Keeping your equipment sparkling clean is just as important as the freshness of your coffee and dialing in your grind & tamp — in fact, without the former, the latter will be an exercise in futility. If we have to tell you that rancid coffee oils will adversely impact the quality of your shot, we’re sorry. But if we have to be the first, then we might as well do it right, right? So we asked Louie Poore, who specializes in educating professional baristas on proper equipment care for Urnex, to give us the rundown.
First, he introduces us to Urnex’s new Full Circle, sustainably-produced cleaning products — including a toe-to-toe comparison of Cafiza and Full Circle’s coffee equipment wash.
Next, he walks us through using tablets to backflush the La Marzocco GS/3.
Finally, Gail shows us the newly arrived 1, 2, Brew Kit for Espresso Machines, which features the goodies you need to keep your machine in tip-top shape (plus a bag of Velton’s Coffee of your choice!).
We had a few viewer requests lately around the weight of things, so we produced two videos covering the following questions: How much coffee is left in the grinder after grinding? How much water is injected into milk when frothing?
In this first video, we weighed out 20 grams of whole beans and then ground them in several different grinders, weighing the grounds afterward to see if any was retained in the grinder.
In the second video, we weighed out 200ml of milk (in most cases — the exception being the stand alone frothers), frothed them to the same temperature on several different machines and then weighed them afterward to see how much water was injected into the frothed milk.
Baratza recently reworked their Maestro Plus grinder, tweaking a few of its design elements and reducing its price. The Maestro has been discontinued and this is now their only drip / press focused grinder.
Watch Gail show us its features and demonstrates its grinding magic.
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:
To clump or not to clump — that is the question! You know that we shoot from the hip very often around here at Seattle Coffee Gear HQ and the whole subject of clumping seemed to be a little bit mythical. After all, you’re pressing down the grounds with the tamper so why would any clumps beforehand matter?
We wanted to see if we could practically notice a difference between shots pulled with coffee ground directly from the Rocky doserless grinder and shots which were stirred up beforehand. Watch Gail experiment to determine whether or not clumping really is something worth considering.
You know us: We’re always game to take a grinder out for a test drive. Bodum’s Bistro didn’t catch our eye at first (despite its vibrant hue!) but we decided to give it it’s day in court to see if it would make a good budget option for folks not pulling traditional espresso extractions. Watch Gail as she tests it out and we determine how well it performs. And while we won’t be offering the orange color any time soon, we will be adding the black version to our site soon.
We were recently given the opportunity to test out the Pro M grinder from Mahlkonig, a commercial-grade grinder manufacturer well-known throughout the pro coffee community, but with grinders that are generally too big, size-wise, for the average home kitchen. The Pro M, however, is petite and powerful — we really loved its design and performance and hope to carry it in the future.
We finally got our paws on the new Virtuoso Preciso, which gives you 11 micro adjustments within the standard 40 macro adjustments (allowing you to dial in your grind more precisely). It also comes standard with the Portaholder. Check out our video review on this from a couple of weeks ago to learn more about this grinder’s basic specs, or watch Gail compare it with the regular Virtuoso and the Vario.
As of this writing, we have 6 to sell until the end of October — Baratza had a very limited initial manufacturing run, so they limited retailers to just 6 this time around. If you’ve been coveting this, grab it soon or you may have to wait until later this month or early November for your chance.
As we wrote about yesterday, Baratza has a new grinder on the market this October, the Virtuoso Preciso. Gail lined it up against the Virtuoso and the Vario models to see how it performs — both in terms of grind quality and shot flavor. Ahoy!
Hitting the streets this coming October is Baratza’s newest offering, which is a variation on a theme: The Virtuoso Preciso takes it’s basic functionality from the popular Virtuoso grinder, but it’s tweaked a bit with some of the dialing-in features available on the more expensive Vario model.
Watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and functions.