Crew Review: Compak K10 Conic Fresh

Look, you know we don’t judge. In general, we are open minded, supportive and care about you finding the right equipment for you. We often say that we don’t have a horse in that race — the most important thing to us is that you end up with equipment that helps you make coffee that you love at home.

But if we’re going to throw that all to the wayside and pressure you into anything, it’s going to be the ridiculously awesome Compak K10 Conic Fresh grinder. You know that the grinder is the thing and this grinder is the serious thing.

Watch Gail take us through the features and specs, then demonstrate how this big bad grinder performs. Yow!!


How To: Dialing in a Coffee Grinder

A little bit of the ol’ science behind the magic! Dialing in a grinder is one of the most fearsome tasks for new home espresso enthusiasts, and we’re often asked for advice on how to get the hang of it.

While we produced a video a couple of years ago that covers this topic, we have had many folks ask more questions that weren’t covered in the original version and we’ve learned a few new tips and tricks along the way. Watch Gail dial in the Nuova Simonelli Grinta for the Nuova Simonelli Oscar, providing recommendations that can be applied to any home espresso setup.

Brewin’ with Brandi: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mocha

Smooth, silky white chocolate is set off by the delicious, roasted (and salted!) flavors of Monin’s Macadamia Nut syrup in Brandi’s newest concoction. Watch as she prepares this scrumptious treat!




Combine sauce and syrup, mix well. Add the shot and stir to incorporate. Top with steamed milk and garnish with a lil’ whipped cream. Mmmmm!

Compare: Baratza Virtuoso vs. Breville Smart Grinder

For entry level espresso-grade grinders, the Baratza Virtuoso and the Breville Smart Grinder have a lot of features one might want to cuddle and caress (with the finger guards in place, of course!). At similar price points, how do their features and grind performance compare?

We asked Gail to take these out for a stroll and show them off for you. Watch her go through their features and functionality, then grind at three different settings (finest, medium, coarsest) to compare how the burrs practically perform.


SCG’s Most Popular Coffee Gear – 2011

Not that we’re encouraging you to keep up with the Joneses, but if you’re in the market for a new espresso machine, we thought it might be helpful to share which models sold the best over the last year. Broken down by budget, here is what other folks have chosen for their home espresso setup, so definitely worth considering for yours.

Under $500
#1: Saeco Aroma Black – $249.95 Stainless Steel – $288.00
With its compact size and sturdy demeanor, this machine packs more punch than the average eye can see. With the ability to use a non-pressurized portafilter and pressurized portafilter, customers have come to adore both options. As the pressurized simplifies the process of espresso with no need to be particular with its grind, it’s still able to extract an ideal shot. However, many of our customer have also upgraded to the non-pressurized portafilter, giving them the ability to work on their grind and tamping skills — just like real baristas!

#2: Saeco Via Venezia Black – $299.99
For all you Starbucks Barista owners, you may recognize this machine since it’s the same model made by the same manufacturers that created the Barista for Starbucks. A bit bigger than the Aroma, the Venezia’s insides are almost identical with the Aroma and functions the same way. But it does have a few more upgrades such as a bigger water tank (98 oz. vs. 80 oz.), steam wand that swivels and a little more clearance between the brew head and drip tray.

#3: Technivorm Moccamaster Thermo Coffee Brewer (KBT741) – Polished Silver – $279.00
Heating up one of the hottest cups of coffee that we’ve tested out (200 degrees F), the Technivorm KBT741 definitely made it on our list of hot items of 2011. It may look old school, but its coffee definitely isn’t of the cowboy variety! Customers have grown to love this Dutch-made machine because it incorporates the ideal way to brew and keep a piping cup of coffee hot without ever changing its formula. It may be a bit pricier than your average coffee maker, but coffee lovers who’ve invested in it understand this coffee maker’s worth.

