May 04, 2018

Breville Oracle Espresso Machine - Is It Worth $2k Big Ones?

Breville Oracle - Pin It Now, Come Back Later

breville oracle espresso machine

So you’ve been doing your research on which espresso machine you should buy and realized there are hundreds of brands and models to choose from. Then, you come across this beauty - the Breville Oracle Espresso Machine. You look at all the photos, watch all the videos and are completely convinced this is the one for you, right?

What happens next is a massive bummer. You’re on Amazon, ready to add the Oracle to your shopping cart and BOOM - you see the $2,000 price tag.

$2,000? Are you serious? Does it come with an authentic Italian barista to make my espresso for me? Good Lord - who spends this kind of money on an espresso machine?!

Well, we’re here to tell you it certainly worth it for most although for $2k there are certainly better options but if it’s conveniency you want, the Oracle is for you.  

GET PAST THE PRICE TAG - THE BREVILLE ORACLE IS A MASTERPIECE

This thing is cool. I mean really cool. Don’t believe me - just listen to the ultra hot dude with an Australian accent go through it’s features.

 

Now that you’ve watched it, go back and watch it again and pay attention to the features as I’m sure you were just gazing into the eyes of that Aussie barista listening to his sweet, sweet voice.

WHO THE BREVILLE ORACLE BES980XL IS FOR

Basically what Breville has done here is add on to their already popular line of domestic espresso machines and jacked up the price. So the question is whether or not the additions to the Oracle justify the $2k price tag. To begin, let’s go over who this machine will appeal to. If you reply “yes” to any of the following questions - you’ll love the Oracle. Reply “yes” to all of them - go buy it right now.

  • Do you want coffee at home that tastes better than that crap you get at Starbucks?
  • Do you want the machine to do most of the work?
  • Is appearance a major factor in your espresso machine buying decision?
  • Do you drink mainly milk based coffee drinks (latte, cappuccino, flat white, etc.)?

As mentioned above, there are better machines out there in this price range. Much, much better machines. For example, you can get an Italian-made dual boiler from La Spaziale for $1,875. It’ll last you 50x longer than a Breville and will make much, much better espresso on a more consistent basis. What it won’t do, however, is make your drinks for you like the Oracle will. Much more skill is involved in a fully manual espresso machine.

Important Note - If you don’t get the Oracle, you’ll be needing a quality grinder to pair with it. Creating espresso requires beans that are ground directly before use - DO NOT USE PRE-GROUND coffee. The grind is more important than the machine so be sure to budget for a grinder as well.

Related: How to Choose Your Coffee Beans - Like A Boss

Related: Is the Breville Barista Express Legit?

COMMERCIAL-LIKE FEATURES - BREVILLE ORACLE ESPRESSO MACHINE

breville oracle espresso machine

Instead of boring you by going over every single feature (you can watch the videos), we’re going to go over the features that set this machine apart from the cheaper ones. All the features we’re about to go over are the same exact features you see on the best espresso machines on the market and the machines your local café uses.

PID Temperature Control

PID allows you to control the temperature of your boiler with the touch of a button. Typically only found on premium domestic machines, Breville has added PID to the Oracle. Temperature is a vital component to making quality espresso and being able to easily control it gives you ultimate control over your extraction. A massive benefit to this machine.

Pre-Infusion

This feature uniformly douses your coffee grounds at a low pressure before the pump is fully engaged. What this does is ensures an even extraction with little to no “channeling.”

What’s channeling, you ask? Channeling is what happens when water is able to break through your coffee grounds too quickly in multiple areas resulting in an uneven, poor tasting shot of espresso. No good.

Dual Boiler

The Oracle contains two boilers. One dedicated to brewing espresso, the other for steaming milk. Dual boiler espresso machines provide greater levels of consistency and limit the amount of rebound time between drink making. Dual boilers typically run over $2,500 at a minimum so finding a dual boiler in this price range is rare.

Related - These Are The Best Dual Boiler Espresso Machines Under $2,000

Heat Exchanger

HX machines allow the user to brew and steam simultaneously. A wonderful, time-saving feature typically only found on premium domestic machines at higher price points.



