Sage By Heston Blumenthal The Barista Express Review

  • By: Scott
  • Date: May 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Everybody loves a high quality coffee, and espresso machines are becoming more and more high-tech. Heston Blumenthal has a reputation for creating innovative and futuristic designs.

His brand of coffee machines is no exception, which is why we have taken the time to try out the Barista Express espresso machine and see if it’s worth the hype.

Sage By Heston Blumenthal The Barista Express Review

Sage is known for bringing high-end kitchen appliances to the market, and they offer industrial, metallic styles that are intended to last a long time. Because of this, their products tend to have pretty significant price tags.

That is why we have tried out the Barista Express to see if it is everything it’s made out to be.

Set Up

There is a little complex assembly required with this product, but it’s definitely worth allowing the extra time to do so. Once it has been correctly set up and everything is ready to go, you will have completed most of the hard work.

The next step is to take the time experimenting with grind settings, infusions and different types of coffee beans to find what works best for your preferences.

First, you will need to fill the large water container and secure it onto the back of the machine. Then, secure the hopper on top which will hold your coffee beans. You can then decide on a filter before fitting it into the handle.

Set the grinder for either one or two cups of coffee, and fit the handle underneath. Then, it will grind the desired amount of coffee that can be tampered and then made into espresso.

Value For Money

While the Sage range of products are considered to fall within the pricier category of coffee machines, it could be argued that the Barista Express is good value for money.

This comes from the fact that once you have purchased the machine itself, there are very few additional items that could be needed.

The Sage Barista Express comes with a magnetic tamper, levelling tool, single walled filters, milk jug, and a pin for cleaning the steaming wand.

This means that you can focus on what really matters and spend more time working on the grind settings and frothing milk to create the perfect combination of deep, rich coffee and steamy milk.

There is also a two-year warranty for all customers who purchase the Sage Barista Express. This means that the quality of the machine is guaranteed to all customers.

This can allow you to rest assured that you are getting what you pay for, and that no shortcuts have been made in the design and manufacture of this machine.

Custom Experience

Sage Barista Express Espresso Machine

Sage the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 W - Black

Not only does the Sage machine come with many settings to create your own drinks from, but you can play around with the manual options to decide how much volume you want per drink and cup.

The built-in grinder is definitely a selling point of this machine, because it prevents unnecessary mess caused by coffee granules and keeps the entire process in one place.

On the flip side, it is worth noting that there isn’t any temperature control. The coffee comes out piping hot, which is normally perfect, however, we think that the Barista Express could be improved by offering multiple temperature settings.

This can make iced coffee and different Frappuccino combinations much easier to create. Having hot coffee readily available at around 160 degrees isn’t necessarily the most significant issue to have.

Design

The idea behind the Barista Express is that anybody can enjoy the coffee shop atmosphere and aromas from home. Because of this, the appearance of the machine is somewhat industrial.

Available in stainless steel silver and black, even the look of the machine can add a touch of modern style and elements of cultured bistros to your kitchen.

However, something worth mentioning about the design of the Barista Express is that it is a large piece of equipment. Make sure that you have enough space in your kitchen before purchasing, because you will want to give the machine pride of place.

Complete with two liter water capacity and built-in grinder means that the Barista Express is not small.

Weighing around 10 kg, the espresso machine has not been made to be portable or compact. You certainly get what you pay for, as the Barista Express is around 14 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and 14.5 inches deep.

Maximum Capacity

Because of the specifications of the Barista Express, there is a maximum mug height. If your favorite mug is over 3.9 inches tall, then you may want to consider changing to a shorter cup that does the job and fits perfectly.

This small feature isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it is worth knowing beforehand if you have a large collection of mugs that you regularly reach for.

It can be a little messy to transfer to different cups, too. Which is why you may want to remember that the Barista Express has not been designed for making large pots of coffee.

If you live in a household where multiple people enjoy a rich cup of coffee in the morning, then it could be better value if you all decided to chip in and buy a coffee machine that fills up a large pot each day.

Easy To Use

With a little experience of how to use other espresso machines, we found the Barista Express extremely user-friendly. This is largely because of the easy-to-follow manual that comes with every sage Barista Express machine.

There is a little trial and error that is needed, like any espresso machine, to achieve the right tasting coffee and grind setting, but we think that this is part of the whole experience.

