process. 

Cafe Roma is not much difficult to clean and maintain because there is not ample to take care of. You just have to remove the water tank and the coffee dispenser. You can also use descaling tablets to run by the machine to eradicate any coffee gunk.

Frothing

Breville BES980XL Frothing
Breville BES980XL Frothing

The steam wand of the Oracle coffee machine can produce some rich and creamy frothing that is less airy and smoother. If you are a latte fan, the Oracle will get it done nicely. The best part is you just have to press the button and leave the rest to the machine. 

The frothing feature of the Barista Express is manual, and you can alter the airiness and creaminess according to your requirements. It is an incredible feature if you love to create different coffee recipes and work with varying types of latte art. But you need to be experienced in working efficiently with it. 

The frothing feature of the Cafe Roma is pretty simple. You won’t be able to create magnificent latte art with it, but when it comes to taste, you will find the forth airier in this machine which might leave you begging for more. This aspect will be suitable if you are in a hurry and just want to get a cup down.

Grinding

Breville BES980XL Grinding
Breville BES980XL Grinding

The Oracle comes with a conical burr grinder that you can remove if you already own one. Its bean hopper capacity is 8 ounces and designed to preserve the maximum amount of flavor right before extracting. As this machine comes with a large footprint; you can detach the grinder if you can’t fit it inside your cabinet. 

Alongside, the Barista Express also comes with an 8-ounce burr grinder that is very similar in function to that of the Oracle. The Cafe Roma doesn’t feature a burr grinder, and you need to have a separate one to work with it. 

Just make sure you use premium quality coffee beans. Whether you own a coffee machine with a grinder or not, quality beans will provide you with a great tasting coffee. The rich taste of coffee beans retain most of their flavor on the grounds that it ends up in your final cup. With the Cafe Roma, you need to go for finer grounds for perfect coffee extraction and better-tasting cups. 

Additional features

Breville BES980XL Features
Breville BES980XL Features

The Oracle features a dual boiler heating system to attain the temperature you are looking for. There is a simple one-touch Americano feature that helps you make a cup of Americano that is less strong but with a rich crema. You can also program your shot temperature with its Italian pump. The machine can retain its temperature throughout the extraction process, and you won’t have to deal with any bitter tastes. It also comes with an automatic purging for the steam wand, so you don’t clean it after each cup. 

The Barista Express features control grinding according to your coffee recipe. You also get to hand texture your frothing with microfoam which produces better espresso flavor and allows you to create better latte art. 

The Cafe Roma uses a thermoblock pump as its heating system along with a dual walled filtration system for better crema. It also boasts a froth enhancer and a cup warming plate. This machine comes with different accessories including a tamping tool, measuring spoon, and a frothing pitcher. 

Value for money

The Oracle is designed for multiple coffee drinkers and works well for both home and office use. It comes with a large brewing capacity and you only have to do a couple of refills if the demand is high. For an individual, this machine might be a bit too much of a cost and capacity. 

On the other hand, the Barista Express is ideally suitable for individuals who like to spend some time on their cup and get into intricate details. If you want to get that cafe-like flavor while staying in your comfort zone, this machine is the right option for you that delivers the best bang of your buck with full manual control. 

However, if you have a very busy schedule and just want a cup of coffee to take on the day ahead then Cafe Roma is good enough. It’s all about simplicity and swiftness and you can get on to your routine in no time. It is better suited for individual use. 

Who should buy the Breville BES980XL? 

The Oracle BES980XL is the ideal choice for anyone who likes to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and want some control over the recipe. This machine allows you to alter the shot dodge, pressure, and temperature with simple controls, knobs, and buttons. 

There is an intuitive display that tells you about the machine’s current status therefore, it’s pretty user-friendly too. 

Enjoy some latte art with the Oracle and your final cup will be smooth, and rich tasting coffee with a heavenly aroma, one cannot resist. 

It works well if you are looking to serve a small group of coffee lovers in your office or at your home. 

Who shouldn’t buy the Breville BES980XL?

If you are an individual coffee drinker and don’t have anyone around most of the time, this is a bit of an over-budget choice for you. People with busy schedules won’t find this machine useful either. 

Apart from that, if you prefer dark roasts and robust flavors; the Oracle is not going to suit you well. And similar is the case if you don’t prefer latte art. There are simpler machines available to explore in such a scenario. 

Pros

  • Automatically purges its steam wand.
  • Intuitive display.
  • Controllable buttons and knobs.
  • Variable temperature, pressure, and shot dosage.
  • Durable commercial grade.
  • Stainless steel construction.

Cons

  • Non-adjustable coffee grind size.
  • No energy saver.

FAQs for the Breville BES980XL

Can I grind my beans a few hours earlier before I start brewing them?

The Oracle can grind beans automatically before the brewing begins. But it can do both these processes simultaneously. You can’t do them separately. But you can remove the grinder from this machine and use a separate grinder if you wish to grind your beans a few hours before brewing.

How many cups can I brew with this machine in a day?

You can brew as many cups as you need but Breville recommends not to brew more than 20 cups a day. It is because you will have to clean the machine after each use and it can become tiresome and annoying.

Can the Oracle prepare Mochas?

Yes, the Oracle can make mochas and this is one of its best features. You can make any coffee with this versatile machine and entertain small groups along the way.

The Verdict

The Oracle BES980XL by Breville is a quality semi-automatic machine that features dual boilers for quick heating process and good brewing capacity. You can alter the shots according to your wish and manually control them as well. 

Alter the temperature and pressure as you need for the recipe you are making and end it up with a delicious tasting latte. You can also bring a small group of people and let them rejoice with your creation.