Category Archives: New Products

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

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

Saeco PureWe are excited to announce a new addition to the Saeco family. Part of the Minuto class of the machines, the Saeco Pure is the second machine that is in this category that we know of, but the brand claims that they are going to add at least one machine to the family and possibly more.

The release of the Pure couldn’t happen at a better time as one of Saeco’s other beloved machines, the Vienna Plus, has recently been discontinued by the brand. However, the Pure is an excellent replacement. Like the Vienna Plus, the Pure’s simplicity and wallet-friendly price point make it a great option if you are just getting into the world of espresso. This machine is a great option even if you consider yourself an old pro when it comes to superautomatic machines, but just want just the basics and not all of the fancy and sometimes complicated settings that come with higher end superautos. Keeping on up your maintenance is also a breeze with the Saeco Pure. Just like the Vienna Plus, the Pure has a removable brew group, so you can pop it out of your machine whenever it is due for a cleaning. If you want to speed up the process, you can put the brew group in your dishwasher. We just recommend that you put it in the top rack of the dishwasher so it doesn’t melt.

While the Pure is part of the Minuto family, this model does have three major differences from the first Saeco Minuto. First, the Pure doesn’t have a coffee lever that allows you to brew drip like the Minuto does. However, there is a button to press that will brew a lungo (long espresso) so you can get something close to drip coffee. Second, you can’t adjust the strength of your shot (also known as the aroma). As such, you’re best option from regaining some control over your shot is to cut back on the amount of water that is going to be dispensed, which will make the coffee stronger. Third, the burrs inside the Pure aren’t ceramic like on the Minuto, but are stainless steel. Keep in mind these differences don’t make the Pure not as good of an option as the Minuto, just a different one. With the Pure, you are provided with some programmability with the bypass doser, the ability to program the length of your shot or the option to brew a double shot.

If you’re looking to add this machine to your family of appliances decorating your kitchen, check out Gail and Brendan’s demonstration of the Saeco Pure. They’ll go through the features, compare them with the machine’s almost twin, the Saeco Minuto and brew up Gail’s famous wet cappuccino. It’s so good; we’ll never get tired of it! If you listen carefully you can even pick up some pro-tips for milk frothing with a panarello from Gail.

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

Crew Review: Jura Impressa C60

Jura Impressa C60Like many of our other favorite brands, Jura is always working on innovating their machines, and the latest edition is pretty easy on the eyes. The Jura Impressa C60 has the same sleek styling as its predecessor the Impressa C5, but many of the features on the machine have been enhanced. In fact, it almost seems as if Jura took a look at our list of areas that had room for growth and improved upon these items.

One of the more common complaints about the C5 was that users did not have much control over the functions on the machine. You had programmable control over the water volume, but not over the temperature or the shot volume. However, Jura has remedied this on the Impressa C60 by allowing you to adjust the volume, dosage and strength of the shot on the fly so you can make important last minute changes to your drink right before you brew. While you still don’t have the option to change your brew temperature on the fly with the C60, you can select it to be either “high” or “normal” in the machine’s menu.

Another drawback of the Impressa C5 is that while it would brew your coffee at one touch of a button, there was no automatic milk frothing option. This may not have been an issue for budding baristas, but we have found a lot of superauto users enjoy having the machine do the work for them and wished the C5 would do the same. Well, you no longer have to dream, as this wish has been granted. The C60 is equipped with Jura’s Fine Foam Frother, so you can make light and fluffy milk for cappuccino with just a touch of a button, no barista school required!

Ultimately, the biggest pro of the Jura Impressa C60 is the really inexpensive price of the machine, considering all of the options it has. We also like the programmable auto-shut off, since it allows you to go about your business around the house, and elsewhere, without having to worry whether you left your machine on. Do-it-yourselfers may not like being able to access the brew unit on the machine for cleaning, which is an issue on all Jura superautos, but we haven’t heard any complaints as they have tablets that do the job for you.

To see what exactly has been upgrade on the Jura Impressa C60, watch as Brendan and Gail explore the new functions on this machine. Of course, this test wouldn’t be complete without rewarding all of their hard work by making their signature cappuccino.

Crew Review: Jura Impressa C60

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