Happy New Year!

2011 is the year of the rabbit (yes, we know it doesn’t actually kick in on that shizz until February) and that means it’s going to be lucky, fluffy and cute! Of course.

With so many changes and such awesome growth over the past year, we want to thank all of you who have contributed to it by choosing to do business with us. We’ve been able to help so many people make better coffee at home, it almost brings a tear to our eye — and will later, after we’ve had a couple glasses o’ bubbly.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and that the new year brings you all sweetness, all light. See you right back here in 2011.

Recipe: The Pretty Woman

Nothing says ‘classy’ quite like a hooker with a heart of gold, sipping on bubbly and chomping on strawberries in her trick’s thousand-dollar-a-night suite at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, right? Right. Live the dream this New Year’s Eve with this traditionally tasty champagne cocktail — sweet, intoxicating and seed-free, so you won’t have to engage in any secretive flossing in the bathroom.

Ingredients

Directions

Pour syrup in the bottom of a flute and then top with sparkling wine. Toast, flirt, smooch and celebrate!

New! 1, 2, Brew Kit for Drip Coffee Makers

Roughly 80% of the machines that come into our repair center are having issues due to lack of regular maintenance, but keeping your machine tip-top also means your coffee will taste better as well. We know this and we hope you know this, but who really knows this (from a biased, albeit rather caring perspective) is coffee gear cleaning company Urnex, who manufacturers some of the best loved cleaning solutions on the market.

To promote their love of sparkly clean machines — and also make it easy for you to know exactly what to do to keep your machine in excellent shape — they have introduced the 1, 2, Brew Kit for Drip Coffee Makers that features the following accoutrement:

  • Dezcal Espresso Machine Descaler
  • Cleancaf Cleaning Detergent
  • One Sample Pack of Grindz Burr Grinder Cleaner
  • 1lb bag of Velton’s Coffee Beans — your choice of Treehouse, Twilight or Decaf blends
  • Coffee Scoop with bag clip

We’re including this kit with our drip coffee makers now as a free item, but it’s also available for individual sale — great for yourself or a gift for someone else. And while this is specifically designed for drip coffee makers, we are working with them to develop one for espresso machines that will be released early next year…so stay tuned.

New! BIA Cordon Bleu Cups

Look, you spent a pretty penny on your home espresso equipment, but you’re still serving it up to your pals in a mishmash of mugs collected over the years at tourist traps and now-defunct cafes. It’s time to upgrade.

Once we got our little paws on BIA’s Cordon Bleu white porcelain Demi and vibrantly hued Espresso cups, we just had to have them. Yes, we covet these kinds of wares, and we’re pretty sure you will, too, if you pick up a set — so don’t judge.

Coming in a bright, festive mixture of colors, the Espresso cups are 6 little numbers that you will not forget easily. Paired with a rainbow of saucers, this set is fun, funky and functional (three of our favorite f’s).

For the daintier amidst us, the elegant set of 2 Demi cups and saucers are simple, refined and are sure to communicate to everyone who enjoys your exceptional espresso just how exceptional your espresso really is. We love their shape and their weight, and if we go into it any more, this blog will vary from it’s usual PG-13 rating.

New! La Cafetiere Gear

The inner workings of competitive businesses — especially those that have had closely intertwined histories, management and ownership like Bodum and La Cafetiere — often result in limiting consumer access to specific products. This isn’t because the products themselves aren’t great, functional, reliable or well-built; it’s often because of exclusivity agreements or international patent laws that prohibit selling an item in a particular country. Last year, the dust finally settled on the long-term, semi-acrimonious international tete-a-tete between Bodum USA and La Cafetiere’s parent company, and the latter is finally able to sell their wares in the U.S.

There’s a reason that the word ‘cafetiere’ is synonymous in Europe with what we Americans call a French press — it was the original inspiration for all presses to come, developed by a French clarinet factory. The presses that La Cafetiere produces are both classic and gorgeous — from the simple glass-and-stainless-steel-frame model to the sleek stainless steel thermal version — and are available in a variety of sizes, from 3 to 12 cups. We are also offering their Tea Swizzle (which we now refer to simply as the ‘Twizzle’, of course!) and will be adding more products in the future.

Limited Stock: Solis Non-Pressurized Portafilters

In our quest for non-pressurized portafilters for the smaller Saeco semi-automatic machines, we were able to source the final inventory of the portafilters manufactured by Solis for their now-discontinued SL70 and SL90 machines.

These are made of a higher quality of materials than some of the other non-pressurized portafilters available, and are a bit more pricey as a result. We also have a very limited inventory and when they’re gone, they’re gone — these aren’t being manufactured anymore. They fit on the following Saeco machines:

  • Saeco Aroma
  • Starbucks Barista
  • Saeco Via Venezia
  • Estro Profi
  • Saeco Magic Cappuccino
  • Saeco Gran Crema
  • Saeco Via Veneto
  • Saeco Classico

So if you’re looking to upgrade or need to replace out the handle on your older SL70 or SL90, pick one of these up while supplies last.

Recipe: My Lil’ Rumcake

It’s the holiday season and all around us, people are partying hard. This is our busiest time of year, however, so we can’t afford to kick back and take a nip or two from the ol’ flask — especially if we hope to answer all your questions and ship you the right equipment. So we’re deluding ourselves with non-alcoholic brews that taste like they have alcohol in them; this ensures all lampshades remain firmly attached to their bases and your gear arrives in one piece.

Ingredients

Directions

Combine the syrups together and add the shot, mix thoroughly. Top with steamed milk. Sip it wistfully.

Backflushing with Cafiza Tablets

We have a wide array of cleaning products available — from descaler to milk frothing cleaner to backflushing detergent — and, admittedly, we sometimes get a little stuck in our ways. Machines with a three-way brew pressure release/solenoid valve (such as the Rancilio Silvia, La Spaziale machines, many of the Ascaso machines and any of the machines with an E61 brew head), require regular backflushing in order to keep that system in tip top shape.

Heretofore we have always recommended powdered backflush detergent — Cafiza or Joe Glo — but when we were meeting with Urnex a couple of weeks ago, they mentioned using the Cafiza tablets for backflushing. And it blew our minds.

Yeah, it doesn’t take much, does it?

If you want to be precise about the quantity of detergent you’re using in your backflushing and cleaning your gear, these tablets are the exact amount you need. Place one tablet in your backflush basket and follow your process as normal; one tablet in a couple cups of hot water is perfect for soaking baskets, portafilters and any other gear you may have that comes into contact with coffee oils and needs a good scrub down.

So what we previously attributed solely to superautomatic brew group cleanliness is cross functional and a great way to easily backflush your equipment without concern of using too much/too little detergent.