Sage Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine Review
An entry-level machine doesn’t have to mean subpar coffee. The Sage Duo Temp Pro has combined simple controls with a few useful bits of tech to create a suitable machine for beginners but doesn’t skimp on the quality of the brew.
Read our full Sage Duo Temp review to know what to expect from this clever machine and to find out if it’s the right espresso maker for you.
Summary: Sage Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
- PID controlled for the perfect brewing temperature
- Auto-purge function
- Low-pressure pre-infusion cycle
It exceeds my expectations every morning. So easy to use… I feel like a real barista!– Customer
The Sage Duo Temp Pro Review
Breville doesn’t specialize in espresso machines. It doesn’t even specialize in coffee gear. But the brand’s commitment to making quality kitchen appliances with helpful integrated tech sees Breville regularly appear on our list of top-rated espresso makers.
The Breville Duo Temp Pro is one of the brand’s entry-level espresso machines, so don’t expect the flashy features you’d get on higher-end coffee makers. But compared to other semi-automatics (like the Cafe Roma) you’ll find this machine offers you some extra help to get the perfect espresso or cafe-style coffee drinks at home.
Brewing Capacity – 4.5/5
While some coffee machines impress with automatic functions and flashing screens, all of the best things about the Sage Duo Temp Pro are on the inside. Rather than making life easier by giving you coffee at the touch of a button, it makes brewing third-wave specialty coffee by hand more of a foolproof operation.
This machine is one of just a handful of models we tested that can truly match the quality of a cafe drink.
Sage Duo Temp Pro’s espresso ability comes down to critical features:
- the PID temperature control
- the advanced preinfusion cycle
- the auto-purge feature.
It’s the auto-purge that gives the Duo Temp Pro its name, with the ability to drop the temperature from the high heat needed to create steam down to the ideal temperature for brewing espresso. It should be made clear that this is not a double boiler machine, meaning it doesn’t have separately heated water tanks for brewing and steam. It’s a single boiler that allows you to switch between steaming and brewing your next espresso with no downtime.
Another help for beginner home baristas is the inclusion of both pressurised and non-pressurised filter baskets. Pressurised or dual-wall filter baskets are more forgiving. They can make it easier to get a good extraction even without expert tamping skills or the perfect grind size (which also makes them useful if you’re stuck with pre-ground coffee). You can start with the double-wall filter baskets and then swap the standard ones once you gain confidence and experience.
PID temperature control
Maintaining the ideal water temperature in the Sage Duo temp Pro is done using a PID controller. PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) technology is a relatively modern addition to some espresso machines, used instead of the traditional thermostat or pressure stat.
A thermostat works by switching the boiler on when the water temperature dips too low and switching it off when it gets too high. The issue with this is that it doesn’t keep the temperature stable. Instead, it fluctuates between temperatures well above and below your desired setting.
A PID, on the other hand, is electronically controlled, with the ability to predict temperature changes and turn the boiler on and off accordingly. Though there are still some fluctuations, they are much smaller and closer to the programmed temperature (1).
The Sage Duo Temp Pro espresso machine automatically includes a short preinfusion cycle as part of the brewing process. Preinfusion involves sending a small amount of hot water through the grounds at low pressure before the high-pressure extraction begins. This ensures that all coffee grounds are fully saturated, resulting in a much more even extraction. Preinfusion can also help prevent channeling, where the pressurised water finds the path of least resistance through the puck, leaving some parts under-extracted (2).
What you gain in simplicity, you do give up in flexibility. The preinfusion cycle can’t be switched off or adjusted, and even though the PID offers precise temperature control, there’s no way of changing it. You’re stuck with the default setting.
If you want the option for digital temperature control, check out the Sage Infuser. This Sage espresso machine has many features as the Duo Temp Pro, with adjustable brew temp and automatic shot timing for single and double shots.
Ease of Use – 4/5
How easy you find the use of Duo Temp Pro depends on how you look at it. If you’re a complete beginner at pulling an espresso shot or using a steam wand, you’re going to find yourself faced with a bit of a learning curve. Unlike brewing with a fully automatic machine, you can’t expect to press a button and get your coffee. If you are a beginner but willing to learn, the Duo Temp Pro espresso machine will make the process easier, with some features that ensure you can get a balanced tasting cup of coffee out of it.
If you know your way around an espresso maker, this coffee machine is as simple as it gets. There are no complicated settings to get your head around, no on-screen menus, and no presets that need programming. You can take this coffee maker out of the box and immediately know how to use it (though we’d never advise throwing away the instructions…)
How to make a coffee
If you want a latte or a cappuccino, you’ll need to start by steaming the milk first (see above for our explanation on temperature control). It’s just a matter of making sure that the light is on “steam” (rather than “hot water”), then turning the dial to the steam setting. Once you’ve finished steaming and switched the dial back to standby mode, the machine will do a quick auto-purge.
