Searching for a quality espresso machine? Do you feel overwhelmed with all the choices out there? I’m here to help.

Cafe Roma has been a staple espresso machine for new baristas for years, so I was very excited to try it.

I’ve tried and tested countless espresso machines over the last five years, from simple super-automatic to complex manual devices.

I used the Cafe Roma espresso machine for 3 months, and today I’ll walk you through all features of this machine, so you can decide if this is the device to bring your espresso game to the next level.

Overall, I rate the Breville Café Roma a solid 4.8 out of 5. It’s extremely user-friendly, incredibly durable thanks to the stainless steel casing, and will last for years on your espresso-making journey.

Key Features

  • Cup warmer — Preheat cups for hotter coffee
  • Steam wand — You can steam and froth milk for espresso-based drinks
  • Compatible with regular coffee and pods — You can pull single, double shots or make coffee using pods
  • Dual action dial — Makes the use easy

Pros

  • Doesn’t take up much counter space
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Comes with a milk frother for lattes and cappuccinos
  • Great for barista newbies

Cons

  • Only fits small cups
  • Can’t brew and steam at the same time
  • No grinder

Who Should Buy The Breville Cafe Roma?

Breville Cafe Roma is best for home baristas looking for quality results with a budget-friendly device. This is a good option if you want to recreate coffee shop drinks from Starbucks at home.

It's also a good choice if you don't want a lot of tech and want both the classic espresso brewing and the pod option.

Overall, this espresso machine is best for users who want an espresso maker under $300 with a relatively small footprint don't need a lot of bells and whistles. Its aesthetic appeal will fit in almost any kitchen.


Why I Decided To Review The Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine?

I decided to review the Breville Cafe Roma espresso machine because of its reputation for reliability and delivering a good espresso on a low budget.

This was my primary home espresso machine for a month, and I used it to make at least two drinks a day.

I’ll talk about my findings and the user experience starting from the first pulled cup, but first, here are the testing conditions:

Testing Conditions

Days Tested

30

Cups Brewed Per Day

2 a day

Level of Experience Needed

Beginner

Reviewer Background

I’m a home brewing enthusiast who wanted to learn how to create coffee shop drinks at home. I started with a Nespresso machine and worked my way up to Breville, Delonghi, and Jura.

Environment Tested

Home

Money Saved Per Year

Money saved per year depends on the cost of coffee in the coffee shop in your area. My go-to drink is a latte, which is around $5 in my city. I have it as my morning drink five times a week. I calculated making lattes at home with Cafe Roma saves me close to $1,000 a year!

Favorite Drink To Brew

Classic Espresso Or Latte

What’s It Like To Live With The Cafe Roma?

The Breville Café Roma espresso maker has been my go-to espresso machine for a whole month.

I’ll take you through each step of using this machine, from what arrived in the package to the very first espresso I pulled.

What’s In The Box?

Here’s everything you’ll get in the box:

  • Espresso machine — The main unit features stainless steel construction, a steam wand for milk frothing, a Thermoblock heating system, and a 15-bar pressure pump.
  • Portafilter and filter basket — You’ll get both single and dual wall filters, plus a pod basket.
  • Stainless steel milk pitcher — Specifically designed for frothing and steaming milk.
  • Tamper — A tool that lets you evenly distribute and compact the coffee grounds in the basket.
  • Measuring spoon — A scoop for measuring the right amount of coffee for your brew strength.
  • Cleaning tool — A brush to maintain and clean the espresso maker.
  • Instruction manual — A guide with step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use this entry-level espresso machine.

I didn't have any issues with the espresso maker delivery. It arrived in the timeframe specified when ordering, and it was safely packaged in a box.

I was impressed at how snugly everything fit inside.

Breville Cafe Roma Accessories In The Box

Pulling My First Espresso Shot

Here's a walkthrough of making my first espresso shot using this machine.

I started by filling up the water tank. The espresso machine has a removable water reservoir, so it's easy to fill it up at the sink and click into place. 

Then, I added the coffee grounds to the portafilter and tamped it. I placed an espresso cup under the spout and turned the dial to the right to brew coffee. That's it!

As you can see, it only takes a few simple steps to make espresso shots with this coffee machine.

It usually takes me a few tries to get great espresso with a semi-automatic espresso machine, but I was pleasantly surprised with the first espresso shot on Café Roma.

