Sage Bambino Plus Review: Fast, Compact Espresso Machine
So you’re rich in espresso love but poor in counter space? Don’t despair! Here’s an espresso maker made just for you.
The Sage Bambino Plus is a fully automatic espresso machine that takes up about as much space as your toaster — and is almost as simple to use!
Keep reading to find out if it’s the answer to your prayers.
SUMMARY: The Sage Bambino Plus
- Compact and stylish design
- User-friendly automatic steam wand with a self-cleaning feature
- Thermocoil with 3-second heat up time
“The Bambino’s combination of size, simplicity, and efficiency makes it an excellent choice for new home baristas.”– Seattle Coffee Gear
The Sage Bambino Plus Review
Sage coffee machines are known for their quality and reliability, and the Bambino Plus is no exception. This little brewer is packed with more technology than you’d imagine, making it the perfect first espresso maker.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the details to find out if it’s the best one FOR YOU.
NOTE: “Sage” is the manufacturing name of Breville in some countries.
Brewing Capacity – 4/5
With the Bambino Plus, you can craft whatever espresso drink you’re craving (1). This is thanks to its 15-bar pump, pre-infusion step, and automatic milk steaming. And with buttons to adjust both milk and brew temperature, it’s easy to customise it to your liking.
The water tank is surprisingly large for such a compact machine, measuring just under 2 litres (or 64 ounces). This is enough for 30 espresso shots before a refill. For comparison, the DeLonghi Dedica, another brewer designed for small spaces, has a capacity of only 1 litre (34 ounces).
The Bambino comes with a pretty IMPRESSIVE pile of accessories. Such are a tamper, high-quality milk jug, some cleaning tools, and the Sage Razor trimming tool, which helps you get the perfect dose every time.
The only thing this Sage machine lacks is a built-in grinder, which may or may not be negative. I like the flexibility of having a separate grinder, but if you’re pressed for space, you might prefer a model with a grinder included.
Ease of Use – 4/5
The Bambino Plus is remarkably easy to use, which is why I love recommending it as an entry-level machine.
If you can use a drip coffee machine, you can make a tasty espresso with the Bambino.
It’s operated with only 5 buttons: single and double shot, steam on/off, milk temperature, and brew temperature. I find it a bit annoying that there’s no power button (you have to simul-press single shot and steam on/off), but this is a minor quibble.
Once you turn it on, it takes only 3 seconds to come to the right temperature! Definitely the best in its class. All you need to do is grind the beans, dose them into the filter-basket, and tamp. Because this is a fully automatic machine, it will take charge of shot timing (2).
It comes standard with dual-wall filter baskets. Though professional baristas might scoff, these are great for espresso novices because they’re more forgiving. Even if your grind size isn’t quite perfect, you’ll still get a nice rich crema on your espresso.
Milk Frothing – 4.5/5
A difference between the Sage Bambino and Bambino Plus is that the milk steaming is automatic on the latter. However, you can also use it manually if you’d like more control. All you need to do is turn it on and set your milk temperature control to achieve the perfect froth.
I love that a stainless steel milk pitcher comes with the purchase!
It doesn’t have quite the steam power of a commercial steam wand, but you can still get good enough microfoam to practice your latte art (3).
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3.5/5
The cleaning and maintenance for this little beast are on par with any other home coffee machine, which is to say it’s a bit annoying but nothing to cry over. Make sure you wipe it down after use and descale it every six months or so, and you’ll be a happy camper.
The milk steaming system is automatically self-cleaning, which is excellent for those of us who might be too excited about our latte to remember to purge it.
The compact size of this coffee maker does make it prone to messiness. The little drip tray is quick to fill (and over fill), and it’s hard to avoid spraying a bit of your counter when the steam wand purges.
Build Quality – 3.5/5
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bambino is its compact size, which is fitting since bambino is the Italian word for child.
At under 8 inches wide, Bambino is by far the smallest of Breville’s line-up.
If you’re short on counter space, this will be a huge selling point.
With this espresso machine, Sage has put some obvious thought into the details. The design is sleek and attractive. Plus, it’s available in 7 colours, one of which is sure to match your kitchen. The buttons are pleasingly tactile and responsive, a nice change from the sometimes frustrating touch screens.
I’d love to see more stainless steel and less plastic, but this was a conscious choice of priorities by Sage to keep costs low:
Their design decision was to spend money on features, not on build.
The Bambino’s small size and plastic components do mean it’s quite light. So you need to have a pretty good grasp on it when you twist the portafilter in and out, or it’ll slide around on your counter.
Do Not Buy the Sage Bambino Plus if….
You’re an espresso pro. The Bambino Plus is an excellent entry-level brewer. If you already know your way around a home espresso machine and are looking to upgrade, consider a higher-end model, like the Sage Infuser, the Duo Temp Pro, the Barista Touch, or the Sage Dual Boiler BES920UK.
You want a built-in grinder. If you’d rather not buy yet another appliance, Sage makes some fantastic machines with integrated grinders. Check out the BES870XL Barista Express or the fancy-pants Oracle. You can also consider the new Barista Pro, which also has a built-in grinder with 30 grind settings.
You’re on a tight budget. I consider the Bambino Plus a very affordable option, but you can go cheaper and still get a decent espresso. If you’re counting your pennies, the Cafe Roma may be just what you’re looking for.
The Sage Bambino Plus certainly brews a tasty espresso, but its compact size is what makes it stand out from the crowd. Few other machines in its class can deliver this quality of espresso from such a small footprint and with so little effort.
If you thought your small kitchen would prevent you ever making café quality espresso at home, think again!
- Aloe, R. M. (2020, July 2). Pre-Infusion for Espresso: Visual Cues for Better Espresso. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/pre-infusion-for-espresso-visual-cues-for-better-espresso-c23b2542152e
- Haydon, M. (2018, December 10). Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/12/understanding-the-different-types-of-espresso-machine/
- Korhonen, J. (2017, October 3). 5 Easy Tips That Will Make Your Latte Art Flourish. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/jori-korhonen/june-2022/5-easy-tips-will-make-your-latte-art-flourish