A home espresso machine is a great investment for any coffee lover. Many of today’s home espresso machines mimic the features you find on professional machines, just in a smaller package. The Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus are two wonderful examples of professional quality but designed for the convenience of home.
At the offset, these two machines seem fairly similar, so deciding which is best for you can be confusing.
In this article, we’ll break down the Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus by looking at the differences and similarities between these two products, so that you can easily pick the best one for your coffee-making needs.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Espresso Machine
Before you run out and buy the Breville Bambino, Bambino Plus or any other espresso machine for that matter, you will need to consider some product features that are important in a good espresso machine.
Some of the most important product features will help you make a great shot of espresso. These same features can also be time saving, reduce waste and keep some cash in your pocket.
So, here are the features of any espresso machine that you should consider before shopping.
- Automatic Microfoam Milk Texturing
- Espresso Machine with Precise Extraction
- Low-Pressure Pre-Infusion
- Automatic Microfoam Milk Texturing
- Digital Temperature Control
- Simple Button Control
Pressure is a pretty important feature of your espresso machine. The amount of pressure and how it’s generated can be the difference between a great cup of joe and a weak and disappointing coffee experience.
When it comes to home espresso machines, you’ll find that most use steam to generate pressure in the machine. Some machines use steam pressure to push water directly from the boiler through the coffee, while others use a pump to direct the steam pressure, so water passes more consistently through espresso grounds.
The amount of pressure that is created is also important. Most home espresso machines generate between 3.5 and 15 bars of pressure. This is more important than how the pressure is generated. For great espresso, you will want a machine that generates 9 bars of pressure. Nine bars is the ideal pressure for a good-tasting shot of espresso.
Like with pressure, the water temperature needs to be correct for a good cup of espresso. Water that is too hot will pull more of the bitter flavors from the grounds. The result is a thin coffee that is too strong to be tasty.
On the other hand, water that is cold, will not pull enough of the flavors from the grounds and you end up with a coffee that is weak and almost sour to the taste. A consistent and moderate temperature is the best way to create the perfect-tasting shot of espresso.
Ease of Use
Once upon a time, to enjoy a shot of espresso you had to tinker with dials and levers. It was a science experiment every time you wanted a cup of coffee. Today, you can still buy lever espresso machines, but most of us don’t have time for tinkering before we head to work.
Controls on your home espresso machine should be simple to use, intuitive and repeatable. The goal of owning an espresso machine is to enjoy coffeehouse-style coffee at home, the best way to accomplish this is with a machine that you can use easily and get the same result day in and day out.
Cleaning your espresso machine should also not be a time-consuming chore. Look for machines that are easy to clean and have convenient features to make cleaning easier.
Some of the features we like to look for include removable water and milk carafes, dishwasher-safe parts, and milk frothers that easily purge milk from the wand to keep bacteria from growing.
Many espresso machines come with handy accessories that allow you to brew almost right away. We like machines that come with milk-frothing pitchers, ground tampers, and measuring spoons.
These extras allow you to enjoy your espresso machine as soon as you read the instruction manual. Some machines come with cleaning tools. These are also great to have, though these can be easily found on many online retailers.
Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus
When you are looking at the Breville line of espresso machines, the two stand-outs both in terms of compact size and simplicity are the Bambino and Bambino Pro. Both of these affordable espresso machines have great convenience features, a small footprint, and are easy to use.
The Bambino is certainly the simpler of the two. It gives you basic push-button operation, manual milk frothing, and single and double-shot options. The removable water tank is super convenient and easy to fill and clean.
The Bambino Plus has many of the same features as the Bambino. It’s easy to use, has a removable water tank, and offers you single and double-shot options. The main difference between the Bambino Plus and the Bambino is the addition of an automatic milk frothing option. At just a push of a button, you can enjoy perfectly frothed milk.
Here are some additional pros and cons of the Bambino line from Breville.
- Both machines are well-made, sturdy, and compact. These machines don’t take up a ton of counter space.
- Both machines make a similar quality espresso as both machines use the Breville ThermoJet heating system.
- Water heating technology and operation are the same for both machines. The PID temperature control is precise and perfectly heats water for delicious espresso every time.
- The Bambino doesn’t come with the automatic milk frothing option that the Bambino Plus has.
- The Bambino Plus comes in nine color options to coordinate with your kitchen. The Bambino only comes in silver.
- Both machines come with an included grounds tamper. However, the Bambino comes with a plastic tamper instead of the metal tamper that the Bambino Plus has.
Features & Benefits
Design and Construction
Design and construction are one of the places where Breville excels across the coffee and espresso machine market. The Bambino and Bambino Plus are no exceptions to the high-quality construction and function.
Both machines feature a stainless-steel body and compact footprint. They are simplistic in their design and operation, making them ideal for every kitchen. Besides their minimalistic design, these machines are also simple in their operation.
Looking at the face of both machines you’ll see that they have basic controls, push-button operation, and a frothing wand that sits compactly under the hood. On the Bambino, you have four control options: single shot, double shot, froth, and purge. These simple controls make it easy and quick to enjoy an espresso.
We do love that the Breville Bambino comes in brushed stainless steel as a base espresso machine option. Normally you would find this quality material on upper-level products, but for a reasonable price the Bambino metal instead of plastic.
Flavor Extraction and Speed
Since the Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus both have the same brewing features, it’s hard to tell them apart. Most people investing in a home espresso machine will be pleased with the quality and flavor of the espresso extracted by both Breville Bambino options.
Leading the way to great coffee in both machines is the PID digital temperature control. Both machines heat brewing water to a perfect 200 degrees F. Couple the perfect water temperature with low-pressure pre-infusion of the grounds, and even the beginner can make a bold and tasty shot of espresso.
