Brewin’ with Brandi: Skinny Mudslide

Feeling naughty, but not too naughty? This sugar-and-fat-free drink from Brandi hits the mark! You can try it either hot or cold — we elected to shake it up and serve it up over ice.



Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake it well! Pour into a serving glass and enjoy.

Tech Tips: What is Pre-Infusion?

To pre-infuse or not to pre-infuse? If Shakespeare had an espresso machine a few hundred years ago, Hamlet would have most certainly been pondering just such a question. But maybe you’re not really sure what exactly pre-infusion is, or how it works, or why one might want to consider it?

The third video in our series with Bill Crossland covers all of this — and more! Learn about pre-infusion from a mechanical perspective, including how it even came to be to begin with.

Tech Tips: Internals of an E61 Brew Head

Rocket Espresso Cellini EvoluzioneEver wondered how an E61 brew head works? What makes it different from other brew heads? How it maintains temperature consistently or releases pressure at the brew head? Or maybe you just want to know what the heck an E61 even is! Well, your questions are about to be answered, darling, with help of our good friend Bill Crossland.

Not only is Bill a talented and knowledgeable mechanical engineer in his own right, he’s also been working on developing a wide array of espresso machines for both the commercial and home markets for the past twenty-odd years. So when it comes to breaking down how the mechanics of an espresso machine work, we were lucky enough that he provided us this lovely tutorial!

Using an E61 from a Rocket Espresso machine that has been cross-sectioned to show its internals, Bill walks us through the different components and functionality of this brew head. Watch to learn everything you wanted to know about E61’s — and possibly more! — in this mechanically-focused video.

Compare: Glass vs. Thermal Carafe on Technivorm

In addition to the wide array of coffee makers on the market that offer different functionality and technology, when selecting the model that’s right for you, you also have to consider the carafe — glass or thermal? Like most things, it’s all about you, darling.

The case for glass: You want to choose a grind-and-brew or programmable model that would come on and start brewing your coffee in the morning before you wake up. You’ll also be drinking that full pot of coffee (or whatever amount you’ve selected) within the hour. Glass is ideal in these cases as you won’t have to worry about pre-heating the carafe and you’ll be drinking the coffee before it starts to taste more tar-like than java-like.

The case for thermal: You’re going to be making the coffee yourself and you want to be able to pour out a few cups throughout the day without risking a nasty aftertaste. You’ll be around to take the time to pre-heat the carafe before the brewing starts and then to seal it up to keep the coffee up to temperature. Thermal is the best choice for this because it will stick around at the right temperature for a few hours without continuous heating. However, some folks are sensitive to the flavor that is produced using a stainless steel carafe, so if you’re in that camp yet you want a thermal, make sure you’re choosing a model with a glass lining (like the Bonavita, for example).

Here at SCG, we use glass carafes in our break room because, quite simply, as soon as a pot is brewed, it’s in our cups and the next pot is brewing away. We don’t really have to worry about stagnant coffee sitting on a hot plate for hours on end, but we wanted to find out what kind of impact allowing the coffee to sit around for an hour had on its flavor. So we brewed up a batch of coffee in two Technivorms — one using a thermal carafe, one using a glass — then let them hang out for an hour before we held a taste test. Watch to find out what we learned!


Brewin’ with Brandi: Cinnful Irish Latte

Continuing on our theme of Irish-inspired (read: Whiskey and/or Irish cream-inspired) recipes this month, Brandi has selected a rather interesting latte that features both Irish cream and a little spice.

Watch her craft it on the Saeco Exprelia — we even made her use the steam wand this time!



Steam your milk to your desired frothiness (what?!). Combine both syrups into your serving mug, pull shots and mix them together. Fill with steamed milk and enjoy.

The Reluctant Barista: Pops a Cap in the New Iperespresso Machines

Now that I have built my espresso connoisseurship from zero to somewhere above average, but still far below that of Juan Valdez, I was reluctant to go back to my lazy ways. New single-cup espresso capsule machines from Francis Francis for illy arrived awhile back and I played coy. I stayed away until I found out our crew of espresso machine technicians were proponents of this capsule craze.

I wrangled one each of the Francis Francis Y1.1 and the Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machines over to my desk. Mike and Jeff from the refurbish crew volunteered to be my guinea pigs …er, I mean taste-testers. They programmed the extraction time on both machines to their preferred shot length to assist me with a side-by-side comparison. The new illy coffee capsules come in a canister — like the whole bean and pre-ground illy coffees do — and in the same flavor profiles. I popped the top off of a can of illy iperespresso Dark Roast capsules to try in the two new machines.


Francis Francis X7.1 The Little Alien Dude

This is reminiscent of a retro 50s espresso maker complete with a portafilter to make it look like you did the work of pulling a shot and a steam wand to froth milk.


Francis Francis Y1.1 — The Rubik’s Cube

Sleek and modern, this style fits in a Minimalist’s dream kitchen or office. Lightly touch the programmable single shot or double shot button and receive espresso — yes, it really is that easy!

In the end, it ‘all boils down’ to case style and drink preference. The illy iperespresso capsules have a patented pressurized design and both machines provide the right brew temperature and pressure to get the most flavor extracted. Upon Shiami’s suggestion we ran hot water through the machines to get them up to temp and to pre-warm the demistasse cups. Then we hunkered down and watched the espresso as it streamed out of the two machines for 29 seconds each.

All variables being equal, Mike and Jeff preferred the Y1.1 since it has one-touch operation right out of the box. Shiami preferred the X7.1 for her lungo. There may be a slight temperature advantage as the X7.1 maintained heat within the metal portafilter, but I did not taste a discernible difference as I sampled the espresso produced. If you are in need of steady milk frothing, the X7.1 is the one to pick. If your need for steamed milk is more occasional, an accessory frother like the Breville Smart Cafe paired with the Y1.1 is also a winning combination.

So who did we declare the winner? For me, at least, simple is always better, so the tie goes to … the Y1.1!

Compare: Baratza Coffee Grinders

BaratzaToday is the day when we look ourselves in the mirror and sternly pose the following question: If required to at gunpoint, would we be able to perform a side by side comparison of the Baratza grinders? Why we might be required to do so at gunpoint is neither here nor there, but we do believe that an unquestioned life is not worth living … so we ask the tough questions.

To get the answers, we turn to the beautiful Bunny Malaspino, who was more than happy to perform such a comparison (sans weaponry) for us in this video. Watch as she breaks down the current Baratza line-up — Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, Vario and Vario-W — and shows us how they compare functionally. If you’ve been concerned about your own ability to perform such a comparison under such stressful circumstances, this video is for you.

The Great Espresso Machine Boiler Draining Compendium

We have folks asking us often how they should prep their espresso machine for storage, transport or shipping. Possibly the most important thing to do is to make sure all of the water is gone from the internal boiler and waterworks.

How you do this differs depending on the type of espresso machine you have. We asked Gail to break it down for us in four separate videos, each tailored for different boiler styles. If you need a walkthrough, find your machine type below and watch her take us through it!

Single Boiler Espresso Machine Superautomatic Espresso Machine
Heat Exchange Espresso Machine Double Boiler Espresso Machine