Breville Bambino Plus » CoffeeGeek

Before we even get into this, a reminder: this is not a review we’re publishing here. It’s a first look, based on initial impressions and first uses of the machine. Any conclusions or opinion I draw from this early look could completely change by the time we publish our full review on this machine.

That said, I can’t get over how tiny the Bambino Plus is, especially considering all it’s got under the hood. We’re talking PID controls. We’re talking about a completely unique thermojet heating system that has the machine ready to brew a shot 3 seconds after you turn it on! And we’re talking about the serious bad boy element of this machine: a fully automated and customizable auto milk frothing and steaming system that uses traditional elements like a steaming pitcher and steam wand.

Powering Up

To power on the machine, you simply press any of the three large buttons up front; the main lights will blink then go solid after 3 seconds. If it’s you first time, the procedure is a bit different: the machine knows it’s empty, so after you power it up, the machine blinks the 1 cup button; pressing it results in the machine going through a one time rinse and prime cycle to run some clean water through and prime up the Thermojet system.

Automated Functions

The machine is what is called an “automatic” in that you only have to press a button once and the Bambino Plus will brew either a single or double shot of espresso, ending the shot automatically. The machine is pre-programmed to brew a 30ml (1oz) single, and a 60ml (2oz) double, with a (roughly) 9 second pre-infuse mode. You can program in both volumes if you prefer longer or shorter shots; the process is pretty easy. First, press and hold both the 1 and 2 cup shot buttons for 2 seconds; they will light up and flash. Then, if programming the single shot button, press it to start your extraction, and then press it again when you get the desired volume of espresso brewed. That new setting becomes your auto 1 cup brew setting.

You can also operate the machine in a quasi manual mode. Let’s say you want a double shot of espresso with a short preinfusion, but a larger volume of water used — maybe 75ml for the double shot. You’d do this by pressing and holding the double shot button as the machine starts preinfusing with lower pressure water. You can tell it’s going on because the pump is operating at a low setting. Once you’re satisfied with the amount of preinfusion (let’s say, 6 seconds’ worth), let go of the button, and the Bambino Plus ramps up to full 9BAR pressure to continue brewing the shot. When you get the desired amount of espresso, press the button again to end the shot.

The Portafilter is a bit tight these first uses, and takes some effort to crank over into the marked “Locked” position. It’s also cold if you power up the machine, so it makes sense to run a “flush shot” of just brewing water through a locked-in portafilter before loading it up with coffee; this will get the grouphead and portafilter nice and toasty and ready for espresso. If you’re brewing back to back shots, you only need to do this for the first one.

A word of warning here though: the reservoir under the drip tray does not hold a lot of water. You can easily fill it up with just one flushing shot to warm everything up, followed by one shot pull, a cleaning flush, and steaming milk for one beverage. In the Detailed Review i’ll measure its max capacity but it’s not a lot.

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