Overall Score 10.0/10
Sage spend a lot of time not only thinking about how to produce great coffee but also they take a lot of pride in the pursuit of producing a coffee machine that looks fantastic as well
They do not disappoint with The Barista Express. This is a beautiful looking coffee machine.
Available in 3 different colours this review is for the brushed stainless steel version.
Some of the other coffee machines at this price point have a black base but Sage has managed to make the body of this coffee machine completely stainless steel from top to bottom with a hint of black on the built-in tamper but even that has a stainless steel rim which shows how much thought has gone into making this coffee machine look fantastic
This is a strong and sturdy product that looks and feels like it has been manufactured with high-quality components. Nothing cheap or plastic looking at all.
This has been made to last and you get reassured by things like the portafilter. When you hold it in your hand it has a nice heavy feel to it reassuring you of the high-quality steel. This is one of the areas which gets cut back on with some of the cheaper machines.
Sage also includes a temperature controlled stainless steel jug with this coffee machine which has a temperature gauge on the front that allows you to monitor the temperature of the milk whilst heating.
This is wonderfully pleasing to the eye but how does it measure up when it comes to producing a great coffee?
This coffee machine is somewhere in between a traditional pump espresso machine and a bean to cup coffee machine.
They have tried to replicate the experience you have come to expect in your local coffee shop and a result this is a semi-automatic machine which will require you to do the same amount of preparation as the barista on the high street.
Firstly the grinding process. Pretty straightforward here. Have a play around with the amount of coffee that goes into the portafilter by adjusting the “grind amount” dial on the front left of the machine. Bear in mind that you should be aiming for around 9 grams of coffee per cup.
You will get a single and double filter basket delivered with the machine and we would suggest sticking to the double filter for a double shot of espresso each time.
Without getting too nerdy, you need to get around 18 grams of coffee ground into the filter basket and importantly, if you truly want to try and replicate a coffee shop coffee, you need to extract 60ml of coffee in about 25 seconds. Combining these 3 factors of dose amount, amount of coffee in the cup and the time it takes to deliver the coffee is not possible to perfect with automatic bean to cup coffee machines that can cost a lot more than this Barista Express semi-automatic espresso machine. If you can follow these 3 steps then you will find your coffee tastes even better than the one you get in Costa or Starbucks.
It’s easy to deliver 18 grams of coffee by a little bit of trial and error by having a play around with the grind amount dial but the secret to getting 60ml of coffee in 25 seconds is finessing the grind size which you can adjust on the side of the machine. If 60ml of coffee is being delivered in say 60 seconds the coffee is being too finely ground and will taste sour or bitter if it is delivered in 15 seconds its too coarse. Adjust the grind fineness until you get it just right and you will be rewarded with superior coffee time and time again.
Once you have it just right then the settings are set forever and you can enjoy the perfect coffee each time and it will take around 60 seconds to make it. Brilliant. The beauty of this coffee machine is that you can make the adjustments you need that are restricted by most bean to cup coffee machines.
If you really care about producing a truly professional cup of coffee the Sage Barista Express allows you to play around with all the variables to make it happen.
Sage also has a clever way of delivering the ground coffee into the portafilter. Just push once and release and the coffee will begin to be ground and will stop automatically. If you push and hold it will grind until you release. This is a unique function with this type of machine and it one that we like. Simply and flexible.
The design of this machine is excellent but, in our opinion, the best part of this coffee machine is the bits that you can’t see which are the internal components that enable coffee production.
The best coffee is produced at 93 degrees and Sage have a digital temperature control which makes sure that water is delivered through the coffee within 1 degree of the optimum.
These are the things that you pay a little extra for that are not obvious because you can’t physically see them and they do make a significant difference to the quality of coffee that you get.
Once the portafilter is inserted into the water outlet then simply press the “one cup” button or “two cup button” depending on how much coffee you have ground and the barista express will do the rest.
The amount of water delivered is automatic and should be left as the default but if you want more or less then you can easily programme your preferences.
The steam wand delivers the right amount of pressure to ensure that you get the correct milk texture to produce the perfect cappuccino or latte.
This is a really simple and straightforward coffee machine to use. We particularly like the “one push” grind function.
The tamper is magnetically attached to the machine for easy access to push down the coffee before brewing which we like a well.
Nothing negative to report here from an ease of use perspective.
This is a great coffee machine but it is only as good as the coffee that you put in.
Keep the coffee as fresh as possible. Get the beans from your local coffee shop and don’t look at the use-by date, look at the roasting date.
Try and use beans that are no more than 1 month from the date they are roasted NOT the use-by date.
If your local supermarket beans only have the use-by date try Starbucks – they didn’t get that popular by having bad coffee……
In our opinion, this is close to a professional espresso machine for home use. The grind size is excellent and the coffee is umped through perfectly for a great crema and a great tasting coffee.
Put it next to one produced in Starbucks in a blind taste and you would struggle to tell the difference. Therefore maximum score for value for money.
Here is a video demonstrating exactly how the Barista Express works and how to achieve coffee shop quality coffee at home: