technology

Sage Barista Express Impress percolator coffee maker test: a technological monster full of tricks

Ease of use

The latest release from the Sage workshops, the Barista Express Impress percolator coffee maker benefits from the construction quality specific to the Australian manufacturer. Entirely streamlined in brushed stainless steel (which unfortunately catches fingerprints very quickly), it makes a very strong impression when it comes out of the box and you don’t hesitate for a second to display it on a work surface. We will also avoid dedicating a shelf to it, even firmly fixed to the wall, since the machine reaches a weight of 11.7 kg, empty tank.

Barista Express Impress

A fine bit of machine!

There are of course some plastic parts such as the bean container (which can hold 250 g of coffee), the drip tray (very inconspicuous in the end), or even the cover under the ground coffee dispensing orifice and conceals the tamping system.

The water tank reaches a volume of 2 l which is quite comfortable, since it is not necessary to refill it all the time after pouring only two or three drinks. As often on percolator coffee makers, it is located at the back of the device; it can therefore be difficult to extract it from its housing – and replace it there – when the high kitchen units are placed low enough.

The bean container can also be tricky to replenish. Indeed, its opening culminates at 41 cm and, in the worst case (high furniture placed 46 cm from the worktop), there is therefore only a height of 5 cm left to fill it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to hold it against the Barista Express Impress since all the percolator coffee makers adopt a very similar architecture. It should be noted that the lid of the tray is fitted with a rubber seal to protect the coffee beans from the harmful effects of ambient humidity, a little extra present on many coffee makers in our comparison.

Barista Express Impress

All of this is not as complicated as it sounds.

The Barista Express Impress’s control panel can impress with all its dials, physical buttons and the famous pressure gauge in the center. However, with a little practice, we find ourselves there very quickly, even if we tend to go from left to right and from right to left to refine all the settings. So we start by setting the fineness of the grind with the wheel located on the left side of the machine. And if the 25 levels offered were not enough, you can also adjust the wheel directly.

After this step, we continue by indicating to the Barista Express Impress which type of filter (single or double) is inserted in the filter holder, which will influence the quantity of coffee ground by the device. The latter can be modified manually by the user by playing with the appropriate wheel or left to the judgment of the coffee maker by pressing said wheel. In the latter case, it will take one or two preparations in the coffee maker to properly adjust the dose.

Barista Express Impress

Pressing the dial switches from auto mode to manual mode, and vice versa.

Comes (finally!) the moment to pack the powder by pressing on the arm. Even if it remains very subjective, the use of this appendage with the Delonghi Specialista has a little something more satisfying. Here, a touch of the finger is enough, which has less impact. Note that an electronic indicator in the form of a diode indicates whether the quantity settings are correct. If this is not the case, you can restart the mill or remove the excess powder with an accessory provided by Sage. And finally, all that remains is to choose whether one or two cups will be prepared. O joy, the coffee can finally flow!

Barista Express Impress

The assisted tamping arm and the grind fineness adjustment wheel.

Preparing a coffee therefore requires a little investment, but you are surprised quite quickly to play the game and test the different possibilities offered to see the pressure gauge needle stabilize in the perfect zone during extraction or , in a more “professional” way, to be satisfied with a flow of nectar in a “rat’s tail” and without jolts.

However, there is one last step for lovers of milk drinks: heat and froth the milk using the steam nozzle which also dispenses hot water. Good point, it is particularly mobile, which considerably simplifies the task.

Please note that the wheel which triggers the distribution of steam (by turning it towards you) also starts that of hot water (by turning it in the opposite direction). In addition, the distribution nozzles are not the same since the hot water does not come out of the lance, but from a fixed pipe, placed on the far right under the control panel. Better to know!

Barista Express Impress

Steam and hot water do not come out of the same hole.

As we can see, the Barista Express Impress offers multiple settings with direct access. However, two important ones are missing in our opinion, namely the quantity of drink delivered and the temperature of the beverage. These can be adjusted, but using combinations of buttons and long and short presses that are not very instinctive. It will therefore be necessary to study the instructions for use to be sure of the manipulations to be carried out. Too bad, we lose ease.

Barista Express Impress

The Barista Express Impress and its multiple filters.

Sage is very generous with accessories. No less than four filters are included in the box, some of which are intended for slightly less fresh or already ground coffee. Be careful, they are very difficult to remove from the filter holder, and you have to pull them hard. There’s also a stainless steel milk jug, the infamous coffee overdose repair tool (pompously dubbed The Razor), as well as multiple cleaning tools for the filters, steam wand, and innards of the coffee maker. An Allen key is even provided to disassemble the showerhead before changing the seal. And as Sage has planned everything, a small drawer attached to the drip tray allows you to store these maintenance tools.

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5

Maintenance

Coffee makers with percolators are generally quite easy to maintain and the Barista Express Impress is no exception. The drip tray is not difficult to empty, as it is not very deep. Another asset, a lid completely covers the latter, which prevents dirty water splashes. Finally, the water flows through a hole drilled in this famous cover. In a nutshell, the operation can be carried out without a priorieven if the user is wearing a freshly ironed white shirt.

Barista Express Impress

The accessory drawer is located behind the drip tray.

Percolator coffee makers are not appliances that require too much maintenance, but we would have liked it to rinse the shower head (which distributes the water during extraction) on switching on and off, which which is not the case. However, it can happen that wet ground coffee beans stick to it. It will therefore be necessary to carry out this operation manually or to give a small blow of cloth.

Barista Express Impress

The pad is easily accessible for cleaning.

Note, however, that Sage gives access to many parts of the Barista Express Impress, including the grinding wheel (like Delonghi on its Specialista), but also the tamping tool. In addition, the box contains many tools to clean the machine in every corner.

Barista Express Impress

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