Breville ESP8XL Review 2021: The Cafe Roma Brewer
Going to your favorite neighborhood coffee shop regularly isn’t cheap. Once your occasional lattes become daily cappuccinos, it might be time to consider taking things into your own hands. Beginning with owning your own home espresso machine.
Fortunately, starter espresso machines are affordable and easy to operate, and this includes the Breville ESP8XL. Below you’ll find our Breville Cafe Roma review, check it out and see if this could be the espresso maker for you. Let’s get started!
Breville ESP8XL Review 2021
The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma is a semi-automatic espresso machine suited to a beginner home barista and those of you upgrading from pod coffee makers like the Nespresso.
- Excellent value
- Stainless steel exterior
- Pods and grounds compatible
- Decent brewing control
- Low height brewing clearance (needs espresso cups)
- No pre-infusion
This brewer is perfect if you’re new to appreciating espresso as a drink and brew method. The Café Roma will give you a decent introduction to the basics of pulling espresso shots. You’ll quickly become acquainted with dosing, tamping, leveling, and steaming with this easy to use coffee machine.
In terms of quality, when used properly, the Breville Cafe Roma makes espresso that is tastier than you’d expect for this price point. For a machine of its price range, it does all the simple things relatively well. Good for coffee drinkers who enjoy brewing as much as drinking and of course, the newbie-home-baristas.
Its exterior is also mostly a stainless steel finish. From the steam wand, the drip tray, and the portafilter, most parts are built to last. It also comes with a 41 oz water tank, meaning you can brew more than a couple of shots before worrying about the water level! This Breville machine was built for the budding new home baristas and those of you looking for excellent value brewing.
Cafe Roma Brewing Standards Review
In my opinion, if you’re a newbie and want to go deeper in terms of understanding espresso, the Breville Cafe Roma is the right type of machine, to begin with.
While you won’t be able to work at the speed of commercial makers, you will still be able to create cafe-level coffees at home in a couple of easy steps with the proper adjustments.
Remember to purge the cold water out of your group head before pulling shots and build-up steam in your milk frother before steaming. Incorporating these 2 small steps in your workflow will improve the quality of your espresso significantly.
Not many people know that espresso recipes are all about ratios. That’s how you achieve consistency with a base that changes daily. This is also why you need to dial in your espresso regularly.
To appreciate espresso, you need to focus on the taste. Look at the flavor notes in the bag of your coffee beans. With every shot, you make in your espresso machine, move variables like extraction time and dose around to achieve specific flavor profiles.
Since you will be brewing within an acceptable temperature range, you need to be aware that your brew basket comes with 7 and 14g variants.
From here, you can adjust the amount of milk you use. Cappuccinos and flat whites have 1:4 ratio of espresso-to-milk, while lattes are usually 1:5.
If you purge before pulling shots and steaming milk, you achieve more consistency.
With this small adjustment, you brew within ideal espresso coffee standards. Pair this with crafting drinks with the correct ratios, and you’re getting bang-for-your-buck with the Breville Cafe Roma.
Build Quality Review
Most of the Breville Cafe Roma is a stainless steel machine. This makes it durable and easy to clean. All you need is a good wipedown using 2 cloths. A wet cloth to blot out hardened coffee and milk stains, and a dry cloth to polish the stainless steel parts.
It has a minimalist exterior that fits in with almost any kitchen, bar, or office design. With a relatively small footprint, a home barista should have enough space for a separate burr grinder.
The Breville ESP8XL doesn’t come with a built-in grinder. This is ideal, in my opinion. You have the reason and an opportunity to invest in a good burr grinder, which is as essential to making tasty coffee as a good espresso machine.
A decent burr grinder will result in consistent coffee grounds each and every time. When you have this step-down, all you need is an espresso machine to provide a means to execute the extraction of your espresso shots.
Thankfully, Breville Cafe Roma machines are built to make sure that you can do this consistently over time when paired with a decent grinder.
The Breville Brewer
As mentioned earlier, this Breville Cafe Roma Review is to help you determine how this espresso machine can fulfill your coffee needs. You essentially get set up to become a home barista.
