Vegetarian recipe ideas
Get plenty of meat-free inspiration with our easy, versatile recipes
For automation at every stage and just enough adjustability to experiment, the Sage Oracle Touch espresso machine offers a gratifying coffee experience
This is the Rolls Royce of the coffee machine world and may just be the biggest investment you make for your kitchen. Why? Because whether you're a coffee newbie or connoisseur, it manages to be both simple and fully adjustable. Tailor everything from the grind size and brew quantity, to milk froth and temperatures. Plus with five coffee house classics ready at presets, the process from bean to cup is a relatively fast.
Although fully automated, the fun bits are left for you to do, like loading the portafilter, measuring your milk and controlling its froth level. This way, you keep the connection to the process whilst the machine takes care of the rest.
It's a large machine that will dominate your countertop, and ideally requires two people to unbox. A separate box of accessories is included, containing one-cup and two-cup filter baskets, a 58mm stainless steel portafilter, 480ml stainless steel milk jug, a proper mini grinds bin for decanting old grind cakes into and elements for the care and cleaning of the machine and milk wand. Every accessory feels and looks high quality, weighty and comfortable to hold in your hand. Keep hold of the instruction manual; it's short but contains valuable info around machine cleaning.
With an appliance so expensive, installation can be daunting, but the SAGE has an excellent process in place for walking you through the setup, all done via the touchscreen. Once plugged in, the screen walks you through the machine and its functions, a step-by-step coffee tutorial, guide to extraction and extra tips around technique for making a good coffee every time. These guides are always accessible through the information option on screen for referring back to.
The opening of the water tank is located just above the touchscreen controls, which means you need to be quite precise about your pouring or you risk dripping water onto it. You can see the level from the front of the machine. Once the hopper is fitted (an intuitive process) and filled with beans, it's ready for a drink to be selected.
The machine takes a little time to warm up. Once a preset has been selected, there are options to tailor its recommended pre-set elements. Grind size can become finer or coarser, water temperature adjusted and milk steamer temperature changed. Once the portafilter is loaded, grinding, dosing and tamping (compression of the grounds) all happens automatically. This is a loud process.
Coffee extraction should happen between 8 and twelve seconds, so we played around with the grind to find the perfect espresso. For a black Americano, you can add more hot water. The spout is behind where you load the portafilter, so take care to position it to above the rim of the cup if using a narrow mug.
The stainless steel milk jug requires you to manoeuvre the wand into it. Steaming time and temperature are adjustable. Once finished and replaced back above the drip tray, it will auto-clean on the inside. Remember to wipe the outside after every use or you'll end up with an off-milk flavour. Eight custom drinks can be saved onto the machine's main menu; an excellent personalisation touch.
We tested every drink preset, but at the core is the espresso and this is where, thankfully, the machine really shines. For the single-cup filter and the grind set to level 10, the machine automatically measured out 15g of coffee pre-brew and drew 24g of aromatic espresso, topping it with a thick, silky crema. When using the double cup filter, 47g of extracted coffee was split evenly into two cups.
Occasional care and maintenance is essential to the longevity of a machine like this. The pack equips you with guidance on how to run the cleaning phases, change the water filter or tackle the inevitable build-up of limescale around every 200 shots. Descaler is sold separately on the Sage site.
It's pricey and it's big, but the Sage Oracle Touch is an espresso machine designed to make coffee equally fun for novice and expert baristas. The user is guided through the automatic and personalised functions, then given room to experiment. You don't lose any connection with the processes, which is gratifyingly hands-on and, with the right care, it's built to last.
Serial number: SES990BSS2G1UK1
Ground capacity: one- and two-cup
Average pressure: 15-bar
Water tank capacity: 2.5 litres
Bean hopper capacity: 280g
Dimensions: 39.2 x 37.3 x 45.4
Material: brushed stainless steel, stainless steel dual boiler
Accessories: mini grinds bin, 58mm full stainless steel portafilter, one and two cup single-wall filter baskets, 480ml stainless steel milk jug, steam wand spare parts, cleaning kit, water hardness test strip, water filter holder and water filter
Features: integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder
Settings: touch screen operation, five pre-programmed drinks, adjustable grind control, programmable milk temperature and texture, single and double shot options, hot water, pre-infusion function
This review was last updated in May 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.