Category Archives: Breville

Crew Comparison: Rocket Espresso Appartamento vs Breville Dual Boiler

How Does It Compare?

There’s nothing we love more than being able to brew and steam at the same time! And with either the Rocket Espresso Appartamento or the Breville Dual Boiler, we can do just that, but the user experience is completely different. The Dual Boiler packs in dedicated boilers alongside options like a pressurized portafilter and programmable shot buttons. On the other end of the spectrum, the Appartamento is Rocket’s smallest semi-automatic and, like other models in the line-up, sports a heat exchange boiler and traditional manual controls. The Appartamento will require more commitment and the dedication to learn, whereas Breville’s programmable features and range of accessories give baristas the ability to hone their skills.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.

Shot

Breville pulls out all the stops when it comes to crafting user’s experience. We’ve got a list of what makes the Breville Dual Boiler user-friendly, but one that stands out is its programmability. It features two programmable espresso buttons, in single or double shot quantities, the control volume by time. So while you’re concentrating on frothing your milk, you can press a button and let the Dual Boiler do the work—well, most of the work—for you. If you want to change it up, it also has a manual button to give you full control. The Dual Boiler also features pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the portafilter. For beginners, the pressurized portafilter assists in extracting delicious espresso, especially if the grind is off. This gives beginners a chance to perfect their technique, or honestly, allows baristas to be lazy with the grind. When you finally perfect the grind, switch it up to the non-pressurized portafilter to brew like a professional. Whichever way you brew, the Dual Boiler’s user-friendly brewing makes it an easy machine to learn on.

The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.
The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s design is influenced by traditional Italian espresso machines with its manual control lever and turn-dial knobs. Manual controls offer you freedom over your espresso and milk steaming. And with the Appartamento’s commercial-grade build, you’ll feel just like a professional barista. It’s equipped with two 58mm stainless steel portafilters (single and double spouts) and an E61 brew head that produces consistently hot espresso. Since there are no programmable features, there is a fairly steep learning curve and most of that is learning how to time pulling a shot while frothing milk. For experienced baristas, it’s muscle memory. For beginners, it’s more to handle—you can always slow down and froth, then brew. The Appartamento has features designed for an intermediate to an experienced barista, but with a will to learn an entry-level barista can pull delicious shots too.

The respectable 2.25-liter water tank is easy to access in the back.
The respectable 2.25-liter water tank is easy to access in the back.

The Dual Boiler has an 84-ounce water reservoir that feeds a 10-ounce brew boiler and a 32-ounce steam boiler. The boilers may seem small but that’s to your advantage. After pulling espresso shots for the whole family, the small 10-ounce boiler refills and reheats in no time. The Appartamento, on the other hand, has a respectable 60-ounce (1.8-liter) boiler that we expect to find on a heat exchange machine. The larger boiler takes longer to heat up. It has to heat the whole boiler to steam temperature before it can heat water on the fly from the reservoir, so we have to wait (again) to pull consistent shots. Once the Appartamento is heated, it can make multiple lattes before needing time to refill and reheat.

Steam

While we’re on the subject of boilers, the Breville Dual Boiler has a programmable PID to control both boilers. This allows you to set the ideal temperature to create consistency for your brew. Also, the latest update on the Dual Boiler now allows you to control the steam boiler range from 265 to 285 degrees. Paired with the traditional steam wand, it feels like a true barista experience. The Dual Boiler features a three-hole steam tip that shoots hot steam evenly in your pitcher—it’s super easy to get your milk rotating into a nice whirlpool. However, we will say that the steam wand will take more practice and patience for a beginner to learn.

Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.
Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is right up there with practice and patience. The 60-ounce boiler packs some incredible steam power and, paired with the two-hole steam tip, it whips up milk foam with ease. The Appartamento, however, doesn’t include a PID to set your temperature, so you’re stuck with Rocket’s standard heat settings. If you wanted to get technical with your brew, Rocket does offer other models with a PID. After making a handful of lattes on the Appartamento, we’re impressed with the temperature and consistency. When we compared its steam power to the Dual Boiler, to us it seemed obvious the Appartamento stole the show.

Style

The real show stopper is the Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s new style. It’s still the same beautiful stainless steel body but with white or copper side panels that are revealed through cutouts. The body sticks to Rocket’s clean cut style with gear-inspired knobs and their logo stamped front and center. The Appartamento may have been built like a traditional espresso machine, but its style is better described as contemporary, especially with those retro spots. While the Crew is divided about what color we like more, both will easily integrate into a home brewer’s kitchen. And it’s no problem squeezing the Appartamento on any apartment counter—it’s Rocket’s smallest machine to date. It’s even smaller than the Breville Dual Boiler, which is 6.25 inches wider than the Appartamento. Think of that prime counter space you’ll save.

Copper or white? We're digging the retro dots.
Copper or white? We’re digging the retro dots.

Even though the Dual Boiler’s a tad wider, it’s equipped with convenient extras that make up for it. One of those extras is hidden under the drip tray—Breville has included a swivel foot that drops down on the counter to easily rotate the machine around. This makes accessing the water tank effortless. It also included a hidden storage tray behind the drip tray and a magnetic tamper—everything you need for espresso is close at hand. While the Dual Boiler also has stainless steel casing it’s a cover over a plastic body, but we’re OK with that since we still get the style with an affordable price tag.

The Dual Boiler comes with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets and a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.
The Dual Boiler comes with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets and a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.

