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Philips Barista Brew Review: A Brand New Hybrid!

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

Our review process | Our team

I’ve done it again, folks; I’ve sniffed out another newcomer to the home espresso machine market. I’m excited to write this Philips Barista Brew review and introduce you to this new semi automatic espresso machine.

I’ve done it again, folks; I’ve sniffed out another newcomer to the home espresso machine market. I’m excited to write this Philips Barista Brew review and introduce you to this new semi automatic espresso machine.

The Barista Brew has a built-in grinder and a handful of adjustability settings, all wrapped up in a compact and shiny metal box. What more could you want? Let’s get into it!

A solid hybrid espresso machine

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Plenty of thoughtful features

58mm portafilter

Adjustable PID

Great selection of accessories

Easy to use

Understated design

Less than convincing grinder

Overview: Philips Barista Brew Review

The Philips name is likely familiar to those of you with an affinity for super automatic espresso machines. While Philips hasn’t yet won over that market, they have produced some strong contenders.

Most notably, these include their LatteGo lineup, led by the flagship Philips 3200 LatteGo. This model is a mid-range super automatic with automatic milk frothing and a few specialty drink options. On the other hand, the Philips 2200 is a budget-friendly super automatic with pared down features.

But of course, you’re here to learn about the Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine (CURRENT PRIME DAY DEAL! ONLY 549.99 $ INSTEAD OF 649.99 $). With a $479.04 price tag, this is a mid-range semi automatic with a built-in conical grinder and some advanced features.

Most importantly, the Barista Brew features a 58-millimeter stainless steel portafilter, automatic pre-infusion, volumetric control and an adjustable brew temperature with PID control. Plus, a simple user interface allows easy access to all of these features.

What’s more, the Barista Brew has some beginner-friendly touches, like a temperature strip on the included milk pitcher, a calibrated tamper and a timer-based dosing mechanism for the grinder. Consequently, this Philips semi automatic espresso machine is ideal for both beginner and intermediate home baristas alike.

Finally, I’ll admit that I don’t love the modern design of this machine. Still, I can say that it won’t make or break the aesthetic of your kitchen. Rather, the Barista Brew is unassuming and boxy, with a silver-colored metal casing and anti-fingerprint coating.

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine Features

Now that you know the basic framework of this Philips Barista Brew review, let’s break it down further.

Size and Design

Let me start with looks. I’ll admit I don’t find the Philips Barista Brew to be the most stylish espresso machine on the market. While I appreciate the metal casing, the machine looks a little drab, especially paired with the strip of black plastic that houses the plastic buttons.

In fact, it looks like a cheaper version of the Breville Barista Express, though it costs about the same. I’ll compare these two machines more directly toward the end of this Philips Barista Brew review.

Looks aside, the Barista Brew is pretty compact and well-designed. It’s got a 12.6-inch (32-centimeter) wide footprint and is only 13.15 inches (33.4 centimeters) tall, which means it should fit under overhanging cabinets pretty easily.

That said, the 77.7-ounce (2.3-liter) water tank is located in the back of the machine and could be difficult to access. Plus, the tank is quite narrow and could be difficult to clean. What’s more, the cup clearance is pretty small, allowing for a maximum cup height of only 3.7 inches (9.4 centimeters).

On the other hand, some nice design touches include an anti-fingerprint coating, a cup warmer, a metal grate drip tray and a designated hot water spout. What’s more, the Barista Brew is about 19 pounds (9 kilograms), which is heavy enough to be durable but light enough for most folks to easily move it around.

User Interface

Fortunately, the user interface on the Barista Brew is pretty simple. It features a series of buttons with indicator lights, a pressure gauge and a knob for steam and hot water.

Even better, the buttons are clearly labeled for power, grinder, grind amount and the drink options. Incidentally, the drink options are the standard single shot and double shot, with a bonus Americano button.

What’s more, there are some hidden programming features, like customizable brew temperature and shot volume. I’ll leave the details to the user manual. Suffice to say, you can access these features by pressing the right buttons in the right order.

