Sage Bambino Plus Review
Our coffee aficionado Jack Simpson takes a look at this stylish home coffee machine in our Sage Bambino Plus review…
The Sage Bambino Plus promises to deliver you ‘third wave specialty coffee at home’. This is a phrase that piqued my interest – ‘third wave coffee’ basically means great quality coffee, so I wanted to try it out for myself and share what I found in this Sage Bambino Plus review.
I’m going to be taking a look at the features of this espresso machine, before then trying it out for myself and delivering my verdict after the all-important taste test. So let’s dive straight into my Sage Bambino Plus review.
Sage Bambino Plus Specs & Features
Before I get into what the Sage Bambino Plus can do, let’s take a moment to consider how it looks. The aesthetics of a home coffee machine are important – this is an appliance that will sit on your countertop for years to come, so you want to make sure that it will fit in with the look. And fit in physically, for that matter!
I’ll put your mind at rest now – you won’t have any problems here. The Bambino Plus is a fine-looking coffee machine that will fit into most kitchens in every sense. The brushed stainless steel finish gives it a certain style and elegance of a high-end coffee machine, and it is also sleek, measuring just 32 cm x 19.5 cm x 31 cm.
The buttons on the front of the machine are clear and simple, which adds to the look of style – there is an uncomplicated feel to it. Everything has a purpose, but every feature also adds a little to the aesthetics. It’s also a solidly built machine, and the steel casing is reassuring as well as smart. All in all, whatever your kitchen looks like, and no matter how big it is, the Sage Bambino Plus won’t look out of place.
What is quite surprising, given the compact nature of the machine, is the capacity. The size of the water reservoir is the big difference between the Sage Bambino and the Bambino Plus – with the latter having a whopping 1.9 litre capacity in the water tank. To put that into context, that is enough for over 60 shots of espresso.
Staying with the water – the Bambino Plus is also fitted with digital temperature control (PID) technology that ensures that when you are making your coffee, the water is always at the optimum temperature. This is an important element in coffee. If the temperature is too cold, you will find your coffee is weak, and if it is too hot the coffee might burn and brew to a bitter taste. The temperate control should ensure that you get the perfect balance every time.
Also, the water heater is ready to go in just three seconds after turning the machine on – there is no hanging around waiting – get straight to making your coffee.
With the water sorted, we’ll turn our attention to the coffee. 19 grams is said to be the optimum amount of ground coffee required for the perfect coffee, so Sage provides you with a 54mm portafilter, designed to hold 19 grams of ground coffee. It just takes the hassle out of making great coffee.
The machine is built with a 15 bar Italian pump, which is more than enough pressure to make great coffee. The process begins with a low pressure ‘pre-infusion’ stage. At this point, the water is passed slowly through the coffee, agitating it and beginning to extract the flavour. The pressure is then built up to allow the water to pass evenly through the coffee, delivering all that flavour in a perfectly balanced coffee.
Now it’s time to focus on the milk. This is the area that can make or break an espresso machine, the milk is absolutely critical to how your coffee tastes. The Sage Bambino Plus has an in-built automatic steam wand that is designed to produce ‘barista quality’ microfoam. You can customise the settings so that you get the perfect temperature and texture by using the simple dials on the front of the machine. While the settings may appear quite basic, they are designed to be simple to use.
You are supplied with a rubber cleaning disc and cleaning tablet, so when it is time you place it in the portafilter and you run the machine as normal – the cleaning process will kick in automatically and this will flush through the system. To keep the outside clean, you can just wipe down the stainless steel finish and it will continue to look delightful!
So now we’ve covered what the Sage Bambino Plus can do, let’s see how all of that comes together in practice.
What It’s Like To Use The Sage Bambino Plus
I always find that the best way to describe what it is like to use a coffee machine is to walk through the process step by step. That way you, as the reader, will be able to determine just how easy or difficult this machine will be to use on a day-to-day basis. So, what do you fancy? Let’s go for a latte.
Before we begin, it’s important to check that we have enough water in the reservoir on the back of the machine. If it needs to be topped up you can either remove the whole tank from the back, or just pour water in from a jug – both are easily done, but if your machine is positioned in a way that makes the back quite difficult to get to, it might be easier to just pour water in. I would always recommend having fresh water in the tank in order to get the best tasting coffee. You don’t want stale water that has been sitting there for days on end, as this will of course impact on the taste.
Next, it’s time to load your coffee. Again, fresh is always best, so if you have a grinder to grind up some beans just before you make your coffee, that’s even better. Regardless, when you have your coffee grounds, load in 19g to the portafilter, and tamp it down so it is nice and compact, without being too solid.
Once loaded, place a cup below the portafilter and turn the machine on. With some machines, this will probably be your first step, but as it only takes three seconds from turning on to being fully heated, it really doesn’t matter, and turning it on three seconds before you use it just saves a little bit of energy.
Now over to the controls – we are making a single shot latte, so all we need to do is press the single shot button and the machine will spring into action. The extraction process will begin, and your espresso will be poured into your cup.
So while that is happening, we can prepare our milk. You are provided with a stainless steel jug, so just fill it with around 200 ml of milk. The steam wand is automatic here – all you need to do is set the temperature and position the milk under the wand and the machine will take care of the rest. What I really like is that you do have the option of altering the settings if you want to take a bit more control over your milk – it’s a great way to get into foaming milk.
Once the wand has finished, all you need to do is combine the coffee with the milk and there you go – you have a latte ready to drink!
In terms of cleaning, it really couldn’t be simpler. You just add in the disc and tablet and run through a cycle. It is so simple, in keeping with the rest of the machine.
Sage Bambino Plus Taste Test
So we know that the Sage Bambino Plus is easy to use, but that doesn’t really matter if the end result isn’t very nice…
Worry not! This machine produces some really great drinks. I loved the latte I made, but that is just the start of it – with the customisation you can make a whole host of delicious drinks. One thing I always like to test is the espresso, and I was blown away by just how creamy and rich the Bambino Plus made it. It’s a great base for any milky coffee, as well as being delicious on its own.
Sage Bambino Plus Verdict
You’ve probably already noticed, but I am a huge fan of this machine. And I can sum up why in just one word – simplicity.
It is so easy to make incredible, cafe-quality drinks with the Sage Bambino Plus. Literally, you just need to press a couple of buttons and everything will be taken care of for you. It really is that simple. This will appeal massively to people that are maybe not ready to froth their own milk – this is a great introduction to it, while still having the machine do everything for you.
In terms of quality and simplicity, the Sage Bambino Plus will take some beating. For an entry-level, fully automatic espresso machine with integrated milk frother, there aren’t many around that are better than this.