By: Ken Takakura     Revised by: Mark Cambell    Last Updated: Feb 5, 2024

As the espresso aficionado and the barista through and through that I am, I was so excited upon receiving the task to review in depth the Breville Barista Touch espresso machine which I truly consider a work of art in espresso engineering.  This superb steel espresso machine isn't just any caffeine deliverer, no - it's an automotive marvel crafted by engineers with one goal in mind: to make the perfect espresso available with but a touch (or two!). While the espresso world has seen many an automatic frother or grinder in recent years, the Barista Touch truly stands alone in its ability to produce balanced, nuanced extractions and froth at the perfect temperature, time after time. Its sleek yet sturdy stainless steel frame houses high-quality components like a commercial-grade conical burr grinder, dual boiler system, and commercial-level PID temperature controls - all aimed at replicating the experience of a professional barista. And replicate it does! From a lightweight cappuccino to a full-bodied latte, each drink emerges with layers of froth and flavor profiles you'd normally expect to find only at your favorite local cafe. 

The Breville Barista Touch brings barista-quality espresso and milk frothing into your home without a steep learning curve. And yet, for those who love to tweak and experiment, it offers enough manual control and customization to keep things interesting. Adjust the grind size or water temperature by incremental degrees. Program profiles for your perfect espresso, cappuccino or flat white. There are endless possibilities to explore, all within your Barista Touch which really makes an espresso experience that is as aspirational as it is achievable. In fact, this machine is built to become a focal point where friends and family gather, inspiration strikes, and memories are formed over the aroma of fresh coffee and the bustle of conversation. 

However, as with any premium espresso device, some care and practice are required to truly master espresso extraction and achieve the perfect drink. This in-depth guide will outline how to get started with your Barista Touch, the grind sizes and parameters to achieve ideal espresso, and tips and tricks for controlling espresso yield to suit different drink types from experts and fellow owners. 


Along with the machine itself, you'll find a tamper, portafilter, milk frothing pitcher, cleaning tablets and manual. Take time to unpack and familiarize yourself with each part before assembly. 

Place the Barista Touch on a stable, level surface away from sinks or counters where it could be exposed to excess moisture or temperature changes. Ensure at least 6 inches of space on either side of the machine including the drip tray and any extension legs for airflow. 

Attach the portafilter to the brew head by gently pushing it into place until it clicks. The tamper then attaches to the portafilter base to provide even pressure over grounds during extraction. Fill the built-in water reservoir on the back of the machine with fresh, cold water; do not use distilled or softened water. 

Run 2-3 blank shots of just water through the machine before your first espresso extraction. This helps the machine heat up properly for best results. 

Pulling An Espresso Shot:

With setup complete, you are ready to determine the ideal grind size for your beans. As a starting point, aim for a medium to fine grind for most espresso blends. Finer grinds help achieve higher pressure and more even extraction for balanced flavor. You can adjust the grind internally using the grind adjustment dial. Start on a finer setting and work your way coarser, pulling a test shot at each setting to find the range where your espresso has a glossy, colored crema, texture resembling thick or thin paint, and flavors that come through balanced. 

For proper espresso extraction at your ideal grind size, ensure you properly tamp down fresh grounds in an even layer. Apply firm, even pressure. As a guide, your tamp should compress the grounds to roughly the same level as the portafilter rim. Once grounds are tamped, place the portafilter into the machine and run water through the system by pulling a blank shot before extracting your real espresso.

Espresso yield can be adjusted on the fly or programmed into your drink profiles. For classic espresso, aim for a yield of about 1.5 to 2 ounces (25-30 ml). Finer grinds and lighter tamps can help increase yield closer to 2 ounces, while coarser grinds, heavier tamps and decreasing drop pressure can lower yield into a more robust 1.5 ounce range. Most espresso-based drinks require a slightly higher yield in the 2 ounce range, while extra large or multiple drink orders may need other adjustments. 

Milk frother:

To start, ensure your frothing pitcher is properly secured underneath the froth spout before selecting your milk choice and froth preset. Whole milk, almond or oat milk and coconut milk all froth differently, so choose the appropriate preset for your milk of choice.  While presets get you in the right ballpark, manual control also allows fine-tuning temperature and pressure for specialized milks. 

