Why Breville Make Pretty Darn Good Espresso Machines

Breville is a designer of thoughtful mid to high-end appliances. Australian by geography, Breville maintains a worldwide market presence. Well known for their espresso makers, Breville gained attention in the media when their juicers were prominently featured in the acclaimed film “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”.

Breville products, like some other manufacturers, have a sense of brand “DNA”, meaning; they share similar materials, construction and design flow. Having a kitchen decked out in Breville products, while expensive, will be a lovely look. Henry Ford said, “People can have the Model T in any color, so long as it’s black.” The same applies here, although in Breville’s case it’s stainless steel.

Breville’s Mission Statement

“To design the best kitchen tools in the world”

Maybe not the most thought provoking statement that ever there was, more like simple and to the point. What really stands out about Breville is all of the little things that, in my opinion, add up to quality, for instance when you buy a Breville product online you can expect it to arrive very well packaged. Other things like a finger hole designed into the electrical plug for easy removal from the wall are thoughtful and just smile inducing. I love this kind of attention to detail.

Breville make 2 excellent espresso machines, the Barista Express and the Cafe Roma. The Express is the more expensive of the two but both live up to Breville’s high standards of design and build quality.

Review of the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso Maker
Breville Espresso Machine Review: Barista Express BES860xl

Review of the Breville Cafe Roma ESP8XL Espresso Maker

Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso MakerThis 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.

Breville BES860xl Espresso Machine Review

Scouting around Amazon as I do of a lunch time, spying on espresso machines, I noticed this Breville espresso machine had a substantial 49 240 customer reviews and almost 100% from them all.

This Breville Barista Express is like the big sister of the smaller, cheaper and ever popular (and cheaper) Breville Cafe Roma.

What have I been missing out on here?

An espresso machine with a grinder that’s what. Also referred to as an automatic espresso machine and all for less than $600 with free shipping.

(Amazon’s discount prices change daily so check out the sale price for this item right now by clicking here.)

Breville Espresso Machine Review – Let’s dig a bit deeper

There is just something about a beautiful machine, in this case the Breville Barista Express that just, well, makes me suspicious.

Now stay with me here, I know it makes sense that the maker of these machines go out of their way to create a work of art, after all I think we are all in agreement that the end product, the perfect shot, is after all an artful thing.

It’s when they start adding all kinds of un-needed gizmos and screens and whatnot that it starts to become a mess. Fortunately for us, this is not such a machine.

Look at it. It’s lovely. My favorite piece, the draw pressure gauge, oh but it’s attractive. So is it in fact the ultimate espresso machine for your hard earned money? Well, I don’t know, but since you asked, follow along and let’s try and find out.

Ok, before I get ahead of myself let’s take a closer look shall we?

THE BREVILLE BARISTA EXPRESS ESPRESSO MACHINE

I mentioned before that the Barista Express is beautiful. While this may be subjective, it is hard to argue with stainless steel, a clear top fed bean hopper, and the symmetrical face not to mention that lovely analog pressure gauge. I’m not a fan of digital screens at all.

In the same way that an elegant analog timepiece is considered by most to be a suggestion of class when compared to a digital watch, in my opinion at least going the extra mile to include the “proper” indicator on an otherwise classy machine pays dividends.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

From my research, the opinions of those who own this machine are very well expressed. It would appear that the average buyer of this machine is very well thought out, methodical and informed which is to be expected when you consider that this is not an inexpensive machine. In other words, I don’t take their opinions lightly, and it wasn’t always pretty. That said I came away with a positive impression of how this machine operates and what can be expected in terms of performance.

A number of times it was mentioned that a pre-heating of your demitasse, as well as a pre-heat of the group head was critical for some users. Just running a water cycle into your cup before starting will kill all the birds that you need to kill with one stone. Other things cited were the necessity to keep the machine, and included grinder absolutely clean.

The grinder, one person stated, was difficult to clean. This can be off-putting to people who don’t have the time or patience but if you are the meticulous type like me, this can be a positive attribute. Oily beans and any accidental drops of water in the bean hopper can create havoc too, so you’ll do well to keep that in mind. Beans with high oil content are preferred by many, but a middle ground of 1:1 ratio oily beans/dry roast was found.

With all of the complaining out of the way, I can finally let you in on the good news. The machine makes FABULOUS espresso. According to every consumer report that I reviewed the customer found that the machine made either incredible espresso straight away or that with some practice they learned the machine and then got proper results.

One thing that I read that I liked in particular was that the switchgear, that is to say the buttons and knobs and whatnot were pleasing to the touch. So often, this is not the case. Honestly, the worst thing in my opinion, maybe even worse than bad espresso, is when you push a button or switch and the machine scoots across the countertop.

Oh, do I hate that. I’m happy to report that this is not the case here.

IS THERE A WARRANTY?

One year limited warranty. Extended warranties are available from participating websites.