Conclusion

Between the Breville Dual Boiler and Rocket Espresso Appartamento, it comes down to what sort of user experience you desire. With the user in mind, the Dual Boiler comes equipped with programmability and accessories like pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters for beginners or experienced baristas. The Appartamento’s got style. It’s one of those machines you look at and can’t help but ask about. But the manual controls require commitment and plenty of patience to learn how to brew. So if you have the time and the will to learn, either machine will offer you the chance to hone your skills.

The Crew is still debating what color is better: white or copper? Tell us what color you like the best in the comments below!

 

Crew Comparison: Breville Barista Express vs Smart Grinder Pro

How Does It Compare?

We’re comparing grinder to grinder today—but we made this Crew Comparison more interesting by matching the Breville Smart Grinder Pro with the grinder in the Breville Barista Express. We actually get this question a lot: How’s the grinder in the Barista Express compared to a standalone grinder? For starters, most built-in grinders are designed specifically for that machine, which is true for the Barista Express. This semi-automatic comes equipped with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters that’s perfect for beginner to experienced baristas, who want to practice pulling espresso shots. We took the Barista Express’ grinder for a spin with both portafilters and found it could easily be dialed in for different beans, and if you got lazy with the grind, the pressurized basket was capable of compensating and making a delicious shot.

The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.
The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.

In comparison, the Smart Grinder Pro has the capacity to work with other brewers. You could dial it in for coarse French press or fine espresso—extremely fine too. If you’re looking to use your grinder for different brewers, the intuitive digital display on the Smart Grinder Pro makes it easier to dial in. Since it’s designed to use with many brewers, Breville included a grind container with a lid and two portafilter holders for your convenience. That said, both of these machines are made by Breville—who, we might add, consistently includes user-friendly features throughout their line-up—so we took each machine home for a closer look.

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.

Grind

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features a manual turn dial to set the “grind size” from one to 60 (60 being the coarsest). The 40mm stainless steel conical burrs are designed to create even particles and fewer fines. Just for fun, we decided to see how long it would take to grind up enough grounds for 12 cups of coffee at the coarsest setting (60 grind size). We clocked it in at 38.2 seconds! Fortunately, the big 16-ounce bean hopper had plenty of beans to accommodate 12 cups worth of grounds.

Bonus: The Smart Grinder Pro has an additional 10 adjustment located on the top of the burr. However, these are intended to extend the life of your machine and not to pull right out of the box and adjust down to the finest setting. Check out this video with Phil McKnight from Breville for a thorough explanation.

To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.
To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.

The Breville Barista Express is naturally going to be different. It’s designed for espresso so the coarse to fine range is limited. We’ve done this before on Ask Gail and thought you could maybe get a pour over grind out of the Barista Express, but nothing close enough to a French press. We still checked out the burrs and found they were conical stainless steel like the Smart Grinder Pro! The 8-ounce bean hopper is half the size as the Pro, but hey, we’re working with smaller quantities when it comes to espresso.

The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.
The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.

Grade

We weren’t kidding about Breville’s user-friendly features. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro display is marked with brew methods (press to espresso) to help indicate where your grind setting might be. On top of that, it has three feature on the front: grind amount, shots/cups and start/pause (to clarify, the grind amount is based on a timed dosage, something we see in a lot of grinders). Those are your basic settings for programming your grind, but what’s cool about the Pro is the interaction of each setting. When we’re within the press to drip range, we have up to 12 cups that we can program using the grind amount, which conveniently also says Program under the dial. You only need to turn the knob to the time you want and it’s programmed—voila! Move the grind size on over to espresso and cups turns into shots, which we can set from one to 8. Of course, those shots/cups amounts don’t necessary mean you’ll get one cup since the amount will be determined by the time you have set to grind.

The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.
The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.

So, how does the Barista Express match up? Since it’s designed for espresso, it has two programmable filter sizes: single and double. It features the same timed grind amount but without the digital display. The less to more measurements are useful enough, albeit, not as fancy or convenient as the Smart Grinder Pro. The same can be said for the Barista Express’ grinder size dial, which is located off to the side—you’re going to have to peak over to make adjustments. Like we mentioned earlier, the coarsest setting is still within an espresso range—possibly for drip but not other brew methods.

The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.
The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.

Glamour

We rave about Breville’s extra features and it’s no exception with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and Breville Barista Express. In both, Breville included an activation switch behind the container/portafilter to enjoy hands-free grinding or the option to manually dose. And, of course, the accessories: The Smart Grinder Pro comes with two portafilter holders for 50-54mm and 58mm portafilters, and a container—perfect for a wide variety of brewers. Since the Barista Express’ grinder is designed for espresso, the built-in portafilter is all we need to support our caffeine needs. Both include a removable bean hopper, for those of us who change out our beans.

The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind a breeze.
The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind incredibly easy.

The most noticeable style difference is the Smart Grinder Pro’s digital interface. The beautiful backlight display makes it convenient to dial-in different grind settings and, frankly, if you’re going from French press to espresso, the stepped grinder and markers are ideal. On top of the ease-of-use, this smart grinder is a grammar nerd—yeah, you read that right. If you adjust the Pro from one cup to five cups, it corrects the word “cup” from singular to plural—it’s a Smart Grinder Pro, after all.

