Compared to some kitchen appliance brands, Sage is a relative newcomer, launching in the UK in 2010. However, in just over a decade, Sage has made a name for itself when it comes to the manufacture of stylish, well-built appliances that make food preparation and creating delicious meals a breeze.
The latest release from Sage, which is known as Breville in the US and Australia, is the Bambino. This compact, stylish espresso machine with steam wand is simple to use, allowing you to brew a single or double cup of espresso as well as texturize milk.
One of the best espresso machines we've tested, it comes with four coffee filters with either a single or double wall to ensure both freshly ground coffee and that older beans can be used to brew single or double shots of espresso, while still maintaining a rich, thick crema.
The Sage Bambino features the brand’s ThermoJet heating system, which, according to Sage, ensures this espresso machine is at the correct temperature for coffee extraction in just three seconds. Including a 1.4-litre water tank with optional filter, the Bambino can be set to either automatically dispense the correct amount of water for the number of shots required, or manually controlled. There’s a steam wand for manually texturizing milk, enabling you to make some of the most popular milk-based drinks such as cappuccino, latte or flat white, along with a jug and plastic tamp.
At £329.95 / $299.95 / AU$449.95, the Bambino is one of the more expensive entry-level coffee makers we’ve tested. However, for those who want a compact, stylish-looking appliance – or those wishing to try their hands at playing barista – it's worth the investment.
Sage Bambino price and availability
- List price: £329.95 / $299.95 / AU$449.95
The Sage Bambino, which is known as the Breville Bambino in the US and Australia, is the brand’s entry-level espresso machine and will set you back £329.95 / $299.95 / AU$449.95.
Sage also offers the Bambino Plus, which builds on the functions of the Bambino with a steam wand that can automatically texturise milk, rather than be controlled manually as the Bambino offers. This is priced at £399.95 / $499.95 / AU$ 649.
- Four filters
- Offers 9 bars of pressure
- Built-in steam wand
Like most Sage appliances, the Bambino boasts a stylish stainless steel finish, meaning it will add a touch of finesse to your kitchen. Measuring 19.5 x 32 x 31 cm / 7.7 x 12.6 x 12.2 inches (w x d x h) and weighing 4.9kg / 10.8lb, it's a compact espresso machine that won’t take up too much space on your kitchen countertop.
The removable 1.4-litre / 1.5-quart water tank sits at the rear of the machine, and comes with an optional water filter for those who live in areas where the water comprises high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium. One cartridge is supplied, and Sage recommends this should be replaced every three months. On the front of the unit you’ll find four silver buttons, for brewing a single or double cup of espresso as well as ejecting hot water or steam from the steam wand.
The Sage Bambino produces espressos using 9-bar pressure and comes with four filters: single-walled single and double espresso, and double-walled single and double espresso. Sage recommends the single-walled filters should be used with freshly ground coffee beans, while the dual-wall filters will help to regulate pressure to produce a thick crema with pre-ground coffee and beans that have been ground longer than 30 days ago.
The baskets are 54mm in size, which is slightly smaller than the standard 58mm size. However, the espresso machine includes a plastic tamp of the same size that ensures you can create a smooth finish to the ground coffee when it's in the filter. However, unlike other Sage coffee machines, the company doesn’t include a razor – a sharp tool used to shave a tiny amount of coffee once it’s been compacted in the basket to ensure it’s super smooth.
The machine will accept cups up to 13cm / 5.12 inches tall, and the Bambino also comes with a built-in steam wand that can be used to texturize milk in the included jug to create longer-coffee based drinks such as cappuccino and latte.
- Espresso is smooth with thick crema
- Easy to texturize milk
- Some dripping occurs
The Sage Bambino may be small in size but it's certainly mighty when it comes to brewing espresso. On test, the machine proved simple to use, creating both single and double shots of smooth, intense coffee in just 28 seconds. Delivered at a temperature of 74 C / 165 F, the drinks were topped with a thick, rich crema that reformed when a teaspoon of sugar was sprinkled on top.
Our decibel meter registered the Bambino at 74dB while it was pouring an espresso. This puts it middle-of-the-range when it comes to coffee makers, with the noise level equivalent to that of a vacuum cleaner.
When it comes to the volume of coffee dispensed, the Bambino can automatically pour around 30ml of coffee for a single espresso, or 60ml for a double. However, it’s also possible to adjust the volume that’s automatically dispensed, or even manually start and stop the water flow – which makes this coffee machine perfect for those who want to up their barista game.
Twin spouts enable the Bambino to pour two evenly sized drinks at once, although we found it was a bit of a squeeze to comfortably place two espresso cups side by side on the drip tray. The vibrations created by the machine during brewing also meant that a single cup on the drip tray would often rattle and move around – although not to an extent that the drink missed the cup. Two cups placed side by side resulted in rattling, but they didn’t move. Overall, the Bambino poured drinks neatly, without much splashing, but there is some dripping once the drink has poured.
The steam wand took 45 seconds to produce a jug of hot, texturized milk with thick and velvety bubbles, at a temperature of around 55 C / 131 F. We found the wand just as effective for texturizing oat milk, too.
Note that how well the coffee is tamped (compacted) in the filter will affect the strength and speed of the brew. If it’s too compacted, the coffee will be very strong, with only a small amount dispensed at an extremely slow speed. Conversely, loosely compressed coffee will result in a weaker drink that’s poured very quickly. However, we were impressed by the level of advice on offer in the manual to help you achieve the perfect espresso.
Should I buy the Sage Bambino?
Buy it if…
You want a compact espresso machine
Measuring 19.5 x 32 x 31cm / 7.7 x 12.6 x 12.2 inches, the Sage Bambino is one of the smallest espresso machines we’ve tested, and is ideal for those tight on countertop space.
You want to experiment with coffee extraction
The Sage Bambino can automatically dispense the correct amount of water for single or double espresso shots, but it also offers manual control, making it the perfect machine for those wanting to start their journey to making barista-quality drinks.
You regularly make coffee-based drinks with milk
A built-in steam wand that can be engaged as soon as an espresso has been brewed makes the Bambino ideal for those who regularly make milk-based drinks.
Don’t buy it if…
You’re on a budget
At £329.95 / $299.95/ AU$449.95, this is one of the more expensive espresso machines we’ve tested. If your budget is tight, look elsewhere.
You want to use coffee pods
This is an old-school espresso maker rather than a pod machine, so you’ll need to buy ground coffee, or grind beans yourself.
You want an integrated bean grinder
If you want to make your coffee with freshly ground beans, you’ll have to buy a separate bean grinder since an integrated unit isn’t included here.
First reviewed: October 2021
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