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Sage Barista Express Review & Buyer’s Guide

Published by: Chef Alison Stringer • Updated: February 29, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

There is nothing like a freshly brewed cup of coffee to start the day to kick start the body and mind. Some of us rush out the door every day and grab a coffee on the way to work. Others work from home and don’t have time to head to the cafe for coffee. So why not bring the cafe quality right into your home each day? With the range of coffee machines on the market, choosing which one is right for you can be hard. We have found this compact little beauty, so you can now master every moment by having a cafe-style coffee machine right in your own kitchen. Find more in this Sage Barista Express review and get ready for the Sage Barista Express. It is a compact and affordable package that will have you brewing like a barista in no time.

Sage Barista Express Review

In the UK, over 15 million cups of coffee are sold daily in cafes, with 25% of people visiting a cafe daily. We love our coffee, that’s for sure. Whether you’re a budding barista or just after good quality coffee at home, the Sage Barista Express replicates the performance of commercial machines. It’s clean, capable and ready to brew.

Does this coffee machine meet our expectations for ease of use and quality extraction?

Let’s check it out.

The aroma of coffee will have you floating to the kitchen to brew your favourite beans into your cup. This machine lets you extract coffee immediately after grinding, keeping those amazing aromas and oils fresh and straight into your cup. The aim is to extract your expresso over time using freshly roasted coffee beans and extract them at the correct temperature. This will lock in those aromatics and produce a perfect crema. You want your extraction to come out slowly, like warm honey, filling your cup with its rich, creamy goodness. The milk for a latte or cappuccino is just as important; always use good quality fresh milk or a substitute non-dairy milk. The steam spout can be used after extraction to texturize your milk to creamy perfection. You’ll be mastering latte art before you know it.

Sage the Barista Express Espresso Machine Sage the Barista Express Espresso Machine
  • The Sage Barista Express is a stylish, compact machine with a brushed stainless-steel finish that has everything you want in a bean-to-cup machine.
  • From freshly grinding your favourite coffee beans to your milk's faultless extraction and texturing, you’ll be impressed with this little machine.
  • It is suitable for all levels of coffee-making experience. 
  • It operates on a single heat source, meaning you can not froth your milk simultaneously while extraction occurs.
  • Once the extraction has finished, the machine will quickly come to a temperature so you can use the steam wand to texturize the milk in the provided jug. 
  • Cleaning and maintenance are easy with this model. It prompts you to clean and comes with the required cleaning tablets.
  • It does not prompt you to descale, so it is recommended that you do this at the same time as cleaning. Both cleaning processes are quite simple and stress-free. 
  • Built in grinder
  • Café style machine at home
  • Compact
  • Easy to clean & descale
  • Single heat source (extract then steam)
  • No prompt to descale
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Sage Barista Express: Specifications

  • Sage the Barista Express Espresso Machine

  • Bean Hopper Capacity:

    450 grams

  • Water Tank Capacity:

    2 Litres

  • Settings:

    Single or Double Shots, Adjustable Grind Amount & Manual over-ride.

  • Construction Material:

    Brushed Stainless Steel

  • Dimension:

    32.5 x 31 x 40 cm

  • Item Weight:

    10.6 kg

Features And Benefits

The Pressure

Having the correct pressure as you extract your coffee is essential to get the best taste. The machine’s pressure gauge goes up to 15b, though your optimum pressure is 9b. This will be achieved by creating resistance using the correctly measured and tamped coffee. It is important to use the correct grind size and volume of coffee to achieve this. Use the razor tool to control your dose. If your pressure is above 9b, it will have a burnt flavour; if it goes below 9b, it will have that empty drip coffee flavour. Take the time to play with the grind size and ensure your pressure is correct. Once you have it set, it will make the same quality cup each time, removing the guesswork.

The pressure on the Sage Barista Express is machine-controlled, taking the hard work out of the equation. It will start with low pressure to ensure the coffee cake is evenly wet. This leads to an even extraction rate when your machine reaches the correct pressure. The stress has been removed for you with the machine knowing exactly what to do.

The Temperature

The temperature at which coffee is extracted plays a huge role in the flavours and aroma of each brew. The optimum temperature to extract coffee is 93°C, ensuring the aromas and oils are smooth and rich. Any hotter than 95°C, your coffee will taste bitter and burnt; below 90°C, your coffee will taste sour. Nobody wants that. The PID Temperature control on this machine gives you precisely the right water temperature every time. The machine will preheat and be ready to go. Don’t forget to place your cup on the warmer top to ensure your coffee stays warmer longer.

