Brewin’ with Brandi: Espresso Tiramisu

While traditional Tiramisu usually incorporates ladyfingers soaked in espresso, Brandi’s approach is distinctly more deconstructed. Using the Jura Ena Micro 1, she whips up a delicious drink that could be used in a variety of formats …

Ingredients

Directions

Coat the inside of your serving glass with the pudding or custard until it’s well covered. Pull your espresso shot(s) directly into the glass and then float shortbread on top. Drizzle with caramel sauce and get serious!

The Reluctant Barista: Jura GIGA 5 and the Secret Menu

giga5_feature4There is something so intriguing about a secret menu. Starbucks has one. In-N-Out Burger has one. And now, the Jura GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Center does too. After a hot tip from Kat that there was indeed a secret menu, I decided to play detective. I found these new recipes through my favorite machine testing method called ‘random button pushing.’ You won’t find this covered in the Jura user manual (unless you happen to look at page 20…). The Reluctant Barista has some delicious insider information to share.

The initial screen shows what you might come to expect from a superautomatic menu: Ristretto, Espresso, Coffee, Hot Water, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Milk, Milk Foam. From these simple settings you can further customize the coffee dosage, water temperature, water volume, milk volume and milk foam. The Jura GIGA 5 does not come standard with an integrated milk carafe, so I used a Jura Cool Control Automatic Milk Cooler and the included hose that came with the GIGA 5 to make a bevy of milk-based beverages.

Last week I made my go-to drink, a foamy hazelnut latte and was happily surprised by how hot the drink got. Monday morning I had the GIGA 5 pour me a double cappuccino. I needed it! After the caffeine kicked in, it was time to explore uncharted territory. There were 12 more “secret” recipes once I twirled the rotary dial on top. I have to admit, these recipes perplexed me. Were they chosen by an Italian espresso aficionado? Were they chosen by the Swiss manufacturer? Who mixes lemonade and espresso? They did not seem to be targeted to Seattle taste profiles, or at least not my particular taste. However, I did try the recipe for ‘Winter Magic Coffee.’ This turned out to be what I would describe as a Nutella Latte. It was so popular with the SCG Crew that I ended up making 5 drinks back to back.

Sadly, there was no barista gnome inside the Jura GIGA 5 to prepare the drinks. You need to provide your own ingredients. From home I brought my treasured Nutella and used Monin Honey Sweetener although it was sweet enough without it. The GIGA 5 walked me through each step with a series of easy to read screens. I especially liked the final step of each drink I made when the GIGA 5 screen simply said, ‘Enjoy!’

The Jura GIGA 5 “Secret” Drink Menu:

  • Marocchino – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, chocolate powder
  • Pepresso – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, mixed peppercorns (Watch Brandi make this recipe)
  • White Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, ice cubes
  • Gourmet Latte Macchiato – espresso, evaporated milk, Monin Irish Cream Syrup (non-alcoholic) or Bailey’s Irish Cream (alcoholic)
  • Irish Coffee – coffee, brown sugar, Irish Whiskey (alcoholic), whipped cream on top
  • Café Melange – coffee with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top
  • Viennese Coffee – coffee, vanilla ice cream, Monin Vanilla Syrup and chocolate shavings on top
  • Winter Magic Coffee – espresso, Nutella, honey and a pinch of ginger and cardamom on top
  • Shakerato – espresso, lemons, sugar, ice
  • Mango Lassi – espresso, yogurt, mango puree
  • Red Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, Campari (alcoholic), ice
  • Summer Fire – espresso, Monin Coconut Syrup, lemon pepper

Thank you GIGA 5 — we will enjoy!

SCG Experiments: Frothing Soy Milk in Auto-Frothers

In addition to the temperature, foam quality and other general performance questions we get about stand-alone milk frothers, how they whip up non-dairy milks is definitely high on the list of many folks researching these little gems.

Since soy is one of the most popular non-dairy milks around, we selected it to perform a side-by-side functional comparison of the Capresso FrothTEC, Breville Milk Cafe and Nespresso Aero3. Watch our experiment video to learn how they measure up!

Crew Review: Rancilio Silvia V3 – Redux

Rancilio SilviaWe’ve been setting the Rancilio Silvia up against foe after foe in our legendary grudge matches lately, so we decided to give her a little showcase all on her own.

The version 3 of the Silvia was released a few years ago and, in that time, Gail has had a lot of time to thoroughly get to know her. Learn all about the Silvia’s features, technical specs, tips, tricks, quirks and performance in this updated review video.

 

 

Compare: Espresso Machines under $300

You don’t actually have to break the bank to pick up an espresso machine, love. In fact, there are several great options under the $300 mark that will produce great shots and steamed milk so that you can easily craft your favorite espresso drinks at home.

We asked Jess and Teri to choose a few of their favorites within this price bracket and they selected DeLonghi’s EC155, Saeco’s Poemia & Aroma and Krups’ XP5280. Watch them discuss the features and specs of each of these machines, how they compare and what they do and don’t like about them.