BONUS FEATURES OF THE BREVILLE ORACLE BES980XL

Automatic Milk Steaming

This is one feature that most will love. Steaming milk can be a frustrating learning process for noobs and non-professional baristas. Getting the milk textured perfectly is tough but the Oracle does it for you. It’s the first machine we’ve found to actually properly steam milk for you due to it’s wonderfully designed no-touch steam wand. Simply place it in the milk pitcher, turn it on and let it work.

Does it actually steam milk properly?

While not perfect, it’s as good as it’ll get without having a professional do it. The steam pressure isn’t what you’d find on say a Rocket Espresso machine so no it won’t be perfect. What it will be, however, is much better than a super automatic.

Automatic Grind & Tamp

The Oracle comes complete with an attached burr grinder and what’s even cooler is it’ll tamp for you. Adjusting the grind is as easy as turning a dial. Tamping is one of the most common problems with most beginners. Well, just like the milk steaming, the Oracle removes that probability of error by doing it for you.

WHO WON’T LIKE THE ORACLE

Those looking for the absolute best

While the Oracle is a great, convenient machine, if you’re looking for a machine that will make coffee as close to what you’d find at your local café, you’re going to need a premium domestic prosumer espresso machine. Take a look at the following brands:

The above brands are fully manual espresso machines and require much more work (not to mention you’ll be needing a high quality grinder to pair with them). The end result, though, is nothing short of incredible. You’ll never go to Starbucks again.

Those who hate bad customer service

While we’ve never had an issue with Breville USA and while the Oracle does come with a two year warranty, we’ve received phone calls from Breville customers saying working with Breville USA is next to impossible. Better hope nothing goes wrong. Our advice would be to purchase on Amazon or a reputable dealer like Sur La Table - you’ll at least know you can return it at any time or call them for immediate help if you can’t get Breville on the phone!




Those who want a machine that’ll last 10+ years

Unfortunately, the Oracle won’t last nearly as long as the brands mentioned above. Several reviews on Amazon even say the machine crapped out after a single year.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Breville Oracle is a solid option for those who want a semi-manual machine that’ll produce good results with limited work or skill required. At the large price tag of $2,000, we recommend this machine to anyone who wants to seriously increase the quality of their coffee at home however recognize the fact that there are alternative (and better) machines out there in this price range.

If conveniency matters more than build, this is your machine.

If design and compact size matters more to you, this is your machine.

If you’re lazy and don’t want to learn how to truly create quality espresso (or spend more on a quality grinder), this is your machine as it’ll do most for you.

If you want a semi manual machine with super automatic features, this is your machine.

Breville Oracle Espresso Machine Frequently Asked Questions


Any Breville Oracle discounts out there?

Your best bet will be Amazon, eBay or Sur La Table. All these vendors occasionally will have cheaper prices than some of the other online retailers.

How long does it take to warm up?

About 3-5 minutes.

Can you adjust the dosage on the grinder?

No. Just the fineness/coarseness.

What is the portafilter made of?

Heavy-duty metal. 

How can I use decaf beans if caffeinated beans are already in the hopper?

You have a couple options. 1) Use an external grinder for your decaf beans. 2) The hopper contains a stopping mechanism that allows you to fully remove the bean hopper with beans still inside with no spillage or mess. Simply remove the hopper and replace the beans with decaf. 

The lack of service from Breville worries me. Is it worth the hassle? 

Buy it on Amazon. Worst case scenario you can return it no questions asked with their incredibly lenient return policy simply by telling them it isn't working.

How the crema it produces? 

This is more a function of preparation than the machine. If your grind is good and beans are fresh, the crema will be great! If not, it won't. Remember, the Oracle isn't a super-automatic and won't do everything for you. Some work is required!

Is the auto milk wand really that good? 

We've found it to produce some pretty darn good micro-foam.

How does the one-touch Americano work? 

The machine will automatically deliver hot water into your cup directly after espresso is made. 

Should I care about pre-infusion?

Yes. It's a feature that the most expensive machines have. Read about it.

breville oracle espresso machine

Image Courtesy - Sur La Table


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