Breville is no stranger to innovation. It’s a company that constantly challenges preconceived notions of what to expect from espresso machines and its latest product offering, the Breville Oracle, is no exception. It blurs the lines between semi-automatic and super-automatic and creates a hybrid that never existed before. Much to my surprise I like it. Find out why in this Breville Oracle review or click here to check its price.
As a barista I was at first hesitant as whether I would like the Oracle, this is because I’m fond of semi-automatic espresso machines where I can have control over the entire coffee making process. I had to step back for a moment and reposition my thinking – I am not the Oracle’s target market. Its target market is the coffee lover who wants the power of a semi-automatic with the convenience super automatics give.
This is where the innovation happens as before the Oracle you had to choose between either a semi-automatic or super-automatic espresso machine.
Semi-automatics mirror espresso machines found in your local cafe and tend to produce superior coffee, however they have the down side of having a long learning curve.
Super-automatics on the other hand automate the entire coffee making process and can create a beverage with a simple press of a button, but they tend to produce coffee of lesser quality when compared to semi-automatics.
The engineers at Breville asked themselves, “why do we have choose? Can’t we have both?” So they went and created a machine that produces coffee with the quality coffee of a semi-automatic with the convenience of a super-automatic.
I’m the first to acknowledge that there is a hefty learning curve involved when learning to use a conventional semi-automatic espresso machine. Because of this it takes some time to produce consistently great coffee without taking a barista course. The Breville Oracle removes this pain point by streamlining the elements of coffee making beginners tend to have trouble with, while giving the option to take as much control as the user wants. It does this by automating the following features:
Yes - Automatic and Manual
18 (H) 16.25 (L) x 15 (D) Inches
Auto Coffee Grinding
The first thing you’ll notice about the Breville Oracle is that it is a coffee maker with a built in grinder. The grinder allows you to grind the same amount of coffee every time with a press of a button. This ensures consistent results while being to adjust your settings easily if the grind changes.
Auto Coffee Tamping
Once the coffee is placed into the grouphead the machine automatically tamps the coffee into the portafilter. This ensures you’ll get the same pressure forced on the coffee each brew, eliminating another variable that affects the coffee making process
Auto Milk Frothing
Next comes the automatic milk frothing. This is the most interesting aspect of the Oracle as it has two settings. The first is full automatic, where the machine will automatically froth the milk and upon completion auto-purge. This is very handy for beginners as it takes some time to perfect the correct milk steaming technique. However if you wish to take full control simply bring the steam wand forward and you’ll override the auto functions to go manual.
Auto Espresso Extraction
Finally like all semi-automatic espresso machine machines the Oracle has a pre-programmed extraction system. It also allows you to have manual control if you wish and program your own extraction times.
The combination of the above automation features allows you to create quality coffee straight out of the box. But the great thing about the Oracle is that these automations are optional and you can opt to go manual if you wish. It’s a true hybrid.
How’s The Coffee Taste?
The Oracle is an impressive machine. But how does the coffee taste?
In a word: tasty.
This is thanks to some more geeky engineering that goes on below the hood, and when combined together gives the user the ability to make great coffee consistently. In particular praise should be given to the Oracle’s dual boiler system, programmable pre-infusion, and PID temperature controls.
So what does this mean in plain english minus the coffee jargon?
- Dual boiler = 1 boiler for extracting coffee and 1 boiler for steaming milk. This results in super fast coffee making and stable heat!
- Programmable pre-infusion = you can program the machine to soak the coffee a little before starting the extraction. This ensures a more even and flavourful extraction!
- PID temperature controls = set the temperature of the water for extraction. Allows you to experiment with different coffee blends that may taste better at different temperatures!
The Minor Caveat
The one irk I have about the Breville from a barista’s perspective is that shape of the nozzle on the steam wand.
It’s a one holed pin shape.
The benefit of a pin holed wand is that it allows the machine to automatically froth milk. But when you go manual it does tend to create more frothy milk than I’m used to.
But after a bit of practise you can tone it down to create the right amount of froth to make latte art.
Speaking of latte art, you have to go manual in order to make the correct milk for it, so that’s something to encourage you to have a go at the manual setting.
But overall the Brevlle is just really easy to use.
Should You Buy The Breville Oracle?
The Breville Oracle is an expensive piece of equipment. So before you buy it you have to be certain that this machine is the right fit for you. The trouble with the Oracle is that it’s the first of its kind and as a result there is nothing to directly compare it to. You have to compare it with the traditional semi and super automatic classes of espresso machine.
In my opinion if you’re in the market for a super-automatic espresso machine I strongly think you should opt for the Breville Oralce and drop all other contenders. Although the Oracle is not a fully super automatic espresso machine, the hybrid nature of it and its ease of use allows it to produce much, much better coffee when compared to normal super automatic machines. You can get one here on Amazon. If it is too pricey for you, you can consider looking at it's cheaper brother, the Barista Express.
However if you’re looking for a traditional semi-automatic prosumer espresso machine that allows you to have full control of the entire coffee making process – aka barista consumers like me – I would not get the Breville Oracle, and instead invest in a great grinder and a prosumer espresso machine like the Rocket R2 or if you’re on a smaller budget, go for the Breville Dual Boiler. The main reason being that after you master the correct barista technique a manual prosumer semi-automatic machines will still always produce the better coffee.
But what if you’re a person in between? A person who is new to coffee making, is not a barista, and looking for a first espresso machine. I think the Breville Oracle is a great option for you as it allows you to make great coffee straight out of the box, while allowing you to experiment with manual coffee making. I know from experience it took me months to get good at coffee making, and there’s nothing more frustrating than buying an expensive piece of gear and not knowing how to bring out its full potential. For this reason I think the hybrid nature of the Oracle is a fantastic option for you, as you’ll be able to make great coffee straight away that’ll surely impress your friends.
Breville Oracle Review Summary
- If you’re looking at super-automatics: Get the Breville Oracle.
- If you’re a barista like me: Get a prosumer semi-automatic.
- If you’re newcomer to coffee making: Buy the Oracle.
You can buy the Breville Oracle by clicking the button below.
Great article, dont forget people who are not afraid of a fully manual machine, but who have spouses or other members of their household for whom a fully manual machine is too daunting but who would also like to be able to make their own beverages. This machine represents a nice median between push button ease for those in the house who want/need it and manual control for the aficionado.
Do decalcify the machine around 6 months or sooner if hard water. Don’t make the mistake I made numerous times over the past 4 years by inadvertently stopping the decalcify process. Each time it took days to get it working again. When started keep pressing the decalcify button until it says it is ready – Only Then. Keep decalcifying so it rinses properly.