The low-pressure infusion on these lower-priced machines is a surprise. This is frequently a feature you’ll only find on higher-end espresso machines.
The big difference between the two machines related to brewing efficiency is the size of the water tanks. The Breville Plus has a slightly larger water tank. This isn’t a huge deal as both are able to make numerous shots of espresso and steam milk before needing to refill the tank.
As we’ve compared these two machines, it’s been hard to find a feature where one stands out over the other. These two machines are very similar. With that said, there is one place where the Bambino Plus really shines. For us, that is the automatic milk frothing option.
When you look at the control panel of the Bambino Plus, you’ll notice that it has two extra buttons. These two buttons are all you need to make perfectly frothed or steamed milk without added effort. The two automatic frothing options allow you to select from three foam or steam options for your milk. For beginners, this is a great way to learn what great milk frothing looks like.
Besides working well, the Bambino Plus just adds convenience to making your morning cappuccino. You don’t have to manually froth your milk, just set the pitcher on the tray, insert the frothing wand, and select your preferred level of foam. You’ve got the perfect foam for your latte, cortado, or cappuccino, without standing around watching the milk froth.
If you need steamed or foamed milk for your morning coffee, the Breville Bambino Plus stands out for us. Now, that doesn’t mean the Bambino is a bad product, we just like the reduced effort needed for great foamed milk.
Easy to Use
You would be hard-pressed to find two equal-quality espresso machines that are so easy to use. Both Breville machines are straightforward with easy-to-use controls.
If you’re a beginner and want to learn the basics of brewing espresso, these are great machines to learn on. They allow you to find the right water, coffee, and filter for your best shot of espresso, without the added challenge of complicated controls.
Besides simple brewing operation, frothing milk is easy with both machines, and the frothing wand is identical between the two. Sure, there are the added buttons for frothing on the Breville Plus, but that doesn’t make operation more difficult. As a matter of fact, it may increase the ease of use, particularly for beginners.
When it comes to cleaning these machines, Breville has kept the theme of simplicity. The instructions for cleaning are easy to follow and the process is simple.
One of our favorite convenience features is the removable water tank. Besides being easy to fill, you don’t have to wonder how long water has been sitting in the tank. You can easily see how much water is in the tank, and the removable tank is easy to clean and disinfect when necessary.
For more advanced users, there are great instructions in the owner’s manual for both options that allow you to further adjust your brew settings for single and double shots. Even with the simple controls, experienced home baristas can get a perfect shot of espresso with minimal effort or complication.
It is really hard to deny the value of the Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus. Both machines are so simple, yet so efficient at making a great cup of espresso. The quality you get from these two affordably priced machines easily competes with higher-end options.
When comparing the two models, the Bambino is really the better value for the price. With a modest price tag of just over $300, this machine performs just as well as more expensive machines with fewer complications. Sure, you’ll be manually frothing your milk, but the quality of coffee from this machine is outstanding.
The Bambino Plus is also a good value for the money. Our complaint about this machine in regard to price and value is that we just don’t think that the automatic frothing is worth an almost $200 increase in price.
When you really compare the two machines, other than the fancy color options on the Bambino Plus, the only difference is the automatic frothing option. That one option just doesn’t seem worth the extra money.
Alternatives to the Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus
DeLonghi Manual Espresso Machine
One of the great features of this espresso machine is the portafilter. This three-in-one filter allows you to fill with grounds for one or two shots, or switch out for the portafilter made specifically for espresso pods.
The DeLonghi is a super compact espresso machine, which makes it an ideal pick for small kitchens or office coffee bars. Our single complaint about this machine is that it’s a lot of plastic.
Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
If you are a self-proclaimed coffee master, and your friends pine for your espresso, then the Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine is a good alternative to the Breville. This is as close to a commercial-grade espresso machine as you can get without investing in a commercial espresso machine.
Consistency is the name of the game with the Gaggia. This machine is outstanding at maintaining consistent temperature and pressure. However, this is a hands-on machine, and you will need to time the brewing phase along with grinding and tamping your coffee. There is also no automatic milk frothing on the Gaggia, so you’ll need to hold and move the pitcher for the best milk frothing results.
With that said, for a manual machine the Gaggia Classic Pro is fairly simple to use. The controls are straightforward, and the rocker buttons are easy to see. The water tank holds plenty of water for a number of espresso shots and foamed milk. It, however, isn’t removable which makes cleaning and emptying a chore.
Solis Barista Perfetta Plus
Solis is a fairly new name for home espresso machines. Their Barista Perfetta Plus is a nice comparable espresso machine to the Breville Bambino Plus in both convenience and value. This Swiss-made machine is best known for its high-quality burr coffee grinders, so we were happy to see that their espresso machine performs well.
The standout feature of this espresso machine is the footprint. This is a tiny machine that is perfect for small kitchens. Like the Breville, the Solis offers single and double-shot options and an automatic milk frothing feature. The added feature that we were surprised by on the Soils is the ability to program the machine for one-touch brewing.
The Solis also has the ability to reach pressures above 9 bar which is ideal for making flat whites and hot chocolate.
Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus – Final Thoughts
When it comes to brewing a great espresso at home many coffee lovers think they should buy a high-priced machine with all the bells and whistles. But if you’re on a budget or don’t have a ton of kitchen space, a high-end machine may not be practical.
The Breville Bambino and Bambino Plus are two great espresso machines that offer PID temperature control, 9 bar pressure for perfectly pulled espresso, and a perfectly compact footprint that fits easily into any kitchen.
Whether you’re new to brewing espresso or an experienced home barista, click here to learn more about how the Bambino and Bambino Plus can make your morning espresso even better.