Conclusion

By now, you probably know which machine is right for you. Are you looking to brew more than espresso? Then the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is the machine for you. The magic of the Breville Barista Express is that convenience of a built-in grinder ready to produce fresh grounds that can be brewed right away. That freshness is what espresso drinkers desire. The Smart Grinder Pro handles espresso, too, and would pair perfectly with the Breville Dual Boiler or other machines without a built-in grinder. But what makes the Pro a Pro is the wide range of grind settings, so you can enjoy good ole French press too. If you’re interested in learning more about these grinders, check out the links below:

Update To The Update: Breville [Smart Grinder Pro] Adjustable Burr video
Ask Gail: Using The Barista Express Grinder For French Press

Crew Review: Breville Dual Boiler

How Does It Compare?

The Breville Dual Boiler and Breville Oracle are two crowd favorites in the Breville line-up. Both feature double boilers to control brew and steam temperature and have programmable features. The Dual Boiler, however, features a traditional steam wand while the Oracle is equipped with a panarello-style steam wand that limits your ability to texturize milk the traditional way. If you were looking to perfect your technique on a traditional-style wand, the Dual Boiler’s your machine. We typically view the Oracle as a hybrid between a semi-automatic and superautomatic (it auto-tamps and auto-steams with the panarello), so if you’re looking to perfect your barista skills, we’d recommend you check out the Dual Boiler.

The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.
The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.

Shot

Breville excels at providing people the perfect opportunity to improve their barista skills while still enjoying easy and convenient features. The Breville Dual Boiler has two programmable buttons to set your ideal volume for one or two shots. Or, if you want to have control on the fly, you can manually start and stop the flow of espresso with the manual button. While we’re talking about convenience, the Dual Boiler also has a digital interface that allows you to easily program settings such as brew temperature or pre-infusion length. So while experienced baristas have the option to take control over the brew, there is also an opportunity for beginners to easily customize their preferences.

The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.
The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.

Inside the machine, the Dual Boiler features stainless steel boilers and Italian pumps to create lattes seamlessly. It creates the ideal maximum extraction pressure during brewing and a nice low pressure during pre-infusion. The electronic PID, that you can set using the LCD display, keeps both boiler temperatures within a few degrees for consistent extraction. It also features a heated group head to maintain the stability of your espresso shot. Together, these features create a delicious and consistent shot that you can enjoy with or without milk.

Steam

Speaking of milk, the Breville Dual boiler features a traditional steam wand that allows you total control over the aeration. The 360º swivel steam arm gets at any angle to help you properly incorporate air with your milk. It’s also equipped with a three-hole tip that shoots hot steam into different directions to create evenly heated milk. If you’re looking to improve your frothing technique, the Dual Boiler’s steam wand sets you up to evenly achieve the right milk texture.

Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.
Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.

The Dual Boiler also has a dedicated hot water spout for those Americano fans. We appreciate the separated functionalities because it can take awhile to draw hot water through traditional steam wands. You’ll be pulling hot water from the steam boiler, which you can set between 265ºF – 285ºF so that water is hot, hot, hot! Be careful, especially if you use the hot water spout for drinks like hot chocolate for the kids.

Style

Breville’s brushed stainless steel casing continues through their product line-up and we’re definitely OK with that. The soft, brushed steel makes the Breville look like a million bucks with an affordable price tag. With Breville’s line-up, the price is reflective of the advanced features and functionality. For example, the Dual Boiler is packed with, not one, but two powerful boilers and a programmable interface, so that makes us happy with its price point.

The Dual Boiler features a drop-down swivel foot that allows you to roll the machine to access the back.
The Dual Boiler features a drop-down swivel foot that allows you to roll the machine to access the back.

Breville included other handy features that generally people don’t realize they want—or need, frankly. The Dual Boiler is a hefty machine, weighing in at nearly 30 pounds, so accessing the back is nearly impossible—or is it? Like the Breville Oracle, the Dual Boiler comes with a hidden drop-down swivel foot under the drip tray. Once you engage the foot, it’ll easily roll around on your counter to remove the water tank. If you just need to fill up the reservoir, Breville’s thought of that too with a lid at the front of the machine to pour water into. You can even see when the water is low through a small window in the front of the machine. It’s the small, user-friendly features like this that continue to make Breville a go-to for new and experienced espresso machine owners.

The Dual Boiler comes with a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.
The Dual Boiler comes with a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.

Conclusion

The Breville Dual Boiler features something for beginners and experienced baristas alike. With both programmable and manual options, you can control the length of your brew or bask in the convenience by getting an espresso at the touch of a button. And since this is a double boiler machine, you can brew and steam at the same time—simply press the pre-programmed espresso button and you can concentrate on texturizing your milk. In the line-up of Breville products, the Dual Boiler is an advanced machine packed with features that will impress new and veteran home brewers.

Crew Review: Breville Duo-Temp Pro

How Does It Compare?

First glance, we almost mistook the Breville Duo-Temp Pro for the Breville Infuser. These two entry-level machines feature the Breville touch with tons of user-friendly features and accessories to make home brewing convenient and, may we add, fun! However, the Duo-Temp Pro is equipped with one dial to flipped between brewing and steaming whereas the Infuser has two programmable buttons. While programmability is a bonus, we reap the benefits of the Duo-Temps Pro affordable price point while still being chock-full of advanced features, the same technology we see in the Infuser.

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.
The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.

Others at this price point are the Saeco Via Venezia; however, some of the Duo-Temp Pro features and functionality outshine the Via Venezia. The Duo-Temp Pro comes with both a pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters allowing beginners a chance to grow into their machine. The Duo-Temp Pro also automatically purges water from the Thermocoil boiler to bring it from steam temperature back down to brewing—an incredibly convenient feature on a single boiler. Let’s dive right into the Duo-Temp Pro’s espresso.

