Breville Cafe Roma Review 2022: Sometimes Classics Do Go Out of Style

After working as a professional barista for many years, Arne Preuss founded Coffeeness.

I love classics as much as the next person. Still, if there’s one thing my Breville Cafe Roma review proves, it’s that not every classic stands up to the test of time.

Breville Cafe Roma Review Overview

I love classics as much as the next person. Still, if there’s one thing my Breville Cafe Roma review proves, it’s that not every classic stands up to the test of time.

That includes the Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine, which peaked around the same time as flip phones and dial-up internet.

And much like those relics, I think it may be time for Breville to retire this machine in favor of newer, updated espresso makers. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at what this machine can offer.

Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine

Compact size

Budget-friendly price

Stainless steel construction

Limited controls

Inconsistent performance

Breville Cafe Roma Review Overview

I expected more from this machine going into my Breville Cafe Roma review. After all, it is a Breville product, and the Australian manufacturer has proved it can hit a home run. Unfortunately, the Cafe Roma doesn’t even come close. This machine barely makes it to first base. If you ask me, Breville should have kept it on the sidelines.

There are really only two major standout characteristics of this espresso maker: its size and its price. The Cafe Roma is relatively lightweight. Plus, it’s available for $225.19 on Amazon, so it won’t break the bank.

I don’t want to underestimate the importance of budget friendly, compact machines. However, I also don’t think those traits should come at the cost of “meh” espresso. That’s exactly the problem with the Cafe Roma.

Even at this price point, many of the Cafe Roma’s features just fall flat. In fact, I wouldn’t even label this the best budget Breville machine.

That title belongs to the Breville Bambino Plus, which you can read about in my best Breville espresso machine review. The Bambino Plus is pricier than the Cafe Roma. Still, if you’re dead set on a Breville machine, you might as well get something with more bang for your buck.

Outside of its limited redeeming qualities, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend the Cafe Roma to most people. I’d be breaking my sacred oath as a professional barista and espresso machine reviewer.

As compact as it is, there are still plenty of other budget friendly options in my espresso machine guide 2022 that won’t hurt your wallet  – and still make great espresso! If you stick around for the rest of my Breville Cafe Roma review, I’ll tell you what I’d recommend in its place.

Breville Cafe Roma Features

Don’t worry, I won’t be pulling any punches when discussing the machine’s features in my Breville Cafe Roma review. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Compact Design

Since I’m going to spend most of this Breville Cafe Roma review telling you what I don’t like, I might as well start with the list of things I do. Admittedly, that list is pretty short, but this espresso machine’s compact design has made the top spot.

It’s not often that I find espresso machines under 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms), especially stainless steel ones. Even fully automatics designed to be ultra compact tend to be heavier than they look.

However, the Cafe Roma is a rare exception. At 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms), I can appreciate the portability of this machine as well as its stainless steel housing. If you’re short on counter space or have to bring your espresso maker on the go, the Cafe Roma won’t be too bulky. I doubt the Cafe Roma would have a lot of trouble fitting in dorm rooms, studio apartments or RVs.

With that said, I don’t think this espresso maker’s compact design is enough to warrant an investment. There are plenty of other compact choices capable of great espresso, such as the DeLonghi EC155.

User Interface

The user interface on the Cafe Roma feels very retro, but not in a stylish way. Anyway, it was released in 2004, so by definition, it is retro. I wasn’t kidding when I said this machine hit its stride in the era of instant messaging and iPods.

I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of analog interfaces as much as the next barista, but looks can’t make up for lack of functionality.

At its core, the Cafe Roma’s front panel comes with barebones controls. There’s a power switch on top as well as two indicator lights  – one for preheating and another to let you know the machine is on. Below that, there’s a large dial for picking between steam and espresso.

And that’s all you’ve got to work with! There’s not even a maintenance light to let you know when it’s time to descale the machine. If you were holding out for features like flexible shot control or digital PID control, you’ll be disappointed. Feel free to check under the lid, but you won’t find any hidden levers or trapdoors.

Just to clarify, I don’t think a simple user interface has to be a bad thing. For beginners, a basic interface can be less overwhelming as you’re getting comfortable with the espresso making process. There are plenty of great machines that use simple controls but rely on internal components to create impressive espresso.

The Breville Duo Temp Pro is a good example of this. The user interface is just as limited, but its internal PID and pre infusion features make up for it.

Yet, with very few internal features to bolster its basic interface, the Cafe Roma just proves to be disappointing in this regard.

