Sage Oracle Vs Barista Express, Sage Dual Boiler & Duo-Temp Pro


If you’re currently trying to decide between Sage Oracle Vs Barista Express, Duo-Temp Pro or the Sage Dual Boiler then this post is specifically for you. The reason I wrote this post, is that while there are many other articles addressing “Sage Oracle Vs Barista Express”, etc., most of them seem to be focusing purely on the technical differences, while actually, these are four very different machines, so it’s quite easy to point people in the right direction by just pointing out these main distinctions.

I’m going through the important technical features too, but not in a way which then leaves it down to you to figure out which is right for you, my aim is to make it very clear which machine would be the right choice among these four, and then to go into further detail if you’re interested in reading more.

My introduction to Sage Espresso Machines

Coffee Made With Sage Oracle Espesso Machine.

The Sage Oracle in my kitchen, haha, check out my first attempt at latte art!!

A couple of years ago, while coffee blog was in it’s infancy, so to speak, a reader asked a question about Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Oracle – which intrigued me, as I’d not heard much about Sage Appliances at the time, and I hadn’t realised they were anything to do with the cooking genius Heston Blumenthal.

So I did a bit of research and discovered that the Breville coffee machines I’d read about on American and Aussie websites are branded as Sage in the UK, due to the Breville name having being sold years back here.

I found that these machines had really made quite an impact in the States and Australia, but in the UK at the time it didn’t seem that these machines had really been accepted by the speciality coffee scene as prosumer machines, although they appeared to be priced at prosumer level, so I thought I’d find out for myself. 

I contacted Sage Appliances, they were very friendly – and don’t forget, at the time the blog was tiny, it didn’t have anywhere near the number of readers it has today, it was very insignificant, so the fact that they were responsive (many other espresso machine manufactures I contacted at the time weren’t so responsive, some still aren’t) and happy to be of assistance, impressed me straight away. 

They offered to send me the Sage the Oracle machine for me to use for a week and review, and Sage Appliances have been a constant feature in my kitchen ever since. I don’t have the Oracle now, only had it for a week, I don’t have the Barista Express or Dual Boiler either – but I soon ended up purchasing the Sage Smart Grinder Pro, and I’ve had the Sage Smart Kettle for 18 months or so now, too.

One thing I can tell you, from a couple of years now as user of various different Sage Appliances, is that these machines are very well made, the value for money generally speaking with Sage/Breville machines is brilliant, and their customer service and support is incredibly good, so I can vouch for sage as a user, I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with Sage/Breville machines.

But having said that, when it comes to the Espresso machines, they do have a range of different machines, some aimed more at the home barista than others, and hopefully this post will help you to decide which machine is best for you, if you’re considering buying the Oracle, Barista Express, Dual Boiler or Duo Temp.

A Quick Cheat Sheet Guide on Figuring out Which Espresso Machine is Right for you.

Before we go on, I just want to make it as easy as possible for you to figure out which of these Sage Espresso machines may be the right choice for you, by understanding which user each machine is intended for, and understanding what kind of user you are. 

I just want the best coffee possible, as conveniently as possible, without developing Barista skills – & I have a large budget, over a grand.

If this describes you, then the Sage Oracle is intended for you. The RRP of the Oracle is £1699, but you can usually find it somewhere on offer. Currently it’s on offer on Amazon for the lowest price I’ve seen, which is £1,169 – click here to check the current offer price on Amazon UK.

We’ll get more into this shortly, but briefly, using the Oracle is like traditional espresso making, but aided by the amazing brains of the machine, which Sage describe as a “barista inside.”

It looks and feels like using a traditional semi auto Espresso machine, but the machine does most of it for you, allowing you to pull amazing shots and perfectly steam milk, right out of the box, without the usual learning curve of using such a machine. 

I just want the best coffee possible, as conveniently as possible, without developing Barista skills – & I have a budget of a couple of hundred quid.

If the above describes you, then when it comes to Sage machines, the Duo Temp Pro is made for you. It’s a traditional semi auto machine, but unlike many of its slightly cheaper competitors in this domestic Espresso machine category, it has a basic PID (meaning temperature stability) and it comes with both pressurized and standard filter baskets. 

What this means, is that you will be able to get OK results with a cheap electric grinder, or even pre-ground coffee beans, and if you decide you want to see what this machine can do if you invest in a better grinder such as a Sage Smart Grinder Pro, and start heading into home barista territory, you can launch the pressurized baskets in the cupboard & bring out the standard baskets.

