Silky Microfoam on the Saeco Aroma? Really?

We often get requests for tips on how someone can achieve a silky, super-fine textured microfoam on a Saeco Aroma. Doing so is less a technique issue than an equipment issue: The Aroma’s stock panarello wand/sleeve are designed to automatically incorporate air into the milk during frothing, creating a fluffy foam. The benefit of this is that someone can get a nice foamy milk without a lot of skill or technique involved; however, the texture of the milk is more fluffy and airy — with larger air bubbles — than most people like, so it’s not ideal if you’re interested in achieving that shaving cream-like texture you often find at the hands of a pro barista.

So we went back to the drawing board and tried to modify the wand so that it would suck in less air during steaming. We tried duck tape, we tried epoxy, we even tried using the wand without the sleeve but it was just too short to really do a good job.

Eventually, Gail stumbled upon the stainless steel panarello steam wand replacements that we sell. These feature a tiny pinhole opening which pulls in significantly less air, so she tried putting it on the Aroma and it worked! By replacing the entire stock wand with the stainless steel version, we were able to successfully create a silky microfoam milk without requiring any type of skill or technique. Watch Gail below as she shows how the different wands compare and steams milk with each of them.

If you’re interested in picking up one of these steam wands, you can do so here.

Monin Syrup Spree!

We have a fairly impressive collection of Monin syrups, sauces and purees available here in the store or online and we’ve just added three new syrups to the mix.

monin-green-tea Green Tea Concentrate
This sweet concentrate makes iced green teas simple and easy to whip up in a flash! We love its subtle flavor — and it’s really excellent mixed with the Monin White Peach syrup for a fruity and delicious iced tea.
monin-praline Praline
Praline lovers will rejoice in this buttery, nutty syrup — perfect for your favorite coffee-based drink, or perhaps worked into a holiday-themed cocktail.
monin-white-peach White Peach
Bright and summery — even in winter’s dourest days! This syrup is a great for easily making Bellinis (mix it with sparkling wine) as a fruity and smooth holiday apperitif, or mix it in with a warm tea for something a little cozier.

New! Breville Non-Pressurized Portafilter Basket Upgrade

When we started carrying the Breville espresso machines a few months ago, arguably the most common complaint we heard was that the pressurized filter basket easily clogged and was difficult to clean. We looked into the construction to see if there was something we could change about that, but decided to go with a upgrade altogether by creating a unique, non-pressurized porftafilter basket specifically designed to fit Brevilles!

In this video, Gail talks to us about the baskets and pulls us a shot to show us how they perform. If you have a Breville, this is a highly recommended upgrade to your setup. You will need to be more in tune with your grind and tamp than if you’re using the pressurized baskets, however, but you’ll have the opportunity to¬† significantly improve your shot.

New! Rancilio Silvia Steam Wand Retrofit

If you have a version 1 or version 2 Rancilio Silvia, it might be well worth your while to invest in upgrading the steam wand to the much more flexible and easy-to-control steam assembly available on the version 3. Doing so, however, involves popping off the lid and going at your machine with a few different wrenches — but, never fear, we’ve got a video of Henry performing the task for us.

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Latte

We love pumpkin pie lattes but we are also huge stovetop espresso fans, so this yummy recipe that incorporates real pumpkin and doesn’t require an espresso machine fit the bill. Very silky!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 shots of espresso


Combine milk, pumpkin and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over low to medium heat until steaming, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the pie spice and vanilla. Pour into a blender and pulse for about 15 seconds until frothy. Put two shots of espresso into each mug and then pour in the pumpkin mixture. MMMM!

Jura UK Raising Money for Magnificent Tatas

Doing its part to keep cups full in more ways than one, Jura UK is holding a charitable auction in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are in the UK and have always wanted an Ena5 — or if you just really, really love the color pink — you can take part in the auction of a one-of-a-kind Jura Ena5 with a pink and silver two-tone case.

Anyone who keeps up on our fetishes over here knows that the Jura Ena series are our favorite superautomatic espresso machines because they’re simple, reliable, space-conscious and make a great cup of coffee. And while we won’t get into our other fetishes, suffice it to say that we are huge supporters of finding a cure for breast cancer!

We hope Jura UK is successful in raising a nice contribution to the three charities that sponsor Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the UK, and we highly encourage you to help them out by bidding on this great machine.

Comparing Mid-Range Superautomatic Espresso Machines

If you’re in the market for a machine that kind of does it all, choosing which one is right for you can be a little bit tricky. We asked Gail to walk us through the superautomatics priced in the $899 – $1199 price range and in this video she discusses their features, similarities, pros and cons.

New Reviews! Ascaso, Jura & Quick Mill

Over in the Brown Bean Reviews area, we’ve been adding new product listings and reviews for your research, reading and (hopefully!) reviewing pleasure. If you’re researching any of the below machines, please check them out. If you own one, we’d love it if you could write a user review to help others pick the machine that is right for them — your experiences are priceless.


Ascaso Basic
Semi-Automatic Single Boiler
ascaso-uno-pro Ascaso Uno Pro
Semi-Automatic Single Boiler
jura-z5 Jura Capresso Impressa Z5
One-Touch Cappuccino
qm-vetrano Quick Mill Vetrano
Semi-Automatic Heat Exchanger (Plumb-in Only)

Comparing Heat Exchange Espresso Machines

A lot of folks want to know some of the similarities, differences, pros and cons of the heat exchange espresso machines we carry, so we asked Gail to walk us through several different models and give us the goods.

In this video, she discusses the Rocket Cellini & Giotto, the Quick Mill Anita & Andreja, the Grimac La Valentina and the Pasquini Livia 90. The latter two come in either semi-automatic or programmable automatic versions, while the first four are lever-controlled semi-automatic only.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Babies

Tracked as a potential contributor to a low birth weight in babies, caffeine is among the 3,508 other things mothers are encouraged not to ingest during pregnancy. OK, we grabbed that number out of the air but it’s, like, a lot. (No brie? Really?! Inhuman.) But caffeine does function as an effective respiratory stimulant, and so has often been used during neonatal care in hospitals for newborns with respiratory issues.

That may end, however, if this recent Canadian study is corroborated. Scientists dosed infant rats with caffeine and then tracked how it affected them as they grew into adulthood. Comparison trends in the rats who had been dosed with caffeine in infancy showed signs of sleeping disorders as adults: reduced sleeping time, a longer time to reach the first stage of sleep and fragmented non-REM sleep. Additionally, the rats that weren’t treated with caffeine had higher breathing at rest than those that were treated with caffeine.

The study reviewers indicated that it is a cause for concern and there will likely be more testing to analyze and determine just what type of neurological and/or developmental effect caffeine has on babies. Since breathing problems are one of the main reasons newborn babies are hospitalized and a primary cause of their death, we hope that determining how caffeine therapy effects the developing brain and then figuring out alternate treatments if necessary is a fairly high priority.

And when they’re done with that, they should figure out how to get brie back on the expectant mother menu.