ESE Pod Compatibility

Although I’d consider myself the number one fan of freshly ground coffee, I can’t deny the convenience of Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods. Not everyone has the time to grind fresh beans when they’re rushing out the door. ESE pods are a quick solution, and I begrudgingly accept that it’s nice to have the option.

Fortunately, the Cafe Roma does have ESE pod compatibility. Since many espresso machines also do, I won’t pretend like this is a groundbreaking feature. However, it is worth mentioning.

Boiler

Are you surprised that the Cafe Roma is a single boiler espresso machine? I’m not, especially since a lot of Breville coffee makers are. That doesn’t mean it’s not a little bit of a letdown though.

If you’re wondering how a single boiler impacts your espresso experience, here’s a quick lesson brought to you by me, your official espresso machine guide:

With a single boiler espresso machine, you won’t be able to use the steam wand and prepare coffee at the same time.

In addition to being a single boiler machine, the Cafe Roma uses a thermoblock heating system. I’m a little surprised to see the thermoblock here, mostly because Breville tends to favor more durable thermocoil systems. Then again, this machine is older than most of Breville’s lineup.

Keep in mind that a thermoblock system will still heat your water pretty quickly. However, it doesn’t always provide the consistent temperature regulation that you’ll get from a thermocoil.

Milk Foam

Breville Cafe Roma Overview with Milk Pitcher.

If the manual steam wand on the Cafe Roma looks clunky, it’s because it is. It doesn’t have 360-degree rotation like some steam wands. That means you can expect limited movement when you’re frothing for a cappuccino or latte macchiato.

As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if the steam wand is difficult to position in your milk pitcher. Ultimately, I just wouldn’t expect much from this steam wand at all. For anyone looking to create silky milk foam, here’s another reason to stay away from the Cafe Roma.

If there’s one thing I can give Breville credit for, it’s that you do get a milk pitcher with your purchase of the Cafe Roma. Consider that another check in the Cafe Roma’s limited list of pros.

Filter Baskets

As with all espresso machines, you’ll need to use a portafilter and filter baskets. You’ll get three filter baskets with the Cafe Roma espresso maker  – a single shot, double shot and one for ESE pods. The filter baskets are all of the dual wall variety, which will help create crema on your espresso. You can consider that a small win!

Tamping

It’s pretty standard for Breville to include an espresso tamper with its machines, and the Cafe Roma is no exception. In this case, the plastic tamper doubles as a scooper for ground coffee, which is handy.

Yet, it’s hard to give Breville much credit for including an accessory you’ll find with almost any espresso maker ever. Plus, any barista worth their salt will immediately upgrade to a stainless steel tamper, anyway.

Cup Height

As if the machine wasn’t already doing poorly enough in this Breville Cafe Roma review, it falls short on its cup height  – pun intended. Even with the removable drip tray, you’ll notice that the space under the spout is restricted.

In other words, you’ll be stuck using espresso cups with this machine. If you want to brew your espresso in a large travel mug, you’ll need to transfer it from a small cup first. This might not bother all home baristas, but it’s a bit of a pet peeve for me. I see it as a lazy design flaw that could be easily fixed.

Cup Warmer

You might be stuck using demitasse cups, but at least Breville gives you a way to warm them up. The top of the machine doesn’t just function as a lid but as a cup warmer plate as well.

That may not seem like a big deal, but a cup warmer does prevent some drastic temperature loss when you add hot espresso to the cup. Of course, you can always create the same effect by running your espresso cups under a little hot water before you put them under the spout.

Warranty

Breville does include a one year limited warranty with the Cafe Roma, but that’s not unusual. Most of Breville’s machines come with that same warranty, so you’re not getting any special protection with this espresso maker.

How To Use the Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine

Even though I wouldn’t recommend the espresso machine for everyday use, this wouldn’t be a complete Breville Cafe Roma review without telling you how to use it.

Drink Preparation

With limited controls, it’s no surprise that operating the Cafe Roma is fairly simple. You’ll need to begin with the way that all homemade espresso starts: by filling up your water tank and grinding fresh beans.

Since there’s no built in grinder, Breville is leaving you to figure that one out on your own. However, I won’t leave you out in the cold! Check out my coffee grinder guide 2022 to find a bunch of top-notch recommendations.

While your beans are grinding, you can flip the Cafe Roma’s power switch. The heating light will come on, signaling that the machine is getting ready for action. Now, this is the time to prepare your portafilter. Pick the filter basket appropriate for how many shots you want to brew, then add freshly ground coffee. 

Don’t forget to tamp your grounds before you lock the portafilter into position in the brew group. Once the heating light has turned off, you know your Cafe Roma is ready to go.

