Category Archives: New Products

Tech Tips: Rancilio Classe 9 Xcelsius Programming

Classe 9 XcelsiusWe learned about the features and functionality of the Rancilio Classe 9 Xcelsius last week, so this week we are going to dive a little deeper and talk about what you can do with the machine’s programming and settings. With its variety of features and menus, the Classe 9 Xcelsius may seem a little intimidating at first glance. However, even though there are a lot of options on this high-end machine, it is really easy to use and get through. This is largely because Rancilio does an excellent job of explaining what every button on the machine does. In fact, you don’t even have to pull out your manual to look up the functions out each button, as Rancilio has printed a guide showing which features each button controls right on the bottom front of the machine.

The top row of icons shows you what each button does when you are in the programming mode of the machine. In this mode, you have a button for plus, minus, enter, escape and for programing the volumetric control. Once you are in programming mode, you have normal options like setup, Xcelsius module, counters, iSteam, cleaning cycle as well as data interfaces and diagnostics that are really just for techs. The true fun begins when you delve further into the setup option. In this mode you can adjust the pressure setting on your machine, which is cool since on most other machines you have to access their internals to make these kinds of changes. You can also change your dose setting and pre-infusion time, track the length of your shot and even save energy by reducing the amount of power the machine uses at night.

The bottom row of icons shows what buttons control the cleaning, manger and volumetric controls on this machine. Each of these controls comes with several helpful functions. For instance, on the cleaning module you can set the Classe 9 Xcelsius to do an automatic backflush and the volumetric control allows you to set your brewing parameters by volume instead of impulses. A few of our favorite features are the counter, which allows you to see how many times a button has been hit. This enables you to make sure this button as been hit roughly the same amount of times as drinks you’ve charged for, putting control over accounting features back in your hands. We also like the renew boiler water function, which is really unique and only offered by Rancilio, which allows you to flush all the water out of your boiler and replace it with fresh water.

Last, but not least, on the front of the machine are two buttons, which are the buttons that actually make this Classe 9 an Xcelsius machine. The first of these two buttons is marked with an “O,” and is the power button that allows you to turn each group head on and off.  The second button, or “X” button; will take you into the barista mode of the Xcelsius. Here you can control the temperature profile for each group head and change it up, down and also modify the start and end temperature of your brew.

The downside is the barista mode is one of the more limited options on the machine, and is really intended for making minor adjustments as you can only change your temperature setting by about five degrees. Yet, if you press and hold down the “X” and “O” buttons together, you are able to access the tech mode on the machine, which gives you a much larger temperature variance (ten degrees) to play with.

Although there are a few features to get accustomed to on this machine, the nice part is your tech should have set up most of the major options for you, so you will just have to make minor adjustments. However, whether you fully utilize all the options on the machine or not, it is nice know what they control. To find out more about each setting, watch as Brandon takes us on more in-depth tour of the programing of the Rancilio Classe 9 Xcelsius. Before you know it, you’ll have your machine dialed in to make the perfect cup of coffee!

Tech Tips: Rancilio Classe 9 Xcelsius Programming

Crew Review: Capresso Iced Tea Maker

Capresso Iced Tea MakerIce, ice baby! That’s what we’ve been chanting these past couple of weeks. Yes, it does get hot even here in Seattle. As such, we probably wouldn’t make it through the summer, nor would it be complete, without a frosty cold drink to sip on. One of our preferred beverages to cool down with is iced tea. However, the one draw back is that we usually have to wait a couple of hours for the tea to brew and chill before we actually get to enjoy it. When it is as hot as it has been, we’re talking upper 80s here folks – we’re just not built for that, a couple of hours seems like an awfully long time to wait for refreshment. Enter the Capresso Iced Tea Maker, our wonder brewer of the summer. This slick machine can brew up a batch of tea in just 10 minutes or less, and it is pretty easy to use as well.

In order to make iced tea on this machine, load the removable filter basket with three to six tablespoons of loose leaf tea or four to ten tea bags, depending on how strong you like your tea. Next, fill the removable water tank in back of the machine up with water and fill the glass carafe in the front of the machine up to the “ice line” with ice. Note, that the line is pretty high up, so make sure you have a lot of ice. There is also a water line (near the bottom of the machine), so if you’re short on ice you could also fill it up with really cold water.

If you are brewing something like a black tea, you can also try putting pieces of fruit into the carafe with the ice, which will infuse your tea as it brews over the fruit. In fact, if you are interested in experimenting with your tea, the Capresso Iced Tea Maker actually comes with a recipe booklet that has instructions for creating other clever, tea-based drinks. Before you start your brew, make sure you adjust the brew level on the top of the machine, to brew your tea to your desired strength. Finally, press the button the side to start brewing, and your delicious iced tea should be ready within five to ten minutes.

