Breville Oracle Touch » CoffeeGeek

In the Detailed Review, we will really dive deep into all the customizations the Breville Oracle Touch offers.

Drink and Milk Quality

Honestly, the Breville Oracle Touch will put many professional baristas to shame. Definitely not the top pro baristas, but certainly the majority of them out there.

I still cannot believe how good a job this machine does steaming and foaming milk. When it starts, you get a bit worried, because you see some big bubbles formed and wonder if this is going south fast, but the speed and agitation of the milk in the pitcher picks up as the milk heats up, and you soon see things settle down, and you see a quality microfoam form. And the milk temperatures are absolutely spot on. If you dial in 145F, you get within 2F of that final temperature (we used a Fluke Thermometer to test).

I did notice the amount of actual foam produced varies a bit. We set our cappuccino default foam level to 7, but it seemed a bit all over the map: sometimes copious amounts of microfoam allowing you to create a true drink of thirds, other times, barely 1cm of foam in the 500ml steaming pitcher holding a good 200ml of milk. I would blame the milk itself more than the machine on this, as I was testing whole, 3.25%fat, 2%fat and even 1%fat milk, and depending on the age of the milk and how chilled it was to start will factor in how much or how little foam this automated system will create. This is one area where manual steaming can do a better job: when you manually steam and notice foam’s a little hard to come by, you can stretch the milk a bit more aggressively to get more foam. The automated system on the Oracle Touch can’t do that kind of on-the-fly change.

As for espresso output – it’s absolutely fantastic once you dial the machine in. My standard rig in my test area is a Sette 270Wi grinder married to a La Marzocco GS3 MP espresso machine, running at 201.4F, using 18.6g doses, delivering 40-45g of liquid espresso, using Pilot Coffee’s Heritage Blend. To do a proper comparison, I dialed my dose up to 19.5g on the Sette 270Wi, changed the grind a tad coarser to compensate for the upped dose, and dialed the PID down to 200.9F. These settings brought it on par with the Oracle Touch’s setup.

I did a series of six blind comparisons: I pulled shots on both machines at nearly the same time (letting the auto features of the Oracle Touch do their thing while I manhandled the GS3), and had my partner take the identical cups, stir them, and hand them back to me not telling me which was which.

On only two occasions did I pick GS3 shots as tasting better than the Oracle Touch. The other four were a dead heat tie. I was surprised and a bit freaked out by this.

Overall Thoughts

In my very early, initial testing of the Breville Oracle Touch, I found it produces excellent microfoamed steamed milk, and excellent shots of espresso. And it does both with minimal human interaction. You’re just there to move the portafilter from the grinder to the grouphead, to dump out the spent puck, and to wipe the outside of the steam wand once it’s done.

Sigh.

A bit more seriously, if you just want to use this machine with the factory defaults and presets, it’s going to deliver quality beverages. Breville didn’t just “mail in” the settings; they consulted with some of the top baristas in Australia when setting them up, and tested thousands of kilos of coffee from a wide variety of roasters when designing and setting up the grinder and tamper system.

Because I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to espresso crafting, I like and appreciate that I can change things like shot times, grind fineness, boiler temperatures, and even the milk temperatures and froth levels for various drink builds. I like that I can steam manually with this machine if I want, especially if I have tricky (read a bit older or lower in fat) milk that needs a finesse touch to produce decent microfoam. I also like that Breville does provide the option to change the dosed weight of coffee, albeit in a manual, hands on way that most people won’t ever know about or do.

There’s so many little niceties about this machine that I could go on and on about. The hidden “wheel” under the drip tray that allows for easy movement of this heavy machine around the counter. The actively heated cup tray on top is a nice bonus. The fact the machine comes with a high quality knock box is, as far as I know, unique in the domestic espresso machine marketplace. The noise levels are acceptable, and even quiet when compared to grinders like the Baratza Sette series. The fit and finish is a few steps above Breville’s entry level machines, something that’s also important to note.

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