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Breville Cafe Roma Review

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Buying an espresso machine can be a very expensive experience. With prices running into thousands of dollars, it can be daunting for espresso newbies to get started. That’s why we’re taking a look at a more budget-friendly option from a fantastic manufacturer in our Breville Cafe Roma Review. Can the Café Roma make great espresso? Is it suitable for someone starting on their coffee journey? Having used and thoroughly tested this espresso machine, we answer all the questions you have.

Note: The Breville Cafe Roma has been discontinued; the only place we’ve found it still for sale is within Canada. So it’s still possible to pick up a good-quality second-hand model or to buy from a seller who will ship it for you. If you can’t, check out our Breville Bambino Review for another budget-friendly (and more compact) option.

This article may contain affiliate/ compensated links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information please see our disclaimer here.

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Breville Café Roma Review – In Brief

breville cafe roma espresso maker

The Breville Cafe Roma espresso maker is designed for beginner home coffee makers. Someone who wants a solid, reliable machine that can make café quality drinks but doesn’t cost the Earth. And who’s looking for a machine that’s simple to use.

It ticks a lot of boxes:

You can make single or double espresso, use ground coffee or E.S.E. pods, and you can steam your favorite style of milk.

The downsides are that cheaper espresso machines mean compromises. So you won’t extract the layers of flavor that a more expensive machine can. The microfoam will be okay but not professional level. Plus, the Cafe Roma doesn’t use Breville’s suite of tech that makes their other machines so good.

For around $200 the Breville Cafe Roma espresso maker is a solid machine that’s easy to use and look after. But it’s time has passed – it was an incredible offering when it was first released but now there’s so many better options for the same price.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Simple to use
  • Double walled baskets for great crema
  • Good steam wand
  • Premium quality construction
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Cons

  • Can brew a little cold
  • Doesn’t have Breville’s “4 Keys” features

Average Rating

  • Espresso Quality: 6.5/10
  • Milk Quality: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 8.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 8/10
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Key Features

1. 15 BAR Pump

15 BAR vibration pump allows consistent pressure in the filter basket for excellent flavor extraction. 

2. Dual-Walled Filter Baskets

Dual-walled filter baskets help to maintain consistent pressure and generate better crema making them perfect for beginner espresso makers. However, if you have more experience, you’ll find them limiting as they can’t achieve the same espresso quality as singled-walled filter baskets.

3. 40.6oz Water Reservoir

A large water reservoir means you won’t be constantly refilling it. It’s also removable for ease of filling.

4. Steam Wand

High-pressure steam wand for making cappuccino and latte. The milk wand is operated manually so your milk quality/latte art is limited only by your own skills.

5. Stainless-Steel Design

The high-quality stainless steel espresso machine looks great and is very durable.

6. 1-year Warranty

Whilst we’d expect the Cafe Roma to last you at least 5 years, Breville includes a 1-year warranty on their espresso machines so you have peace of mind.

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Is the Breville Café Roma Easy to Use?

The Breville Café Roma is very simple to use. With an on/off button and a dial for either espresso or steam, you can’t go wrong. It’s compatible with E.S.E. pods too so it can be as simple as putting a pod into the filter, fitting it to the machine, turning the dial, then turning it back after 20-25 seconds.

You do have to manually tell it when to stop, same as many espresso machines. But we all have stopwatches on our phones, if not our wrists, so timing 20-25 seconds is not complicated. It’s obviously slightly harder if you’re using ground coffee. Then you need to weigh it and tamp it down before fitting it to the machine and turning the dial. 

The dual-walled filter baskets help even out any mistakes when it comes to pulling your espresso shots too, it should almost always generate a great crema. If you’re timing your espresso and it’s thin, acidic, and weak, you need to add more coffee or grind it more finely. If it’s very bitter, then slightly less coffee or a slightly coarser grind should do the trick for you.

Milk steaming is manual and you don’t really get any assistance there. But milk frothing for a latte or a cappuccino really isn’t difficult. Get a thermometer so you don’t burn your milk and watch a couple of YouTube videos and you’ll be a pro in no time at all. The steam isn’t good enough to make a truly professional-level cappuccino, latte, or flat white. But it will make a decent foam and a nice milk texture.

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Does the Café Roma use Beans, Grounds, or Pods?

The Café Roma espresso maker uses ground coffee but also has a special filter basket for using E.S.E. pods if you prefer. For the best quality results you’ll need to use freshly ground espresso beans. However, if you’re just looking to save money by making your morning cappuccino at home then the E.S.E. pods are cheap and easy to use. There’s also the bonus of minimal mess.

We always recommend using freshly ground coffee, the volatile oils that add so much of the flavor to your espresso evaporate within 45 minutes of grinding. This means the fresh ground will always taste better than pre-ground coffee.

We appreciate that this means buying an extra piece of kit. There are some really good manual coffee grinders available, even at the budget price. Just make sure you get one designed for grinding espresso.

Review of Breville Cafe Roma, sat on white countertop
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Design and Build Quality

The Looks

The budget espresso machine market is flooded with black plastic machines accented with stainless steel. The Café Roma is a nice change being mainly made from brushed stainless steel, giving a more premium feel to your budget machine. You still have plastic elements, but they’re very much in the minority and don’t spoil the overall aesthetic.

