Call for Reviews: Rancilio Silvia

Over on our new resource website, Brown Bean, we have been working hard on putting up editorial reviews of all kinds of espresso machines. We’ll be eventually expanding the reviews to include other kinds of equipment — grinders, accessories, even coffee — but a big part of us being able to provide a full picture of a machine’s performance is to balance our editorial opinion with user reviews like yours.

If you have a Rancilio Silvia, we’d love it if you could take the time to fill out a review on Brown Bean. You’ll have the opportunity to share your experiences, talk about the pros and cons of the machine and indicate whether or not you recommend it.

We currently have a couple dozen machines listed and reviewed up there, so if you don’t have a Silvia and would like to review your machine, check them out to see if there’s a listing. We’re always adding to it, but if your machine isn’t listed, please email us with the make and model and we’ll promptly list and review it if possible, then let you know when it’s ready for your feedback.

Looking forward to learning more about your thoughts on your equipment!

Only 125 Shots to Go

With a quality espresso machine at your fingertips, you might have some concern that you may suffer from caffeine overdose. But how much is too much? While some studies have shown that a high caffeine intake can result in hallucinations, that state might not be one of concern for some of you out there…so here’s a more ‘scientific’ method: The Death by Caffeine calculator over at energy fiend!

Simply enter your weight and select your caffeinated poison of choice to find out what your lethal limit is. How many shots of espresso before we hear the angels’ gilded horns?

Don’t worry, we’re on it.

Crew Review: Saeco Incanto Rondo Superauto – Refurbished

A great value for anyone looking to get into a superautomatic espresso machine, the Incanto Rondo combines ease of functionality with a straightforward interface. In this video, Gail talks about its features, describes how our repair center refurbishes them and makes us a latte.

Is Crema Sacred?

We get a lot of questions about crema: What is it, how can I get more of it, where does it come from, etc. We’re going to get Gail in front of the camera soon to talk about and experiment with crema, but first up let’s reference James Hoffman’s strongly posited belief that crema is, in fact, ‘rubbish.’

What we love about this video is that he questions some of the basic ideas behind espresso, and when the pros who devote their lives to learning all there is to know about their passion start messing around with core ‘truths’, we all benefit from their innovations at some point. There’s talk about how the crema is a chemical result of the espresso extraction process, and we’ve noticed that the crema from different coffee bean types is produced differently — even roast types will have a different crema story, when pulled from the same machine.

Ultimately, again, it’s all about flavor and what you like in your coffee; we’re going to do some experiments so expect more to come on this topic. You can check out what others are thinking about in this opinionated forum topic on Home Barista.

Ask the Experts: Do I Need to Backflush if I Descale?

If you have an espresso machine with a three-way brew pressure release valve, you have an additional maintenance regimen on your hand: The backflush. We are sometimes asked if backflushing is necessary if descaling is performed regularly, and so we posed your question to Gail. In this video, she’ll describe the different procedures and talk about which espresso machine systems they target.

Slayer = Control

Yesterday, we posted a video discussing brew pressure and how it applies to espresso extraction. Near the end, we talked about the Slayer espresso machine, which gives another customization option to the barista: Pressure profiling. The first machine to offer this on the market, it’s no surprise that the Slayer is slowly finding its place amongst high end espresso enthusiasts around the world. But if the results are as amazing as we’ve heard, the Slayer could just be the first in a new generation of espresso machines.

Earlier this week, The Seattle Weekly published a profile of the team, speaking with one of the founders, Eric Perkunder, and describing their current boutique-level factory. It’s a great read if you’re interested in the history and theory behind the invention of the Slayer.

We’re hoping to head out on a field trip in the near future to interview the guys and see the facility, plus play around with and watch a Slayer in action!

Under Pressure

Espresso machines often list 15 – 17 BAR pumps in their technical specifications, but the general rule of thumb for most espresso extraction is for 9 BARs of pressure. In this video, Gail talks to us about this pressure differential, what you’re looking for and talks a bit about the new world of pressure profiling in commercial/professional espresso.

Pura Vida!

Well, we are back from our wonderful jaunt to el Caribe Sur of Costa Rica. After 12 long years, we returned to the now not-so-little village in which we lived back in our wayward youth: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It was a blast! And while we had a run-in on our bicicleta with a scooter, leaving our left knee a little worse for the wear, we did have a lot of time to jungle hike, float in the Caribbean, drink tons of delicious coffee and eat way too many patacones (but, is that possible?).

So excuse us for the slow posting; we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon enough. Tranquilo, baby!

Crew Review: Jura Capresso Impressa Z5 Superautomatic

Possibly our favorite one-touch cappuccino superautomatic espresso machine, the Z5 combines tons of programmability with near-perfect automatically frothed milk. Gail shows us how this little baby works, talks about its features and functionality and makes us a cappuccino.