Grind and tamp your coffee for the espresso and lock the portafilter into place. The machine will start the low-pressure preinfusion cycle once you turn the front-mounted dial to the espresso icon. As a semi-automatic espresso machine, there’s no shot timer–your extraction will continue as long as you have the dial set to espresso. You should aim for an extraction time of around 20-30 seconds. Plus, measure this in conjunction with how much coffee you’re getting out of it (3).
The Sage Duo Temp Pro is not big on bells and whistles, but it does have a few handy features that we like. The most helpful of these is the ultra-fast heat up. Being able to raise an espresso to your lips less than 2 minutes after turning on the machine certainly makes mornings a whole lot easier.
Provided n the box for your Sage Duo Temp Pro espresso machine, you’ll find a range of accessories to help brew espresso shots and clean your machine. You’ll find both pressurised and non-pressurised baskets in single and double espresso sizes, plus Sage’s Razor Precision Dose Trimming Tool designed to help you shave down your puck to the right level. There’s also a disk for backflushing and a pin tool for cleaning the steam wand or unclogging the holes in the portafilter baskets.
What’s even better about these accessories is they store neatly inside the machine, so there’s less chance of losing them. As found in any of the best Sage espresso machines, there’s an extra storage tray behind the drip tray that will hold all your bits and pieces. We also like the magnetic tamper holder next to the brew head, and the tamper easily snaps into place for easy access next time you brew.
Milk Frothing – 4.5/5
The milk frother on the machine also achieves that balance between professional and straightforward. Unlike the usual Panarello wand on other entry-level machines, the Sage Duo Temp Pro features a professional single-hole steam wand. Panarello wands make it easier for beginners to get foam but often incorporate too much air into the steamed milk (4). A traditional steam wand like this one is harder to get used to, but it allows you to get much more professional results and makes it easier to produce latte art.
Once you have a little practice, you’ll be able to recreate the dense microfoam you’d find in coffee shops.
The wand has a 360-degree swivel action that allows you to get the right angle inside your milk pitcher. This also means you can position it over the drip tray once you’ve done steaming so that stray drips don’t end up on your kitchen counter. The wand also serves as a hot water dispenser for making tea or Americanos. Simply press the button to switch between “steam” and “hot water”, then turn the dial to start dispensing.
The Sage Duo Temp Pro stands when it comes to the quality of the steam. With most espresso machines at this price point and even above, you’ll find that the pressure will begin to drop as you steam milk. They only keep a certain amount of water hot for steaming, and as the level drops, so does your steam power. The 1600W thermocoil heat system in Duo Temp Pro is so efficient that it heats the water on demand, so you always have sufficient steam.
As long as you have enough in the water tank, the steam wand will provide powerful and consistent pressure.
Any time that you use the steam wand, Sage Duo Temp Pro will run a quick auto-purge. This function works hand in hand with the machine’s PID temperature control to ensure accurate brewing temperatures.
The problem with most single boilers is this: milk steaming and espresso brewing needs to be done at two different temperatures. The boiler temperature for steaming milk starts at around 212°F, which is much too hot for the brewing temperature needed for espresso at 195-205°F. Try brewing directly after steaming, and you’ll end up with burnt coffee.
Typically, the only way around this is what’s known as temperature surfing, which requires a bit of espresso machine know-how (5). The auto-purge function helps rapidly drop the water temperature in the boiler so that you can brew your next espresso immediately. It’s another feature that makes it easier to get a delicious coffee without fiddling around. Another benefit is that this helps keep the hole in the steam wand clean of milk, though you’ll still need to wipe the exterior clean with a damp cloth after every use.
One thing you might notice is that the machine’s pump can be pretty noisy during purging.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
Any semi-automatic will require more hands-on work to clean and maintain compared to a super-automatic espresso machine. You’re not going to find any automatic cleaning cycles here. For the most part, the Sage Duo Temp Pro is no easier or more difficult to clean than other semi-automatic machines at this price point.
What we like
On the plus side, the Duo Temp Pro has a large drip tray, so you won’t need to empty it as often. A simple analog pop-up sign in the drip tray alerts you that it’s approaching capacity, and you should empty it. You can easily remove the water tank and drip tray, so you can give them a good clean in the sink when required. The Sage Duo Temp Pro is supplied with a replaceable water filter. This not only improves the taste of your daily cup of coffee but also slows down the buildup of limescale and can ultimately extend the life of your machine (6).
Room for improvement
One thing that we’re disappointed not to see here is a three-way solenoid valve. These valves work something like an airlock at the group head, sealing off the boiler output but allowing remaining water to flow into the drip tray (7). In the case of the Sage Duo Temp Pro, you only have a standard group valve, which simply opens and closes to allow water through, often leaving some dribbles. You might find that after pulling your espresso shot, your portafilter contains some soupy coffee grounds rather than a nice dry puck. It’s not the end of the world but can sometimes mean a slightly messier cleanup.
