Brewin’ with Brandi: Pepresso a la GIGA 5 Recipe

When you invest in a Jura GIGA 5, you get a little tiny elf-sized barista inside who will pop out and serve up your favorite drinks. And that tiny elf-sized barista just happens to be named Brandi. Watch as she crafts a delicious drink, featuring chocolate, espresso and freshly ground pepper. Wow!



Coat the bottom of your glass in chocolate sauce. Add pepper and then pull shot over chocolate and pepper combo. Give it a little stir and enjoy!

Crew Reviews: Curtis D1000GT & Single Cup Brewers

curtis_logo hrIn the world of commercial coffee beverage service, Curtis offers a variety of models in all shapes, sizes and formats. Old school carafe, thermal airports and even a gourmet single cup brewer are on offer, and in today’s blog, we’re going to cover two of them: the D1000GT Twin Airpot and the G4 Single Cup.

Watch Gail’s provide a feature overview, functionality tour and brew demonstration on each of these coffee makers.

Curtis D1000 GT Twin Airpot Brewer

Curtis G4 CGC Single Cup Brewer

Crew Review: Capresso FrothTec

Capresso FrothTecIf texturing milk is not your jam or you want to easily whip up a batch of frothy hot cocoa at the touch of a button, a stand alone milk frother like the FrothTec from Capresso could be the answer to your prayers. With a glass carafe and dishwasher safe components (except the base, love!), it easily produces hot or cold frothed milk while you tend to other endeavors, like finally completing that needlepoint lighthouse you’ve been working on since 1996.

Watch as Gail takes us through the FrothTec’s features and specs, then demonstrates whipping up a batch of dry cappuccino-quality foam.

Crew Review: Jura GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Center

Jura Giga 5When we asked Sam and Shiami what we should write about Jura’s super-fancy GIGA 5, they replied, ‘well, it’s pretty balla.’

When we think of ‘balla,’ we think of the Notorious B.I.G.’s seminal debut single, Juicy, in which he paints a dreamscape of how he envisions his life before and after making it as a rapper. Written and recorded before he actually did make it, rhymes like ‘Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this’ and ‘Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirsty,’ provide insight into what he considered to be hallmarks of financial success. And if the GIGA 5 had existed back in the early 90’s, we’re fairly certain it would have merited a shout out because it is just that awesome.

Not convinced? Watch Gail’s walkthrough of its features and specs, including a demo of its interface and one-touch cappuccino functionality. If that doesn’t convince you that you should be rocking this bad boy on your countertop, well … maybe you’re just not ready for it, baby. But don’t worry — you’ll get there. We believe in you.

Crew Review: Izzo Alex Duetto III

alexduetto3_2It’s been a long evolution for Alex Duetto. When we first met, he wasn’t the prettiest boy to look at; while function was quite lovely, form left a lot to be desired. Over the next few years, he got a nip here, a tuck there and he even had some structural work done (!!), but finally, he emerged as a beautiful swan.

Now it’s time to watch Gail show him off! Check out the Duetto III’s features, specs and performance. In this video, she talks us through all the goods and then whips up a drink on this powerful dual boiler espresso machine.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Hong Kong Tea

One of our favorite meals is a spicy, steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho soup complemented by an iced coffee. Some folks prefer iced tea instead, so we worked up this delicious recipe featuring tea, milk and everyone’s most treasured substance: Condensed milk. Oh my. Watch Brandi literally whip this up.


  • 4 oz milk
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (to taste)
  • 8 oz iced black tea
  • ice


Pour cold milk into a frother that can make cold, frothed foam (we used the FrothTec). Start the machine and, once it begins to froth, slowly add each tablespoon of condensed milk (more or less depending on how sweet you like your tea). When frothing is complete, fill a tall serving glass with ice and add tea until it’s about 3/4 full. Top off with frothed milk and serve!

The Reluctant Barista: Tackling the Rocket R58 Dual Boiler

58I had an ‘Aha! Moment’ this morning and it changed my whole relationship with espresso prep. Very reluctantly, and only because I was on a deadline, did I approach the Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler. Kat asked me why I was more reluctant than usual to pull shots on this machine and I didn’t have a good answer. Shiami encouraged me and told me that I would love the quality shots an E61 brew group produces.

To start, I frothed a pitcher of milk, which I do regularly on the Rocket Giotto, and the difference between a heat exchanger and a dual boiler became apparent. In the same time it takes me to get a nice velvety microfoam at 150 degrees on the Rocket Giotto, I found the Rocket R58 had gotten up to 170 degrees! There was foam but the higher temperature killed the creaminess. The powerful steam cut frothing time almost in half and I had not adjusted for that fact.

