A portafilter machine with the convenience of a fully automatic coffee machine? In the test, the Sage Barista Touch convinces us of the combined concept.
Fully automatic against portafilter, which is almost a discussion of faith with coffee fans. Sage tries the Barista Touch on a machine that combines the advantages of both worlds. The filter holder combines the mill and the brewing unit in one device. We have tested the coffee machine as part of our theme world fully automatic.
Design and workmanship
Immediately after unpacking, both weight and workmanship are positive. The machine weighs just under 11 kg and is heavy enough to look valuable, but not so heavy that you can not place it properly. The workmanship is clean, even though plastic dominates as a material. We really liked that the Sage Barista Touch can be set up and dismantled in just a few steps. Also clever: Behind the collecting container is a plastic box in which you can accommodate the tool for cleaning and maintenance. So everything is clean and tidy yet within reach.
During the first startup, the colored touch display leads through the setup. That's understandable, it's easy to follow. Using a cappuccino, the machine explains how to adjust the degree of malting, how to set the Maldauer, how to use the filter holder and how to froth up milk. There are also tips on coffee quality. As with most portafilters, you have to play something until you get the malt degree and pressure so that the water flows through in the right time.
We especially liked the milk frother. Fill the supplied metal can with milk to the min-max mark, place it on the right side of the sensor and fold down the frother. The machine then foams the milk to the set temperature and specification for the frothiness and switches off. You fold the steam lance forward, take out the pot and fold back the foam trunk. Then it rinses automatically. In test mode, it worked perfectly and keeps the nozzle clean; Of course, once you have to wipe it over, you have to do it by hand.
The large touch display makes the operation pleasantly easy. First you choose your drink, espresso, coffee, cappuccino or flat white are deposited. Then it goes from left to right: grind beans into the portafilter, press flour with the enclosed tamper, brew coffee and possibly make the milk to foam. Each option can be customized. The machine also remembers what you last set, such as when you change the degree of the mill.
The actual brewing time is controlled over time. An espresso should go through in about 25 to 35 seconds, more detailed information and a help to Troubleshooting supplies the Kaffeewiki, In our case, especially the adjustment of the degree of coloring helped to improve the reference. This is easily done via the wheel on the left side, the degree of coloring is taken over for all drinks.
In addition to the stored drinks you can create and save your own recipes. An app like the Nivona NICR 789 (review) is not there, the programming is done via the touch screen. Here are a few limitations. An espresso macchiato, for example, fails because the milk can makes too much milk – so here you either have to foam the milk by hand or wait for someone to make a cappuccino or flat white. Also, the adjustment of the beverage temperature is not.
The touch display itself is useful, but far from the responsiveness of current smartphones. Sometimes there is a short delay before commands are implemented. For use in the coffee machine that is absolutely fine.
Operation and coffee quality
Portafilters make good coffee – if you control them reasonably. In operation, the Sage Barista Touch makes it as easy as possible for the user. Nevertheless, it is more complex than if you pull the coffee from a fully automatic machine. The painting of the beans and especially the pressing with the tamper requires some practice. In the test, for example, we had to adjust the Maldauer to have the right amount of ground coffee in the portafilter. The second challenge is the Tampern, so the pressing of the powder. Too much pressure and the extraction takes too long, too little pressure and the espresso is too weak. The supplied tamper with a diameter of 51 mm is pleasantly handy. With a little practice you get the right pressure. The excess flour can be scraped off with the Razer, a special card included with the machine.
After a bit of playing with the degree of coloring, painting and brewing time, we were able to obtain permanently excellent espresso in the test. Important for friends of classic coffee: Even the machine can, but only as a big Americano. Say, the strong espresso is simply diluted with hot water. This works well, but you should therefore pay attention to coffee on espresso beans. In addition to classic milk, the machine also delivered useable milk foam with oat milk.
The machine actually has everything to brew coffee. Two separately purchased things have helped us in everyday life but clearly: A Abklopfbehälter and a tamping station. Especially the knock-off container makes it easy to knock the coffee grounds (by the way, an excellent plant fertilizer) out of the filter holder without the sieve insert landing in the dustbin. In the test we use a small container, the Grindenstein (price comparison), and can highly recommend it. The tamping station, on the other hand, is pure luxury, with a little practice you can also press the coffee sensibly on the table top.
What was very positive in the test is the short time the machine needs to warm up. Even after a weekend in stand-by, she was up to operating temperature in just a few seconds. This is reflected in the power requirement again. Where Sage drives a well thought out power saving concept. When the Barista One Touch grinds beans, it can produce up to 120W. The highest demand arises during the actual brewing, here the machine pulls up to 1400 W. These are only short peaks, then the demand first drops to 10 W, and then goes back to the 2.7 W of the stand-by mode. After some time, the Barista Touch turns off completely, the power requirement goes back to 0 W. If you want to save even further, you should use an intelligent adapter (advisor), which disconnects the device completely from the network at about night time.
Compared to the normal fully automatic machines it stands out how little the One Touch annoys. There is no need to constantly flush something here, instead the cleaning processes are well integrated into the normal cover, such as the milk foam. This is only possible because a steam lance instead of a milk foam system is used, but it is still very practical. Depending on the hardness of the water you have to do a complete cleaning once a month, with plenty of milk foam you should also clean the steam lance regularly.
Each cleaning step for rinsing, descaling, brew group cleaning and rinsing the milk frother is explained in the display. Sage teaches all the necessary tools, from the blind filter insert to clean the brew group to the needle, which cleans the nozzle of the milk frother. All in all, we were able to complete all the cleaning programs in one go in about 30 to 40 minutes. That's a good value, you can invest well for half an hour.
A separate issue is the cleanliness around the machine. Especially the coffee flour spreads when pressed, it may look like a few references. We therefore recommend placing the machine on a wipeable surface, ideally near a sink. In addition, you should clean the drip tray regularly, ideally every day. There, in addition to the coffee and the milk residues, which results in a very rapid mold growth.
Sage Barista Touch, stainless steel
Sage Barista Touch smoked hickory
Sage Barista Touch black truffle
Sage Barista Touch sea salt
Bark bin Grindenstein, silver-gray
Barking container Grindenstein, black
The Barista Touch creates the balancing act between portafilter and fully automatic machine extremely well. You can adjust it enough so that purists have their fun, while keeping the Frickelei for casual coffee drinker limited. In addition to the coffee quality, we were particularly impressed by the concept around the milk frother. This is much better solved than many other devices that bring only a steam lance. Also, the cleaning is pleasingly easy solved, which makes the machine useful not only for the home, but also for the office.
Nevertheless, there are also a few criticisms. The display could react faster. In addition, smaller quantities of milk are not automatically possible, whoever drinks espresso macchiato, has to froth milk by hand or pick up the remains of milk from cappuccino drinkers. But these are little things, all in all, the Sage Barista Touch has left a very good impression – and dispelled one or the other prejudice against Siebträger-machines with colleagues.