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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a Breville BES870XL
Wow, I am impressed! I've always searched the market for an espresso machine that would look and perform like a commercial one and unfortunately I never came across one and so I ended up buying several DeLonghi machines over the last 15 years.

This is a Breville BES870XL, it's sold in the UK under the brand name Sage and I assume it's a new product to the UK (I...
Published 11 months ago by The Price is Right

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Purchased from John Lewis
I purchased this machine from John Lewis and am I glad I did. First couple of days it made perfect coffee. I then found I could not grind the coffee course enough to get the pressure down into the optimum range. I had it set to its courses setting. Called sage, who were very helpful. They decided the machine should be replaced by JL. The new one would not grind course...
Published 4 months ago by jonah one


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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a Breville BES870XL, 2 Dec 2013
By 
The Price is Right - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
Wow, I am impressed! I've always searched the market for an espresso machine that would look and perform like a commercial one and unfortunately I never came across one and so I ended up buying several DeLonghi machines over the last 15 years.

This is a Breville BES870XL, it's sold in the UK under the brand name Sage and I assume it's a new product to the UK (I might be wrong but I never saw Breville espresso machines before on Amazon UK). To make it short as soon as I saw this machine (after checking several positive reviews) I had to buy it.

The Barista Espresso is well built, solid, elegant, looks like a commercial machine, sounds like one and it makes really good coffee...milk too comes out perfectly! This machine is a world apart from anything I've used so far.
It's not easy to use, I'm still working hard to get the right shot every time, right in the middle of the recommended extraction zone, every shot varies depending on grind size, tamper pressure and coffee type, but the machine gives lots of feedback so whenever I get the right balance coffees and cappuccinos taste extremely good...I trust that with time it'll get a lot easier, for now I don't mind having to experiment with the Barista.

The Barista is fully configurable: grind size, grind amount (automatic or manual), coffee shot volume, H2O temperature, manual or automatic shot, hot water dispenser, commercial 360 steam wand, pressure dispersion between steam and shot operation, pre-infusion, pressure gauge, automatic stand-by........every function is thought with every-day use in mind!

Only defect I noticed so far is the need for tall espresso cups as the coffee tends to dribble in a fairly unstable fashion making it difficult to get all of it into a short or narrow cup, this is not really a defect as the distance from tray to portafilter is designed with enough clearance to accommodate mugs. The problem is easily solved by using more appropriate cups or with the help of a raising block. Apart from this minor annoyance, the machine is very functional, the very well designed drip tray catches any drop, steam or coffee residue and it's easy to remove and clean, it even tells when it needs emptying!

Build quality is outstanding, no plastic here! It looks the part and it simply is a beautiful object.

I cannot comment on reliability as I just purchased the Barista. Every other espresso machine I've owned had to be replaced every couple of years (regardless of care taken). I would like the Barista to last in the order of 4-5 years considering it costs considerably more than the average machine. Sage gives 2 years warranty, reviews on the web are good and Breville has been around for ever....so I can only hope for a long-lasting experience.

Definitely recommended to coffee lovers who are looking for a serious upgrade from the average espresso machine!

NB: to comment on previous reviews - the UK version DOES come with 2 extra pressurized (double wall) baskets and you CAN control the pre-infusion time when in manual shot.
To avoid coffee grounds going everywhere use the manual dosing function (grind and tamp, grind a bit more coffee and tamp, and so on until you have the right dose in the basket...voila', no more mess!).

Update: I bought taller espresso glasses and they solved the splashing issue, also the crema looks amazing in the glass!
The machine does warm up very quickly, however I've measured extraction temperature after 5, 15 and 30min from switching it on; there is a substantial difference between the 5 min and 15 min point, then it plateaus. In all cases, a flush to warm up group and portafilter before a shot makes a big difference on extraction temperature.
I've tried several type of freshly roasted beans and they all required adjustment of the grind setting, however the most used seems to be #4.
With this machine forget pre-ground coffee or supermarket beans, you must use freshly roasted beans from an online roaster (there are several in the UK), or the machine will simply amplify the shortcomings of stale coffee.
Also, at bottom of partafilter there is a plastic disc that apparently has no function beside that of collecting dirt, I have removed it and performance is unaffected (I've searched the web but nobody seems to have a clear idea about it's function, many suggest removing it).
All-in-all, machine is excellent but it does involve a long learning curve especially if, like me, you were used to buying pre-ground supermarket coffee, slap it in a DeLonghi and hope for the best!