Avoid overfilling your pitcher and be sure not to leave milk under the froth spout for too long, as excess temperature can scorch the milk before you're ready to pour. With the proper pitchers, for most milks a level just below the rim aims for an optimal yield. Adjust the pitcher up or down as needed once in position under the spout for the yield you want. 

Steam gently by making slow, upward movements as you froth to achieve silky, velvety froth. Once froth reaches your desired consistency, gently continue steaming to further warm the milk before pouring to ensure it reaches the perfect temperature for your espresso shot. Foam thickness can extend the time needed, so be patient through the process. 

With some practice, your Barista Touch will be providing the perfect foundation for espresso drinks. Take your time learning how each milk type froths and adjusts to your tastes. Drink temperature, froth texture and yield are all components that combine for your perfect espresso-based pick-me-up. 

The Grinder:

The conical burr grinder tucked away within the Barista Touch may not grab headlines, but this high-quality grinder helps ensure every drink emerges with evenly extracted, aromatic flavors. For optimal use, here are some tips on grinding whole beans into the perfect espresso grind.

The brew head:

It's important to keep this part in good working condition. Over time or with heavy use, the brew head could develop some issues impacting extraction quality or wasted water/coffee. Some common brew head problems to watch out for include:

• Excessive dripping from the spout after pulling a shot. If water continues dripping for some time after stopping the pump, it could indicate a clog in the spray head or other part of the brew head preventing even water flow. Run a descale cycle or contain a descaler solution in the tank to clear any buildup. 

• Shots taking an excessive amount of time to pour. If extractions are taking noticeably longer, it usually indicates restricted water flow due to a clog. Try backflushing the pump or descaling the machine to open up the brew head path. 

• Uneven extraction or "blonde" patches. If your espresso has light, diluted patches or the crema is uneven, it could mean the water is not making proper contact with all the coffee grounds due to a clog or buildup in the brew head. Run some boiling water or descaler through the machine to clear any obstruction. 

• Excessive dripping from the brew head before/after a shot. If water continues dripping from the brew head for some time after turning off the pump, it indicates there is still pressure that needs to be released which could lead to wasted water - this usually means a clog that needs to be cleared. 

To help prevent issues with your brew head and ensure optimal performance, run a quick backflush or descale cycle about every 2 weeks based on usage. Wipe down any exterior parts of the brew head with a clean, damp cloth after each use. And avoid excessively fine grinds which can pack into the spray head and clog the path. With some regular maintenance and prevention, your brew head should provide many years of balanced, high-quality espresso extractions from your Breville Barista Touch. 

The Dual Boiler System:

Your Breville Barista Touch features a high-quality dual boiler system for producing simultaneous espresso and milk froth, here is a guide on using and maintaining this system:

The dual boiler system consists of one boiler dedicated to espresso extraction and one boiler for producing steam and frothing milk. Separate boilers allow your Barista Touch to perform these tasks efficiently without heating both uses at once or compromising temperature control. To use the dual boiler system, ensure your portafilter is attached and has fresh, evenly ground coffee. Choose your espresso strength, select the type of milk you will froth and adjust temperature or pressure as needed for each use. Once selections are made, start the pump to begin espresso extraction while heating the milk boiler. 

For optimal performance, run a cleaning cycle with descaling solution about once a month or if you notice a decrease in steam or temperature control. Mineral buildup can start to impact which boiler is used for which function over time without descaling. Boiling some water with acetic acid or citric acid helps dissolve any buildup. 

Some common issues to be aware of with the dual boiler system include:

Uneven heating - If one boiler seems to heat up faster than the other, it could indicate an issue with the temperature sensor or part of the boiler system itself. Calibration by a technician may be needed to correct uneven heating.

Lack of steam - If little to no steam is produced from the steam wand, it usually means the milk boiler is not heating properly due to a clog or mineral buildup. Run a descaling cycle to clear the path and get your steam flowing again. 

Slowed extraction - If espresso extraction takes significantly longer, the espresso boiler could have built up mineral deposits impacting water flow. Descaling the machine will help restore proper extraction time. 

Error codes - The control panel may display error codes indicating a problem with the boilers or temperature control. Check the owner's manual for descriptions and solutions to any error codes shown. Control board or boiler replacement may be needed for serious issues. 