SCG Experiments: Playing with Single Shots

We’re not quite sure why one would want to pull single shots, but we’ve been asked multiple times to experiment and provide our tips on how to get the job done. So we drafted Jess to take on the formidable task of dialing in a single shot. Off-camera, she worked on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione and the Crossland CC1; while she had success on the former, the latter still proves to be a challenge.

Watch her pull a few shots on the Rocket, varying an element each time to dial it in. The singles she pulled did taste great, but, still … really? We’re triples all the way, friends.

Face Off: Musica vs. Giotto Evoluzione

Decided to up your latte game and invite a ‘prosumer’ espresso machine into your home? I was interested in learning more about two of the the heat exchangers that we have in the store — the art deco inspired Nuova Simonelli Musica and the hand crafted Rocket Giotto Evoluzione — so I decided to take them each for a test drive. Now, if you’re into straight up features and spec comparisons, check out the table I’ve laid out below; but if you learn more from hands-on experiences, read on!

I started with the Musica and instantly fell in love with its portafilter. The smartly angled handle enables the filter basket to lie flat on the counter. Jessica held my hand as I dialed in the grind using the Mazzer Mini E – Type A grinder. After pulling a number of double shots, I came to appreciate the Musica’s automatic pre-infusion and programmable volumetric buttons, making this machine a breeze once you figure out the right grind and tamp for your bean. You can also steam milk extremely quickly using the standard three hole steam tip. I loved the paddle functionality to control the steam, allowing you to pulse or flip up for maximum power.

As I approached the Rocket, I could see my reflection in its highly polished casing. With a commercial-grade brew head, I was in store for consistent shots given the thermal stability provided by the E61. After inserting the portafilter, I flipped up the lever all the way to begin shot extraction. I was glued to a timer while pulling shots, and this would be best practice given there isn’t volumetric programming on this machine. Steaming was straightforward with a traditional steam knob and single hole tip, giving me a little more time to work up the microfoam.

In the end, there was no difference in shot or milk quality from these two exceptional machines, so it all boils down to a few essentials in your decision set. If you need a convertible water source, crave sleek steel lines and appreciate the ritual of classic espresso extraction, the Giotto Evo is a strong bet. If you need an NSF rated machine for a small cafe environment or dig  modern conveniences like programmable volumetrics and disco lights, give the Musica a happy home.

nuova_simonelli_musica_-_black_lining_3
Nuova Simonelli Musica
giotto-evo_1
Rocket Giotto Evoluzione
Dimensions 12.75 in W x 16 in D x 16.75 in 12 in W x 17 in D x 15 in (16.5 in w/ cup rails)
Reservoir Size 2.3 Liters 2.9 Liters
Water Source Either reservoir or direct connect Convertible
Programmability Volumetric control None
Case Design Stainless steel with optional disco lights Stainless steel and fancy like a race car
Steam Wand Traditional, not insulated, 3 hole tip Traditional, insulated, 2 hole tip
Boiler Material Copper Copper
Pre-infusion Automatic and programmable Passive
Boiler Volume 2 Liter 1.8 Liter
NSF rated Yes No
Pump Vibratory Rotary
Gauges Boiler pressure Steam boiler & brew head pressure

Compare: Rancilio Rocky vs. Baratza Preciso Coffee Grinders

Compare - Rancilio Rocky vs. Baratza PrecisoWe do love ourselves a grudge match over here at SCG, and today’s contest is between the Rancilio Rocky and Baratza Preciso grinders. While they’re both stepped grinders — meaning that they have a notch configuration on the burrs so you have referential numbers vs. an infinite grind (like you find on the Mazzer grinders, for example) — they each have different cases to make. The Rocky has commercial-grade components and a reputation as a solid, well-built machine, while the Preciso gives you more control over the grind (offering both macro and micro settings) as well as the ability to retrofit with the Esatto if you’re looking for simple, weight-based grinding.

Watch as Gail shows us the features between these two grinder — including a tour of their burr sets, functionality and grind quality.

 

Coffee Tasting: Lavazza Home Line

Lavazza CoffeeWe recently transitioned our Lavazza product offering to focus on their Home line — a series of blends formulated with home espresso lovers in mind. In addition to large, 2.2lb bag versions of the whole bean Qualita Rossa and Qualita Oro, we now have three new blends for you to try: Gran Crema, Gran Aroma Bar and Crema e Aroma.

Watch as the team tastes these new coffees, then gives us their feedback on their different flavors and how they compare.

Compare: Rancilio Silvia vs. Crossland CC1

Compare - Rancilio Silvia v. Crossland CC1These two machines are natural competitors! The Silvia has been around for over a decade and has serious fans in her corner — from her commercial-grade components to her simple interface. The CC1 is the new kid in the game, but has inspired serious devotees in the short time he’s been around, particularly those that adore precision in their brew functionality.

We put these side by side for you to check out how they compare! Watch Gail walk through features, show off their internals and then demonstrate making a latte on each of them. If you’ve been torn between these two machines, this is a great video primer that will help break ‘em down for you.