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MatthewBw

4 months with my Sage Barista Express

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Firstly thanks to this forum for great support and help even though I was probably repeating questions answered a hundred times. This forum is superb!

 

So after upgrading from a bean to cup I've now had this for 4 months. What are my thoughts on the machine as a newbie. I paid 465 in a price match at John Lewis. Also received a free knock box, although I had to contact sage to remind them to send it out as they never contacted me as promised.

 

Overall it makes a good shot when using fresh coffee but it does seem a little inconsistent. I did initially put it down to user error/tamping on my part but trying different roasts, weighing the coffee and tamp pressure suggests otherwise.

 

Sometimes it will over or under extract with the exact same amount of coffee, at same grind settings and tamped the same which I can only assume is to do with grind not being consistent?

 

Foaming is ok but takes a long time to warm up and purge. Ironically I find it harder to get a good micro foam with this than my bean to cup with fixed wand. The steam seems a lot wetter than the former.

 

Pros

Looks good and is a good size for a small kitchen like mine.

Built in grinder with removable hopper to re-store beans

Warms up fast

Auto grinder is usually useful (see below).

Single and dual wall filters included.

Pressure gauge good for judging if extracted correctly.

Easy and cheap to clean/descale

Tank not huge but enough for 5 or 6 coffees and milk.

Coffee is dry after extraction and easy to knock out.

 

 

Cons

The steam wand takes quite a long time to warm up and can take a long time to steam. This means your shots can be waiting for a few minutes whilst you foam. If I foam the milk first I seem to find the shots will draw differently.

 

Grinder is messy and inconsistent, throws coffee all over the place and also fills the puck unevenly. May contribute to inconsistency?

 

Removal of hopper leaves a lot of coffee still in the machine you can't remove. Only choice is to grind and throw it.

 

Must be turned off between uses or the grinder/hopper gets hot. Usually I make 2 coffees so it's not a problem.

 

Conclusion:

Not a cheap machine and certainly not a top end one. I feel it's adequate but I still find it a little unpredictable which is frustrating and the steam wand can be frustratingly slow to get going.

Edited by MatthewBw

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good review and some useful advice for potential owners

 

Unless you are short on space a separate machine and grinder is usually going to be the better option


BOOM! You've just been onomatopoeia'd

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If I had the space I'd definitely go for a better grinder. When you're learning anything inconsistent seems to make it harder as a newbie to work out what you've done wrong.

 

I do think if I was buying again I'd maybe buy separates. The interest free from John Lewis was too tempting ;-)

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If the grinder is heating up when the machine is left on , I would be tempted to return it for a refund and go down the separates route :whistle: £315 for the sage then spend £150 elsewhere on an MC2 £136 at happydonkey or if you wanted better long term second hand value a rancilo Silva £355, - I'm thinking of similar options myself


keep calm and grind flat

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@MatthewBw

 

I also have the Barista Express for now into 3 months. Bought Sage DTP and Ended up with the Express by warehouse dispatch error from Go Electrical. Paid £400 for it. Due to lack of space and my wife likes the machine so we kept it.

 

I do agree with you on every part of the review. Grinder is inconsistent and the grinds are sometimes not fine enough for espresso. I have to adjust the setting everytime I change beans.

 

Yes you do waste some coffee grinds falling off the hopper also. I placed a plastic lid (icecream tub cover) underneath to catch the grinds and put it back in the portafilter. I do end up over filing the portafilter and getting over extracted at times. I found out that if I don't use the provided dose trimmer, it ended up over extracting.

 

I do not find the heating up bit an issue for getting the coffee as I get the machine on a few minutes before hand. Probably about only 5 mins ish. I only use the auto extractions and double shots.

 

Steaming milk does take between 2-3 mins also depending on the amount of mild too. So to compensate for that I have the cups warmed up with hot water. Espresso shot on top of the machine where the cup warmer is. Once I got the milk steamed. I empty the cup with hot water and add the espresso and milk ontop. It seems to help abit.

 

I do drink mostly milk based drinks. Occasionally an Americano.

 

Overall it is an OK machine for entry level machine, makes good enough coffee with built in grinder. It's good for people like us with limited space on kitchen worktops. It does have the functions for fully automatic shots or manual.