To confirm, the Cafe Roma espresso maker is a semi-automatic machine. It basically automates things like heating your water from the water reservoir. As well as gather pressure to extract flavors and/or steam your milk. All the other fun things are left for you to do your own way. It will require more steps in your daily routine, but you also understand the nuances of espresso as a complex coffee drink.
With the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma espresso machine, you can brew both black and milky drinks. Perhaps a small limitation of this Breville machine is the space allotted for your cup and milk frother pitcher. You might need to use smaller espresso cups to hold your shots instead.
But if you use proper ratios for your drinks, you should end up with the same taste as commercial cafes. It helps to weigh your grounds and espresso and record other variables like extraction time and flavor notes.
The water tank is big enough to support home demand as long there aren’t more than a couple of you. The drip tray is smaller, but it will do its job perfectly well. The steam wand is powerful enough to create fine milky drinks too!
If you’re interested in learning coffee, this is definitely a good espresso machine to start exploring with.
Magnifica Milk Frothing Review
Keeping up with industry standards when it comes to espresso machines for beginners, it comes with a steam wand with a cappuccino frothing mechanism. It can also be called a froth enhancer.
This makes introducing steam into your milk a lot easier, and when you get milk residue on the drip tray, it’s easy to rinse off or wipe down.
If you disconnect the froth enhancer on the steam wand, you end up with a smaller tip. This smaller tip is ideal for creating microfoam. This microfoam is what makes flat whites and lattes so silky and creamy. Practice your milk frothing on this machine to create that skill soft microfoam on top of your milk.
On the Breville Cafe Roma, just turn the selector control knob towards the steam icon, and wait for it to start. No fancy features, just simple and straightforward like the coffee it makes. Just the right basic machine features for beginners.
There’s a bit of a pressure gather when you initially activate the steam wand. This is because most machines (including this Breville) that home baristas use are single boilers. Meaning both the power to steam and extract coffee come from the same boiler and cannot be conducted in parallel.
The thermoblock pump allows you to steam and pull shots consistently. But you can’t do both side-by-side. Turn the steamer on without milk first, for your initial blow out – aka the first purge. This releases the water and air that’s stuck when the steam wand was at rest. After you purge, you’ll be steaming a lot better. And more consistently!
Remember, milk frothing is one of the most challenging aspects of coffee making to master. Once you do master it, you’ll be able to create amazing drinks on almost any espresso machine. As you practice your steaming, keep in mind that it also eats up your water supply. Check your water tank regularly to make sure you never run out and protect your machine.
Is The Machine Easy To Use?
It’s so easy to use the Breville ESP8XL that there’s one knob (selector control) at the front of the espresso machine that controls the whole thing.
The selector control lets you either pull a shot of espresso coffee or steam milk. You can do one after the other after a brief pause. Home coffee machines are usually single boilers, so you just have to be efficient with your workflow, and it’s almost a non-factor in terms of the type of coffee you can create.
The water reservoir sits at the back of the machine, easy to pull out and put in. Make sure to take a look at the water level regularly, so your machine doesn’t suck up an empty tank to brew with.
At the bottom of the Breville Cafe Roma is the removable drip tray. You can pull it out as well, as it gets full during the course of your coffee routine.
Cleaning The Machine
With a mostly stainless steel finish, the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma is super easy to maintain.
You basically wipe down the exterior parts like the warming tray, removable drip tray, group head, and steam wand. Periodically you’ll need to descale your machine. Especially the internal parts where heat interacts with minerals. The minerals tend to calcify, thus restricting the flow of water throughout your machine.
It’s not like the froth enhancer where restricting the flow rate can help in some instances.
Your most used machine cleaning tool will be a brush for the group head. Just take out the portafilter and brush the inside of the head to clear out residual ground coffee beans. It’s ideal to do this at the end of each day. Same as cleaning your portafilter by taking it apart daily and rinsing it with warm water.
Another crucial stainless steel part to maintain on this machine is the steam wand. It’s ideal to wipe down leftover milk foam right away with a microfiber cloth. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to take the hardened milk stains out. If anything, a microfiber cloth will be your second cleaning tool.
