Crew Review: Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PID

Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PIDWhile we’ve seen PIDs implemented on heat exchange espresso machines before (primarily as a method for managing the steam boiler’s pressure versus being able to effectively manage brew temperature,) the Pasquini Livia G4 also incorporates an additional thermoblock at the brew head so that you can actually manage the brew temperature. The PID interfaces with the steam boiler, which in turn affects the water in the heat exchange, supplying a thermoblock at the group head with pre-heated water. The result? Markedly improved temperature regulation and the ability to produce more consistent espresso shots.

The new LIvia G4 series also incorporates a few other changes: Expanded cup warming surface, weight-based water reservoir sensor, a super sexy portafilter and increased steaming functionality. It’s also available in three different formats — the standard Semi-Auto without a PID, a Semi-Auto with a PID and an Auto with a PID — so you can take advantage of some or all of the upgrades Pasquini has made to their Livia series.

Watch as Teri guides us through the features and tech specs, then takes it for a test drive by making some espresso and a cappuccino for the crew to enjoy.

Crew Review: Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PID

Saeco Superautomatic Brew Unit Care

SaecoRecently, Brendan talked to us in detail about best practice in the care and maintenance of Saeco’s superautomatic espresso machine brew group. Because they have produced such a wide array of machines throughout the years, they have a few variations in their brew group designs, so it can sometimes be confusing on how to access the parts for cleaning and maintenance.

So we asked him to join us again and demonstrate how to take apart one of their newer iterations, which involves a rather tricky technique to release a few tabs and release the top of the unit. Once you have removed this, however, it’s super easy to access the brew screen to clean it thoroughly.

Watch him disassemble, give tips on care, then reassemble a brew group for models including those in the Odea, Talea, Syntia, Intelia, Exprelia and Xelsis lines, among others.

SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Superautomatic Brew Unit Disassembly

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Gelee Recipe

Coffee Gelee RecipeDo you think you’re ready for this gelee? We think you are!

If you’re in the market for a super fun and fairly simple coffee-infused dessert, this recipe is a great choice! In addition to having fun while you make it, you could get creative in how you serve it, too — in demitasse with a dollop of whipped cream on top, in chilled coupe stemware with a dash of cinnamon to finish it off, in elegant serving spoons with a side of dark chocolate.

Watch as Brandi creates this delectable treat!

 

Video: Coffee Gelee Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons ground coffee (ground for a pour over / Chemex)
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water plus 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1. Using a non-electric brew method (like a pour over or Chemex,) brew  your coffee with 2 cups of the hot water.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining 1/4 cup of water and all of the sugar to a boil until sugar has dissolved, creating a simple syrup. Remove the pan from heat.
  3. Soften the gelatin by sprinkling it with the 1 tablespoon of cold water and let it sit for about a minute.
  4. Combine hot coffee, simple syrup and vanilla, then add the gelatin and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
  5. Put the mixture in a bowl and chill, covered, until it has softly set — about 8 hours.

A Tea Lover in a Coffee World: Tea Republik Review

Tea RepublikOne of the best parts about living in Seattle is the opportunity to explore a variety of different foods and drinks due to the abundance of cultures found in the city. Recently, my quest to try new teas and coffees lead me to Tea Republik, which is located on the Ave (45th Street) in the heart of the U-District. Curious to find out the story behind the teahouse with the unique name, I chatted with the store’s owner, Anton Lim, to learn more.

According to Lim, ‘Republik means people in Bashasa [Lim’s native language], so Tea Republik means people of tea.’ Lim went on to explain that after coming to United States from South East Asia as a student in 1998, he was inspired to provide people who love the natural flavor of tea with something new — fusion tea. As Lim states, ‘Tea does not have to [always] be served traditionally because there is so much more potential for tea blending. In my opinion, each tea has its own natural flavor that can be enhanced and used [to] complement other flavors once you know how to blend them; it can make something unique and delicious.’ Thus, in January of 2012, Tea Republik was born.