Shot

The espresso on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro is impressive. The combination of our trusty grinder—the Rancilio Rocky right now—and the automatic pre-infusion time, it doesn’t take long to pull a wonderful shot. The pre-infusion is completely controlled by the Duo-Temp Pro since the only controls are the one dial that flips between brew or steam/hot water and the “Select” button for steam or hot water. That’s it. While it may feel limited, the fewer controls allow beginners to focus on honing their skills. Fewer controls, though, doesn’t mean fewer features. The pre-infusion is just the cherry on top.

The Duo-Temp Pro's clean controls make it easy for beginner's to learn.
The Duo-Temp Pro’s clean controls make it easy for beginners to learn.

As we touched on briefly, the Duo-Temp Pro has an automatic purge, which is huge for a machine of this caliber. Since this is a single boiler machine, you can’t brew and steam at the same time, so naturally, we always steam first. After steaming, flip the switch back to neutral and you’ll hear the auto-purge remove the hot water and then flush in cool water from the reservoir. In a matter of seconds, you’re ready to brew! Bonus for the Duo-Temp Pro: It’s equipped with an internal PID that helps regulate the temperature.

The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.
The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.

The simple controls and automatic features create a user-friendly experience perfect for beginners, so without fail Breville paired it with the appropriate accessories. Generally, we see machines at this price point with only a pressurized option, however, the Duo-Temp Pro has both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the 54mm portafilter. The non-pressurized basket is an opportunity for beginners to hone their skills and advance into the professional’s field. Breville also included accessories such as their patented RAZOR Dose Trimming Tool, cleaning accessories and the magnetic tamper, which is stuck alongside the brew head out of the way.

Steam

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features a traditional steam wand, which will take more practice to learn but offers more rewards than a panarello-style steam wand. Because the Duo-Temp Pro uses a thermocoil heater, the steam wand produces heat on the fly and it’ll take a while to get up to speed—hey, that offers beginners plenty of time to get their technique down. We decided to use the Duo-Temp Pro to froth milk for latte art to test its capabilities (and ours). The Duo-Temp Pro has a one-hole steam tip, which does present some challenges heating the milk. If you leave it pointed in one direction and don’t angle it correctly, you’ll likely to unevenly heat the milk. The key here is to become familiar with the steam wand and find that sweet spot to spin the milk to incorporate any microfoam with the warm milk.

The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.
The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.

So, how did it go? Because it takes a while to get to full steam power, we had plenty of time to find that sweet spot and we were able to get beautiful latte-art milk on the Duo-Temp Pro. One thing we noted was from startup it took the thermocoil about 25 seconds before we saw steam. If you turned the dial to steam to remove condensation and then to neutral it would auto-purge and for a moment, we thought that was it. Fortunately, it only took a few seconds for the steam power to kick back in and work it’s way up to full steam.

Style

Clad in a brushed stainless steel casing, we couldn’t be happier with the outfitting on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro. The user-friendly controls are clean, evenly spaced and the buttons are backlit when the machine’s on, creating a seamless interface. Commercial-grade stainless steel portafilter and steam wand further accentuate the Breville’s fresh style and, of course, make delicious coffee. Bonus to the Duo-Temp Pro, it is BPA free for all the parts that come in contact with water and coffee.

Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won't be running to the sink very often.
Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won’t be running to the sink very often.

The brushed casing and compact size allow the Duo-Temp Pro to easily fit into any home brewer’s kitchen. At only 10.25 inches wide, its slim profile can easily squeeze on the smallest counters and fit a couple mugs on the cup warmer. Even though it’s a compact unit, the spacious 61-ounce water tank can easily handle multiple lattes. We were worried at first that the auto-purge would drain the reservoir but we went from the reservoir’s maximum capacity down to the minimum with four lattes and an espresso shot. Perhaps the only downside to the auto-purge is it’s a bit noisy doing it.

Conclusion

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro is an excellent entry-level semi-automatic. Its simple controls are balanced with advanced features, such as auto-purge, and offer beginners plenty of opportunities to hone their skills. The Duo-Temp Pro can produce several milk-based drinks and perhaps the only misgivings we could see people experiencing is the steam power. Since it’s a thermocoil, it takes a time to kick in but, hey, that’ll allow beginners some time to find the right angles to texture their milk. Practice makes perfect and the Duo-Temp Pro is the right machine for practicing.

Crew Comparison: Breville Dual Boiler Vs. Rocket Premium Plus with PID

How Does It Compare?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. The Breville Dual Boiler and Rocket Premium Plus are two completely different looking machines packed with impressive espresso power! The Breville Dual Boiler, as the name implies, features a double boiler while Rocket Premium Plus comes equipped with a heat exchanger. For someone looking to purchase one of these beautiful machines, one question to ask yourself is what type of boiler do you want: heat exchanger or double boiler?

BrevilleDual_Front
The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.

There’s a heated debate about which type of boiler is better. Double boilers have a dedicated boiler for brewing and steaming, which allows you to accurately dial in the correct temperature for each independently. A heat exchanger has one boiler at steam temperature and a tube siphoning water from the reservoir through a chamber within the boiler that indirectly heats the water to a brewing temperature. While this method isn’t always consistent, an estimated brew temperature is based on the length of the chamber.

You’re probably wondering why this is even a debate. It sounds like you’d want a double boiler for consistency. We’ve dived into the differences in a past post you can check out here, but the gist is that heat exchangers are continually siphoning fresh water to brew while double boilers use water that’s collecting minerals from boiling. That’s not to say a double boiler makes worse brewing water, but the argument is how the water’s heated to brew. A double boiler actually has a quicker recovery time to brew drinks back to back, so you might consider in your comparison for the right espresso machine for you.

