Despite producing some of the best small kitchen appliances you can buy, Sage does have a habit of naming them in a perplexing way. With that in mind, welcome to our review of the Sage The 'A Bit More' Toaster 4 Slice, er, toaster which I will refer to from now on as simply ‘the Sage’ or, when I feel like pushing the boat out, ‘the Sage A Bit More’.
If you’re looking for the Best Toaster that doesn’t mess about with faffish controls, this may just be the model for you. It’s available in two variants – two-slice and four-slice – but we’re concentrating on the four-slice option here because, well, a four-slice toaster is simply more versatile, especially for families and overnight guest hosting.
Let’s give it a whirl.
Sage The 'A Bit More' Toaster 4 Slice review: price and availability
In the US and many other countries, this toaster falls under the Breville brand (Sage’s mother company) so look for the Breville Bit More 4-Slice Toaster when shopping. It’s available direct from Sage ($99.95) plus Amazon US ($100) and Walmart ($145.76) when it’s back in stock.
If you live in Australia, your best bet is to head straight for the Breville website where the Breville Bit More 4-Slice Toaster is selling for A$109.95.
Sage The 'A Bit More' Toaster 4 Slice review: design and features
Sage, a subsidiary of Breville, specialises in high-end kitchen gear that is both well designed and exceedingly reliable. I know this because I’ve tested quite a few of its products in the past and not one of them has ever disappointed. Yes, Sage gear is a bit more expensive to buy – think Dualit and KitchenAid league – but you absolutely get your money’s worth in build quality, design and intuitiveness. You won’t find a Sage product in any colour other than brushed stainless steel and that’s the case with this tasty toaster which has a lovely silvery finish that doesn’t attract fingerprints.
Many 4-slot toasters you can buy today are rectangular in shape with the controls on the wider front section and that means they are best positioned with their longest section flat against the wall. This invariably means they end up swallowing an acre of worktop space which is simply unnecessary, and stupid. Unfortunately, this is one such toaster but, in its defence, the Sage A Bit More’s controls are at least easy to see and access when placed side on while the main lever, which locks the toast in place, is situated on the narrower side of the unit rather than next to the controls. Personally I’d have preferred everything to be on the narrow side of the unit but in this instance I’m willing to forgive this one design irritant.
Despite being quite chunky – it’s 40cm in length, 18cm in depth and 20cm tall – the Sage A Bit More won’t take up too much worktop space if positioned side-on between your other appliances. However, you may need to have first acquainted yourself with the four main buttons on the front – ‘a bit more’, crumpet/fruit loaf, frozen and cancel.
I shall skip straight to the cancel button first because this is the most important button on any toaster. It’s the button that saves the day when you’re an overnight guest at someone else’s house and you’re in the kitchen in the morning making some toast when smoke starts pouring out of every orifice and, in a blind panic, you stab at every button you can see in a vain attempt to prevent setting off every smoke alarm in the building. Since you’re completely unfamiliar with the toaster in question, you’d rather not simply lift the toast lever in case you break a mechanism, so you reach for the only saviour you can see – the mains plug.
I’ve been in this situation countless times so I’m pleased to say that this model has a glowing red ‘cancel’ button that you simply can’t miss. Press it once and the toast pops up. Simple, effective. Not only that, but the main lever also lets the user have ‘A Quick Look’ to see how it’s getting on, thereby preventing any smokey moments in the first place. You may come to love this feature because it lets you have a sneaky glance midway through the toasting process.
Right, back to the other buttons. The first one in line is the eponymous ‘a bit more’ button and this is the one to tap if the toast has popped up and it isn’t brown enough. To activate the sequence, simply press the ‘bit more’ button and push the lever down again. This may sound like a gimmick but it’s actually really useful because it adds about another 30 seconds of toasting without having to touch the browning scale slider control which you will have inevitably spent time experimenting with to find the sweet spot for your preferred type of bread. It also prevents excessive burning because you’ve simply pushed the toast down again, gone to make a cup off tea and forgotten to check the toaster in the process. It happens.
The second button in line is for toasting crumpets, fruit loaf and hot cross buns, and it does this by providing more heat energy to the inner elements. Simply place the crumpet or bun with its inside facing inwards – as per the markings etched on the divider in dirty great typeface – and it will toast the inner side of the crumpet more than the outer crusty side. This is a great thing since toasting buns and crumpets can often result in the drier crusty side toasting too much. Finally, the third button from the left is for toasting frozen bread and it does what it says on the tin – pop in a frozen slice and it will gently warm it up before toasting it.
Where some toasters give you a vague idea of how much longer the toasting process will continue, this one has a bright bluish LED scale that flashes till pop-up time. You get 12 increments on the scale so chances are you will easily find your sweet spot. To help you, the numbers 1 to 5 are written on the side to give you a vague idea of your chosen setting. The sliding mechanism itself is a wonderfully tactile thing to use, too, and once set it seems very accurate.
Regarding bread size, the Sage A Bit More has decent capacity for four slices of average size bread when the slices are standing vertically. However, as is the case with many toasters, the slots aren’t deep enough on the Sage for four vertical slices of a large Hovis brown let alone any Warburtons bread, which is always taller than the competition. In fact, the white Warburtons Toastie bread slices I used in my test stuck out of the top by nearly an inch. The upshot is that you will need to lay longer bread slices on their side with this model, and that means toasting only two slices at a time.
Bread width wise, this toaster has ample room for even the thickest cut breads. In fact I used it extensively during the Christmas period to toast Panettone and some of my cuts were up to 33mm thick – that’s almost an inch and a half! They all fitted just fine though I did need to use my wooden tongs to retrieve the finished product because the spring-loaded toast rest doesn’t come up high enough to retrieve shorter breads using fingers alone. My old trusty Siemens Porsche toaster has the same issue, hence my investment in a pair of wooden tongs which I recommend for any toaster.
Sage The 'A Bit More' Toaster 4 Slice review: performance
I’ll keep this chapter relatively short because everything was pretty much a great success with this toaster. First and foremost, it toasted everything very evenly across the slice, though the inner heating elements do seem to be a bit hotter because one side of the bread was a little more browned than the other. Nevertheless, I call that a bonus because it gave me a choice of which side to butter.
In short, all of my tests resulted in even browning without drying out the bread. It truly excelled at toasting hand-cut panettone and made a very fine fist of toasting crumpets, to which I added a good dollop of salted butter and a pinch of black pepper for good measure. However, having a four-slice toaster than can’t handle four slices of larger bread could be a deal breaker unless, like me, you don’t really mind doing just two slices at a time.
Aside from its excellent overall performance, I was equally impressed by this toaster’s intuitive design, the handy ‘a bit more’ button, the lift-and-look lever system and, above all, the bright red emergency eject button.
Sage The 'A Bit More' Toaster 4 Slice review: verdict
The Sage A Bit More is an accomplished 4-slice toaster with long, wide slots to accommodate all bread types. Despite it not being deep enough to hold tall breads like Warburtons when stood vertically, I found it super easy to use and I loved the handy manual override features that made our breakfast toasting go with a swing rather than a flap.
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