The Duo Temp Pro RRP is £379.95, but you can usually find an offer for it, the current price on Amazon UK is a great deal at £239 (click here to see the current offer price on Amazon UK for the Duo Temp Pro).

While I often see the Duo Temp Pro compared to cheaper domestic machines, really this espresso machine is in a different league to most of the £100-£200 domestic low cost espresso machines, and it should be compared with machines such as the Gaggia classic, and Rancilio Silvia. 

The Duo Temp Pro is a very similar price to the Gaggia Classic, and is quite a bit cheaper than the Silvia.  I won’t get into too much comparison between these machines here, I’ll keep this as an idea for another post, but I had the Gaggia Classic for a couple of years, great machine for the price, but in terms of features, including PID, and since the Duo Temp Pro comes with a proper steam wand so you don’t have to mod it, the Sage machine does seem to be a very good choice out of the two. Silvia, well, it’s a bit more pricey, it doesn’t come with a PID, and without PID it’s known to be a bit of an unruly beast ;-), so again, at least on paper, the Duo Temp Pro competes very well.

I want to do the home Barista thing, but my budget is very tight.

If this is you, it depends on what you mean by a tight budget. 

If you hold out for a great offer on the Barista Express (RRP is £599.99, but they’re often on offer on Amazon and John Lewis – at the time on offer, as it’s in the lead up to Christmas, I’m seeing some brilliant offers for machines on Amazon, including the Barista Express for around £435 – click here to check the current offer price on Amazon UK) you’ll probably get it for under £500. This includes the integrated grinder, so you don’t need to spend extra on the grinder. 

If you can’t afford around five hundred quid, then if you can get the Duo Temp Pro for around £300 or less depending on the current offer, but then just keep in mind that the best offer you’ll usually find for the Sage Smart Grinder Pro is about £150-£170, which I can tell you from personal experience, is a great price for such a brilliant grinder.  The Dose Control Pro is a slightly cheaper version of this grinder, without the LED controls, the RRP is £159.99, but again, you can often find it on offer – you’ll also often find a great bundle offer for the Sage Dose Control Pro & Duo Temp Pro – Click here to check the current bundle price. At the time of writing, it’s £378, which I think is a bargain!

You could go for the Duo Temp Pro with a non-Sage grinder, such as the Baratza Encore, or even a much cheaper electric grinder such as one of the De’Longhi burr grinders or the Krups burr grinders. Just keep in mind that you’re not likely to get the same results from a £30-£50 grinder, and that really, you should be looking at investing a couple of hundred quid on a grinder, the grinder is as important, if not more important, than the Espresso machine. So if you do go for a cheaper option, I’d recommend that you class it as a temporary option. Also see Best budget coffee grinders in the UK

I want to do the home Barista thing, and my budget is fairly decent, over a grand. 

If this describes you, then I’d steer you away from the Oracle, and also away from the Barista Express, and towards the Sage Dual Boiler.

The Sage Dual Boiler is a dual boiler machine as with the Oracle, which means you can pull your shots and steam your milk at the same time. It doesn’t have an integrated grinder, and it doesn’t have the assistance of the Oracle (doesn’t have auto tamping and auto steaming) so it’s a machine along the lines of other dual boiler prosumer Espresso machines, and it offers really good value for money when you look at the features of this machine at the price. 

RRP is £1299, but as with most of these machines, you can find offers for them, and the best offer I’ve seen so far is on Amazon for just over a grand, and I think it’s a bargain at that price! Click here to see the current offer price for the Sage Dual Boiler on Amazon UK

Don’t forget, this machine doesn’t come with an integrated grinder, so you’ll need a grinder too – but keep in mind that other dual boiler machines with PID can cost two grand and up, so this is a good price for a machine of this kind, and it has some great features, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Anyway, hopefully the above has helped you gain a bit of clarity regarding which kind of Espresso machine you should be looking for. 

If your budget is really low…

In case you’re reading this and thinking “I want Espresso at home, and I don’t have the budget for any of these options… Then the question I’d ask, is how important is it that you go for a traditional semi auto machine?

If you’re not bothered, then maybe full bean to cup is the best choice for you, something like the De’Longhi Esam 4200 (RRP is £450, but they’re regularly on offer on Amazon for as little as £250, click here to see the current offer on Amazon UK.)