Next, I enlisted Fillmore from the repair department to expertly dial in the grinder. I watched him grind into the portafilter from a Mazzer Mini. He pulled a shot and it was too quick. He adjusted the grind a tick finer, pulled another shot and it was still a little fast. He re-adjusted, then felt the espresso grounds in his hand and they were fine like ground pepper. On the third extraction the shot pulled evenly and within 22 seconds we each grabbed a shot and tasted it. Zoka Organic Espresso Quatro — yum!

As I stared at the shiny stainless steel Rocket R58 with its 58mm portafilter, I was still reluctant to pull my own shots. I recounted all of the variables Gail recommends for a perfect espresso shot: filtered water, the right grind, the correct tamp and a deluxe hand-built Italian espresso machine (just kidding! Kind of…). Finally the answer was clear to me: While I understand how to make espresso, my problem is I can’t tamp!

I love it when Kaylie makes me a latte, I use E.S.E. pods at home and I will occasionally use the new Francis Francis capsule machine for an afternoon pick-me-up. As a result, I have avoided the tamping issue altogether. Aha!

There are benefits to having the entire SCG demonstration arsenal at my disposal. I lined up a tamping mat, a tamper and a knock box. Long overdue tamping practice began and continued until both the Rocket R58 drip tray was full (twice!) from pulling shots and the knock box was full of spent pucks. From this experience I found out the following:

  1. The R58 brew head warning sticker states, ‘Caution Hot Surface,’ and that’s the truth
  2. Pre-warming your portafilter in the brew head yields great results, however it also makes it hot to touch when you tamp
  3. Fillmore’s Pro-Tip: A half flip of the lever allows for a mellow pre-infusion using passive boiler pressure
  4. It is hard to get espresso grounds out from under your fingernails

Many people go through a coffee preparation progression as their taste, budget or skills change. I went from French press to stovetop espresso maker to a small single boiler machine. How do you know when you are ready for the next step, in this case a dual boiler? Identify your comfort level and your ultimate goal. My comfort level had me afraid to tamp, but my goal was a fresher shot. So it turns out that I am ready to upgrade. For now, a heat exchanger model is my next step.

There is a machine for every person though, so who does need a dual boiler espresso machine? For me, the styling of the Rocket line is what an espresso machine ‘should’ look like — I would love to see one on my counter top. Like a heat exchanger, a dual boiler saves time if your preferred drink is milk-based since you can froth and pull shots simultaneously. The R58 in particular can be used with the internal reservoir or plumbed-in for even more convenience. Finally, espresso is all about consistency; with commercial grade parts, dual pressure gauges, a rotary pump and an external PID, the Rocket R58 uses current technology to allow you to pull the best shots you are capable of every time.

Where will your preparation progression lead you? The Rocket R58 Dual Boiler is not a starter machine. When you are ready to take things to the next level though, this espresso machine is one of the very best. Don’t be reluctant to try it!

Crew Review: Jura Impressa S9 One-Touch Cappuccino

It was hard for us to believe that we’d never cornered Gail on the Impressa S9 by Jura — it’s been around for a few years, after all, and working it out high and tight as a store demo that entire time. Somehow it slipped through the cracks, so it was time to break it down for you.

Watch Gail talk to us about the features and specs of this easy-to-use superautomatic espresso machine that features one-touch cappuccino functionality. Then she demonstrates making a delicious beverage that we can all enjoy.

Compare: Nuova Simonelli Oscar vs. Rocket Cellini Classic

In the market for a heat exchange espresso machine but not prepared to drop a cool $2k on the endeavor? The Oscar by Nuova Simonelli and the Cellini Classic by Rocket Espresso are two excellent machines that feature commercial-grade components and performance for a relatively modest budget. And by ‘relatively modest’ we mean you’re still willing to sink at least a grand into your home espresso setup, love.

Check out how the two machines stack up against each other in Gail’s comparison video! We talk about their features, show off their innards and demonstrate their performance in this side-by-side review.

Pulling a Double Ristretto on the Via Venezia

Specifically, a double ristretto is a double shot that has been calibrated to use the same dosage of coffee, extract in the same 20 – 30 second window and produce a powerful, condensed shot with a total volume of 1 – 1.5 oz (depending on your tastes). If you have an espresso-grade grinder, you can do this with any non-pressurized espresso machine by altering your grind and tamp.

Watch as Jess pulls a double ristretto using the Saeco Via Venezia, Baratza Vario and non-pressurized portafilter upgrade. Yummy times were then had by all.