It’s been a terrible year. I’m not going to dance around that. But when we look at the legacy of this pandemic, global acceptance of remote working or working from home will be one of the few positives we remember. The Irish government has introduced new legislation to encourage remote working and I would imagine the goal here is to decentralise the Irish workforce from Dublin. As one of the “home office” generation, I noticed I was spending far too much in the local coffee shop. It’s all well and good “supporting local business” but it was going to leave me broke. So I invested in a coffee machine. I might be stretching “tech” here a little but, but given there’s plenty of people out there in the same boat, here’s everything you need to know about buying the best espresso machine for your home office.
Are Espresso Machines Worth It?
I’m going to start here because I remember a time when I wasn’t convinced. Espresso machines do a lot more than those tiny little cups of coffee, thought I’ve grown to love them too. Basically, every coffee drink imaginable starts with an espresso. Just check out this handy chart:
Can you see the common denominator? Yup, everything needs espresso. Once you have an espresso machine it opens up the world of gorgeous homemade beverages. Over the Christmas, I got to use another espresso machine and made some lovely Gaelic Coffees. Honestly, having an espresso machine is awesome.
That’s the emotional side of having a machine justified, but what about the financial? Well, before I got my espresso machine, we were buying two coffees probably three of four times a week. That’s over a grand a year on coffees. Some weeks with less, some weeks with more but regardless, buying coffee is expensive. Even with the additional expenses of adding in milk or your milk alternative (I’m an oat milk man) along with coffee beans, if you like popping out for a latte you could save a small fortune by getting yourself a coffee machine.
Sold. Now what do you need to look out for.
What To Look For In An Espresso Machine
The reason I’m writing this is because I did a lot of digging and asking around before picking a coffee machine. I learned a lot. I learned that there’s a difference between an appliance and a commercial level machine that goes beyond the sheer volume of coffee the machines churn out. Before I bought the Sage Bambino Plus, I had picked up a €100 espresso machine in Lidl. It was grand, but I wouldn’t have seen my beloved cream that I now seek in every cup. I could never go back.
Basically, if you think you’re going turn out to be a bit of a coffee nerd and start chasing the perfect cup coffee, you might want to go for a slightly higher end espresso machine. Something like the Gaggia Classic. If you know this is a fad, follow what I did and grab a €100 espresso machine from Argos or Lidl when they’re on sale. Bit if you’re working from home and enjoy really good coffee, you can’t go wrong with the Sage Bambino Plus. It has all the traits of a perfect espresso machine when working from home. The simple reason is that the Bambino Plus is an appliance more than a commercial grade espresso machine. It’s easier to use than most commercial espresso machines but still delivers a certain degree of room for you to perfect your cuppa.
Pressurised Or Non-pressurised Baskets
These are the four baskets included with your new Sage Bambino machine. The thing in the middle at the bottom is your portafilter. That’s the handle thing that fits into the machine. The four baskets do very different jobs. The two on the right are pressurised baskets. These are for single and double espresso shots and are great when you’re buying ground coffee beans from the supermarket. This is because you don’t want that much control and just want the machine to make an espresso. On the left are non-pressurised baskets. These are for when you buy whole beans and grind them yourself. More on grinding later, but the important thing to remember is that you get all of these so the machine well let you do what ever you like as you get used to making home coffees.
Take another look at that coffee style chart. Foamed milk is also massively important. Milk foaming wands are common on espresso machines, but they’re tough to master. Foam too long and you burn the milk. Also, good luck cleaning the wand. Don’t froth long enough and you’ll have yourself a cold coffee.
The Bambino Plus is one of the few machines on the market with a auto-froth function. At least one of the few on operating on this level. Just fill the jug included with your machine with milk or oat milk. Pop the jug under the wand and hit the button. You’re done.
I’ve used the frothing function for hot chocolates and even baking too. Handy thing to have in the kitchen. The bonus of it being automated is that it also cleans itself too.
The Bambino Plus doesn’t have a grinder built in but there is another Sage machine that does. I don’t recommend this though for one very simple reason. If you buy that machine and the coffee machine breaks, your grinder is useless. If the grinder breaks, it’s taking up a lot of space on the counter for just an espresso machine.
I’ve gone ahead and bought the matching Sage Smart Grinder Pro. This means when I buy new beans I need to play with the grind settings a few times to get the perfect espresso, but when it’s done it’s done. You can feed the hopper and forget, even setting a grind time too.
Why The Sage Bambino Plus Is Perfect
Look, I’m after flying through that but the reason I did is because I wanted to get to this bit. Why I believe this is the perfect espresso machine for your home office. At the end of the day, it’s ok to want a nice coffee to start your day. The ritual of making a coffee is something I really look forward to every morning. But if I had one of the other machines which can be a lot less forgiving on grind size or tamping, the chances of you messing up your coffee and having to start over is much higher.
The setup I have lets your morning coffee be quite a simple routine but also ensure you’re having a really nice cup of Joe. Well, once you buy nice beans of course. Cloudpicker’s Sam is my own coffee of choice.
But you don’t have to buy fancy coffee or even buy whole bean. The pressurised baskets mean you can just grab ground coffee beans from the local supermarket and start making your own lattes.
While the set up isn’t cheap, it’s perfect for small to medium homes who love a good coffee. Once you consider the potential savings over the life of having a machine like this, the price looks much smaller.