Category Archives: Coffee Makers

Crew Review: Krups Moka Brew

Krups Moka BrewEven though Seattle actually isn’t the rainiest city in the country, we have gotten stuck with the moniker. As such, it’s no surprise that we quickly fell in love with the rain shower look and sound of the Krups Moka Brew coffee maker. For those not as fond of rain as we are this might sound weird, but it does actually look pretty cool as coffee drips down from the top of the machine as it brews.

At first glance, you might wonder what exactly the Krups Moka Brew is. Is it a moka pot or a drip coffee maker? Well, the answer is both – or somewhere in between. The Moka brew is similar to brewing with an Italian style stovetop coffee maker, like a Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker, but the Moka Brew is all-electric so you don’t need to heat it up on the stove. Since the Moka Brew shares traits from both drip and moka pot brew methods, we used a grind that was a little finer than drip but not as fine as espresso. When dosing the machine, we used about one scoop per cup of coffee and have found that it is important to spread the coffee around to make sure you get an even dispersion.

The coffee maker works by heating up the water in the base of the machine, which then forces steam into the frame of the machine, into the coffee and down into the carafe. Besides being easy to use, the Krups Moka Brew is pretty fast. It only takes about eight minutes to brew a full pot of coffee, which makes eight cups. In addition to the quick brewing time, we also liked that the machine didn’t take up much counter space and was even light enough for us to easily move it around. This makes storing the Moka Brew in your cupboard or under your counter an option as well if you don’t want to keep it out on your counter.

To learn more about the machine and see what the brewing process looks like, watch was Kris brews us up a pot of coffee.

Crew Review: Krups Moka Brew

Quick Review: La Cafetiere Lexi Cafetiere – 8 Cups

La Cafetiere LexiIf you love French press coffee as much as we do, why not ex-press this love of yours by using the La Cafetiere Lexi to brew up some tasty java? Not only will this porcelain cafetiere, don’t let the name confuse you – cafetiere is synonymous with French press in Europe, look elegant on your dining room table but it also will keep your coffee warmer longer than glass models since it helps retain heat. However, you will have to pre-warm that carafe in order to get it up to temperature. Another advantage of this French press is that the silicone gasket inside the pot makes for easy brewing, as it provides an excellent seal.

Making coffee on a French press may sound fancy (and hey, why not exploit the term a little to impress your guests) but it is actual pretty simple to make. First, heat your water to about boiling, we used a Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Kettle in our example, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Then measure coarsely ground coffee into the cafetiere and pour a small amount of water over them. Let the grounds “bloom” for about 20-30 seconds before pouring in the rest of the water. Next, allow the grounds steep in the water for about five minutes, you can brew your coffee for a shorter (four minutes) or longer (six minutes) length of time depending on how strong you like it to be. You can also give the grounds a stir halfway through the steep time if you would like to allow them to mix. After the coffee has steeped, slowing press the plunger down, so finer grounds don’t escape through the sieve. And you’re done, you’ve have successfully made French press coffee!

To see the process in action, watch Miranda as she makes a cup of coffee on the La Cafetiere Lexi. If you want even more tips on brewing with a press pot, check out our snazzy infographic on how to make excellent French press coffee.

Quick Review: La Cafetiere Lexi – 8 Cups

Brew Temperatures on Drip Coffee Makers

drip coffee makersIf you haven’t noticed, we love science! Of course the best part is conducting fun experiments and playing around with toys like the Fluke temperature probe. This time around, we were interested in seeing how some of our drip coffee makers compare when it comes to how consistent and how hot they actually get while brewing.

In order to complete this experiment, we lined up the Breville YouBrew, Capresso CoffeeTEAM TS, Bonavita Coffee Maker, DeLonghi kMix and Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Brewer and tested each machine one by one. For the sake of consistency, we stuck the temperature probe at the bottom of each machine’s filter holder, and prepared a single brew with just water, no coffee. We might have gotten a more accurate reading by placing the probe right where the water comes out of the coffee maker, but it was not possible to do so on all of the drip coffee makers, so we didn’t structure our test that way. However, our quasi-scientific research will still give you a good idea of how the machines differ and how hot they heat the water. To find out which is the hottest, watch as Gail puts these five drip brewers through their paces.

SCG Crew Tests: Comparing Brew Temperatures on Drip Coffee Makers

Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

Bonavita Coffee MakerYour trusty Bonavita coffee maker brews up batch after batch of delicious java with relatively little assistance from you. It doesn’t have a lot of moving parts, so it’s easy to overlook regular care and maintenance when it just simply works, right?

Implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will result in both increased equipment longevity and improved flavor in the cup. Certain components — like the carafe — will show their wear and tear, but other, more internal parts can’t give you a visual cue. Accordingly, it’s a great idea to come up with a schedule that you follow on a regular basis, descaling and cleaning the machine’s components at least a few times each year.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Weekly – Each week, wash the carafe and filter basket with warm soapy water. Using a food-friendly cleaning solution, wipe down the machine, paying special attention to the hot plate if your model has one.
  • Monthly – Every fourth external cleaning, wipe out the water reservoir to limit any residue build-up. If you’re using water with a higher mineral content, you should also descale at this time.
  • Quarterly – For softer water, a quarterly descale using a descaled and detergent combo like Cleancaf will improve your coffee maker’s performance.

Watch as Gail demonstrates and guides us through a thorough maintenance regimen using the Bonavita coffee maker with a glass carafe.

SCG How-to Guides: Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

Crew Review: Krups Cup on Request

Krups Cup on RequestPerfect for a small office kitchen environment, the Krups Cup on Request allows you to brew into a removable stainless steel urn that doubles as a dispenser. With two programmable options, dosage selections, volumetric and manual pours and the ability to keep it warm for up to four hours, the Cup on Request provides excellent functionality in an improved design.

Here at SCG, we love our Technivorms and always have a few of them going at any given time. Because we drink the coffee so quickly, we prefer to use the glass carafe — this also prevents sad moments when you attempt to pour out of an empty thermal carafe. But this does result in more messiness, with coffee sometimes spilt on the hotplates, resulting in a burned in residue.

We love that the Cup on Request enables you to easily dose out fresh, hot coffee in regular or to-go cups with ease. Watch as Gail goes through all of her fancy book learnin’ and then demonstrates making a pot!

Crew Review: Krups Cup on Request

$20 Thrift Shop Challenge – Coffee Edition

thrift shop coffee cupsSeattle is home to the singer Macklemore and his song ‘Thrift Shop’ was the theme for a really fun and unique birthday party I attended. The birthday party activity was a thrift shop challenge: Who can find the best present at Goodwill for under $20? With a tight budget and 45 minutes to shop, it was a great reminder that it really is ‘the thought that counts.’ We spent quality time together, had fun and didn’t spend much money.

This led me to wonder: Is a twenty dollar thrift store coffee challenge possible? I studied the aisles of previously owned houseware products to see which types of coffee accoutrements are commonly found. Based on SCG experience, here are my top tips for what thrift shop coffee items to try — and, possibly more essential, which items to avoid.

Storage – Yes!

Whether you use whole coffee beans or ground coffee, proper storage will help your coffee stay fresher and taste better. As coffee beans age they become harder and stale, the oils oxidize and can add a bad taste to the brewed cup. The best way to store coffee is in a cool, dark and dry place. Airtight storage is ideal and while decorative ceramic canisters are easy to find, make sure to select one with a tight fitting lid. Once the coffee is opened and stored, use it within 30 days for best taste.

Cups – Oh Yes!

Cups are easy to inspect for visible damage prior to purchase and easy to clean. This is the best coffee item to find at a thrift store because it shows your individuality at home or at work. I attended a wedding where thrift store coffee mugs served as the place cards on the tables. Each mug was specially selected by the bride and groom. Mine had my home state on it, which made it a very special memento of the day.

Drip Coffee Maker – No

I purchased a ‘vintage’ mini drip coffee maker for 4.99 to see if it worked. There are two factors to consider when making a delicious cup of drip coffee: Temperature and evenness of how the coffee grounds are wet. Expensive coffee makers have boilers that ensure the water is around 200F/93C for the entire brew process, which is in the ideal temperature range. Some also have fancy shower heads to evenly wet all of the coffee grounds in the filter basket. This creates an ‘even extraction’ which is necessary for the best tasting cup of coffee possible. After using coffee care products to clean and descale the internals, the little mini drip still didn’t work great. A better value for the same price is a new manual cone dripper. These simple cones are made out of plastic, metal, ceramic or glass and require a kettle and a filter. With this method, it’s you — not the coffee maker — that makes sure the water is the right temperature and all of the coffee grounds are evenly wet. Talk about quality control!

Espresso Maker – Maybe

A very traditional style stovetop espresso maker can often be found second-hand. This is a tried and true method for making delicious espresso coffee at home. There are two pieces that screw together with a small basket and a gasket in between. Inspect the unit to make sure there are no dents, that the pieces screw together easily and the gasket is intact. Replacement gaskets are available too. Most of these stovetop espresso makers are made out of aluminum, some are made out of stainless steel and they also come in different sizes. Make sure you are getting a good deal second-hand because you can also find some for less than twenty dollars brand new. Stay away from semi-automatic and superautomatic espresso machines unless you are a repair pro and you have access to replacement parts.

Other Coffee Brewing Methods – Depends

French press, cone drippers, immersion brewers, AeroPress, cold brew pots, Turkish coffee, the list of fancy coffee brewing methods goes on and on…These are all fun (and tasty!) manual methods of making coffee and espresso. Many of these ideas are under twenty dollars new, so make sure you are check the quality before you try one second-hand.

stove top

 

Crew Review: AeroPress – Redux!

