In today's updated Breville Bambino Plus review I'll be revisiting what I originally dubbed the "Mini-Me" espresso machine. Actually, I'm still kinda proud of that!
In today’s updated Breville Bambino Plus review I’ll be revisiting what I originally dubbed the “Mini-Me” espresso machine. Actually, I’m still kinda proud of that!
Anyway, seeing as affordable and capable small espresso machines have been popping up like toadstools over the last couple of years, I figured I should take another look at the Breville Bambino Plus and see whether it’s still worth buying.
I mean, at $399.95, this compact espresso machine isn’t exactly cheap, and there are more options than ever in today’s crowded market.
So, just for the heck of it I bought both the Bambino Plus and the Breville Bambino to test out for you. While this review will focus primarily on the former machine, I’ll make sure to include a section comparing it with the latter.
great starter machine
Breville Bambino Plus Review Overview
Back when Breville announced that it was launching a micro-mini espresso machine called the Bambino Plus, there were a bunch of stoked Coffeeness team members. And not just because Breville had already earned a place in our good books, but also because semi-automatics are usually very bulky, intimidating and just plain pricey.
As I mentioned at the start of this Breville Bambino Plus review, compact and affordable entry-level home espresso machines seem to be all the rage right now. Check out my reviews of the Solis Barista Perfetta and DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe if you need confirmation.
In a head-to-head comparison with those two, the Breville Bambino Plus definitely scores plenty of points, but costs quite a bit more.
That’s all well and good, but this category of equipment still makes me think of chihuahuas: nobody really takes them seriously and their size and breeding have left them with a few hang-ups. Plus, people out walking their “real” dogs can’t help but chuckle at these anklebiters.
Compared to full-sized semi-automatic espresso machines, they feel like the toy version – more of a fashion statement than a serious evolution of the species.
Does that mean the Breville is a dud? Heck no. Like a handbag dog, it will find adoring fans and is a great pet in more ways than one. Aside from a few inevitable performance limitations, it’s a fun appliance and a breeze to operate.
Breville Bambino Plus Features
In this Breville Bambino Plus review I aim to demonstrate that this pint-sized machine offers a lot more than just novelty value. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at all the features on offer.
Size and Design
Breville hasn’t even attempted to make its Mini-Me look like a traditional espresso machine. Good for them, I say. Instead, the Bambino Plus looks more like the lovechild of a super automatic espresso machine and (shudder) a coffee pod machine.
There are no pressure gauges or complicated controls to make your head spin. Instead, Breville has kept things simple with illuminated buttons and a couple of scale indicators.
If you ask me, this is a big reason why the Bambino is so inviting. You just want to jump right in and give it a whirl.
In short, newbies and the uninitiated won’t feel that misplaced sense of awe when confronted by some huge chrome monster with endless cryptic controls.
This isn’t to say that the Bambino doesn’t have its fair share of shiny metal. Except for a few details like the portafilter handle and upper section of the tamper, stainless steel is everywhere you look. The result? It looks like a really high-quality package.
If it were up to me, I’d have chosen a slightly heavier metal alloy. Because the Bambino Plus is a bit too flimsy for my taste. This turns into a real bugbear whenever you want to unlock the portafilter from the group head and the whole machine goes flying.
Naturally, the Bambino Plus’ compact dimensions are a huge part of its appeal. I mean, you aren’t going to have a hard time finding space for this thing in your kitchen. Still, do remember that you’ll need to access the removable water tank on a regular basis, so overhead cabinets might get in the way.
As I already mentioned, Breville has equipped the Bambino Plus with a simple and intuitive user interface. There are buttons for single and double shots as well as a button for engaging the steam wand.
You’ll also find a couple of buttons with scale indicators for adjusting milk temperature and milk foam texture.
And that’s all folks!
As you might imagine, this approachable control panel means getting started with the Breville Bambino Plus won’t require you to spend hours with the instruction booklet. Still, there are detailed instructions in there to help you figure out various ways to program machine settings.
The Breville Bambino Plus comes with a factory set volume of 2 ounces (60 milliliters) for a double shot and 1 ounce (30 milliliters) for a single shot. Once the machine has extracted the set volume of espresso, it’ll automatically shut off.
