Why are Sage coffee machines so popular?
Sage coffee machines are not new to the coffee market, but they are experiencing an explosion in popularity at the minute. Founded in Sydney in 1932, Sage’s parent brand Breville is an established leader in the appliance market.
Like any great brand, their classic offerings are quickly identifiable from their cool brushed stainless steel silver finish and unfussy design that quietly expresses its quality. Make no mistake – the Sage brand is best known for its premium quality and its focus on functionality. Its uncompromising design gives you the sense that you are paying for best-in-class products.
Industry experts say that the global coffee market is estimated to be worth $5.1 billion by 2027. According to The Guardian, spending on takeaway coffees sharply dropped by 90% in April 2020, as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. By contrast, they note that John Lewis has reported sales of household coffee machines have increased by a fifth.
There is a demonstrable difference between the coffee you can get from McDonald’s, Starbucks and your local independent 3rd wave coffee barista. The huge variety in coffee qualities is testament to how there is no ‘standard’ cup of coffee – it’s an art form that requires specially engineered tools.
Sage coffee machines are so popular because they are a quality brand with three separate tiers of coffee machines matching different levels of expertise: entry level, mid-range, and top end machines. Within these categories, you can choose the best type of machine for your needs and potentially save a lot of money by making your coffee from home.
Are Sage coffee machines worth the money?
With this rush of newer brands claiming expertise in a niche section of the appliance market, you can be confident in the knowledge that Sage has for years received glowing reviews from its users.
To understand the reason for the popularity of Sage coffee machines, let’s take a deeper look at their components. Sage offers both bean-to-cup (i.e., essentially automatic, press a button and your coffee comes out) and barista-style (more manual, with much more control over all aspects of the process) coffee machines within their range.
Their ‘4 keys formula’ is composed of the essential coffee elements: dose, temperature, pressure and milk foam.
The modern build of the automatic machines uses touchscreen technology to make the brewing process as simple and stylish as possible.
The price of Sage coffee machines can be prohibitive, but they are not unjustifiably expensive. With the variety of functions on offer, you can see exactly what you are paying for. The main attraction of investing in one of these machines is that buying a speciality coffee can sometimes be a gamble. With your own machine, the taste and the quality will never change.
Having said that, they are not your average appliance and it would be wrong to suggest that every household should get one, as casual coffee drinkers are unlikely to appreciate the quality and would prefer instant coffee option. Only people who are enthusiastic about the process of coffee brewing, and passionate about pursuing coffee almost as a hobby should consider a Sage coffee machine.
Finally, the construction of these machines is built to last. Most of the machines come with at least a 2-year warrantee. Each of the individual components are built with the highest quality materials and the brushed stainless steel finish is both aesthetically and functionally excellent.
1. Sage BES875UK
The Barista Express is the best kept secret in coffee lover circles.
The first point to note is that it comes with an in-built conical burr grinder (a burr grinder grinds coffee in the most effective way, and ensures an even grind consistency, a topic we covered in more depth here). If you’re looking for a machine where you just add your cup and coffee comes out, this may not be the right machine for you.
However, if you’re the type of person who wants to retain some control over the coffee process, this will be perfect for you. Here’s a quick outline of the steps involved in getting great coffee from the Sage Barista Express machine:
- Add the appropriate portafilter
- Choose how much coffee you want to add
- Choose your grind consistency
- Tamp the coffee
- Place the portafilter under the water dispenser so that it’s ready to go
- If using milk, you manually heat it, then steam or froth as desired
In terms of ‘dosing,’ (i.e., how much of the coffee is being brewed, and which can be somewhat of an art form to learn how to do correctly) this machine does this automatically. This means that you will be able to get a consistent volume of ground coffee that has been ground perfectly to your taste by the grinder.
The milk wand is barista-quality, meaning that you can manipulate the milk to your specifications. A stainless-steel milk jug comes as standard with the machine, with a built-in temperature marker. The high-pressure steam wand means that you can hand texture the micro-foam milk.
