A good espresso maker will save you money on shop-bought coffee and produce good results in no time. Read our review of the Sage Bambino, a high spec espresso machine for caffeine devotees.
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Sage SES500BSS Bambino Plus espresso maker
Pros: easy to clean, effective frother, great results
Cons: bulky, slightly rickety drip tray
Star rating: 4.5/5
Simple, intuitive and capable of brewing thick, rich espresso, the Bambino Plus packs a lot of power into an endearing, mid-range package. It produces lovely, thick coffee that strikes a good balance between rich flavour and drinkability, complete with luscious crema.
We found this machine fairly easy to put together, from unpacking to first use. The design of each component makes it obvious where that part fits, apart from the disposable water filter that connects into the tank, which we found a little fiddly.
Attaching the brewing head also takes a little getting used to, although that can be said of most espresso machines. If you’re having trouble, try a few different tamping techniques and filter fill levels. The troubleshooting tips and diagrams in the Bambino Plus' instruction manual will help you get it right.
You can usually count on Sage to deliver excellent build quality, and the Bambino Plus is no exception. Its brushed metal body, tough plastic water tank and pleasingly textured control buttons feel more robust and nicer to use than the industry standard at this price point. The only minor weak spot is the drip tray, which seems a little rickety compared to all the rest.
Like any good espresso machine, the Bambino Plus takes a little time to master – especially when it comes to tamping the ground coffee to the right consistency. Simple commands such as One Cup, Two Cup and Steam Milk are very well accommodated by the machine's minimalist controls.
However, more in-depth commands, such as setting the amount of coffee to the cup, will require a very good memory or a quick glance at the instructions.
The key extras you get with the Bambino Plus are its milk steamer and temperature control settings. The steamer can be used with a milk jug (a very nice one is included) to froth milk to your liking, whether you're making a smooth latte or a frothy cappuccino.
The water tank is a great feature, with a water filter slot enabling control over the quality of water that goes into your coffee. The filter is meant to be changed regularly, so bear in mind that this will bring an added regular expense. You may prefer to simply remove the filter and use pre-filtered water with the machine.
Considering the fact it’s only a bambino, this coffee machine actually takes up a fair bit of space. It is especially deep, which is something to bear in mind if you need a machine that’ll fit on a shallow shelf or worktop.
We found the Bambino Plus particularly easy to clean – especially its shiny-surfaced body – and were pleased to note its packaging is almost entirely recyclable.
Ease of cleaning: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Pressure: 9 bar
Colour: stainless steel
Item weight: 6.48 Kg
Product dimensions: 32 x 20 x 31 cm
Material: stainless steel
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This review was last updated in October 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.