To be honest, that’s probably going to be fine and dandy for novice users. Still, you do have the option to program your preferred shot volumes for each button. Alternatively, you can manually stop the extraction at any time. What can I say? It’s great to have options!
PID Temperature Control
You’ll encounter the lightning-fast ThermoJet heating system on quite a few Breville espresso machines, including this one. Not only is the ThermoJet ready to go in around three seconds, it uses significantly less energy than a thermoblock or traditional boiler.
Suffice to say, you aren’t going to be clock watching as you’re waiting for the Bambino Plus to come up to temperature in the morning.
Thanks to its PID controller, the Bambino Plus will maintain a stable temperature, too. This is especially helpful when you’re switching between brewing and milk frothing.
My only complaint about this fast-heating system is that you’re starting with a cold portafilter, which isn’t ideal for making espresso. So, you’ll have to run hot water through the thing a couple of times before pulling a shot.
As important as pre-infusion is to a successful espresso extraction, it’s not a given that entry-level machines will have this function.
Fortunately, the Breville Bambino Plus is equipped with an automatic pre-infusion function that dampens the coffee grounds under low pressure. This is vital to the development of aroma, and also helps combat tamping irregularities that can lead to channeling.
Even better, you’re able to adjust the duration of the pre-infusion by holding down the brewing button. That actually makes the Bambino Plus a lot more sophisticated than other machines in its price range.
Automatic Steam Wand
Adjusting the milk temperature is honestly child’s play. Just select one of the three levels on the colored indicator next to the button. That’s it. Easy, right?
To make microfoam, all you have to do is put milk in the pitcher, position it under the wand and press the button. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
If perfection is the bar, then the milk froth comes pretty close. With its beautifully fine texture and a temperature of around 144 degrees Fahrenheit (62 degrees Celsius), it’s very much in the Goldilocks zone. Heck, I was even able to create some fairly convincing latte art!
Interestingly enough, I’ve often noticed that many entry-level or hybrid machines with an automatic steam wand do a much better job of frothing milk than making espresso.
By the way, if you’d rather roll up your sleeves and get more involved in the milk steaming process, the Breville Bambino has a fully manual wand. I’ll discuss that in more detail a little later.
Although the Breville Bambino Plus is small, it still comes with a 54mm portafilter. However, unlike the 54mm portafilters I’ve used on other Breville machines, this one is noticeably more amateurish. Sure, you get both single and double walled filter baskets. However, the portafilter has an annoying plastic insert and lacks metal dispensing spouts. That means you can’t remove the plastic insert, seeing as you’d just end up with big holes in the bottom of the portafilter.
Unless you’re using pre ground coffee, I’d recommend ignoring the double-wall baskets altogether. Sure, you might spend a little longer getting to grips with using single-wall filter baskets and freshly ground coffee beans, but your espresso will be way sweeter and more complex.
While I’m on the subject, you’ll need a decent coffee grinder to get the best out of the Bambino Plus. There are loads of great options in my burr coffee grinder guide 2023, including the affordable and very effective Breville Smart Grinder Pro.
One espresso maker accessory that often proves a total cop-out is the tamper. Happily, the Breville espresso tamper isn’t half bad. OK, so it’s still too lightweight and its ergonomics aren’t particularly inspired, but it still beats what you get with a lot of other espresso machines costing well over $1,000.
You can tell that Breville had a very clear picture of the Bambino Plus’ typical user. How can I tell? One detail is a dead giveaway: the portafilter locks into place miles above the drip tray.
I can promise you that the baristas in your favorite coffee shop never put the latte glass directly under the portafilter spout. In fact, many commercial machines come with cup raisers, which are kinda like high chairs for little cups.
With the Bambino Plus, espresso plunges into the cup from a mighty height, catching a lot of air in the process. As a result, the coffee gets cold much faster than it should. And all that plastic in the portafilter isn’t exactly helping in the thermal stability department!
I like to champion Breville for lots of reasons, not least of which being its generosity with accessories. When you buy a Breville coffee machine, you can be assured of getting a fully fledged barista starter kit into the bargain.