Under $1,000
#1: Rancilio Silvia – $629.00
The bottom rung and most reasonably priced of our higher end espresso machines, the Silvia has made a name for itself. With a stainless steel case, brass single boiler and upgraded commercial-grade steam wand, once coffee lovers want to make a move from their entry level machines to the big guns, the Silvia is usually first on the list. A bit particular about the grind, pairing it up with a higher end grinder such as the Rancilio Rocky, Baratza Vario or any of our commercial-grade grinders will allow you to extract a velvety shot every time. With an added upgrade option to install a PID, coffee connoisseurs will be able to set the temperature of their boiler to their liking, giving them more control of how they extract that ideal shot.

#2: Jura Capresso ENA 4 Automatic Coffee Center  РRistretto Black Р$699.00
Customers have always loved the modern, clean cut lines of Jura’s line of superautomatic machines. But with the Jura Ena 4 customers have become even bigger fans since it not only offers the ideal look but also a smaller footprint with many bells and whistles. Programmable settings, professional grinder, maintenance notifications and a water filtration system, you’d think the machine had a mind of its own. And while it (and other Jura’s) are known for making the best shots on a superauto, the steam wand design is not our favorite, so if you love lattes and cappuccinos, you probably want to look at a different machine.

#3: Breville Barista Express – Programmable Espresso Machine with Grinder 860 XL – $599.99
With some of the programmable functions of a superautomatic but giving you the capability to control more elements like a semi-automatic, it could be said that the Breville Barista Express is the best of both worlds. With a stainless steel casing, built in conical burr grinder with measured dosage and programmable double & single shot buttons, you’ll still have the ability to control the tamp and pour of your shots. While it’s the hottest of Breville’s single boiler models, it still uses dual thermoblocks so temp consistency isn’t ideal.

Under $1,500
#1: Delonghi Magnifica ECAM 23210B Compact Superautomatic Espresso Machine – $999.00
How can such a tiny machine offer so much?! With the ability to adjust the size and strength of your espresso preference, this machine’s interface is straightforward, easy to use and offers programmable buttons speeding up your drink making process. Easy clean up and no mess to fuss about, it also brews some of the hottest coffee from a superauto.

#2: Saeco Talea Touch – $999.00
Call it your very own R2D2 — the Saeco Talea Touch will leave you sitting back and relaxing as it whips up your favorite drinks for you! As the number of fans for superautomatic espresso machines have been growing, the Talea Touch gives you one more thing to love with its touch-screen interface,¬† which makes choosing the strength, size and choice of espresso drink even easier. It also possesses notifications that will remind you to give it a good cleaning or when it’s time to fill-up on beans.

#3: Quick Mill Alexia Semi Automatic Espresso Machine – $1,195.00
Bring the cafe into the comfort of your own home with the Quick Mill Alexia. A single boiler machine featuring a commercial-grade stainless steel casing, professional E-61 brew head and the ability to control your machine’s boiler temperature with the optional PID, you’ll reach barista status in no time. Even with a learning curve of dialing in that exact grind and finding what 30 lbs. of pressure feels like when tamping, customers love the look and the quality of shots and frothy milk this machine allows them to create.

Under $2,000
#1: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus – $1,699.00 Rocket Giotto Premium Plus – $1,799.00
As customers walk through our store, the sparkle of the polished stainless steel Rocket Espresso machines are certainly eye-catching. But once they taste the smooth espresso shot it produces, it definitely seals the deal. Encompassing a tank for water accessibility, a heat-exchanger boiler that gives you a faster turn around time to produce your favorite shots and the ability to steam and brew at the same time, both the Cellini and Giotto have become the dream machine for coffee lovers. The only difference between the two are the sleek lines of the Cellini and the angular sides on the Giotto.

#2: Jura Capresso Impressa C9 One Touch Automatic Coffee Center – $1,899.00
Even with a small kitchen you can get the full cafe experience with the Impressa C9. Giving you the ability to see what functions your machine is accessing with the LED interface, you can program your drink’s temperature preference, volume and strength at a spin and push of the knob. Customers enjoy the fact that they have accessibility to use the automatic cappuccino system, where they can froth milk, brew coffee and have it poured all in one cup without lifting more than one finger. Who want’s to do that?!

