Getting up in the mornings was never easy to begin with. But now the days are getting shorter and we’re having to rise before the sun does, it seems even more of a challenge. So thanks Sage by Heston Blumenthal for launching a new version of your fantastic Oracle coffee maker. That should ‘perc’ us up!
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It’s available exclusively at John Lewis from today until 30th November 2017, and yes, it is pricey. But if you spend £3 on coffee every day, it’s going to take less than two years to pay for itself and should last significantly longer. Coffee connoisseurs tired of the burnt tasting drinks knocked up in your local chain should prepare to be dazzled.
The reasons we loved about the original Oracle still apply. You’ll look like a pro using it, but it does almost everything automatically. That includes dosing the coffee and texturing – or frothing to the uninitiated – the milk.
The joy of this new version, the Oracle Touch, is that everything is controlled by a snazzy touch screen. Here, you can pick from all your coffee-shop favourites, including a trendy Flat White, obvs. It’s also possible to customise the drinks to your taste, adjusting the strength of the coffee and the volume and frothiness of the milk.
So how exactly does it work? Well, first of all, you need to add the beans at the top and select the right grind setting from the scene. This affects how coarsely or finely your beans will be crushed down, and varies depending on the variety. The machine comes with a guide to steer you towards the right selection. And if you buy your beans from an independent coffee specialist, they should also be able to advise you.
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Once the beans are ground in the perfect quantity and consistency, it’s your job to move the portafilter (the bit with the arm) across to the middle of the machine. That’s the stage that will make you look like a trained barista to you guests. When it’s in place, water is forced through the coffee at 9bar pressure. This creates a drink smoother than George Clooney, with thick ‘crema’ on top, which is the key to a tasty espresso.
Next, it’s time to froth the milk. Place your jug of milk (full fat, soya, almond, it’s your call) under the frothing wand. Depending on what drink you’ve chosen, it will froth it to the perfect consistency. Because separate boilers are used for the milk and coffee, the machine can produce enough steam pressure to create what’s called a ‘micro-foam’. This gives a much more velvety texture than a machine that heats the water for the espresso and steam for the milk using a single boiler.
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‘The Oracle Touch offers coffee connoisseurs exceptional, barista-quality espresso,’ says Phil McKnight, global beverage business manager at Sage. ‘This machine has been thoughtfully designed to offer easy-to-use automation without sacrificing taste quality; it’s as if there is a barista inside the machine, helping them make their favourite custom coffees at home.’