Looking for a Nespresso machine that's a cut above? Here's the Newpresso-compatible Sage Creatista Pro review in two words: how much?! For the longer version, read on… Oh, and if you're in Australia, it's the Breville Creatista Pro.
Now, it goes without saying that we’re mostly big fans of Sage products, and of the Best nespresso machines. Sage gear is invariably well made using high quality materials, and usually very well designed, too, with easy UIs that take the hassle out of mundane chores like cooking and beverage making. Nespresso – like all the Best capsule espresso machines – is a remarkably good way of making coffee with almost no effort. So put them together and you have a sure-fire winner, right?
This new addition to Sage's line of Nespresso-compatible machines certainly looks the part. Swathed in yards of brushed steel – and some nice, shiny plastic – the Creatista Pro is a looker. It promises to take the simple act of dropping a Nespresso capsule to a whole new level – or nine levels to be precise, as that is how many drinks it can dispense. Oh, and it costs £650.
I've just unpacked T3’s review model – which I’ll likely never be able to fit back in the box again – put it on the kitchen worktop and plugged it in. So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase and see what this machine can do.
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Sage Creatista Pro review: design and features
As is the case with most Sage coffee-related products, the Nespresso-ready Creatista Pro screams style. Both sides are coated in brushed steel that looks bloomin’ fantastic in any kitchen. The front, too, is extremely elegant though it is mostly just a cloak of shiny plastic made to look like chrome or polished silver. At 18cm in width and 42cm in depth, it’s larger than other Nespresso machines but not ungainly so.
As we’ve come to expect from most of Sage’s higher-end coffee makers, little design flourishes abound, like the spring-loaded espresso cup shelf that pops out when pressed with a finger and the drip-cum-large mug tray that slides out for easy rinsing.
At this price point, you might expect some form of automation when loading a Nespresso capsule but in fact it’s just a flip-up lever like that fitted to pretty much every other Nespresso machine on the market. To use, simply drop in a capsule, pull down the lever and it’s ready to go. When you lift the lever, the used pod is ejected into the admittedly smallish catchment drawer below. A large removable two-litre water tank sits at the rear.
Where this machine differs from the norm is the addition of a 9cm x 5cm colour touch screen that displays a pictorial interface depicting the various styles of coffees it’s capable of making. It’s also equipped with a self-cleaning frothing wand that’s controlled by a sensor to produce eight different texture levels and 11 milk temperature settings. And it’s all ready to rock in just three seconds.
In a nutshell, this is not just any old Nespresso espresso machine but one that can whip up a variety of nine different coffees from ristretto, espresso, lungo and long black to flat white, cappuccino, latte and latte macchiato. It will also just steam milk if required for a ‘Green & Blacks’ hot chocolate… but that’s another story.
Sage Creatista Pro review: how it works
On powering up for the first time, the machine asks for your age, height and blood group. No only kidding, it asks you to test your area’s water hardness using the supplied test strip. Of course, you could simply ignore that and tap the ‘default’ setting instead, but if you’re going to spend this much on a glorified Nespresso machine, you may as well follow the instructions to a tee.
The machine then runs through its set-up sequence, filling the boiler with water and expelling it once to clean out any manufacturing impurities. When ready, slap in a Nespresso pod of your choice, choose your preferred style of beverage from the scrolling list on the touch screen – ristretto, espresso, lungo or long black – and hit start.
If you’re selecting a milk-based coffee, then fill the supplied aluminium jug with milk to the minimum or maximum level, place it under the steaming wand while making sure to position the jug over the little plastic sensor, which slightly resembles a nipple. Now select your preferred milky mixture – cappuccino, flat white, latte or latte macchiato – and the machine will start operating at both ends, extracting the coffee while the wand does its swooshy frothing thing. When finished, simply pour the hot, frothy milk from the jug into your coffee cup and, well, that’s it.
Being of Sage origin, you can easily customise the Creatista Pro to suit your taste in coffee. Simply bring up the drink adjustment menu and adjust the extraction length and/or change the milk froth level and temperature by using the touch screen sliders.
Sage Creatista Pro review: what’s the coffee like?
Having used probably every Nespresso machine on the market, I have to say that the coffee dispensed by this machine didn’t taste any better than any other. That didn’t surprise me because, well, a Nespresso pod is a Nespresso pod. Yes, you can adjust the extraction length but then you can do that on any machine simply by pressing stop midway or tapping the start button again for a longer extraction.
Using my favourite Nespresso Kazaar blend (Intensity 12 at 26p per pod), I genuinely couldn’t tell the difference between the Creatista Pro and my favourite Nespresso machine, the Essenza Mini. That's not a damning criticism, as such: both tasted great and both were dispensed with a decent dollop of smooth crema. However, the Essenza Mini costs less than £100; the Creatista Pro is £650.
Aside from espresso and all the milk-based coffees, I also tried the Long Black and Lungo settings. Given that Nespresso pods contain just five grams of coffee, the longer extractions were on the weak side, as predicted. That said, not everyone likes to have their head blown off with a massive dose of caffeine so we’ll give it the benefit of doubt in this respect.
By far the most impressive element with this machine is the milk steamer, which produces a proper café-quality froth that is as silky as it is smooth, with almost zero bubbles. Top marks there.
Sage Creatista Pro review: Creatista Pro vs Sage Creatista Plus
If the high price of this machine is a quid too far, perhaps consider its cheaper stablemate, the Creatista Plus, which costs £250 less and is available in five colour schemes (the Pro is only available in silver).
As far as this writer can deduce, the main difference between the Pro and the Plus is that the Pro is equipped with a double thermo jet that allows for simultaneous coffee brewing and milk frothing. This means it’s capable of making two cappuccinos in under a minute. The Pro is also wider and its water tank is half a litre bigger. Aside from a bigger interface screen and more coffee style options, that’s about it. So if you are patient enough to make coffee first and then froth your milk after – or vice versa – Perhaps the £400 Creatista Plus is a better bet.
Sage Creatista Pro review: verdict
The Sage Creatista Pro is, to all intents and purposes, just another Nespresso machine, albeit one that’s been ramped up to the highest level of ostentatiousness. It retails at a substantial £650 which seems unnecessarily steep for what is essentially just another Nespresso product with bells on. You could buy the T3 Award winning Nespresso Vertuo Plus by Magimix or Krups, which both come with 100 free capsules at John Lewis, and a separate milk frother. for a fraction of the price.
But then life isn't just about utilitarianism – especially if you're stuck indoors 24/7 for the foreseeable. The Creatista Pro oozes style, it's very easy to use, practical for those in a rush, extremely versatile, and built like a very stylish Panzer tank.
If you love milky coffees and high-quality kitchen products, this – or its sibling the Creatista Plus – is the machine for you. If you just want a simple Nespresso hit, buying would seem ever so ostentatious.
• Buy the Sage Creatista Pro from John Lewis & Partners