Finally, the Barista Brew has a built-in grinder. Keep in mind that there isn’t a cradle for the portafilter, so you’ll have to hold onto it while you grind the espresso beans.

Conical Burr Grinder

Philips Barista Brew Grinder

As I mentioned earlier in this Philips Barista Brew review, this semi automatic espresso machine has a built-in conical burr grinder. The product page only refers to the burrs as “metal,” so it’s unclear whether they are stainless steel or some other type of durable metal or mixed metal.

Anyway, it’s got 15 different grind settings, which you adjust by rotating the 8-ounce (250-gram) hopper. Doing so seems easy enough, though some buyers have remarked that the adjustments aren’t precise enough to really dial in your espresso.

Portafilter

Philips Barista Brew Portafilter

If there’s one thing I like about the Philip Barista Brew, it’s the 58-millimeter stainless steel portafilter. Despite being a mid-range machine, the portafilter looks pretty professional and well-made. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the black plastic handle; it looks a little cheap.

Fortunately, the portafilter comes with four baskets: pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for single shots, and the same for double shots.

As it happens, most espresso fanatics prefer non-pressurized or single wall baskets because they tend to produce more nuanced shots. That said, pressurized or dual wall baskets are good options for novice baristas who haven’t yet fine-tuned their tamping skills.

Moving on, the portafilter also comes with a handy dosing funnel. Since a dosing funnel is one of my favorite espresso accessories, I’m super impressed with Philips for including one free of charge!

Finally, the portafilter is equipped with a piece of rubber on the bottom, which makes it easier to tamp on your countertop without scratching either surface.

Dosing

Like many semi automatics with built-in grinders, the Philips Barista Brew has a timer-based dosing system. Incidentally, home baristas can manipulate the dose via a dial with marked lines.

That said, most professional baristas would still recommend using a coffee scale to check that the dose is consistent. After all, even minor changes to the grind size would likely throw off the dosing mechanism.

What’s more, the grinding button has both single shot and double shot settings. I’m assuming that the double shot setting multiplies the set dosing time by two, though that’s just speculation – the Philips product page and related videos are not clear on these settings.

Additionally, the Barista Brew features volumetric control over your single shot, double shot and americano settings. In order to set these buttons to your preferred dose, simply press and hold the relevant button while brewing, then release the button once the shot has reached your desired specs.

Tamping

Philips Barista Brew Tamping

Drum roll, please! The Philips Barista Brew comes with a quality stainless steel espresso tamper. That’s right, no need to throw out a plastic tamper if you buy this semi automatic espresso machine.

Even better, the calibrated tamper has an ergonomic handle, which helps to ensure an even and firm tamping pressure.

Plus, as I mentioned, the rubber pad on the bottom of the portafilter will protect your countertop from any scratches while you tamp. Still, you can always buy a tamping mat if you’d prefer more complete protection for your counters.

Pre-Infusion

I mentioned the automatic pre-infusion feature earlier in this Philips Barista Brew review, but I’d like to emphasize it for good measure.

As I’ve said time and again, pre-infusion at low pressure is key to creating an even espresso extraction. Some prosumer espresso machines will even let you customize your pre-infusion time and pressure, though that level of adjustability isn’t often necessary for beginner baristas.

PID Temperature Control

One of the cool things about the Philips Barista Brew is the PID temperature control, which regulates the heating system to make sure the water is at adequate brewing and steaming temperatures.

In fact, you can adjust your preferred brewing temperature by entering into the machine’s programming mode. I’ll let the user manual walk you through these steps. For now, I’ll just say that Philips gives you three choices: high, medium or low temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s not clear what these settings mean in terms of their actual temperatures.

On a similar note, it’s also not clear what kind of heating system the Barista Brew features. Weirdly enough, Philips doesn’t mention it anywhere on the product page and there isn’t a user manual online that’s easily accessible.

Still, I would guess that it’s a thermoblock or thermocoil heating system, given that the Barista Brew reportedly has a quick heat-up time. If you have any leads on this mystery, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article.