Best Used For

Fresh Homemade barista-style coffee. This quality compact machine is great for any home or small office. You’ll only need to visit the cafe to buy your beans and say hi! It is simple to use and easy to clean and maintain. You’ll love that you can adjust your grind size to achieve a cup you will return for. This coffee machine will satisfy everyone from the biggest coffee connoisseur to the beginner home barista.

Pro Tip

Look for ‘Roasted on’ date rather than used by date on your coffee beans. This ensures you are buying the freshest beans for your brew. Try to get beans between 4-20 days after roasting for freshness. Talk to your favourite cafe or barista about what beans they have for sale, as often they will sell what they use. Remember to keep them in a sealed container in a cool, dry area.

Do not freeze your beans, as the water will condense on the outside of the beans and won’t give you a good grind or flavour. Buy your beans in small amounts to ensure freshness and the flavour you love. Fresh coffee is light and fluffy when freshly ground.

Reasons To Buy

The Sage Barista Express is compact and affordable for any household or small office. The features allow you to learn to make coffee how you like and grow your barista skills. It is easy to clean and operate, making it a great buy to add to the kitchen. The setup allows for ease of use each time and won’t take up too much space on the bench.

You’ll be able to create the feeling of your favourite cafe right in the sanctuary of your own home. No need to line up or wait, just grind, extract, froth and enjoy.

Other Coffee Machine Brands We Have Reviewed:

> De’Longhi
> De’Longhi
> Morphy Richards

<<Our Testing and Review Methodology>>

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Use The Sage Barista Express

Fill the removable water tank on the back of the machine with water. Place your beans into the hopper on top of the machine on the left-hand side. They will go into the variable conical grinder to create the ideal size grind for extraction. Select your grind size on the dial on the side of the machine. Choose your filter to go in the handle, and select the filter size on the machine. Place the handle in the machine, bump it, and release it to activate the grinder. Remove when finished, and lightly tap on the bench. Use the tamper held by a magnet on the machine to press your grounds lightly into the filter. Keep your pressure light and even. Use the razor scraper tool to scrape off the excess coffee to ensure the correct coffee volume is used. Insert the handle and select extract. The pressure gauge will sit at 12 o’clock to allow for extraction. If not at the correct pressure, you will need to adjust your grind size in future to change the flow. If using milk, fill the milk jug to the halfway mark (below the bottom of the spout). Select the machine to steam. It will take about 10 seconds to get to the temperature. It’s time to texture your milk. Just like that, you are your own barista. 

You do need to wait for the extraction to be finished before you can texture your milk, as this machine has a single heat source, but what’s a slight wait when you’re making your coffee? Take the time to get to know your machine. Over time, you can tweak the grind time, grind size and pressure to ensure you create the perfect cup every time.

How To Make Cappuccino With The Sage Barista Express

Cappuccinos are now on menus worldwide, and we all have our favourite way to have them. Now, you can recreate your favourite version time after time or mix it up and discover new versions. Below is a basic cappuccino recipe using the Barista Express.

  1. Have everything ready, so you don’t have to look for things while making, e.g. beans, pre-warmed cups, milk, cloth, and tamp. Ensure your machine has water in the tank and is turned on to heat up.
  2. Place beans into the grinder.
  3. Select your grind size (dial on the side) and filter size (Single or double).
  4. Place the filter into the handle and the machine. Bump to grind your dose. Tap on the bench to fill the filter and tamp.
  5. Use the razor tool to ensure the correct volume in your filter.
  6. Place the portafilter into the group head. Press for 1 cup single espresso extraction to your cup below.
  7. Remove the filter and dump your coffee grounds.
  8. Switch to steam, wait until at temperature and pour milk into the jug halfway.
  9. Insert the steam wand into milk 1-2 cm above the surface of the milk. Position the wand on the right-hand side of the jug at ‘3 o’clock’.
  10. Keep the tip of the steam wand under the surface of the milk. This will make it whirl and create a vortex.
  11. Bring the milk to 60-70°C if using a thermometer or until the base of the jug is too hot to touch.
  12. Move the steam dial to stand by before removing the wand from the milk jug. Set the jug aside to purge the steam wand and wipe with a damp cloth to clean.
  13. Swirl your espresso and swirl your milk jug. Tap the jug on the bench to collapse the bubbles. Pour into the middle of your cup, holding the jug up high. Once your cup is ⅔ full, stop pouring and move the jug closer before pouring again. Move your hand back and forth slightly to create ripples in the foam. Serve as desired with chocolate dust or just the beautiful foam.

