Ah latte art! I am extremely useless at it.
Back in the days, when I moved to London, my very first job was actually ‘barista’ in a coffee shop. At the time, such coffee shop was the second branch of a privately owned, Italian inspired concept with very good coffee and ‘second wave’ coffee.
Cappuccino was exotic enough, flat white had nothing to do with a cup of coffee and I sold the lunchtime crowds days old calzone or lasagna dish heated up in a microwave.
Latte art had not been invented.
I left my coffee shop days behind, changed career, got older but coffee is still very much a passion of mine. Especially since lock down begun in early 2020, my daily treat is a take away flat white at one of my local independent coffee shops while walking Amber, followed by a mid morning, home brewed coffee with a zoom chat with my colleague Paul. My de Longhi has surely produced its share of coffees, I got a new grinder last Christmas and my fresh milk is high quality delivered in returnable glass from Milk & More.
The downside? I still, cannot, for the life of me, do any decent latte art in my coffee. And my de Longhi is now noisier than a classic car, vibrating and popping its steamer lid every now and then. Alas, I suspect it’s on its way out.
Breville was founded in Sydney in 1932, and it has become an iconic global brand that enhances people’s lives through thoughtful design and brilliant innovation, delivering kitchen products to more than 70 countries around the globe. Breville is the kitchen appliance brand that delivers innovation based on consumer insights, empowering people’s potential to do things more impressively or easily than they’d thought possible in their own kitchen.
As they now hold the third place on the home coffee machines market, they held a fantastic event to launch their Bijou espresso machine and I was one of the lucky people invited to try it out.
The home barista masterclass was held on a sunny and crisp morning high up at the Treehouse hotel. The views are stunning and the blue skies over London opened what was going to be a great morning.
We settled in one of the private rooms, each of us with a Bijou in front of us as well as a jar of artisan coffee and a selection of milks. The lovely Candice Brown, winner of GBBO in 2016 was there waiting for us too to teach us how to make the perfect cup with the Breville team.
We were given a very information session on how to use the machine and overall how to make home coffee. While I pretty much knew most of the techniques, I still really enjoyed a refresher as well as learning about the Bijou itself.
Breville Bijou Espresso
The Italian-designed 15 bar pump helps to deliver the required pressure for complete extraction of oils, coffee solids and aroma, while the steam wand finishes your hot drinks to perfection, creating velvety smooth microfoam milk.
With a pre infusion cycle that offers enhanced coffee extraction, as well as a manual shot button for complete control and customisation of your beverage, you can enjoy barista-level brews each and every time.
It’s stylish and in matt stainless steel and the perfect size for a kitchen counter (very similar to my current one). The machines is extremely quiet (which will please my non coffee drinking husband!) and has a powerful steamer (albeit without a dial, only one level) with a very solid and easy to clean ‘head’ (which my current machine certainly doesn’t have).
The drip tray is large and easy to lift in and out for cleaning although doesn’t have a floater to indicate when it’s full (which is a functionality I really like).
The water tank holds 2lt of water which is plenty to avoid filling it too often. The arm comes with a single and a double shot too and has a pretty cool ‘lip’ which prevents the tray from falling off when you empty the previously used coffee grounds.
I have now used it for a few days at home too, as Breville were generous enough to send me one to road test and I am very happy with it. It is incredibly quick and took me a couple of coffees to get used to, and it took the same amout of tests for the machine to get the ‘flavour’ and make good coffee but that’s just to be expected. I have been practicing my latte art skills too much to the compliments of my local (very kind) italian barista.
I am very happy with it and it now sits proudly on my kitchen counter.
After the masterclass we all tried out hand first at making an espresso and then at making some latte art. You can see I am still very much useless !
We then moved onto another private dining room where we were treated to a fabulous display of afternoon tea from the hotel and a walnut and coffee loaf baked by Candice. She was there to chat to us with the Breville team and it was a lovely way to spend elevenses! I realised later that I took zero photos of her, rookie mistake.
The class continued with a teach in on how to make espresso martinis as well – another cool use for the Bijou.
When I left, as the icing on the cake, I stumbled upon a very famous Italian band – Maneskin. They were sitting in the hotel’s cafe area having just flown in for an evening gig. I don’t know their music but my sister and my best friend love them so I stopped to ask them for a photo. Oh they were sooo unfriendly! I have met plenty of famous people in my life, including my all time idols (the Cure) and never ever have I met such arrogant and fastidious people. Too much fame, too quickly, too soon? Who knows. I got a photo (ish) and quickly made my way out.I received a Bijou and Breville goodies to try the machine at home as a gift; I was not asked to write this post. Opinions are my own.