New update: I have taken 1 star away from my review because 1)when changing coffee type sometimes the new correct grind setting falls in between two numbers, however incorporated grinder is not stepless and it doesn't allow fine tuning. 2)extraction needle sometimes shows correct extraction and yet brewing time is less than 20sec (resulting in a mediocre shot). 3)Machine is so sensitive that it's difficult to get good consistent results (this is particularly noticeable when changing coffee type).
Tip: to get a feeling for how much is 15-20kg of tamping force use a bathroom weigh scale!

Final Update: After chasing the perfect shot for nearly a month I gave up and the Barista is going back to Amazon. I honestly think this is a beautiful machine and it has lots of functions found only in much more expensive equipment, however I believe it's also a very sensitive and unforgiving machine which requires a very steep learning curve, made even steeper by what is in my opinion a poor grinder. I still think it deserves 4 stars, it's simply not for me! Instead I opted for a Baratzo Vario grinder with a Gaggia Classic which, in fact, turned out to be a much more effective and scalable combo.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Purchased from John Lewis, 20 Jun 2014
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
I purchased this machine from John Lewis and am I glad I did. First couple of days it made perfect coffee. I then found I could not grind the coffee course enough to get the pressure down into the optimum range. I had it set to its courses setting. Called sage, who were very helpful. They decided the machine should be replaced by JL. The new one would not grind course enough from the start. Wasted heaps of different coffee beans ( one day roasted to tinned ones from supermarket), but could not get it course enough. On the courses setting, it was as fine as filter coffee. Spoke to Sage who said it was the coffee I was using. I returned it to JL and got a Saeco and great coffee. It was a shame as the Sage made great coffee, looked really good and I would still like one. I love coffee made straight from the bean and the Sage did it great when it worked. I spent ages taking the coffee grinder out and cleaning it thoroughly but to no avail
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly get the, 4 May 2014
By 
Juan Espasandin (MIAMI, FLORIDA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
Context: I owned two Baby Gaggias and one Saeco espresso machine in the last few years, and an aeropress too, also I bought a burr grinder to get the best of the beans. I bought it a couple of weeks ago.

I can say that the flavours and consistency of the extraction is really as good as what you get in a trendy posh cafe in london. I know because I do go to them every day and now I have the same flavours, temperature and foam, only the latte art is lacking.

Operationally it is fast to warm up and to steam, it is really clean (though I think the magnetic tamper placed by the side leads to a bit of spilling of coffee powder outside the tray, maybe it should have been placed in the middle so the flow from the grinding to first compacting (possibly a more forceful tamping with my own tamper perhaps) and then to the shower within the tray. But that is absolutely minimal detail.
The wand and steaming is as good as I can imagine, the other day I was peeking at a barista doing the foam (As he was teaching a new member of the staff) and it was very much what I can get to do with mine.
The coffee puck just falls off there is almost no residue or build up.
The programming and such, I do tweak it a bit, but it is easy enough for a casual user to operate without any problem.

I cannot comment on long term reliabilty/maintenance, somewhat concern is the future need/price of the filter and descaling products, but it is worth it as so far it is truly a couple relationship enhancing appliance, it puts a smile on our morning coffee.
The only thing is that now drinking chain brand coffee is really a step down... I guess it will help save money for the maintenance costs :)))

Great product, if you can afford it, get one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb piece of kit, 21 April 2014
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
I want to echo most of the sentiments from other reviews here...complicated, quality, expensive machine which, with the right amount of practice, will churn out some great coffees.

My own tips are:
- don't use the auto-grinding function, it tends to spew coffee all over and never gets the exact amount right. Instead, weigh out 19g of beans (double), and manually grind the beans, periodically taking the portafilter out and knocking it slightly on a worktop to even out the coffee. Very gentle pressure is needed after this as you've already eliminated most of the air pockets

- experiment with grind settings, I've had good results with anything from 5 (Tesco's Percol & black) to 10 (Hasbean multi-estate difficult blend). A new bag of beans will probably take a few tries before you pull that perfect shot.

- run a shot without coffee into your mug before preparing your actual coffee. Your mug can go on top of the machine to heat up (with the water inside) and this will also get your portafilter to the right temperature before the shot.

Two minor gripes are that the limited clearance between the spouts and the base does not allow for very tall cups (tall late glasses are a no no) and that the hot water function seems to suffer from some trapped air which means your Americano's perfect crema will be destroyed by a slightly pressurised hot water. I use the kettle instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, 27 Mar 2014
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
Takes time to master the intricacies of machine and barista knowledge, but, if your passionate about the taste and quality of your coffee, whether espresso, cappuccino etc. then, this is the one! ( I've been involved in the coffee making business for many years as a restauranter and caterer, useing many commercial machines)
p.s.Actually bought my Barista Express from John Lewis as for a little extra money (c.£27) I got a 3 yrs guarantee instead of the manufacturers 2yrs.Oddly enough JL. did not offer this as they usually do on electrical goods-could be that coffee machines of this standard and complexity if used regularly, break down!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent machine but watch out for some pitfalls, 16 Aug 2014
By 
Kostas (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
This machine makes great coffee. It really does. And it looks good. Also heats up quickly and the steaming lacks the power of more expensive machines, which means that it will be much easier to get decent froth if you're a beginner.

However, after living with it for a while i must say that it has an inferior grinder that doesn't produce consistent enough grind, resulting in poor extractions and inconsistent results from shot to shot. I hear your asking if I adjusted it appropriately. Yes, I did adjust it to get the 25sec extraction and tried a variety of distribution and tamping techniques. I can get consistently good results with my technique on other machines. Moreover because grinder and coffee machine are integrated it will warm up your beans which makes them lose their freshness. These points were highlighted by other reviewers but I ignored them. Do so at your own risk.

In addition, the portafilter is NOT a standard size. If you need accessories such as a tamper, different size filter baskets or a bottomless portafilter you are stuck with almost no options.

The machine developed a fault after 2 months of use and had to be sent to the manufacturer. I unfortunately bought through a big (apparently reputable) UK department store which meant that I had to send it back to them and not straight to the manufacturer. They add a 2 week delay as part of their standard process to "check the machine by a brand specialist". They then send it to the manufacturer which I was informed takes another 4-6 weeks to address the issue. So all in all you could be 2 months without a coffee machine if something goes wrong. It's been 4 weeks and I still haven't had any news or diagnosis despite several calls.

You can choose to ignore most of my review but please take this point seriously: ALL coffee machines will develop a fault sooner or later, check the web and you'll see what I mean. If you spend this kind of money, IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT, that you buy from a coffee machine SPECIALIST that can offer you after sales support. Normally problems can be fixed but you need a machine that is easily serviceable with standard parts and a knowledgable store that can offer you advice and repairs within a reasonable timeframe. It is really worth thinking twice about this and spending the extra money to get the right support.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive - but brilliant, 11 Jun 2013
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
I spent a long time looking at various coffee machines, and like most people came to the conclusion that a quality grinder was important too. I really liked the design of this machine, before I found out it was endorsed by Heston Blumenthal. It saves countertop space and reduces mess.

It's very easy to use - the grind 'fineness' is set on the side, the dose is controlled by a knob on the front and the tamper is cunningly suspended by a magnet. The razor tool is useful for checking your dose and tidying your puck. My favourite feature is the pressure gauge which gives you a great indication of how your shot is going - if the pressure is too low or too high you can start varying things. Once you've got it setup for your particular beans it's super easy - press the portafilter into the grinder, tamp, load into the group head and press a button to pull the exact volume you want.

