Sage Milk Cafe Frother Review: Should You Buy It?
Enjoying a frothy cappuccino or creamy latte in the comfort of your own home is always a treat. But not everyone can afford an espresso machine. And not everyone wants to spend the time learning how to pull a shot of espresso and make steamed milk properly. An automatic milk frother is an answer if you want a delicious frothy espresso drink rather than a new hobby.
The Sage Milk Cafe milk frother, also known as the Breville milk frother, is one of the best on the market, but it’s also one of the most expensive. In this review, we’ll not only look at everything you get for your money, but we’ll also consider what kind of coffee lover will get the most value from this feature-packed design.
Summary: The Sage Milk Cafe Frother (aka Breville Milk Frother)
- Variable temperature automatic milk frother for cold, warm, and hot milk froth.
- Large 3-cup capacity perfect for making bigger drinks or multiple drinks at once.
- Includes a latte frothing disc and a cappuccino disc for different types of milk froth.
I used a bunch of different types of steamers and frothers in the past, and the best so far has been the Breville Milk Frother. Very consistent with variable temperature control for my family’s different individual tastes.– Michael O., Customer
The Full Sage Milk Frother (aka Breville Milk Cafe Frother) Review
This section of the review is all about the details. How does the Sage Milk Cafe milk frother look? Compared to some of the best milk frothers, how well does it froth milk? Is it easy to clean? And finally, is it really worth 3 or 4 times as much as the cheaper options? Keep reading for answers to these questions and much more.
Design – 4/5
Sage Appliance’s kitchen products all share a similar aesthetic. You know what I mean if you’ve seen one: a toaster oven or a coffee machine. They’re stainless steel, with smooth curves, clean lines, and white/blue LEDs. They look modern but not severe, and they’re friendly and approachable. The Sage Milk Cafe milk frother stays true to this look. It’s an attractive small appliance that will look right at home in any modern kitchen, especially if you have stainless steel appliances. And if you are pairing it with a Sage coffee maker, you’ll love how nicely the two match.
The most apparent design aspect of the Sage Milk Cafe milk frother is its size. It’s one of the largest milk frothers available, which can be a pro or a con depending on your needs. It measures 16.2 cm wide by 15.4 cm deep by 26.1 cm tall – almost the size of a small coffee maker – and it has a 3-cup capacity.
Bigger households, or small households of enthusiastic milk drinkers, will appreciate the large size. You can easily prepare an extra-large latte or make enough frothed milk for a few drinks simultaneously. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to just make a cortado for one, the large capacity will be overkill – and you’ll be annoyed by the amount of space it occupies on your counter or in your cupboards.
The minimum milk the Sage Milk Cafe milk frother needs to operate is 180 ml, which is more than many traditional espresso drinks demand. For example, the classic cappuccino uses only 120 ml of milk. So milk froth waste can become a problem.
The design is convenient, which seems to be a common trait with Sage products. You feel that the design team tests everything extensively, and each component is very well-thought-through.
The measuring cap lid is the best example of their design’s practicality. The cap has a hole in the centre so you can measure and add ingredients while frothing milk, but the enclosed edges keep splashes under control. I’ve found this particularly useful when using the milk frother to prepare rich hot chocolate because it’s nice to let the milk heat up before adding the hot chocolate powder mix. The lid also features a ring-shaped handle that makes it easy to remove even though the seal is impressively tight.
Another excellent design detail is the storage for the extra frothing disc. The Milk Cafe milk frother comes with two frothing discs, a cappuccino disc, and a latte disc. Whichever disc is not in use can be magnetically affixed in a storage space on the power base. These little discs would be easy to lose, so this is a smart addition to this machine.
Features – 4.5/5
Compared to other frothers, the Sage Milk Cafe milk frother is the most feature-packed I’ve come across.
Most obviously, it’s one of few that allow you to control the desired temperature of your milk foam precisely. This is done by turning the knob on the front, it’s labelled from 120 ℉ to 160 ℉ (49 °C to 71 °C), but you can set it outside that range, from about 100 ℉ to 180 ℉ (38 °C to 82 °C) – bearing in mind that dairy milk will scald at 180 ℉ (82 °C), introducing all the wrong flavour to your coffee drink (1).