 

I do not regret buying it as my budget was limited and also space issues too. Wouldn't mind getting a Mazzer SJ and a dual boiler in the future though. lol.


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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A year of ownership now and I have grown to love the machine. I feel it was the right machine for my learning/journey.

 

Sadly almost exactly a year after buying it started making a horrendous sound upon extraction. Sage seem to be good about it and there was instant agreement to repair just from listening to it over the phone.

 

I will let people know how it goes.

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Chap called Josh came today from Coffee Classics Ltd, very knowledgable and well prepared, I enjoyed the chat too. Gave the machine a deeper de-scale before replacing a part.

 

He did advise that sages recommendation for vinegar for descaling wasn't entirely sufficient for the hard water in a lot of the uk. He reckoned some limescale probably got dislodged whilst descaling and caused the damage. I'm obviously keen to avoid a repeat of the fault. He recommended some products he uses at home and even gave me a bag of coffee to try in my stovetop.

 

Very pleased with the experience overall and to get my machine working. Sage had no quibbles sending him out so they are easy to deal with and I enjoyed chatting as he fixed the machine. Now to try that coffee

 

e7680d937337571f8fb85eb4ee558a21.jpg

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I've just bought this machine about 10 minutes ago then saw this thread. Hope I've not made a mistake? YouTube videos look good.

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Hi Dave, I've got one last Christmas and its a decent machine to use. I got it as I didn't have the space for the grinder. For a beginner fresh coffee drinker like me it's a very good machine. :)


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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He recommended some products he uses at home and even gave me a bag of coffee to try in my stovetop.

 

Very pleased with the experience overall and to get my machine working. Sage had no quibbles sending him out so they are easy to deal with and I enjoyed chatting as he fixed the machine. Now to try that coffee

 

e7680d937337571f8fb85eb4ee558a21.jpg

What did he recommend?

 

They also very kindly send me a bag of decaf when they returned my machine.


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

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Hi Dave, I've got one last Christmas and its a decent machine to use. I got it as I didn't have the space for the grinder. For a beginner fresh coffee drinker like me it's a very good machine. :)

 

Thanks. I've had a second hand Gaggia Classic I bought a few months ago. Also a Baratza Encore grinder. I just wanted something new and this seems perfect. I wouldn't want to spend more then this (bought off Amazon for £490). One thing I like about the Sage is the way it'll grind the right amount for you and the right amount of coffee for your drink I go the cup.

 

The only negative thing I can see is that the steaming wand doesn't seem too powerful?

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Hi Dave,

 

Yes you are right it's not very powerful. It does take a while to get the milk going. I have a 600 ml jug and it takes about 4-5 mins for a full jug. Lol however it's better then my last machine, which takes forever to make the steamed milk and unpredictable espressos.

 

I went for the Sage DTP and got sent the barista express. Gave me a discount so ended up keeping for £400. :)

 

Although I do fine that you have to adjust the grind settings when you change beans darker/lighter. I also use feldgrind on the side too.


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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Correction 3 mins 10 seconds for a full jug up to 63' C of steam milk. Lol


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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Took delivery of my new Sage (Breville) “Barista Express” this afternoon and I am absolutely delighted with it. First off, it looks amazing. I spent a good 40 minutes preparing the machine, cleaning the water tank, protafilter and baskets and milk jug (a nice addition to include) and then “conditioned” the water filter. Then on to flushing the machine. Dried everything off, popped in some beans and off we go….

 

First attempt. I used some illy medium roast beans that I had in the fridge (am awaiting delivery of fresh beans) and set the grinder to the recommended start setting of 8. I chose to use the pressurised large filter basket to start off with and selected the double shot button. (This, for me, is great as I could never correctly measure the amount of coffee. I know, I should of bought a measuring cup) The machine comes with a fitter tamper and a little trimming tool that allows you to measure the correct amount of grinds in the basket. The result was near perfect! A nice double shot with lovely crema on top. It was far better than I ever got with my Gaggia. Don’t get me wrong, I think this first attempt was more to do with by lucky chance than anything but it was very pleasing. The milk frother is not half as powerful as the Gaggia but this also seemed to help (me) produce a nice creamy milk. The end result was a near perfect latte, I’d say 9 out of 10. I did, a couple of hours later try to replicate this but made the drink a little too strong. The machine allows you to adjust the amount of beans ground so a little tweaking is in order. Also, I have probably accidentally found the correct grind for the beans I was using and this will have to be adjusted with the different beans I will use in the future.

