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.
Extend the life of your grinder and minimize re-calibration and changing grinder function by regularly taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning out the burrs. While the excellent cleaning product Grindz is really good at keeping the burrs free of caked-up coffee grounds, nothing beats a disassemble and reassemble.
In this video, Gail shows us how to take apart the Rancilio Rocky, clean it and then put it back together again.
If you’re looking to seriously upgrade your espresso setup, you might want to investigate the Mazzer grinders. We can’t emphasize enough how essential a good grind is for producing yummy espresso, and we’ve often even recommended people spend more on their grinder than on their actual espresso machine. Feels a little backward, eh? Well, that’s just how we do ’round these parts.
There are a few different Mazzer models available on the market, and in this video Gail walks us through three of them: Mini, Mini Electronic and Super Jolly. These burr grinders are classified as pretty sophisticated home grinders or can be used in a lower-capacity commercial/pro setting as well.
One of the main questions people ask themselves while they’re researching a grinder is whether or not they want to get a stepped grinder — which would allow for easily changing between two disparate grinds like espresso and french press — or a stepless grinder — which gives you excellent control over very minutely dialing in the coffee’s grind.
The Vario was released earlier this year as a hybrid grinder that allows for both easy changes between different grinds and for slightly tweaking the grind to produce better shots. If you find that you’re stuck between two steps on your grinder, the Vario may be the solution. In this video, Gail talks to us about the machine’s features, functionality and demonstrates how it’s used.