review: Breville Infuser

I’ve had my home espresso machine for a few months now, so let’s take a look at how it’s going so far.

I was a bit intimidated at first about trying to make espresso at home with a proper machine, but from the get-go it’s been relatively straight forward.  Unpacking and set up were very easy, and there are lots of clever touches, including a pop up indicator when the tray needs to be emptied, inclusion of good quality accessories including the tamper and milk jug, and a magnetic slot to hold the tamper.

On whole I’m finding it easy to get through the process of making espresso drinks, though I’m still not confident in my abilities steaming milk as I’ve mentioned previously. I’m hoping to get to the point when I can make latte art but I’m not there and look forward to finding a class to learn.  Set up and clean up are easy, and maintenance is minimal.  All in all very pleased with the machine.

Let me briefly (I hope) walk through the process.

After adding water to the tank on the back, I turn on the machine and it’s usually ready to go quickly.  Next I pour milk into the pitcher, and turn on the steam wand.  It takes a little bit for the water to heat up and steam to come out, at which point I turn it off, put the wand in the milk, turn it back on and start foaming.

Heating the milk and creating some foam, again, doesn’t take very long.  Putting the pitcher aside, I wipe the steam wand with a wet towel and shoot some steam through into the towel in order to blast out any milk that might still be up the wand.

Next I run a single shot’s worth of water through the machine to clear the group head, and I hold the portafiller to catch the water so it will warm up.  After wiping it down, I put the portafiller on the scale to tare it to zero, then grind coffee in to fill it, and weight it out to 18 ounces.  Then it’s time to use the tamper to compress the grinds.

The portafiller slots into the group head easily and locks into place.  I put a cup under the filter (I like the Duralex Picardie), then a press of the double shot button and the magic begins.

If I’ve gotten things right, usually tied to the grind size and how firmly I’ve tamped, the pressure gauge will shoot up into the optimal espresso range while the brewing takes place.  I managed to get things right this time. The finished product has always had a nice bit of crema on top.

To finish making the drink, I add the milk and always make a failed effort to get some on top for the nice little art.  I’m not sure if the problem is with the coffee (the crema isn’t very dense), the way I’ve frothed the milk, or the way I’m pouring.  The finished product still tastes good (so long as I don’t add too much milk).

Clean up is easy.  Take the portafiller off and dump the used coffee puck into the knock box.

I’ll usually run another single shot’s worth of water through the head, clean the portafiller in the sink or using the hot water spout of the machine, then wipe everything down with a towel.  Cleaning the milk pitcher is also simple.

It may sound like a lot, but start to finish quicker than waiting for a drink at a coffee shop, making a coffee in the AeroPress, or the time it took you to read this (if anyone is still with me here and not fast asleep from the experience).

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