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Starbucks Barista Espresso Machine

by Justin
(California)


The Starbucks Barista espresso machine is capable of making a good shot of espresso but not necessarily right out of the box. It is pump driven and has a single boiler tank that pulls double duty to heat up water for espresso and for steaming milk. The body has a nice solid feel due to its stainless steel casing, and I really like that the steam wand can be adjusted in any direction.


The portafilter that comes with the machine is pressurized, and this is the cause of some of the problems with the machine. A pressurized portafilter, in my opinion, serves one purpose: it creates the illusion of a perfect shot. Crema (the “liquid gold” that tops a correctly-pulled shot) is produced artificially through a portafilter. A person could theoretically pull an excellent-looking shot through a pressurized portafilter without using correctly ground coffee or proper temperatures. It is possible to purchase an aftermarket non-pressurized portafilter that will fit in the Barista’s group head, and I recommend that you do so.

With an unpressurized portafilter, you will find that this machine is capable of good shots, but it’s temperamental. It’s best to let it heat up for as long as possible so that water temperature stays consistent throughout the extraction process. It’s also necessary to “temperature surf” before pulling your shots or else you risk burning your espresso. You do this by running water through the brew head until it flows it stops fluttering erratically and starts flowing in a smooth stream.

Steaming milk can also be tricky. Sometimes, I find that I have tons of strong steam pressure and can steam my milk to temperature in under a minute. At other times the steam seems to trickle out, and it takes several minutes to heat up a small pitcher. As best as I can figure out, you’ll receive more consistent results if you first heat up your machine with your steam button pushed, then switch to “temperature surfing” through the head, then reheat the boiler for steam pressure and steam your milk. This tends to work for me, but it’s a pain.

Overall, if you don’t mind a few modifications you’ll find that the Starbucks Barista is a competent machine for the price and that it is capable of creating genuinely good espresso shots and milk-based beverages. It is especially worth it if you can find one for under $200.00.

Comments for Starbucks Barista Espresso Machine

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Mar 04, 2011
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Yeah!
by: Anonymous

Putang inang starbucks yan!!! Bad customer service and equipment. Waste of money

Dec 13, 2010
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My $8 bucks Barista
by: Pataty

So I tried it and didn't work, thought it was expected so I used the tear down thing and it mow brews, I know the steam should work because it did at first (after I fuxed it the pum was clogged with tiny debris) but it won't steam I nee to figure out how the fuses go maybe I put one in the wron place but YEy it makes delicious shots

Dec 12, 2010
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Steam Wand
by: Anonymous

I've had my Barista for about 8 years now. I love it and it is still going strong. I noticed lots of comments about steam wands not working properly. This happened to me last week and I thought for sure my machine was done. I descaled using the "Cleancaf" sold at Starbucks as a cleaner and descaler. I used the cleaner twice, soaked the wand in the solution overnight...nothing.
This morning, I ran 4 parts water, 1 part vinegar through the machine as a last ditch effort. Low and behold, it worked like a charm! Christmas has come early and I am again enjoying my morning latte!!!

Dec 08, 2010
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Just bought it for $8.00
by: Pataty

I went to my local church and a lady was selling it for eight dollars cause she said she had it for decoration since she never bothered reading instructions wooohooo for me I have yet to try it

Nov 24, 2010
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Can't find a shot glass for my Barista machine!!
by: Jan

I purchased a Starbuck's Barista two year's ago and recently my shot glass was broken and I have been to many Starbucks in Fresno and Clovis and have not been able to locate one, how can I find a new one for my machine?
Please E-mail me back at :thebad73@hotmail.com so I can purchase one soon I have been looking for over a month and not one Starbuck's employee has been willing to help me find one!

Oct 03, 2010
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My Barista is not steaming or heating up
by: Laurie Fryett

I purchased my Starbucks Barista about three years ago from a Starbucks store. For the first two years it was only used when we had guests, then the last year it was used a lot when a family member moved in. Lately I have noticed that it was taking forever to heat the water and steam. I am sure this is due to my lack of decalcifying it! I looked for the product that Starbucks suggested for decalcifying the machine, but it is not available. So I ended up using Durgol special decalcifier for espresso machines (for all brands and models). I used one bottle of the liquid decalcifier and followed the directions very carefully. Immediately after that, I noticed that my machine does not heat up. Water will run through the steam wand fine but it will not steam. Also the water is not very hot. Has anyone else experienced this? I am not sure if it is related to decalcifying it, since it worked before (but was really slow to heat up) or if it just gave up! From other comments, it appears that I should have gotten a few more years out of it. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Sep 30, 2010
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Not So Steamy Any More
by: Anonymous

My Barisata machine is about 10 years old and is not shooting out the steam like it use too. It is very weak comparably to how it used to work. Any suggestions or is it time to retire it?
Please email me at heals@shaw.ca
Thank you
TH

Sep 30, 2010
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Cleaning
by: Anonymous

We run vinagar and water through our machine and ir cleans it great. Distilled water is the best to use in these machines to prevent scaling!

