Category Archives: Breville

Compare: Rancilio Rocky vs. Breville Smart Grinder – Redux!

Compare - Rancilio Rocky vs. Breville Smart GrinderLooking for a budget-conscious burr grinder that’s suitable for traditional espresso preparation? Consider the feature-laden Breville Smart Grinder or the robust, commercial-grade Rancilio Rocky. Both have great consistency and a wide grind range, so you can use them for anything from espresso to coffee press.

Watch Gail as she takes us through their features and functionality, then shows us how they compare, grind-wise.

 

Brewin’ with Brandi: Espresso Gelato

While the sun keeps playing hide and seek with us here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re pretty sure that the rest of the you are having a hot and summery blast right now! Well, if you’re on this side of the equator, that is.

What better way to beat the heat than with a cool and delectable treat? Check out this super easy gelato recipe, courtesy of Brandi and Breville’s rockin’ Smart Scoop ice cream maker.

 

 

The Reluctant Barista Battles the New Breville Barista Express

photo-3Let’s be honest, I am not engaged in an epic battle with Breville … it is not even a minor skirmish; in fact, I don’t have a problem with Breville at all. Here’s what I truly love about all Breville espresso machines: They are easy to use and they make you feel like a rock star right out of the gate. Breville machines give me warm fuzzy feelings along with a good shot of espresso. The espresso shots are not going to be life changing (like that one time you found a small café and the barista’s skill blew your mind and now you can’t remember where it was or if it was just a caffeinated waking dream). But! They are always going to be really good espresso shots every time. No wasted espresso, no wasted effort.

So while I did ‘borrow’ the instruction booklet from Rachel in Customer Service, I already felt as if I knew my way around the Breville Barista Express automatic espresso machine. I quickly whipped up a few shots of Velton’s Bonsai Blend espresso to sip and then a caramel latte to check the frothing potential with my imaginary froth-o-meter. (Kaylie and I are going to invent this device in order to empirically rate microfoam.) Somewhere in the middle of espresso prep it occurred to me how much easier programmable semi-autos are to operate.

Besides ease of use, a few changes were made from the previous model (the well-loved BES860XL) that make the 870 worth consideration: a dedicated hot water spigot, PID temperature control within a few degrees and a smoother pathway from hopper to  grinder. These factors alone are not enough to convince the truly reluctant among us, though.

My essential battle with the Breville Barista Express boils down to the integrated grinder. Are you for it, or are you against it? The SCAA recently declared it Best In Show: Coffee or Tea Preparation & Serving Equipment (Consumer). However, when I hear Best In Show, I think of the movie and then I giggle.

If you see the benefit of saving money with an integrated grinder, saving counter space by having an all-in-one appliance and saving time with programmable dosing then you, my friend, are not sitting with us over here in Camp Reluctant.

If you see the integrated grinder and immediately flashback to the ill-fated combination dual tape deck + record player purchase you made in college, then you are going to need a few more facts before hopping on the Breville Barista Express bandwagon.

  • Fact: Upgraded stainless steel conical burrs are easily accessed for cleaning and can be removed for replacement.
  • Fact: The grinder can be adjusted for different espresso bean blends within a certain range.
  • Fact: A better bean hopper configuration allows whole beans to travel smoothly to the grinder.
  • Bonus: I like the removable bean hopper to empty, fill or re-fill without having to awkwardly scoop beans (or vacuum them up!)
  • Super Duper Bonus: Currently includes a new dosing tool called The Razor which sounds menacing but really confirms you have the right amount of coffee tamped into the portafilter.

Overall, I am less hesitant about this machine after reviewing these facts. Also, this is not truly a new  model, it’s one that Breville has improved upon over time. Ready to jump head first into the all-in-one pool? This model makes it a pretty safe dive into the deep end. Although I thought I would enjoy a Breville Infuser BES840XL paired with a Breville Smart Grinder more, I am now reluctantly considering the Breville Barista Express BES870XL for my next home espresso machine. In my case, reluctance is just another word for lazy and Breville makes espresso machines that are so easy to use, I can’t ignore them!

Crew Review: Breville Barista Express BES870XL

Breville Barista Express BES870XLWhen we heard that Breville was going to soup up one of their more popular — and unique — espresso machines, the Barista Express, we were a little bit excited. Some of the things we didn’t dig about its predecessor were going to be addressed, such as improved temperature control, an improved grinder and the addition of a hot water spigot. They even threw in some cool new toys (a Razor, anyone?), an improved hopper for easier bean feeding and the ability to tweak your brew temperature with a simple PID interface.

Enough talk — let’s show it off, eh? Watch Gail talk about the features of the new Barista Express BES870XL, give us a tour of all the goodies it comes with and then demonstrate making a latte.

SCG Crew’s Favorite Gear: Single, Hx and Dual Boiler Espresso Machines

Next in our series of the crew’s favorite picks covers the world of traditional espresso machines. Find out which single, heat exchange and double boiler machines the team digs.


Single Boiler Espresso Machines


Heat Exchange Espresso Machines


Dual Boiler Espresso Machines

SCG Crew’s Favorite Gear: Kettles, Pour Overs, Press Pots, Coffee Makers, Oh My!

You know that we play with a lot of different types of coffee equipment here at SCG and the crew definitely has their faves! We asked for volunteers to share which gear they dig in different product categories. Watch as Brendan, Kaylie, Shiami, Sam, Gail, Bunny, Dori, Teri and Miranda talk to us about their favorite kettles, pour overs, immersion / press pots and drip coffee brewers.

SCG Experiments: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker vs. Sowden Penrose & Bonavita Kettle

More tea time! We have had folks ask us how the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker compares to making tea in the traditional manner, so we decided to experiment. Using the Bonavita Gooseneck Variable Temperature Kettle and the Sowden Penrose teapot, we brewed up batches of Dammann’s L’Oriental and Darjeeling loose leaf teas. We tried to approximate the same temperature, dosage and steep duration to determine if these was a difference in the cup.

Watch as Jess preps these up and we taste them to find out!

SCG Experiments: Frothing Soy Milk in Auto-Frothers

In addition to the temperature, foam quality and other general performance questions we get about stand-alone milk frothers, how they whip up non-dairy milks is definitely high on the list of many folks researching these little gems.

Since soy is one of the most popular non-dairy milks around, we selected it to perform a side-by-side functional comparison of the Capresso FrothTEC, Breville Milk Cafe and Nespresso Aero3. Watch our experiment video to learn how they measure up!

SCG’s Most Popular Coffee Gear – 2012

Even if you don’t buy into New Year’s resolutions, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about little ways to improve your quality of life and that of those around you. (We know what you’re like without your morning coffee. It’s okay, this is a safe place.) Why not start with a commitment to make better coffee in 2013? Here’s a list our best selling gear from last year to help you get started!

new-years-resolution coaster

Under $500
Saeco Aroma Black – $229 Stainless Steel – $259
Compact and durable, the Aroma is a great entry-level espresso machine. It’s extremely easy to use, and the pressurized portafilter and included pod adapter will have you brewing with E.S.E. pods, pre-ground espresso, or freshly ground beans with ease.

Saeco Via Venezia Black – $299 Stainless Steel – $349
The Via Venezia and Aroma share the same internals therefore they function almost identically, but the Via Venezia offers some slight improvements: larger capacity water reservoir (98 oz), steam wand with more mobility, and more clearance between the drip tray and brew head so you can brew into larger cups. This little workhorse will keep you caffeinated with no problems.

Breville Infuser BES840XL – $499.95
The Infuser is the only espresso machine in this price range to offer an internal PID, and while it’s not programmable, it stabilizes the brew temperature for perfect shot extraction. With built-in pre-infusion, commercial style steam wand, and compact stainless casing, you’ll be proud to have this on your counter top.

Under $1000
Rancilio Silvia – $629 with PID – $879
Simple, reliable, durable. The Silvia is one of the best sellers in the home espresso market and it’s a great machine on which to hone your craft since you’ll need to be precise with your grind and tamp. Upgrade to the installed PID version for programmable temperature control.

Saeco Syntia SS Superautomatic – $849
The Syntia is a compact and stylish superauto that offers the convenience of automatic espresso brewing paired with manual milk steaming – perfect for folks who order extra-hot lattes. With Saeco’s removable brew group and Intenza water filter system, it’s also easy to maintain and a great option for those who need a little extra help in the morning. ☺

Crossland CC1 – $699 (now 10% off!)
A PID comes standard with this single boiler, which let’s you customize brew and steam temperature, pre-infusion time, and volume. We love the stainless steel casing, thermo-block enhanced steam to switch quickly between brewing and steaming, and the programmability for this price point.

Under $1500
Breville Double Boiler – $1199.95
When you’re ready to brew and steam simultaneously, you’re ready for this bad boy. With an easy to use interface, you can program the electronic PID with extraction temperatures, volumetric control, and pre-infusion duration.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar – $1050
If you think you need a dual boiler for simultaneous brewing and steaming, think again. Heat exchangers like the Oscar provide similar benefits at a lower price point. This machine has great steam pressure, a large water reservoir, and is also available as a direct connect machine. It’s available in a sexy metallic red as well – vroom vroom.

DeLonghi 23450SL -$1499.95
This is one of DeLonghi’s newer superautomatics on the market, and if you are a bleary eyed zombie before your morning java, you will appreciate its one-touch functionality. It produces some of the hottest coffee we’ve seen from superautos.

Under $2000
Saeco Exprelia -$1899
This one-touch dual boiler is streamlined and compact, and we love that if offers both one-touch functionality for auto-frothing milk or manual steaming with a stainless steel steam wand – no panarellos here. Right now we are offering a year’s supply of coffee with the purchase of a new Exprelia!

Rocket Cellini Premium Plus – $1799 Giotto Premium Plus – $1899
Hand craftsmanship, a commercial grade E61 brew head and high polished stainless steel seduce many an espresso lover to bring the Cellini or Giotto Premium Plus into their lives. You’ll be extracting delicious shots and impressing all your friends with this one.

Sky’s the Limit
Rocket R58 – $2699
You’re ready to take it to the next level with this powerhouse. The dual boilers work independently to stabilize the espresso boiler, and maximize steam pressure without compromising shot quality.

Saeco Xelsis – $2999 or Xelsis ID – $3199
The only thing missing from these superautomatics is the ability for them to read your mind…coming in 2015 (Just kidding!) Right now you’ll have to be satisfied with the ID’s fingerprint recognition technology to access your drink profile and create beverages at the touch of a button.

Izzo Alex Duetto II – $2250 Duetto III – $2495
This dual boiler has commercial quality components, electronic PID control, and the option to plumb into your water line. It’s new older brother, the Duetto III offers an upgraded fit and finish, larger drip tray, and stainless steel cup rails. Both solid performers can take your java to the next level.