Shot

Breville is known for its user-friendly functionality and they certainly didn’t let us down! The Dual Boiler is outfitted with two programmable buttons that set your customized espresso volume and temperature settings. Or opt for the manual button to control the process. There’s also a little extra cushion for newbies: Breville comes with non-pressurized and pressurized portafilter baskets to make up for inconsistent coffee grounds (you know, the occasional chunkier grounds). Hallelujah! This semi-automatic has a little bit of something for entry level and experienced baristas.

The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.
The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.

The same can’t be said for the Rocket Premium Plus—it’s all hands on! It comes with the standard non-pressurized baskets and the PID is the only digital control you have over this machine, otherwise, you’re manually controlling pre-infusion and brew time. The Rocket’s manual lever mechanics are reminiscent of traditional Italian espresso and is well suited for this machine’s sleek design, but that does mean you’ll have to dedicate yourself to expanding your barista skills and techniques.

The Rocket's built in PID is purposefully hidden underneath the drip tray to maintain the sleek appearance.
The Rocket’s built-in PID is purposefully hidden underneath the drip tray to maintain the sleek appearance.

Being consistent on a heat exchanger adds an extra challenge for brew temperature, but the legendary E-61 brew head uses a thermal siphon system to maintain the brew head temperature and makes your espresso consistently hot—and the brew head even hotter. Seriously, don’t touch that bad boy! It’s too hot to handle. Jokes aside, the E-61 brew head is exposed and poses a risk for burning whereas the Breville Dual Boiler also features an enclosed heated brew head that’s out of harms way.

Steam

Both use a traditional steam arm, which generally take practice to perfect your frothing technique. If you’re willing to put in the time, these machines are capable of making delicious steamed milk in short order. Bonus points go to the Rocket Premium Plus for outfitting it with a no-burn wand making cleanup a breeze. We will say while the Rocket is a no-burn that doesn’t mean it’s not hot—it’s on fire! After making ourselves a latte, we needed to use a towel to handle the steam arm. With the Breville steam wand, you’ll also want to keep a towel nearby to quickly wipe it off after use, as it becomes a bit harder to clean if you leave it too long. While it may take a bit more cleanup, Breville designs its products to be incredibly convenient and added a finger guard loop that makes it easier to adjust the wand for steaming and cleaning even when it is hot.

Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.
Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.

Circling around to the PID again, they upgraded the Breville Dual Boiler so you can adjust the steam boiler temperature between 265ºF – 285ºF. The PID on both machines will keep the temperature within  one degree of the set temperature. Since the Rocket is a heat exchanger, the boiler is designed for steam and that’s pretty evident when you turn it on. The Rocket’s steam pressure is comparable to the Nuova Simonelli’s. Hands down, the Rocket Premium Plus has powerful steam and we’d even venture to say it’s more powerful than the Breville Dual Boiler.

P.S. The Rocket uses Celsius, so Fahrenheit users will have to convert the temperature. That’s what you get when you get a Rocket hand-made in Italy.

Style 

Every Rocket’s hand-made in Italy with individual personality showing through the fine details. Rocket’s contemporary design will look flawless in brewer’s kitchens while it’s traditional components please espresso enthusiasts. The Premium Plus, both the Giotto and Cellini models, are purposefully constructed with simple turn knobs and levers and has no visible technology. Like we mentioned before, there is a digital PID, which has far better temperature control than without it, but Rocket was stern on maintaining a clean, structured style.

The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus features sleek designs with kicked out side panels.
The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus features sleek designs with kicked outside panels.

 The Breville Dual Boiler owns its modern design and is outfitted with a list of convenient features. The brushed stainless steel maintains uniform with many of today’s kitchen appliances. The pressure gage placed front and center on the Dual Boiler adds some vintage taste alongside those convenient programmable features. In fact, Breville hides a lot of the components, such as the three-way solenoid valve that’s clearly visible behind the Rocket’s brew group. The Breville Dual Boiler user-friendly features such as being able to program the auto-on time and alerts make the Breville’s overall design a crowd pleaser.

 Conclusion

There’s a lot we could say about the Rocket Premium Plus and Breville Dual Boiler: They’re both close in price and feature similar capabilities suitable for entry-level to prosumer. For a powerful, hands-on Rocket, we’ll be preaching, “Practice makes perfect,” to anyone hesitant on buying a more manual espresso machine. The Rocket Premium Plus isn’t as complicated as you’d think—actually, we’d say its simple mechanics make it easier to control and allows you to focus on mastering your grind and extraction time to achieve your perfect espresso. Of course, Breville Dual Boiler compensates a little more for entry-level baristas with its programmable buttons that let you set your espresso settings, removing all the guesswork each time you brew. Then, of course, we’ve dived into the debate between two types of boilers. Each boiler design has its own list of pros and cons for different people. We’ll just say, checking out all the machine on the market, the way the machine’s mechanics are handled impacts the quality. Breville and Rocket both excellence in quality and the proof is in the coffee.

Top Five Coffee Makers For Mom

We rounded up the best-of-the-best Mom-approved coffee makers. Between balancing making breakfast and ushering children out the door, Mom’s got to have some fuel—some caffeinated fuel we like to call coffee. These machines are ready to tackle Mom’s busy life and deliver a deliciously smooth cup of coffee. And these wouldn’t be true coffee makers for Mom without some features for the whole family. We’re all about giving kids espresso and a puppy—just kidding, but really some of these coffee makers can whip up creamy hot chocolate for the kids.

