If you’re anything like us, you probably used your gear’s user manual for one of three things:
To ineffectively swat at flies, yet one day you accidentally killed one and couldn’t bear to keep the gut-stained book around.
To prop up the uneven handmade bookshelf lovingly made by a friend/parent/spouse/sibling/child that never sits right on the wood floor.
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.
Released this year, Capresso has a couple of more inexpensive burr grinder options now available on the scene. We tested them out to see how they perform — will they grind fine enough for espresso? And are they as inconsistent as their Infinity brethren?
Watch as Gail shows us the grinder’s specs, grinds at the finest/coarsest and then demonstrates using it with the Saeco Via Venezia espresso machine.
Edwin Martinez of Hario USA showed us two different models of hand coffee grinders available from Hario: the Skerton and the Mini Slim. Both of these grinders are currently backordered with Hario in Japan, unfortunately, but will hopefully be available on Seattle Coffee Gear’s site in April 2010.
Baratza recently released an upgraded display for their Vario grinder, which now has memory (so it retains its programming even when the grinder is unplugged) and sleep mode functionality. If you have a Vario that was manufactured before March 2010, you can purchase the upgraded display separately and easily install it yourself. Vario models produced from March 2010 forward will have this new display as standard.
We filmed Henry as he installed the upgraded display in our older floor demo model. Questions on how to program the sleep mode? Check out these instructions.
In the vein of the old Profi Estro machines that had a grinder built into the machine, Breville recently released the Barista Express, a programmable espresso machine that has a doser grinder incorporated into it. You can select the quantity and then indicate either a double or single amount to be dispensed into the portafilter, then tamp and extract. The pressurized portafilter system makes it simple to use, and it even comes with its own magnetized tamper.
Watch Gail show us the ropes of this machine, pull some shots and steam up some milk. While the shot quality on this Breville does seem to be a bit better than the others we have tried, we still think this machine is probably best suited for latte/cappuccino drinkers and espresso shot-only or Americano drinkers will find better flavor elsewhere.
Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, landed in an email box near you today — and if it wasn’t near enough for you to actually read it, you can do so here on the site or make sure you get up close and personal next month by signing up for future editions.
This month, we talk about the different functional types of espresso machines, include a recipe for Indochine Lemon, point you to our manufacturer manual resource on Brown Bean and introduce you to a few new products we have in the store. What you won’t see, however, is The Grind Special, which is for subscriber-eyes-only. Sign up to get that little bit o’ goodness every month.
If you’re looking for a stepless burr grinder with a small footprint and all metallic casing, Ascaso’s I-Steel is a great option. It’s simple, easy to use and allows you infinite adjustment to truly dial in your grind. Additionally, even its chute is metal — unlike the plastics often found on other machines — and some people really dig that. This comes with either flat burrs (i-Steel I-1) or conical burrs (i-Steel I-2).
Both fetching and petite, the i-Mini by Ascaso is a stepless burr grinder with simple to use function and a small footprint. Watch Gail as she walks us through the i-Mini’s features and we discuss what we do and don’t dig about it.
One of the most popular questions we receive on a regular basis is around keeping the grinder chute free of clogs. Often, people will clean the burrs regularly, but forget about the chute and they’ll have inconsistent grind results because of that. It’s pretty easy to keep this area clean — watch as Gail demonstrates how to take care of a few different models of burr grinders.
While we dig how much metal Breville incorporates into their designs, we don’t know how well their functionality will stand up to the test of time and/or someone with more particular tastes. We checked out their burr grinder to see how it compared to other models that we carry, and weren’t very impressed with its particle consistency or maximum fineness. In fact, we’re pretty sure that even what they call ‘Turkish’ wouldn’t work in most espresso machines — but may very well work just fine in their machines with a pressurized portafilter basket.
At any rate, we had Gail show us this grinder’s ropes and demonstrate how it works.