All posts by Kat

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Fruitcake

Coffee Fruitcake RecipeThere are a few different theories on why fruitcakes in the US have become a point of humor and derision. Some equate their density to a doorstop, others find their sometimes-odd assortment of dried fruits to be cloyingly sweet. But not all fruitcake recipes should be given such short shrift! Brandi’s coffee fruitcake, for example, infuses a fairly standard cake batter with delicious java and simple dried currents. The key is to bake it low and slow, producing a dense and delectable dessert that would only be made more delicious by an accompaniment of even more coffee … of course.

Watch as she crafts this cake at the direction of a heckling camerawoman!

Recipe: Coffee Fruitcake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee — at room temperature
  • 1 box dried currants

Directions

  1. Put the oven rack in the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 250F. Prepare loaf pan by lightly greasing with butter or oil.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, cloves, nutmeg and baking soda.
  3. In another large bowl, beat butter an sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and molasses to the butter and sugar, then incorporate well.
  5. Add the coffee and beat until well-blended.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  7. Fold the dried fruit into the batter.
  8. Fill the loaf pans and then bake for about 2 3/4 hours, until a skewer comes out cleanly. Your cake may sink slightly in the center after cooling.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Talento

Nuova Simonelli Talento While there are several superautomatic espresso machines designed for home use, there is a relatively smaller selection in the commercial space. If your business requires exceptional ease of use and consistency, yet cannot support lengthy barista training, then a machine like the Nuova Simonelli Talento is well worth your consideration.

How does it differ from its residential-oriented counterparts? Like most commercial machines, it comes down to the robustness and quality of the components used to build it. Commercial-grade equipment is designed specifically for high volume wear-and-tear, so you can rely on it to consistently create what may be your business’ most important product. Some environments like large hotels with room service, high school cafeterias or even fast food restaurants lend themselves better to a superautomatic because, with little training on part of the operator, tasty espresso-based drinks can be crafted to order.

In addition to its exceptional build quality, the Nuova Simonelli Talento also features sophisticated programming for up to twenty different types of drinks and the option of using a one-touch cappuccino function or an automatic steam wand. During our field trip to Nuova Simonelli’s US headquarters, Brandon dove deep into this sophisticated superauto! Check out his full review and demonstration in this comprehensive video.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Talento Commercial Superautomatic Espresso Machine

Espresso Machine Compare: Pasquini Livia G4 vs. Rocket Giotto Evoluzione

Espresso Machine Comparison - Rocket Giotto vs. Pasquini Livia G4Selecting the right prosumer-grade espresso machine for you can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. With so much gleaming stainless steel and commercial-class components, how do you determine which model is worth your investment?

Take the Livia G4 and Giotto Evoluzione, for example: These are two heat exchange espresso machines, which allow you to brew and steam at the same time, that have polished stainless steel cases and are designed to work on the 15 amp, 110 power circuits most often found in home kitchens.

Feature-wise, the Livia G4 comes in a few different configurations — a traditional semi-automatic, a semi-automatic with a PID and an automatic with a PID. The two models that incorporate a PID enable you to control the steam boiler’s temperature, which will in turn affect the water in the heat exchange that is delivered to the brew head. Pasquini designed it to also incorporate a thermoblock at the brew head, producing a consistent brew temperature while not requiring an upgrade in the machine’s power requirements.

The Giotto Evoluzione, on the other hand, is simple yet refined: A traditional semi-automatic with an E61 brew-head and the ability to either use the internal water reservoir or plumb it in to your home’s water supply. While it doesn’t have any programming options, the brew head design and heat exchange technology produce a consistent brew temperature, backed by a very hearty steam boiler.

Watch as Teri guides us through a detailed overview of the features and specs of each machine, then demonstrates how they compare, performance-wise.

Compare: Pasquini Livia G4 vs. Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione

Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

Bonavita Coffee MakerYour trusty Bonavita coffee maker brews up batch after batch of delicious java with relatively little assistance from you. It doesn’t have a lot of moving parts, so it’s easy to overlook regular care and maintenance when it just simply works, right?

Implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will result in both increased equipment longevity and improved flavor in the cup. Certain components — like the carafe — will show their wear and tear, but other, more internal parts can’t give you a visual cue. Accordingly, it’s a great idea to come up with a schedule that you follow on a regular basis, descaling and cleaning the machine’s components at least a few times each year.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Weekly – Each week, wash the carafe and filter basket with warm soapy water. Using a food-friendly cleaning solution, wipe down the machine, paying special attention to the hot plate if your model has one.
  • Monthly – Every fourth external cleaning, wipe out the water reservoir to limit any residue build-up. If you’re using water with a higher mineral content, you should also descale at this time.
  • Quarterly – For softer water, a quarterly descale using a descaled and detergent combo like Cleancaf will improve your coffee maker’s performance.

Watch as Gail demonstrates and guides us through a thorough maintenance regimen using the Bonavita coffee maker with a glass carafe.

SCG How-to Guides: Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

Crew Review: Jura ENA Micro 9 – Redux!

Jura ENA Micro 9Designed to fit into the footprint of a legal sized sheet of paper, the Jura ENA Micro 9 features Jura’s updated brew technology and one-touch cappuccino functionality. We love that it also has a lower clearance, so you can more easily access its water tank and bean hopper even if you have lower cupboard clearance.

In this refreshed review, Chris guides us through the features and specifications of the Jura ENA Micro 9, then demonstrates how to craft a cappuccino. Check it out!