Jura Ena Micro 1 Automatic Coffee with the Breville Milk Carafe

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Jura Ena Micro 1 features a tall cup clearance that easily fits a travel mug.

Now this is one tall drink of water. For busy SuperMoms, the Jura Ena Micro 1 is fit with a tall cup clearance and capacity to fill a travel mug so Mom’s out the door with hot coffee in hand. Three programmable buttons make a sturdy lungo, ristretto or espresso and it’s all fresh, ground on-the-spot coffee. No pods or capsules here.

Pair the Breville Milk Carafe with the Jura Ena Micro 1 for a creamy latte.
Pair the Breville Milk Carafe with the Jura Ena Micro 1 for a creamy latte.

We paired the Jura Ena Micro 1 with the Breville Milk Carafe for Mom’s craving lattes and kids begging for a hot chocolate. The temperature control allows Mom to adjust the temperature a bit hotter for her latte and cooler for those little one’s fragile mouths. The Carafe also holds three cups, enough for all the kids to get a glass—no “me first” necessary!

Chemex Ottomatic

ChemexOtto_1
The Chemex Ottomatic marries pour over with a drip coffee maker for the best of both worlds.

Moms are stylish, sophisticated and deserve a luxurious cup of coffee. The Chemex Ottomatic is all those things and more for Mom. Design with polished chrome and matte black, the brew system will complement the family’s kitchen appliances. The iconic glass carafe with the earthy wood and leather tie neck, on the other hand, will showcase Mom’s elegant taste.

The Ottomatic marries pour over with the automated functions of the dripper thanks to the brew head that regulates hot water to bloom and brew—essentially the cabana boy of coffee. Once it’s out of water, it’ll engage the hot plate to keep the coffee warm. So go ahead Mom, wrestle those kids into school clothes while making their breakfast and grabbing their backpacks, the Ottomatic will handle your pour over coffee for you.

AeroPress

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AeroPress’ compact design makes it an ideal traveling companion.

If you don’t already have one, the AeroPress will become a must-have for busy mornings. The rich, smooth flavor is savored by coffee professionals and professional Mom’s alike. The AeroPress only requires a bit of your time to add hot water, stir and plunge. That’s all there is to it. It’s so compact, Mom can easily pack it in her purse and take it to-go—all you need is ground coffee and hot water and you’re making coffee in the back of your van during soccer practice.

Breville Oracle

MAM_Oracle
The Breville Oracle offers manual and auto options so any level of barista can give it a go!

The Breville has a little something for everyone and it’s so easy to use the whole family can become coffee connoisseurs. The Oracle features a built-in grinder and tamper that can be adjusted for the perfect cup of joe. The digital display makes it easy for everyone to change it up to their preferences! Now twist on the perfectly tamped portafilter to the brew head and watch it create delicious espresso.

For anyone looking to add a little dairy to their drink, frothing steamy milk has never been easier with the Oracle’s steam wand. Set the wand to auto and adjust the temperature and let it do all the work. Prefer to get a bit barista-y? You can also froth it yourself and control all the milk steaming parameters. After steaming, push the wand back into place and it’ll auto-purge the milk for you! Fresh hot chocolate, anyone? With this impressive technology, you’ll never have to question if the kids properly cleaned the machine again.

The Ultimate Mom Machine: The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Exclusive ESAM6900.M Espresso Machine

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna comes with two carafes for Mom’s lattes and the kids’ hot chocolate.

The PrimaDonna will take center stage at your household once the kids discover Mom’s espresso machine can make hot chocolate! The PrimaDonna comes with a special carafe that whips chocolate mix with milk so all you have to do is fill up your kiddos’ cups. Put the carafe full of chocolate milk in the fridge and insert the second carafe for Mom’s latte. With one-touch technology, lattes are made right in the cup so Mom can kick her feet up as the PrimaDonna does all the work for once. When the bellies are full and the carafe’s empty, stick it straight into the dishwasher to breeze through clean up (now only if it did the laundry too).

Crew Comparison: Breville Barista Express vs. Breville Infuser

We’ve got another Breville showdown for you today: the Breville Barista Express versus the Breville Infuser. It’s a tough match since these two semi-automatic machines are cut from the same cloth. On this Crew Comparison, we’ll go over the main difference between these machines—the built-in grinder on the Breville Barista Express.

Breville Compare - Barista Express vs. Dual Boiler
Can you tell which is the Barista Express?

Both machines have some of the same features and functions. Both use a Thermocoil boiler, which keeps the water in the boiler reservoir cool so that when you’re done brewing you can easily switch over to steam and has a Thermoblock to heat water on the fly. There are two programmable buttons for espresso volume and a three-way solenoid valve to ensure that you have a dry puck after each shot.

On both machines, all the goodies are conveniently stored in the machine. The tamper magnetically sticks up in the machine for storage and under the drip tray is a spot for the pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets and razor to top off the grounds.

The biggest difference you’ll notice is that the Breville Barista Express is outfitted with a built-in grinder. There’s a lot of debate about the benefits of built-in grinders—so of course, we’ve compiled a simple pros and cons list for you to check out here—and the top concern for the Barista Express is that the grinder will break down while the rest of the machine works perfectly. It’s completely possible for it to stop working, especially if the it’s not properly cleaned, but the good news is we haven’t heard about it happening too often with the Barista Express.

