Category Archives: baratza

Espresso Machine Maintenance with Urnex

Keeping your equipment sparkling clean is just as important as the freshness of your coffee and dialing in  your grind & tamp — in fact, without the former, the latter will be an exercise in futility. If we have to tell you that rancid coffee oils will adversely impact the quality of your shot, we’re sorry. But if we have to be the first, then we might as well do it right, right? So we asked Louie Poore, who specializes in educating professional baristas on proper equipment care for Urnex, to give us the rundown.

First, he introduces us to Urnex’s new Full Circle, sustainably-produced cleaning products — including a toe-to-toe comparison of Cafiza and Full Circle’s coffee equipment wash.

Next, he walks us through using tablets to backflush the La Marzocco GS/3.

Finally, Gail shows us the newly arrived 1, 2, Brew Kit for Espresso Machines, which features the goodies you need to keep your machine in tip-top shape (plus a bag of Velton’s Coffee of your choice!).

Testing: Coffee Ground Attrition & Water Content in Frothed Milk

We had a few viewer requests lately around the weight of things, so we produced two videos covering the following questions: How much coffee is left in the grinder after grinding? How much water is injected into milk when frothing?

In this first video, we weighed out 20 grams of whole beans and then ground them in several different grinders, weighing the grounds afterward to see if any was retained in the grinder.

In the second video, we weighed out 200ml of milk (in most cases — the exception being the stand alone frothers), frothed them to the same temperature on several different machines and then weighed them afterward to see how much water was injected into the frothed milk.

Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Available Now

We finally got our paws on the new Virtuoso Preciso, which gives you 11 micro adjustments within the standard 40 macro adjustments (allowing you to dial in your grind more precisely). It also comes standard with the Portaholder. Check out our video review on this from a couple of weeks ago to learn more about this grinder’s basic specs, or watch Gail compare it with the regular Virtuoso and the Vario.

As of this writing, we have 6 to sell until the end of October — Baratza had a very limited initial manufacturing run, so they limited retailers to just 6 this time around. If you’ve been coveting this, grab it soon or you may have to wait until later this month or early November for your chance.

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Burr Grinder

Hitting the streets this coming October is Baratza’s newest offering, which is a variation on a theme: The Virtuoso Preciso takes it’s basic functionality from the popular Virtuoso grinder, but it’s tweaked a bit with some of the dialing-in features available on the more expensive Vario model.

Watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and functions.

How To: Baratza Vario Burr Adjustment

The Vario gives you a little more control over your grind than you find on a traditional stepped grinder (like its counterpart, the Virtuoso, or the Rancilio Rocky) because it allows you to tweak the fineness within each step of the burrs. If you find that your Vario doesn’t seem to be going fine enough for espresso, or that you have very little room to move on the fineness side of the spectrum once you get to your espresso setting, you may want to adjust the burrs so they are closer together.

Gail walks us through how to do this and demonstrates it on a grinder. Watch and learn!

Espresso Machine Storage Tips

Leaving your machine alone for the winter? Need to store it or move it (by hand) to a new location? Gail gives us some tips on what you should do to prepare your machine so you limit the possibility of damage.

Grinder Burr Test: Medium Roast vs. Dark Roast Beans

While you won’t find us purporting that cleanliness is next to godliness, you will hear us talk about keeping your gadgets clean for the good of all involved. Because darker roasts (such as French or Italian) bring so much of the bean’s natural oil to the surface, we wondered how this impacts a grinder’s burrs: Does it clog more easily and quickly? Do you need to clean your grinder more often if you’re using this type of bean/roast? What kind of residue does it leave in comparison to grinding medium roast beans?

To determine this, we put two Baratza Virtuosos to the test. Over a month period, we ran the timer on each of them twice each day, using Velton’s Treehouse drip coffee in one and some particularly intense French Roast Gail picked up at Costco in the other. Then we opened them up to find out what kind of residue was left on the burrs.

Watch as Gail takes them apart, meticulously studies them and then tests how easy it is to clean them (using Grindz).

Tech Tip: Adjusting Your Grinder More Finely

A public service announcement from our technical department regarding the care & feeding of your burr grinder:

Never adjust the grind finer without turning the grinder on. The motor needs to be on & spinning as you adjust the burrs more closely together to ensure that beans are not compacted in the burr teeth, clogging the burrs or carrying grinds into the grinding chamber threads, thus jamming the burr carrier. This can damage and/or break the grinder and is not something that is covered under any manufacturer or retailer warranty.

So if you’re going to tweak your grind to go a little finer, kick on the grinder first and, if you have beans in the hopper, make sure it’s grinding normally as you move the burrs closer together. This will ensure that you don’t clog/jam the burrs and potentially damage the grinder.