#3: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi I Espresso Machine – $1,995.00
Moving up to the big leagues, this double boiler gives you the ability to make drink after drink for parties or expertly feed your espresso craving in the comfort of home! With a professional-grade design and NSF rating, the Vivaldi also offers programmable dosage, easy temperature management, large water tank and an improved steam wand.

No Limits
#1: Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine – $2,099.00 Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione Espresso Machine – $2,199.00
Why choose? For those who can’t decide whether they want a reservoir or plumbed-in machine, Rocket has a convertible option! With the capability to use the internal water reservoir or plumbing right into a water source, you’ll never debate on whether you made the right decision. Encompassed by polished stainless steel case, you’ll be able to monitor your boiler and brew head pressure with the dual gauge reading and extract ideal shots out of the commercial E-61 brew group.

#2: Saeco Xelsis SS One Touch Superautomatic Espresso Machine – $2,339.00
At the price you’ll be paying, we can vouch that this is one of the best superautomatic machines we’ve tested and seen yet. Unlike most superautomatics that are made of all plastic, folks love this machine because of its stainless steel casing. Its one-touch features are top notch because not only will it froth, brew and pour, but it will also make sure to clean your frother so there’s no milk residue build-up when you use it the next time around. Yummy!

#3: Izzo Alex Duetto II Semi Automatic Espresso Machine – $2,395.00
Doubling the power up, the Alex Duetto encompasses all the favorite features customers love and look for in their high end machines: brass-copper double boiler, stainless steel casing, commercial E-61 brew group, no-burn steam & hot water wands and a multi functional PID to control temperature, amps, degrees, and steam boiler pressure. Control freaks, dig this!

Experimenting with Cold Brew Coffee

Do you really need a fancy, specially-designed gadget to brew up a batch of cold coffee? Or can you just use your trusty ol’ press pot? While we carry a couple of different cold brew options (from Hario and Sowden), we wanted to see if using one of them (namely, the Sowden) produced a better, worse or similar cup to making a cold brew with a La Cafetiere french press.

So we put Allison to the test! Watch as we brew up a batch in each, using the same grind and coffee-to-water ratios, allowing them to sit over night and then giving them a taste test. We also compare how much sediment appears in the cup. So exciting!

Baratza Grinder Line-Up

Since our last look at Baratza’s offerings, they’ve added some new options and changed their line-up, so we asked Gail to provide us with an update.

Watch as she talks us through the different features of the Maestro Plus, Virtuoso, Preciso, Vario, Vario-W and the Esatto retrofit accessory. Then we demonstrate grind differences between the Maestro burrs, the Preciso burrs (used in the Virtuoso and the Preciso) and the Vario burrs (used in the Vario and Vario-W) to see how they compare at their finest and their coarsest.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Cinnamon Roll Latte

This week, Brandi takes one of our favorite breakfast treats and turns it into … our new favorite breakfast treat!

Watch as she whips up this delicious, cinnamony (what? It’s a word) latte, perfect for an early morning java jolt.





Combine syrups together, pull shot and mix well. Add steamed milk and then garnish with a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!

Crew Review: Rancilio Egro Commercial Superautomatic – Redux!

When Gail first met this sophisticated robot about 18 months ago, they had a brief and fleeting affair, enabling her to get just a minor taste of its capabilities. We brought in a demo model a few months ago and Gail has now had the time to get up close and personal with Rancilio’s commercial superautomatic masterpiece, the Egro — so we decided it was time for a redux!

While she’s definitely bummed that it still won’t do her laundry, take the cat for a walk or read to her, she does dig it’s programming functionality, one-touch features and flexibility in formats! Watch as she walks us through all the features and specs, then demonstrates making a few different drinks.