If your budget is much smaller still, and you’re not interested in developing Barista skills, then maybe an Espresso machine isn’t the best option for you at all, it just depends on what kind of coffee you’re wanting to make, and what’s important to you. 

For example, if you want Espresso (ish) coffee, and convenience is key, then how about a Nespresso machine? OK, Nespresso machines don’t quite make Espresso, it’s a slightly different coffee – see Nespresso vs Espresso – but it’s pretty good coffee and is incredibly convenient. 

There are speciality coffee pods available for Nespresso now, and loads of Nespresso compatible pods, and if you want to make cappuccino, latte etc., then there are various milk options such as the Aeroccino, or if you’re not too worried about the quality of the microfoam, just grab an inexpensive glass cafetiere, warm your milk in a pan or microwave, and then froth it with the plunger.

You’ll struggle to pour great latte art with this, but a lot of people just want to make basic frothed milk for cappuccino & latte, and if this describes you, then this isn’t a bad method to use. You can also use the inexpensive battery operated frothing whisks

Don’t forget the manual options too, Aeropress, & moka pots/stove top coffee pots, are valid ways to make Espresso(ish) coffee for a MUCH smaller budget.

Sage Oracle Vs Barista Express, Duo Temp Pro & Sage Dual Boiler

In this section of the post, I’m going to get more in depth about each machine, including the technical specs, while trying to explain what they mean to you.

Sage The Oracle – Super Assisted Espresso Machine.

The Espresso Machines I Might Buy When I Win The Lottery.The Oracle comes with some amazing technology which allows the average, non-barista coffee lover to make incredible shots of Espresso, and to perfectly texture milk, while seeming to do all of the things a barista would do, while in fact, the user is playing a relatively small part in the resulting coffee.

Just about the only thing it won’t do for you, is to pour latte art, you’ll have to learn to do that yourself if you fancy it ;-), but it’ll do practically everything else.

There are other amazing features in addition to the assistance, including timed auto on and auto off, but I’ll get to these in a sec.  

How the Oracle Assists. 

Auto dosing. 

how Sage Oracle Evenly distributes coffee into the portafilter

The spinning leveler thingymabob levels the coffee grind, and tamps for you.

How much ground coffee you use each time is an important factor when it comes to pulling great shots of Espresso, and the Oracle assists the user by dosing the exact same amount of coffee each time, so this isn’t a variable you need to be concerned with if you’re using the Oracle.

It’s not just dosed, it’s evenly distributed via the use of a rotating leveler which keeps the grounds level, which in combination with the auto tamp, prevents channeling.

 

Auto tamping.

Tamping is a skill, and how skillful you are at it, is one variable that can impact on the quality of your Espresso. It’s about the amount of pressure you tamp with, but possibly more importantly, its about ensuring an even tamp so you don’t end up with channeling (where inconsistencies in the puck of coffee allows some water to spurt through much faster than the rest, which results in not great tasting Espresso).

The oracle grinds for you, and then tamps, so it takes away the necessity of tamping skill. Not only that, you can even program the tamping pressure, tweaking slightly to see if a change in the tamp will improve the shot, and then once you’ve found what you think is the perfect tamp pressure, you can keep it set at that for consistent shots. By the way, it’s the same rotating leveler fan thingymabob that levels the coffee and also tamps.

Auto steaming.

Auto Steaming with Sage Oracle

There’s actually a lot more going on with the auto steaming that most would think, check this out!

While the Barista Express has a more traditional looking steam wand, the Oracle has a fairly huge panarello auto steam wand. I’m not usually a fan of these things, simply because most of them are only good for producing thick spoonable (is that a word?) cappuccino foam.

But thanks to the brains of the oracle, combined with the thermostat in the steam wand, this panarello wand is capable of producing perfect milk texture, for all coffees including flat white, latte & cappuccino. 

You can even set the amount of foam you want, from low for latte and flat white, to high for cappuccino, and the steaming temp. Also, if you don’t want to use this feature, you can choose to use it manually.

Specs:

Water Tank: 2.5 Litre, BIG water tank, with filter, easy to access for cleaning, easy to fill, from the front.

Boiler: Double, meaning you can pull the shot and steam the milk at the same time.

Bean Hopper Capacity: 280g. Lockable hopper too, as with the Sage Smart Grinder Pro, meaning you can easily swap from one bean to another without faffing around spilling coffee beans all over the place).