Most importantly, what about the espresso extraction? The digital temperature control ensures that the water delivery is 100% accurate to the right temperature with every cup, guaranteeing the perfect cup of coffee every time.
In short, it’s difficult to get a better machine than this.
- Outstanding tasting coffee, with no compromises on taste
- No need to remove the water tank, it can be filled up with a jug
- Has been designed to make the cleaning process as simple as possible
- The best of both worlds: some manual work, but the hard work is mostly automatic
- If you want a fully automatic machine where the extent of your input is pushing a button, this machine is not for you
2. Sage SDC450BSS – The Precision Brewer
This machine can be summed up in two words according to Sage: precision and craft. Every square inch of the machine has been optimised to create the perfect cup of coffee. With precise temperature control, they have engineered a product that will deliver the highest standard of coffee brew.
But while most of the brewing is automatic, you do still have control over some key elements, meaning that you can craft coffee that is to your taste every time.
They have incorporated 6 separate brewing modes: Fast, Gold, Strong, Over Ice, My Brew and Cold Brew. Gold Cup mode sets the parameters to certified technical specifications for home brewers. With Strong mode, the name says it all. The pump slows down in order to give you a higher rate of extraction.
The Over Ice mode brings you the perfect iced coffee every time with extra strength packed in to compensate. The Cold Brew setting brings you room temperature coffee while you can control what you do next with it.
The brilliant My Brew feature means that you can customise each parameter to your exact taste, including bloom time, water temperature and flow rate. The Fast mode makes 1.8 litres of coffee in 7 minutes.
How do you know if this is the machine for you? This could be for you if you are interested in moving into the craft coffee home brewing experience. It would suit your needs if you’re looking for a mostly automatic machine with some customisable functions. It would also be a good choice if you’re looking for increased functionality from your machine (i.e., with the capacity to create ice coffees or a machine that can deliver several cups rapidly).
- The price is extremely competitive for what’s on offer: you get an outstanding coffee machine that will deliver the exact type of cup you’re looking for every time, without fail
- It comes with a glass carafe, coffee spoon, cone filter basket insert, mesh basket filter, flat bottom basket filter pack (10 filters) and a water hardness test kit
- Doesn’t come with any milk frothing capabilities as it specialises in brewing coffee only
- Weighs 4.8kg and measures approx. 50cm x 41cm x 25cm, which may not suit those with limited counter space
3. Sage SES880BSS
This machine is one of the more expensive in Sage’s range, and it contains multiple features that make the price tag worth it. The tagline for this product is ‘cafe quality coffee at your fingertips,’ and quite frankly, there is no disputing this claim.
The machine is effortlessly stylish and wouldn’t look out of place at a boutique gym or yoga studio. By combining commercial coffee brewing elements with a user-friendly design, Sage have created the perfect kitchen accessory.
The touchscreen technology allows you to choose from five pre-programmed coffee favourites, espresso, long black, latte, cappuccino and flat white. You can follow the machine recommended settings, or fully customise to your liking. If you’ve found the perfect settings for you, simply save the settings under your name for one touch access to your perfect cup.
As you’ll no doubt know, proper milk foaming and frothing is a combination of scientific elements (creating the perfect micro-foam which works with the coffee’s properties), artistry (think of amazing latte art designs) and practice. The Barista Touch Semi-Automatic Espresso machine enables you to make excellent milk-based coffee drinks without any hassle.
How can you know if this is the right machine for you? If you know that you will want the convenience of as little manual preparation as possible, this is an excellent choice. From selection to completion, the process is finished in under 60 seconds.
The built-in grinder means that you won’t ever have to worry about grind consistency. If milk-based drinks are your thing, this texturing work will be completed for you, with no extra hassle included.
For me, the deciding factor would be that this machine allows you to choose whether you want to be more manual or automatic, giving you time to work on your coffee craft at the weekend while delivering the perfect quick cup during the week.
