Crew Review: Jura ENA 4 Superauto

One of our favorites in terms of straight up shot appeal, the Jura ENA 4 is a simple superauto that’s designed for smaller kitchens. While its steam wand functionality leaves a bit to be desired, making rich espresso shots and Americanos at the touch of a button make this machine one of our favorites in this product set.

Watch Gail take us through its features and specs, then demonstrate how it functions.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Irish Cream Liqueur

If you’re serious about delectable liqueurs, make ‘em from scratch! Brandi shows us how to craft a delicious version of Irish cream, using several naughty ingredients and a Vitamix.




  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 2 tablespoons Monin Dark Chocolate sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


Combine all ingredients in a blender and then blend on high for 30 seconds, or until well incorporated. You can store in the refrigerator once crafted, simply shake well to re-integrate before use.

Field Trip: Zoka Cup of Excellence Tasting

You may be wondering, what is the Cup of Excellence (COE)? How will my cup measure up? Will it give me an inferiority complex? I was first introduced to the COE on a recent field trip to Zoka Coffee Roasters, where Sam and I got a tour of the facility and the low down from head roaster Celeste Clark.

The COE is one of the most esteemed awards given to coffee roasters. Over the course of three weeks and at least five tasting rounds, coffees are rated based on the following criteria: cleanness of cup (can the coffee’s terroir show through?), acidity (does it have a brightness to it?), mouthfeel, flavor (a combination of taste and aroma), aftertaste, balance and overall score. Each round eliminates the lowest rated coffees, and the last ones standing that receive 85 points or higher are Cup of Excellence Winners. Among the highest quality coffees in the world, consider yourself lucky to get your hands on these beans.

Zoka is no newcomer to the COE and coffee roasting accolades, their founder Jeff Babcock having previously judged the Guatemala Cup of Excellence competition.  On our recent field trip, we tasted their Espresso Palladino Blend, Tuscan Blend, Colonel Fitzroy and Java Nica according to COE standards. We started the cupping process by experiencing the aroma of the ground coffee in each cup, three cups per blend to compensate for any inconsistencies. We then combined equal parts ground coffee and water, allowing the coffee to bloom and steep for four minutes.  While breaking the delicious brownie-like crust (see photo for action shot), we got to experience the aroma a second time.

Celeste and Dana, pros in the coffee world, then went to work removing the grounds from each cup, and we waited six more minutes before we had our first sip. Like tasting a fine wine, a loud slurp from the spoon was key to getting enough air on the palette to highlight various flavor profiles.  To prevent caffeine overload, it’s commonplace to spit post-slurp, rinse your spoon and repeat with the next cup. Slurp, savor, spit, rinse and repeat. As the coffees cooled down even further, different flavors began to shine through, and I tasted more cinnamon notes in the Java Nica, hints of pecan in the Colonel Fitzroy and the Palladino’s deep molasses undertones. It was a coffee revelation!

I’m often so eagerly awaiting my cup of java in the morning that I throw it back quickly to feed my inner-beast, but this experience reminded me to take the time to indulge in each cup. Savor your coffee as it cools from piping hot to room temperature – you’re guaranteed to taste more complexity with each sip.

Thank you to Zoka for sharing this meticulous cupping technique with us and being so generous with their time! If you’re a lucky Seattlite, stop by one of their cafes and treat yourself to an artfully crafted coffee beverage this winter.

Crew Review: Jura ENA Micro 9 One-Touch

Not all of us are blessed with excess kitchen counter space, and Jura is here to help us out with that. Their new Micro series of machines feature smaller footprints and heights than any of their other models, without sacrificing their well-known brew quality.

Watch as Gail shows us the ENA Micro 9, which features one-touch cappuccino functionality that will whip up a milk-based drink for you in a jiffy.


Crew Review: Saeco Vienna Plus

Known around SCG as the superautomatic version of the ‘lil workhorse,’ the Vienna Plus is a very simple, very easy to use espresso machine. In fact, it’s so simple, it’s rare for anything to go wrong with it — no touchscreen interfaces, programmable buttons or one-touch cappuccino functions to bite the dust. It’s kind of like the superauto version of a 1973 Volkswagen beetle.

Watch as Gail takes us through its features and function, then demo how it works.

Crew Review: Saeco Xsmall Superautomatic Espresso Machine

You know we have a deep love for all things small and portly (goblin class, what what!) so when we received Saeco’s Xsmall in the warehouse, we nearly lost our minds with joy and delight.

Watch Gail break this lil dude down — features, specs and how to make a cappuccino. We’ve also got it on a smokin’ deal through Monday, 11/26/12$100 off! — so if it speaks to you at all, definitely pick one up soon.


The Reluctant Barista: Lowdown on French Presses

There are so many things I love about French press coffee. First off, my mom makes it, so it reminds me of home. She has hand quilted a little coffee cozy to wrap around her La Cafetiere Classic … it is adorable. Next, French press coffee is about as easy to make as tea. Does your grind have to be perfect? No. Do your measurements have to be perfect? No. Can you use an espresso blend? Yes, if you feel like it! In my opinion, French press coffee is more art than science. Too strong? Add more hot water. Too weak? Add an extra scoop next time.

A French press requires a very low level of coffee commitment. You don’t need to remember what size paper filters it takes or bemoan how much counter space it occupies. And yet for all of the convenience a French press offers, manufacturers don’t make it easy to tell how much coffee will be produced per pot.

For my mad scientist coffee press experimentation I used a big measuring cup I borrowed from Brewin’ with Brandi and took over the SCG breakroom with a notebook, a Digital Timer and the Breville Ikon Electric Kettle. I pressed copious pots to give you the inside scoop!

My methodology included 1 rounded tablespoon per 4 ounces of hot, not boiling, water. When I make it at home I throw in an extra scoop for the pot, but here I went ‘by the book.’ I stirred half way through so that the coffee grounds and water were well incorporated. However I did not leave 1 inch of headspace. I filled to the point where I felt comfortable the plunger would fit without overflowing the pot. Pro-Tip: Just like when buying a car, your mileage may vary! Go with the coffee flow. Here is a chart chock full of caffeinated results.


Crew Review: Quick Mill QM67 Dual Boiler Espresso Machine

Interested in the kind of precision offered by a double boiler but don’t want to sink a couple grand into it? Quick Mill’s new dual boiler, the QM67, is a simple double boiler machine that features an E61 brew head, integrated PID, internal water reservoir and a great price.

Watch Gail’s review of this machine — including features, specs, why you might choose this model over other dual boilers and a functional demonstration.

Crew Review: Curtis G4 TP15T Twin ThermoPro Brewer

Designed for busy cafes, large office kitchens or just seriously addicted coffee lovers, Curtis’ G4 TP15T Twin ThermoPro Brewer is a serious piece of kit.

Featuring programmable brew options, an intuitive touchscreen interface and dual, large capacity thermal dispensers, this is the coffee maker you need if you’re looking to sling large amounts of java in a short period of time.

Watch Gail take us through the features and specs, then brew up up pot for us to sample the brew. Delish!