Category Archives: Coffee Makers

Video Crew Review: Hario Cold Brew

When the weather starts heating up, we love nothing better than a rich iced coffee drink. Seriously — nothing. In the past, we have be known to brew espresso directly onto ice or pour out hot-brewed drip or press coffee into an iced cup, knowing that there would be dilution in the mix. We are now converts, however, of the cold brew coffee preparation — specifically, Hario’s Cold Brew Pot makes a deliciously smooth and rich cup of coffee.

Gail tried it out with Velton’s Twilight Blend and there were cheers all around. For the coffee AND the cups, obviously. Check it out!

Talking about Water Filters & Softeners

Mineral content in your water will play a part in the coffee that you make and your machine’s longevity. In this video, Gail talks to us about a few different filters and softeners available for espresso machines, as well as explaining how a filter and softener differ.

Video Crew Review: Capresso 4-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

We heartily believe that there is a market for every machine; none of them are perfect, but if you can find the one that hits closest to your mark, you’ll be a happy camper.

The Capresso 4 Cup Espresso & Cappuccino machine is steam driven, so many espresso purists may dismiss it purely for this fact alone. However, if you are fond of stovetop/moka pot espresso makers, cafe con leche, cafe au lait, or any variation of strong coffee mixed with hot milk, this machine could be the one for you.

Watch as Gail demonstrates its functionality and gives us some tips on usage. You can read our initial Crew Review from a few weeks ago here.

On the Road with Java

Summer’s siren song is courting us, so it’s time to start thinking about how to take our coffee on the road. There are several excellent brewing options available that are both easy to use and to transport. Here are some recommendations for your coffee travel kit.

Hario Mini Slim Hand Grinder
First up, let’s talk about grinding. You may have thought that you’d take pre-ground coffee with you, but we all know it’s not as tasty to brew with when you get right down to it. Adding the Hario Mini Slim grinder to your collection means that you’ll have a cost effective and easy way to freshly grind your beans to any coarseness level — from espresso to French press. Its durable plastic body is lightweight and compact.

Hario V60 Pour Over
You can go super lo-fi on your preparation by carrying one of these plastic pour overs with you; add paper filters, freshly ground coffee and some hot water from a kettle and you’re in business. There are ceramic and glass versions, too, but the plastic is going to be lighter and more durable in your travel gear. If you’re not going to be carrying said gear on your back, however, then the ceramic and glass models are a good choice as they’ll retain the temperature better than their plastic counterparts.

Aeropress
The Aeropress is one of the darlings of the specialty coffee world, but just because fancy pants coffee connoisseurs dig it doesn’t mean it’s off limits as your travel caffeine source. It’s as lo-fi as the Hario pour overs, but will create a richer brew that is kind of a hybrid between espresso and French press. All you’ll need is your Aeropress, paper filters, freshly ground coffee and hot water to make a tasty cup. It is also made of durable, lightweight plastic so it’s easy to take with you on the road.

French Press
Hailed by campers everywhere, the French press is an awesome solution for your outdoor java needs. Combine this with freshly ground coffee from your Hario Mini Slim, hot water and let it chill out for a few minutes. Then serve up a delicious cup to those near and dear. If you’re a car camper, pick one up made of highly dense borosilicate glass; for hiking or air travel, you may prefer the single-serve plastic version instead.

Stovetop
We’re huge fans of stovetop espresso because it’s a nice balance between strength and flavor. More akin to a really strong cup of coffee, we’ve successfully used our stovetop on gas camping stoves and wood campfires alike. Probably not the best choice for hotel travel, but an awesome solution for outdoors. The stainless steel versions can get a little hefty, so you might not want to carry them on a 10 mile hike-in to that super secret camping spot only you know about. The aluminum version may serve you (and your back!) better in that regard.

Handpresso
Grab and go! The Handpresso lets you pump up the pressure and then pull a shot. It comes in both the ESE pod version (Wild) or with the pre-ground version (Domepod) for a single shot extraction. Not as rich as some of the other methods, but definitely espresso. It’s awesome because you can easily take this on flights, boats, camping, roadtrips — anywhere. Its shots won’t blow you away, but it is nice that you don’t have to have anything other than your brute strength to create the required extraction pressure.

