Category Archives: Illy

Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Francis Francis Y5If you are in the market for a capsule espresso maker, the new Francis Francis Y5 for illy is the way to go. This is largely because the machine is both sophisticated and very convenient. With brushed and mirrored stainless steel casing, the machine will look very elegant on your countertop. The machine is also very slim, it probably is even smaller than a toaster, so you won’t have any trouble finding room for it on your counter. Yet despite its small size, the Y5 still has a water tank that is larger than most in its class, which is nice because that means you won’t be constantly refilling it. There is even a nice staging area on the top machine, which heats up as you use the machine so you can take the chill off your cups.

The Francis Francis Y5 truly is a no fuss, no muss machine. To brew a shot, all you have to do is pop your Iperespresso Capsule into the top of the machine, select whether you want a single or double shot, and the machine will do the rest for you. In less than a minute, you will have a full-bodied shot of espresso, with rich crema, waiting for you. If you like to get fancy and play around with the settings on your machine, you are able to do so on this machine as well. You can program the volume of both the single and double shots on your machine. To program the machine, simply hold the button for your single or double shot (whichever you are programming) while brewing and then make your adjustments. The Y5 will then remember these setting for the next time you brew, so you won’t have to worry about entering them in again. Best of all, when the machine is done brewing your shot it will automatically eject the espresso capsule from the brewing chamber in to the dredge box.

Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong with this machine. Even Brendan admitted that this is his favorite capsule machine, because it has such a nice look and is easy to use. Check out the sleek styling of the Francis Francis Y5 as Brendan and Dori brew up a shot.

Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Tasting: illy vs. Nespresso Capsule Espresso Machines

We have carried Nespresso capsule machines for awhile now and we know that while they’ll definitely get the caffeinated job done, it’s unlikely that the shots they produce will ever knock your socks off. illy came to the scene recently with their reworked Francis Francis! machines that utilize the Iperespresso capsule functionality, so we decided it was time for a little side-by-side taste-off.

Note that there are a ton of variables at play here, especially since both of these use proprietary capsule systems and blends, we couldn’t necessarily judge the machine’s tech separate from the coffee’s flavor. Bunny selected a dark roast, light roast and single origin from each manufacturer for us to taste; watch as the crew gives their feedback on flavor!

The Reluctant Barista: Pops a Cap in the New Iperespresso Machines

Now that I have built my espresso connoisseurship from zero to somewhere above average, but still far below that of Juan Valdez, I was reluctant to go back to my lazy ways. New single-cup espresso capsule machines from Francis Francis for illy arrived awhile back and I played coy. I stayed away until I found out our crew of espresso machine technicians were proponents of this capsule craze.

I wrangled one each of the Francis Francis Y1.1 and the Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machines over to my desk. Mike and Jeff from the refurbish crew volunteered to be my guinea pigs …er, I mean taste-testers. They programmed the extraction time on both machines to their preferred shot length to assist me with a side-by-side comparison. The new illy coffee capsules come in a canister — like the whole bean and pre-ground illy coffees do — and in the same flavor profiles. I popped the top off of a can of illy iperespresso Dark Roast capsules to try in the two new machines.


Francis Francis X7.1 The Little Alien Dude

This is reminiscent of a retro 50s espresso maker complete with a portafilter to make it look like you did the work of pulling a shot and a steam wand to froth milk.


Francis Francis Y1.1 – The Rubik’s Cube

Sleek and modern, this style fits in a Minimalist’s dream kitchen or office. Lightly touch the programmable single shot or double shot button and receive espresso — yes, it really is that easy!

In the end, it ‘all boils down’ to case style and drink preference. The illy iperespresso capsules have a patented pressurized design and both machines provide the right brew temperature and pressure to get the most flavor extracted. Upon Shiami’s suggestion we ran hot water through the machines to get them up to temp and to pre-warm the demistasse cups. Then we hunkered down and watched the espresso as it streamed out of the two machines for 29 seconds each.

All variables being equal, Mike and Jeff preferred the Y1.1 since it has one-touch operation right out of the box. Shiami preferred the X7.1 for her lungo. There may be a slight temperature advantage as the X7.1 maintained heat within the metal portafilter, but I did not taste a discernible difference as I sampled the espresso produced. If you are in need of steady milk frothing, the X7.1 is the one to pick. If your need for steamed milk is more occasional, an accessory frother like the Breville Smart Cafe paired with the Y1.1 is also a winning combination.