The last step is turning the dial to the coffee cup symbol, letting the espresso dispense and then turning the dial back to the standby position. As you’d expect, it’s up to you to time your shots. There’s no flexible shot or volumetric control.

If you want to use the steam wand, you’ll need to wait for the machine to heat up and then turn the dial to the opposite side. All things considered, operating the Cafe Roma won’t be rocket science. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that it will produce anything above mediocre espresso though!

Breville Cafe Roma Cleaning

You’d think such a basic machine would involve simple cleaning and descaling. Unfortunately though, there’s a lot of manual maintenance involved with the Cafe Roma.

This starts with descaling the machine, which Breville recommends doing every two to three months. Of course, you will need to keep track of that time yourself. I know this machine is older than the first iPhone, but the lack of maintenance indicators makes it feel prehistoric.

As you’d expect, you’ll also need to clean the steam wand after every use. That may seem a little tedious, but a damp cloth and running steam through the wand should get the job done.

Your stainless steel filters and brew head also make the list of things you’ll need to clean on the Cafe Roma. After each shot, you’ll need to empty the used grounds from the filter holder.

My only complaint here is that the design of the filters means that they’re prone to clogging. If that does happen, a dishwashing brush is going to be your best friend (but steer clear of brushes with metal bristles).

As for the brew head, you just need to use a damp cloth to remove old espresso grounds that may accumulate. Breville also recommends periodically running warm water through the machine.

The last major component that will need regular maintenance is the drip tray. Now, this is where I have to knock a few more points off for poor design. Although there is a water level indicator to let you know when it’s full, the drip tray disassembles into four separate parts. As a result, I’d say it’ll probably be a hassle to clean.

Pro tip: When cleaning any component of the Cafe Roma, you’ll want to use a non-abrasive cleaner mixed with water.

Breville Cafe Roma Review Specifications

Breville Cafe Roma
Manufacturer

Breville

Model number

ESP8BSS1BCA1

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Silver

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

50 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1000 W

Weight

13.0 lb / 5.9 kg

Dimensions

11.8 x 8.6 x 8.7 in
30.0 x 21.8 x 22.1 cm

Warranty

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: Stainless steel milk jug, Tamping tool/measuring spoon/cleaning tool, Instruction booklet.

Current price on Amazon

$237.70

BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Breville Cafe Roma vs Other Espresso Machines

Now that I’ve run through a lot of my biggest complaints in this Breville Cafe Roma review, it’s time to see how it compares to other espresso machines. Spoiler alert: you’re about to read about some machines that are actually worth buying!

Breville Cafe Roma vs DeLonghi ECP3630

The DeLonghi ECP3630 manages to blow the Cafe Roma out of the water in the only two categories it was winning in: price and size. At $141.00, the DeLonghi is similar in price, but it has a much sleeker and more compact design.

The DeLonghi ECP3630 is just as simple and basic as the Cafe Roma, but it manages to do one thing the Roma can’t  – create consistent espresso.

If a no frills, budget friendly machine is what you’re after, the ECP3630 is a much better bet than the Cafe Roma.

See Also: DeLonghi ECP3630 Review 2022

Breville Cafe Roma vs DeLonghi EC 702

For $281.04, the DeLonghi EC702 is just slightly more expensive than the Cafe Roma. Yet with the extra features it comes with, it’s hard to complain.

For one, there are two thermostats, which allow you to control steam and espresso temperature separately. That’s a pretty big upgrade from the Cafe Roma, which can’t promise consistent water temperatures.

So, if you can stomach the extra fifty bucks it’ll cost you, the DeLonghi EC702 is going to be one big step up from the Cafe Roma.

See Also: DeLonghi EC702 Review 2022

Breville Cafe Roma vs DeLonghi Stilosa

Not only does the DeLonghi Stilosa knock nearly half of the price off at $119.95, it also has much more to offer.

The Stilosa is even more compact than the Roma, and its two level cup holder ensures you won’t run into height issues under the spout. While you could argue that the Stilosa is just as simple as the Cafe Roma, it doesn’t compromise on taste like its Breville counterpart does.