- Gives you control over the coffee making process and allows for experimentation so you can discover your favourite blend
- You can personalise the drink settings with your name
- Touch controls are intuitive and easy to use
- The removable drip tray can fill up quickly and will need to be monitored carefully so it doesn’t overspill
4. Nespresso BNE800
First off, you might wonder why this review of the best Sage coffee machines is including a Nespresso machine.
If you are a Nespresso fan, you may be looking for a machine that can do much more than your average Nespresso offering. The company has teamed up with Sage to bring you an outstanding quality machine with all the best features of both companies.
The machine supports the Nespresso pod functionality, and also comes with a complimentary pack of Nespresso capsules for you to try out your favourites (if you’ve not already established a favourite).
You can choose from 8 types. For black coffee lovers, you can choose the Ristretto, Espresso or Lungo. Milk-based drinks include the Cappuccino, Café Latte, Latte Macchiato and Flat White. Finally, you can also make a plain black coffee and then make the milk as frothy as you wish.
With its 3-second heat up time, you can quickly create the perfect cup. For those users who are looking to enjoy the ease of a Nespresso machine with the luxury of a Sage coffee machine, this is a match made in heaven.
The real USP of the product is the milk frother, which isn’t a standard feature of most Nespresso machines. The technology and careful engineering that goes into all Sage products is on clear display in this machine. It is fully automatic, meaning that you can set your desired milk type and then step back as it works its magic.
We also love the touchscreen display features that gives you plenty of customisation options.
When deciding on whether this machine is for you, there are a few points to bear in mind. The coffee is Nespresso-branded and isn’t compatible with beans. Next, you have some control over the flavour, but ultimately it depends on the coffee within the pod. Finally, the milk frother is one of the best features and won’t disappoint.
- Beautifully designed machine, with clear functionality within each part of the machine.
- The water tank will let you know when it needs to be refilled automatically
- Measures 31cm x 14cm x 41cm and weighs 5.2kg, so will fit perfectly into your kitchen
- Comes with a stainless-steel Sage milk jug, removable cup support, and drip grid and tray
- Needs Nespresso capsules in order to work
- Less control over the taste of the coffee because of this reason
5. Sage BES810BSS
This machine has a no-fuss, clean and minimalist design. The heating system regulates the temperature to bring you a consistently perfect cup of coffee (PID temperature control as standard). One of the key points of this machine is the built-in pre-infusion system, which allows for an even distribution of water soaking into the ground coffee.
If you just want a perfect cup of coffee without making changes to things like water temperature, bean coarseness, etc, then this is likely to be perfect for you. With just 2 buttons and a dial, it couldn’t be more user friendly.
It’s recommended to use the Sage Smart Grinder Pro integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder with this machine to provide automatic dosing to make your job extremely simple. All you will need to do is tamp down the coffee into a puck. It has a removable water tank with a water filter to reduce limescale from the machine.
Steaming and texturing milk is also an easy task. The steam wand will heat up the milk and increase the volume simultaneously to create a microfoam texture. Like most Sage products, it comes with a stainless-steel milk jug to help you make the perfect frothy milk.
Measuring approximately 33 x 45 x 40cm and weighing just over 9kg, this relatively small machine packs a real punch when it comes to making café-quality coffee. The water tank capacity is 1.8 litres and most of the machine is made from quality stainless steel.
For the price, it’s a very affordable model from the Sage line and it would be difficult to find a similar brand with as many features in such a stylish machine.
Again, a point to note with all the machines listed in this review is that, no matter the quality of your machine, a great cup of coffee can be ruined by not using fresh beans. It’s worth investing in coffee that is fresh. Read more about how long coffee lasts and how quickly it can go out of date.
- Easy to set up and get it ready for using
- Stylish feeling, with a look that will never go out of date
- A machine that does the hard working of coffee making, but still gives you time to practice your barista skills
- Consistently hot and strong coffee taste
- Doesn’t warn you when the water is running low
- Slightly noisy when in use, which could be irritating to some users
- The drip tray can fill up quickly and should be monitored