So who did we declare the winner? For me, at least, simple is always better, so the tie goes to … the Y1.1!

Crew Reviews: Francis Francis X7.1 & Y1.1 iperespresso Machines

illy iperespressoIs convenience king in your world? We know that sometimes the day doesn’t have nearly enough time in it, but we still want a delicious latte! So take back a few minutes by using illy’s super-easy and super-tasty espresso machines which utilize their iperespresso capsule system.

The  the X7.1 (AKA ‘The Alien’) looks like several Francis Francis machines of yore, incorporating a traditional steam functionality into the mix for latte or cappuccino lovers. On the other hand, the Y1.1 is a sleek, espresso-only machine designed especially for ristrettos, shots, lungos and beyond!

Watch Gail take us through two Crew Reviews of these machines, discussing their features and functionality and then demonstrating making a drink.

Francis Francis X7.1

Francis Francis Y1.1

Crew Review: illy Monoarabica Coffee

One of the most venerable names in the coffee business, illy is credited with creating the machine that eventually led to the espresso machines we know and love today. They’ve also been roasting coffee in Trieste, Italy, for a heckuva long time, mostly focused on their tried-and-true blends for espresso, drip and stovetop coffee.

They recently released a series of single origin beans, however, and so we wanted to see how they measured up! Check out this review and tasting video featuring their Ethiopian, Brazilian and Guatemalan offerings.

Tasting: E.S.E. Pods

In the search for a clean, caffeinated world, Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods make a tight little case for themselves. Individually wrapped and ready to rock, they make shot extraction a breeze — and clean up even breezier! But how do they taste?

Since you know we love nothing more than a grudge match, we pit a few brands against each other in this side by side tasting. Using the Saeco Via Venezia, Gail brews up shots with Caffe Umbria’s Gusto Crema, Lavazza’s Gran Crema and illy’s Medium & Dark Roast variations. Watch to learn which, if any, we prefer.

Nitrogen-Flushed Coffee

We offer a couple of different coffee varieties that are treated with a nitrogen flush during their packaging (specifically, Lavazza and illy employ this practice), and we often have folks ask about what this is and why it’s done.

Once a food is processed, it begins to deteriorate immediately with exposure to oxygen. Foods that are high in fat or oil content are especially susceptible to this degradation, as their oils will begin to break down and become rancid in relatively short order. Flushing the package with nitrogen forces out the majority of oxygen and, unlike vacuum-sealing, also provides a bit of packaging protection as well. Nitrogen-flushing is often used with more delicate foods (like potato chips!), but is also very popular in preserving coffee beans.

According to a few different roasters over on, coffee preservation experiments revealed that while packaging the coffee directly after roast did result in the out-gassed CO2 expelling oxygen through the one-way valve, their nitrogen-flushed counterparts lasted longer. In fact, one roaster reported that the shots pulled with a bag roasted 24 days previously still held up well! A major drawback, however, is that the nitrogen flushing process is not considered to be an organic-friendly practice, so roasters that are certified organic cannot employ this technique.

Whether or not you’re cool with this preservation process is sort of personal preference, but it’s something that a lot of large scale roasters practice — even some of the renowned third wave roasters, like Europe’s Coffee Collective. And while the coffee will stay fresher using this method, once the bag is opened, it will age just as rapidly as any other variety … so use it or lose it.

Recipe: Caramel Apple Tea

You know we’re getting into the thick of the Autumn season when we start combining our favorite holiday treat (caramel apples!) with our favorite cozying-on-the-couch drink (Darjeeling tea!).



Brew up your tea, toss in the syrup, stir and enjoy. As Rade says, ‘this is damn good!’ Trust in him.

Cupping: Decaf Coffees

Sometimes you just don’t want too much extra skip in your step, but you’re not willing to give up the flavor of a great cup of coffee. We asked the crew to blind taste the four different decaf coffees we carry — Lavazza, illy, Caffe Mauro and Velton’s — to determine which ones they thought tasted like a good, solid cup of coffee.

If you’re interested in learning about the different methods used to decaffeinate coffee, you can check out this article we wrote a couple of years ago.