See Also: DeLonghi Stilosa Review 2022

Breville Cafe Roma Review vs Others Comparison Chart

Breville Cafe RomaDeLonghi ECP 3630DeLonghi EC702 Espresso MachineDeLonghi Stilosa Espresso Machine
Manufacturer

Breville

De'Longhi

De'Longhi

De'Longhi

Model number

ESP8BSS1BCA1

ECP3630

EC702

EC260BK

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Color options

Silver

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Black

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

50 mm

54 mm

51 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

37.2 fl oz / 1.1 l

44.0 fl oz / 1.3 l

33.8 fl oz / 1.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.5 in / 11.4 cm

4.4 in / 11.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

No

No

No

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1000 W

1100 W

1100 W

1100 W

Weight

13.0 lb / 5.9 kg

9.8 lb / 4.4 kg

11.5 lb / 5.2 kg

9.5 lb / 4.3 kg

Dimensions

11.8 x 8.6 x 8.7 in
30.0 x 21.8 x 22.1 cm

12.0 x 7.3 x 9.5 in
30.5 x 18.5 x 24.1 cm

9.1 x 11.6 x 11.0 in
23.1 x 29.5 x 27.9 cm

11.2 x 8.0 x 13.5 in
28.4 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm

Warranty

1 year

1 year

1 year

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: Stainless steel milk jug, Tamping tool/measuring spoon/cleaning tool, Instruction booklet.

Included Accessories: Filter holder, 1 shot and 2 shot filters, ESE pod filter, Measuring spoon/tamper. Water filter optional, not included.

Included Accessories: Measuring scoop, Portafilter with three baskets, Instruction booklet.

Included Accessories: Tamper, Single and double espresso filters, Measuring spoon, Instruction manual & Quick Start Guide.

Current price on Amazon

$237.70

$184.11

$284.93

$119.95

BUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZON
Breville Cafe RomaDeLonghi ECP 3630DeLonghi EC702 Espresso MachineDeLonghi Stilosa Espresso Machine
Manufacturer

Breville

De'Longhi

De'Longhi

De'Longhi

Model number

ESP8BSS1BCA1

ECP3630

EC702

EC260BK

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Color options

Silver

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Black

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

50 mm

54 mm

51 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

37.2 fl oz / 1.1 l

44.0 fl oz / 1.3 l

33.8 fl oz / 1.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.5 in / 11.4 cm

4.4 in / 11.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

No

No

No

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1000 W

1100 W

1100 W

1100 W

Weight

13.0 lb / 5.9 kg

9.8 lb / 4.4 kg

11.5 lb / 5.2 kg

9.5 lb / 4.3 kg

Dimensions

11.8 x 8.6 x 8.7 in
30.0 x 21.8 x 22.1 cm

12.0 x 7.3 x 9.5 in
30.5 x 18.5 x 24.1 cm

9.1 x 11.6 x 11.0 in
23.1 x 29.5 x 27.9 cm

11.2 x 8.0 x 13.5 in
28.4 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm

Warranty

1 year

1 year

1 year

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: Stainless steel milk jug, Tamping tool/measuring spoon/cleaning tool, Instruction booklet.

Included Accessories: Filter holder, 1 shot and 2 shot filters, ESE pod filter, Measuring spoon/tamper. Water filter optional, not included.

Included Accessories: Measuring scoop, Portafilter with three baskets, Instruction booklet.

Included Accessories: Tamper, Single and double espresso filters, Measuring spoon, Instruction manual & Quick Start Guide.

Current price on Amazon

$237.70

$184.11

$284.93

$119.95

BUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZONBUY NOW ON AMAZON

Verdict: Breville Cafe Roma Review

Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine

Compact size

Budget-friendly price

Stainless steel construction

Limited controls

Inconsistent performance

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my Breville Cafe Roma review, it’s that sometimes the classics need to be left in the past. Look up “outdated” in the espresso machine dictionary, and you’ll find the product image for the Cafe Roma. Still, this machine’s retro design isn’t completely to blame for its lackluster performance. There are plenty of classic machines that are still worth using  – I’m looking at you, Gaggia Classic Pro.

Unfortunately, a compact design and affordable price tag can’t hide the Cafe Roma’s limited controls or subpar internal components. I’ve seen this machine toted as a great entry level option, but I can’t say that I agree.

If a budget friendly, entry level espresso machine is what you’re after, there are a plethora of other choices to pick from. Just take a look at the DeLonghi EC702 or the Stilosa. Both machines are equally beginner friendly, but they’re far more equipped to create better espresso and milk froth.

Was I too harsh on this espresso machine or should I give it a second chance? Let me know what you thought about my Breville Cafe Roma review by leaving a comment!

Breville Cafe Roma Review FAQ

I’d recommend investing in a DeLonghi espresso machine over the Breville Cafe Roma. 

The Cafe Roma is capable of making good espresso, but you might not always get consistent results. 

Yes, the compact size of the Breville Cafe Roma makes it a better fit for smaller spaces like RVs. 

Yes, the Breville Cafe Roma will require a grinder. Some of my go-to recommendations include the Porlex Mini or Comandante grinder. 

Yes, you can use the manual wand on the Breville Cafe Roma to steam milk for hot chocolate. 

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