Brewin’ with Brandi: Violet’s Folly

We tasked Brandi with creating some non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks to expand our repertoire, so she opted for a summer-inspired Italian soda! Watch as she crafts this deliciously creamy, berry-infused drink.


  • 1 1/2 oz Monin Blueberry syrup
  • Sparkling water / club soda
  • ice
  • Cream / half & half (to taste)
  • Fresh blueberries (for garnish)


Fill glass with ice. Pour 1/2 of the Blueberry syrup over ice then fill the glass 3/4 full with the sparkling water/club soda. Pour the remaining syrup into the glass and then add cream/half & half to taste. Top with fresh blueberries and enjoy!

Crew Review: DeLonghi EC702

No muss, no fuss! DeLonghi’s entry level semi-automatic espresso machines offer great features and good value. Sure, they’re not going to win any awards, but did you expect them to? Probably not.

Watch as Gail takes us through the features and functionality of the EC702, a single boiler with a simple interface and metal case.

Crew Review: E.S.E Pod Adapter Extravaganza

As a follow-up to our introduction to Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods earlier this week, we asked Gail to take us through the pod adapters for a few of the machines that we carry and then we did a taste test comparing them against a machine that comes pod-friendly. This series of videos shows how the adapters are installed and how well they perform, shot-quality-wise.

First up, the Nuova Simonelli Musica pod adapter installation and taste test:

 Next, the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi pod adapter installation and taste test:

 Now we install the adapter on the Rancilio Silvia and taste some shots:

 Finally, we asked Brandi and Teri to join Gail as she performs a taste test, comparing the three adapted machines with the Saeco Via Venezia, which is a pod-friendly machine without the requirement of an adapter:

Brewin’ with Brandi: Cafe Corretto

While it’s generally difficult for us not to co-sign one of Brandi’s boozy-n-java concoctions, the Cafe Corretto featuring Grappa may test our limits. It means all of the business! Watch as she takes us down a road that obviously cannot end well.



  • 1 oz grappa
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • Sugar to taste


  1. Pull your shot of espresso into a minium 3 oz demitasse.
  2. Add grappa to demitasse.
  3. Top with sugar (to taste) and stir.
  4. Get serious!

Introduction to E.S.E. Pods

Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods provide a simple, mess-free way of conveniently producing a shot of espresso. You don’t have to worry about grind and tamp as each pod is ground and measured for a single shot dosage, plus the post-shot clean up is a breeze. While they’re incredibly popular for their cleanliness and convenience, E.S.E. pods don’t produce a particularly amazing shot, so there is definitely a trade-off.

Watch as Gail talks to us about pods, what they are, which machines can use them and the pros and cons of going this route vs. freshly ground coffee.

Health Watch: Coffee May Contribute to a Longer Life

And a happier one, too! If you need more scientific data to support your java love, read on.

Studies have shown that men and women who are drinking six or more cups of coffee a day have a 10 (for men) and 15 (for women) percent lower risk of dying at an earlier age.

Historically, doctors have noted a correlation between caffeine and an increase in bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease; however, a recent study has revealed an interesting pattern: Drinking coffee may extend the overall lifespan in already healthy individuals.

A study held from 1995 to 2008 involving the National Institutes of Health and AARP members between the ages of 50 to 71 from all over the US has given researchers a better look at the possible health benefits of coffee. They made sure to exclude people who already had heart disease, a stroke or cancer or had too many or too few calories a day.

‘By 2008 about 52,000 had died. Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent,’ revealed the study.

Since previous studies have suggested that coffee may have a part in heart disease, this study inspired Neal Freedman, nutritional epidemiology researcher at the National Cancer Institute, to consider another contributing factor. He noted that many who were at higher risk of death were coffee drinkers and tobacco smokers, too. ‘It was only after we took into account people’s smoking that the association, the inverse association, revealed itself,’ he said. ‘Smoking has a really strong association with death.’

In the end, Freedman’s study showed that those with healthy habits who drink six or more cups of  caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee did cut the risk of dying but not to the extreme. Freedman couldn’t calculate the exact amount of extra life each cup can give you. However, he admits coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents and infections. No effect was seen on cancer death risk, though.

So we’ll admit that we’ll grab that extra cup of java to increase the longevity of our lives, even if it’s only by a few percentage points, but a word of advice: More coffee does not mean you should pack on the sugar and cream.

As Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health advises, ‘Watch the sugar and cream. Extra calories and fat could negate any benefits from coffee.’

Brewin’ with Brandi: Smashing Sunset

If we leave Brandi to her own devices, she just causes trouble for everyone. And, in this case, that trouble is in the format of a ridiculously delicious vodka cocktail that is perfectly refreshing and the best choice for your breakfast, lunch or dinner beverage all summer long. While she used Monin’s Blackberry syrup, we’re pretty sure this will go great with any of their berry syrups — strawberry, raspberry, blueberry … heck, we’ll even give a nod to mango.



Fill a tall glass with ice and then pour the syrup and vodka over it. Fill with lemonade, give it a stir and enjoy.