Time will have the final say, but first impression - can't go wrong with the Cafe Roma!
Positive Product Points
I ran my first Breville espresso this afternoon and it was perfect. Warm up time was good, and temp was OK, too. I got about a 20 second pull, with lots of light caramel crema. The machine was heavier than I expected and the quality seems to be such that I should expect many years of service. The price was definitely a +++ point for me. The on/off and Selector Control were positive and feel substantial. The brushed stainless steel is very attractive and it looks good on my espresso bar.
Negative Product Points
Would be nice to have an adjustable/movable steam wand. Seems to take too long to get the milk up to 165*. That may be due to the fact that I was out of milk when I pulled, and turned the machine on 30 minutes later for the frothing only. Storage for the extra filter would be nice as well. Hard to see the water level. I am not much on plastic scoops - stainless would have been a nice addition.
I did a lot of research/reading reviews before I purchased, including here. Length of production/in the marketplace figured into my decision as well. I don't tend to buy the newest model - wait to read the reviews. The reviews web wide were sufficient for me to make the purchase. This had been an open box/unused machine. It produced a cup that was far superior to my 6+ year old Krups 863. Have I ever been missing out on flavor. Some of the Negative Product Points are more feature oriented than related to performance or quality. We run an average of three doubles a day, and only time will tell if the Cafe Roma is up to it. Will be interesting to see how fast the unit recovers on multiple runs.
I roast my own beans - Santa Elena from El Salvador, Peaberry from PNG, and Las Nubes Traditional Washed from El Salvador. The first is my wife's espresso, the second our coffee, and the third is my espresso. Have not run the Santa Elena yet, but if it does as well as the Las Nubes I will be pleased.
I had only one glitch in the set-up - I forgot to take the product sticker off the side of the machine before I made my espresso. I had to use Goof Off to remove the paper and glue.
It was a perfect transaction from payment, to delivery, to a Latte in hand!
Three Month Followup
In my previous negative comments you will note that I did not like the stationary frothing wand. I was able to exchange it because of my disatisfaction with that part of the performance. The new model still drips outside the tray even though it is moveable. On the plus side, the top of the unit is now features a brushed/cast finish which negates the scratching from the cups and saucers. Additionally, I purchased a stainless steel scoop and tamper from an online vendor.
Postitive Points: I'm in love with my Cafe Roma. Quick water temp recovery makes back to back doubles no problem at all. New model has brushed stainless/cast top.
Negative Points: Steam wand still drips off the tray. No way to clean inside the new wand - tip is not removeable. Frothing takes too long.
Summary: Quality Wokmansip. Quality Espresso Extraction. Great Value. 90%+ Pro - Con. Add the Breville Conical Grinder and you have a perfect twosome.
Points to consider: When you are finished extracting make sure that you remove the filter unit. This will allow the seal to expand back to its original state rather than keeping it compressed, which could cause premature seal failure.
Notice that it is messy removing the filter unit? It helps to turn the handle part way off so that the pressure releases about a teaspoon of espresso (mostly crema) into the cup instead of dripping into the tray. ... At my initial review I did not have my Breville Conical Burr Grinder. It has taken a while to find the perfect grind to produce a great espresso. This is a marriage for a lifetime.
One Year Followup
No longer have this unit. Upgraded to the Breville Die Cast 800ESXL. The Cafe Roma boiler went out at about 6 months. Warranty was handled through Macy's - unable to contact Breville support in a timely manner so they took excellent care of the warranty issue. They further offered me an upgrade to the 800ESXL that I couldn't refuse. Overall, the units are great, the Breville customer service is quite lacking ...
I will continue to buy Breville machines, just not this model.