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The Barista Touch Impress Is the Rolls-Royce of Home Espresso Machines

This Breville beast can do it all, from morning espresso bumps to delicious, risky late-afternoon cappuccinos.
Review: I Tried Breville’s Barista Touch Impress Espresso Machine
Composite by VICE Staff

Speaking as a former barista, I was pretty excited when I heard about Breville’s newest high-tech espresso machine, especially since I’ve found the brand’s earlier models to be among the best home espresso machines in the game. The Breville Barista Touch Impress, huh? Having a hard time relating to this one, since I’m far past the days of impressing baristas with my touch. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) [Alexa, play “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen.] Anyway. 


Making espresso at home is one of the greatest (and let’s be real—only) pleasures of modern life, and having a machine that helps you do it perfectly is priceless (not to mention that it makes houseguests think you’re an absolute boss). No disrespect to pod people—there are fine options in that realm as well—but if you love a cool afternoon bump, a creamy mid-morning latte, an after-dinner energy injection, or just a classic sunrise double shot to get the blood (and bowels) moving—and want a cafe-quality version of it—you need a great espresso machine. 

Now, you are probably laying in bed or sitting on the toilet while reading this article and thinking, This espresso machine is almost fucking $1,500, so why would I even consider this? Fair question; why not just get one that’s a lot cheaper? Well, smash play on that new Slowdive song and listen up, because I can tell you exactly why. Let’s get into all the reasons that this needs to be your new caffeine machine, my fellow bean heads.

$1499.95 at Amazon
$1499.95 at Breville
$1499.95 at Amazon
$1499.95 at Breville

What makes the Barista Touch Impress different?

The Barista Touch Impress is a very complex machine, performing a lot of different tasks within a relatively small space—sort of like your computer when you’re blasting New Order from Apple Music, scrolling Instagram, texting with friends, reading celebrities’ Wikipedia pages, and ordering Indian food at the same time: It’s just more efficient when that’s all happening in one place, rather than juggling flipping vinyls, writing letters, ordering food on a over the phone, and reading from your iPad simultaneously. 


In the Barista Touch Impress, a Baratza burr grinder (aka probably the best burr grinder brand in the game) surfs 30 settings to grind beans directly into your portafilter; an integrated tamper puts 22 pounds of pressure and a 7-degree twist on the coffee, pressing it into a perfect puck; a CPU manages extraction pressure and lets you know how to change the grind settings to get closer to a perfect pull (around 30 seconds); the CPU regulates perfect extraction temps; and, if you’re doing anything with milk, the steam wand makes perfect lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, and more using precise microfoam settings. On that note, Breville incorporates what they call Auto MilQ (gonna skip right over what that term sounds like a euphemism for), which helps you find the perfect settings for not only dairy milk, but also almond, oat, and soy; it lets you administer over the milk temperature and foam level, meaning you can literally have it your way (pay me, Burger King), whether that’s a warm-and-ultra-foamy cappuccino or an extremely hot latte with almost no foam. Best of all, once you find your ideal drink, whether it’s a double shot or a 150-degree flat white with medium foam, you can save the settings and reproduce it perfectly every time. 

Wow, thanks for all that info—you are a genius. But can’t I make cafe-level espresso drinks at home with other machines?


In short, yeah you could… if you’re either trained as a barista or have a bunch of other equally expensive gear and know how to use it. You can get a solo Baratza grinder and figure out the right grind size manually, through trial and error. You can get a good mid-level espresso machine and learn to read the extraction pressures and adjust your grinding and tamping to get perfect pulls (which is what you’d do if you worked in a third-wave coffee shop). You could work on your steaming skills and get pretty good at making pristine foam, eventually. Frankly, those are all good skills to have, even if you are ultimately going to rely on this machine (like me, someone who knows a bit about coffee but can also be pretty lazy, especially in the morning). If you’re willing to give up precious The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom time learning and buying all this stuff, by all means go forth, future latte king. Otherwise, with the Barista Touch Impress, you’re getting a multi-faceted machine that does a number of different things extremely well, and unless you’re already an espresso master, that should excite you.

What’s it like to use?

I’ve loved this thing from the start. I find the grinding and tamping process to be easy and streamlined, and I like how the machine “reads” your pull and tells you how to adjust the grind; that function is especially good for someone who enjoys trying different beans, or has a subscription where they’re getting new bags every week or two. I find the espresso shots to be on par with some of my favorite coffee shops, or at least within spitting distance, and the lattes I’ve made with oat and almond milk are extremely tasty. (After a lot of different tests, I found the Califa Farms Oat Barista Blend to be the best non-dairy milk for home lattes and cappuccinos, and now it has taken over my pantry.) I like how user-friendly the machine is—its touchscreen features tutorials for each function, so somebody who knows very little about making espresso could quickly become proficient at it. My girlfriend had never made espresso or a latte before, and yada yada yada, now we only listen to Big Thief and Fleet Foxes, make artisan croissants, and ride bikes everywhere


Maintenance is easy, since it tells you when to descale (a fancy word for “deep clean”). At one point, after a few weeks of use, I was finding that shots were pulling unusually slowly, so I went through the group head cleaning process on the menu, using one of the included pellets to wash out that part of the machine (it does it automatically, like a dishwasher). Delicious, clean shots flowed again soon after. The spice shots must flow!

TL;DR: The biggest pitfall with the Breville Barista Touch Impress is that it's so dang easy to use and the espresso is so incredibly tasty that you’re inevitably going to become an overcaffeinated freak who lives for the juice. (But maybe stop short of the guy I used to work in a cafe with who had eight shots one day and… let’s just say “had an unstoppable restroom emergency” on the way home.) This machine, though a tad pricey, corrals a ton of different mechanisms into one insanely easy to use machine, and gives you the power to wield it like a pro almost instantly. It’s the perfect gift to yourself, or to the person in your life that you want to make you espresso drinks for years to come. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am tweaking.

Buy Breville’s Barista Touch Impress on Amazon or from Breville.

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