Compare: Grinder Sound Meter Readings

When discussing the sound differential between rotary and vibratory pumps, we’re often asked which one is more quiet; our answer is invariably: Does it matter? Your coffee grinder’s the loudest thing in the room!

But how loud is it? We devised a practical test to basically show the difference between the grinders, decibel-wise. What did we learn? The tone’s the thing! While the decibel levels are actually quite similar, there were models that ‘sounded’ louder than others, simply because of a difference in tone. So the moral is … they’re all loud. :)

Watch Gail’s test in action!

Compare: Convenience of Superautos vs. Capsule vs. Pod Espresso Machines

If convenience is king in your household, your espresso machine selection will likely center on superautomatic, capsule or pod-friendly options such as those made by DeLonghi, Jura, Nespresso and Saeco.

But which of these three machine styles produces a better shot? Does it matter? Of course it does! Watch as Gail demonstrates making an Americano on a pod-friendly semi-automatic, a capsule machine and a superautomatic. We compare flavor and discuss the relative convenience and ease of use.

Crew Review: Jura Ena Micro 1 – Gourmet Single Cup Coffee Maker

Brewing one delicious cup of coffee at a time is all the rage today, and Jura’s Ena Micro 1 is their take on the best way to produce a single cup of gourmet java at home.

Watch as Gail talks to us about the Micro 1’s features and functionality, how it differs from other models that Jura produces and then demonstrates a looooooooong coffee, pulled directly into her to-go cup. Awesome and delectable!

 

Crew Review: Saeco Intelia Focus

Featuring a small footprint, simple to use interface and a cool new approach to the finger guard that actually promotes — instead of hindering — coffee bean feeding, there’s a lot to love about Saeco’s new Intelia Focus superautomatic espresso machine.

Watch as Gail takes us through the ropes, including its features, functionality and an overview of the accessories Saeco includes. Then she demonstrates making a delicious cappuccino!

 

Brewin’ with Brandi: Spicy Cinnamon Apple Cider

The lovely colors, scents and chill of Autumn are upon us, and what better way to sit back and enjoy them but with a mug of hot apple cider? Brandi crafts a delicious variation using one of our favorite syrups — Spicy Red Cinnamon! Watch her steam it up on the Rocket.

Ingredients

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a steaming pitcher and heat to your preferred temperature using your espresso machine’s steam wand. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

The Reluctant Barista: Jura J9 One Touch TFT Superautomatic

Fast forward…one month later and my budding barista skills are still negligible. Secretly, when the SCG Crew isn’t looking, I use superautomatic espresso machines! Muahahaha! I’m such a rebel. Until my hand-pulled espresso shots improve, I am happy to ‘push button, receive coffee.’ Please meet my new best friend: The Jura Impressa J9 One Touch TFT superautomatic espresso machine that does all the work for me!

Although there is a video guide available for the Jura J9 that covers all of the features, this time I went in cold turkey. I punched buttons just to see what happened. On the top of this stylish silver espresso machine was the power button and a rotary dial. I double-checked the water reservoir on the side and the bean hopper in the back. It took 58 seconds from ‘on’ to ‘ready.’ The color display panel then listed six drink choices, while the rotary dial on top toggled the strength and volume of the drinks.

I did not realize the Jura slogan Never-Move-The-Cup meant that I needed to position the cup under the milk/coffee spout on the left. Lights illuminated where to put the cup, but no, my cup was under the espresso spout in the center when my cappuccino poured forth into the ample drip tray.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That was clearly a case of user error. My only legitimate complaint was the cup clearance, while adjustable up to 5 inches, would not fit my Monday Mug — a Bodum behemoth. Although I have seen SCG Crew members remove the drip tray grate to accommodate taller cups, this drip tray did not have an even surface on the bottom to rest the cup.

I pushed all of the buttons in turn and received: A cappuccino, a latte macchiato, an espresso, plain coffee, along with milk and water options. Very scientifically I stuck my finger in the hot water as it streamed out. Oh yes, it was boiling! Like other superautomatic espresso machines with automatic frothing, the milk did not get as hot or as frothy as I prefer. [Pro-Tip: Warm your cup first to keep your drink hot longer.] And although the machine self-rinses the milk spout, it does not rinse the tube between the included stainless steel thermal milk container and the machine.

The pre-set drinks were all good and can be further customized. I used Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean, which will work well in any superautomatic espresso machine. Much like Goldilocks, none of the creations were to my exact taste so I did some tinkering and eventually landed on a delicious combination of a 6 ounce coffee pour with a 1.5 ounce espresso shot in the same cup — a drink that is known throughout the world under several different names … A Shot in the Dark, Red Eye, Depth Charge, Sludge Cup or by my favorite moniker, Mother Of All Coffee.

Who else besides me, the Reluctant Barista would want a Jura J9 superautomatic coffee robot to make her drink? I imagine anyone who wants to save time (it’s faster than a trip to the espresso drive-thru,) or receive better coffee than their current skill level allows (me!) or who wants a variety of people to be comfortable making consistent and delicious drinks on an easy to use machine (in an office setting or the SCG break room, for instance).

Tasting: E.S.E. Pods

In the search for a clean, caffeinated world, Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods make a tight little case for themselves. Individually wrapped and ready to rock, they make shot extraction a breeze — and clean up even breezier! But how do they taste?

Since you know we love nothing more than a grudge match, we pit a few brands against each other in this side by side tasting. Using the Saeco Via Venezia, Gail brews up shots with Caffe Umbria’s Gusto Crema, Lavazza’s Gran Crema and illy’s Medium & Dark Roast variations. Watch to learn which, if any, we prefer.

Crew Review: Breville Cleaning & Maintenance Supplies

Given that she had to coerce us into cleaning our bedroom by rather surreptitiously hiding small change in the corners (and encouraging us to ‘find what the fairies left!’), our mother would be quite relieved to know of our passion for cleanliness in adulthood! And while you won’t find nickels and dimes in the brew head or the water tank — at least, you shouldn’t — Breville’s maintenance supplies make it easy and almost as fun to keep your espresso machine clean.

First, watch as Gail shows us how to use their cleaning tablets to clean the brew head of the Breville Dual Boiler.

She then discusses their charcoal/resin filters, shows how to install them and explains why they’re necessary — especially with the Dual Boiler.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Pina Colada Straight UP

We’re not going to serenade you about how we ‘accidentally’ answered your personal ad in the newspaper, lover, but we will make you one of your favorite drinks! Brandi incorporates Monin’s delicious coconut syrup into this straight-up version of one of our favorite swim-up bar offerings on the planet.

Ingredients

Directions

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients and shake well to combine. Strain into a martini glass and sip while reminiscing about sunnier days.