The nice thing about this brewer is that you won’t even have to put it into hibernation during the colder winter months, as it makes hot tea too. Just you’re your tea without the ice or cold water. Or, if you really need your java fix, and would rather cool off with iced coffee, you can make that on this brewer as well. Simply add coffee grounds instead of tea and you’re good to go.

We used some of the Chai Dairies Iced Tea we just got in to whip up a batch and were impressed with both the teas and the machine. The tea maker is ultra convenient and the teas are in tasty flavors like Blood Orange, Rose Oolong and Berry Blast.  Watch as Kaylie and Gail use the Capresso Iced Tea Maker to try out the Blood Orange tea in particular, which they say is perfect for when you’re thirsty on a hot day.

Crew Review: Capresso Iced Tea Maker

Crew Review: Capresso On-the-Go

Capresso On-the-GoLooking to jump-start your mornings? Well, the Capresso On-the-Go may be just the thing to speed up your routine and provide you with the delicious coffee you need to get you going. How does this little machine accomplish such a feat? It brews your coffee right into the included stainless steel travel mug, so all you have to do is grab it and go!

Besides being really convenient, this personal coffee maker is also very easy to use. There are only two buttons on this machine, an “On/Off” switch and a “Brew” button, so you don’t have to fiddle with a lot of settings in order to get your brew started. Dosing the Capresso On-the-Go is equally pain-free. All you have to do is fill water tank with the amount of water you want to brew with, load the reusable filter with 2-5 scoops of coffee, put it in the filter basket and then place the whole ensemble in the machine. One thing to keep in mind is that it is best not to exceed six scoops of coffee when brewing, as it may cause the filter to overflow. Likewise, while Capresso claims that you can use pods in this machine, we found that using pre-ground coffee works the best.

While playing around on this machine, we discovered that you might want to pre-heat the travel mug or whatever container you are brewing into before using it. We also wish that we could keep the lid on the travel mug when brewing, which unfortunately isn’t possible. Thus, be careful when making your coffee in this mug to make sure it doesn’t spill.

The Capresso On-the-Go is a great little brewer, especially for people who just want a simple, quick cup of coffee. It only takes about four minutes to brew, which is pretty fast! This coffee maker is also a good option for anyone who lives by themselves or with people who don’t like coffee or don’t like to share, you know who you are! See this machine in action as Gail and Brendan test it out for the first time.

Crew Review: Capresso On-the-Go

Crew Review: Nespresso VertuoLine

Nespresso VertuoLineJust when you thought brewing your morning cup of Joe or espresso on a fully automatic espresso maker couldn’t get easy easier, Nespresso has created a new machine that further simplifies the process. Not only is the Nespresso VertuoLine capable of brewing espresso and coffee, but it also has been designed to do the thinking for you when it comes to making your preferred beverage.

How this possible? The machine is programmed to read the bar code that is printed around the rim of each capsule and determine the pressure (it still does nine bars of pressure on espresso), water volume, temperature and rotational speed it should use to brew each blend. If you’re wondering what rotational speed has to do with making coffee, Nespresso has developed a new technology that actually spins the coffee capsule while it is brewing. Water is then injected into the capsule while it spins, which likely allows the grounds to get better saturated. Some people may miss having the ability to program their machine themselves, but Nepresso believes you won’t ever need to as they have done a lot of testing to ensure their brewing parameters are just right.

One downside of the Nespresso VirtuoLine is that the old Nespresso capsules won’t work with it, since they aren’t designed for the VirtuoLine system. Thus, if you are upgrading from one of the previous Nespresso machines, make sure to use all of your old capsules before retiring your old machine. However, your new Nespresso VertuoLine does come with a sample box of capsules (or “Grand Crus” as Nespresso calls them), so you can sample the four espresso and eight coffee blends to determine which ones you like the best.

Overall, we really liked this upgrade to the Nespresso line. This compact machine brews a very hot and smooth cup, with a lot of crema. There is even a surprisingly large amount of crema on the coffee option; you may want to stir it in to the rest of the coffee in order to combine the flavors. Likewise, since the VertuoLine is so easy to use, it is a great option for people who want no muss and no fuss when creating their brew. The machine is also great for people who only want to brew one cup at a time or for households where everyone wants something different. To see how the new brewing process works, watch as Gail and Dori give the coffee and espresso a whirl on the VertuoLine.

