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NickdeBug

Sage DB or Rocket R58 - the Shoot Out!

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The Italian Classic or the Australian upstart?

 

It should be noted that all the views below are entirely subjective and based on my own particular requirements, likes and general "feel".

 

I have been using the Sage Dual Boiler for a few months now and as I have become more familar with the machine, so the results have got better and better. I was pretty happy with my set up and no sign of upgraditus. But...

 

...I watched as new shiny boxes were purchased or traded and I looked at my ugly duckling and wondered. Just how would the Sage compare to one of the highly regarded European dual boilers.

 

I was pretty much resigned to keeping it at wondering when an opportunity presented itself last week. Call it a moment of weakness, but I had the cash spare and I was completely confident that I would be able to pass on either machine at purchase price, so I took an educated risk and purchased a Rocket R58 from Simon, a fellow forum member. It was a very enjoyable transaction for which I thank Simon and wish him all the best with his new machine.

 

So, I have had Thursday to Sunday to put the R58 through its paces and compare to the Sage.

Looks and Build Quality

 

Not a fair contest. The Rocket is a beautiful piece of equipment. From the slightly rounded edges to the manometer faces, it just looks the business. If I had one criticism it is that the steam and hot water wands look slightly undecided as to where they want to fit best. A bit like an ungainly insect trying to work out a comfortable position for its antennae. The Sage weighs a third as much as the R58 and much of that is down to the plastic construction which is faced with a brushed steel. It looks functional and well designed without being "pretty". It certainly wouldn't look out of place in anyone's modern kitchen, but unlike the R58, it is not going to be the showpiece. Much of the difference in build quality is reflected in the price difference with the R58 typically retailing at about £700 more than the Sage. The winner - Rocket R58.

 

Espresso

 

Testing was done using Foundry Rocko Mountain and Rave Signature.

 

Both machines are capable of producing excellent espresso. They both have excellent temperature stability with the capability of easy adjust thanks to PID interface. The Sage is slightly easier to use as it is built in, but the plug in PID on the R58 is very nice and matches the build quality of the rest of the machine. The Sage allows you to select the temp at the brew head, which is already calculated from the boiler. The R58 uses the boiler temp and a conversion chart in the owner's manual.

 

In the cup, the R58 gave a slightly creamier espresso with better mouthfeel. Both produced a great range of flavours, especially from the Yirg. The Sage perhaps had a touch more acidity, but was running at 0.5degC cooler. I will leave it to the experts to tell me if that could have been a contributory factor.

 

One factor that I should mention is the basket. Both tests were done using the standard double basket. The Sage one was much nicer to use and worked far better with the Torr convex tamper that I was using. Easily remedied by using alternative baskets from VST or similar.

 

The winner - too close to call

 

Milk Steaming

 

Both machines produced very nice microfoam. The R58 comes with two nozzles, both two hole. The Sage has one 3 hole offering. You can adjust the temperature of the steam boiler on both machines and hence the steam pressure available. The R58 has steam to spare and could get through 250ml of milk in quick time. The Sage took a little longer but I found it easier to get a swirl rather than a wave going in the jug. The key difference to me was the lever on the Sage compared to the turn valve on the R58. The former was so much easier to use and meant that I could really control the steam well. A few of the flat whites with the R58 turned out a bit more cappuccino-like as the steam produced a bit too much foam at the beginning. The slightly slower speed of the Sage actually works in its favour and, when combined with the fact that the wand is in the right (preferred) rather than the left, the Sage is my personal winner.

Other factors

 

Ultimately a machine has to be right for the user, otherwise it just becomes something that sits there taking up worktop space. This is where some of the little extra features come into their own.

 

Shot timer - it is a very simple feature and one that you think could be easily replicated with the addition of a cheap timer, but the built in shot timer on the Sage is a great little tool and it was missed when using the R58.

 

Volumetrics - the Sage has two programmable buttons which can control volumetric delivery for a single or double, or even a two second flush. It also has a manual button which is essentially the same function as the cam lever microswitch in the R58.

 

Pre-infusion - the E61 pre-infusion requires the machine to be plumbed in with the R58, which I had not done for this test (all fittings are supplied with the machine). The pre-infusion settings on the Sage use both duration and pressure as programmable variables. I have not played around with these much, but other reviews suggest that it is possible to change the flavour profile of the coffee.

 

Water source - both have built in tanks, and the R58 can also be plumbed in as mentioned above. The Sage tank is slightly larger and has the option of using built in water filters. It also has a clever visible guage that is illuminated to show the water level. The R58 will start flashing its green 'on' light if the water gets low. The Sage can be filled from the rear (slide out container) and has a clever pivot wheel to aid access or from the front using the pop up cover. The R58 uses a typical top fed tank which requires the cover to be removed.