It can make you appreciate the end product once you have spent the time optimizing the machine settings to achieve your preferred taste.

It is worth taking the time to experiment with the eighteen different grind settings to see which type is the most suitable for your preferred beverage. We found that setting it to 16 helped create a smooth yet rich tasting latte.

Another thing that helped make the Barista Express easier to use than some other espresso machines we’ve tried is that there are lights that indicate when certain things are ready.

This makes waiting for everything to heat up easier because you can see the dials going up, and know that the light will show you when it is ready.

This can also help keep the machine in its best condition because it prevents use when it is not ready, as users understand the need to allow for each process to be carried out before getting their coffee.

Pressing buttons unnecessarily and turning dials can contribute to an espresso machine breaking prematurely or malfunctioning, so it’s definitely worth avoiding this and focusing on the lights if possible.

Cleaning And Maintenance

There is a mixed consensus surrounding cleaning the Barista Express, and it’s self-cleaning feature. That is because there are three removable trays which need to be cleaned by hand. In addition, it is essential that the filters are changed on a regular basis if you live in an area with hard water.

We were particularly impressed by the self-cleaning feature included in the Barista Express. Being able to insert a tablet and let it do its thing undoubtedly felt futuristic and the way forward.

Of course, it can be challenging to keep the steaming wand clean unless it is wiped using a wet rag after each use. This is because warm milk can settle on the metal wand and become extremely sticky.

That is, however, something that all espresso machines with milk steamers require, which is why we will not be marking the Barista Express lower due to the cleaning needed. We found it especially useful that this product had an indicator for when it was due for a thorough clean.

Regular maintenance is needed, like most coffee machines, which is definitely something to be aware of beforehand. However, the Sage Barista Express aims to make the process significantly easier. It is worth noting that you will need to descale the water filter often if your local water is hard.

While there is less maintenance involved with the Barista Express, it is worth mentioning that the coffee beans will need to be refilled on a regular basis, as well as the water.

A potential area for improvement for Sage could be to add a light indicator for when the water needs to be refilled. However, this isn’t completely necessary, as the large container is usually visible.

Sage Barista Pro

The biggest competitor for the Barista Express machine is the Sage Barista Pro, which offers a very similar experience. The Pro has been designed to offer a more futuristic, modern experience, whereas the Barista Express maintains a similar style to traditional coffee machines.

Unlike the Barista Express, the Barista Pro has a backlit display and digital screen. It could be argued that they have demonstrated the way forward for coffee machines, and the smaller buttons are arguably more futuristic.

This could be a limitation for users, however, because people suffering from arthritis, inflamed joints in their hands, or even poor eyesight, may not be able to see or press on the smaller buttons.

This can become an issue if someone finds themselves regularly pressing the wrong buttons. For this reason, we would argue that sometimes it is better to stick to the classic style of retro coffee machines, like that which is seen in the Barista Express.

Overall Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Eighteen coffee grind settings
  • Grinder included within the machine
  • Self-cleaning feature and indicator for when it needs to be done
  • High capacity water and coffee bean storage
  • Milk steaming jug included in purchase
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Not as modern as the Barista Pro that has a digital display
  • No water replacement indicator
  • Only one temperature for hot coffee, which isn’t always ideal for every beverage

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Ground Coffee Instead Of Beans?

Yes, one of the great things about the Sage Barista Express is that you can use coffee that has already been ground. Simply put it into the end of the handle and press down using the tamper.

You will get a similar end result, but it is recommended that you use fresh beans because the taste is naturally more fresh which makes the coffee more pungent.

What Is The Best Coffee To Buy?

There are a lot of different options for this, and some of the best flavors come from Java beans. It is worth considering what your local area offers, however, and seeing how different beans and grind settings affect the taste of your coffee.

Is The Barista Express Loud?

Like most espresso machines, the steam escaping through open valves can contribute to the loud noise created when it is working. It’s no secret that the Barista Express can be a little loud when it is grinding beans.

However, that is only for around thirty seconds, and it is definitely worth enduring to get the end product.

Summary

There are some unique qualities about the Sage Barista Express that we found intriguing. It has an industrial design that is stylish and modern, and carries out all the necessary processes in one place.

This can make it better value for money than similar products, because one purchase is all you need to achieve great tasting coffee.

Last update on 2022-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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