This may be a cheap machine, but it doesn’t make cheap espresso.

The 15-bar thermoblock pump pulls a richly flavored shot, which only improved the longer I used the espresso maker.

For example, I quickly learned I could recenter the dial to stop the water flow and get my coffee as short or as long as I like it.

Note: You can also insert the pod in the pod holder and turn the dial to brew coffee. This is a great option if you're short on time or don't want to grind and tamp to make espresso coffee. Pods create good coffee that rivals the best Nespresso machine I used.
Pulling Espresso Shot On The Breville Cafe Roma

First Time Frothing Milk

The machine comes with a standard steam wand. It's an entry-level espresso machine, so there's no automatic milk frother. You need to learn how to operate the wand yourself.

However, I found it's not very difficult, even if you've never used a steam wand before.

I poured milk into the stainless steel jug that comes with the espresso maker, inserted the wand into the milk, and turned the dial left in the steam wand direction.

The wand isn’t 360 degrees, so it takes some maneuvering to steam milk and get milk foam, but I was able to get decent foam for my lattes. The foam only improved the longer I used the wand.

Note: I used it with whole milk, as I found it creates the best foam, but you can also try plant-based and non-fat milk to create large quantities of milk froth for your cappuccino.
Frothing Milk With The Breville Cafe Roma

How Much Control Do You Have Over the Breville Cafe Roma?

Breville Cafe Roma is a semi-automatic espresso machine, which means you have more control over your espresso shots compared to a super-automatic.

For example, you can control the entire espresso extraction process.

You have the ability to start and stop the extraction manually, which means you can get your preferred volume and espresso shot strength.

You also control the extraction time by recentering the dial when you want to stop the extraction. This lets you experiment and find the ideal extraction time for your preferred taste.

You can also adjust the grind size, dosage, and tamp pressure. These are different parameters that let you customize the taste and strength of your espresso shots.

Overall, the Breville Cafe Roma espresso maker doesn’t have advanced programmability like high-end, espresso machines closer to the $1500 price point.

For example, you can’t change the water or milk temperature. However, you still have a good level of manual control over the most important factors.

After all, this is intended as an entry-level espresso machine, so it’s a great learning tool that can help you make a good puck for a great espresso.

How Does It Handle Different Roasts?

Cafe Roma handles different roasts well. 

I experimented and used it with everything from dark to light roast beans and found that it performs best with medium to dark roasts.

Also, these beans are more suited for espresso brewing, as they have rich flavors and a balanced profile.

Barista HQ Pro Tip

You can also use espresso blends, as these are specifically designed for brewing espresso and will create a flavorful cup. I advise avoiding pre-ground coffee and using freshly roasted beans for the best espresso.

Here’s which beans I used and had good results with this Breville machine:

  • Lavazza Super Crema Espresso — Has a balanced flavor profile with hints of hazelnut and honey. It’s best used for pulling espresso shots.
  • Illy Classico Espresso Pods — Have a smooth and velvety texture. It’s a medium roast with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • Caribou Medium Roast Ground Coffee — Blend from Indonesia, Central, and South America. Medium roast, with notes of dark chocolate, caramel, and a hint of fruitiness.

Keep in mind taste preferences vary, so make sure to explore different roasts and brands to find what works best for you. Also, always use freshly ground coffee to brew espresso.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Machine

Cafe Roma has the stainless steel design Breville espresso machines are known for.

Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and long-lasting.[1] Plus, it makes the espresso machine look stylish and comparable to more expensive models.

Unlike most modern espresso machines nowadays, Cafe Roma is impressively compact. Its dimensions are 21.7 x 22 x 30 cm, so it can fit under cabinets.

It's a good espresso machine for coffee lovers with small kitchens. The user interface gives the machine a retro feel and is fairly simple to use. 

There’s a power switch on top and two indicator lights — one for preheating and another that lets you know when the machine is on.

Below is a dial for choosing between espresso and steam, and the steam wand is located on the right-hand side.

Overall, the machine has a simple user interface that doesn't feel overwhelming. I've used different espresso machines with over 40 settings just to make the same drink, so this is refreshingly easy.

Even beginners and baristas used to fully automatic machines will easily use Cafe Roma.

That being said, you pay a price for getting a compact machine. One design downside is that you can’t accommodate taller cups under the portafilter.

