Brewing your own coffee is exciting, especially if you have a coffee maker that is intuitive and user-friendly. Thankfully, Breville gives us an espresso machine that allows us to unleash the inner barista in us. The Breville ESP8XL Café Roma offers café-quality coffee beverages at the comfort of your home and without breaking the bank.
Indeed, there are a lot of espresso machines out there that promise quality, functionality, and affordability. So, what’s in the Café Roma that’s worth checking out? Find out in this in-depth review.
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What is Breville ESP8XL Café Roma?
- Stainless-steel espresso machine with 15-bar thermoblock pump
- Dual-wall filter system for excellent crema; froth enhancer, cup-warming plate
Affordable entry-level espresso machine that lets you make coffee in seconds. Breville ESP8XL Café Roma is a coffee maker that allows you to enjoy making coffee with its straightforward operation. Though it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles like your typical expensive coffee machines, it guarantees functionality and quality of coffee beverages.
- Milk frothing capability is very excellent
- Stainless exterior is lavishly stunning
- The price is hard to beat for an entry-level espresso machine
- Great milk frothing using the froth enhancer
- Reliable Thermoblock system to achieve the finest espresso
- Comes with a 1.2-liter water tank with low water level indicator
- Has a warming tray that can heat up to six espresso cups
- Filter suitable for pods if you want flavored coffees
- Used to prepare other espresso variations — macchiato, ristretto, latte and more
- Steam wand is noisy when it’s turned on
- Doesn’t have enough pressure to make foam steam
- You need light to check the water level when you open the boiler
- Can’t use larger mugs, only espresso cups
- Manual frothing, but learnable
- Difficult to froth a larger quantity of milk at once
- It’s the kind of machine that lasts longer
Design and Specifications
Simple, yet sexy. You don’t need any other words to describe the machine directly. It has durable construction and the stainless steel finish are the two main selling points of the coffee machine. With proper cleaning and maintenance, the stainless steel will retain its beauty since it’s corrosion-resistant and long-lasting.
A good kitchen tool that won’t take too much space, it only has a dimension of 9.25 × 9 × 11.75 inches. So, even if you have other kitchen accessories and equipment, it’s not hard to make some space for this coffee maker. Moving the Café Roma around isn’t a burden as it only weighs around 12.1 lbs.
Let’s start with the power cord — it has a short cord for safety precautions, especially if the kids you have at home love wires and pulling down things. Nothing is complicated with the controls, except that it’s not automatic — you need to discover and continue learning.
The ON/OFF switch is very big and you won’t mistake it with the Selector Control, which is the second major control of this machine. To the left of the Power On/Off switch is the ‘Power On’ light which is in red, to indicate that the machine is successfully plugged and turned on. On the opposite side is the ‘Heating’ light that illuminates orange light when the machine is pre-heating.
Once you turn the machine ON, it’ll automatically preheat and the orange light will turn off after a few seconds once the machine is ready for your first espresso shot of the day. If you don’t unplug the machine, the orange light will cycle on and off to maintain the optimal temperature for your next cup of coffee.
To the right is a removable 40 fl oz (1.2-liter) plastic water tank with a water window and indicator to see the maximum and minimum water level. There’s a die-cast cup warming plate and below it is the removable drip tray. You can still prepare several cups of espresso before the water level indicator is exposed hinting you to clean the drip tray.
You can use either pre-ground coffee or pods, whichever you prefer using the single or double filter. Right next to the brew head is the steam wand with froth enhancer. Unfortunately, it’s not automatic. So, you might need to learn how to properly hold the frothing pitcher when preparing milk for your latte or cappuccino.
Features and Functionalities
As an entry-level espresso machine, you can’t expect a lot of features. Yet, it has useful functionalities that are learnable. Even newbies can easily operate, plus the guide and instructions are understandable.
Thermoblock Heating System — This allows you to extract your coffee at the optimal temperature. It features a full 15 bars pressure pump to achieve rich crema, mind-blowing aroma, and eventually a barista-style coffee.
Dual-Wall Filter System — This helps you to get excellent crema in your espresso. It also makes a more consistent extraction. Aside from single and double shot espresso, you can also brew pre-flavored coffee beverages using the pod filters.
