Today, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at a relatively new addition to the Breville Espresso lineup, the Bambino Plus. This machine may look entry-level, but there’s more than meets the eye in this ultra-compact form factor. Can it justify the price tag? Let’s find out!
Starting off with the most unique aspect of this machine, let’s look and the size and build. The main complaint I hear about the Bambino is that it’s so small that you need to bear hug it in order to lock in the portafilter, and while it does move around if you try to do it one handed, I think that “Bear Hug” is a bit of an exaggeration, one hand on top will do just fine, and this is required with most consumer level machines on the market.
99% of the images you see of this machine online are facing head-on, so the first thing that immediately caught me off-guard was the actual depth of this machine. Yes, it’s a mere 19cm across, but it’s still just as deep as any of the other Breville machines.
Luckily, the depth is not the only thing carried over from Breville’s other products. Despite the relatively toyish appearance, the build quality is good… incorporating real metal, tight tolerances, and when it’s used, the plastic is thick and sturdy feeling.
One thing that did feel notably cheaper was the portafilter. Whyyyy would you cheap out on this Breville? It’s the one part people are going to touch each and every day… Luckily, you can use any of Breville’s 54mm portafilters with the Bambino plus, which is a good upgrade not only good for build quality, but coffee quality as well, which we’ll get into a bit later on.
Quickly going over the rest of the machine, you have a large removable water reservoir on the back
and a very simple 5 button interface.
I like the clean and simple look, but I think that not including a dedicated hot water outlet was a mistake. If you’re an Americano drinker like myself, you’ll need to boil the water separately in a kettle, or steam the water to the desired temperature… not exactly ideal.
Speaking of steaming , let’s talk about the steaming performance as this was a stand-out feature of this machine. The Bambino uses a 4 hole steam wand, that can be pre-programmed to reach 3 independently adjustable levels of temperature and texture. I measured the temperature settings to be 50, 70, and 90 degrees Celsius for low medium and high.
Speed was also impressive, taking 38 seconds to reach a temperature of 60 degrees, which is not only faster than the Barista Express, but actually equally as fast as the Dual Boiler!
Because this does not look like a typical panarello, I was skeptical about how good the automatic milk texturing would be…. but despite not having the same level of super fine control that’s found on the Oracle, the quality of the textured milk was honestly very similar between these two very differently priced machines. You just need to hope your preferences fall into one of the 3 pre-set levels. Which range from very fine latte foam, to very heavy cappuccino foam, and then one setting in between.
What I didn’t like so much was the way the temperature sensor is separate from the steam wand, and requires you to double check that the pitcher is making good contact. It just feels a little clunkier than the all-in-one system found on the more expensive machines where the temperature sensor is integrated into the steam tip. Another steaming feature that was carried over was automatic purging, simply push the steam arm back in, and it will remove any built up milk residue.
The espresso the Bambino makes is right in line with the rest of it’s machines in terms of quality. It offers a low pressure pre-infusion, the option to program the duration of both your single and double shots, or extract manually by holding either of the buttons down. One thing that is missing is the ability to adjust the shot temperature.
Another thing to note, is that in North America the Bambino Plus only ships with pressurized filter baskets. If you want a more traditional espresso experience, you can buy non-pressurized filters for this machine, but then you will also need a capable espresso burr grinder such as the Smart Grinder Pro in order to use them. With pressurized baskets, any grinder will do, or even pre-ground coffee!
I think the decision to leave out a hot water spout, include automatic steaming, and only include pressurized baskets in some markets, shows that Breville is targeting the Bambino Plus primarily at latte and cappuccino drinkers. And if that’s you, this is a great little entry level unit to consider.
Overall, this is a powerful compact appliance, and if you are looking for an entry level machine to make lattes and cappuccinos at home, this is absolutely the front runner in this form factor.
Need more? Watch the video!