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Breville / Sage Bambino Plus review 2021

A compact, easy to use espresso machine with plenty of room for customization

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Breville Bambino Plus (Sage Bambino Plus in the UK) is a pain-free espresso machine, and great for people who are happy to pay a little extra for consistency. The cost may appear a little high, but there are plenty of extraction customization features packed in that rarely make it down to this price range, making it an excellent buy for both beginners and more advanced at-home baristas.

For

  • Reliable, consistent shots
  • Automatic milk frothing
  • Customizable pre-infusion
  • Four brew basket options

Against

  • Lightweight design
  • Sometimes fiddly portafilter

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Breville Bambino Plus (Sage Bambino Plus in the UK) is a pain-free espresso machine, and great for people who are happy to pay a little extra for consistency. The cost may appear a little high, but there are plenty of extraction customization features packed in that rarely make it down to this price range, making it an excellent buy for both beginners and more advanced at-home baristas.

Pros

  • + Reliable, consistent shots
  • + Automatic milk frothing
  • + Customizable pre-infusion
  • + Four brew basket options

Cons

  • - Lightweight design
  • - Sometimes fiddly portafilter
  • -

The Breville Bambino Plus (known as the Sage Bambino Plus in the UK) carries a premium price tag, but if you're after a reliable espresso machine with high-quality parts and a no-fuss operation then it's a must-see. It boasts several features rarely present in the best coffee makers in this $400-$500 (£300-£400) price range like automatic milk frothing, single and double walled baskets, and customizable pre-infusion. The Bambino Plus certainly packs excellent value for money - if you're willing to stretch your budget a little further. 

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus specs

Reservoir capacity: 64oz
Size: 12.6 x 11.8 x 7.7 inches
Accessories: Tamper, trimming tool, milk pitcher, cleaning tools, four baskets
Features: Automatic milk frothing, pre-infusion, adjustable milk temperature and texture
Warranty: 2 years, limited

All of those features combine to make the Breville Bambino Plus a worthwhile investment both for beginners and more experienced brewers looking to experiment while being safe in the knowledge that their machine can produce high quality espresso straight out of the box. After all, the Bambino Plus makes it very difficult to go too wrong here. 

I put the Breville / Sage Bambino Plus through its paces to find it out if it really is one of the best espresso machines available right now, brewing multiple cups a day, all using different grind sizes, flavor profiles, and roasts. After weeks of testing, you'll find all of the results right here.

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus: Price

For those just starting out in home espresso brewing, the initial cost of the Breville Bambino Plus may be off-putting. At $499.95 / £399.99, this certainly isn't an entry level device. However, the Bambino Plus does also incorporate many features that would be difficult to find even on more expensive espresso machines.

From milk temperature and texture control to a three second warm up time, customizable pre-infusion settings and professional grade baskets, that additional cost is well worth it to ensure a high quality shot every time you need one. 

The Breville Bambino Plus hasn't always been this expensive, though. Before the global pandemic, prices were averaging around $399 and even dropping to £220 in the UK. However, those costs quickly matched the growing demand for premium at-home coffee makers at the start of 2020. While we're yet to see the average fall once again, with those pressures easing off now it's likely you'll be able to find a reduced price on this model soon enough. 

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus: Features

Breville Sage Bambino Plus coffee maker

(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps the most exciting feature in the Breville Bambino Plus is the milk frothing system. The machine will automatically steam your milk to the optimum temperature, creating a velvety texture and even nailing thicker micro-foam on top. I found the automatic cleaning system to be particularly helpful, as there's no need to wash through the steam wand either (though a wipe around the tip will still be necessary to keep things sparkling). Plus, you can always steam the milk manually as well. 

However, all that perfectly steamed milk would be nothing without the rich espresso produced from any of the four included standard and dual-walled baskets. The ability to lean on an easier dual-walled basket is appreciated here, as the additional pressure provided by the basket itself won't require too much precision grinding and attention to detail to produce a nice, strong espresso. 

However, the option to brew from a single-walled standard basket will also allow the afficionados among us to tweak their grind size, tamping pressure, and portafilter load to produce a superior cup.

Breville Bambino Plus filter baskets

(Image credit: Future)

The Breville Bambino Plus also allows you to customize the length of time for which the machine pre-infuses the grounds inside the portafilter. This pre-infusion itself is an excellent feature, ensuring a consistent flow rate and therefore balanced flavor by first dampening the grounds at a low pressure. Out of the box, this time period is set to eight seconds, but you'll also be able to press and hold the extraction start button to experiment with different pre-infusion settings based on your grind size or roast.

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus: Design

The Breville / Sage Bambino Plus sports a slimline, curved design with a stainless steel or matte black finish. In addition to this small footprint, those softer edges work hard to avoid the bulky aesthetic of many espresso machines. While the compact style is perfect for keeping your counterspace free, such a small form factor also leaves this machine with a particularly light weight. 

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus coffee maker

(Image credit: Future)

I found that the body of the machine often needed to be steadied while inserting the portafilter, especially if the water tank attached to the back wasn't full. However, removing the drip tray didn't cause any shifting in our testing, which was a relief.