 

Cleaning and Maintenance - both are supplied with blanking plates for backflushing. The Sage is a simple rubber insert whereas the R58 has a metal blind basket. The Sage is kind enough to tell you when it needs a proper cleaning cycle run and descaling, and both are largely automated. I do not have much experience with the cleaning of the R58.

 

Wake up facility - the Sage can be programmed to come on at a particular time which is very handy for early starts during the week. It only needs 10 mins to get up to temp thanks to relatively small boiler size and a dedicated heating element in the group head. The R58 certainly took longer to get to temperature but the start up function has been solved by many using a Wemo or plug timer. The Sage will go into standby mode after one hour and turn off altogether after three hours of inactivity.

 

 

Final conclusions:

 

I am really pleased that I took the time to test the machines against each other. The R58 is a simply stunning piece of equipment and would definitely produce fantastic coffee, but the overall experience has made me realise how much I value some of the user-friendly features offered by the Sage.

 

To me the Sage is like my car. I bought to be used everyday on a one hour commute. It is very comfortable and practical. It is full of nice features like climate control, heated leather seats, GPS and Bluetooth. I drive it about 400 miles a week and wash it about once a month. But it is a Volvo estate, so no thing of beauty.

 

I used to own an Austin Healy 3000 which only ventured out during the weekends in the Spring and Summer. It was an absolute joy to own but I spent more time cleaning it than driving it. Everytime we went out I was a bit nervous of scratching it and refused to park anywhere where it might get dinked by some careless shopping trolley. In short, it was high maintenance. This is where I see the R58. One scratch in the perfect finish and you probably wouldn't sleep for days.

 

So, in case you hadn't worked it out yet. The Ugly Duckling wins the contest for my needs. Sage DB is back in place and as of about two hours ago the Rocket has a new and very happy owner in Bristol. It was pretty much a cost neutral exercise for me and good fun, so happy that I did it, if only as it gave me the opportunity to meet with three forum members who were a great bunch.

Edited by NickdeBug

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Wow! Fast turnaround there Nick! It was an absolute plesure to meet you last Wednesday though & I wish you & the 'new' R58's owner all the very best in caffeine! :)

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Cheers Simon.

 

sometimes you need some perspective to make you realise what you already have :)

 

For transparency, and because I know that he would like to let the forum know that he is no longer looking, the R58 went to Martyn (emin-j) for the same price that I paid + included a new bottomless pf and e61 service kit.


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A really great review, thanks for sharing it. Hoping to get a new machine at some point this year and really found the above insightful.

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Great write up NickdeBug and I was starting to sense that the Sage DB was ticking more boxes as I continued to read on. Surprised on one hand that you moved the R58 on quite so soon but fair play as I'm sure emin-j is very happy indeed?

 

I watched all the marketing and review videos on both of the Sage machines and was certainly tempted by the single boiler before joining these forums. Would have loved the DB but at full retail price in the end I decided I'd go the previously owned route for my equipment and get more bang for my buck. Well designed and functional machines from Sage imo even if they're not always considered as big a brand name as many of the other European espresso machines popular amongst members here.

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Have you much trust in the Sage reaching its third birthday? There is alot of electronic circuitry to go wrong, and is going wrong or so owners are saying. I have just had a Sage grinder replaced under warranty.

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Fair play. Probably the fastest turnaround on an R58 in history but you explained that very clearly. And it was an interesting process, good info for the forum and an itch scratched. Now you've cured yourself of upgradeitis without actually upgrading - probably another first! Lucky Emin-J and everyone's a winner! I nearly had the opportunity to do the same in reverse when I was offered trade price on a sage through work. I'm just too lazy and too in love with my R58 so I passed up the chance to try both back to back. ☺


Rocket R58Ceado E37SAeropressAerGrind • Puck Puck cold brew widget • VST 18g basket • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 convex black Ti/walnut tamper • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 flat sharp edge tamper • Big bag o' beans • Triumph Street Triple 675R

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I am with Dave here just don't think sage quality is very good, a few machines on here have had to be replaced as well as many more grinders

Edited by coffeechap

AKA Toffee chips

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Cheers DS.

 

It was really down to timing. The R58 popped up at a point which potentially gave me 6 full days to play with it.

