Sage The Bambino Plus Review
With the focus turning to either pod machines or bean-to-cup models, there has been a scarcity of good manual espresso machines. The Sage The Bambino Plus, a tiny espresso machine with several neat professional features, is a welcome sight.
This machine is ideal for individuals who want to prepare high-quality espresso manually but don’t have the space for a larger machine due to its rugged build quality and good outcomes.
Sage The Bambino Plus Construction and features
Stainless steel structure of superior quality and durability
The box comes with a plethora of extras.
The water reservoir is simple to remove, albeit the tamper with the group holder is first hard.
There are both programmed and manual settings so you can make your coffee exactly way you like it.
Because there is no hot water available, you may need to bring a kettle with you.
A user handbook is available to assist you with this simple equipment.
Sage is recognised for producing high-quality products, and this espresso machine is no exception. The tough-feeling stainless-steel finish exudes quality. With dimensions of 195 x 320 x 310mm, the Bambino Plus won’t take up much space on your kitchen counter.
Sage includes all of the necessary accessories in the box. There’s a group handle that accepts the 54mm filter baskets that come with the machine: single or double espresso. You’ll get two of each type: single and double-walled. Single-walled filters are designed to be used with beans that you grind yourself, whilst double-walled filters are made to be used with pre-ground beans.
This practically means that the Sage The Bambino Plus can be used in conjunction with a high-end grinder capable of generating the finest of grinds. You can still use the double-walled filter if you have a less expensive grinder or buy pre-ground coffee, which adds to the flexibility.
There’s a tamper included once you’ve gotten coffee into the filter. There isn’t enough room on the coffee machine for this, so you’ll have to keep it somewhere else. The group handle locks into place, despite being stiff at first and only easing after a few usage; for the first week or two, you’ll have to use a little physical force. There’s a 130mm gap between the spouts, so everything from espresso cups to larger latte glasses should fit.
Around the back is a 1.9l water tank that accepts the included water filter. It’s simple to take out and replace this reservoir.
At the front, Sage has kept things basic, with single and double espresso shot buttons. Although these are pre-programmed, you can change the defaults to get the exact amount of coffee you want.
You can set the pre-infusion time and the shot delivery time manually when setting manually. Pre-infusion time is when the machine administers a small bit of water into the coffee and allows it to soak in. This aids in the expansion of the grinds and guarantees equal extraction. The dispensing period is when the coffee machine really pushes hot water through the coffee and determines the size of the final shot.
Expect some variance in final shot size when you use different beans, tamp pressure, and even grind size because the control is time-based rather than measurement-based.
The front panel has only a few controls, which keeps things simple.
Because there is no control to distribute hot water from the machine, you’ll need to use water from a kettle if you’re making a long black or an Americano. Some of the models in my guide to the best kettles allow you to select the temperature, as you don’t want to ruin your coffee by adding hot water. There are also controls for steam distribution that are clearly marked.
A brief instruction manual is included in the box, which rapidly talks you through all you need to know and demonstrates how simple this coffee machine is to operate.
Sage The Bambino Plus – Quality Of Espresso
It just takes about 25 seconds to make a good cup of espresso, and the flow is perfect.
When compared to some top-of-the-line professional equipment, the coffee may be a little colder and the taste a little more bitter.
Overall, the flavour is great, and the espresso has a crisp, bubble-free crema.
The Sage The Bambino Plus proved that it could handle a fine grind from a high-end coffee grinder, the same one I use with my Sage The Dual Boiler, thanks to its single-walled baskets. The only minor issue is that the group handle’s design prevented it from fitting beneath the grinder. I had to pour the coffee grounds into a cup before transferring them to the filter basket.
Despite this, a fast tamp later, The Bambino Plus was quickly dispensing high-quality espresso at just the appropriate flow, taking around 25 seconds to complete the pour on regular settings, which felt about perfect given the eventual volume of espresso.
In terms of the end product, there’s nothing to complain about. The crema was lovely and oily, with a fine texture and no bubbles, and it lasted a few minutes after it was poured. I measured the temperature of the espresso at 55oC, which is on the chilly side.
With the correct beans and grind size, The Bambino Plus can effectively compete with the best.
Sage The Bambino Plus – Quality Of Milk Based Drinks
Milk frothing can be done manually or automatically.
Fine microbubbles and a glossy sheen characterise frothed milk.
After that, the frothing wand is immediately cleansed.
This coffee machine has an automated frothing system that allows you to control the milk temperature and foam amount. You can froth manually by dragging the steamer wand forward if you don’t want to use the system. Although the automatic system is useful if you want to quickly froth milk – or if you’re just learning – I prefer to do the latter.
With a little delay between starting and stopping, steam is provided at a steady pace. Despite this, I was able to swirl the milk at a good angle, resulting in neat milk with delicate micro-bubbles and a silky-smooth appearance.
The Bambino Plus automatically purges the wand and lowers the temperature of the machine back to espresso levels once you’ve finished with milk and pushed the steamer wand back.
Sage The Bambino Plus – Maintenance
There’s a retractable drip tray, and this machine is simple to clean and disinfect after use.
When upkeep is required, flashing lights indicate this (although a digital screen would have been preferable)
After you’ve finished making coffee, pour some water through the showerhead to rinse out any sticky coffee grounds. Also, a wipe with a damp towel wouldn’t hurt. The drip tray, which is quite tiny, will need to be emptied on a regular basis and can be cleaned with warm soapy water.
The Sage is finished after 200 extractions. The 1 Cup and 2 Cup buttons on the Bambino Plus will flash to indicate that you must use the cleaning mode with an espresso cleaning tablet. The 1 Cup and Steam buttons will blink when it’s time to descale, and you’ll need to follow the descaling instructions in the manual.
Although such warnings are useful, a small LCD panel that shows exactly what needs to be done would be a more convenient solution – and you wouldn’t have to consult the handbook to figure out what those flashing lights represent.
Although the steam wand purges itself, the tip can be removed and washed in the sink. Sage can also be used to unclog a clogged spout if it has been coated with milk.
Sage The Bambino Plus -The Verdict
The Sage The Bambino Plus is a great option if you want a manual machine that you can use with your own grinder or even pre-ground beans. This type is easy to use and allows you to choose between manual and automatic milk frothing, giving you more control when you need it and less when you don’t.
With professional-grade filter baskets, The Bambino Plus can produce superb espresso shots that rival considerably more expensive machines. This is the machine to choose if you want a high-quality manual espresso machine that doesn’t take up a lot of space, but if you want something different, check out my other best coffee machines.
- The Sage Bambino Plus delivers third wave speciality coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Bambino Series that offers the faster way to professional results at home in a compact footprint: serious espresso, serious value
- DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Achieve a consistent and balanced espresso using the right amount of ground coffee; The 54mm porta-filter with 19 grams is the key for full flavour and cafe quality coffee
- OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavours are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
- FASTER HEAT UP TIME: Innovative ThermoJet heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds
- PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction
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