There’s not enough space between the spout and the drip tray.

For example, if you want to make an Americano or a latte, you’ll need to pull your double shot into espresso cups and then transfer to a larger cup.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Breville Cafe Roma

What Drinks Can It Make?

Cafe Roma is an espresso machine that can make single and double espresso.

You can also make an Americano and milk froth for milk-based drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and mochas.

How Easy Is It To Use?

This espresso maker is easier to use compared to many espresso machines. Cafe Roma is an entry-level coffee machine, so it only takes a few steps to make coffee.

Moreover, it comes with everything you need to start brewing coffee at home.

Moreover, the die-cast metal top surface is a convenient warming tray that can fit up to six cups. The 40 oz water tank means you don’t have to refill too often.

Plus, the water level is visible from the front of the machine, which is a big plus.

Cafe Roma has intuitive control buttons and knobs that let you turn it on and off and control the brew and steam.

Overall, while the use isn’t as easy as pressing a button on a super-automatic, it’s one of the simplest espresso machines I used.

Plus, you can always choose the pod option whenever you don’t feel like making your own puck.

How Long Does It Take? (From Heat Up To First Sip)

It takes between five to ten minutes from heat up to the first sip. Cafe Roma takes a few minutes to heat up and reach optimal brewing temperature.

This can go from five to ten minutes, depending on the machine’s initial temperature.

Once the machine is heated, it brews a single espresso shot in around 30 seconds (the exact time depends on your grind size and tamping).

Also, if you’re making milky drinks, you’ll need to allocate more time. The steam wand takes from 30 seconds to a few minutes to froth milk, depending on the milk texture you prefer.

Overall, the heat-up, brew, and milk steaming take around 10 minutes from turning on the machine until you take your first sip.

Does It Have A Water Filtration System?

No, it doesn’t have a water filtration system. 

Water contains minerals, chemicals, and sediment.[2] These build up over time and negatively impact the flavor of your coffee, which is why a water filtration system is useful.

If you're worried about the quality of your water, you can use pre-filtered or bottled water to prevent mineral and scale build-up.

Also, you should regularly clean and descale the Cafe Roma espresso maker so the brew head lasts a long time.[3]

Breville Cafe Roma Water Filtration System

How Hard Is It To Clean and Descale?

It’s not hard to clean and descale the Breville coffee maker. Like other best espresso machines, it’s made of stainless steel, so you can wipe the exterior with a damp cloth.

You need to clean the portafilter, filter baskets, and steam wand every day. Rinse them with water and wipe them with a cloth.

Note: There’s no indicator that shows when the drip tray is full, so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow. This is a small machine, so the removable drip tray is also on the small side, and it’s best to empty it out every day.

You also need to descale the espresso machine to prevent mineral deposit build-up. Generally, you should descale every two to three months or as indicated in the manual.[4]

The machine doesn’t have a descaling indicator, so you need to keep track of the time yourself.

Mix the descaling solution with water and run it through the machine. Make sure to rinse the machine to remove the descaling solution, or it’ll end up in your coffee.

Finally, use a damp cloth to remove espresso grounds that accumulate on the brew group.


My Favorite Things About The Cafe Roma Coffee Maker

One of my favorite parts of this espresso machine is its small footprint.

It’s a perfect size for a small kitchen, RV, or dorm. You can even easily move it around your home as needed, as it’s lightweight.

Another pro is the stainless steel construction. There are users who’ve been using this espresso maker for over 13 years, which tells you all you need to know about its durability.

A froth-enhancing steam wand is an amazing inclusion considering the coffee machine's affordable price.

Many expensive models I used didn’t come with a froth enhancer that can create such a rich crema.

You can use the exterior tube to froth milk for lattes or use it without the frothing tube for more control and to heat the milk to a higher temperature.

Finally, the machine is an excellent choice for new baristas. You’ll learn how to make pucks and how the smallest change can affect the final brew.


My Least Favorite Parts About The Cafe Roma

I didn’t like that the Cafe Roma only fits small cups, and I couldn’t use it to fill up my travel mug. Another con is that you can't brew and steam simultaneously. 

However, this isn't a major issue, and many much more expensive espresso makers don't have this option either.

Finally, I didn't like that there was no built-in grinder. I had to buy a separate burr grinder, and a good burr grinder is a significant investment.


