Review of the Breville Cafe Roma ESP8XL Espresso Maker

[easyazon-image asin=”B0002VAFWA” alt=”Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41HX5DAQV3L._SL160_.jpg” align=”right” width=”144″ height=”160″]This one is for you if you’re looking for excellent espresso in a relatively simple, aesthetically pleasing package. Oh let’s not forget the price.

While much more expensive than your typical department store solution, this maker is not the same as those $50 or even $150.00 models. They may look the same but they don’t work the same. Nope, the ESP8XL Café Roma is the real deal, using a proper 15-bar thermoblock pump to press the water through an equally proper dual-walled filter in the porta-filter.

In a hurry? The bottom line: I like the Café Roma. I like the look, I like the footprint, and I think it’s a good value. Click here to see the best price I could find.

With the cheap makers that you find at department stores, you basically pour as much water into the maker as you want back out, this is because those makers use a boiler to heat the water to build pressure which then forces the steam through the grounds.

This is a very uncontrolled way of making a drink that looks sort of like espresso but doesn’t have the oily qualities that true espresso has. Without going into all of the differences, as that is for another article, you can rest assured that this is a much more complex and exacting piece of equipment.

Breville Cafe Roma Price

Coming in at under $350 this espresso machine provides high quality with a reasonable price. That makes it cheaper than it’s big brother the Barista Express by a good few hundred dollars. Sure you can go for a much cheaper machine but if you want a strudy good looker and great espresso it might not be a wise move.

Cafe Roma Features

The ESP8XL has several nice features, a couple that I have already mentioned, and also some very nice accessories that come along with the package. Most of the more expensive makers include a cup warming tray, not every maker in this price range does, but the Café Roma has got you covered. Next is the thermostat.

Creating an internal temperature of 204*F, along with the double walled filter combine to make what most owners that I have found deem a wonderful crema. There are several things that differentiate “okay” espresso from “great” espresso, and crema is, what most consider to be one of, if not THE key factor. The maker includes a really pretty “café set” that includes double shot stainless cups, saucers and a one cup steam pitcher.

Cafe Roma Accessories

I really think every maker should come with at least the pitcher, but plenty don’t. Also included is a combination scoop/tamp, and a nice large used grounds container that has a beam across it (remember Breville’s nice touches?) that you can strike the porta-filter on to easily knock the puck out with.

Very cool.

What Are Others Saying?

The Good

When going through the comments and reviews left by owners of any machine there is always a lot of differing, conflicting information. Likewise there is plenty of advice.

What I try to do is weed out the most extreme views and focus on the things that tend to get repeated, and time after time this maker was cited for an excellent, well made and well heated coffee. That last one is of particular interest to me because a surprising number of makers do not present a hot coffee and to me that is unforgivable.

One of the very best features of this maker is its simplicity. While there are some technical operations going on behind the curtains, what the user interfaces with couldn’t be more simple. Basically fill the large 40oz. water container, allow it to heat, and then turn the knob choosing espresso or steam.

That’s it. No digital this or that, no thumbprint scanning detection system (yes, I’m serious) and really not a whole lot of moving complex parts to fail.

The Not So Good

There is one problem area that I simply cannot ignore. The double walled filter, while an excellent feature in terms of delivering an outstanding product, has a tendency to plug. This was a concern that was mentioned time and again. There were a couple of solutions mentioned, but first let me explain the problem.

The dual walled filter has first, a series of very small holes, followed by the second wall that has one. The finely ground coffee can plug the small holes, or even get between the walls making for a difficult cleaning situation. Some consumers claim that the problem arose after just a couple of shots; others claim the problem is not so pronounced.

I have a feeling that the grind of the coffee and the water used play a role, but either way this really shouldn’t be a problem to begin with. Some of the solutions given by users included soaking the filter in vinegar, pouring boiling water through the filter, running the machine without coffee, using a needle to unplug the tiny holes and even one person who cut individual rounds out of paper towels that they would then use at the bottom of the filter.

One other possible solution is to buy a single walled filter from Breville. Another way to skip all of this is to buy and use pods. If you are not familiar with pods, basically think of a teabag but with coffee designed to be used in makers that include the adapter to use them.

Certainly not all makers have this feature, the Café Roma does.

SPECIFICATIONS & CAPACITIES

  • Weight: 17.8 lbs.
  • 40oz. Water Tank w/ Window
  • 15 Bar Pump
  • Pod Filter Adapter
  • Double Walled Filter
  • Steam Wand w/ Froth Enhancer
  • Cup Warming Plate
  • Removable Drip Tray
  • Included Accessories and Café Set

DIMENSIONS

12”W x 12”D x 15”H

WARRANTY

1 Year Limited Warranty

Exploring The Company Website

Breville’s website does not feature the ESP8XL Café Roma. I’m not sure why this is, but I have seen a few products that weren’t represented on their site. Honestly though, there isn’t a whole lot of information there anyway, if you need contact info, or if you decide to buy, say, a single walled filter then you’ll find it there, otherwise they don’t have much to offer the ESP8XL owner.

WHERE CAN I BUY A BREVILLE ESP8XL CAFÉ ROMA, AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY?

I always recommend Amazon.com for their fast shipping, good prices and reliable customer services. When I checked, they had the makers new, used and refurbished. The price is usually around $350 (but changes daily). That’s good and you shouldn’t pay any more than that for it.

FINAL WORD

For what it is the Café Roma represents a good, if not outstanding, value in my opinion. If you are the type of user who appreciates simplicity, coupled with fantastic looks, this maker is definitely worth consideration. Clogging issues aside, the ESP8XL seems to do everything right. In my mind, this maker is perfect for anyone who wants a good, hot espresso.

Generally speaking, the type of steam wand included has a little bit of a learning curve to it, but this just makes it more appealing to many. Assuming you can make a well foamed or steamed milk, there is every reason to expect this maker to produce a beverage that is on par with whatever your favorite barista serves.

So then, the bottom line? I like the Café Roma. I like the look, I like the footprint, and I think it’s a good value. In the end, I just may buy one myself.