How to clean the Duo Temp Pro
To get the most out of your espresso machine and ensure you always get a great-tasting espresso, you need to clean it regularly. Daily, you’ll need to empty and rinse the portafilter, clean the steam wand, and wipe down the exterior parts. You’ll probably also want to run hot water through the machine periodically without a portafilter in place to sweep away any stray coffee grounds.
Every couple of months, you’ll need to do a deeper clean. This involves inserting the plastic cleaning disk and one of the cleaning tablets, then repeatedly running the espresso until the tablet is dissolved. If you’re using a water filter, it will reduce the amount of limescale that builds up, but it’s recommended you still descale your machine every 2-3 months. This is done by filling the water tank with vinegar and two parts water, then running half the water on the espresso function and the remaining half through the steam wand.
Sage Duo Temp Pro doesn’t have a three-way solenoid valve, so you won’t need to backflush.
Build Quality – 4/5
Although this is considered an entry-level machine, it’s certainly not a cheap or flimsy piece of gear. Sage is known for producing quality appliances, so you can buy this machine with confidence, knowing that it’s well made.
Most of the machine’s casing is brushed stainless steel, which gives it some durability and classic aesthetic appeal. There is a bit of plastic here, but where you’d expect to find it: in the warmer coffee cups on the top of the machine, the drip tray and storage tray, and of course, the water tank. To Sage’s credit, all parts that come into contact with the water or coffee are BPA-free.
The Sage Duo Temp Pro is not a large machine. Measuring just 11 inches wide and 13 inches high, it can slide easily beneath overhead cabinets and won’t take up too much space on your counter.
Despite the relatively small size of the machine, the Duo Temp Pro features a good-sized water tank. With a 61 oz capacity, you can get through plenty of espressos and even a good deal of milk steaming before you need to refill it. You can easily access it by lifting a lid at the back, or you can remove the whole thing if you prefer to fill it at the sink.
The accessories included with the Sage Duo Temp Pro all have a similar quality that matches the machine build. The 54mm portafilter is stainless steel, as are the four portafilter baskets. Some lower-priced espresso machines give you lightweight plastic tampers that won’t give you accurate results, but the metal and plastic tamper included here has some heft to it, and shouldn’t need to be upgraded. You also get a stainless steel milk pitcher.
Don’t Buy The Sage Duo Temp Pro If…
You don’t have a good grinder – Rather than buying a separate grinder, you could up the budget a little for the Barista Express. This machine will grind your coffee beans directly into a portafilter, as well as offer one-touch espresso brewing. If you want to relieve yourself of the whole coffee brewing process, you can splash out on the fully automatic Sage Oracle. It’s a big jump in price, but it will grind your beans, brew your coffee and even froth your milk for you.
You want a true double boiler – The Duo Temp Pro part of the name might be misleading for some. If you want to be able to use the brew and steam function simultaneously, you’ll need a machine with a double boiler. The Sage Dual Boiler allows you to set your temperature for the brew boiler thanks to a PID temperature control and program preinfusion and espresso shot volume or time.
You have limited space – If you want a smaller footprint, you can get some serious value with Sage’s Bambino Plus–one of Sage’s smallest espresso machines. Despite the size, it’s not short on features, with automatic shot timing, programmable shot volume, automatic milk frothing, and even adjustable milk temperature.
At its essence, the Sage Duo Temp Pro is an ideal entry-level machine for anyone who’s just starting out but eventually wants to ramp up their coffee game. It has simple controls to make it accessible for beginners, plus help for a quality shot with the advanced pre-infusion technology and auto-purge function.
More advanced users will appreciate the professional steam wand and the control over the brew time. Most importantly, the Sage Duo Temp Pro makes a great cup of espresso.
- A Brief History of the PID. (2015, October 15). La Marzocco. https://home.lamarzoccousa.com/history-of-the-pid/
- Kelso, C. (2019, May 13). What is Pre-Infusion? Clive Coffee. https://clivecoffee.com/blogs/learn/what-is-pre-infusion
- Espresso Recipes: Time. (2017, January 30). Barista Hustle. https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/espresso-recipes-time/
- Ask the Experts: What’s a Panarello? (2010, April 27). Seattle Coffee Gear. https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/blog/2010/04/27/ask-the-experts-whats-a-panarello/
- Schweitzer, W. (2013, July 24). Temperature surfing the Rancilio Silvia coffee machine. Swiss Wuff. https://www.swisswuff.ch/wordpress/?p=385
- How An Espresso Machine Water Filter Will Save You Thousands In The Long-Run. (2018, April 16). Barista Warehouse. https://baristawarehouse.com.au/blogs/learn/how-an-espresso-machine-water-filter-will-save-you-thousands-in-the-long-run
- 3-Way Solenoid Valve. (2019, August 26). Whole Latte Love. https://www.wholelattelove.com/blogs/tech-tips/3-way-solenoid-valve