Sep 01, 2010
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where to get spare parts ... filter
by: Funzi

I guess we lost our filter of the Barista... Now Im searching the net for spare parts but couldnt find any.If somebody knows where to get those filter for the Starbucks Barista, please help me
thanks in advance

Aug 16, 2010
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A leaking Barista Machine...Help
by: Mikus

I have a Starbucks Barista Machine and it has worked famously for the past 8 years, In the past week or so it has stared to leak where the porta filter or where the espresso pods fit into the handle, sorry not very technical, and then it goes into the machine. i get a good stream of espresso but it is leaking slighty, is there some sort of seal or something that may need to be replaced. please help i love this machine

Aug 15, 2010
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Where to find ?
by: Dapper

I read a post that someone used a non pressurized portafilter on their Barista and was wondering if there may be some additional information, where, how much etc.
I wasn't sure if there was enough bar pessure to use a non pressurized portafilter. Thanks in advance from someone that loves coffee yet doesn't want to plop down 650 for a rancilio.

Jul 02, 2010
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Cleaning and Descaling
by: Anonymous

I've had the Barista for over 2 years and now it obviously need descaling. My problem is that I cannot find where to buy the Starbuck Barista Cleaner and Descaler. Unless someone could direct me to a place that sells these items, I would like to know if any other descaler would work.
Thank you.
Leticia

Feb 03, 2010
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How many shots?
by: CoffeeNovice

I have this machine and the manual says to use 3tbsp of grounds to make 2oz of espresso but the filter only holds about 2tbsp of grounds. To get the accurate grounds/water ratio you would have to run the brew cycle twice to get the right amount, or pull weak shots. So technically, this machine does not make two shots at a time if you want the correct ratio of coffee grounds to water.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Mar 17, 2009
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Gets gummed up pretty easily.
by: Leslie

I've had the Starbucks Barista machine for more than 10 years now. It's fairly easy to use and does make a nice cup of espresso, with a good head of crema. If you use the machine regularly, it will run smoothly without much intervention. However, if you have a run of a couple weeks without using it, you'll need to run some kind of cleaner through the system as it gets gummed up pretty easily.

I got mine from a barista at Starbucks, who gave me a can of puro-caffe 'under the table.' Got the machine running smoothly again, and back to normal!

The water reservoir holds quite a bit of water, enough for many days worth of drinks. You'll need to get a steamer pitcher and some shotglasses.

There is a round plastic bit with a sort of phillips-head screw top that you turn upside down and turn into the nozzle that ejects the coffee; this is supposed to keep the works clean, but frankly, it doesn't work all that well.

All that said, I still have the machine! I just don't use it as much as I should or could. Living in a state with price controls on dairy products, it might be more easily affordable to purchase large quantities of milk, half-and-half and cream than in other states, so it makes sense for us to make our own coffee shop drinks. Plus, those days you simply *need* a breve at 2 in the morning, this will definitely do the trick!

I imagined myself giving up the coffee shop entirely, making my own breves and cappucinos and lattes, and for a while that worked. But it's not just the coffee one goes to a coffee shop for, and I still make trips there despite having a maker at home that can *almost* duplicate the coffee. It just doesn't duplicate the experience!


Mar 17, 2009
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Best espresso in town
by: CoffeeCrab

An espresso machine can be a great investment. For me, the fact that I love "quad-lattes" but hate pretentious yuppie-filled coffee houses made my machine one of the best purchases I've made.

I bought my espresso machine from Starbucks in 2004 during one of their sales. It is officially branded as "Starbucks" and the model is called "Barista," however the machine is clearly made by Saeco. I know Saeco is a quality brand for espresso machines, and as if a testament to that fact, my little Saeco is still running like a champ 5 years later.