MyPressi TWIST
This little lady is taking the world by storm these days, and with good cause! If you put the effort into pre-heating all the metal components, this nitrous oxide-induced extraction will come close to that achieved on the Rancilio Silvia. You do have to have the nitrous oxide cartridges to achieve an extraction, however, and you can’t easily fly with them. You can try sourcing the cartridges at your destination — and if you’re driving there, even better. This is an awesome solution for roadtripping and hotel travel.

Do you have a favorite coffee travel item not referenced here? Leave it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

Manualicious

If you’re anything like us, you probably used your gear’s user manual for one of three things:

  1. To ineffectively swat at flies, yet one day you accidentally killed one and couldn’t bear to keep the gut-stained book around.
  2. To prop up the uneven handmade bookshelf lovingly made by a friend/parent/spouse/sibling/child that never sits right on the wood floor.
  3. To start a fire in the fireplace to enjoy while sipping on a delicious glass of chai spiced wine. (Guilty!)

Or, maybe you just recycled it by accident. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that now you have no wisdom to guide you. We created our manufacturer manual repository over at Brown Bean to connect you with the source code. We have manuals for a lot of models both current and historical, so if you’re looking for tips on how to perform maintenance or need to find out what that error code means, check ‘em out.

Don’t see your model there? Leave a comment here and we’ll see if we can’t track it down and add it to the repository.

Field Trip: Hario USA – Edwin Demos a Halogen Bar

As magical as it is tasty, commercial grade halogen bars are configurable to brew at a flatline temperature, which is fairly unique amongst coffee brewing methods. When we visited Hario USA, Edwin Martinez showed us how this awesome machine works — and while it would be rare to use these at home (or even to see them in cafes in the US, actually), we thought the mad science + brewing tips shed some great light on making great coffee in general.

Field Trip: Hario USA – Edwin Compares Pour Overs

The pour over technique can produce an excellent, single-cup of coffee at home with relatively minimal investment. It does take a little bit of knowledge on the front end, and choosing which pour over is the right one for you can be part of this. We headed up to the US HQ of Hario USA (a Japanese company) awhile back, and talked with the US rep, Edwin Martinez, about all kinds of coffee related subjects. In this video, he explains the concept behind pour overs and compares a few different available models.

21st Century Coffee Klatch

We can just hear it now: ‘Coffee? Anyone need some coffee? I really want to make coffee. Hey, you — coffee? Want some coffee? I can make you some. Coffee. Coffee, anyone? SOMEONE DRINK MY COFFEE.’

While Primula’s Speak n’ Brew isn’t teetering on the verge of insanity like a self-actualized toaster stuck aboard a mining ship adrift in deep space, it will offer you a little bit o’ chitchat along with your morning java.┬áThe newest kid on the coffee maker block provides some call and response, allowing you to set the time and brewing schedule by voice command and talking back to confirm your orders.

It’s a cool idea…though we can’t help but wish it was a little more flexible with its command lines: Groggily shouting ‘Coffee, hot!’ would give us that giddy feeling inherent in realizing adolescent dreams of living aboard the Star Trek Enterprise. Mm-hmm, you know the one.

Technivorm Temperature Testing

Technivorms have been hailed as the drip coffee maker, primarily because they have excellent temperature regulation and are set to extract at just the right heat to get a rich, full flavored coffee without the bitterness (burnt/overextracted) or sourness (too cold/underextracted) that you sometimes find with other coffee makers that aren’t heating up to the ideal temp.

One thing that people have asked us is how hot the coffee is after it’s brewed, and then how long it stays hot when in the thermal carafe. So this week we brewed up a pot and then tracked its temperature throughout the day, with the following results:

Hours Temperature
Freshly Brewed Out of Thermo-Carafe 180 degrees
1-Hour Later 172 degrees
2-Hours Later 162 degrees
3-Hours Later 160 degrees
4-Hours Later 158 degrees
5-Hours Later 150 degrees
36-Hours Later 105 degrees in a 75 degree room