In this Sage Bambino review I put Sage’s newest (and smallest) coffee machine to the test for a few weeks, making delicious espresso and lattes from home. The Sage Bambino is compact, and its controls are minimalist and easy to adjust to. It makes high-quality coffee, first and foremost, and the manual steam wand is perfect for budding baristas to experiment with making latte art or frothy cappuccinos.
Sage is known for making many of the best coffee machines on the market, including some of the options you’ll find in our best bean-to-cup coffee machine guide. The Sage Bambino is not a bean-to-cup though, it takes coffee grounds to make single or double shots of rich espresso. It’s not cheap, but this is the most entry-level of Sage’s coffee machines, and doesn’t skip out on the quality design you’d expect to see from the brand.
Ideal Home rated: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reasons to buy:
- High-quality build
- Compact enough for any kitchen
- Speedy pre-heat
- Excellent range of filters
- Makes brilliant espresso
- The steam wand is very quick to heat up
Reasons to avoid:
- It is expensive
- Brewing is a little noisy
- Coffee type: ground
- Control type: manual
- Water tank capacity: 1.4 litres
- Pressure: 9 bar
- Power: 1600W
- Dimensions: 19.5 (W) x 32 (D) x 31 cm (H)
- Weight: 4.9kg
Getting started with the Sage Bambino
The Sage Bambino comes in a very lightweight box, and it’s pretty much ready to go once you take it out of the box. Sage gives you four filters with the Sage Bambino: two double and two single, one with a double-wall design and another with a single-wall, which is best for freshly-ground beans. These can be tricky to remove from the handle, but because I tend to stick to single filters, this wasn’t a big issue for me.
Included is also a tamper, which compresses 18-22 grams of grounds perfectly evenly across the filter. Other Sage machines come with a razor to perfectly dose and make sure your grounds are even, but the Bambino does not have one which is a shame.
The stainless steel exterior is smart-looking, and it paired perfectly with my kettle. The narrow design is under 20cm, so it slots easily into any kitchen corner. The water tank at the back is easy to lift out and refill, but it does sit at the back of the coffee machine, so it can be fiddly to put back in.
Included in the machine is a water filter that slots into the tank. This needs to be replaced every few months. Before using the machine I flushed out the system with about five cups of water, and I was ready to go.
Making espresso in the Sage Bambino
You can make single or double shots of coffee with the Sage Bambino using the buttons. There is also a button to turn on the steam wand, or shoot a stream of hot water out of the steam wand, which is great for topping up espressos to make a longer coffee. There is no button to turn the coffee machine on, but you can just press either of the espresso buttons to start the preheat process. It takes just three seconds to preheat, so the coffee is practically instantaneous.
You get your portafilter into position by pressing up and twisting until the handle is facing you. The 9-bar extraction pre-infuses your grounds to extract the very best of the coffee, and my single and double shots of espresso were both topped with a delicious crema. The brewing is quite noisy, especially because the machine rattles slightly, but so are most espresso machines.
Making latte in the Sage Bambino
I enjoy a latte in the morning, so I would never consider a coffee machine that didn’t come with a milk dispenser or steam wand. The Sage Bambino has a steam wand that’s powered by 130˚C steam pressure. It’s best to get the steam wand up to temperature first by switching it on and letting it flush out any water before switching it off and putting the wand in your jug with the milk of your choice.
I had just finished writing the De’Longhi Dinamica Plus review when I started reviewing the Sage Bambino, so it took some adjusting to go from a milk dispenser to a steam wand. That said, it’s fun to get into making your own steamed milk and pouring latte, cappuccino, and macchiatos, coffee-shop style.
To turn off the steam wand you just press one of the espresso buttons and it will switch off. This takes a few seconds, and once you remove your milk jug you should instantly wipe the steam wand clean with a damp cloth to prevent the milk from getting burnt onto the end of the wand. I also flush out the wand using the hot water button after steaming.
Cleaning the Sage Bambino
The drip tray pulls away from the Sage Bambino very easily, and the red button lifts up when it’s time to empty it. Emptying is easy enough, but what I did notice was the markings on the side of the coffee machine. As with any stainless steel coffee machine, the Sage Bambino marks very easily, especially with drips of coffee or splatters from the hob. Keep a damp cloth handy to wipe it clean after use.
Should you buy the Sage Bambino?
At £329.95, the Sage Bambino is not a cheap coffee machine. It is a good quality option though, and when it comes to espresso machines, it’s backed by one of the biggest names in the business. I’ve tried cheaper alternatives such as the Swan Retro One Touch Espresso Machine, and while it does essentially a very similar job, the Sage Bambino is certainly capable of producing a higher quality of coffee.
This is a brilliant coffee machine for those who really care about quality coffee, but live in a smaller flat or don’t have the money to buy a bean-to-cup machine. Of course, the quality of the coffee depends entirely on the grounds you use, and it’s best to pair your new machine with one of the best coffee grinders to make the grounds as fresh as possible when you make your drink.
About this review, and our reviewer
Millie Fender is small appliances editor at Ideal Home. She reviews everything from the best pod coffee machines to air fryers from her own kitchen, meaning these tests have been carried out in the same conditions that you’ll be using the machine.
The Sage Bambino was kindly sent to Millie by Sage, and Millie tested for a few weeks before writing this review. This gave her the chance to test all of its functions as well as cleaning and check for any troubleshooting. While she prefers a frothy latte or an iced cappuccino, her partner is never running on less than three americanos, so the Sage Bambino was very thoroughly tested.