The Sage BES870UK Barista Express
For a lot of us, coffee is an integral part of our daily routines; it’s so important that some of us experience withdrawal symptoms if we don’t get our regular caffeine fix! Although this is one of coffee’s toxic traits, it can’t be avoided. It’s our bodies biological response after all. The only thing we can do is feed our addiction with some good quality coffee. Some of us enjoy making it by hand, manually: grinding the beans, using a percolator -others prefer the strong integration of technology via the use of coffee machines.
When selecting a coffee machine, there are many factors which must be taken into consideration. These include:
- Material – How prone to damage and scratches is it? Is it environment friendly? Is it shatter-proof? Will is burst due to heat?
- Parts Replacement – If the parts are too expensive, is it even worth the purchase? Are parts even readily available?
- Brand Reputation – Do the company specialise in this product? How is their customer service? Are they reliable?
- Power Output – How efficient is the device? Is more power used in producing sound than actually making the coffee?
- Value for Money – Does the price correlate to the amount of features it exhibits?
- Capacity – Is it suitable for large yields? Family-friendly?
Today I’ll be discussing the Sage BES870UK Barista Express Espresso Machine, in the light of all these factors.
In terms of appearance, this machine is almost identical to the Sage BES875UK Barista Express. The only difference between the old BES870UK and new BES875UK model is the temperature control jug, which has an integrated thermometer indicator strip (I’ll discuss this later). Both machines, however, are completely identical with regards to product features.
- Stainless Steel: Most coffee machines are known to be available in this material, and for perfectly valid reasons. Stainless Steel is known for giving appliances a sleek appearance and robust build, making it highly sought after. Some coffee machine models aren’t even produced in any other material. Due to the rising popularity of environmental-friendly products, using affordable materials like plastic would only prove to be a loss rather than profit for the company. Stainless Steel machines are truly representative of the rising green movement making this both a pleasurable and guilt-free purchase.
- Bean to Cup in Under a Minute: Grinds, doses and extracts – whole bean to cup in under a minute.
- Large 250g hopper: The hopper, which is the bean container at the top of the machine holds enough for 25 shots of espresso. It has a slightly greyed out appearance, which adds to the sleek look of the machine as a whole. When putting the beans inside, take care to make sure they aren’t stuffed, as this can cause complications within the grinder -you don’t want the beans to get stuck leaving you looking for replacement parts on the internet or waiting around for a replacement machine.
- Integrated Bean Grinder: There is a built in coffee bean grinder. This is my favourite feature of the machine actually, I absolutely loathe having to grind my own beans -I’m quite lazy, so this feature of the Barista Express BES870UK is one of the main selling points in my opinion. This feature does have a limitation, which some people like myself aren’t too bothered by, but is worth noting when making you purchase. I’ll mention this further in the article within the critical review.
- Suitable for use with Pre-ground Coffee
- 18 Grind Settings: Ranging from coarse to fine, this machine can make space for almost every coffee taste preference out there.
For this machine, the traditional knowledge we have is ideal for making our coffee. The stronger you want your brew, the finer you coffee grounds should be. When using other coffee-making appliances (for example a percolator), using fine, almost powder-like grounds can leave you with an extremely bitter blend which can only be saved to a certain extent with the addition of cream or milk. When using this coffee machine, we can stick to our natural associations between coarseness and taste. We know how strong powdered coffee can taste, and we know how mild it can be when we leave some bean constituents untouched. This machine is easier for those of us who haven’t got much experience using barista-style coffee machines.
- Tamper: There is a tamper included in this machine too, which can be used to press the coffee grounds when they are done grinding. This is often required, especially when we select the option for 60ml blends. Having coffee powder flowing over the brim can be a messy and damaging task for the machine, so always ensure you press your grounds. In addition to this, there is a scraper tool included which can help brush off any excess grounds- this is important.
- 15 bar Pressure Gauge: The machine displays a neat and comprehensible centralised pressure gauge which enables the user to track the potency of their blend. If this is too high or low, the machine will show you how to manage it in order to achieve that rich, smooth barista-style blend. The gauge builds gradually for even extraction of coffee.