I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but as always, I wish they’d also include a knock box for disposing of coffee pucks. That said, you only have to shell out an extra $19.95 for the Breville Knock Box Mini.
Anyway, here’s a look at what’s included with the Breville Bambino Plus:
4 x filter baskets
Stainless steel milk jug
Razor trimming tool
Steam tip cleaning tool
How to Use the Breville Bambino Plus
When it comes to setting up the Breville the Bambino Plus, there’s not much to tell because there’s not much to it. After all, the tricky part in preparing espresso always happens in the coffee grinder.
The grinder is where you determine your grind size and dose. Once you get to the machine, it’s “just” a case of finessing the water volume and temperature.
To take the head scratching out of the whole dosing thing, Breville includes a special tool for the purpose. Fittingly dubbed the “Razor,” allows you to trim the dose and level off the grounds so they’re at exactly the right height in the portafilter.
Like many others in the industry, the pros at Breville regard 19 grams of coffee as the correct dose for a double shot. There’s actually a pretty cool dosing and grinding guide in the user manual.
With that in mind, Breville’s 7-gram guideline for a single shot sounds like a mistake. It isn’t. Don’t let the numbers (and metric units) drive you crazy. Go to work with a coffee scale, the basket capacity and the appropriate grinder setting.
Remember that magic 19 grams doesn’t just apply to pro baristas but also their pro machines. So if the numbers on your scale don’t tally, but the brew is delectable, don’t let it mess with your mojo.
Back at the machine, you choose whether to go with the preset water volumes and preinfusion time or manually program the brewing process. To do this, you press the button and hold it down for a second or two before releasing it at the right moment. Again, the user manual provides clear and detailed instructions.
Seeing as I know what to expect from a Breville espresso machine, it took me next to no time to dial in my shots. By keeping my dose at 18 grams, I just had to make a couple of tweaks to my grind settings before I started getting in the zone.
And within a few minutes the Breville Bambino Plus was churning out beautiful 2-ounce (59-milliliter) shots of espresso with extraction times of between 28 and 30 seconds.
Seeing as the espresso has so far to travel, I’d recommend maxing out the temperature setting. Oh, and using pre-warmed espresso cups is vital!
As expected, the factory-set pre-infusion time on the Bambino Plus is around 9 seconds, which is way too long for my taste. So, I’d recommend dialing it back to around 5 seconds. Once I’d done that, I found that the Bambino Plus could produce superb, full-bodied espresso with luxurious crema and oodles of complexity.
Just for fun, I experimented with a regular portafilter from another Breville machine – one from which I’d removed the plastic insert. I have to say the results were superior, seeing as this portafilter had metal dispensing spouts and, thus, better thermal stability.
So, if you do buy this machine and want to get the best out of it, consider picking up a standard Breville portafilter from Amazon.
Overall, I really enjoyed using the Breville Bambino Plus, even if it did move around a lot as I was inserting and removing the portafilter. Oh, and the drip tray is very small, so keep an eye on that! Especially seeing as the auto milk sensor has to be kept dry.
Breville Bambino Plus Cleaning
If you flush the machine as often as possible and follow the instructions in the manual for cleaning and descaling, there’s no reason that the Breville Bambino Plus should ever get grungy.
That’s because the big advantage of home espresso machines is that the coffee grounds never come into contact with the machine’s innards. So the list of potential issues for you to take care of is limited to limescale buildup and other water problems.
After each use, make sure to rinse the portafilter and flush the group head. Once every couple of days, I’d recommend removing the filter basket, drip tray and shower screen and giving them a good scrub under running water.
As for the automatic frother, keep a dedicated damp cloth at hand and wipe the wand after each use. That’ll prevent stubborn milk residue building up on the steam tip.
As I just mentioned, the user manual provides detailed instructions for performing deeper cleaning tasks. In the case of descaling the machine, the Bambino Plus will let you know a cycle is needed via flashing lights on the control panel. The process takes a little time, but isn’t difficult.