Steam Wand + Froth Enhancer — The extra feature adds a velvety layer of froth to your cappuccino. Unfortunately, the steam wand doesn’t have any fancy feature. So, you must learn the proper angle and how deep you plunge the tip to achieve the best milk froth.
Cup Warming Plate or Tray — Many coffee drinkers complained about their coffee not hot enough. Sometimes, it’s not that the coffee machine won’t brew in optimal temperature, it’s because you have a cooler cup. With the warming plate/tray you can pre-warm your espresso cups and mugs.
The warming plate heats as the machine heats the water. You can simply place your cup there and you’ll enjoy a refreshing hot cup of coffee. Hot espresso means better flavor and more enjoyable.
Straightforward Controls — Basically, there are only two controls — ON/OFF switch and the Selector Control knob. You know what to do with a switch — push one side to turn ON, the other side to turn OFF. For the Selector control, on the other hand, you have STANDBY at the center, steaming/frothing milk when you dial to the left, and brewing espresso when you’re turning it to your right.
Auto-Heating on Standby — You don’t need to plug and unplug the machine each time you don’t use it. Yet, it also isn’t like those machines with Sleep/Wake functions. The Café Roma simply cycles standby and preheating stage — meaning the orange light turns off and on, so you’ll know when you’re going to pull out your next cup of coffee.
46oz or 1.2-Liter Removable Water Tank — As an espresso machine dispensing no more than 1oz for a single shot, the 46oz water tank is sufficiently capable. You can serve several espressos, tall, or macchiato before you’ll worry about your next refill.
Setup and Operation
Just from the design and features presented above, you now totally understand that this is a manual espresso machine. No grinder, no automatic operation. But, this is what makes brewing espresso more exciting. Isn’t it?
Before jumping into the brewing process, let us remind you that it has a short cord, so you better set up the machine near the outlet. Another thing is, the Breville ESP8XL Café Roma has a polarized plug. This means one blade is wider than the other purposefully designed to reduce the risk of electric shock.
You must understand that the plug won’t fit into just any outlet. Don’t force it to fit or modify the set up to just plug it into your power source successfully. If you can’t use the machine because of the polarized plug, you should use an adaptor or call a qualified electrician.
Now that you know some critical things for the setup, let’s proceed with the operation. Fill the water reservoir with fresh water. It has a MIN and MAX level so you decide how much water you put.
Plug the machine into a compatible power source and turn the power switch ON. Once you turn it on, the red light to the left of the switch will illuminate, as well as the orange ‘Heating’ light to the right. After a few minutes, the orange light will put off indicating that the machine has now reached the optimal brewing temperature.
Each time you brew coffee or froth milk, it’s advisable that you let hot water run through the brew head or the steam wand first. This is to make sure that the coffee grounds from previous brewing isn’t clogging in the filter holes. Similarly, for the steam wand to flush all the milk that might have stuck in the nozzle.
If you’ve seen that water flows through the brew head and you get steam from the Steam Wand, you’re good to go. You can’t brew while frothing. You should do this separately. Brewing first, then froth milk, or the other way around.
The process won’t take long and you can rely on the warming plate to keep the temperature at its optimal level. If you want to start brewing, simply fit the filter under the brew head and put an espresso cup under.
Turn the Selector control to the right to extract coffee. This is a manual espresso machine, so you need to turn the knob back to the STANDBY position when you think you’ve pulled out enough coffee.
If you want to froth milk, simply put the milk pitcher (with cold milk) under the steam wand with the tip immersed into the milk, then turn the Selector control to the right. Once you achieve the temperature and the froth you need, just turn the knob back to STANDBY. Again, this is manual, either you need a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk or you just decide based on your guts.
Don’t remove the pitcher if the STEAM is still on or it can cause damage. Since you can’t avoid spills while brewing and frothing, thanks to the drip tray, you can’t be that messy. When the catchment is almost full, you can pull it out and clean the tray.
Brewing Capacity and Process
Whether you like espresso, cappuccino, or other flavored coffee, you can use the Café Roma to satisfy your cravings. It comes with a portafilter wherein you can insert either a single (1 CUP) or double (2 CUP) filter. It also comes with a fitted pod filter to prepare flavored drinks.
