Sage Oracle In-Depth Review: A Barista-Quality Experience at Home

Sage Oracle In-Depth Review: A Barista-Quality Experience at Home

Sage Oracle & Oracle Touch Review: The Ultimate Home Barista Experience

Key Takeaways
Espresso Quality The Oracle and Oracle Touch deliver exceptional espresso quality, rivaling traditional espresso machines.
Milk Texturing These machines offer unparalleled control over milk texture and temperature, allowing you to create perfect microfoam for drinks like flat whites.
Convenience With features like auto-on scheduling and dual boiler technology, the Oracle machines let you enjoy your coffee quicker without compromising on quality.
Personalisation The Oracle Touch allows you to save personalised settings for each user, making it ideal for multi-user households.
Comparison While the Oracle Touch offers added convenience with its touchscreen interface, the standard Oracle may be more suitable for single users.

Sage Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel


Navigating the world of coffee machines can feel like a journey through a dense jungle, especially when you're considering high-end models like the Sage Oracle and Oracle Touch. If you're short on time and want the condensed version of this review, you're in the right place. For those who prefer a deep dive into the details, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and continue reading below for a comprehensive analysis.

Sage Oracle: A Brief Overview

Imagine a coffee machine that combines the convenience of bean-to-cup machines with the cup quality of traditional espresso machines, minus the steep learning curve. That's the Sage Oracle for you.

This machine is an enhanced version of Sage's flagship espresso machine, the Sage Dual Boiler. But don't mistake it for an entry-level espresso machine with fancy add-ons. The Oracle is a top-tier home espresso machine that comes with automated features.

Can it produce good espresso? Absolutely! How about great milk-based drinks like cappuccinos and flat whites? Yes, indeed! What about a good Americano? You bet! Is there any other machine on the market that offers the same cup quality and convenience? Not quite, but the new Barista Express Impress comes close. The catch? The price tag and potential maintenance costs outside of the warranty period.

What About the Oracle Touch?

I'll delve deeper into the Oracle Touch later in this review. But for this brief overview, let's just say that the Touch is the Oracle's touchscreen sibling. It's flashier, a tad easier to use initially, but once you get the hang of it, the standard Oracle is just as user-friendly.

the Oracle™ Touch (Black Truffle)

The Oracle and Oracle Touch are almost peerless in their category. However, Sage recently released the Barista Express Impress, which is worth mentioning.

The Barista Express Impress is Sage's first "assisted" machine. It aims to achieve the same goals as the Oracle, but with assistance instead of automation, making it a more affordable option. We'll explore this more in the detailed section of the review.

Sage Oracle In-Depth Review: The Home Barista Experience Simplified

Traditional espresso machines, when paired with capable grinders, can produce exceptional espresso, but only in the hands of a skilled home barista. However, most coffee enthusiasts aren't home baristas, nor do they aspire to be.

For those who want the taste of freshly ground coffee beans in their espresso and espresso-based drinks without the complexities of a traditional machine, a bean-to-cup coffee machine is usually the go-to option. These machines come with an integrated grinder and a brewing unit, which handles all the coffee brewing. While they may not satisfy the espresso perfectionists, they are perfect for the "normal" coffee drinker who values convenience and a good cup of coffee.

Enter the Sage Oracle, a product of Breville Worldwide, known as Sage in the UK. A few years back, they developed their flagship traditional espresso machine, the Dual Boiler. This machine, paired with a decent grinder and in the hands of someone with some barista skills, can produce fantastic espresso and espresso-based coffees. Check out our review on the Sage Dual Boiler.

Sage The Oracle Espresso Machine Brushed Stainless Steel

However, Sage realized that they didn't have a machine for the "normal" coffee drinker, only for the espresso enthusiast, also known as the home barista. So, instead of creating a typical bean-to-cup machine, they used the Dual Boiler as the base for the Oracle, creating something completely new.

The Sage Oracle is essentially the world's first almost fully automated home barista espresso machine. It delivers true barista-quality espresso and espresso-based coffees with the convenience of a bean-to-cup machine. When we say "almost fully automated," we mean that it automates the most crucial aspects: dose, tamp, and milk texturing.

The user still has some tasks to perform, but they require minimal skill: inserting the portafilter in the grinds cradle, initiating the grinding, locking it into the group, pressing the shot button, placing a jug of milk under the steam wand, or placing the cup under the water spout for a long black or Americano.