It's a pretty basic manual espresso machine with all the features needed to make pretty much all popular espresso drinks. It can make up to 2 shots of espresso at a time, it has variable steam control for steaming milk and a water reservoir big enough to only have to fill once per week.

Out of the box I did need to purchase a few items to properly make espresso drinks. I had to buy shot glasses, a little milk foaming pitcher, a thermometer for the milk and a combination coffee scoop/tamper. But those weren't too expensive.

Making espresso (at least to me certainly) is a form of art. Never mind all the differences in coffees, but anyone who's made espresso knows that the quantity of espresso used, how hard you tamp it down, how fresh the water is, how much pressure there is in the system are all factors that can drastically change your espresso. I took some experimentation for me and a few bad shots of espresso, but within my first day of using it I found it's sweet spot. Perhaps it's because I know what I'm looking for in espresso, but I honestly believe the best espresso in town comes from my kitchen counter.

You want to know my secret to espresso machine longevity? Clean that thing. Clean it between shots, clean it right away when you're done with it, and at least once a month clean the heck out of everything you can on it. Washing my Saeco espresso machine it no hard task. Simple rinsing is all that's needed between shots, and a good wipe down when I'm done with it.

All in all, I love my little espresso soldier. I would most certainly own another one if this one ever breaks down. I would also most certainly recommend this machine to others. It's an ideal manual espresso machine for a household of 2, or for guests up to 6.

Mar 09, 2009
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Takes time to heat up
by: Eliece

I bought the Starbucks Barista all manual espresso machine five years ago at a Starbucks in Seattle, Wa. I have had it ever since and still use it occasionally. Originally, I purchased the all manual espresso machine as opposed to the automatic because I liked the idea of tamping my own shots and steaming the milk to my own expert silky foam consistency.

I had noticed that the bubbly mess that came from automatic machines at the time wasn't of interest to me and that some automatic machines pour weak, light colored shots of espresso.

This machine takes a little time to heat up and prime for steaming. Additionally, one must heat and prime for steam in order to get to the desired level of pressure and heat that is adequate for pouring a really rich, delicious shot of espresso. Pouring more than a double shot at any one time requires additional priming of this espresso machine. This can be cumbersome, but the payoff is a delicious double shot of espresso and creamy delicious milk.

It was necessary for me to purchase beans, a grinder, a thermometer and steaming pitcher, cleaning tablets, a tamping scoop, shots glasses, and a few good bar towels in order to have the proper set-up for this process. Some newer models include all of these accessories, with no seemingly added cost. It was also important for me to spend some time watching a video and reading a direction book to figure out how to use the machine and even after I was proficient, it took time to be able to make a really good latte or mocha.

All in all, this machine is cheaper than a more costly automatic model for a reason -- the automatic model does all of this for its customer and probably cleans itself without much worry as well. That sounds incredibly convenient right now... All in all, true coffee snobs might want to enter into the laborious task of being their own Barista, but I think I will move on to letting a machine do it for me soon.

Mar 09, 2009
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So simple
by: Nancy

I love my Starbucks Barista espresso maker. In fact, I own two of them - one for my home and one for my vacation home. I make at least two lattes a day and it is so easy.

I purchase the coffee pre-ground from Peets. I have them grind it for a pump-type espresso maker. To use make a latte, it is so simple. First I turn the machine on. Then, I have to make sure the water tank has water in it. I fill it every few days and the water level is usually fine. I then fill the coffee basket with coffee, tamp it down and slide it into place on the maker. I push the button for steam and wait for it to light up which means it is ready. I fill the milk frother about half way, I use non-fat milk. When the steam light is on, you put the milk in the steam wand and turn the knob to start steaming. After you steam the milk, then you push the button for the coffee and the coffee brews. Throw both coffee and milk in a glass and the latte is done. So easy!

Cleaning is also very easy. I wipe down the steam wand, throw away the coffee grinds and rinse the coffee basket out.

I have owned both my Baristas for almost 10 years! I bought both at Starbucks. It is probably the one small appliance I use every day. I have never had any problems with either of them. It is small enough that it doesn't take up too much space on my counter and fits easily below the upper cabinets. Both of mine are black but I have seen them in white and other colors.

The price is very reasonable. I am not sure what they cost today but ten years ago, I paid about $250 for mine. I have recurred all of that plus more by all of the lattes I haven't purchased at a coffee house! I totally recommend the Starbucks Barista espresso maker!

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