I like to compare the latest coffee makers to smartphones. It is undeniable that they have the latest features, but unless an upgrade is due and I have the budget to do so, I will stick to what I have and use it until it gives up on me.
A Sage Barista can cost a fortune for most coffee lovers. (That said, if you buy one, follow these Sage Barista tips.) The good news is that you don’t need to have one to brew a great cup of coffee.
There are alternatives that are more affordable, and you can choose from one of these until you can afford a Sage Barista unit, like an Aeropress or French Press, or for espresso-like brews, a Nespresso machine, a Tefal coffee maker, and more. Let’s dive in.
The Aeropress is a manual coffee maker that uses a combination of air pressure and immersion to brew coffee. It is one of the cheapest Sage Barista alternatives. Convenience-wise, it is easy to use, clean, and carry around.
It won’t be able to emulate the richness of espresso because it is capable of just 0.35 to 0.70 bars of pressure compared to an espresso maker’s nine to 11 bars, but make no mistake, it can still produce a smooth, full-bodied cup of coffee with a clean flavor.
The rapid brewing AeroPress Original avoids the bitterness and high acidity created by the long steep time required by the French press. Plus, the AeroPress paper Micro-filter eliminates grit and means clean up takes seconds.
2. French Press
A French press is a manual coffee maker that uses a cylindrical glass or stainless steel pot with a plunger and a metal or nylon mesh filter. It is a simple and inexpensive way to make a full-bodied, flavorful cup of coffee by also utilizing pressure as a means of extraction.
An advantage that the French Press has from an espresso maker is the number of cups you can make in an instant. Steep your coarse grind for about three to five minutes, and you have five to six cups ready to be served. If you already own one, make a richer morning cup by checking out our list of the best coffee for French Press.
3. Chemex Classic Series
The Chemex Classic Series is a manual pour-over coffee maker that uses a conical glass vessel with a simple, hourglass shape. It produces a clean, bright cup of coffee and is known for its elegant design. However, unlike the Sage Barista, using a Chemex requires time and technique to brew a quality cup.
You won’t get the signature boldness of espresso since Chemex is a pour-over brewer, but a little adjustment to your coffee-to-water ratio can emulate one with a bit more flavor complexity. Its filters are also very effective in removing the bitterness of the cup.
- All Chemex Coffeemakers are made of the highest quality, non-porous Borosilicate glass which will not absorb odors or chemical residues
- The patented Chemex pour-over design allows coffee to be covered and refrigerated for reheating without losing flavor
- All Chemex Coffeemakers are measured using 5 oz. as 1 cup
- Use Chemex Bonded Filters FP-1, FC-100, FS-100, FSU-100
- Filters not included
4. Moka Pot
A Moka pot is a stovetop espresso maker that uses steam pressure to force hot water through finely-ground coffee. It is an inexpensive and easy way to make espresso-style coffee at home. Among manual coffee makers, the Moka Pot can be considered the most effective in reproducing the boldness and robustness of an espresso.
The only challenge is the steep learning curve. You have to keep watch during your brewing process, especially the stovetop ones, as they are susceptible to over or under-extraction, leaving you with a poor-quality brew. You can read our ultimate brewing guide on Moka pot coffee to avoid this predicament!
5. Nespresso Vertuo Pop
The Nespresso Vertuo Pop is a single-serve espresso machine that uses pods to brew coffee in four different cup sizes. It has a compact design and features a milk frother in its bundle for lattes and cappuccinos. This is best for those on a budget but aiming to have their own Nespresso machine.
Now comes the drawback; its compact design limits the size of the mugs you can use. The maximum it can accommodate is the standard eight-ounce mug with a bit of wiggle room if you remove the drip tray.
In addition, it can only operate with the Vertuo capsules. Regardless, the Vertuo Pop is a bargain if you are an espresso lover ready to commit to one brand.
6. Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe
The Nespresso Vertuo Deluxe is a single-serve espresso machine that uses pods to brew coffee. It has a larger water reservoir capacity than the Vertuo Pop and also features a milk frother in its bundles for milk-based drinks.
It closely resembles the technology used by the Vertuo Pop aside from the automatic capsule rejection feature, adjustable water tank placement, and it takes longer to preheat. It is an upgrade in terms of convenience.
7. Tefal Coffee Maker
Tefal is a brand that offers a variety of coffee makers, including drip coffee makers, single-serve machines, and espresso makers. Its sizable water capacity allows users to brew ten to 15 cups of coffee in one go, and an anti-drip system ensures cleanliness.
It is best used for drip coffee, but if you want a bold espresso-like flavor, you can use warm water and fine to medium-fine grinds. You must clean this coffee maker after every use as there is almost always coffee residue left behind.
8. Krups Virtuoso XP442C40 Espresso Machine
The Krups Vertuoso is a mid-range espresso machine that features a thermoblock system for fast preheating and a 15-bar pressure pump for a smooth and full-bodied espresso shot in under a minute. It has a compact design and a built-in milk frother for lattes and cappuccinos.
The external components are removable, allowing for easy cleaning and maintenance. The downside is you can only make a maximum of two cups per pump, and it doesn’t allow much for water temperature control.
9. Breville BES870XL Barista Express
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is a mid-range espresso machine with a built-in, conical burr grinder and a steam wand for frothing milk. It is a popular choice for home baristas who are looking to expand their espresso knowledge.
Its smart water temperature system allows for the optimal espresso temperature with every brew. Other features allow for some control, including choosing from 16 grind settings and brewing options to help you customize your morning cup. It is a bit pricier, but this is ideal for both beginners and veterans looking for a modest espresso machine with great value for money.
10. DeLonghi La Specialista
The DeLonghi La Specialista is a high-end espresso machine that boasts advanced temperature control and pressure profiling technology, as well as a built-in tamping station and milk frother.
The frother offers flexibility as you can control the amount of air that goes in to determine the type of froth you want. The La Specialista uses a dual heating system which shortens the pre-heating time to just one second. A big drawback is its limited grind setting, and the interface buttons can be hard to understand without reading the manual.
11. Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine
The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro is a budget-friendly espresso machine with a simple, classic design and features a 15-bar pressure pump, a built-in frother, and a 3-in-1 filter holder for single, double, and E.S.E. pods.
It is quite compact for an espresso machine but with a large water reservoir which makes it perfect for smaller kitchen settings. It’s 58mm chrome-plated portafilter allows for a bolder-tasting espresso shot with a rich crema. However, its simplistic design translates to the user having to keep a close eye on the brewing process to avoid over-extraction.
It doesn’t feature a hands-free operation, so this affordable alternative is best for those who have experience in manually pulling an espresso shot.
- Rugged Brushed Stainless Steel housing
- Commercial three-way solenoid valve. Capacity water tank - 2,1 liter
- Commercial-style 58mm chrome-plated brass portability and brew group
- Commercial steam wand. Rotating steam want movement type
- Easy-to-use rocker switch controls