The Breville Bambino Plus is a welcome refresh to the bulky espresso machines of years past. The device is one of the smallest espresso machines on the market. Although small, it packs a serious punch. The machine has an integrated semiautomatic steaming wand to compliment its semiautomatic brewer. The brewer sports some of our favorite Breville appliance design features, like the full drip tray indicator, as well as the massive 64 ounce removable water filter. The simple user interface makes this machine the perfect device for anyone looking to become a home barista.
Overall Score: 4.8/5
The quality of this machine is perfectly inline with other Breville machines; everything from the portafilter to the removable water reservoir feels incredibly hight end and is capable of pulling delicious espresso shots.
While this machine is on the higher end of the price spectrum when it comes to home espresso, we think it’s worth every penny. The machine will pay for itself in a matter of months if you’re an avid espresso drinker.
Breville has a distinctive style and this machine is no exception; it sports all the right design elements without compromising on quality.
The size of this machine is the thing that sets it apart from all other machines in this price range. If you’re short on space or like to keep a minimalist kitchen, this is the machine for you.
- Small footprint – This machine is the perfect size for people with small or minimalist kitchens
- Beautiful design – Keeping with the Breville design ethics, this machine looks like a work of art
- Removable drip tray – A removable drip tray is incredibly useful so you don’t have to carry your whole machine to the sink
- 3 second heatup – You’ll be ready to brew an early morning espresso within seconds of turning the machine on
- 64 ounce water reservoir – The removable water reservoir is sized to keep you brewing for longer
- Reduced bells and whistles – A smaller machine means they can’t pack as many bells and whistles, like pressure gauges, into the brewer
- Hot water dispensing – Unfortunately, this feature also got the axe; we can live without it, but if you’re a regular Americano drinker, you may want to weigh your options
- Small drip tray – A smaller machine inherently means a smaller drip tray; luckily, it is removable, so it’s easy to empty it more frequently
Have you every taken a look at modern espresso machines? In case you’re new to the home barista world, they’re pretty big. And when we say big, we mean massive. In fact, many of the prosumer machines are so large, they barely fit on a standard kitchen counter. Thankfully, Breville has a solution. Enter the Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine. This machine is one of the newest additions to the Breville espresso family. But the thing that sets this one apart for the rest is its slender profile.
The machine measures in at approximately 12.5” by 7.6” by 12.2”, which makes it the perfect size for anyone looking to save on space without skimping on their coffee routine. However, the size isn’t the only thing we love about this espresso machine.
One of the most refreshing things about Breville products is their attention to functional design. They design all of their products with so many neat bells and whistles, all while keeping the aesthetics clean and the device functional. The Breville Bambino is no exception. In addition to the compact design, it features a beautiful brushed stainless steel body. The machine keeps buttons to a minimum to emphasize its minimalist design.
The machine’s drip tray includes an integrated floater that will rise up when the drip tray gets full. This gives you a nice visual indicator that it’s time to empty the tray out. The drip tray is completely removable for easy disposal of the contents.
If you’ve been in the market for a home espresso machine for at least a few days, you’ve probably noticed from your research that most of the smaller espresso machines tend to have almost no clearance between the bottom of the portafilter and the drip tray. This unfortunately limits those machines to only brewing espresso into small cups like shot glasses or demitasse cups. Thankfully, Breville recognized this shortcoming and made the Bambino quite a bit taller, which will let you fit a standard coffee mug under the portafilter. This is great for those of us who love lattes and like a bit more milk with our espresso.
Another example of beautiful design in the Breville Bambino is the sizable, yet removable, water reservoir. The fact that it is removable is a godsend; some coffee machines (drip machines in particular) don’t have this feature, which means you have to lug the entire machine to the water source or make multiple trips by refilling the same up. Needless to say, we like that the reservoir is removable. This gigantic water reservoir can hold up to 64 ounces of water so you can spend more time brewing and less time at the fridge filling it up.
Brewing espresso with the Breville Bambino Plus is exceptionally easy. To turn on the machine, you simply press the 1 CUP, 2 CUP, or STEAM button on the control panel. The machine will power up in an instant. One of the most impressive features of the Bambino is its ability to heat up within 3 seconds. Most high-end espresso machines require warmup times of up to 30 minutes. The Bambino’s nearly instantaneous warmup makes waiting for coffee in the morning a thing of the past.
The machine comes with a 54mm portafilter, which is pretty heavy-duty. Although it’s not the industry-standard size of 58mm, it still feels like a profession piece of equipment. The portafilter comes with two different pressurized baskets for your ground coffee.
Be sure to always use freshly ground coffee when making espresso. It’ll taste way better and allow you to unlock coffee flavors you never knew existed. If you’re looking for a grinder, be sure to check out our grinder reviews.
