Starting off with build quality and design we’re starting off strong, as the Touch Impress is using Breville’s newest chassis that was first shown on the Barista Pro. This might seem like a no-brainer, considering the Touch Impress is a brand-new machine, however Breville have made some very odd choices in the past such as on the Barista Touch and Express Impress which both use the now ANCIENT platform from the original Barista Express…
This NEW form factor is sleek, simple, and I think fits in well with a wide variety of kitchen styles. I often find that touch screens tend to cheapen the overall look of an appliance, but in this case, I think it still looks very premium in the way that it’s recessed, as well as the quality of the screen itself. This is a good time to mention that any flickering you see is a result of the camera frame rate and is not visible in real life.
Looks aside, using the newer chassis also brings along with it an overall bump to build quality. The machine feels very solid all around with its metal shell, solid metal tamping arm, and brand-new steam wand that has a neat one-piece design with a red accented finger loop.
Two areas where I was slightly let down with the otherwise solid build are on the grind adjustment, and tamping chute cover. Both pieces appear to be metal, but in reality, are a shiny fake chrome plastic which is a little disappointing. It isn’t such a big deal on the chute cover as you rarely touch that area, but I would have liked to see more attention paid to the grind adjustment knob.
Moving on, I think it’s important to start with an overview of all the features this machine offers as a segway into the user experience. The Barista Touch Impress is essentially an accumulation of what I would consider to be the best parts of three previous Breville machines.
It has the integrating tamping and smart dosing system from the Barista Express Impress, which is a key element of the user experience of this machine.
It also gets the updated thermojet heating system from the Barista Pro, which is a SIGNIFICANT step up in steaming speed when compared to older generation Brevilles such as the Express.
And finally, it also takes the automatic milk texturing from the Barista Touch, along with the ability to program in a wide variety of custom drinks that can be recalled using the touch screen. Not to mention this is quite simply the best automatic steaming we’ve seen yet from Breville, even better than on the Touch and hyper expensive Oracle models. But we’ll get into that later on in the video.
Otherwise, as far as features go, it’s pretty standard in terms of the layout and functions. There’s a removable water tank on the rear, good sized drip tray with a handy storage compartment in behind, and a hot-water spout for tea or americano drinkers.
But it’s not so much the range of features that impressed me over my weeks of testing, in fact, I’m generally pretty against overly gimmicky and “feature” heavy machines. Instead, it was the simplicity and foolproof nature of the Touch Impress that makes me think it could be the absolute best home machine currently on the market. You could be making the same drink every single day, and I think this model would still be well worth it.
Once dialed in, literally anyone, and I mean ANYONE can make a drink on the Touch Impress with absolutely zero experience. And I do not say that lightly.
Turn the machine on. Select a drink. Click grind. Tamp. Attach the portafilter. Pull the espresso shot. Put the milk pitcher on. Click steam. Pour your drink.
I think this is probably what many people envision when the picture buying a home espresso setup, but the reality is that using an espresso machine is generally a pretty involved process, and there simply hasn’t been one, within a reasonable budget, that is THIS straightforward to use.
Each drink can have its own settings for type of milk, milk temperature, milk texture, and even a custom setting for the espresso shot if you want to tweak the recipe to better suit the taste of the milk being used. For example, I could have a 2% milk latte at 60 degrees Celsius with very fine foam for latte art, while my girlfriend’s drink can be with oat milk at 70 degrees and thick foam for a cappuccino. As long as you select the right recipe and put the right milk in the pitcher, the machine is taking care of the rest.
The same can be said for non-milk drinks such as an Americano. They can be programmed in as well to allow you to pull the shot and then have the machine automatically dispense a pre-determined amount of hot water. And because of the location of the water spout, you don’t even need to move the cup in between.
Now, some people might be eager to point out that there are super-automatic machines such as those from Miele and Jura that are equally simple to use. The difference, is that with the Breville you’re still maintaining the quality of espresso and quality of steamed milk from a manual machine. Using full 18gram doses, non-pressurized filter baskets, and having true control over milk texture. It’s kind of the definition of having your cake and eating it too.
One user experience negative I did notice is that the Touch Impress does seem to use a lot more water that past models, leading to the need to empty the drip tray more often, as well as refill the water tank. I’m not sure why exactly this is, but it was definitely an observation worth mentioning.
Moving on to the espresso, let’s revisit what I said in the intro about learning curves.
When you first get an espresso system, no-matter if it costs $500 or $5000 dollars, the first thing you’ll need to do is dial in your coffee. This is the process of finding the perfect grind size such that the flow isn’t too fast, or too slow which would result in overly sour or overly bitter espresso. And honestly, for many people, that’s where their home espresso journey ends. This task can be very frustrating and ultimately leads to many people returning their shiny new machines right back to the store.