Steam wand. What looks like a big panarello wand, although it’s not a panarello, it’s something much more advanced than that. Panarello wands are just a sheath around a steam pipe which allows steam out via a hole on the side, this isn’t what you get with the auto steamer with the Oracle, there’s a LOT more to it, as you can see from that image above. Air is injected into the steam pipe, and there’s also thermostat in the steam tip. You can also select the milk temp, and the thickness of foam.

PID? Yes! Not just for standard temp stability as per the Barista Express and Duo Temp Pro – the Oracle is a lot more advanced.

Dimensions: 37(W) X 41(D) X 45(H)

Construction: Stainless steel over plastic. 

Portafilter: 58mm stainless steel portafilter.

Drip Tray: Decent sized drip tray, with a little “empty me” symbol which floats up to tell you it needs emptying, Sage are so great at little details like this. 

Other Features Worth a Mention: 

Roller bearing to access rear of machine. Remove drip tray, and behind it you’ll see a knob to turn, to engage the roller bearing, so you can turn the machine around to access the back without scratching the heck out of your worktop. Sage are really good at coming up with clever little details!

One touch Americano button, with programmable volume. 

As you can see from the image above, there’s a water spout on the Oracle, from which hot water is automatically dispensed when you use the Americano button – what this means, is that you’re making Americano by pouring in fresh clean hot water into the cup rather than what many bean to cup machines do which is to pour all the water through the coffee, meaning your Americano or long black isn’t been topped up with hot water, it’s been topped up with hot ware along with over extracted coffee.

Auto steam wand purge, when you push the steam wand back into position.

Heated brew head.

Auto cleaning, just put the tablet and cleaning disk, which come with the machine, into the portafilter, and It will start the brew cycle.

Three way solenoid valve, takes excess moisture and pressure from the group head. One of the benefits of this is that the puck should be nice and dry, and easy to knock out of the portafilter.

Automatic pre-infusion. 

Programmable shot volume, allowing you to change the volume for the single and double shot buttons.

Nice little internal storage drawer behind the drip tray, for storing the other baskets, cleaning tablets etc.

Auto on and Auto off.  You can set the clock on the Oracle, and then tell it what time to turn on in the morning, ready to make your morning coffee! You can also tell it what time you want it to turn off. This is one of the things I was really impressed with when I had the Oracle in my kitchen for a week. Such a great feature!

Barista Express. Entry Level Integrated Grinder Espresso Machine for Home Baristas.

sage barista expressIf you do want to do the home Barista thing, you’re not just looking for means to an end, that end being great coffee, but you also want to develop some skill, then the Barista Express is probably one of the Espresso machines you’ve been considering, it’s very popular.

Entry Level – at £599 RRP?

Keeping in mind that this includes the integrated grinder, this really is an entry level price. If you speak to most people who know their stuff, you’ll be told that you need to be looking at spending the best part of a grand or more for a decent prosumer home Barista setup. Many people just can’t afford this level of investment, and it’s clear that it’s this entry level home Barista market that the Barista Express is aimed at.

Other options include machines like the Rancilio Silvia at around £400 without PID, Nuova Simonelli Oscar II at around £700, Lelit Gilda at around £500, Lelit Mara at around £900, Expobar Leva at around £950, and then many other machines going up in price. Don’t forget, for all of these, you’ll need a separate grinder. 

The Barista Express isn’t the only integrated grinder machine at this kind of price point though, there is also the Lelit Anita, at around £500 (they’ve come down quite a bit in price), but this isn’t the post to do a comparison with this machine, maybe in the future I’ll try both machines and do a comparison. 

Specs:

Water Tank: 2 Litre, nice sized water tank, with filter, and it’s easy to access too. 

Boiler: Single. Well, it’s not actually a boiler at all, it’s a thermo coil, which is a flash water heater – it heats the water on the fly, as opposed to boilers which heat up a larger amount of water at the same time. These kinds of boilers make a constant knocking, thudding or thumping sound when you’re steaming milk, which is the sound of the pump, controlled by a microcontroller, squirting water to the hot part of the thermocoil. Not to be confused with thermoblock, though. Thermoblock and thermo coil use the same idea, but thermo coil are a more modern, and more reliable. See Thermocoil Vs Thermoblock. I think the first models of the Barista Express were thermoblock, but the latest models are thermocoil. This is the same with the Duo Temp Pro, and this 

Bean Hopper Capacity: 450g. Lockable hopper too, as with the Sage Smart Grinder Pro, meaning you can easily swap from one bean to another without faffing around spilling coffee beans all over the place).