Crew Review: Nespresso VertuoLine

Crew Review: Krups Falcon

Krups FalconIn our technologically advanced lives, where nearly everything can be done in an instant, the desire for a fully automatic espresso machines is continuing to grow. Luckily, we have brands like Krups who are “dedicated to precision and technical perfection” to continue to create fancy little superautos for us. We recently got our paws on the newest machine to hit the U.S. market, the Krups Falcon EA84, and decided to give it a whirl.

With such an impressive name, we were a little disappointed that the Krups Falcon didn’t fly around our kitchen when we unpacked it. In all seriousness though, this machine does have some pretty impressive features. Instead of having pre-set drink options, the EA84 allows you to tailor your drinks to your specifications on the fly. For instance, you can choose the number of shots you want, the strength of the coffee (aroma) and the volume of water used to make the drink. Besides being smart enough to create the perfect drink, this machine also keeps track of how many drinks you’ve brewed and how many coffee pucks are in the dregs box. This allows the Falcon to remind you when it is time to clean the machine, descale, empty the dregs box and change the filter.

Another aspect we like about this machine is the super cappuccino, which is a milk frother and hose that you can attach to the steam wand to create rich and steamy microfoam. In fact, for automatic steamer, the super cappuccino gets surprisingly hot. In addition, there is even a handy container built into the corner of the machine’s drip tray where you can store this device when it is not in use. Ultimately, the Krups Falcon has a lot of programmability, making it a good option for someone who likes to try new things, and not get in a routine of having the same shot every day. To learn more about the Falcon, watch as Gail, Brendan and Scooter examine its functions.

Crew Review: Krups Falcon

Crew Review: GSI Outdoors

GSI OutdoorsHappy Monday fellow campers! In case you forgot, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and while we’re excited about the extra time off, we even happier that it is the unofficial kick-off to camping and hiking season. After all, just because you’ll be spending more time outside doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up your caffeine habit. In fact, we think that coffee and camping go to together pretty well. There are a slew of products, such those produced by GSI Outdoors, that allow you to take or make your coffee wherever you go!

GSI Outdoors GrinderWith this lightweight and compact gear that is conductive to backpacking and camping, you will be able to brew up nearly any type of beverage you prefer. For instance, there is the Commuter Java Press, which is like insulated thermos with a French Press inside. However, instead using a rod, the press component of this carafe is plunger with a filter built in, so your brewed coffee ends up inside the middle channel. The other unique feature of this press is that, unlike regular French presses, there is a gasket as part of the filtration system, which will help keep your grounds from leaking in around the edges of the screen. GSI Outdoors has also created a cute little percolator like device they call the Stainless Mini Expresso Maker that brews espresso. It works much like the Bialetti. You put the water in the bottom, the grounds in the filter basket, but instead of brewing the espresso into a top portion, the espresso comes out the spigot and into the matching cup. There is also the Collapsible Java Drip, which is a silicone drip coffee maker that compacts down to the size of a Frisbee-like disk. It’s nice our people enjoy Chemex-style brewing since it allows you to bring it on the road and the lid won’t melt so you can use it as a trivet for anything hot. Finally, there is the Java Mill, a hand grinder that collapses down for storage. Surprisingly, this grinder actually has conical ceramic burrs that you can adjust so you can get the grind fine enough for Turkish coffee or coarse enough for French press.

All of these products are made from recycled materials, so things like your old yogurt containers have now been transformed into something you can use for years to come instead of sitting in a landfill somewhere. Thus, while you are out enjoying the environment, you are also helping save it for future generations. With all this great gear don’t be surprised if people in nearby campsites start wandering over for coffee or if people accuse you of glamping (glorified camping). Watch as Gail and Brendan prepare for an SCG camping trip and test all of these delightful products out.

Crew Review: GSI Outdoors

Crew Review: Jura Impressa Z9

Jura Impressa Z9All of you techies out there are sure to fall in love with the new Jura Impressa Z9. The Swiss brand is known creating top-of-the-line machines; this one lives up to its name with an impressive lineup of features and functions. At least it impressed us anyway!

This latest addition to Jura’s army of superautomatic robots has lots programmability that enables you to speed up and simplify your morning coffee routine. The auto-on option allows you to set the machine to turn on at a certain time so it will be all warmed up and ready to go as soon as you’re out of bed. Likewise, the six preprogrammed drink options allow you to make your favorite drink with just the touch of a button. You can even customize the default settings for these drinks so they are brewed with the exact volume, temperature, coffee strength and amount of milk you prefer.