Not only is this a bummer to new owners, but I’m sure that somewhat selfishly, this is an issue that Breville has been eager to solve as well.
On the new Impress models, and the Touch in particular, this usually frustrating process has been shockingly simplified.
Grinding the correct amount of coffee is controlled and checked by the machine. Tamping pressure and levelness, are also controlled by the integrated tamping arm. Taking out these variables is already a HUGE advantage to first time users.
After you have your consistently dosed, consistently tamped puck, with zero effort on your part, you pull a shot and the machine monitors the time it takes to run. Once it’s finished, it will then tell you whether you need to grind coarser or finer to reach the right flow rate next time. You make the adjustment, pull another shot, and that’s it! As with any dialing in, you only have to do this once when you get the machine brand new, or when you get a new coffee. Once you have the right setting, it’s just grind, tamp, and go.
I usually warn people to clear a couple hours and save a half bag of coffee if they’re brand new to dialing in espresso. On this machine, I could confidently hand it over to someone who’s never pulled a shot, and they’d have drinkable espresso within 3 or 4 attempts, which is pretty amazing.
The one caveat to this is that you obviously still need to dial in to taste. The machine might want you to pull a 30 second shot as a starting point, but if your coffee is tasting best at 25 or even 20 seconds, then you’re the only one who can determine that, and that just comes with experience and personal preference.
Milk steaming on the Touch Impress takes up a lot of the advertising space you see surrounding this machine. Breville is very vocal about its new MilQ system, like Milk, but IQ… MILQ… anyways, `despite the cringey marketing, I had pretty high expectations of the performance.
For regular cow’s milk, this machine steams very well, I didn’t notice any drastic differences between it and the older Barista Touch or Oracle machines, but these are all still the best automatic milk steaming systems I’ve come across to date.
Where the Touch Impress is different from those models is that it now adds the option to not only customize the temperature and texture, but also tell the machine what type of milk is being used so that it can adjust the amount of air integration and steaming accordingly. This is a genuinely important feature. As anyone who has tried to steam alternative milks such as Soy or Oat milk knows, different milks steam and texture very differently.
In my testing, I was… moderately impressed, but I wouldn’t say blown away with this feature. The machine was definitely making changes to the steaming process for each different milk type I selected. Cows milk and soy milk got very good results, good enough to make latte art if you’re looking that. For what I consider to be the trickier alternatives which are almond and oat milk, it was able to make I’d say 7/10 quality foam, but it still wasn’t able to reach the 10/10 quality needed to make latte art consistently.
I think that my expectations might have been a BIT too high for this system as alternative milks are just soo tricky to steam even by hand, and I don’t think this should necessarily undermine what Breville have achieved here. The ability to input your milk type and have the machine adapt accordingly is really useful, and it has absolutely improved the steaming quality of soy, almond and oat milks, making it HANDS DOWN the most capable automatic steaming Breville.
As with any of their auto-steaming machines, it’s also important to note that you can pull the steam arm out and take control with 100% manual steaming if that’s something you want to play around with.
Steaming speed is quite good thanks to the fact that it uses the newer thermojet heating system taking around 1 minute to steam a pitcher of milk to 60 degrees Celsius. This is slower than the manual Barista Pro by about 15 seconds due to the power loss from the automatic steaming. However, this is still totally reasonable, and you easily get that time back with the automatic dosing and tamping system, as well as the fact that you can do other things such as clean up while the milk is steaming.
What Breville have made with the Barista Touch Impress feels like the machine the industry has been SLOWLY working towards over the 3 or so years I’ve been reviewing machines on this channel. It’s managed to take out much of the learning curve of espresso in a way that doesn’t sacrifice on quality, and also doesn’t cost an absolute fortune like their top of the line Oracle machines.
Speaking of the Oracle, I think that model line will soon be on the way out with the introduction of this machine. There’s really just no reason to spend thousands of dollars more for the Oracle or Oracle Touch, except in the rare cases where you need to be regularly pumping out 5, 6, 7… lattes back to back to back and therefore would benefit from the speed advantage of brewing and steaming the same time with a dual boiler. If you’re just making two or three lattes, this machine is plenty.
I tried very hard to find all the negatives I could before making this review. The plastic parts that shouldn’t have been plastic, the increased water usage… but overall I’m just thoroughly impressed with this machine. If you’re looking for a completely fuss-free way to make café quality drinks at home for the first time, then the Barista Touch Impress IS the machine you’ve been looking for. It’s the first model I can safely recommend to friends and family without the fear that I’ll need to provide hours of coffee tech support as a result.
Need more? Watch the video!