 

Anyway, it was a great start with the new machine. Yes, I know I used a pressurised basket and yes, it’s a smaller basket (54mm I think) and yes the machine probably had a lot to do with my first attempt but, so what? I’m happy with it so far and can’t wait to try some really fresh beans.

 

One thing I have decided to do, and I’m not sure if this has been covered, but to use mineral water? The water tank does have a filter but I bought a 5 litre bottle for £1 ($1.22). Is this what you who have espresso machine use?

 

f23812104a6a1de05add76b913fc74ad.jpg

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Hi Dave glad you're enjoying the machine. I use volvic and Waitrose essential half and half for the machine. Yorkshire water is hard and it's easy on the machine using bottled water plus it taste nicer. Especially in espresso and brews.

 

My default setting for the machine is grind setting 4 and front dial between 2-3 o'clock position. Currently I'm into brews at the moment as I'm on Curve's LSOL.

 

Good luck and have fun with the machine.


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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Just home and back from Crosby Coffee where Sam showed me around the small premises. He showed me the industrial sized roasting machine and the different beans they have being prepared. I decided to buy their "Trio blend" that consists of Colombian, Ethiopian and Brazilian beans, hand roasted yesterday.

 

f55334bbd7870c1fe463154122e3d2c1.jpg

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Hi Dave glad you're enjoying the machine. I use volvic and Waitrose essential half and half for the machine. Yorkshire water is hard and it's easy on the machine using bottled water plus it taste nicer. Especially in espresso and brews.

 

My default setting for the machine is grind setting 4 and front dial between 2-3 o'clock position. Currently I'm into brews at the moment as I'm on Curve's LSOL.

 

Good luck and have fun with the machine.

 

Tried my new beans with your settings of 4 on the grinder. Measured 18.5 grams of beans and used the double non pressurised basket. Great result. Extraction time was 25 seconds and am. Ow enjoying a lovely strong latte.

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I do find that as I change beans i.e. Medium to light or dark the grind settings have to be adjusted. Also as the beans get stale I have to go down to 1 sometimes. Have a play with and see how it is.


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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What did he recommend?

 

They also very kindly send me a bag of decaf when they returned my machine.

 

He recommended Puly descaler comes in orange packaging.

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I've just bought this machine about 10 minutes ago then saw this thread. Hope I've not made a mistake? YouTube videos look good.

 

I've grown to love the machine and realise with hindsight most of my issues were just inexperience. I also took heart that the engineer said the machine was easily serviceable and good parts. He also showed me the innards and heat shield and assured me the warm grinder was more likely from grinding than from elsewhere.

 

I'm very happy with my BE.

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I do find that as I change beans i.e. Medium to light or dark the grind settings have to be adjusted. Also as the beans get stale I have to go down to 1 sometimes. Have a play with and see how it is.

 

Yes I found exactly the same, i have a few favourite roasts so stick to those and record the settings which really makes it easy. Current fav is Coffee harry from Northern edge.

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Any recommendations of beans and where to buy will be greatly appreciated.

 

Depends on what you like really. I.e fruity, sweet, citrus? Go for light to medium roasts. Darker ones are more tobacco and earthy, chocolate, smokey, nutty and bitter. I like the lighter to medium ones as they are great in Espresso's and brews. This is my personal experience really. (I'm not a professional) lol

 

Lots of good roasters out there. The one I like are Hasbean, Rave Coffee 20% off on first order and free postage on over £25 spend. Jollybeans coffee are also good. They give you forum discount can't remember exactly but I think it's 10-15%! Square mile, foundry also have 15% forum discount and free postage £30 +. Too many to remember. Lol

 

There is a coffee festival in Manchester 5-6 November used to be called Cup North. If you could make it there you could talk to all the coffee roasters and experts on coffee and taste stuff. I would really recommend it.

 

44361f8218633910ccaf7c2e48e9a51b.png

 

The above is the discount code for the ticket.

 

Also I'm on Cfuk LSOL (Light Side of Life). At the moment on guest slots, trying to get in the regular one. It's very popular and the coffees recently have been very very good. £13 for 500 g on guest slot. As you're buying bulk you get the beans at a discounted price too.