THE BREVILLE COMPANY

Breville was founded in 1932 and is based in Sydney, Australia. They also maintain a U.S. office in Los Angeles. Their basic design theory is to “…engineer kitchen tools to deliver commercial quality performance that looks great and are easy to use. We are passionate about listening to what obstacles the home chef encounters and creating a simple solution.”

I would have liked a more thorough background on the company, Breville has been around for some time, and I for one would like to hear their story. They appear to be a fairly active company with a Facebook & Twitter presence.

BREVILLE MISSION STATEMENT

“To design the best kitchen tools in the world.”

Simple, if underwhelming, from here they go on to list the other products that they make; juicers, coffee makers, blenders etc… To my knowledge Breville does not make commercial products, for those who care about such things.

EXPLORING THE COMPANY WEBSITE

The website is straightforward, and has links to their Facebook & Twitter pages, but what I want to focus on here is their “Living Manual” area.

It’s obvious from their video production quality and extensive depth that this is the meat & potatoes of the site. The layout is clean, and there’s no question that they have put time and thought into this.

I’m not sure if they meant this as a selling point, or just for owners but either way it’s great, and you’d be missing out if you owned the machine and didn’t find your way here.

Under the table of contents, you will find:

SET IT UP

  • Disassemble & Wash
  • Reassemble
  • Prime the Machine
  • The Brew Function

USE IT

  • Water Flow
  • The Right Temperature
  • Making Espresso
  • The Wet Puck
  • The Coffee & Its Grind
  • Tamping the Coffee
  • Making Cappuccino & Latte
  • Froth vs. Foam
  • The Stream Wand
  • Steaming/Frothing Milk
  • “Pull, Steam, Froth” Video
  • Latte Art
  • Recipes

CARE FOR IT

  • After Every Use
  • As Needed
  • Inbuilt Cleaning Cycles
  • Two Months: Replace Water Filter
  • Three Months: Decalcify
  • Conical Burr Grinder

KEEP IT UP

  • Troubleshooting
  • Technical Specifications
  • Safety Instructions
  • Accessories & Replacement Parts

There are some videos here and some animated thumbnails. You will also find a really neat screen that shows the Barista Express with boxes over the features of the machine, when you place your mouse cursor over one of the boxes you get a pop-up that explains what that feature does. The page is interactive, it’s in the beta stage but it seems well polished and full of info, check it out.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

The Barista Express comes with a decent kit of accessories; many machines come with almost nothing so this is rather refreshing.

  • Dual Wall – Single Shot Filter
  • Dual Wall – Double Shot Filter
  • Single Wall – Single Shot Filter
  • Single Wall – Double Shot Filter
  • Portafilter
  • Frothing Jug
  • Froth Enhancer
  • Steam Wand Tip
  • Cleaning Tool
  • Hexagon (Allen) Key
  • Coffee Spoon
  • Bean Hopper
  • Bean Hopper Lid
  • Tamper
  • Cleaning Brush
  • Drip Tray
  • Drip Tray Grille
  • Storage Tray
  • Rubber Cleaning Disc
  • Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets
  • Water Tank
  • Charcoal Water Filter Holder Handle
  • Charcoal Water Filter
  • Charcoal Water Filter Mesh

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

WEIGHT

The Barista Express weighs in at 24.7 pounds which is nice; this should keep the machine from doing the aforementioned, dreaded countertop slide.

WATER TANK & BEAN HOPPER CAPACITY

The water tank holds 67 oz. and features a charcoal filtration system. The bean hopper holds 8 oz. of beans.

*Note- I read a couple of times that the hopper would benefit from walls that were a little “steeper” as the beans sometimes do not gravity feed as well as they could.

WHAT ABOUT THE PUMP?

The pump is listed as 15 bar designed and made in Italy. This should be more than capable for our purposes.

IS IT STURDY?

Their site only says stainless steel housing. Shame really, I’d like to know more about that switchgear and hopper. The buttons and dial on the side appear to be stainless, but I’m not sure. I’d also like to know if the bean hopper is made of glass or plastic and if the cover of the draw pressure gauge is glass or plastic as well. To me these things play a big role in quality.

HOW BIG IS IT?

The Barista Express measures in at H 13 1/4” W 11 1/2” D 14 1/2” placing it in the mid-size category.

*NOTE- In depth specs on this machine are not available.

WHERE CAN I GET THE BEST PRICE FOR THE BES860XL?

As usual, my research showed that Amazon have the best deal

FINAL WORD

In reviewing what has been written here I want to emphasize that the opinions of those who own this machine are objective. The overwhelming opinion is that it is a four to five star product capable of espresso and associated beverages that rival anything else, and while there are some quirks, I can’t help but root for this machine.

The Breville Barista Express is countertop jewelry; works very well, is useable by both the beginner and the experienced enthusiast and is relatively affordable. You may have noticed, or maybe you haven’t, but I am a little picky when it comes to espresso makers, and I am in fact in the market for a new one.

Therefore, suspicions appeased, and artsy design confirmed (did I mention that gauge?) this could be my next maker.