AeroPressIf you were to survey the crew at SCG about their favorite coffee prep, you’d learn that the AeroPress is the hands-down winner. We love how simple and easy it is to use, plus it’s compact, transportable and produces a delicious cup of coffee.

Over the years, we’ve featured it in a variety of videos, but hadn’t actually refreshed our original crew review of it, even though it was updated a bit in the interim by Aerobie. So we asked its biggest fan, Bunny!!!, to give us the rundown — how it works, what it comes with, etc. — in this updated review. Watch her show off its components and accessories, then prepare coffee using two different methods: That described by Aerobie and the very popular inverted technique.

Whether you’re camping, hiking, out on the road or just hanging out at home, the AeroPress is an excellent choice in coffee accoutrement. Pair it with the Hario Mini Mill and you’ve got an awesome java prep no matter where the day takes you.

Crew Review: AeroPress – Redux!

Crew Review: Frieling Insulated French Press – 44oz

Frieling French PressIf you were going to peek through our kitchen windows on a Saturday morning (which we’re really hoping you weren’t going to do), it’s highly likely you’d see us sipping a delicious cup of coffee produced by our small Frieling coffee press. It’s something we enjoy in blissful solitude, ruminating over the previous week’s hijinks and planning future hilarity so that it may flawlessly ensue.

But we totally understand that while we happen to be on the loner side of the spectrum, many of you enjoy sharing your Saturday morning java with other people — and, clearly, Frieling understands that, too! In answer to the prayers of all you extroverts out there, they’ve introduced a new size in their popular line of double walled stainless steel coffee presses: A mambo 44 oz.

To find out how much it actually yields, though, we put Teri to the test. Watch as she brews up a batch of coffee, measuring out her quantities and then showing us how much coffee the press produces. If you want to share your caffeine with those you love, pick one up today — they’re available in either brushed or polished finishes.

Crew Review: Frieling Insulated French Press – 44oz

As for us, we’ll be chilling over here in the corner with our tiny 11oz model, thinking deep thoughts and wearing nothing but a catsuit.

Crew Review: Saeco Minuto Automatic Espresso Machine & Coffee Maker

Saeco MinutoThe new Saeco Minuto is the innovative answer to a very common problem: How does a household split between an appreciation for drip brewed coffee and a love for espresso-based drinks ever see eye to eye? Historically, the resolution to such an issue was found in one of three ways:

  1. Completely separate pieces of equipment that yielded the best quality product for both preparations;
  2. Selecting a single piece of equipment that favored one preparation while short changing the other; or
  3. Engaging in an arm wrestling competition, wherein the victor gets to choose the home’s coffee setup.

Where the first option is concerned, you often have to give up considerable kitchen counter space to brewers, grinders and espresso machinery; not everyone has that luxury — in either kitchen or budget size — so collecting a variety of java accoutrement may not even be a viable option.

In regard to the second solution, implementing it means that you have to choose between lackluster coffee or less than stellar espresso. Combination drip brewer and espresso machines often utilize steam power for both preparations, which is just perfect for drip coffee but the fluctuating temperature of which wreaks havoc on espresso. Conversely, traditional espresso machines will produce delicious shots that can be mixed with water to approximate a drip coffee-style drink, but this is often considered not as rich or as smooth as some drip coffee aficionados adore.

Finally, putting everything on the line by competing in a feat of physical prowess may be preferable for those of you that rock especially enviable upper body strength, but the rest of us might not be as comfortable allowing our home coffee enjoyment to be decided by a session of biceps-roullette.

With the introduction of the Saeco Minuto, however, an effective compromise that doesn’t involve sacrifice or brute strength now exists! With the simple flip of a lever, the Minuto will adjust its pressure to either the traditional 9 BAR of espresso extraction or roughly 3 BAR for a drip coffee preparation. You can freshly grind and brew a single cup of rich coffee that tastes just like it was brewed in a high quality drip brewer, all at the single touch of a button. Pretty cool, eh?

So if you’ve been facing this coffee vs. espresso challenge in your own household, check out Gail’s review and demonstration of the Saeco Minuto;  we go through its features, experiment with its different functionality and sample its delicious java. Might it be the one you’re looking for?

Crew Review: Saeco Minuto Superautomatic Espresso Machine

Crew Review: Technivorm KB741 – Redux!

Technivorm KB741Last, but certainly not least, in our series of refreshed Technivorm Crew Reviews covers another of our original model styles, the KB741. With a glass carafe, auto shut off and the manual lever system that allows you to slow your roll when brewing smaller volumes, it’s the go-to model here in SCG’s break room.

Watch Gail guide us through its features and specs, then show off how easily its internal lava lamp produces a delicious pot of coffee! Enjoy.