Many people will appreciate this as it takes away much of the home barista fuss while delivering a far more authentic home barista experience than a bean-to-cup coffee machine. Essentially, the Sage Oracle allows you to look and feel like a home barista, and enjoy that quality of coffee, without the need to develop or use the usual skills associated with this type of machine.

Dual Boilers: The Secret to Exceptional Temperature Stability

When it comes to bean-to-cup coffee machines, most don't actually have boilers. Despite the frequent use of the term "boiler" in marketing materials, nearly all bean-to-cup machines use thermoblocks, which are on-demand water heaters, not traditional brew boilers.

The Sage Oracle, however, is a dual boiler machine. It has a separate brew boiler for the espresso and a steam boiler. This dual boiler setup is partly responsible for the Oracle's exceptional temperature stability, a crucial factor in brewing great-tasting espresso.

Moreover, the dual boiler design allows you to steam milk and produce espresso simultaneously, just like a professional barista. This means you can enjoy your coffee faster, without compromising on quality. With the Sage Oracle, you're not just making coffee; you're experiencing the art of coffee-making.

Grind Adjustment: Dialing in for Optimal Flavor

Unlike typical bean-to-cup machines that usually offer 5-10 grind adjustments, the Sage Oracle takes it up a notch with 45 grind settings, all within the espresso range. This extensive range gives you the ability to "dial in" - a feature you can't really find with the usual 5-10 grind settings.

"Dialing in" refers to the process of fine-tuning various factors, primarily the grind size, to extract the optimal flavor from the beans you're using. With the Sage Oracle, you have the flexibility to adjust the grind size to suit your taste, ensuring that every cup of coffee is tailored to your preference. This is just another way the Sage Oracle brings the professional barista experience into your home.

Auto Dosing & Tamping: Simplifying the Espresso-Making Process

One of the most challenging aspects of making espresso is getting the dosing and tamping right. With the Sage Oracle, this tricky part is handled for you automatically.

All you need to do is place the portafilter into the grinding area. The machine will then grind the correct amount of coffee, dose it into the portafilter, and tamp it automatically. This feature not only simplifies the espresso-making process but also ensures consistency in every cup. With the Sage Oracle, you can enjoy the art of espresso without the guesswork.

Auto Milk Texturing: Tailoring Your Milk to Perfection

When it comes to milk texturing in bean-to-cup machines, the results can vary depending on what you're after. If you prefer larger bubbles for an "old school" cappuccino, then most bean-to-cup machines will serve you well as they typically produce this kind of texture.

However, if you're after microfoam for a velvety flat white or the more modern "third wave" versions of cappuccino and latte, one-touch bean-to-cup machines usually fall short.

Enter the Sage Oracle. This machine features a steam wand with a thermostat and digital controls that allow you to specify exactly how you want your milk, both in terms of texture and temperature. The Oracle gives you the control to make fine-tuning adjustments until you're completely satisfied with the milk texture for each drink. Whether you prefer a frothy cappuccino or a silky flat white, the Sage Oracle ensures your milk is tailored to perfection.

The Oracle Touch: A Touch of Innovation

The Oracle Touch, as the name suggests, brings touchscreen controls to the Sage Oracle experience. This feature allows users to select their drink by image and name, adding a layer of visual appeal and ease of use to the coffee-making process.

Sage The Oracle™ BES980UK Coffee Machine, Black Truffle

For instance, if you're in the mood for an Americano, you simply swipe through the options until you see the photo of an Americano and the corresponding text, then select it. It's as straightforward as that.

The Oracle Touch comes with five factory pre-set coffees, all of which you can fully adjust to suit your taste. Additionally, it offers eight spaces for you to create and save your own completely custom coffee recipes.

That's the condensed version of the Oracle Touch review. Now, for those who want a deeper understanding of this innovative machine, let's delve into the more detailed aspects, starting with...

What Kind of Coffee Machines are the Oracle and Oracle Touch?

This is an excellent question, as the Sage Oracle and Oracle Touch don't neatly fit into the typical categories of coffee machines. They're not exactly bean-to-cup coffee machines, and they're not quite traditional espresso machines either.

If you're not familiar with these terms, let's break them down:

(Here, you can provide an explanation of what bean-to-cup coffee machines and traditional espresso machines are, and how the Sage Oracle and Oracle Touch differ from these categories.)

Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machines: The Epitome of Convenience

Bean-to-cup coffee machines prioritize convenience above all else. They produce espresso, but not in the traditional way that involves a portafilter, filter basket, and manual tamping.

