Posted by: rolande | April 17, 2020

Quality Espresso on a Budget

Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker

If you’ve seen my previous article on coffee, you’ll know I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to coffee. It took me years to be able to appreciate it. I happened to go to a coffee shop a number of months ago here in Dallas and had quite possibly the best cup of coffee that I have ever tasted. What I realized was that they were using an Espresso machine for extraction instead of the basic drip brew. It was so good, I decided I had to have that for home.

What makes a true espresso?

Quoted from Business Insider:

“The Italian Espresso National Institute has very strict standards as to what can be called a true espresso. However, the basic idea is this: Espresso machines force a small amount of nearly boiling water under at least 9 bar of pressure through finely ground coffee to make true espresso.

The result is a thicker, creamier coffee with more caffeine inside. Pressure seems to be the key defining metric of making real espresso, and that’s why stovetop espresso machines don’t produce “real” espresso, according to the experts (but we still highly recommend them for anyone on a budget).”

So, I began reading about Espresso and Espresso machines and learning the ins and outs of it. There are two types of espresso machines. There are steam-driven and pump-driven. The steam-driven seem to fall more in the category of wannabe Espresso machines. The pump-driven units are the more common and do a much better job at extraction. What I found was that you need a lot of disposable income to afford the real high quality durable machines. But, I was determined to find an option that did not break the bank, but would also be durable and last for years. I believe I have found that with the Breville Café Roma stainless espresso maker.

Breville is a French Canadian manufacturer that has been around for many years and has established a name for themselves associated with quality products. That has not changed with this Espresso maker machine. Possibly the most important factor is the quality of the boiler and what it is made with. Most of the cheaper or lower end Espresso machines cut corners on the quality of the boiler to reduce manufacturing expense. They must think out of sight, out of mind… No one will know the difference. They use non-stainless steel metals to construct the boiler. If you use the machine daily, this will lead to failure many years sooner than you may expect. Breville, on the other hand, uses a stainless boiler on this machine. Breville also includes a 15 bar thermoblock pump. 9 bars of pressure is the minimum to be considered Espresso. Breville definitely includes a nice strong pump.

If you have the patience, this machine makes a very nice Espresso, Cappuccino, or Americano. It is not the fastest machine, especially if you are brewing two scoops of grinds in the brew head. After the boiler has heated, I have found that you can run an extraction for about 10-16 seconds or so before the boiler needs to reheat. If I am making an Americano, I will run 3 to 4 extractions for 1 decent sized cup. Espresso purists would surely frown on that method. They would argue it is overheating the grinds too much and ruining the coffee and that you need to extract the double-shot and then remove the brew head and continue with just hot water in the coffee to make a true Americano. I’ve noticed there is a balance to it. Once the espresso has been extracted, I’ve found that with my finely ground dark french roast beans, it continues to extract a rich foamy crema. The coffee tastes fantastic and everyone that I’ve made it for has really enjoyed it.

Eventually I will invest in a higher end machine with a bigger boiler and pressure and temperature gauges, but until then, my wife and I will continue to enjoy our daily cups of Americano out of this Breville machine. It makes a really enjoyable cup of coffee for the price.


  1. What Is The Best Coffee Grinder: 2016 Ratings (Top 10) Yosaki Magazine (2015)
  2. Halse, K. Best conical burr grinder reviews. (2016)
  3. Artisan Roast Why I Stopped Packaging Our Coffee In One-Way (2012)
  4. Pearl Cup Coffee Be Cool to Your Coffee: Don’t Freeze It! (2013)
  5. Purvis, J. Cool Your Beans? (2016)
  6. Uman, E. et al. The effect of bean origin and temperature on grinding roasted coffee. Sci. Rep. 6, 24483; doi: 10.1038/srep24483 (2016).

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