With a newly developed heating system, the impossibly small Breville Bambino aims to provide enough steaming performance to satisfy regular latte drinkers, while retaining the high quality espresso experience Breville owners have come to expect. Was it able to accomplish this? Let’s find out.
Starting off with build quality, the entry-level Bambino thankfully retains the all metal shell found throughout the rest of the Breville lineup. With that being said, it’s not without the presence of some plastic, in the drip tray and portafilter handle.
The portafilter included with the Bambino is noticeably lighter than those found on the higher-end Breville models, but you can easily buy an aftermarket portafilter if this fact bothers you. This one is bottomless and comes with a beautiful wooden handle.
Quickly running over the rest of the physical features, the bambino has a 1.4L removable water reservoir
A cup warming wrack
A steam arm that can also be used to get hot water
And a small drip tray with an indicator for when to empty it.
The user interface on the Bambino is about as simple as they come featuring only 4 buttons. For simplicity I do wish that they had kept a dedicated power button. Instead, you press any button to power on, and press and hold the 1 cup and steam buttons together to power off.
Both the single and double shot buttons can be programmed to a custom shot length of your choice, so that you can repeat your perfect shot time after time. Or, you can opt to run the machine manually by pressing and holding one of the extraction buttons, which can be useful when dialing in.
Speaking of dialing in, unlike many entry-level espresso machines, the Bambino can be used with a traditional non-pressurized basket if you have good quality espresso grinder. OR you can opt to use a pressurized filter basket if you are going to be using a blade grinder, or pre-ground coffee.
Regardless of which filter basket style you use, the Bambino will first expose your espresso to a low-pressure pre-infusion to ensure a more even, flavourful extraction. One final thing to note is that there is no temperature adjustment on this machine, it is fixed at a standard temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many people complain that the machine moves when locking in the portafilter, but the reality is that this is something seen on most consumer level machines. A hand placed firmly on top is enough to stop the machine from moving around.
Moving on to the star of the show, let’s talk about the Bambino’s steaming performance. Because it uses Breville’s new Thermojet heating system, this entry-level machine actually outperforms the Duo Temp, Infuser, and even the famous Barista Express when it comes to sheer steaming speed, making it a whole 35 seconds faster for making a latte.
Being someone who is used to using a 3 or 4 hole steam tip, texturing using the single hole design on the Bambino did take some getting used to, but if this your first espresso machine, then this is not something to worry about. You can still get great milk texture with a single hole steam wand, it’s just a slightly different technique.
Overall, I struggled to find many things to dislike about this machine. Yes, the drip tray could be a little larger, the portafilter could feel higher quality, and they could have left on a dedicated power button. But these are all easy things to forgive when you look at what this machine is able to do. Create high quality espresso, and steam milk with the power of a machine 2 or 3 times the price tag.
I you’re tight on space, and want to make lattes at home, the Bambino is a tough option to beat in the sub $500 dollar price bracket.