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Breville Bambino Plus review

Want barista-style coffee? Breville has the perfect solution

Breville Bambino Plus
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Breville Bambino Plus is a fantastic machine that’s packed with smart features to help you make the smoothest and professional-looking coffee around. While it isn’t cheap, the plentiful customization options make it well worth your money.

For

  • Lots of customization settings
  • Great cleaning functions
  • Fast heat-up time

Against

  • Not suitable for use with pods
  • Needs a good clean after each use

One-minute review:  

The Breville Bambino Plus is a superb coffee machine that will make you feel like a pro barista in your own home. A true contender for one of the best coffee makers around, the Bambino Plus is compact enough that it doesn’t take over your kitchen, but still gives you plenty of features so that you can brew delicious espresso and froth milk to velvety perfection.

You can choose between a single or double shot of espresso at the press of a button, and there’s also the option to choose from three different milk temperatures and three milk texture settings. 

What we really loved about the Breville Bambino Plus is how you can simply select what you want and let the machine do the rest - there’s no need to stand there and hold the milk jug while it’s frothing, for example. 

Using an espresso machine like the Bambino Plus will always entail a bit more cleaning than using a pod machine, purely because of the extra parts and steam wands; however, this Breville model automatically purges the steam wand after frothing your milk, and has been well designed to make cleaning up relatively simple. 

Breville Bambino Plus price and availability

  • List price $499.95 / £399.95 / AU$ 649 

The Breville Bambino Plus is available in the US, UK, and Australia – in the UK it’s known as Sage the Bambino Plus.  

Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Design

  • Compact design  
  • Metal tamper
  • Easy to use 

The Bambino Plus has a smart finish and looks every bit a premium espresso machine. From the metal steam wand to the quality portafilter, the machine has a professional feel about it, but it’s compact, so won’t take over your kitchen. 

This Breville coffee maker is available in various colors, depending on where you’re located. In the US you can take your pick from eight different colors, while in the UK and Australia, there are just three choices. 

The Breville Bambino Plus is designed for those who take their coffee-making seriously. Included with the coffee machine are four filter baskets for different types of coffee grounds, a tool called the Razor, which helps you expertly level off your coffee grounds so that you can make the smoothest espresso possible, a milk jug, cleaning tools, a removable portafilter, into which you clip the coffee basket before inserting it into the machine, and even a water filter to help improve the taste of your coffee. 

Making a good espresso relies on quite a few factors, and one of them is making sure the coffee grounds are well compacted. To help you do this, a metal tamper is provided, and unlike on many other machines this isn’t attached to the machine itself, which makes it much easier to apply even force to the grounds. Lots of espresso machines also have a plastic tamper, so it’s good to see a more sturdy metal tamper here. 

The Bambino Plus heats up in three seconds, and you then press the appropriate button to choose between a one-cup or two-cup brew. Milk frothing is also designed to be super-easy with this coffee maker: all you need to do is select from a choice of three milk temperatures, as well as three different milk textures. The metal steam arm is another nice touch, as many espresso machines come with plastic steam wands. 

If having complete control over the coffee-making process is more your thing, the Bambino Plus lets you manually texturize milk if you prefer. If you’re happy to let the machine do its thing, the included metal milk jug sits on a small sensor button that measures the temperature of the milk. Once the milk has reached the temperature you’ve programmed in, the steam wand will shut off, and after you’ve lifted the wand out of the jug and put it back down into the resting position the machine will automatically purge the wand by pumping water through it. 

Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

  • Makes smooth espresso
  • Milk texturizing works brilliantly
  • Great cleaning features

Setting up the Bambino Plus involves a fair bit of unboxing of the various accessories and rinsing the machine pipes before the first use, all of which is clearly explained in the supplied manual. After running a rinse cycle through the machine, we brewed our first shot of espresso using the one-cup double-wall filter basket. This basket is suitable for ground coffee from a packet, rather than freshly ground from beans. 

We used the tamper to compress the ground coffee in the filter, before trimming off the excess grounds with the Razor tool. After placing the filter basket into the portafilter and clicking it into place on the machine, we selected the one-cup button.

It took 21 seconds to brew a shot of espresso, and the coffee was wonderfully smooth, with a fantastic thick crema on the top – and when we added sugar and gave the drink a stir, the crema formed again. While we were making the espresso, the machine averaged 53 decibels which is similar to the sound of a hair dryer.

Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Next on our testing agenda was to see how well the steam wand worked. We chose to opt for the medium texture setting on the Bambino Plus, and the medium heat setting. We used the automatic setting, and placed the milk jug on the sensor so that the machine would know when the milk had reached the desired temperature. The noise level when the steam wand was in action was even lower than when we were making espresso, reaching 51 decibels while the milk was frothing. When we added the milk to our coffee, it retained a velvety texture that lasted all the way down our drink as we sipped it. 

Once the steam wand has finished heating the milk, you simply need to lift up the jug, remove the wand and give it a wipe. To help clear the pipes of milk residue, the wand automatically purges hot water into the drip tray when you put it back into the rest position, and this really does help to keep everything clean, although it does mean you need to give the drip tray a good clean after every use. The fact that the filter basket clips into the portafilter also helps with cleaning up, as when you go to empty the coffee grounds the basket stays in place and doesn’t fall into the bin. 

For our tests we used the same good-quality ground coffee that we’ve used to make hundreds of cups of coffee with a French press, but we found that the Bambino Plus surpassed our expectations, and gave us a smoother and tastier cup of coffee. Note that you won’t be able to grind beans with this machine as you can with Breville’s pricier Oracle Touch machine.

The Breville Bambino Plus doesn’t have an auto switch-off function, which is a shame, but to switch it off you simply need to hold down two buttons at once. Overall, the machine is very easy to operate, and cleaning is fairly easy. 

Should I buy the Breville Bambino Plus?

Buy it if… 

You want a machine to froth milk
The Bambino Plus does a fantastic job of frothing milk, giving you three choices of milk texture as well as three temperature settings.

You want impressive espresso
This espresso machine makes smooth espresso with a thick crema, and a metal tamper and leveling tool are included to help you get the perfect shot.

You want a machine that’s easy to clean
The Breville Bambino Plus automatically purges its steam wand once it’s finished heating milk, and the drip tray is easy to remove when it needs cleaning. 

Don’t buy it if…

You want to use coffee pods
This is an old-school espresso maker rather than a pod machine, so you’ll need to buy ground coffee, or grind beans yourself.

You want a budget coffee maker
The Bambino Plus isn’t cheap, so if you just want a more affordable machine for making your morning coffee, consider an alternative such as the Nespresso Vertuo Plus

You want a machine that’s effortless to use
Once you’ve got the hang of it, the Bambino Plus isn’t hard to use, but compared to a one-button pod-based machine it will take more time to master.