Breville Bambino Plus Specifications
|Breville Bambino Plus|
Hybrid espresso machine
Stainless steel with plastic parts
Brushed Stainless Steel
Buttons and dials
Memo function only
|Removable water reservoir|
|Water reservoir capacity|
64.2 fl oz / 1.9 l
|Number of boilers|
|Maximum cup height|
4.5 in / 11.4 cm
|Grind adjustment levels|
|Bean hopper capacity|
|Adjustable coffee temperature|
|Adjustable milk foam temperature|
Yes (non-milk drinks only)
|Hot water function|
|Hot milk function|
|Milk foam only option|
3.1 lb / 1.4 kg
12.2 x 7.7 x 12.6 in
Included Accessories: Tamper, Dosing tool, Stainless steel milk jug, filter baskets, Cleaning supplies, User manual.
|Current price on Amazon|
Breville Bambino Plus vs Breville Bambino
At the start of this Breville Bambino Plus review I mentioned that I also purchased the Breville Bambino to test out. After all, at just $299.95, the Bambino is a good deal more affordable than the Bambino Plus.
As you already know, the Breville Bambino is equipped with a manual steam wand, rather than an automatic frother. But that’s not where the differences end. The Bambino is a good deal smaller and more lightweight than the (already lightweight) Bambino Plus. What’s more, the portafilter feels like something you’d find in a kid’s “My First Barista Set” box.
Finally, the Bambino doesn’t have adjustable temperature controls, although it’s still equipped with a ThermoJet heating system and a PID controller.
I’ll get straight to the point by telling you that I found the Breville Bambino very frustrating. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to bigger machines that this one made me feel like I’d just arrived in Lilliput! I struggled with the tiny drip tray, spilling water everywhere as I attempted to heat the portafilter. Plus, I had to refill the 47-ounce (1.4-liter) water tank constantly.
With all that said, the Breville Bambino performed as admirably as its larger sibling in terms of espresso quality. Seriously, this thing can really deliver the goods! Moreover, the manual steam wand has plenty of power and I actually enjoyed using it to create microfoam.
Ultimately, the Bambino’s asking price seems more than fair, especially given the quality of what it can produce. In fact, performance-wise, the Bambino is light years ahead of similar machines from Breville’s competitors.
Breville Bambino Plus vs Breville Infuser
For $479.96, the Breville Infuser is certainly a more expensive proposition than the Bambino Plus, especially seeing as you’ll also need a coffee grinder to go with it. Still, the Infuser definitely feels more like a “real” espresso machine, so it might be worth spending a little more.
I was really impressed by the Breville Infuser’s performance during my testing – I especially appreciated the pressure gauge. This particular feature really helped as I was dialing in my shots, and I ended up pulling some pretty darn tasty espresso.
While still fairly compact, the Infuser is quite a bit bigger than the Bambino Plus. Nevertheless, if you’ve got the countertop space and the budget, this hidden gem is worth every penny.
See Also: Breville Infuser Review 2023
Verdict: Breville Bambino Plus Review
great starter machine
As a rule, I advise that you steer clear of super-cheap automatic coffee machines. But a budget-friendly espresso machine isn’t the worst idea in the world. Use the price tag on the Breville Bambino Plus as your benchmark.
Once again the Aussies have taken on a machine category and succeed in responding to their target market’s desires for ease of operation and good coffee. I not only love the automatic milk frother but I’m a fan of the design and size. Plus, I think this machine represents great value for money.
The espresso earned a passing grade, even though it was definitely too tepid for my taste. This is what cost the Bambino Plus the most in my evaluation. The other downside is the rather flimsy construction.
Bottom line, my top pick for an entry-level machine is unchanged. Want to know what an affordable espresso machine looks like and is capable of? Check out the Gaggia Classic Pro – it costs even less.
In comparison, the Breville feels like a fun toy, designed as a teaser that you’ll want to trade in for a higher-quality model sooner or later.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Breville Bambino Plus review. What’s your take? As always, I look forward to your comments!
Breville Bambino Plus Review FAQ
If you like the idea of hands-free automatic milk frothing, it’s worth spending a little more on the Breville Bambino Plus.
The Breville Bambino Plus is equipped with a 15 bar Italian pump.
The Bambino Plus doesn’t have built in grinder, so you’ll need to use a separate coffee grinder.