Silvia vs Barista Express

It’s really hard to resist the convenience of the built-in grinder. For one, you don’t need to shop around for a grinder; you know from the get-go the grinder is going to work with your machine.The built-in grinder does limit the options to dial in the beans but if the grind isn’t great, it’s easy to pull a decent shot with the pressurized portafilter that comes with this machine. 

OK, time to discuss some cons on the Breville Barista Express. Let’s face it, with a built-in grinder, you won’t be able to use the grinder for other brewing methods like a French press. It’s designed for only pulling espresso shots on the Barista Express and the grind will be too fine to make a decent cup in a French press.

You’ll also notice a slot for the portafilter right above the drip tray. That alignment is handy for catching loose coffee grounds but it also means it’ll gunk up the drip tray. This mixing will be hard to avoid and cleaning the drip tray frequently is the only option.

Let’s say you did have a grinder—then the Breville Infuser is the way to go! It’s smaller and features the same functions as the Barista Express. The only set back is you’ll need to get a grinder but with the pressurized portafilter, you could get away with a less consistent grind.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to buy a grinder, invest in a grinder you can grow with. We recommend a high-end grinder that produced consistent coffee grounds such as the Rocket Fausto Grinder and Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder.

Tell us what you’re thoughts are on the Breville Barista Express and Breville Infuser in the comments below. Check out the full Crew Comparison and stay tuned for more episodes!

Pros & Cons Of Having A Built-In Grinder

Let’s talk about built-in grinders. There’s a lot of debate on the benefits of a built-in grinder on coffee machines. You expect it on a superautomatic, but what about those other guys? Built-in grinders can be found on some semi-automatic machines like the Breville Barista Express and some drip coffee makers like the Breville Grind Control. Naturally, we compiled a pro and con list for people out there weighing their options on buying a machine with a built-in grinder.

Built-In Grinder (1)

Our Top Pros

Space Saver:

When it comes to saving room on the kitchen counter, the built-in grinder optimizes every inch of your machine. Instead of having two machines sitting taking up space, you have one compacted unit. Arguably, a machine with a built-in grinder tends to be bigger overall, but we appreciate that it’s more ergonomically designed for space.

Convenience:

As if we needed more decisions to make, after you purchase an espresso machine you’ll need to search for a compatible grinder. Grinders come in all shapes and sizes and not all grinders fit the bill for your machine.

Saves Money:

We debated whether or not buying an espresso machine and built-in grinder saved money and we decided it can be less expensive to buy them together…depending on the model, that is. If you’re buying a grinder and espresso machine at a similar caliber, then it’s generally less expensive when the machine has a built-in grinder.

Compatible:

To pull off a delicious brew, you need a grind that’s consistent—and consistency can be tricky to find in a grinder! In short, you’ll cut out the middle man when you purchase a coffee machine that has a grinder that’s compatible with it.

Our Top Cons

If It Breaks:

Worse-case scenario is your grinder breaks. You generally have two options that will end up costing you extra money. The first option is to purchase a new grinder—which can be a good purchase if you invest in a high-end grinder. The second option is you have the scrap the whole machine and buy a new one. Hopefully, you have a machine that doesn’t rely on the grinder (such as the Breville Barista Express) but if it can’t be bypassed, then you’re out a whole machine.

Bulkier:

While the grinder and machine together create an ergonomic design the overall size is larger than a model without one. If you look at the Breville Barista Express and Breville Infuser, the Barista Express is about an inch wider than the Infuser.

Difficult To Change:

You can’t turn the whole machine upside down to shake out the old beans (well, we guess you could, but we highly recommend not doing that). To remove the old beans you’ll have to grind until it’s empty and waste beans—especially if you have multiple coffees you want to brew. 

One Function:

If you’re interested in brewing a pour over, French press or other brew methods that require a wider grind setting, generally a built-in grinder will only make a grind consistent for that machine. Take the Breville Barista Express again, for example, the grinder makes a fine grind for espresso shots that wouldn’t be coarse enough for French press.

We’ve heard the top concern is that if the grinder breaks down, then you’re stuck with a now completely useless feature. Fortunately for you, we haven’t seen that happen too often, so don’t let this be the number one deterrent. The biggest disadvantage, in our opinion, would be that the grinder is only designed for that machine, and not for other brewing methods such as French press or pour over.

Pro Tip: We recommend investing in a high-end grinder as your first purchase. If you are interested in investing, check out some of our reviews on top-notch grinders like the Rocket Fausto Grinder and Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. We also recommend the Breville Dose Control if you’re leaning towards something sweet, but not too sweet.

Crew Review Comparison: Breville Oracle vs. Barista Express

Breville has made it their mantra to infuse their coffee makers with simplicity and convenience. When you’re comparing the Breville Oracle and Breville Barista Express, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Both are semi-automatics with similar style and capabilities to whip up delicious espresso, but they have their own approach to getting the job done. On this Crew Comparison, we’ll break down feature-by-feature to see the full  differences of the Oracle and Barista Express!

Breville_Oracle

Grinder & Tamper

A closer look at the Oracle’s robust portafilter holder reveals some hidden features. Once the portafilter is locked in place, with the flick of the wrist the grinder dispenses coffee right into it. Here’s the real hidden gem: When it’s done grinding, the Oracle automatically tamps for you! Like many features we’ll dive into on this machine, the tamping pressure and grinder settings can be programmed using the digital display.

There’s no love lost with the Barista Express’s grinder! Unlike the Oracle, you can program the volume of your grounds for a single or double shot. To activate the automatic grinder, simply press the portafilter against the back, but instead of the grinder and tamper working together like in the Oracle, you’ll have to manually tamp. The Barista Express comes with a tamper that magnetically sticks into the machine to easily store away when it’s not in use.