Even the design of the store itself is distinctive. Stalks of bamboo line the walls, beautiful and brightly colored flower lanterns hang from the ceiling and there is a bamboo canopy over the cash register (causing it to resemble a Tiki hut). Lim explained that his goal was to create ‘an outdoor experience in an indoor space [so that customers will feel like they are in the outdoors] when sipping our teas.’

What is more impressive is the wall of glass jars filled with tea that line the hallway to the back of the store. Lim says that they have ‘more than 100 loose leaf teas [including] traditional teas, natural flavor teas, herbal teas and decaf teas such as fruit tea. We are not limited to green, black and oolong teas but also have some South African teas (Rooibos).’

Striking decorations aside, the true highlight of Tea Republik are their special teas. These are tea blends that have milk or creme added for volume, or are mixed with fresh fruit and juices. Lim says the most popular teas are the ‘Lavender Creme Earl Grey special tea, [which] has lavender herbal tea blended with Earl Grey black tea [and is sweetened] with soy or creme’ and the Tropical Rainforest, which is ‘a fruity iced lemon tea with lemon, key lime, passion fruit and apples slices.’

After hearing about their special teas, I had to try one. At the counter, I poured over their tea menu (which is actually more like a book) and ended up going with an iced Chocolate Chimp Chai (a chocolate and banana flavored chai). The drink had a strong chocolate flavor, followed by the spicy and creamy flavor of traditional Chai tea – a definite winner. While there, I also tried their ‘Healing Tea,’ which was served in a cute personal tea pot and came with a caddy for my spent tea bag. The server at the counter said this sweet tasting peppermint tea is great for upset stomachs, which was great news since peppermint tea has always been my go-to when I have a stomach ache.

If for some reason you can’t find a tea that appeals to you on the menu (which seems virtually impossible with the huge selection of traditional and blended teas they offer!) you are not entirely out of luck. The staff at Tea Republik strives to create new special teas every day and customers also have the ability to create their own tea blends. The teahouse also rewards loyal customers with knowledge of their secret menu (a la In and Out) that features an even larger selection of specialty teas. No wonder this shop has become so popular with students and locals alike.

Crew Review: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

Breville Smart ScoopWhen you think of ‘Seattle Coffee Gear’ you probably don’t immediately think ‘Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker.’ Yeah, we get that; but that doesn’t mean that taking your favorite coffee gear and combining it with a home ice cream maker is a bad idea. Or maybe it is. Maybe, for all of our sakes, we should just stop this right here. Maybe this is the line that we shall not pass! This is the moment that, when we look back, we’ll know we took a stand and said no to delicious frozen dairy and sorbets made at the touch of a button! Today could be the day that we change history.

But we’re not. Oh, no, we are not. Instead, we are embracing our new favorite dessert contraption and using it to devise a wide array of devilish desserts! Because, why not? If you’ve already owned your love for making coffee at home, then is it really that much of a stretch to own your love of making iced treats at home? We think not.

So watch as Gail shows us the ins and outs of the Breville Smart Scoop — the one and only ice cream maker that we’ll be carrying. Use it to make espresso gelato! Coffee ice cream! Cherry-Mojito sorbet! Whatever your sweet little heart desires. It’s super easy, as Gail demonstrates in this video crew review.

Crew Review: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode & Troubleshooting

Saeco Vienna PlusPossibly the hardest working superautomatic in the business, the Saeco Vienna Plus has a long and storied history of home espresso performance. It’s the machine that many people started out with, years ago, and it’s hung in there for over a decade (in some cases,) dutifully delivering your java.

But what it offers in a hard working focus on helping you make coffee you love, it lacks in bells and whistles. Some might argue that said bells and whistles are not necessary, and they might be right; but one of the missing bells and/or whistles is an easy-to-read user interface system that tells you what might be going on when the machine isn’t working properly.

So we asked one of our resident Vienna Plus lovers, Brendan, to guide us through two different diagnostic videos: First, he shows us how to put the machine into Test Mode, so that you can bypass functionality and test individual components. Then he talks us through the different alarms and errors that the machine may experience, and how to diagnose which means what.

If you own a Saeco Vienna Plus and have often wished there was a way to better interpret its rather cryptic blinking lights, these videos will serve as your secret decoder ring!

SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode

SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Errors & Alarms