When you get really into the detail, you can adjust the temperature of the water and tweak the shot volume to your heart's content. It comes with pre-infusion, but it doesn't let you adjust how much. You do need to use fresh beans - they make this point in the manual, don't bother with the supermarket, go to your favourite independent coffee shop and buy some direct from them. I'm also not a massive fan of the portafilter size - i'd have liked a full commercial 58mm. The UK version also misses out on the pressurised baskets that come with the American/Aussie versions but with a grinder this good you shouldn't be using them anyway.

The Bottom Line
The machine heats up quickly, makes great coffee and has a tonne of features, but if all you want is a quick coffee before work you can be done in about two minutes. It's expensive, but well worth the money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Amazon, 15 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
The machine is great and the delivery made me more than happy . The machine serves a very hot coffee. Only one water filter comes with the machine so you need to buy more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great machine, nice coffee, 5 April 2014
By 
Donald Barlow "Donald" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
Another good report for this machine. It takes a little perseverance at the start to get the right coffee out of it: initial attempts led to far too much pressure and over (?) extraction. Grind size 8 and putting the grind amount knob to the three o'clock position works for me now. At 500+ notes, it is perhaps a little steep, but in the context of other machines I am not going to mark it down on that. Sturdy and well made, it's a good choice.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars better than Gaggia, 18 Feb 2014
This review is from: Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express Coffee Machine and Grinder, 1700 Watt (Kitchen & Home)
My day starts with a perfect coffee. Double espresso with a top of hot water to make a fantastically strong, long black coffee with a gorgeous creamy top. If this doesn't happen, I am not happy and will not drink the coffee produced.
I have to date owned and used 4 Gaggia classic machines and using Illy espresso ground coffee, been very happy with the coffee produced. The reason I have had several Gaggia's is because they become unbearably unreliable after exactly 12 months. Phillips took over and made improvements but at 4 machines already, decided to try something new.
The Breville, Sage, Blumenthal Barista Express is fabulous. I have had the machine a month and make 4 coffees a day, perfect coffee.
It is sturdy, easy to clean, extremely good looking and makes a working noise that is good on the ear.
This is not a machine to be stored in a cupboard, its a show piece and if you pay this price you should be using it every day several times, no time to put it away.
The set up seems a little daunting but Heston and Breville have made the easy to follow instructions very clear.
Ensure you use the correct coffee filter basket for pre-ground coffee or full beans.
The water temperature on purchase is hot, too hot. Reduce this by 2 degrees following the instructions. I found the perfect coffee setting for beans (several brands) is coffee grind amount: 3. Grind size:8. Double portion of coffee and 2 cup setting for the water using only 1 coffee cup. A little extra hot water immediately and a little brown sugar stirred beneath the froth gives a perfect, strong Americano.
Yes, a little excess coffee grinds hit the tray. Any good coffee machine should be wiped clean and extra water run through the head after every coffee produced. It takes seconds. If you haven't got time to do this, you haven't got time to enjoy a good coffee.
The drip tray is easy to use and very cleverly engineered. It tells you when it needs emptying and keeps most of the coffee grind out of the water.
It's early days but so far I love this machine. It comes with a steel jug which I use to express 1 shot of espresso, leave it to cool and this can them be used to make an espresso martini or used in cooking etc.
As I do not take milk, cold, hot, frothed, steamed or any other way. I would say I am a better critique of the coffee result and this machine makes fabulous coffee.
Just been to Jamaica and had an Americano using Blue Mountain coffee beans, produced by an industrial machine in a very good coffee shop every morning. Not as good as this machine.
So far the best coffee beans that I have found are Percol Black Espresso. Number 6. These give a strong and yet not bitter or tangy flavour. The nearest thing I have found to coffee on holiday in France or Italy.
Enjoy.
Kelly from Bolton
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