The small filter basket will make a single shot and the larger one will make a double shot. The fact that the baskets are pressurized will make brewing espresso a bit more forgiving. This means the flavor of your coffee won’t vary greatly if you change the grind size or the amount of pressure you use to tamp the grounds.
Speaking of tamping, the Breville Bambino comes with a tamper that fits the 54mm portafilter perfectly, so you’ll have no need to go out and get a custom one. This tamper will be used to compress the ground coffee in the filter basket into a “puck” of coffee. After tamping, you can use the included Razor trimming tool. This is used to scrape excess coffee off the top of the puck so that it can create a cleaner espresso shot.
Once the portafilter is filled with coffee and tamped, the portafilter can be easily locked into position on the brewer’s grouphead. This is where the water will make contact with the grounds and begin brewing espresso. Pulling a shot is as easy as pressing the 1 CUP or 2 CUP button, depending on the filter basket you chose. After pressing the button, the machine will begin a process called pre-infusion. This step last up to 10 seconds and is used to begin wetting the grounds to help you extract a better shot. After pre-infusion, you’ll see a beautiful gold stream of espresso begin to slowly pour from the spout on the portafilter.
The machine comes with a PID controller that creates the ultimate temperature stability, which guarantees perfectly repeatable espresso shots. The machine is programmed to extract 1 oz (30mL) of espresso for a single shot and 2 oz (60mL) of espresso for a double shot. These default settings can be overwritten very easily, which makes it much easier for you to create your own custom brewing routine. If you’re not committed to overwriting the default settings, you can brew a manual shot by pressing and holding the brew size of your choosing. The machine will complete pre-infusion for as long as you hold the button down. Releasing the button will end pre-infusion and begin extraction. Press the button one more time and you’ll end extraction. We find this feature super useful because it allows us to tailor our extraction times to the particular type of coffee we are brewing.
This espresso machine is also fully capable of steaming milk. The steam wand sits on the right side of the portafilter and grouphead. It is an articulating arm, so you can move it around to your liking and steam how you want to.
The most amazing part of the Breville Bambino’s steaming capability is the fact that it’s automatic. Yes, you read that right. The Bambino has an integrated, semi-automatic steam wand. All you have to do is fill a pitcher with milk, lift the wand up, and place it in the pitcher. You’ll want to place the pitcher on the milk temperature sensor, which is integrated into the surface of the drip tray. Make sure the milk covers the tip of the steam wand or you will end up spraying steam and milk all over the place.
Breville made selecting your desired milk foam and temperature incredibly simple. Press the MILK TEMP or MILK FOAM buttons and you’ll be able to cycle through three different settings for each. The temperatures are considered warm, ideal, and hot. The foam settings range from low to high. When the settings are to your liking you just press the STEAM button and the machine will begin to make a thumping sound. This might surprise you the first time, but it’s totally normal. Within a minute or so, you’ll have the perfect foamy milk to pour over your steaming espresso shot.
After emptying your milk pitcher, be sure to push the steam wand back over the drip tray. This makes the machine auto-purge the steam wand. We really like this feature because if you don’t get the milk out of the steam wand right away, it can get clogged and make for difficult steaming in the future. This feature guarantees that there is nothing stopping your next latte.
The Breville Bambino comes with a sizable frothing pitcher. The pitcher has etched markings on the inside showing the minimum and maximum amount of milk you should steam if you use the auto function. Unfortunately, you have to use the provided pitcher if you’re using auto-steam mode. However, there is also a manual steam function on the machine and that will allow you to use whatever frothing pitcher you desire. To use manual mode, you just need to press the STEAM button and hold the pitcher instead of resting it on the sensor in the drip tray. When you’re finished steaming the milk, press the STEAM button again to stop the process. We prefer to do manual steaming because it gives us a better shot at making microfoam, which is needed to create latte art.
Cleaning the Machine
Cleaning the Breville Bambino is just as easy as operating the machine is. There are three main routines you’ll want to master.
1. Cleaning the steam wand
After every pitcher of milk that you steam, it’s super important that you wipe down the outside of the wand and purge the wand of any milk that may be inside. We like to use a warm, wetted washcloth to remove any of the dried-on milk. This will ensure your frothing game says strong for every future latte. You don’t want to forget this step or you could end up with a clogged steam wand or mold growth. Since the machine comes with a built-in auto purge feature, it should be pretty easy to remember once you get in the routine.
2. Back-flushing the machine
After 200 espresso extractions, the 1 CUP and 2 CUP buttons will start alternating flashing. This indicates that it’s time for you to run the cleaning cycle on your Bambino. To do this, you’ll want to use the included espresso machine cleaning tablets and the backlash disc. Be sure to follow the instructions included in the quick-start guide that comes with the machine.
3. Descaling the machine
Descaling should be done intermittently to lengthen the life of your machine. The descaling process removes mineral buildup from the inside of the brewer so that it keeps running like new for years to come. The espresso machine comes with a quick-start guide that clearly outlines how best to descale the machine.