I’m not a huge fan of the big dial on the front. Yes, it means it’s very easy to use, but it just doesn’t look as nice. I’d prefer two buttons but then maybe the front would look really weird and empty. It’s not a deal breaker by any stretch and pretty standard on the more entry-level espresso machines

This is also a really compact machine. It’s 9” x 9” x 12” so even the smallest kitchens should have space for a good espresso machine. If you want to use the warming tray on the top of the machine, you’ll need to check the clearance with your cabinets, but it should be fine. 

Being able to see the water level from the front of the machine is also a nice touch as it’s not so common on entry-level models. Overall the simple design will work pretty well in almost any kitchen.

The Build

It’s worth spending more on a Breville because the build quality is so high. The Cafe Roma espresso maker doesn’t disappoint in this area either. Being mainly stainless steel everything feels sturdy and well made. Even the plastic elements feel pretty solid. 

The one issue we have is that the espresso maker is too small for large mugs. So if you’re making a latte or something to go in a tall cup, you need to pour the espresso into a small cup first.

There are some who say you can’t make lattes as you need to wait for the boiler to heat up to steam the milk. I don’t think this is fair as it isn’t that slow. You can comfortably make yourself a latte with this machine

The thermoblock boiler works admirably, heating up quickly and switching between coffee and steam with a perfectly reasonable waiting time. You’ll find machines costing thousands with only one boiler that makes you wait between coffee and milk. It would be very harsh to criticize the Café Roma for such a thing. 

Not convinced the Cafe Roma is the right espresso maker for you? Check out our picks for the Best Espresso Machines under $200

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How Good is the Coffee from the Breville Cafe Roma?

The Breville Café Roma will make a decent espresso. With good, freshly ground beans you can pull a shot of espresso that will be very enjoyable. It has it’s limitations. It doesn’t do low-pressure pre-infusion, so you’ll never get the depth of flavor or complexity that can be achieved with more expensive machines.

Premium Breville espresso machines have their “4 keys formula” for great espresso. Which are a large dose, consistent temperature, low-pressure pre-infusion followed by consistent 9 BAR extraction, and 266F steam for milk.  

The Café Roma espresso maker does not benefit from these features, which is why it’s half the price of the Breville Bambino, their next cheapest offering. The Café Roma is not aimed at the espresso aficionado who wants to make expert-level coffee at home. This is for someone who wants to make a good coffee to replace their *insert generic coffee shop name* in the morning. Or someone who wants a decent coffee but can’t afford these top-end machines.

In the end, you can absolutely make an espresso coffee or latte/cappuccino that’s as good as Starbucks with the Café Roma. You won’t be able to make one as good as the specialty independent coffee shop sadly. 

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Bells and Whistles

The Cafe Roma is essentially bell and whistle-less. This is a simple machine for simple coffee lovers. Its simplicity is part of the draw for the Café Roma and you’re saving money by not paying for features you won’t use anyway.

The semi-automatic espresso machine is loved by many for the control it gives the user. The expensive version of this is something like the Breville Dual Boiler BES920XL espresso machine. But the affordable versions are great for those who just want espresso with no fancy features.  

Breville Cafe Roma - front on and side view of milk frother
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How Easy is the Breville Cafe Roma to Clean?

The Breville Café Roma is very simple to clean. The portafilter just needs emptying and rinsing out. You can wipe down the milk wand after blasting some steam through it. Empty the drip tray and you’re done.

There will be deeper cleaning needed every couple of months. The thermoblock boilers that are ubiquitous on these budget-friendly machines eventually start to clog with mineral deposits from the water. This can block the narrow channels and stop them from working. Thankfully descaling only takes 20 minutes or so every couple of months.

The drip tray has no warning when it is getting full, so keep an eye on it or you’ll be wiping up coffee water from your counter. Milk wands can get pretty nasty pretty fast if you don’t clean them after every use. But a warm, damp cloth will keep it clean so just have one to hand. It’s really all very easy and doesn’t take much time at all. Typical espresso machine cleaning to be honest.

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Breville Cafe Roma vs Bambino

The Breville Bambino is the entry-level model in Breville’s main line-up of espresso machines. It is $200 or so more expensive than the Cafe Roma espresso maker. However, it is designed to be as good as their more expensive models, just smaller.

It’s not really fair to compare two machines with such different prices. The Bambino heats up faster, makes better espresso and milk, and looks better. For the price difference, we’d expect nothing less.

This is about what you want. If you want to make espresso and cafe drinks that rival those of a pro but are short on space, then the Breville Bambino is a really good espresso maker and will serve you well.

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Final Thoughts

Are you looking for a decent coffee machine to easily make espresso or café-style drinks? The Breville Café Roma could be perfect for you. No frills, nothing complex, just good coffee and steamed milk as easy as possible. It also offers quite a bit of control, though nothing like that of manual coffee machines.

You have to be willing to measure your grounds, tamp, etc preferably after grinding your beans yourself. You can of course just use E.S.E. pods and make life incredibly simple for yourself, though the quality suffers. To get the best from the Café Roma you need to get a grinder too.

That is the tradeoff. Cheaper machines can’t make as good espresso or milk foam. Are you happy with good but not great? Is the $200 dollar saving to the Bambino worth it for the quality dip? This is what our Breville Cafe Roma review comes down to. This is a fantastic espresso machine that should last a good 5 years or so with no issues. Much cheaper than a daily latte at global coffee giants

Don’t forget to Buy your Breville Cafe Roma today

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Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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