The simple design means there aren't any unnecessary buttons along the front to confuse things, simply options for a single shot, double shot, and a button to steam the milk. Beside this, however, you'll also find controls for setting the milk temperature and the amount of foam.

Sage / Breville Bambino Plus controls

(Image credit: Future)

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus: Ease of Use

Contrary to many mid-range espresso machines with this level of customization and additional features, the Breville Bambino Plus uses its simple design to offer an impressively straightforward operation. There's almost no learning curve to get over here before you're pulling high quality shots and topping them up with perfectly frothed milk - simply push a button and you're off. 

Initial set up is quick and easy, only requiring a manual insertion of the included water filter and a quick system clean before brewing. Plus, Breville also prints descaling instructions clearly on the inside of the water reservoir. 

The automatic milk frother also makes producing textured milk with a fluffy top effortless. Simply place the included jug on the temperature sensor, press a button and watch as the machine does all the hard work for you, and does it well to boot. Not only that, but once you've flipped the nozel back to its starting position, the system will automatically steam the wand to wash through any remaining milk.

Breville Bambino Plus milk frother

(Image credit: Future)

The only hitch here is that the drip tray is a little too small to keep up with the additional water coming through the milk frother cleaning system. That means you'll be washing it out fairly regularly - I found myself draining it nearly every other day when brewing around four drinks a day with milk.

Breville / Sage Bambino Plus: Performance

The first thing you'll notice about the Breville Bambino Plus is how quickly you can dive into using it. This machine can heat up in just three seconds, and quickly switch between extracting and steaming. That's an incredible feature, and one that can't be matched by many machines on the market today. 

I found the pre-infusion settings, however, to be the real game changer. Paired with high quality beans, a precise grind, and the single-walled basket, this pre-infusion customization allowed me to experiment until learning how to produce an extremely full-bodied and well balanced shot. Tasting the difference in the richness from cup to cup while tweaking this pre-infusion time was testament to just how much control this feature unlocks.

Breville Bambino Plus coffee maker

(Image credit: Future)

If you don't have a precise grinder, or you're using pre-ground coffee, however, you'll still be pouring an excellent shot with the double-walled option. Compared to cheaper machines, I was impressed with the balance achieved here as well as the Bambino Plus's ability to maintain the original flavor complexities of my chosen roaster even through a double walled basket.

It did take a little extra work to really unlock the full potential of the Bambino Plus, but even if you're not using one of the best coffee grinders with precise controls you'll still taste the premium nature of this machine. 

Breville Sage Bambino Plus review

(Image credit: Future)

This is still an at-home espresso machine, of course, so you won't find the delicate flavor treatment or silkiness of a more industrial-grade model. That said, I found the espresso shots produced were still comparable to those I'd buy at a coffee shop and certainly a cut above shots from cheaper $200-$300 / £200-£300 machines.

What We Didn't Like

The Breville Bambino Plus does, of course, come with its own frustrations. That smaller drip tray meant a little more maintenance and the lightweight form factor did require some extra attention when inserting the portafilter. However these design quirks are easy enough to live with. 

If, like me, you drink smaller coffees like a flat white, the included milk jug may not gel with your needs quite as easily as it would for a latte or cappuccino. It's a little too wide for preparing these smaller drinks, with the minimum fill line (designed to cover the tip of the milk steam wand) sitting a little higher than our milk requirements. 

This initially led to a lot of milk being poured away once the cup was full, but with some trial and error to find out where the minimum fill line really is I was able to reduce that wastage considerably. Plus, you can also always pick up a smaller stainless steel jug to use with the machine instead.  

Should you buy the Breville / Sage Bambino Plus?

Breville Sage Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Future)

If you're looking for a pain-free espresso, and are happy to pay a little extra to ensure high quality every time, you'll be right at home with the Breville Bambino Plus. The same is true even if you're a beginner who wants to learn and experiment, with the default temperature settings yielding a smooth extraction process straight out the box, ample instructions on grind sizes and which baskets fit each one, and an automatic milk frothing system. 

More experienced at-home baristas, however, will also have plenty to play with, from the professional grade single walled baskets not usually found in machines at this price point to the customizable pre-infusion settings. 

If that price point is still looking inhibitive, it's worth noting that the DeLonghi Dedica EC680 does come in a little cheaper (you'll usually find it for around $299 /£219), with the same compact footprint and easy to use design. However you are dropping some of the more professional features of the Bambino Plus.

Another option is the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe which creeps a little closer to Breville in terms of features (there are still single walled baskets and pre-infusion here), but drops automatic milk frothing to save some extra cash on the final $332 / £249 cost.

Overall, though, the Breville Bambino Plus is an excellent all-in-one machine covering all the basics straight out the box while also offering high grade customization and milk frothing options not regularly found at this price point. 

Tabs is a deals editor on our sister site TechRadar. She spends most of her time searching for the best prices on top consumer tech, but has also written about everything from flower delivery to mattresses.