How To Clean The Sage Barista Express

The Sage Barista Express has an easy cleaning cycle and will prompt you when required. It comes with cleaning tablets to get you started and has easy-to-follow instructions.

  1. Fill the water tank to the maximum level.
  2. Place the tablet into the rubber cleaning disk and the one-cup filter. The filter is placed into the extraction handle lock, like making coffee.
  3. Place a medium container under the extraction point to collect the water coming through.
  4. Press the 1 cup and 2 cup buttons on and press the power button for 3 secs all at the same time. This will activate the cleaning cycle. 
  5. The cleaning light will start flashing. It takes 5 minutes to complete the cleaning cycle, and 3 beeps can be heard when it is done.
  6. Remove and rinse the handle and filter, then run the machine like coffee-making. Just clean out any remaining cleaning product.

How To Descale The Sage Barista Express

Descaling your machine is required to remove the mineral build-up in the machine that comes from the water. The amount of mineral build-up will depend on how often you use your machine and the ‘hardness’ of the water you put in the tank. This machine does not automatically prompt you to descale, but it is recommended that you descale when prompted to run a cleaning cycle. It is easy to descale. See below for the steps.

  1. Remove the water tank and discard any water. Remove the filter.
  2. Dissolve the scaling solution in 1 litre of warm water by stirring.
  3. Pour into your water tank and place back onto the machine
  4. Remove the portafilter and place a container under the area to catch the water as it comes through.
  5. Turn on the machine and wait for it to warm up as usual.
  6. Start a manual extraction. Press and hold the 1 cup button so the descaling solution flows through the machine. Repeat until about half the water is left in the tank.
  7. Next is the hot dispenser. Turn on the water dispenser and let it flow until 50% of the remaining water is used.
  8. Steam wand- Repeat with the steam wand until nearly all the descaling solution water has been used.
  9. Remove the water tank and discard the remaining descaling solution. Rinse the tank 2-3 times with fresh water.
  10. Refill the tank and place it back on the machine. Repeat running water through the machine just like for a normal extraction, with the water dispenser and then the steam wand. 
  11. Replace your filter and re-fill your tank. Your machine is now descaled and ready to extract.

When To Change Filter

It is recommended to change your filter every 2 months or when required. When prompted to clean your machine, this is an excellent time to clean, descale the machine and change the filter. The filter is designed to remove particles from your water so they don’t enter the machine, block it up, or end up in your cup.

Is It Hard To Use?

Not at all. The Sage Barista Express is suitable for all levels of coffee-making experience. From bean to cup, you’ll be brewing like a barista in no time. There are also tutorial videos to help you step by step with creating that great cup of coffee.

Does It Froth Your Milk?

The Sage Barista Express has a steam spout to texturise your milk like a pro. It comes with a brushed stainless-steel jug ready for you to use. Check out their tutorial videos showing you the best tips for texturing your milk.

How Often Does It Need To Be Cleaned?

You will be prompted when it is time to clean your machine. Use the cleaning tablets provided. When prompted to clean, it is also a great time to descale and change your filters. This ensures your machine is always clean and ready to brew to a high standard.

Where To Go For Help With The Machine?

On the water tank or base of the machine, you will find the contact information for help on your machine. Sage also has helpful YouTube videos to take you through brewing your best coffee yet. You can also visit Sage Cafe Quality for recipes, hints and tips.

How To Store Coffee Beans To Keep Them Fresh?

Store your coffee beans in a cool, dry area in an airtight container. Remember to check the ‘Roasted on’ date rather than the best before date to ensure freshness. Do not freeze your beans.

Sage Barista Express Review: Summing Up

Overall, if you’re looking for a simple and compact version of a cafe machine, then this is the one for you. You’ll create the perfect cup every time and scratch your barista itch. No more waiting at cafes for your favourite cup, as this will quickly become part of your morning ritual. Even if you don’t use it daily, you’ll enjoy making your own coffee on the days you do. Sunday mornings just got even better!

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Where To Buy The Sage Barista Express

Sage Barista Express

  • Cafe-style coffee machine at home
  • Easy to clean & descale
  • Compact

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Chef Alison Stringer
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