Sage breaks its frothing temperature range down into four zones:
- The cold stir setting doesn’t heat the milk at all. It just spins the frothing disc to create cold milk foam.
- The warm range falls below about 130 ℉ (54 °C). This range is useful when preparing non-coffee drinks or warming milk for children.
- The optimal range falls between about 130 ℉ and 150 ℉ (54 °C and 66 °C). This is the ideal temperature for steamed dairy milk, the point at which the milk has the perfect balance of sweetness and creamy froth texture. If you order a latte at a specialty coffee shop, you can expect the milk to be about 140 ℉ (60 °C).
- The hot range starts above about 150 ℉ (66 °C). This is the temperature setting for anyone who likes their latte or cappuccino a little warmer than average, and it’s also helpful in preparing hot cocoa. Just be careful not to stray too hot into scalded milk territory.
While it might seem counterintuitive to include ranges that aren’t “optimal,” this wide range of temperatures is a big selling point of this model for several reasons. First, everyone has different tastes, and just ask a Starbucks barista how many times a day they get special temperature requests. Indeed, according to Perfect Daily Grind contributor and coffee expert Christine Seah, the ideal temperature for steamed or frothed milk isn’t a hard-and-fast rule (2).
The optimal temperature for steaming milk is a hot-topic amongst baristas, but the core of this debate is one question: ‘At what temperature does milk taste the sweetest?
Second, the current popularity of plant-based alternative milks means that the optimum temperature for frothed dairy might not be the desired temperature for everyone. Soy, goat, almond, and oat milk taste best at different temperatures (3).
Finally, thanks to its large temperature range, the Sage Milk Cafe is much more than just a milk frother. You can use it to make any beverage that benefits from gentle heat and vigorous stirring. Making hot chocolate is an obvious choice and does it exceptionally well. You haven’t truly enjoyed hot chocolate until you’ve tried it frothed. You can also make alcoholic drinks like mulled wine and buttered rum or tea-based drinks like a chai latte. My favourite beverage treat is a version of Irish coffee that adds chocolate powder and a touch of Baileys Irish Cream to the milk as it froths. Perfect around the holidays!
Milk Cafe relies on induction heating, which is a common heating choice for premium milk frothers, for a good reason.
It produces a gentle and even heat that allows for the formation of tiny bubbles as the milk is aerated (4). Super picky latte drinkers will note that you can’t get the perfect silky microfoam required for latte art from a milk frother, and they’re correct. That requires a steam wand. But the induction heating design gets you closer than a cheaper, electrically heated milk frother.
As already mentioned, the Sage Milk Cafe has two magnetic frothing discs, which you can easily swap in and out.
- The latte frothing disc produces a finer, silkier foam with a creamy mouthfeel.
- The cappuccino frothing disc creates a thick and creamy froth that is spoonable and will float on top of your coffee.
Both discs work as advertised, and serious coffee drinkers will appreciate having the option to choose the appropriate frothing disc to create these two popular styles of drink (5). If you love a super smooth latte, you should stand up and notice. Most milk frothers only have one setting, and this setting tends to err on the side of the crowd-pleasing cappuccino-style foam milk.
Ease of Use – 4/5
There is always a balance between features and ease of use – the more an appliance can do, the harder it is to learn how to do it all. Some brands strike this balance better than others, and Sage Appliances is one of the best. Even their most complicated espresso machines are known for being user-friendly, and the Sage Milk Cafe milk frother is a piece of cake to master. Anyone can produce a delightful thick froth with this appliance.
You control the whole thing with a single knob, which simplifies the operation and gives it a nice clean look.
The centre of the knob is the start/stop button while turning the knob acts as the temperature control. It’s as easy as that. Even easier, while you can stop the milk frother using the button on the knob, you don’t need to. It stops heating automatically when it reaches the set temperature. So you can start it and then make your coffee without giving it another thought.
