Making great coffee all comes down to one thing: consistency. You might not have realised it, but weight, temperature, time and pressure all need to combine with near-mathematical precision to produce the perfect espresso.
Needless to say, if you want to get the best from your coffee beans – and do so reliably time after time – then it pays to be precise. Sage’s latest machine, the Barista Pro, is designed to be exactly the tool you need for the workplace.
The Barista Pro will be familiar to anyone who has seen one of Sage’s recent mid or high-end machines. On top, a built-in burr grinder is fed with a bean hopper that holds up to 250g of beans and there’s a wide, ribbed space for cups and paraphernalia alongside it. Underneath, a capacious metal drip tray spans the width of the machine to catch grounds, water and drips of coffee.
None of this is a departure from the norm but, under the surface, Sage has rung the changes. The Barista Pro swaps the classic boiler design of its other mid-range and top-flight stablemates for Sage’s “ThermoJet” technology. This has one key appeal: speed. It means the machine gets to the correct temperature in less than three seconds, and doesn’t need to be vented to cool down after heating up to deliver steam. The result? It’s ready in the slow blink of an eye.
Another key feature is that this is a volumetric machine. This means that it accurately measures how much water it’s pushing through each time and does so consistently. Cheaper machines simply run the pump for a set amount of time, so how much water actually makes it through the coffee grounds and into your cup depends entirely on how finely you grind the coffee and how hard you tamp it down. Suffice to say, if you want a consistent espresso, both in terms of flavour and amount, a volumetric machine is a giant leap forward from lesser machines.
Features and design
We’d expect nothing less for the money, but the Barista Pro looks and, in the main, feels like a high quality machine. There’s no touchscreen or fancy display here and the simple LCD screen on our model is surrounded by an expanse of matte black metal. If you’re not partial to the all-black kitchen vibe then fear not; it’s also available in the more familiar stainless steel finish. Whichever you choose, the smooth curves and understated looks will be right at home in any kitchen and at 417mm tall, it should slip neatly under most over-counter cupboards.
It’s nice to find that almost everything you need to get started is in the box. There’s a decent-sized stainless steel milk jug, a coffee tamper (albeit a basic plastic one), and Sage’s Razor tool, which is designed to help get the perfect amount of coffee in the portafilter every time – or at least as close as possible without reaching for a (decent) set of digital kitchen scales.
The 54mm portafilter feels far heftier than the cheaper one bundled with the £399 Bambino Plus. It has twin spouts on its underside, and locks into place with a firm, solid twist.
Sage also includes both single-wall (unpressurised) and dual-wall (pressurised) baskets for the portafilter, and in both single and double-shot sizes. The pressurised baskets will come in very handy for beginners as they make it a little easier to get good results if you can’t be bothered to seek the perfect grind and tamp. And, if you have to resort to supermarket-bought ground coffee rather than good quality fresh beans, then they also help to eke as much crema as possible from coffee that’s past its fresh best.
My only complaint? The water tank’s handle is too plasticky for my liking. When filled to its two-litre capacity, it doesn’t feel hugely substantial. I routinely ended up cradling it with two hands just to be on the safe side.
See full review at smallmediumbusiness.co.uk reviews...