Milk Foam

The Philips Barista Brew takes milk foam so seriously that, along with a powerful steam wand, it includes a 15-ounce (450-milliliter) stainless steel milk pitcher with a “Temperature Perfection” design.

In other words, the pitcher has a temperature strip across the bottom edge. As it happens, the numbers change color as the pitcher reaches the corresponding temperature. This is a super neat idea, and is especially helpful for new baristas who aren’t yet accustomed to the nuances of steaming milk.

That said, there are mixed reviews regarding where the temperature strip works as intended. Plus, since this machine is so new, it’s unclear how durable this feature is. Either way, I like the thought behind it.

On a similar note, some buyers remark that the steam wand doesn’t produce the most consistent or creamy microfoam. However, it’s not clear whether this is due to user error or the quality of the steam wand itself.

Of course, that’s one of the risks of buying a newer machine that isn’t yet time-tested or vetted by several users.

How to Use the Philips Barista Brew

I’ve already mentioned a few times in this Philips Barista Brew review that this thing is pretty easy to use. Well, it had better be, because Philips has put next to nothing helpful about it online!

Still, I think even novice baristas would get a handle on this thing pretty quick. Incidentally, the hardest part about pulling a shot on this baby seems to be the espresso prep itself, which takes a bit of skill and time to master.

Philips Barista Brew How to Use

Anyway, I’m getting away from the point here. To use the Philips Barista Brew, first follow all instructions in the user manual regarding the initial set-up. Naturally, this includes filling the hopper with coffee beans and pouring filtered water into the tank. Then, come back here and keep reading this Philips Barista Brew review.

Ready? Okay. Press the power button, then do some multi-tasking for ten minutes or so while the espresso machine preheats. You could tare an espresso cup on a scale, pour some cold milk or non-dairy into your pitcher or preheat a cappuccino cup on the cup warmer.

Once everything’s all nice and toasty, it’s time to pull a shot. For a double shot, press the 2x button under the grinder button, turn the dosing dial to the right spot, then press grind. 

For what it’s worth, while you dial in your dose it could be helpful to tare your portafilter on a scale before grinding. That way, you can figure out which notch on the dosing dial is right for you.

Once you’ve got your preferred dose, distribute and tamp the coffee bed. Then, insert the portafilter into the group head and press the double espresso button. There should be a default shot volume programmed into that button, but you can always change that.

Philips Barista Brew Cleaning

Though cleaning and descaling coffee makers is fairly simple, it’s a wee bit more complicated when you throw a built-in grinder into the mix. Fortunately, it’s still easy once you get in the habit of daily and occasional maintenance projects.

For example, at least once a month you’ll want to take the hopper off so you can access the burrs for cleaning. Fortunately, cleaning burrs is as simple as brushing and vacuuming away any coffee residue. That said, darker roasts will leave surface oils on the burrs, requiring more regular and thorough cleaning.

Beyond the grinder, cleaning the Philips Barista Brew espresso machine is pretty standard. You’ll want to backflush regularly to keep your shots tasting fresh, though it’s not clear if Philips includes a backflush disc in the complimentary cleaning kit.

Even if you can’t backflush, rinsing the group head and portafilter before and after pulling a shot is a great way to keep the shower screen and baskets clean.

As far as the steam wand goes, it’s best practice to purge the wand before and after steaming, and immediately after steaming wipe any milk residue from the wand with a damp microfiber cloth.

Finally, the Barista Brew’s product page claims that this espresso machine features automatic descaling, though it’s not clear on how or when this happens.

Philips Barista Brew Technical Specifications

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
Manufacturer

Philips

Model number

PSA3218/01

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Silver

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

77.8 fl oz / 2.3 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.7 in / 9.4 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

Bean hopper capacity

8.8 oz / 250.0 g

Specialty drinks

4

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1350 W

Weight

19.0 lb / 8.6 kg

Dimensions

16.1 x 12.6 x 13.2 in
40.9 x 32.0 x 33.5 cm

Warranty

2 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, espresso stand, calibrated tamper, Milk jug, cleaning brush

Current price on Amazon

$479.04

All specifications

Philips Barista Brew vs Breville Barista Express

Breville Barista Express Overview

I mentioned the Breville Barista Express (CURRENT PRIME DAY DEAL! ONLY 549.95 $ INSTEAD OF 699.95 $) earlier in this Philips Barista Brew review, so it’s about time that I compare the two machines.