Other Features To Review
One of the added easy-to-use features worth mentioning is the Breville Cafe Roma’s compatibility with espresso pods. You just need to switch out the filter baskets that come with the machine, and you can pull your shots from pods.
Another detail worth mentioning about the Breville ESP8XL is the tamper. It doubles as a multitool and a scooper for pre-ground coffee. That helps keep the area around the machine clean and organized.
The 7 and 14g dual-wall filter system baskets are typical of machines that home baristas use. You’ll also have the espresso pods basket, and a blind basket for cleaning. The blind basket is the piece without holes, which helps clean your portafilter. Remember to wash all stainless steel espresso machine parts that come into contact with coffee and milk right away after use.
The water tank on the Breville ESP8XL espresso maker is 41 fl.oz. big. That’s a good enough size for a home machine and approx 41 espresso shots!
Lastly, you make the best coffee with mineral water. Installing a filter system lets minerals that carry flavors into your cup extract with the coffee. An additional filter that controls mineral water level can slow the formation limescale down and result in the need for reduced descaling.
Any other type of water will damage your machine or ruin your cup of joe.
See if any of these additional features add value to your coffee needs. If they do, then the Breville Cafe Roma could be the espresso maker for you.
Is The Cafe Roma Espresso Maker Worth The Money?
Towards the end of this Breville Cafe Roma Review, I hope you’re getting closer to figuring out the type of machine you want and need.
I personally believe that this machine is worth the money. It allows you to make both black and milky coffee drinks that you see in commercial machine setups. With enough practice and familiarity, of course.
It comes with the tamper and milk pitcher. It’s also easy to select a cleaning tool for. No fancy gear or cleaners.
You also get to taste espresso more regularly in the comfort of your own private space without breaking the bank. More exposure to this type of brewing using this type of coffee machine enlightens you on the effect of individual variables that impact the taste of your coffee.
If you’re starting out with brewing or just drinking espresso, I would definitely recommend this machine.
The Breville ESP8XL Isn’t For You If..
The Breville Cafe Roma isn’t for you if you refuse to use small cups.
Space between the portafilter spout and the drip tray is restricted. This means you adjust by changing to small cups or catching your espresso in a bowl before transferring to your cup.
Please remember that drink quality depends on ratios so try to adjust accordingly. Dual wall filter system baskets come in different sizes to help you adjust your cups and corresponding recipes.
The Breville Cafe Roma isn’t the machine for you if you steam lots of milk at a time.
Same as the limited space between the drip tray and the portafilter spout, the steam wand doesn’t move much. It dives in too deeply into your milk pitcher.
This makes it prone to overflowing. Your adjustment is to measure your milk one serving at a time. Adjust your workflow to do one coffee at a time. It might take longer but it also improves the quality of drinks you make on your machine as a home barista. You can use up the water tank practicing how to steam on this machine.
The Breville Cafe Roma isn’t for you if you like to search for the fine flavors and complexities of espresso.
While the Cafe Roma espresso maker does brew within ideal parameters, it isn’t highly programmable at all. The thermoblock pump helps, but other espresso machine options have a more comprehensive range of capabilities.
This means that this particular Breville machine is optimized for medium roasts. You’ll need to brew at higher temperatures with lightly roasted beans. Different espresso machines are built to cater to different audiences – it’s just finding the one for you and your budget.
The Final Verdict
All in all, the Breville Cafe Roma espresso maker is a good way to kick off your espresso adventure, and its stainless steel exterior means the machine fits nicely on any worktop.
It does all the tedious stuff for you (heat the water, prepare the steam) while at the same time allowing you to play around with your coffee (and machine).
Espresso is both a drink and a brew method, and this easy to use stainless steel espresso machine allows you to get familiar with different aspects of it.
Being super easy to use with its simple selector control, this machine is perfectly suited to those of you new to home brewing.
Overall, If you’re just starting to appreciate espresso, you have a limited budget for a brewer, look into this coffee machine to become your own barista.
I hope you have enjoyed this review and as always, keep brewing!
Barista and coffee writer
Miguel Papa is a coffee fanatic with a passion for brewing. During the weekdays, you can find him experimenting with different drinks while he works as a barista. Otherwise, he’s likely writing here for Sip Coffee or enjoying the outdoors.