Last year, Sage Appliances launched their Bambino Plus espresso machine and in December I got one for my home. I have been using it regularly ever since, so I thought it was about time I wrote about it on my blog. If you have been debating whether or not to buy a Sage Bambino Plus, I hope you will find this review helpful!
My coffee routine at home has changed massively over the years. When I lived in Italy, I (like everybody else I knew) used a traditional stove pot coffee maker. Also known as the moka pot or simply the Bialetti, it is the traditional way of making coffee in Italy. I continued to use a stove pot for several years after moving to London as it’s convenient, easy to use and clean. But as I learnt more about specialty coffee, and my taste evolved, the moka pot was no longer a good option for me. I needed to find new ways to make coffee at home.
Nowadays, I like to drink filter coffee (brewed on V60 or Chemex) first thing in the morning with my breakfast. During the day I prefer to drink espresso, usually with a bit of milk (a macchiato, a cortado or a flat white depending on the time of the day). And so, an espresso machine at home is something I cannot live without.
I was lucky to receive one of the first Sage Appliances espresso machines years ago (the Barista Express) and I have been a fan of the brand ever since. Sage Appliances offer a range of award-winning kitchen appliances, designed to inspire people to produce perfect food and beverage results in their own homes with ease.
Around three years ago, I switched the Barista Express for the Creatista for convenience (it works with coffee capsules) and because it featured a brand new technology for steaming milk. I liked the Creatista, but in the end, I didn’t want to use coffee capsules anymore and wanted to switch back to an espresso machine that used freshly ground coffee.
So when the offer to review the Bambino Plus came through my inbox, I said yes. I waited several months before writing about it, because I wanted to make sure the results were consistently good over time and I can say now that they are. FYI: this is not a sponsored post. I received the machine as a gift from Sage, but I was not paid to promote this product and I am under no obligation to review it.
Sage Bambino Plus
Sage Bambino Plus is a compact and ideal machine to recreate a barista-quality performance at home. It is not a cheap machine (the official retail price is £399.99, but you can buy it online for as little as £274), but it is worth it if you use it regularly (or if more than one person in your household uses it).
How does my Bambino Plus compare to my old Barista Express?
There are two main differences: on the down-side the Bambino Plus does not have an in-built grinder; but on the plus-side it uses a new technology for steaming the milk so making latte art at home is super easy (like the Creatista, but more on this topic later).
Because it doesn’t have a grinder, the Bambino Plus is small and compact. In fact, it is the smallest automatic espresso machine of the Sage Appliances range. It doesn’t take up as much space on my kitchen counter as the Barista Express did, which is definitely a bonus.
Personally, I don’t mind not having a grinder built in the espresso machine because I already have an electric coffee grinder at home. If you don’t have a coffee grinder at home, buy one! I recommend using good-quality whole beans from specialty coffee roasters and grinding them before brewing your cup. This will make a huge different on the taste of your coffee; as soon as the coffee ground, it starts losing its aromas and taste.
Despite being cheaper and smaller in size, the Bambino Plus has the same technology as the latest Sage machines (such as the Oracle Touch). The Sage technology enables the 4 key elements to make the perfect cup of coffee: 1. dose control; 2. precise temperature; 3. optimal pressure; 4. powerful steam.
Other features of Sage Bambino Plus include: innovative ThermoJet® heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds; and precise espresso extraction so you can make your favourite coffee, faster than ever before.
To make a cappuccino at home, I grind 18 grams of coffee and fill the basket of my 54mm porta-filter, trying to evenly distribute the grounds inside. Then, I gently press the coffee down in the basket using the tamper tool. You don’t want to press too many times or twist the tamper up and down; it’s important that the coffee is well packed in the porta-filter so that the water will go through the grounds evenly, extracting all the coffee.
I then clean the rim of the porta-filter with my index finger before inserting it into the espresso machine; this is an important step to get a nice tight seal.
Press the start buttons for one or two shots (first and second from the left) and after just 3 seconds the machine will begin extracting the espresso in your cup.
The low pressure pre-infusion of Sage Bambino Plus gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavours are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup.
The Digital Temperature Control (PID) delivers the water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction.
Automatic microfoam milk texturing
Your espresso is ready and now it’s time to warm the milk. First, fill the Sage steel jug (provided with the machine) with the desired amount of milk.
With the old Barista Express, I struggled to make the micro-foam in the milk, which not only enhances the flavour of the coffee, but is essential for creating latte art. In the old machine, I had to lift the jug and keep it tilted at an angle to ensure I got the steaming right. It was a trial and error process… and more often than not I failed to steam the milk properly.
And this is what I love the most about Sage Bambino Plus: the hands-free automatic micro foam milk texturing allows me to get the perfect milk for latte art! Every. Single. Time.
I simply place the milk just under the steam want and place the steam button (the third one from the left). The machine does everything else: it will start and stop automatically when the milk is ready.
Lift the steam wand to remove the jug. Pour the milk over the espresso, tilting the cup and the jug and slowly pouring the milk in circular motion to draw latte art patterns.
As you place the steam wand back in place (in a straight position), the Sage Bambino Plus automatically begins purging (spraying hot steam and water) into the drip tray below. It makes a bit of a mess, so I use a sponge to wipe down the wand and I wash the cup tray in the sink to remove any excess liquid.
And that’s it: your delicious cup of coffee is ready and it only took you a few minutes from start to finish!
You really don’t require any more skills or knowledge than what I showed you here, step by step, to make a good espresso at home. Furthermore, I can say that the results are consistently good, as I have been using my Sage Bambino Plus regularly for over eight months.
And so my final verdict is: high quality with the minimum effort!
Disclaimer: the Bambino Plus machine was gifted to me by Sage Appliances. All opinions are my own.