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The Breville Cafe ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso Maker Review

Are you in the market for your first home espresso machine? Maybe you’ve realized you’re spending way too much money at the local coffee shop. Maybe you’re wondering if you can make a tastier drink at home. Or maybe you’re just excited to break into the compelling world of pulling your own espresso shots. 

No matter your reason, the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso Maker is a great option for the budding home barista. Read on for our full review, and find out if it’s the right one for you.

Summary: Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Maker ESP8XL

  • Easy-to-use entry-level espresso machine.
  • Great value for money.
  • Includes a milk frother for lattes and cappuccinos.

A perfect starter machine! Easy to use, fast startup and a lovely compact size.

– Espresso Planet

The Breville Cafe ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso Maker Review

Breville’s Cafe Roma is the perfect machine for your first foray into making espresso at home. It’s equipped with everything the home barista needs to craft café quality beverages, and it’s so easy to use that even beginners will be pulling smooth shots of espresso with thick layers of crema. All of this is packed into a compact footprint, which will fit nicely in any kitchen, and encased in durable stainless steel. 

If you’re looking for an entry-level espresso machine that won’t break the bank, the Cafe Roma is hard to beat.

Breville Cafe Roma Review
  • Brewing Capability
  • ‘Make-Life-Easy’ Features
  • Milk Frothing
  • Cleaning
  • Build Quality
4.4

Brewing Capability – 4/5

The Breville Cafe Roma pulls a very reasonable shot of espresso for its price point. While it might not match the subtle nuances in flavor and rich crema you would expect from a thousand-dollar machine, this does not taste like cheap espresso. 

Indeed, this espresso maker punches far above its weight in terms of quality.

The 15-bar thermoblock pump is more than enough to pull a richly flavored shot with an appealing layer of crema (1). The Cafe Roma also comes with double- and single-shot dual-wall filters, which aid in consistency and crema formation for the novice home barista (2). It comes with a filter suitable for pods as well, a particularly convenient option if you want to experiment with flavored coffees.

making espresso for this breville cafe roma review
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A downside to this machine, which is in fact typical among espresso machines, is that you can’t fit a large mug beneath the portafilter. If you’re planning to make a larger drink, like an Americano or a latte, be prepared to pull your shot into an espresso cup and then transfer it to the larger mug.

‘Make-life-easy’ Features – 5/5

The Cafe Roma is designed to be an entry-level machine, which means that it is designed to be easy to operate. 

And it comes with everything you need to start your home barista journey — a tamper that doubles as a scoop for grounds, a milk frothing pitcher, and a cleaning tool.

the ESP8XL's portafilter
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Additionally, the die-cast metal top surface serves as a convenient six-cup warming tray. The large water tank means you don’t need to refill often, and unlike many other espresso makers, the water level is visible from the front of the machine.

Milk Frothing – 4/5

Aside from espresso, the Cafe Roma makes great latte and cappuccino. This machine comes with a standard steam wand, complete with froth enhancer, for all your milk frothing needs. It doesn’t froth automatically, so you will need to learn to operate the frother yourself, but this should not prove much of a challenge. If you really want to master it, you can even purchase a small thermometer to monitor the temperature of your milk.

The steam wand with its froth enhancer creates a solid, velvety layer of froth for a mind-blowing cup of cappuccino.

A small negative is that there isn’t a lot of space between the steam wand and the drip tray, meaning it is difficult to froth a large quantity of milk without overflowing the frothing pitcher. If your go-to drink is an extra-large cappuccino, this might be worth considering.

an espresso machine with a frothing pitcher
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Cleaning – 4/5

Similar to other Breville products, the Cafe Roma is easy to clean thanks to its simple design and stainless steel casing. Like all espresso makers, it will need to be descaled on occasion to prevent mineral deposit build-up, but the day-to-day maintenance of this machine is as simple as dumping the coffee grounds, wiping down the stainless surfaces, and emptying the drip tray. Be warned that unlike some higher-end models, there is no warning when the drip tray is full, so keep an eye on that water level to avoid a wet countertop. Here’s where you can read our Breville Espresso Machine reviews, by the way

Build Quality – 5/5

The durability of the Cafe Roma is one of its biggest selling points. The quality of its components is remarkable for such a low-cost machine. It’s made primarily of stainless steel, which is corrosion resistant, long lasting, and stylish (3). Its simple design, with minimal extraneous features, also means that there is less to break or wear out.

All of this is packed into a relatively small footprint of just 12” x 12” x 15”, so even those with small kitchens should be able to find a countertop locale to show off this fine piece of machinery.

the esp8XL cafe roma breville in an angled view
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Do Not Buy the Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Maker If…

You’re already an espresso expert – The Breville Cafe Roma is an ideal entry-level espresso machine. If you’re not an entry-level brewer, then this probably won’t satisfy you. If you have the money, a higher-end superautomatic machine like the Saeco Picobaristo will produce reliable and delicious espresso drinks. If you’re an espresso connoisseur looking for a budget option, consider the novel Flair Signature Pro manual lever machine.

You don’t want to buy a separate grinder – We all know that if you want good coffee, using a good grinder is as important as using a good coffee machine. If you don’t want to invest in a separate burr grinder, you might prefer a machine like the Breville Barista Express. It’s more expensive upfront, but it includes everything you need.

You don’t want to froth your own milk – Using a steam wand is fairly simple, but it does introduce another avenue for human error on the road the perfect latte. If you’re looking for an equivalently small machine that can do it all, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista has an automatic milk frother.

The Verdict

The Breville Cafe Roma ESP8XL Espresso Maker is an undeniably great entry-level espresso machine. Its practical design, dual-wall filters, and froth enhancing steam wand make it effortless to brew great espresso; and its stainless steel construction means maintenance and repairs won’t slow you down.

If you’re tired of dropping big bucks getting someone else to brew your latte and are keen to start experimenting with pulling espresso shots at home, this machine has everything you need at an unbeatable price.

the esp8XL cafe roma breville in an angled view
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See on Amazon

    1. 21 tips for more crema on your espresso. (n.d.). https://roastrebels.com/en/roasting-knowledge/about-coffee/crema-espresso
    2. Majdandzic, D. (2016, April 28). Geeking out on home espresso machines so you can keep it special. https://whitehorsecoffee.com.au/blog/2016/04/geeking-home-espresso-machines-can-keep-special/
    3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2018, April 23). Stainless steel. https://www.britannica.com/technology/stainless-steel
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    Alex is an Editor of Home Grounds, who considers himself as a traveling coffee fanatic. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee while in obscure locations, and teaching others to do the same.

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