Both of these machines come in a range of great looking matte paint colours, as well as stainless steel if you’d prefer a more tradition appearance.
Both are also VERY futuristic looking in the grand scheme of espresso machines currently on the market. Normally, I find that touch screens or screens in general tend to “cheapen” the look of a product. But the case of these two, I think they look excellent and well thought out.
In terms of build QUALITY, you might be surprised to hear that the cheaper Barista Pro actually has a slight leg up. It uses a completely redesigned chassis, whereas the Barista Touch is a modification on the far older Barista Express… Seems a little odd, but overall these are both well put together machines.
In terms of features, the Barista Touch is clearly ahead thanks to the touch interface and automatic steaming features that we’ll touch on a little later. However, the Barista Pro one again does have one advantage in the form of a retractable power cord, which is great for reducing countertop clutter. The Touch is notably missing this feature.
The user experience of these two machines is simultaneously very similar, and very different. What on earth do I mean by that?
Well, in terms of start up speed and transitioning between brewing and steaming, these machines perform identically because they use the exact same heating system. However, the way you interact with them while brewing and steaming could not be more different.
The Barista Pro has minimal, very simple, physical buttons and switches to control brewing. Single shot, double shot, grind, steam, hot water. Very straight forward.
The Barista Touch on the other hand, controls every aspect of the process through the touch screen. You actually end up with more button pushes to get the same result. You must select a recipe, choose to start grinding, push to start brewing… there’s a lot more hand-holding. This is an advantage for new users, or guests without a doubt, but could also be seen as a negative for those who want the fastest most efficient process.
One undeniable advantage of having a touch screen is the menu system, and ease of use of things such as cleaning and deep settings adjustment.
These machines will be identical in terms of the espresso they produce.
– Same grinder
– Same number of grind steps
– Same number of temperature settings
– Same brewing pressure
– Same 54mm portafilter and filter basket
Other than the workflow and menu system the largest difference between these machines is the milk steaming.
The Barista Touch allows you to select the texture and temp you want, and will achieve this automatically using the panarello steam arm to automatically introduce air, and the temperature sensor to stop when it reaches the desired temperature.
Seems like a no brainer, but there is a downside. Steaming speed will be slightly quicker on the Pro, and absolute milk texture quality CAN be better, but you will need to learn the proper technique.
You CAN steam manually by pulling the steam arm straight out, but it’s still just not as good of an experience and not as easy to texture as a simple traditional arm. This is just a reality of Panarello steam arms, slightly inconsistent, but as far as they go, this one is very good
If you just want nicely textured milk, the Touch will do it, if you want the absolute MOST control, and you are willing to learn, the Pro can achieve better results.
Luckily this comparison has a pretty cut and dry conclusion.
If you place high priority on convenience, or need guest / newbies to be able to easily use your machine, go with the Barista Touch. If none of the touch screen or automatic steaming features shown in this video remotely interested you, then you can very safely go with the Barista Pro. You are not sacrificing any quality, and you actually GAIN some flexibility when it comes to milk steaming.