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Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine Review

The Breville BES980XL Oracle is speedy and convenient. It offers café-quality coffee, with enough features to keep any aspiring barista happy. But all of this tech doesn’t come cheap. So is the Oracle really worth the hefty price tag? 

Keep reading our Breville Oracle review to find out.

SUMMARY: Breville BES980XL Oracle

Breville BES980XL Espresso Machine
  • Automatic tamping, grinding, and milk steaming
  • Incredible options for programming
  • Quick and convenient
“Great espresso should be complex, sweet, balanced and clean. But most of all, it should be easy to repeat!” – Adrian Mancuso, Five Senses Coffee

A quick review of the Breville Oracle BES980XL

The BES980XL Oracle is the top-of-the-line Breville espresso maker. As such, it’s packed with features often found in higher-end machines only. In fact, the Oracle is something of a hybrid between semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso machines, the flexibility of the former, and the latter’s convenience.

It’s the ideal machine for anyone that wants café-quality coffee at home without the learning curve associated with semi-automatic machines. The Oracle will grind, dose, tamp, extract, and texture your milk all at the touch of a button.

Pros

  • Dual boiler with built-in grinder

  • One-touch Americano feature
  • Hands-free milk frothing
  • Caster wheels

Cons

  • Big footprint

  • High price point

Full review of the Breville BES980XL Oracle

Espresso Machine Pour White Cup

Let’s take a look at the full range of features you’ll find on the Breville BES980XL Oracle and whether they make it the right automatic machine for you.

Design – 4/5

A large machine with a brushed stainless-steel finish and digital touch screen display, this Breville coffee maker is an impressive addition to any kitchen. Of course, the 14.5″ x 14.7″ x 17.6″ size means it’s bigger than average, but Breville has created a workaround. They’ve equipped the machine with a built-in caster system that can be engaged whenever you need to move it.

The BES980XL has two boilers, meaning it can brew and steam milk at the same time. But it’s also equipped with the company’s patented triple heat system.  The importance of heat in espresso making is quite apparent: 

A stable temperature helps ensure that you prepare excellent espresso.

coffeeresearch.org

WIth the triple heat system, the group head is also separately heated, ensuring a constant water temperature through the extraction process (1).

There is a downside to the Oracle, however. While all of the high-quality stainless-steel parts will see you through plenty of use, some lower-quality plastic elements can make the machine prone to breakdowns.

User-friendliness – 5/5

Ease of use is what the Oracle is about! Though it’s not quite in line with super-automatic machines, it will take you from bean to cup with the only minimum required work.

With the beans coming from the bean hopper, the built-in, conical burr grinder also doses and tamps your coffee grounds. So you only need to move the portafilter to the group head to start your extraction. Milk texturing is not only automatic but also hands-free, and the dual boiler system means you can have your espresso and milk ready at exactly the same time.

The one-touch Americano option makes the Oracle a standout among semi-automatic machines.

Some lovely features might not have anything to do with your coffee, but make using this espresso machine a pleasure. This includes a light for your workspace, a reminder when it’s time to empty the drip tray, and an automatic purging feature for the steam wand.

Reservoir size – 5/5

The Oracle comes with a massive 84-ounce reservoir, even bigger than that of the Jura Z6. The large capacity means that Breville has had to put the main water tank at the machine’s back. But there is also a port at the front for easy refilling.

Versatility – 4/5

At almost every step of the coffee-making process, you’ll find options to adjust and program your choices. Starting with the bean grinder, the Oracle gives you a range of 40 different options for grind size, suitable for any kind of bean you might want to use.

You can adjust the tamping pressure, and pre-infusion time. This is essential for even extraction and will need to be changed depending on the bean and grind size. 

You also have the choice of setting the hot water flow for your espresso extraction by volume or time. This will allow you to tweak the yield and strength for coffees such as a ristretto or lungo. The pump can go up to 15 bars of pressure, WELL ABOVE the recommended 9 bars for a decent espresso (2). 

When it comes to the milk, you can adjust both temperature and texture, with the range measured from silky latte to frothy cappuccino. 

That said, with automatic espresso machines, you will be limited by the program options available. You won’t have complete control or the chance for hacks, but that’s not the end of the world, right?

Is this really for you?  

The Breville Oracle is the ideal machine for anyone who appreciates good coffee but doesn’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to get to grips with operating a semi-automatic. Even if you consider yourself pretty handy with a quality espresso maker, the Oracle is excellent for anyone looking for speed and convenience without sacrificing their coffee quality. 

It’s also great if you entertain frequently. Not only can the machine turn out a latte approximately every minute, but it’s almost an entirely hands-free operation.

Don’t buy this if…

If you only drink your coffee black, many of the features on this machine like its steam wand will be wasted on you. You’re better off going for something like the Jura Micro 9, which has a much smaller footprint (and lower price).

If you want total control over your coffee. Though there are plenty of things you can customize to a small degree with the Oracle, you won’t have control over everything, such as the amount of coffee added to the portafilter.

Suppose a super-automatic machine with fewer options is what you’re really after. In that case, you can save yourself a considerable amount by opting for the Gaggia Brera or the De’Longhi Magnifica.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for the quality of coffee you will get from a semi automatic espresso machine but also need convenience and ease of use; then the Breville Oracle has nailed this brief perfectly. 

The price might put some people off. Once you consider the included features (many of which are only usually found in more expensive machines), it’s pretty good value for money and more importantly, this coffee machine can make you real great coffee every time.

“Breville
References
  1. DualBoiler BES920XL. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://support.breville.com/us/content/dual-boiler-bes920xl/
  2. Killbride, D. (2017, June 8). How does pressure affect espresso quality? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/how-does-pressure-affect-espresso-quality/

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