With the Breville machine’s price tag hovering around $549.95, it’s only a bit more expensive than the Philips model. Plus, the two machines are pretty similar in size and design, being relatively compact and boxy with metal casings.

Both machines feature built-in conical burr grinders with grind settings in the mid to high teens and timer-based grinding doses. Plus, as with the Breville machine, it’s likely that the Philips model has a thermocoil or thermoblock heating system, since it heats up so quickly. 

Still, the Breville Barista Express has a leg up on the Philips Barista Brew in a few meaningful categories.

For starters, the Breville machine features an adjustable preinfusion time and a degree-by-degree customizable brew temperature. That said, these features may not be necessary for those just looking for a beginner espresso machine.

What’s more, the Barista Express simply looks and feels more durable and stylish than its new-to-market counterpart. That’s my opinion, anyway.

At the end of the day, the Breville Barista Express is superior to the Barista Brew in all ways but one: the Breville machine has a 54-millimeter group head and portafilter. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, I’d understand. Though personally, I can overlook this flaw given the reputation of Breville’s popular home espresso machine.

See Also: Breville Barista Express Review

Philips Barista Brew vs Breville Barista Express Comparison Chart

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso MachineBreville Barista Express
Manufacturer

Philips

Breville

Model number

PSA3218/01

BES870XL/BES870BSXL

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Silver

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

77.8 fl oz / 2.3 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.7 in / 9.4 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

16

Bean hopper capacity

8.8 oz / 250.0 g

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks

4

2

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1350 W

1600 W

Weight

19.0 lb / 8.6 kg

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

Dimensions

16.1 x 12.6 x 13.2 in
40.9 x 32.0 x 33.5 cm

15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 in
40.4 x 31.8 x 35.1 cm

Warranty

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, espresso stand, calibrated tamper, Milk jug, cleaning brush

Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Magnetic tamper, Trimming tool, Coffee scoop, Milk jug, Water filter and holder, Cleaning supplies.

Current price on Amazon

$479.04

$549.95

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso MachineBreville Barista Express
Manufacturer

Philips

Breville

Model number

PSA3218/01

BES870XL/BES870BSXL

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Silver

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

77.8 fl oz / 2.3 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.7 in / 9.4 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

16

Bean hopper capacity

8.8 oz / 250.0 g

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks

4

2

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1350 W

1600 W

Weight

19.0 lb / 8.6 kg

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

Dimensions

16.1 x 12.6 x 13.2 in
40.9 x 32.0 x 33.5 cm

15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 in
40.4 x 31.8 x 35.1 cm

Warranty

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, espresso stand, calibrated tamper, Milk jug, cleaning brush

Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Magnetic tamper, Trimming tool, Coffee scoop, Milk jug, Water filter and holder, Cleaning supplies.

Current price on Amazon

$479.04

$549.95

Verdict: Philips Barista Brew Review

A solid hybrid espresso machine

Philips Barista Brew Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Plenty of thoughtful features

58mm portafilter

Adjustable PID

Great selection of accessories

Easy to use

Understated design

Less than convincing grinder

Now that I’m at the end of my Philips Barista Brew review, I can say that I think this machine would suit most home baristas just fine.

After all, it’s relatively affordable for a semi automatic espresso machine with a built-in grinder. Plus, it has a good mix of beginner-friendly and adjustable features, which makes this machine a strong contender for a range of audiences.

Not to be vain, but if the Barista Brew was just a little bit prettier I’d rate it even higher than I have. What can I say? I like my coffee gadgets to look nice and perform well.

What do you think of Philips espresso machines? Are you sold on their easy-to-please products, or underwhelmed by a lack of innovation? Let’s chat in the comments section!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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