 

Hope this helps. Sorry it's long winded. Lol


Sage Barista Express, Aeropress, V60, Feldgrind, French press, Motta 53mm Tamper, 300 ml and 600ml Milk jug.

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After 6 months my machine stopped showing sufficient pressure on the gauge. Sage say this isn't the machine it is because the beans aren't fresh and advised me to use the dual wall filter for pre-packed beans although the instructions only say use the dual wall filter for ready ground coffee. I have used the single filter for the last six months with no issues.

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I have mine for a month and a bit now. I've found it better and better as I have learned to use it. I had some help recently in another thread on here but I don't think tasting espresso's directly helped in my case as I drink americano's that have now turned into long blacks as I can run the water while tamping the coffee. Reading some comments.

 

I timed the steam coming on - 10 secs. A dual boiler etc would cut that but what about the boiler heat up times. We have a drink when we want one and having to wait anything like 10 to 30mins depending on model just isn't on. Personally I don't care about a couple of ml of water getting into the milk anyway. I also steam semi skimmed. There is a trick to getting a sensible amount of foam and hot milk. The noise for foam is often mentioned but not getting the swirl on the opposite side of the jug from the nozzle when the main thing that is needed is heat isn't usually mentioned. My wife drinks capachino.

 

I've found the grinder surprisingly accurate, 9.3gm over 10 shots. As soon as I mention that the next puck was mostly dry but had a very slight film of water on the top. So next time I run one the scales will come out again to find out why. As I push the portafilter in and leave it there I find that it tends to fill towards the back. It is all in the filter basket though and can easily be part flattened with a finger or thump. I do find a bit often gets onto the portafilter when I tamp it. I just knock it off. It's just a few grains. I'm using monsooned malabar and it has to be ground fairly finely and it pretty light weight and fluffy. Even that only needs a setting of 5 to get the infusion correct. I also tried some blue mountain before I had really sorted out what needed to be done.That needed 4 but in practice probably finer.

 

I always preheat the portahead unless it's just ran another one. Sage suggest doing that with the basket in. I don't so preheat the head and the mug for the coffee by running a shot through it. I then put the basket in and shove it into the grinder. My single shot basket weighs 19.1gm so if setting the machine up I pop it out again and weigh it with the coffee in. I found that trying to weigh it in the portafilter a bit hit and miss. Sage could have made it easier to get the filter baskets out. I found a certain knife does it easily.

 

The infusion is the time it takes coffee to flow out of the portafilter. If too short the coffee needs to be ground finer which will upset the weight that comes out. If too long it needs to be ground coarser which again means getting the weight back again via the grinder timer. Initially I thought more coffee in meant more taste out. It's true to some extent but with my current beans 10gm for instance makes it harder to get the portafilter on as the shower screen is trying to compress the coffee. Dropping to 9gm may alter the taste because the infusion time could change. On the other hand leaving some room for expansion seems to be a good idea. I can see marks from the sprinkler in the puck that show the coffee has expanded and if the fixing screw shows too much in it then I've probably added a bit too much. Initially I just used this to set dosing and the drinks were ok. Now I have added setting up the infusion time they are stronger and there is some control of the taste. The pressure guage is always in the higher region as I have it set up but it shows a range and all of that can produce a decent drink even with virtually no infusion time. It depends on the bean and what people want to drink. Most of this is in the manual that comes with the machine. I just tamp as some one suggested - make sure that it's fully compressed.

 

My biggest criticism of the machine is the filter baskets that come with it. There will be beans that need an under filled double shot basket for a single shot - that means the pucks will be wet and a bit messy. There really should offer one with a weight range in between the 2 they provide. Few manufacturers do though. Maybe straight espresso drinkers don't need it but a lot more people drink long coffee's these days. Unlike some larger sizes of portafilter there is nothing available for in between weight which is usually 12gm - or the triple baskets either but I doubt if I will ever need one of those.

 

2ndry criticism is the size of the water tank. 3 times bigger would be a lot better. The drip tray isn't too bad but best emptied before the float gets as high as it can.

 

John

-


In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A,. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

SageBanner_v01.jpg.a45786743a4eb401969788b45ae7f893.jpg

 

 

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