Regarding this recent coffee post, we had a number of requests for a Breville Oracle Touch tutorial, which works out doubly because A: I love talking about this machine and B: We’re traveling and I’m trying to help Kelly out with the blog. So consider today’s post a sequel, or that last post a prequel. Either way, let’s talk coffee! 🙌
Again, thank you so much to the incredible Breville team for sending me the Oracle Touch. It was an AWESOME surprise, and I’m extremely grateful!
I’ve been making espresso at home for two years and when I first started, I loved how involved the process was. I’d dial in my shots and even pour out a bad espresso pull if I made one (which I did because I’m not a great barista). And while my coffee certainly lacked in quality, it made up for it in a sense of involvement. I was actually doing something instead of just chugging pot coffee.
But the Oracle Touch is an automated machine which requires very little of the operator to get the job done. And unlike most other espresso machines, it doesn’t stop at simply brewing espresso shots. This thing can automatically deliver nearly any coffee drink you want at the touch of a finger. It’s straight out of Back to the Future.
Most of the espresso drinks we’re all so obsessed with follow very similar recipes. They contain espresso; some a ratio of steamed, frothed or foamed milk; and some sort of flavored sweetener… and that’ll be $7.95 please. So today, I’m here to take you through the process of using this machine but before I get started, I just need to run upstairs to freshen up my cappuccino.
Fill the hopper
The Oracle Touch comes with a big ol’ bean hopper that can fit your standard-sized half bag of coffee beans. It’s worth mentioning that we’re using whole beans here, and while it’s certainly advantageous to buy freshly roasted beans from a guy with a beanie on, it’s totally not necessary. I often buy the cheapest beans possible from bottom shelf at the grocery store and they taste delicious.
Grind the beans
Espresso is the result of forcing water through finely ground coffee beans, and the Oracle Touch does all that stuff automatically. However, the grind size does need adjusting from time to time, but it’s easy to do so via the knob on the side of the machine. Typically, grounds that are too fine restrict the flow of water resulting in a dark, syrupy espresso that can be bitter and unpleasant. The opposite is true of grounds that are too coarse which result in thin, watery and often sour-tasting espresso.
So the first step to brewing coffee on the Oracle Touch is to pop the portafilter into the grind mount and touch the grind button. The machine will grind the beans and deliver a perfect dose to the portafilter.
Before brewing, espresso grounds must be densely tamped into the portafilter with a piston. This step is a lot harder than it sounds. You’d be surprised just how much pressure it takes to get it right and crappy tamping results in crappy coffee.
To my knowledge, the Oracle Touch is the only automatic tamping espresso machine and other standalone auto-tampers cost over $1,000 by themselves. The Oracle Touch’s auto tamper not only results in the perfectly tamped puck of espresso but also limits your interaction with messy un-tamped coffee grounds.
The portafilter is a genius little thing. It houses all the messy grounds during grinding, tamping and brewing. And then it pops out for easy cleaning and leaves all the inner workings of the machine lean, mean and pristine for the next round. If tamped properly, the only mess is a little puck of compacted coffee grounds ready to be composted or thrown at the wife when she isn’t looking.
But this style of espresso machine does require movement of the portafilter from the grinder to the group head for brewing. It’s not difficult or anything, but it’s not exactly automatic. Once positioned, the Oracle Touch will brew a single shot, double shot, or a custom espresso depending on your caffeination needs.
Foam, steam or froth the milk
As you might imagine, the Oracle Touch professionally steams, froths and foams milk at a high enough quality that you can draw little hearts and lotus flowers in your drinks each morning. This machine has two boilers, which means you can both brew espresso and steam milk at the same time. It doesn’t seem like a huge deal now, but it cuts down on time which is very helpful when you’re wrangling two little girls in the morning.
Espresso: Simply select “espresso” from the touch screen, grind the grounds, move the portafilter to the brewing station, and select “brew.” Espresso is very strong-tasting, and likely requires a refined palette to enjoy on its own. I rarely drink it alone.
Variations: Choose either a single shot, double shot, or customized extraction time for even more coffee. Espresso is typically enjoyed with sugar or with a spoonful of steamed milk for a macchiato.
Americano: An Americano is simply espresso mixed with hot water. The Oracle Touch has a hot water spout ready to mix the right amount directly into your espresso. The result is a more richly flavored cup than a traditional cup of drip coffee.
Variations: The Australian “Long Black” adds the espresso to the hot water instead of the other way around. An iced Americano is an easy variation, and the “Red Eye” adds espresso to coffee instead of water.
Latte: A Cafe Latte is a delicate mix of espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk. The Oracle Touch handles the espresso and the ratio of steamed to foamed milk, making a perfect latte every time.
Variations: The Cafe Mocha is a latte with chocolate syrup. Mix the syrup with the espresso before adding the milk to keep in pristine. An iced latte is another favorite in which iced milk is poured over the espresso.
Flat White: This drink is simply a shot of espresso with two shots of steamed milk. It’s a strong drink and I take it with a spoonful of sugar like Mary Poppins.
Variations: Use whipped cream instead of steamed milk for an Espresso con Pana or use ice cream for an Affogato.
Cappuccino: This is my go-to. It’s the same as a latte but heavier on the foam and lighter on the steamed milk.
Variations: Consider adding chocolate, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla, caramel or chocolate to your cappuccino… and then repeat two or three times a day for the rest of your life.
With a machine like this in the house, it didn’t seem appropriate to use the hand-me-down “World’s Best Grandma” coffee cups I inherited years ago. So I went a little nuts and here’s what we went with:
Latte Glass: These drinks are pretty, and I like to use a pretty glass when drinking them. Sure, it’s not as well insulated as a coffee cup, but it’s a little fancy… and that’s kind of nice these days, as I’m typically covered in puffs and baby food. (Not so fancy.)
Shot Glass: Same idea as above but in a smaller form factor for espresso shots and macchiatos.
Yeti Rambler: Kelly’s go-to. She takes hours to finish a cup of coffee, but this thing lets her pour a drink in the morning and sip it at lunch–still hot!
Let me know.