Sage Barista Express Review
High powered steam wand and integrated grinder
Helpful information about a leading Sage coffee machine
Get the best barista-style coffee experience from the comfort of your own home with The Barista Express from Sage.
Overview of the Barista Express
This is one of the most barista-like coffee machines on the market and gives you a huge amount of freedom over customisation of coffee taste, strength and milk texture.
This machine is complex but made so that you can get the hang of it. At the end of the day, perfect ‘barista style’ coffee isn’t going to come easy. It is a skill and an art that takes time to understand but can be fun if you are interested in coffee.
With that said, the Barista Express gives you all the tools you will need to make good-quality coffee as well as allowing you to learn how to tailor the machine to your unique preferences with easy to use buttons and some automated settings.
Ultimately, if you are looking for an easy-to-use machine that delivers you a standard cup of coffee at the touch of a button, then this probably isn’t the machine for you. However, if you are keen about the art of making coffee like a barista and are willing to learn the techniques of coffee making, then this may well be the machine you have been looking for.
- You will have complete control over how your drink is made – great for someone with a fussy taste.
- High-power steam wand to help you froth milk easily (you can test out your latte art skills!).
- Integrated grinder for freshly ground beans.
- Dose control grinding and pressure control which takes the confusion out of achieving perfectly ground coffee.
- Digital temperature control.
- Cleaning can be a bit of a faff (but this is be expected with a quality bean-to-cup machine) keep it clean and you’ll continue to have great coffee.
- It is not a one-button-does-all kind of machine, so it might take a bit of practice.
Breakdown of the Barista Express and its functions
To help make the understanding of this bean to cup coffee machine quick and easy, we have labelled all the key functions of the Barista Express.
Now essentially, the machine is split into two sections. The left side works as a grinder. This is where you will add your fresh coffee beans and press a few buttons to transform the beans into ground coffee that is ready for extraction.
Then the right side of the machine is where the coffee will be extracted to create your desired drink. This is also where you can also use the steam wand function to heat up and add texture to milk or the hot water function for heating up mugs and making americanos.
Below we have listed each primary function of the machine:
A. The inbuilt grinder – this is where you will pour your coffee beans ready to be grinded for extraction.
B. The dial on the left side of the machine will control how fine or coarse the grind will be.
C. This dial controls how much coffee will be dispensed.
D. This button allows you to choose whether you want a single shot of espresso or a double, then the grind will be done to that specification.
E. The tamper. This tool is held in place with a magnet and can be taken off when needed. It is used to press down (tamp) the coffee once it has finished grinding.
F. This handle (which is known as the portafilter/group handle) fits into place and collects the coffee ready for it to be expressed. In order to activate the grinder, you simply place the portafilter into this slot and push it back towards the button that activates the grinder.
G. This is the ‘programme’ button which allows you to set your preference for extraction.
H. We have grouped these two buttons together, as they are very similar. They represent the amount of coffee you want to be extracted, do you want a single espresso or double espresso?
P.S. When you have the perfect grind, the single cup button will extract 30ml of coffee and the double cup button will extract 60 ml of coffee.
I. The dial on the right side of the machine will active the steam wand, which allows you to heat up milk and add texture to the milk for different coffees. It can also active hot water, which can be used for heating up your cups, making americanos or even to make a quick cup of tea.
J. This is the pressure gage; it is there to help you learn how to make coffee to barista standard. This will tell you if you have the correct amount of pressure at the point of extraction. It will tell you if the pressure is too high or too low.
K. This is where the hot water is dispensed from.
L. This is where you will place the portafilter handle, after tamping down the ground coffee beans. Once you have locked it in place, you can then extract the coffee to create a single or double espresso.
M. This is the steam wand (also known as a steam arm) and it is used to heat up and add texture to milk. This will enable you to have a complete barista experience as you can learn to make perfect milk for lattes, cappuccinos and so much more!
How much is it going to cost to buy and then maintain this machine?
The initial cost of the Sage Barista Express is around £440 – £599, and the price does reflect its quality. It comes with everything you need to start making coffee – well, you do need to buy the beans and milk yourself!
Alongside the initial cost, there is the monthly upkeep for this machine: to continue using this machine you will have to buy, fresh coffee beans, milk and spend a little on cleaning products to keep the machine in good condition.
On average you will be looking to spend £10-£20 every month on Sage products and coffee beans for your new Barista Express machine. This price can vary depending on what type of coffee beans you enjoy.
But whatever you choose, if you are a regular coffee drinker, cups of coffee will be far cheaper than if you were to buy one from your local coffee shop.
So, what have we learnt?
This in-depth review has taught us that (despite some automated functions) this machine is not fully automatic, and it may take some time to learn the basics. Once understood, the functions are simple enough for you to utilise this machine and make excellent coffee.
Besides, this machine does do most of the hard work – which leaves you to play around with frothing up the milk and creating interesting latte art.
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