Steam wand. Traditional, with single hole steam tip. You won’t get a massive amount of steam pressure from a thermocoil, but it’s still capable of creating great microfoam, will just take you longer 

PID? Yes, not the same level as the Oracle, but it does have a PID to keep a stable temp.

Dimensions: 33(W) X 31(D) X 40(H)

Construction: Stainless steel over plastic. 

Portafilter: 54mm. Keep in mind that the standard commercial portafilter size is 58mm, and while this isn’t a problem in terms of using the provided filter baskets, it just narrow down the choice if you’re wanting to buy other baskets, or if you’re wanting to use a different brand of portafilter, such as a naked portafilter, you’ll find there are a lot less options for 54mm than there are for 58. The Oracle and the Dual Boiler both come with the 58mm portafilter. 

Drip Tray: Decent sized drip tray, with a little “empty me” symbol which floats up to tell you it needs emptying, Sage are so great at little details like this. 

Other Features Worth a Mention: 

Three way solenoid valve, takes excess moisture and pressure from the group head. One of the benefits of this is that the puck should be nice and dry, and easy to knock out of the portafilter.

Integrated tamper which slots into the body of the machine and stays put thanks to a magnet.

Automatic pre-infusion. 

Over Pressure Value, which limits the maximum pressure throughout the extraction, preventing bitter flavours in the shot of Espresso.

Comes with pressurized and standard baskets, which means if you wanted to start off with pre-ground coffee, or a not too great grinder, and then improve things a you go along, then you could start out with the pressurized baskets, and switch to the standard baskets later.

Programmable shot volume, allowing you to change the volume for the single and double shot buttons.

Pressure gauge on the front of the machine, tells you very quickly if you’ve got the grind right or not.

Nice little internal storage drawer behind the drip tray, for storing the other baskets, cleaning tablets etc.

Sage Dual Boiler

Ok, so at this point, I’ve rambled on for bloody ages, and actually there’s a lot about the Sage Dual Boiler that the same as the Oracle. So rather than covering old ground, and rambling on for even longer, I’ll explain the main similarities and differences between the Oracle and the Dual Boiler. 

The first thing to say, is that the Dual boiler doesn’t have the “Barista inside” as with the Oracle, so it requires the development of some home Barista skills. In other words, dosing, tamping, milk texturing – you’re going to need to develop some skill in these areas for consistent shots & milk.

The controls are similar to the Barista Express, it has a traditional steam wand, as per the BE, but it has Dual Boilers, of course, as per the Oracle, it has an LED display, which is slightly smaller to the one on the Oracle, to accommodate the pressure gauge, which isn’t present on the Oracle.

As with the oracle, it has a water spout, but it’s directly behind the brew head as it is on the Oracle, and there’s no quick touch Americano button on the DB either.

Also as with the oracle, as well as the steam boiler and the brew boiler, there’s also a heating element in the brew head, for consistent heat. 

As the dual boiler is aimed more at the home Barista, it only comes with standard non-pressured baskets. 

There’s not really much else to say about the dual boiler that I’ve not already said about the Oracle, other than the assisted features, it shares most of the same features of the Oracle.

The only other thing I can think to mention is that the dimensions of the Dual boiler are slightly smaller than the Oracle at 26(W) X 30(D) X 33(H) vs the Oracle which is 37(W) X 41(D) X 45(H)

The Sage Duo-Temp Pro

The Duo-Temp Pro is very similar in many ways to the Barista Express, just without the integrated grinder. It’s a thermocoil, so again, no steam boiler, as with the Barista Express, and the same thudding/thumping noise when steaming milk. 

As with the Barista Express, it has a traditional steam wand, it comes with pressurized and non pressurized baskets, and it has a PID to maintain a stable temperature.

1.8L water tank with filter, so it’s only slightly smaller than the Barista Express. 

The dimensions of the DTP are:  26(W) X 30(D) X 33(H), so as you can see it’s a bit more compact than the other three. 

And that brings us to the end, I do hope that it’s helped you to decide which might be the best espresso machine for you, if you are trying to decide between the Duo Temp Pro, Barista Express, The Oracle or Sage Dual Boiler.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.

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