What happens when you pit one show pony against another show pony? Only the strong will survive! And since you know how much we adore grudge matches between inanimate objects (primarily because it results in 100% less blood loss), we decided to take Breville’s machine + grinder combo, the Barista Express, and measure it against their new Dual Boiler (paired with their Smart Grinder).
Watch Gail take us through each model’s features, specifications, pros and cons and whip up some lattes to show how they compare in terms of performance and end product.
After a couple of requests for this comparison model, Gail breaks it down for us: features, pros, cons, performance, etc. While the Barista Express includes a built-in grinder and a lower price tag, the Silvia + Rocky combo is a time honored tradition.
Watch Gail go through their specs and whip up a latte on each of these machines to show you how they compare in terms of performance and end product.
Sure, we dig all the bells n’ whistles Breville’s new grind and brew coffee maker has — a little shiny shiny goes a looooong way in our world. But does its brew actually stand up against the dearly loved Technivorm from which the crew drinks their morning java every day?
We brewed up two pots and had Jess, Brandon and Allison give us their opinion regarding which one they preferred.
There are a variety of schools of thought around coffee preparation: On this, we can all agree. While there are folks that are die hard espresso enthusiasts, there are others that are never going to give up their daily pot of drip coffee. It is for the latter that Breville has released their new grind and brew coffee maker, which has the unique functionality of being able to brew different size pots or single cups at a time. With most coffee makers, you determine your overall volume by how much water you put into the reservoir — all of it’s going to be used in the brew. With the YouBrew, however, you can keep the reservoir full and select different sizes, so it functions a little more closely to a superautomatic espresso machine (unfortunately, without kicking the coffee to the side afterward!).
Watch as Gail tries out the YouBrew for the first time — taking us through features, functionality and brewing a pot of coffee. As of this writing, the YouBrew is slated to launch around the end of October, 2011.
Some people start waiting in line for the next installment of their favorite film franchise six months before the first ticket will be sold and, while we admire that level of devotion and fortitude, it wasn’t until the first whispering rumors about and furtive glimpses of the purported double boiler espresso machine from Breville that we really understood that kind of anticipation. After a whirlwind, backroom romance earlier this year at the housewares show in Chicago, our demo model showed up last week and we finally got to give this lovely new gear a serious test drive!
Watch as we discuss all of the features (too many to count!) of Breville’s entry into the specialty coffee world. We seriously loathe references to ‘game changers’ but, in this case, we’ll have to bite our tongues and admit that the new Dual Boiler by Breville really could change the face of making excellent espresso at home. It’s currently slated to arrive on US shores later this month, so keep an eye out for it!
In a world where fluffy frothed milk is the line between good an evil, where whipping up dense microfoam at the touch of a button defines one’s fortitude, where selecting one of several frothing temperatures separates the women from the girls, there is only one tool that can stand up to the challenge: The Breville Milk Cafe!
Okay, okay, you know there’s always a little good with the bad and any weapon in the war against poorly frothed milk might not be perfection, but the Milk Cafe is pretty darn close. The only automatic frother that allows you to specify a temp, it’s the hottest auto-frother we’ve tested — and you know we’ve tested many. Watch Gail take us through the features and froth up a big ol’ batch o’ moo.
When is it time to say when? We’re often asked where the portafilter should be in respect to the machine — at a 90 degree angle? 45 degree? A little over to the right? Every machine will be a little bit different and the key is to make sure that it feels snug. Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll move it further as the gasket ages.
Watch as Gail demonstrates the position on several of our demo machines of varying style and age.
Breville have produced many gorgeous pieces of equipment that seem to favor form a little over function. They have some great features that we really love, but sometimes the overall performance isn’t ideal. However, as with every machine, there are pros and cons and the Smart Grinder has a lot of really great aspects to its design: We love the metal casing, the pull rings, the digital interface and how you dial in the grind. Where it didn’t measure up for us, however, was that it indicates you can use it with a traditional non-pressurized extraction and we were not able to do so successfully — it just doesn’t go fine enough right now.
We contacted Breville about this and they are working on ways to improve it so we are really hopeful that this will be a great multi-purpose grinder in the future. At present, it’s a good choice for drip / press pot and pressurized espresso extraction — but stay tuned on any future improvements coming down the line. For now, watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and test how it performs.
Update 3/16/11: We were able to meet with Breville and they provided us with shims in order to tweak the burrs on the grinder. Watch Gail install and test here:
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).