Silvia vs Barista Express

Brewing & PID

The intuitive digital display on the Breville Oracle allows you to fine-tune the PID to the exact temperature you want and then the machine maintains it. The real kicker for the Oracle is the dual boiler and pump system that allows you to brew and steam at the same time. The PID and dual boilers work in sync to maintain the correct temperature for each, so you’ll never worry about semantics again.

We learned from Gail that the Barista Express has a basic PID. This just means that it can only be adjusted between four degrees of the programmed temperature. That being said once the PID is set it will heat the boiler to the desired temperature and maintain it. The boiler on the Barista Express is a thermocoil and it can only brew or steam separately. Even though this isn’t a dual boiler machine, the PID keeps the temperature in check and that deserves some brownie points in our book!

Steam Wand

What the heck is that on the Breville Oracle? That’s the Oracle’s steam wand—a hybrid of manual and auto steaming. And it’s extremely smart. Set your wand to auto, adjust the temperature to the “happy zone” and let it froth! The tip of the wand has a sensor that will indicate when the desired temperature is reached. Once it’s achieved, the wand automatically stops steaming. Can we just say the milk was fantastic? The froth on the Breville Oracle is perfect for a latte without a lot of effort.

Bonus points for the Oracle: When you’re done steaming, push the wand back into place and it automatically purges for you! Say goodbye to gunky steam wands. This feature will help maintain the life of your machine and keep it sparkling.

Breville Oracle Care

The Barista Express has a steam wand that would be better suited for a beginner. The traditional steam wand features one hole to release steam and lower pressure steaming. The lower power will take longer to heat up the milk, but on the other hand, it will be easier for a budding barista to hone their craft! There’s no auto feature, too, so steaming is done completely by hand.

Bonus Round:

The Oracle has some additional features that we couldn’t resist pointing out. There are two ridiculously easy ways to access the water tank. To add water, the Oracle is outfitted with an access point on the top. Press down the lid and it’ll pop right open!

The second feature is hidden beneath the drip tray. Remove the tray and you’ll notice a dial, which you can turn to engaged a swivel foot under the machine that makes accessing the water tank in the back a piece of cake! This round goes to the Breville Oracle!

Watch the full Crew Review and witness these powerful machines at work. We’re attractive to the convenience and thoughtful features of the Breville Oracle, but the Barista Express certainly doesn’t lack in capabilities! Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Crew Comparison: Breville Infuser vs. Rancilio Silvia M

When it comes to purchasing a solid semi-automatic machine, the Rancilio Silvia M and the Breville Infuser both would be a welcomed addition to any home! But hey, we’re in the business of making choosing easier for you, so we’ll give you our two cents on which machine would be better for a beginner and experienced barista. Watch the full video below for the full comparison on the Rancilio Silvia M versus the Breville Infuser.

Breville_Infuser

To all those new to coffee out there, welcome! We’ve all started our coffee journey somewhere and what’s a better place to start a beginner than with a Breville Infuser? This semi-automatic machine is filled to the brim with convenient features for—you guessed it—beginners. The 54mm stainless steel portafilter has a pressurized basket that helps get a delicious espresso shot out of subpar coffee grinds. It also comes with non-pressurized baskets that would be great for people looking to perfect their craft after practicing with a pressurized basket.

Pro Tip: We  recommend if you’re interested in brewing with semi-automatics that you start by purchasing a high-end grinder. The flavor, texture and enjoyment of your cup come down to consistent grinds and high-end grinders will answer the call to this task.

The Infuser also comes with a  tamper that sits nicely up in the machine. There aren’t a lot of machines with tampers built-in like that and it’s a sweet bonus for people who haven’t purchased a tamper yet.

This machine also has some programmable features such as two volume controlled buttons and a PID. On the side, you can flip a switch between hot water and steaming. The steam power on this machine, however, is weak. Although, we think that the Infuser’s softer steaming gives espresso newbies a chance to learn how to froth milk on a traditional steam wand, so you can’t go wrong with that!

Rancilio Silvia M

If you want to brew with the big boys, the Rancilio Silvia M has a lot of the same features but with more advanced skills needed. The professional grade 58mm portafilter only comes with non-pressurized baskets—meaning you’d want to purchase a quality grinder to get the grounds just right.

Both machines have a PID but there is an additional cost to adding it on the Silvia M. The extra cost does mean extra precision! The PID on the Silvia M controls the temperature between one degree of where you set it and keeps it there, sets the pre-infusion time, the wait time between pre-infusion and brewing, and the brew time.

Here’s another hot-shot difference. The Rancilio Silvia M is built for steaming. You can see in the video at 5:40 Gail demonstrates both machine’s steaming power and the Silvia M blows the Infuser out of the water with performance. The traditional steam wand on the Silvia M will create fluffy microfoam and hot milk at lightning speed. It’s easy to see that this high-powered machine would be a great addition to an intermediate or experienced barista’s home.

We’d recommend if you’re new to coffee to purchase a machine like the Breville Infuser. It’s simple, sweet and gets to brewing without too much fuss. The Rancilio Silvia M, though, is the machine for you if you’re looking to upgrade from an entry-level machine like the Infuser. It’s built with power that an intermediate or experienced brewer would love.

Didn’t see a video you were looking for? We’re open to suggestions! Drop us a comment on our YouTube channel and tell us two machines you’d like us to compare.