Instead, bean-to-cup coffee machines feature a brewing unit that works in tandem with the pump and the integrated grinder. The coffee is ground into the basket, tamped by the brewing unit, and then water is pumped into the basket. After the shot is pulled, the used puck of coffee is internally discarded.

As a user, all you need to do is press a button, fill the water tank and bean hopper, and empty the used coffee pucks from the internal dreg drawer. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Bean-to-cup machines are perfect for the vast majority of people for two main reasons:

  1. Convenience: For most people, a coffee machine is simply a means to an end, with the end being a delicious cup of coffee. Most coffee drinkers want their coffee as quickly and conveniently as possible, and bean-to-cup coffee machines offer the utmost convenience when it comes to freshly ground coffee.

  2. Quality: The coffee produced by bean-to-cup machines is more than satisfactory for most coffee drinkers. While it may not meet the high standards of espresso purists, the reality is that most people aren't espresso purists. For the average coffee drinker, the coffee produced by bean-to-cup machines is not just acceptable, but very enjoyable.

What About Cups & Glasses? The Perfect Vessel for Your Coffee

Just a quick note about cups. I receive numerous requests for information on the best coffee cups, the best cups for cappuccino, flat white, espresso, Americano, and so on. I've realized that coffee cups are an area I've overlooked, leading to many of my readers trying to make flat whites in builder's mugs. No, no, no! 😉

Enter Loveramics coffee cups.

Loveramics produces some of the best coffee cups for all types of coffee, in a vast range of designs. I've tried several of their cups, and I'm genuinely impressed with the quality. Whether you're sipping an espresso or enjoying a frothy cappuccino, Loveramics has the perfect cup to enhance your coffee experience.

Traditional Espresso Machines: The Art of Espresso Making

Traditional home espresso machines are modeled after the professional, commercial espresso machines you'll see in coffee shops. They're smaller and usually tank-fed rather than plumbed in, but they share the potential to make great espresso and espresso-based coffees, given the user has developed the necessary skills.

These machines also require a grinder. While some traditional espresso machines come with an integrated grinder, this doesn't make them bean-to-cup coffee machines. If it has a portafilter, it's a traditional machine with an integrated grinder.

There are some people who are purely bean-to-cup machine users. They want to walk up to a machine, press a button, and walk away with their coffee. They're not overly fussy about achieving espresso perfection. These are the people bean-to-cup machines are made for.

Then, there are people who either have a keen palate for espresso, for whom nothing but well-extracted "true" espresso will do, or they love the idea of being able to produce high-quality espresso, hoping that their palate will develop as they go along to fully enjoy the fruits of their labors. This is a journey many home baristas, including myself, have embarked on.

But what about those who fall in the middle? Those who are particular about cup quality and want as close to perfection as possible, but also crave the convenience of a bean-to-cup machine and don't want to take on a new hobby?

These are the people that the Oracle and Oracle Touch are made for.

Before the Oracle machines, there wasn't really an option for these people. They were either forced to settle for the best that bean-to-cup machines could offer, begrudgingly enter into the home barista hobby, or abandon the idea of home espresso altogether.

Sage the Dynamic Duo Espresso Machine and Coffee Grinder

Is the Sage Oracle Worth It?

The Sage Oracle, and even more so the Sage Oracle Touch, is not a budget-friendly option. While it's not the most expensive espresso machine on the market, it's certainly pushing the boundaries of what most people would consider a reasonable amount to spend on a home coffee machine. But is it worth it? Personally, I'd say yes, and here's why:

(Here, you can provide the reasons why you believe the Sage Oracle and Oracle Touch are worth the investment.)

Is the Sage Oracle Worth It? A Deeper Dive into Espresso Quality

When we ask if the Oracle is worth it, we're essentially questioning whether it's worth spending the additional money compared to a more affordable coffee machine. The answer to this largely hinges on cup quality.

While "best" is a subjective term, it's fair to say that the Oracle and Oracle Touch are among the top contenders on the market for espresso quality, if we exclude traditional espresso machines which may offer similar or superior quality depending on the quality of the grinder and the skills of the home barista.

If you're considering buying a bean-to-cup coffee machine for around a thousand to fifteen hundred pounds, and you're wondering if it's worth spending a few hundred more on the Oracle, I personally believe that the overall cup quality (both espresso quality and milk texture quality) is going to be superior with the Oracle and Oracle Touch than with any bean-to-cup machine on the market

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