There are not too many names that can rival Sage when it comes to truly premium quality home appliances and with the Sage Barista Touch and Barista Express, they once again demonstrate why they are held in such regard. But how do you pick between the Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express? Below we take a look at each of their renowned bean to cup coffee machines and compare them on a number of key factors covering:
- Coffee Maker Type
- Ease of Use
- Milk Frother
- What Users Say
Sage Barista Touch
Sage Barista Express
Bean or Pre-Ground
Bean or Pre-Ground
32.2cm (W) x 39.4cm (D) x 40.7cm (H)
32.5 (W) x 31 (D) x 40 cm (H)
250g bean container; 2 litre water tank
250g bean container; 2 litre water tank
Stainless Steel or Black
Stainless Steel or Black
What Users Think
Brilliant high quality machine with excellent milk frother
Great machine with a hands-on barista style experience
The Barista Touch (SES880BSS) from Sage prides itself on allowing users to produce barista-quality coffee at home. To help make things as easy as possible for coffee lovers it comes with a touch screen menu with pre-programmed drinks as well as automatic milk texturing for a range of milk-based options.
The Barista Touch comes equipped with a built-in bean grinder as well as an impressive 3-second heating interval allowing users to get the best out of the machine in quick order.
In essence, the Barista Touch offers a mix between a fully automatic bean to cup and a manual espresso machine.
What seems to stand out about the Barista Touch is the fact that you have a high level of customisation available with its pre-set menus and the level of manual operation you want to get involved in.
The Barista Express (BES875UK) from Sage looks to provide users with a barista-like experience and quality from the comfort of their own home. Equipped with a bean grinder and a manual milk frothing function the Barista Express aims to get you from bean to cup as quickly as possible.
Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express: A Comparison
Let’s now take a detailed look at the Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express to see how they compare.
Coffee Maker Type
The Barista Touch from Sage is a bean to cup coffee machine meaning it will take whole beans and grind them before brewing. Bean to cup coffee machines typically produce the freshest coffee possible out of bean to cup, pod, and pre-ground coffee machines for home use. This is due to the fact the beans are ground on demand keeping the aromas, flavours, and quality of taste as fresh as possible.
The Barista Touch comes with an integrated conical burr grinder which is most common in-home coffee machines.
In addition to using whole beans, the Barista Touch can also be used with pre-ground coffee giving you added choice and flexibility when it comes to bean variety.
The Barista Express also offers the ability to use whole bean with its bean to cup operation as well as pre-ground coffee for added flexibility. You have the option of 18 different grind settings giving a great amount of control over the coarseness of your beans. It also comes with two dosage settings.
Ease of Use
There’s no point in having an expensive coffee machine that can work wonders if it is too complicated to be used quickly and efficiently. With this in mind, the control panel plays a big part in determining the ease of use of a machine alongside the various steps needed to go from bean to cup.
The Sage Barista Touch has a well-designed touch screen panel which by several user accounts makes it very easy to use at home. The menu is based around a 3 step process for making coffee – grind, brew, and milk. The machine also allows you to easily adjust the coffee strength, the texture of the milk as well as the temperature.
To continue to make things as simple as possible the Barista Touch has a grinding cradle that allows the user to grind directly into the coffee portafilter before it is tampered and placed onto the group head for extraction and brewing.
The Barista Touch also has a control to allow you to adjust the grind size and also how long to grind for outside of the touch screen menu. Quite helpfully you also have the option of stopping the grinding process whenever you like. You also have the option of taking full control of the grinding process using the portafilter to start and stop the process.
The big difference between the Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express when it comes to ease of use is the fact the Barista Express does not come with a touch screen for operation. Although both are manual espresso machines, the controls on the Barista Express are based on buttons and dials whilst the Barista Touch relies on a touch screen. Nonetheless, the interface on the Barista Express still appears relatively straightforward.
The Barista Express will allow you to set the size of the ground coffee as well as the amount. You have 18 options in terms of ground size giving you lots of control and many users note this is something you’ll need to experiment with to get the perfect taste for your own preferences.
The ground coffee is also delivered directly into the espresso portafilter where you can then use the provided Razor tool to trim the coffee in the puck to the correct level to allow for the best extraction. You can then use the tamper, which is attached magnetically to the front of the machine, to prep the coffee before attaching it to the group head.
Bear in mind though that the grinder will only let you dispense ground beans by pressing the dedicated group head in so if you intended to use the grinder to grind coffee for other machines e.g. filter machine, keep this in mind.
In terms of ease of use, though machines are relatively straightforward, the Barista Touch is certainly the easier of the two with its touch screen operation taking the lead.
To help coffee lovers get the best out of their machines as well as save time on configuring the settings every time they go to make their favourite drink, a number of machines on the market allow for a level of personalisation (i.e. memorised programmes).
This can often mean that once you’ve found your desired settings on a machine, you can then have the machine remember them so next time you want to replicate the drink you just press a button rather than having to manually re-do it.
The Barista Touch from Sage excels in this area as it offers up to 6 personalised drinks choices. The machine will let you setup a drink from scratch or alternatively if you’ve made a drink and you’d like to save the setting, you can also do that.
The Barista Express, on the other hand, does not have these personalisation features being a more typical manual espresso machine. You do, however, have the option of re-programming the standard volume of the one or two-shot pours.