- High-Power Milk Frothing Arm: This is another one of my favourite features of the machine. You can use the buttons on the front of the machine to activate the steamer which can subsequently be inserted into the milk which you would pour into the stainless steel milk jug provided. This will blow fast-moving steam streams into the milk, adding bubbles and thickening the texture. Essentially, it enables you to turn watery, flat milk into a silky, almost paint-like result which will leave you with a completely barista-style cup of coffee. Ever since I figured out how to use this, I have been absolutely obsessed. I can honestly say this is one of the features which can boost your coffee-making game by so many levels, your friends will be licking their lips, too shy to ask for another cup!
- Stainless Steel milk jug with integral Temperature Gauge
- Large Capacity: This coffee machine has a 2 litre water tank volume and integrated filtration system, making it both practical, efficient, suitable for a large yield as well as easy to clean for people who are always on the go. The machine has light-up buttons- two of which can be seen below to allow the user to select whether or not they’d like to brew one 30ml cup or two (60ml). These buttons are quite aesthetic, imagine them at night when the lights are out! This feature of the Sage BES870UK is also present in the BES875UK.
- Replaceable Parts (filters): ClaroSwiss water filter completely eliminates the need to descale the machine and lasts 3 months.There is a built-in water tank which can be seen in the image below. The handle allows for easy portability, but aside functionality, having a built in water tank as discrete like this is a total win! It’s almost impossible to notice it as a filter, the back is opaque so the water can’t be seen, but when removed, the level of water is clearly visible and easy for you to replace. There is an inbuilt filter within the tank which should be changed every 2 months.
- Instant hot water tap: This machine exhibits a “tap” which allows you to access hot water. It is conveniently located on the side of the machine as a neat gauge which can be turned to control flow.
As for the specifics of the coffee machine:
Voltage: 240 volts
Power: 1850 Watts
Capacity: 2 Litres
Dimensions: 35 x 38 x 37 cm
Weight: 10.0 kg
Package Contents: Stainless steel portafilter with 2 filters (1 single and 1 double for fresh-ground coffee, image below), stainless steel milk jug (480ml), Claro Swiss water filter, an instruction booklet and a water hardness test strip inside.
- Grinder Complications: The main disadvantage of the Barista Express is the recurring problem of beans getting stuck in the mechanical transition between the hopper and extractor. A lot of reviewers online, including myself have been frustrated with the buzzing noises and inability for the machine to grind the beans without getting stuck. This is something almost everyone will experience when they’re getting accustomed to the machine. It isn’t an unsolvable issue however; I found that using higher quality beans results in a richer and smoother pile of coffee grounds. I believe this is because fresher beans are more infused with their natural oils which in turn results in a smoother grinding process.
- Milk Frother Inconsistency: Many reviewers online have mentioned how their steam wand has become increasingly weak only within a matter of a couple of months. I personally haven’t experienced this issue, but I feel as though if you learn how to use this feature correctly, it will last. Numerous reviews have complained of this however, so I would be wary of it and ensure you are well informed about any warranty you may be covered by.
- Poor International Customer Service: I am a UK customer, however there are people who’ve purchased this machine online to other countries. They’ve mentioned how Sage failed to deliver prompt and helpful correspondence to customers outside the UK, and only those within it were able to have their machines repaired. Bear this in mind if you’re an international buyer, but if you’re in the UK -there shouldn’t be any need to worry! I haven’t had any problems with regards to customer service.
The Final Verdict:
As a buyer of this product, I have never had any regrets with my purchase. I am able to make delicious, creamy, barista-style coffee easily and also very fast. The machine is not too noisy, gives you a wide range of blend personalisation and best of all -you can practise making latte art! The downside to this machine is that it may not turn out to be beginner friendly, which is a hurdle that can be overcome with practise and perseverance. In terms of value for money, the Sage BES870UK gives us a generous amount of features for a reasonable price. Many other machines which claim to exhibit these features either lack in quality or are far too overpriced, so this may very well be a happy purchase.
You can purchase this machine on Amazon below!