Breville Cafe Roma Vs Similar Coffee Machines

Here’s how Breville Cafe Roma compares to other popular espresso makers.

Breville Cafe Roma Vs DeLonghi Stilosa

The biggest difference between Breville Cafe Roma and DeLonghi Stilosa is in the price. Stilosa is half the price of Cafe Roma. It’s also an even more compact espresso machine.

Stilosa has a two-level cup holder, so you can fit larger cups, unlike on the Cafe Roma.

However, Cafe Roma has a better build quality. For example, even the 53 mm portafilter on Cafe Roma is stainless steel. Stilosa has a 51 mm plastic portafilter which isn’t very durable.

Stilosa has a fixed wand, which means limited flexibility. Cafe Roma’s wand lets you position and maneuver the wand for better milk texture.

Overall, both machines can extract coffee well and create rich espresso. However, my vote goes to Cafe Roma for the better build, larger water tank, and movable steam wand.

Breville Cafe Roma Vs DeLonghi Stilosa

Breville Cafe Roma Vs Bambino

Breville Bambino costs about $100 more than Cafe Roma, but you get a lot for this extra $100. Bambino has more programmability.

There are volumetric controls for single and double shots and a push-button hot water function, which is great for Americanos and hot chocolates.

The Bambino also has a more powerful milk wand with precise temperature and texture control for milk frothing. You can even learn how to make latte art with it.

Both machines have a 15-bar pump, which ensures good extraction. However, Bambino has PID temperature control, which constantly monitors the temperature and makes adjustments.

This ensures there aren’t any big fluctuations and you have consistent extraction.

Finally, the Bambino is even more compact and has a sleek and more modern design compared to the Cafe Roma.

Breville Cafe Roma Vs Bambino

Breville Cafe Roma Vs Express

In case you don’t want to buy a separate grinder, Barista Express is a good choice.

The espresso machine has a grinder with 18 grind levels, which covers most options for optimal espresso extraction.

Barista Express has a thermocoil heating system that heats the machine in just 30 seconds.

Unlike Cafe Roma, which has an old-fashioned interface, Express has a display and an analog pressure gauge, which lets you monitor the pressure during the extraction and find out if there are any issues.

The Express also has a dedicated hot water outlet for Americanos, teas, and hot chocolate, so the choice of drinks is much more comprehensive.

Overall, the Barista Express has many fancy features. However, they come at an advanced price as well. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your needs and budget.

Breville Cafe Roma Vs Express

FAQs

What kind of coffee do you use with Breville Cafe Roma?

You use ground coffee at Breville Cafe Roma or coffee pods. This espresso machine is compatible with ESE pods. They are an additional cost but easy to use. You should use medium to dark roasts for making coffee with Cafe Roma.

Will I need a grinder to use the Breville Cafe Roma?

Yes, you’ll need a grinder to use the Breville Cafe Roma. You need ground coffee to use this machine. However, it’s also compatible with ESE pods. In case you plan to only use the pods, you don’t need the grinder.

Can I make hot chocolate with the Breville Cafe Roma?

No, you can’t make hot chocolate with the Breville Cafe Roma. This device is primarily intended for brewing espresso and espresso-based drinks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos.

How much is a Breville Cafe Roma coffee machine?

Breville Cafe Roma is priced at around $250. The price is on the lower end for an espresso machine.

How long does a Breville Cafe Roma last?

Breville Cafe Roma lasts for years. Some users report having it for over a decade. You need to clean and maintain the machine regularly to ensure long use.

Summary - Is The Breville Cafe Roma Worth Your Money?

Yes, Breville Cafe Roma is worth your money. The Café Roma is incredibly easy to use, can froth milk for milk-based drinks, and can last years thanks to stainless steel parts.

If you’re on a budget or are looking for a first espresso machine, this is a good choice.

If you have a little more to spend and want a more modern machine with advanced features and more programmability, check out the Breville Bambino.

It’s another affordable, compact espresso maker with even more drink options.

Breville Cafe Roma

References: 

1. https://www.britannica.com/technology/stainless-steel
2. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/102/1/012095/pdf
3. https://assets.breville.com/ESP8/ESP8SXL_IB_New.pdf
4. https://urnex.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-descaling-and-cleaning-a-coffee-maker

Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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