Another perk of the induction heating system is that the milk jug is very easy to clean. It doesn’t need to plug into the power base in any way, and it’s just a stainless steel milk jug so that you can toss it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Likewise, the discs and measuring cap lid are dishwasher safe.
Value for Money – 3.5/5
The Sage Milk Cafe (or Breville milk frother) is one of the more expensive automatic milk frothers available, so it’s essential to consider its performance and how it stacks up against its cost. In this case, I think you’re getting what you pay for. The Milk Cafe costs more than other frothers because it does more than other frothers. So its value will depend on how often you plan to use all the available features.
If you want a lot of control over the texture and temperature of your milk, this automatic milk frother is worth its price. The temperature control dial and the two distinct frothing discs set it above all competition. This goes double if you use a variety of dairy and plant-based milks in your coffee drinks, all of which require different frothing conditions. If you have a fancy coffee maker or espresso machine, all the must-have espresso accessories, and you’re buying specialty coffee beans, you wouldn’t want to ruin your morning brew with subpar milk froth means too hot, too cold, or the wrong mouthfeel.
On the other hand, the value of the Milk Cafe milk frother goes down if it’s only used by one person, especially someone who prefers daintier drinks. Not only does it take up a lot of space on your counter, but the 6-ounce milk minimum requirement means you’ll regularly be wasting milk. Milk isn’t cheap, and plant-based milks can be even pricier. So factor that in when considering the price of this milk frother.
180 ml of milk is about what you need for a 240-300 ml latte. Smaller drinks than that – for example, the classic cappuccino, cortado, or macchiato – will require you to froth more milk than you need.
Don’t Buy the Sage Milk Cafe Milk Frother If…
- You don’t care about heating the milk: If you’re mostly making cold milk foam, or you don’t mind heating your milk separately on the stovetop or in a microwave, then you can save a lot of money and space opting for a handheld foamer like the PowerLix Frother or MatchDNA Automatic Milk Frother.
- You want something more compact: The Sage Milk Cafe is one of the largest automatic milk frothers. If you have a small kitchen with limited storage, you’re probably better off with something that has a smaller footprint. The Nespresso Aeroccino is a great choice as it measures just 8.9 cm in diameter and 15.2 cm tall. It’s also less expensive, but it doesn’t allow any control over milk temperature, offering just cold stir and hot settings. There are two models available as of writing: the 3 and the more. Learn more about this in Home Grounds’ Aeroccino 3 vs 4 reviews.
- You want something with a funky style: If the stainless steel of the Sage Milk Cafe frother doesn’t suit your kitchen aesthetic, take a look at the Smeg milk frother instead (6). It features the brand’s signature retro style and is available in 7 fun colours: white, black, pastel pink, cream, pastel blue, pastel green, and red.
As one of the market’s most expensive and largest milk frothers, the Sage Milk Café won’t be for everyone. But in this case, you get what you pay for. If you want the most control over your milk temperature and texture when making cold-frothed milk or hot milk drinks, it will be well worth spending the extra cash on this automatic milk frother.
- Field, J. (2014, June 2). What is Scalded Milk? | How to Scald Milk. Retrieved from https://pastrychefonline.com/how-to-scald-milk/
- Seah, C. (2016, March 24). Coffee Science: Everything You Need to Know About Milk. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2016/03/coffee-science-everything-you-need-to-know-about-milk/
- Korhonen, J. (2015, March 12). Plant Based Milks and Coffee: Barista’s Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/jori-korhonen/march-2018/plant-based-milks-and-coffee-baristas-pros-and-cons
- GH Group Induction Atmospheres. (n.d.). What is Induction Heating? Retrieved from http://www.gh-ia.com/induction_heating.html
- Comunicaffe. (2018, November 5). Latte and Cappuccino are the two most popular coffee types in the UK. Retrieved from https://www.comunicaffe.com/latte-and-cappuccino-are-the-two-most-popular-coffee-types-in-the-uk/
- Raczka, R. (2017, March 16). How SMEG became the coolest fridge on the block. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2017/03/16/how-smeg-became-coolest-fridge-block/tOVm1ybiZ2JMKKlxOFj36M/story.html