Every morning millions of us arise from bed, sloth-eyed and craving our very first cup of coffee. But whether that good morning brew is made manually or with the aid of a machine, every coffee drinker desires the hallmark of consistency with every serving. Kitchen appliance brand Breville has engineered the Oracle Touch as the ultimate automated espresso machine, designed to eliminate the guesswork of pulling a consistently satisfying cup of espresso or any other coffee drink with the convenience of an integrated grinder, tamper, and touchscreen interface.
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As someone who revels and relishes in the routine of measuring, grinding, and brewing his own coffee every morning, I’m not averse to the patience and practice required for making coffee to my preferences – the careful flip and push of an Aeropress, or tamping grounds with the correct amount of pressure before pulling a cup from a boiler heated machine, the delicate satisfaction of releasing CO2 while blooming grounds during a pour-over, or simply awaiting the eventual percolating whistle of a Moka pot on the stove. It’s just as much about the ritual as the results.
But, there are days when we all just want our damn coffee, and we want it now. That’s where a machine like the top-tier, $2,500 Breville Oracle Touch bridges and connects the divide between the realms of “discerning” and “convenience”, an all-in-one unit that doesn’t compromise the ideals of flavor coaxed from a fully manual dual boiler espresso machine from the immediate satisfaction of an automated one-button dispensing appliance.
Breville has taken what was already a solid performing semi-automatic espresso machine in their Oracle – topped with an integrated conical burr grinder, powered by dual boilers, and featuring a micro-foam frothing wand – and one-upped themselves by adding the technological layer of a touch screen.
Superautomatic espresso machines – self contained machines that grind, tamp, and extract coffee beans with the touch of button – are common in Europe, but more of a rarity here in the United States, where drip coffee and Starbucks dominate the landscape. The hybrid Breville Oracle Touch operates very closely to a superautomatic machine, retaining a portion of the manual experience requiring the use of a full-size portafilter during the grind and extraction process.
Set to the user’s adjustable grind preferences, the Oracle Touch handles everything from applying the exact pressure to the grounds, to leveling, and finally smoothing off the puck to a satisfyingly smooth top. The process takes approximately 30 seconds, a negligible pause before releasing the portafilter to move over to the heated group head where the Oracle Touch finally delivers your drink of choice in a few seconds. The closest analogue to the Oracle Touch’s hybrid operation is the paddle-shifting offered in certain modern sports cars; just as a paddle shifting car doesn’t fully discard the visceral satisfaction of shifting gears by foot and hand for the convenient precision of an automatic transmission, neither does the Oracle Touch abandon what makes pulling an espresso a pleasure with every hot pressured extraction.
Choices are all presented using a bright and easy to navigate touchscreen display. Peruse and pick with a swipe; the machine offers eight customizable user coffee settings to fine tune temps/dose, an adjustable grind control, milk temperature and texture adjustments, and scheduled on/off timer. What at first seemed like a gimmick, albeit an eye-catching tech one, turned out to be as intuitive to navigate as a smartphone, aiding new and acquainted users alike through all the options available. The touchscreen admittedly isn’t necessary, but the screen interface proved welcome in daily use because of its simplicity.
After about a month with a loaner it’s surprising to admit how quickly acclimated we’ve become with the convenience of the Oracle Touch. It’s well constructed, dependable, consistent, and easy to operate. But more importantly, whether it’s a double shot of espresso, a latte, or an Americano, everything this automated espresso machine dispenses hits the checkmarks for both the critical connoisseur and convenience-is-king mindset. By no means is the Breville’s machine affordable, but for those sufficiently serious about their espresso-based drinks who also value modern convenience accompanied with traditional foamy satisfaction, the Oracle Touch is an impressive home appliance capable of near-professional results.