Sage Bambino Plus Espresso Coffee Machine: In-depth Review

Sage Bambino Plus Espresso Coffee Machine: In-depth Review

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Sage SES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Maker

The Bambino Plus is a well thought out and very compact home espresso machine, which shows why Sage enjoys a strong reputation for the level of research and development it puts into appliances It boasts an unbeatable three-second start-up time and excellent frothing capabilities thanks to a four-hole steaming wand.

The steaming wand is a key differentiator on entry-level espresso machines like this and the Sage Bambino Plus can quickly make nice dry foam that is 65-70 degrees in temperature.

It also makes a mean espresso. Best results are obtained from using your own freshly crushed espresso beans as the pressurized portafilter basket is a little underwhelming. This is not really a direct criticism of the Bambino Plus really, as it holds for all espresso machines.

The Bambino Plus retails at the top end of the very crowded market for small home espresso kits under £500 and so anybody without a decent grinder at home may prefer to look at bean to cup machines instead.

That’s not to take anything away from the Bambino Plus, which is easy to operate, look after, and offers some limited programmability for anyone looking to customise the machine’s performance to their own tastes.

It churns out some very good frothy coffees and is unlikely to disappoint any wannabe baristas after an affordable home espresso unit.

4/5

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Who is it for?

The Bambino Plus is an entry-level espresso machine from homeware appliance group Sage, which retails under the Breville banner outside of the UK and EU.

It’s a pure-play espresso machine designed for home use which is aimed squarely at anyone looking to quaff down lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos at home. It will obviously do you an americano too, but one of the machines’ strongest suits is its well-designed frothing wand.

If you want a machine that can serve up a richer palate of drinks than that, then you may want to look elsewhere.

The machine has an auto froth setting, but you will still be expected to do most of the work frothing in a separate jug. If that thought horrifies you – you may be after a cappuccino machine.

Finally, the machine has no integrated grinder – so you will need to either buy one separately or may consider if a bean to cup machine is a better purchase.

If you want a hands-on way of practicing your barista skills at home and like the idea of pulling shots and impressing your friends with latte art – this could well be the machine for you.


What’s in the box?

The Sage Bambino plus come packaged with a nice array of small extras that give you everything you need to get going as a home barista. In the box with the machine is a plastic tamper, stainless steel frothing pitcher, and Sage’s ‘razor’ tool designed to help level off your espresso shots.

The razor tool is actually quite useful at clearing stray coffee grounds from the top of the basket and the 480ml steel jug helpfully shows min and max levels for use with the machine.

The metal jug accessory is included as it works best with the Bambino Plus. This is because a sensor under where the container sits on the drip tray tells the machine how hot the milk is getting during automatic frothing and you know…metal conducts heat well.

Sage also throws in a water filter, cleaning tablet, and disk for when you need to descale your machine, with detailed instructions on how to do this offered in the manual, which is also in the box along with a two-year repair, replace or refund guarantee.

It also comes with a 54mm portafilter and 1 & 2 cup dual wall and 1&2 cup single wall portafilter baskets.

The dual wall baskets are designed to be used with any size ground coffee straight out of the bag and pressurize the coffee to create a false crema. The single wall pieces are designed to be used with fresh and powdery espresso grind beans and yield better results.


Technical Specifications

The Bambino Plus features a 1.9 litre water tank, which is impressive given the unit’s compact size. The tank can be fitted with a water filter, while this does add cost to operating the machine (replacement filters retail at over £10) it will stop limescale from clogging up your machine. This will dramatically extend the life of machines if you live in a hard water area and will also yield a better tasting espresso.

One of the key features of the Sage Bambino Plus is its patented “ThermoJet” heating coil which has your machine ready to brew an espresso in three seconds.

It’s incredibly quick. Obviously, you still have to prepare your coffee and it is worth running a blank shot through the group head and portafilter first to heat up the metal as otherwise the first shot out of the machine loses quite a lot of heat before it hits the cup.

The Bambino Plus will pull you a single or double shot and let you froth milk manually or via automatic settings. There is a good adjustable frothing wand with four steam tips.

There’s cup storage up top, though unheated, and a detachable drip tray with a handy float device that tells you when to empty your dregs down below.


Aesthetics

The machine is incredibly small measuring just 32 x 19.5 x 31 centimetres. This makes it a great choice for anyone with limited space for a coffee machine. A drawback to the Sage Bambino Plus’ petite nature is that it weighs in at just seven kilos.

When attaching and detaching the shot basket the machine can move around slightly on the counter if you are too forceful with it.

However, that is not to say it is flimsy. The build quality is excellent, and the machine is clad with stainless steel which looks super stylish and is easy to clean. The machine opts for elegant round buttons which make using it a satisfyingly tactile experience.


Performance

The Sage Bambino Plus is a doddle to use thanks to its intuitive touch button setup. Two buttons in the top right allow you to select a single shot or two.

It is super quick and runs quietly. The filter basket holds 19 grams of coffee, which makes espresso that is full-bodied and well balanced with good crema.

The dual wall filter baskets churn out some pretty weak and under-extracted stuff, but the best results on any espresso machine will always come from using non pressurised baskets.

The milk frothing is very slick. Two small buttons on the left allow you to set the temperature and texture of your milk. There are three different options that produce clearly different results in texture ranging from wet to dry.

The temperature of the milk is always nice and hot, and the wetter foam has nice microbubbles in it. No expertise is needed on auto frothing mode, place the nozzle in the milk jug, and let the machine do the work. You can take control of the process if you like – but the machine itself does an excellent job.


Conclusion

A great little machine that is easy to use, attractive, and makes a damn fine cup of Joe. It comes with a few nice added extras too and is small enough to fit on almost any countertop. It has limited functionality but does what it does very well – an excellent choice for wannabe baristas!

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