True story: Until five years ago, I had never had a cup of coffee in my life. Then … I began procreating. And when you’re a new parent, survival is all about two drinks — wine and coffee.
So, I began drinking fancy coffees. You know, skim lattes, double cappuccinos with no foam, macchiatos with soy milk. I was living my best caffeinated life. And to hone in on the point of this story, I began drinking A LOT of these fancy joes. Living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the time, my absolute favorite spot was Blue Bottle Coffee, where the typical latte ran me $4.25. Blue Bottle was around the corner from my apartment, which meant I could swing by in the morning and again in the afternoon, for another much-needed pick me up. I loved my new addiction! Until I realized I was spending roughly $8.50 a day on the drink. That’s $60 a week, or as my husband pointed out, an average of $240 a month. Or, um, $3,000 a year. On coffee.
Clearly, I could drink less, which I did (sometimes), but my husband is also a coffee drinker, so oftentimes we’d go together and, well, you get the point. These brews add up. Which brings me to Breville’s new Barista Touch. The answer to coffee junkies' prayers everywhere, this espresso machine recreates the quality of the barista-brewed coffee you’ve come to know and love (and, if we’re being honest, jones for) in a high-tech way that is fast and in a compact footprint that won’t overtake your kitchen.
First things first — how does it taste? After tinkering with the Barista Touch for a couple of weeks, I can attest that the goods are legit. The lattes I’m brewing are DELICIOUS, and just how I like ’em — silky and light — and my husband swears the americano is one of the best he’s ever tasted. The machine is all about customizing your brews to you, however. So, if you don’t like your lattes silky and light like me, there are myriad ways to tailor them to your preference (like increasing grind size, brew duration, milk temperature and texture and so on). If this sounds overwhelming or too inside baseball for you, fear not, the machine’s color touch screen is super intuitive and comes pre-programmed with step-by-step instructions loaded for each of the five drink options (espresso, latte, americano, flat white and cappuccino).
And you can even choose cute foam art icons for custom drinks to be added to the touch screen’s dashboard — like a cappuccino with extra hot milk and a double shot of espresso. Yum.
My main hesitation was the labor. In the words of Rihanna, me no wanna, “work, work, work, work, work, work.” I’m not going to lie — my few first tries were clunky at best. But baristas aren’t built in a day. Learning how to pre-heat the cup (by filling it with steaming water), then ditching the water, for example, tripped me up in the beginning … but became a “must” step in my process. Grinding, tamping and trimming, too, came with a learning curve, but after four or five attempts, my coffee-making confidence is now at an all-time high. Not only because I know I can make a damn good cappuccino, but also because I actually understand the process thanks to the touch screen explanations. Yes, I’m actually smarter! (And for your reference, whipping up a traditional latte takes about a minute.)
More reasons I’m on the bandwagon: The Barista Touch is Breville’s update on its iconic (but a wee-bit dated) Barista Express, that has nearly 2,000 reviews on Amazon. Read: It’s a smarter, more intuitive version of a much-loved classic. The Barista Touch is also the younger sibling machine to the Oracle Touch, both of which came to market late last year. The only difference between the two machines is that the Oracle comes with auto-tamping — and a much bigger footprint, and a $2,500 price tag. Read: For half the price, you get a smaller but nearly-identical machine. Lastly, this machine is fast, yo! Like, three-seconds fast. That’s right, it can achieve your optimum extraction temperature in just three seconds, which is faster than any other machine in this category.
Listen, I get it, eschewing your coffeehouse habit — the acoustic soundtrack, the quirky conversations with your favorite barista, the endless hipster watching — isn’t easy. To stave off your sadness, consider the savings you’re about to create out of thin air. The Barista Touch rings in at $1,200. Not cheap. But if you’re spending even $5 a day on coffee, you’ll pay it off in less than a year. And from there your only cost is beans, glorious beans! Welcome to your new part-time barista job. (P.S. If ever there was a perfect wedding registry item, this is it.)
Shop the Barista Touch here:
Shop the Oracle Touch here:
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