You can also have full control over the amount of coffee that goes into your cup by holding down the one or two cup buttons and then letting go when its reached your desired volume.
When it comes to milk frothing the Sage Barista Touch comes with an automatic steam wand to help get your milk the right texture and temperature for your favourite milk-based drinks. Indeed the high quality of the microfoam the automatic milk frother produces is something that is noted often by users who note it produces light and flowing microfoam with a consistency that is well suited to cappuccinos and lattes.
To get the job done you simply place the milk jug in the correct spot and the machine will do the rest of the work for you depending on what you’ve selected. You also then have the option of adjusting the milk temperature to suit your needs. In addition, you can also adjust the frothiness of the milk if it’s not quite to your liking.
The Barista Express on the other hand also has a steam wand but with manual operation giving you a more barista-like experience. The steam wand will allow you to warm up as well as froth the milk as it creates micro-foam to get a velvety texture for your desired milk-based drinks.
The milk frother is something that is consistently noted by users for producing a velvety texture in its final result.
The Barista Express is a single-boiler unit meaning the boiler temperature has to be increased first to make steam. This means it can take a little bit of time for the steam to be produced and for the steam to build up to get the frothing going.
The Barista Touch is also a single boiler unit but has a different type of boiler that can heat up in just 3 seconds.
In terms of capacity, the Barista Touch has a 250g bean container which sits quite helpfully at the top of the machine for easy access. It also has a 2 litre water tank complete with a water filter. The machine also comes with a 480ml metal milk jug.
The Sage Barista Express also has a 250g bean hopper and 2 litre water tank.
Both machines give you the option of making one or two drinks at the same time, helpful for when you have a guest.
The size of your coffee machine could be a critical factor in your decision making especially if you have a specific space you want to place it in.
The Barista Touch has the following dimensions:
32.2 (W) x 39.4 (D) x 40.7 (H) cm
Whilst the Barista Express has the following dimensions:
32.5 (W) x 31 (D) x 40 cm (H)
Whilst the width and height of the two units is near enough the same, the noticeable difference comes with the depth where the Barista touch has an extra 8.4cm.
With whichever model you opt for, you’ll need to ensure it can fit well on your kitchen counter but clearly, out of the two, the Barista Express would take up less space.
When it comes to design and construction both the Barista Touch and Barista Express look the part.
Both machines are made of brushed stainless steel giving them a high-quality look, something users of Sage products have come to expect. The Barista Touch also comes with a BPA free water tank.
In terms of colours, both the Sage Barista Touch and Express are available in a brushed stainless steel look (think silver) as well as in black.
When you are spending so much on an appliance you are likely to use at least once a day, the product warranty can provide some additional peace of mind.
Both the Barista Touch and Barista Express come available with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty including repair, replacement, or refund based on Sage’s assessment of the unit.
When it comes to price the Barista Touch and Barista Express do have a significant gap.
The Barista Express is typically available for around £550 – £600 whilst the Barista Touch typically comes in at around £1,000 ( do of course check as prices can vary).
Though the machines look fairly similar a large part of the reason the Barista Touch is more expensive is that it is far easier to use with its integrated touch screen and range of automatic features. It also has a completely different boiler which can heat up in just 3 seconds.
What Do Users Say
When it comes to user reviews, the Barista Touch appears to keep users quite happy. Users appear particularly happy with the quality of the taste in coffee it produces with several noting, however, that the quality of the bean will be critical to this.
One of the main things that stand out is that users feel the quality of the milk frother is generally excellent. Many also note how well designed the machine is and how it looks and feels like a high-quality made product.
Several users do note, however, that it takes some time to learn to get the best out of the machine though they also note that this is expected given it is a semi-automatic unit.
In terms of drawbacks, some users do note that the drip tray could be larger as it can fill up relatively quickly. This is due to the machine purging on startup and shut-down.
The Barista Express comes with near-universal high praise from users with many mentioning how good the coffee it produces. The high-quality build of the Barista Express is something else that sticks out from user reviews as well as the quality of the microfoam the steamer can produce.
Many users do note that if you are looking for a hands-off coffee-making experience then the Barista Express is probably not your best choice but if you’re willing to learn how to use it, they feel you can make great tasting coffee.
With regards to drawbacks, something that appears mentioned by some is the idea the drip tray could be larger as it seems to fill up relatively quickly. They also note you’ll need to keep the machine regularly cleaned to maintain it in the long-run, though worth noting that this would apply to most coffee machines.
Conclusion: Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express
Overall when it comes to the Sage Barista Touch vs Barista Express you are faced with two excellent barista-style coffee makers that offer some distinct differences in terms of the key features as well as coffee-making experience and price point.
The Sage Barista Touch comes with an automated touch screen menu that will walk you through a 3 step coffee making process and give you a mix of automation and manual operation. It also has a fast-acting boiler. These key differences to the Barista Express help to explain the difference in price between the two with the Barista Touch being the more expensive of the two.
The Barista Express appears to offer a great alternative if you want to get more hands-on with your coffee making and don’t mind the lack of automation at the same level as the Barista Touch. Either way with both machines you get coffee makers that come generally very highly regarded by existing users.