Maintaining the Impressa Z9 is also a breeze. Both descaling and rinsing are programmed into the Z9, so you can easily clean your machine whenever you desire. If you’re not sure when to clean your espresso machine, the Z9 still has you covered, as it will keep track of the number of shots you have made and notify you when it is due for cleaning. Be forewarned that the Z9 will not let you slack on cleaning, since it will not let you brew shots until you clean it or replace your filter. While this may sound a little high maintenance, the upside is this process ensures your espresso machine stays in good working order. In fact, we have found that most Jura’s rarely need to go in for service as a result.

Finally, not unlike your iPhone, the Jura Impressa Z9 has a sleek and sophisticated case and you can change the background and color scheme on the machine’s touch screen. Ultimately, this espresso maker is a great option if you like the machine to do a lot of the work for you. Perhaps you are new to coffee, have never pulled shots using portafilter or just like the convenience of having your coffee made for you. To see more of the Jura Impressa Z9’s functionality, check out Gail and Brendan as they put the machine through its paces.

Crew Review: Jura Impressa Z9

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

Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis Evo

Saeco Xelsis EvoSpring has long been a time of renewal and new beginnings, and that certainly seems to be the case for many of our grinders and espresso machines. A number of our favorite brands have taken your feedback on their products to heart and updated their machines accordingly, and Saeco now joins their ranks. Recently, the Saeco Xelsis Evo was released as an update to the existing Xelsis One Touch Espresso Machine.

The main difference you’ll see on the new Saeco Xelsis Evo is the updated milk carafe. Many of our customers found that on the previous Xelsis One Touch their milk wasn’t getting hot enough, which is problem that we often see on superautomatic machines. Saeco listened to this feedback and updated the hose that runs from the milk carafe to the espresso machine (it is now smaller), the lid on the milk carafe and even the milk frothing software in order to develop a machine that produces much hotter milk. The other nice thing about the Xelsis Evo is that the machine auto rinses whenever you turn it off, on or make a milk-based drink. This feature is almost as good as having your own personal maid, since it will help keep your milk carafe really clean. However, this is not an excuse to skimp on your machine’s maintenance, which is still really important if you want to keep your espresso maker in good running order.

Another thing we like about the Saeco Xelsis Evo is that it is a very sophisticated superautomatic with lots of programmability. You can create up to six different user profiles and save nine customized drink options for each profile. A few of the features  you are able to adjust are the aroma (or the dosage of your coffee), the volume of the shot and if you’re making a milk-based beverage, the amount of milk you want as well. With so many options that allow you to create the perfect cup of coffee for everyone, the Saeco Xelsis Evo is ideal for a large household, or even a small office, with lots of different users. If you don’t have a large family, don’t be surprised if a lot of your friends start coming over for visits!

To learn how to take advantage of all the options on this machine, watch Gail and Brendan as they try a few of them out and make a cappuccino.

Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis Evo

Advanced Menus on the New Breville Dual Boiler and Oracle

Breville Oracle BES980XL
Breville Oracle BES980XL
new Breville Dual Boiler BES920XL
Dual Boiler BES920XL

A couple of you have requested that we discuss some of the advanced features on the new Breville Dual Boiler and Breville Oracle and compare them to the first Breville dual boiler. Ask and you shall receive! We got these two espresso machines together in a room, unlocked their advanced menus and played around with them.

The main difference between the Dual Boiler BES900XL (first generation), the Dual Boiler BES920XL (second generation) and the Oracle BES980XL (third generation) is that both the second and third generation machines have two new features in their advanced menu options. The first feature is the capability to adjust the temperature (from 265-285 degrees Fahrenheit) on the steam boiler so you can get hotter (or cooler, if you prefer) milk. The second feature is the ability to choose whether your extraction is based on time or the amount of espresso produced, instead of having the extraction be based strictly on time as on the BES900XL.

The advanced menus on both the new Breville Dual Boiler and the Oracle are easy to get into. To access them on either machine, simply hold down the single shot button and press power. Once you are in the advanced menu, you will be able to scroll through the options for adjusting your machine’s settings. These features are pretty similar on both machines, as they enable you to tweak the factory settings, descale, alerts and sounds in addition to the steam temperature and extraction settings as we mentioned before. However, you will find the Oracle has a few extra choices, such as settings for how fast the pump comes on for steaming your milk, the contrast on the LCD screen, fan and others. For more information, check out our video and let Gail guide you through how all these options work and how to change them.

SCG Tech Tips: Breville Oracle (BES980XL) & New Breville Dual Boiler (BES920XL) Advanced Menu