By following recommendations, the dual boiler system in your Barista Touch should provide years of convenient, high-quality espresso and froth. However, if problems do develop that you cannot resolve, do not hesitate to contact Breville support for professional guidance or service options to get your machine back to producing like new. 

Here are some common mistakes people tend to make when first using the Breville Barista Touch:

•Lack of preheating. The Barista Touch has a fast heat-up time, but it's still recommended to run a blank shot or two of just water before pulling your first real espresso shot. This helps ensure all internal components reach the proper temperature for optimal extraction. 

•Improper grind size. It's easy to get carried away adjusting the grind finer and finer, but for most blends a medium to fine grind is a good place to start. Grind too fine and extraction will be uneven, too coarse and flavor suffers. Start medium-fine and make small adjustments. 

•Uneven or poor tamping. A tamp that's too light won't provide enough pressure for good extraction, while a tamp that's too hard can crush the grounds. Apply even, firm pressure to compress the grounds to roughly the portafilter rim height. 

•Forgetting to adjust yield for different drinks. When dialing in your perfect espresso shot, around 1.5-2 ounces is typical. But longer drinks like lattes and cappuccinos require 2-3 ounces of espresso for proper flavor and balance. Be sure to adjust the volume control for each new drink. 

•Lack of manual control and customization. Many users found too much reliance on the auto-features, not enough manual control and customization via the touchscreen controls. Take the time to learn all the options for controlling temperature, pressure, volume and more to make the perfect shot for your tastes each time. 

•Poor frothing technique. The Barista Touch can produce excellent frothed or steamed milk, but it still takes some practice to master. Pouring milk at different temperatures, positions of the spout and frothing wand, and frothing speeds/durations all affect the milk's texture. Start slowly and make adjustments for your ideal consistency. 

•Lack of maintenance. While the Barista Touch is designed for easy cleaning, some routine maintenance still helps keep it in top working order. Perform periodic deep cleans of the steam wand and milks systems, descale when needed, clean the portafilter and catcher tray regularly and wipe down exterior and touchscreen surfaces frequently. 

Mineral buildup and hard water spots. To prevent mineral buildup, descale your Barista Touch every 1-3 months based on usage and water hardness. Descaling helps dissolve any buildup and keep your machine in good working order. If spots appear, a manual descaling may be needed. 

Pump issues. While rare, the built-in pump has potential for failure over time with heavy use. To maximize pump life, avoid very low quality or stale beans which require excess grinding or produce more fines. As a preventative, manually backflushing the pump from time to time can help keep it clear of built-up fines. If the pump does start fading in performance, replacement pump parts are available. However, for budget models the entire pump may need replacement, best done by a professional barista or espresso tech.

Grinder issues. Like the pump, the conical burr grinder can eventually give out, especially with years of consistent heavy use. To extend grinder life, choose a grind size on the coarser end of the range when possible for your beans and drinks and avoid leaving ground coffee sitting in the portafilter for long periods. Grinder parts kits provide replacement parts for most common issues should performance start decreasing noticeably. For some owners, an external grinder acts as a good supplement or replacement. 

Temperature sensor or PID issues. Ensure your Barista Touch PID calibration is performing properly to provide consistent, temperature-dependent brewing temperature. Calibration issues could require a technician to recalibrate the PID board. If temperature control seems completely non-responsive, the PID itself may need replacement. PID board replacement is best done by a professional espresso technician. 

Tamper issues. While rare, tampers could develop misshapen pads or bases from frequent, hard use over years. To prevent premature tamper failure, avoid excessive pressure beyond an even, firm tamp and never drop or strike the tamper. Replacement pads or the entire tamper base and pad set are available if needed to provide even pressure for espresso extraction.

I hope my review of the Breville Barista Touch espresso machine has been helpful for you in learning how to best use and maintain your new purchase. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have on your Barista Touch or for recommendations on other premium espresso equipment. 

This is just the beginning - I aim to provide in-depth reviews and guidance on espresso makers of every caliber to help our visitors to discover the one that suits their tastes and needs.  Whether you're looking for an automatic or manual machine, single serve or commercial grade, recommendations are my passion. 

Please continue sending feedback on how we can improve recommendations, your experience here and any areas of knowledge we can expand. We genuinely appreciate all opportunities to enhance how we support you and other readers on the journey to perfect espresso.