MICE, Melbourne

A machine that conflates the premium, customisable functionality of a solo traditional with the simplicity of an automatic: that was the remit Breville’s design team set out to fulfill several years ago, completed only now with the unveiling of the Oracle at the Melbourne International Coffee Exhibition (MICE).

At a special preview of the Oracle (BES980) before the doors opened this morning, Appliance Retailer received a demonstration, highlighting how the once disparate automatic and manual benefits have been combined to create a coffee confluence that is both manual enough to satisfy ‘coffee geeks’ and automatic enough to sate a latte learner.

The dream of creating a manual automatic goes back further than pre-production of the famed Dual Boiler (BES900). Not a simple task, it has taken two years longer to perfect the Oracle, meaning the Dual Boiler has arrived and laid the coffee groundwork. Before its appearance, the market was sceptical that consumers en masse would pay $1,500 for a manual machine.

One doesn’t need to be a sage oracle to know consumers will pay $2,500 for an automatic; Jura and De’Longhi, amongst others, have long hit that and higher price points.

It’s hard to separate the automatic and manual elements of the Oracle into different columns.

The integrated grinder will automatically dispense ground coffee (the user can preselect how fine or course), an internal mechanical razor will level the grind and then tamp the puck in the group handle. Essentially, an empty basket goes in and a ready-to-pour grind emerges.

As with the Dual Boiler, pre-infusion is featured and was heavily talked-up during a demonstration. Breville’s new ‘coffee guru’, ex-Toby’s Estate trainer Katherine Brazier, said pre-infusion and a heating element in the group head gently expands the grind, allowing water to flow more evenly.

This pour is fully adjustable – this is definitely not a one-touch machine – with espresso through to long black options, as well as a boiling water function, temperature control and pour timer.

The texturing wand has automatic settings ranging from ‘silky latte’ to ‘creamy cappuccino. The only fully manual part of the process is the artistry – it will be a while before a Breville machine can draw a leaf with milk in your coffee.

At ‘around $2,500’, the Oracle will compete with mid-range fully automatics when it is released ‘sometime before Christmas’. Breville will be using MICE to showcase it, and the new Nespresso Breville range, to buyers from all its major retail customers.

The proposition is simple and slightly antagonistic: “Until now you’ve been forced to choose between delicious but difficult (the Dual Boiler) or automatic but average (a certain popular fully automatic brand)”.

Breville is challenging perceptions: competing at new price points, innovating in Botany while others fly to Guangzhou and impressing a mustachioed Melbourne coffee crowd known for eschewing publicly-listed brand power in favour of fetishised authenticity.

The pre-Christmas coffee contest is already heating up – and it’s still May.

New Breville coffee guru Katherine Brazier demonstrated the Oracle while brand ambassador Heston Blumenthal looks on approvingly.

Inside the Oracle – Breville will use this 3D visual aide when presenting the technology to consumers and the trade.

A close up look at the automatic razor and tamp mechanism inside the Oracle.