Let’s say, you want to prepare a single shot espresso, using the measuring spoon, measure one level for a single shot espresso or 1 CUP filter (2 levels for a double shot or when using 2 CUP filter). Gently tamp and level the coffee grounds.
Don’t press too much or you’ll get an under-extracted espresso, too light and you’ll get an over-extracted coffee. Tamp with enough pressure (which could take time to practice) to get a perfectly brewed espresso. Now insert the portafilter under the brew head towards the left and manually lock it by moving it to the right.
If you haven’t locked the filter in position, it’ll be messy as the extracted coffee will spill. Or, if you put too much coffee, make sure to wipe away all the excess, otherwise, the filter won’t snap into its place when brewing. Put an espresso cup or two under the filter.
Turn the Selector control knob to ESPRESSO to begin brewing, it’ll take a few seconds. Of course, you have to make sure that the HEATING orange light is turned off when you start extracting or you don’t get a hot coffee. As mentioned, you need to manually stop the brewing process by turning the knob towards the STANDBY position.
It’s ideal to extract 1oz for a single shot espresso or 2oz for a double espresso. You can use one cup or two single cups for your double espresso shot. Unfortunately, you can’t use taller mugs because it won’t fit. You may gamble by removing the drip tray, but you won’t have any compartment to catch the spills.
One unique feature of this espresso machine is that it comes with pod filters. This means, instead of ground coffee, you can actually use coffee pods. However, you should fit the pod into the pod filter — cutting off any excess edges — so the water can really go through the coffee pod and not spill over.
For the coffee pods, you just have to operate it in the same process, except that you’re using the pod filter instead of the regular ground coffee filter. Simply turn to the ESPRESSO sign to start brewing.
For milk frothing, you can use the stainless steel container that this machine comes with. You have to put 1/3 milk and submerge the nozzle of the steam wand to the milk first before turning the Selector control knob to the left. You can turn the knob back to STANDBY once you get the foam and temperature of your milk.
Whether you want to make cappuccino, latte, or any other espresso-based drinks, you can do it quickly and easily with Café Roma from Breville.
Cleaning and Maintenance
With the stainless steel body, cleaning is a breeze. All you gotta do is wipe it with cloth, not abrasive. After every use, you might want to purge steam on the steam wand and let hot water flow through the brew head to remove any residue from previous brewing.
Also, it comes with a cleaning tool for the steam wand if it’s clogged. Refer to the user guide for complete details. However, it’s always advisable to wipe the surfaces every after use, but be very careful as the surfaces are usually hot.
The drip tray has an indicator when it’s almost full. In this way, you can throw the liquid away and wash it as well. Likewise, you also need to throw away used coffee grounds every after brewing and wash the filters to remove the coffee grounds.
In 2 to 3 months, it’s required to descale your machine. This is to make sure that you’ll remove any mineral content that the water you use might have. Though there are a lot of ways to descale, refer to the recommended process established by Breville in the user manual.
Accessories and Add-ons
Even though this is a beginner espresso maker, it comes with exciting add-ons. You have the small stainless frothing pitcher, measuring tool, single and double espresso filters, pod filters, and cleaning tool. It also has two sets of espresso cups and saucers so you can enjoy a cup of coffee right away.
Who is This Product for? / Should You Buy This?
If you’re a barista, this espresso machine isn’t anything that you can take advantage of — there’s nothing fancy about this. No automatic features, no drink options, and you don’t have any control to customize your drinks.
Now, if you’re the kind of coffee drinker who wants to grind your coffee, you might not like this espresso maker, as well. Unless it’s okay with you to buy a separate grinder. Likewise, if you think of automatic milk frother, this machine won’t give you that.
So, who’s this product perfect for?
For those who don’t want (or don’t have time) to grind coffee and to those who are also coffee pod lovers. You can appreciate every bit of this coffee machine because it can make you any coffee beverages you crave to have.
Everything about the Breville Cafe Roma flaunts quality. It has useful features like the milk frothing, Thermoblock heating system, warming plate, dual-wall filters, plus more. You can make a good espresso shot and a stunning add-to your kitchen.
Those who are still exploring the taste they want in a coffee, this machine is great. A perfect coffee maker with just the right price. No bells and whistles, but serves its purpose with excellence and Breville-quality.