Crew Review: Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler

Our long love affair with Rocket Espresso has been taken to a higher level with their newest addition, the R58 dual boiler espresso machine. Featuring separate, insulated copper steam & brew boilers and a removable PID interface to control the steam boiler on/off, brew boiler temperature and the water source (either the internal water reservoir or plumbed-in), the R58 also has a dashing case design and a beautiful stainless steel cup surround.

Seriously, we’re not sure if it can get much better. We need a moment. While we collect ourselves, check out Gail’s from box-to-cappuccino introduction to the R58.

All That (Caffeine) — and a Bag of Chips!

When you think of energy boosting drinks and food, thoughts of Red Bull, Rockstar and even your average shot of espresso come to mind, right?

But wait, did you ever think a bag of potato chips could give you the same amount of energy?

Arma Energy Snx and NRG have done the what many may consider to be the unthinkable: Created a crunchy + salty + caffeinated snack with a dash of taurine (an ingredient often found in energy drinks) to boost our mood.

Given that we often associate potato chips with being a couch potato, a high energy version definitely borders on ironic. But Arma claims that each 2-ounce bag comes with about 70 milligrams of caffeine while NRG says that every 3.5-ounce bag is ‘equivalent to 3 and a half cups of coffee, 350 mg of caffeine.’

However, with each bag also comes 290 calories. Compare that to an energy drink that has 80 mg of caffeine and 110 calories and a shot of espresso with only 5 calories and 75 mg of caffeine.

Crew Review: Breville BES840XL

While we loved several of the features on Breville’s BES830XL, the temperature consistency did leave a bit to be desired. So imagine our tearful joy when we learned that Breville was implementing an upgrade to the internals of this machine and releasing a new model!

You can check out the differences between the older heating tech and the new heating tech (if you’re into that kind of thing) in this video. Then watch Gail take us through the BES840XL’s features and demonstrate functionality. The BES840XL will be available in mid-June 2012.

Crew Review: Hario Clear Water Dripper

If patience is a virtue you’ve already acquired, Hario’s beautiful Clear Water Dripper might produce the cold cup of coffee to reward you. Watch as Gail takes this gear-fit-for-a-laboratory out for a test drive.

As you can see, we didn’t have great results, but we wont give up. Have you tried this prep method, or something like it? Please share your technique with the class!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Mocha Smoothie

If you take dark chocolate, coffee ice cubes and milk, throw it into a Vita-Mix and hit ‘high,’ is there any possible way that you can go wrong? If so, we don’t want to know.

Watch Brandi combine all this rightness into a delicious smoothie and then treat herself to a smoothie + Espresso Chocolate Cake Truffle breakfast.




  1. Coffee ice cubes: Brew a pot of your favorite coffee and pour into an ice cube tray, freeze until frozen solid.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend about 30 seconds, or until 4 peaks appear in the blender. Be careful not to over blend.

Cooking with Kaylie: Espresso Chocolate Cake Truffles

Last week, I made an insanely decadent dessert to help celebrate a birthday. I mean, how could you go wrong with espresso chocolate cake mixed with espresso chocolate frosting and dipped in chocolate?



  • Bake espresso chocolate cake
  • Let cake cool for 1 hour, then crumble it into small pieces
  • In a separate bowl, combine chocolate frosting with espresso and mix well
  • Combine crumbled espresso chocolate cake and espresso chocolate frosting, stirring together until well incorporated
  • Using your hands, pick up cake and frosting mixture by the tablespoon and roll into balls
  • Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or the refrigerator for 1 hour
  • When done chilling, melt the coating chocolate in a bowl
  • Dip each ball into the chocolate, making sure it is fully coated before placing back on the cookie sheet

You just made cake truffles! While they are quite a bit of work, people thoroughly enjoy them. For example, I was told that this is the best recipe I’ve made so far for Seattle Coffee Gear. Success!

As an added bonus, it is super easy to take shortcuts on this recipe or scale it down. Only want 10 truffles? Then simply make 1/4 of the espresso chocolate cake recipe. Short on time? Buy some chocolate cupcakes at the store and just mix in the ground espresso with the frosting.

Also, don’t skip the freezer/refrigerator step. It’s what keeps them from falling apart as you dip them in the chocolate. Trust me on this one.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go make some awesome cake truffles!

Crew Review: Capresso Burr Coffee Grinder #559

In our search for entry level grinders that still get the job done, we tested out this model from Capresso. While it doesn’t grind fine enough for traditional espresso extraction, it was fairly consistent and worked well for pressurized extractions to pour over to drip to press pot.

Watch as Gail tests out this grinder, discusses its features, pros and cons and then demonstrates its grind quality.


What is a Thermoblock?

A thermoblock or thermocoil takes water from the reservoir in an espresso machine and heats it on the fly, versus heating up a full boiler of water. This technology is commonly seen on home espresso machines, where it manages either the brew function, steam function or both. The benefit of a thermoblock is that it doesn’t take as long for your machine to heat up for either brew or steam; however, the drawback can be that your temperature for brew or steam is not quite as consistent as you might like.

Gail introduces us to a few different varieties of thermoblocks/thermocoils and shows how they compare to a standard boiler (specifically, the internals of the Breville Dual Boiler).

Special thanks to Breville for providing the sample internals for this video!

Crew Review: La Marzocco Stainless Steel Portafilter

Portafilter cleanliness is one of our favorite subjects around here, but we have noticed that the regular soaking and scrubbing of the chrome-plated brass versions adversely affects their finish over time. What was once shiny and beautiful becomes dark black and the chrome plating can even begin to wear down.

For heavy use environments, like cafes, this means that portafilter replacement is a standard cost of doing business, so La Marzocco created a stainless steel model aimed at decreasing that cost.

Watch Gail demonstrate this stainless steel portafilter with breakaway spouts and show us how it holds up over several weeks of use without cleaning. She also compares it to a standard chrome-plated brass version, as well. These do cost a pretty penny, but could definitely be worth it for folks that do need to regularly replace their portafilters.


Brewin’ with Brandi: Toasted Marshmallow Latte

We are hearty here in the Pacific Northwest, and if you’re not okay with camping in damp environs, then you’d never get to camp! But we understand that there are some among us who don’t have the same level of fortitude, and soggy days are not camp-friendly. For you we have created this lovely drink which, in combination with Kaylie’s Espresso Graham Cracker cookies, effectively channels everyone’s favorite camp time treat: S’mores!




  1. Combine sauce and syrup together in a large mug.
  2. Add the espresso shots and stir well to mix.
  3. Top with steamed milk.
  4. Dip an Espresso Graham Cracker cookie in it and enjoy!