 

Crew Review: Jura ENA Micro 9 – Redux!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Spiced Pear Sorbet

Spiced Pear SorbetOne of our favorite desserts during the holiday season is created by slowly poaching pears in red wine and a mix of mulling spices like cinnamon and clove. When we were learning how to use Breville’s Smart Scoop ice cream maker, we found a recipe that sounded quite delicious in their user manual — a vanilla and pear sorbet — so we decided to experiment  with it! Instead of using simple syrup and vanilla extract, we used Monin’s Pure Cane Sugar, Vanilla and Cinnamon syrups to see if we could create a frozen treat that shared some of the delectable properties of our poached pear recipe.

The resulting Spiced Pear Sorbet was something that was altogether more refined and elegant! We think it would be exceptional when paired with an aged port. And while the recipe calls for canned pears, you could easily use fresh ones if you have access to them, you’ll just need to tweak the sweetener and possibly add a little liquid to make up for not having the canned pear juice.

Watch as Brandi preps it up and then lets the Smart Scoop do the heavy lifting!

Recipe: Spiced Pear Sorbet

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine syrups, lemon juice and the liquid from one can of pears in the ice cream maker’s mixing container.
  2. In a blender, puree the pears from both cans with 1/2 the juice of the remaining can and the egg white.
  3. Pour the puree into the mixing container.
  4. Set ice cream maker to Sorbet and begin the churn. This takes about 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Once it has reached your preferred consistency, remove and transfer to serving bowls. It can also be kept in the freezer for up to a week.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 T3 Commercial Espresso Machine

Aurelia 2 T3While sophisticated temperature control and experimenting with how different brew temps affect the flavor of coffee was born in the world of Third Wave coffee, more and more cafes are getting in on the fun lately. Nuova Simonelli designed their Aurelia 2 T3 commercial espresso machine to meet this need. Combining their well-known commitment to excellent build quality, ergonomic design and intuitive functionality, they’ve designed the T3 version of their popular Aurelia 2 series of machines with independent brew boilers and separate temperature control.

By using a combination of heat exchange and multiple boiler technology, each brew head on the T3 (from two to four) will produce a very consistent shot. You can program each of them for different temperatures, allowing you to brew coffees in different ways without having to adjust your machine in the process. As this is targeted toward higher end specialty coffee businesses, it is currently only available in a semi-automatic configuration — Nuova Simonelli is assuming that you and your baristas will want to be actively involved in your shot extraction!

To learn more about the Aurelia 2 T3, we visited Nuova Simonelli’s US headquarters in Ferndale, WA, and took one out for a test drive. In this comprehensive review video, Brandon guides us through the T3’s tech specs, functionality and design, then demonstrates how to make a latte.

These machines are designed for very high volume businesses, so if you’re in the market for something that affords you sophisticated customization yet can also keep up with your busiest rush, the Aurelia 2 T3 is well worth your consideration.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 T3 – Commercial Espresso Machine

Crew Review: Krups Cup on Request

Krups Cup on RequestPerfect for a small office kitchen environment, the Krups Cup on Request allows you to brew into a removable stainless steel urn that doubles as a dispenser. With two programmable options, dosage selections, volumetric and manual pours and the ability to keep it warm for up to four hours, the Cup on Request provides excellent functionality in an improved design.

Here at SCG, we love our Technivorms and always have a few of them going at any given time. Because we drink the coffee so quickly, we prefer to use the glass carafe — this also prevents sad moments when you attempt to pour out of an empty thermal carafe. But this does result in more messiness, with coffee sometimes spilt on the hotplates, resulting in a burned in residue.

We love that the Cup on Request enables you to easily dose out fresh, hot coffee in regular or to-go cups with ease. Watch as Gail goes through all of her fancy book learnin’ and then demonstrates making a pot!

Crew Review: Krups Cup on Request

Crew Review: DeLonghi PrimaDonna De Luxe Espresso Machine

DeLonghi PrimaDonna De LuxeWe’ll admit that we weren’t deeply in love with DeLonghi’s superautomatic espresso machines. For a long time, we felt like their grinders were on the louder side of the spectrum, their coffee wasn’t quite hot enough and their automatic milk frothing was just a smidge shy of amazing.

But all of that changed a few years ago with the release of their new series of machines. Their coffee quality improved, their grinders toned down a bit and their automatic milk frothing reached that heavenly nexus between temperature and foam density that cappuccino dreams are made of. With their newest model, the PrimaDonna De Luxe, they’ve taken their recent functional improvements and wrapped it in a gloriously gleaming stainless steel case.

Featuring intuitive programming, a front loading water reservoir and optional one-touch cappuccino functionality, the PrimaDonna De Luxe is both flexible and refined. Watch as Gail guides us through all of its specs and then demonstrates both one-touch and standard cappuccino creation.

Crew Review: DeLonghi PrimaDonna De Luxe Espresso Machine

Crew Review: Jura ENA Micro 1 – Redux!

Jura ENA MIcro 1In the world of gourmet coffee, the holy trinity might very well be freshly roasted – freshly ground – freshly brewed. Okay, so it’s all about being fresh, and committing to that will mean truly delicious java on a consistent basis. But we also get that sometimes our lives are busier than we might like and convenience has to reign supreme over handcrafted quality.

Jura understands this quandary and, instead of passing judgement, they’ve devised an Automatic Coffee Center that will hopefully bridge the gap between convenience and quality: The ENA Micro 1. Instead of using a capsule to produce a single cup of coffee on the go, you can select your favorite coffee and grind the beans freshly prior to brewing, all at the touch of a button. With an updated brew chamber and pressure system, you’ll be able to craft delectable drip coffee one cup at a time!

Watch as Chris takes us through a refreshed tour of this popular machine, including its features and specs, then brews us a cup of coffee. The ENA Micro 1 is the machine for drip brewed coffee and/or Americano lovers everywhere! And, if you occasionally have a milk drinker over for a cuppa, you can always meet their needs by picking up a Jura Automatic Milk Frother on the side.

Jura ENA Micro 1 – Video Review