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Best Coffee for a Sage Coffee Machine With Built-in Grinder?

Updated: Apr 24

We know a bunch of you have Sage coffee machines with a built-in grinder at home*.  So do we!  We know a bunch of you have asked what the best coffee to use within those Sage machines.  So here we are answering that question. 

Gunpowder Blend Sage Barista Touch
Gunpowder Blend chilling by the Sage Barista Touch

Firstly we need to understand what a Sage machine does - ie, what does a Sage machine do to make your coffee.  Firstly it grinds your beans - secondly it pushes hot water through those grinds - and thirdly, the vast majority of coffees you're making will have milk added.  That’s the "raison d'être" of a Sage machine.  You don’t use a Sage to make filter, or cafetiere coffee. 


What Grinders Do Sage Coffee Machines Use?


With these simple parameters we're already narrowing down our options.  We want a coffee that stands up to a grind through ceramic conical burrs.  Conical burrs are good - as found in the Sage - they don’t wear out very quickly and they produce a decent grind.  Also, you’re not in a high volume coffee shop so you can spend 15 seconds grinding your coffee beans.  (Coffee shops need grinders that are done in around 5 seconds - they can't hang around.)  So given that your Sage machine doesn’t have top-notch burrs, we want beans that are easy to grind and thus not too dense.  Dense beans do not grind very well - and so we want low altitude grown beans.  High altitude beans grow slower and therefore are denser. We posted a blog about this a little while ago (link).  So, we're looking for beans that are grown around 1100 metres above sea-level.  Our Brazil Mio Peaberry beans are exactly that.  (Other beans are available). 

Cannon Coffee into Sage Hopper
Gunpowder Blend topping up a Sage Hopper

The second parameter is the extraction itself which is the hot water that gets pushed through the coffee grinds.  The extraction of flavours from the coffee depends on the pressure of the water, the size of the grounds in microns, the length of time that the water is allowed to extract the coffee flavours and maybe most importantly, the type of roast that the beans have been subjected to.  The Sage machine is not a professional machine.  The water pressure is limited. It's not a high-pressure machine.  But against that, neither is it very fast.  You're not trying to satisfy 50 Customer orders at 8am. So, you want a coffee that grinds pretty well, but is brittle enough to allow the flavours to develop during that extraction.  A bean that has been roasted well, but not burnt.  A medium, or up to a dark roast coffee is perfect.  An Italian - or, what we call, a cremated, roast is too brittle, too dark, and just leaves an oily residue and a burnt, bitter coffee.  It is not good coffee.  Many people think a dark, strong, bitter coffee is coffee.  We have much to say about "Italian-roasted" coffees.  


Sage double espresso gunpowder
Sage brewing double espresso


What Coffee Should You Use In Sage Machines?

Thirdly, you're not making filter coffee - you're looking to add some hot, frothy, non/dairy product to your brew.  That’s why you bought a Sage machine.  Thus you want a coffee that stands up to the dilution with, and complements to, your chosen milky/non-dairy product. Therefore, you want a coffee that complements that pleasant, comforting, dairy-like mouth-feel.  A coffee that has nutty, chocolatey, caramel tones to it works well. Your higher altitude, fruity, blackberry, floral coffees just don’t feel right with milk added.  And why would you add milk/non-dairy dilution to a thoroughbred coffee bean?  So, we want to avoid our Rwandan, Ethiopian, Philippine speciality coffees - they're what you want in a filter, cafetiere scenario.  However, Ugandan, Brazilian coffees do work well in this environment. 

Tamping Gunpowder Blend
Tamping Gunpowder Blend

So, lets recap  - your Sage machine is a fine machine.  It grinds beans pretty well - creating a decent, consistent, grind.  However, it's not able to grind to a super-fine grain and so we want a coffee that is robust enough to allow the water to pull out as much of the flavours, notes, nuances as possible in the time allowed.  We want a well-roasted, but not burnt, bean that grinds down to a level that allows for flavours to leach out into the brew well but avoids the over-bitterness and burnt notes to take over.  And we want a coffee that complements that milk addition - and as a side note, gives you the freedom to practice your "latte art" every morning.

Gunpowder Latte
Gunpowder Latte

Our recommendation is our Gunpowder blend - a 80%/20% mix of light and medium roasted, low altitude Brazil and Uganda beans.  A hazelnut, cocoa, caramel flavour profile that works very well with our Sage machines. 

*Here we are talking about the Sage Barista Pro, Oracle Touch, Barista Touch, Barista Express. As far as we can tell the Sage Bambino, the Sage Dual Boiler and Sage Duo Temp Pro do NOT have built-in- grinders - but you probably knew that anyway…

Sage Latte
Signing off with an excellent handmade Gunpowder flat white


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