 

I knew after the first three that I preferred using the Sage and spotted Martyn's wanted ad which was a perfect match. Rather than having two machines sitting around and having to sort everything out around work I contacted Martyn and he picked up this morning. Everyone happy :)

 

Sage are very unlikely to be the classics of the future and reliability is probably more of a factor than with the Rocket. However, due to Sage's policy of replace rather than repair, coupled with Lakelands warranty, the worst case that I am looking at is that the machine is replaced at some point in the future with associated inconvenience. If it can genuinely regenerate Dr Who style then whether or not it makes its 3rd birthday becomes, to me anyway, a moot point.


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You simply cannot go wrong with Lakeland's lifetime warranty. I've not had reason to put it to the test but I have no reason to believe you'll have any problems should you need to at any point of ownership of your Sage DB. Happy days!

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Cheers DS.

 

It was really down to timing. The R58 popped up at a point which potentially gave me 6 full days to play with it.

 

I knew after the first three that I preferred using the Sage and spotted Martyn's wanted ad which was a perfect match. Rather than having two machines sitting around and having to sort everything out around work I contacted Martyn and he picked up this morning. Everyone happy :)

 

Sage are very unlikely to be the classics of the future and reliability is probably more of a factor than with the Rocket. However, due to Sage's policy of replace rather than repair, coupled with Lakelands warranty, the worst case that I am looking at is that the machine is replaced at some point in the future with associated inconvenience. If it can genuinely regenerate Dr Who style then whether or not it makes its 3rd birthday becomes, to me anyway, a moot point.

 

Do you think they will give you a new machine when you paid half price originally, or a credit towards a new one?

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A replacement or money back according to Beanosaurus who purchased his from Lakeland (although he paid full price) and enquired about the lifetime guarantee at time of purchase.

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Interesting point dfk. I guess that would only be answered if or when I tried to use the warranty. The nice lady at Lakeland told me that the warranty was completely unaffected by the discount, but that is based on their ability to provide a replacement. If no current equivalent model then I guess it would be a refund at price paid.

 

So I guess that I could rephrase: my "worst case" scenario is that I use the machine for "x" years and then get back what I paid for it.


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oh nice write up nick, great that you had the opportunity to have both side by side


AKA Toffee chips

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Great write up Nick. With many machines it's down to your person preference. Really pleased with my Sage. The speed it heats up, temp stability and the cleaning regime is pretty darn good. The R58 also ticks different boxes for other people.


Sage DB; Mazzer Major; VST 15g, 18g & 20g Baskets;TORR Trapez & Perger Tamper

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The R58 also ticks different boxes for other people.

 

Absolutely!

 

The review was entirely based on my own requirements. R58 is a lovely machine.


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Nick, I bought one before Xmas,kept it a week and sent it back and the refund was on my credit card before the debit entry!.

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Good to hear the system works dfk. Hope that I never need to find out for myself!

 

Thanks to all for the positive feedback. Yes, it was a quick turnaround, but if the R58 had come out on top then the Sage would be gone by now and no one would have thought that was odd.

 

It has highlighted exactly what is important to me in a coffee machine, and was 100% worthwhile for that reason alone.

 

The only realistic "upgrade" that I can see for me in the future would be the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II, which shares many of the user friendly features of the Sage but in a higher quality, and possibly more reliable package.

 

Not in any hurry for now :)


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The only realistic "upgrade" that I can see for me in the future would be the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II, which shares many of the user friendly features of the Sage but in a higher quality, and possibly more reliable package.

 

I'd love to get hold of a La Spaz Mini for a comparrison test. That was the machine I was also considering.

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I'd love to get hold of a La Spaz Mini for a comparrison test. That was the machine I was also considering.

 

You're welcome to try mine in bristol if you ever come this way.

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Good to meet you Nick and enjoyed the Strawberry sundae espresso too ;)

Mark's well chuffed with the R58 and I must admit it's a beautiful machine and almost as pretty as my Vetrano ;)

Here's the R58 in its new home complete with Mazzer sj and Marks home made grinder timer.

Just need to work on the Latte art now Mark eh !;)

image.jpg

image.jpg

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Thanks Martyn

 

Good to meet you guys too and look forward to catching up at Rave next month.

 

Hope Mark enjoys the Rocket. It is certainly a beautiful piece of kit.

 

I trust that you didn't get in too much trouble for being late back :)

 

Cheers

 

Nick


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Good to meet you Nick and enjoyed the Strawberry sundae espresso too ;)

Mark's well chuffed with the R58 and I must admit it's a beautiful machine and almost as pretty as my Vetrano ;)

Here's the R58 in its new home complete with Mazzer sj and Marks home made grinder timer.

Just need to work on the Latte art now Mark eh !;)

 

What's wrong with my whirlwind in a cup?!!

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