We sent Gail out on a little recon this past weekend, to the International Home & Housewares show in Chicago. Here’s what she’s reporting back:
Delonghi: Charity Auction
Delonghi had a few artists design different front panels for a limited edition Artista machine — only 5 of each design will be made. They plan to auction these babies off on eBay, with the proceeds benefiting Oxfam International. We’ll post an update here with photos and details once this goes live.
We wrote about this machine last week, and Gail had a chance to meet with this group at the show. No samples yet, but it is one of only two products at the show that are made with BPA-free plastic.
Handpresso in Color
One of our favorite gadgets for delicious espresso on the go, the Handpresso team has now added different colors to their available models, plus they’ve developed a travel pack that includes a thermos for hot water, 4 demitasse cups and a carrying case — we’re looking into adding some of these to the store.
On Chicago, and Her Cheap Date Ways
“I did go to a pub called Dublin last night and experienced quite a few characters. It was one of the local hang outs. Does that count? One guy bought a round for the bar, myself included. He was well lubed up. I had already had one beer and was quite full from that, so I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to choose my second poison. I hadn’t had much food all day so wandered out for chow. It was interesting and Chicago is pretty cool.”
The show ends tomorrow, so we’ll post a follow-up later this week with Gail’s final notes on the show and possibly photos of the grand event.
Infuse your espresso with a little heavy metal! After an incredibly creative and customized development cycle, the Slayer professional espresso machine will be introduced to the specialty coffee world at this April’s SCAA exhibition in Atlanta.
The brainchild of Seattle-based Slayer, this uniquely designed and conceived machine is an extension of Slayer’s enthusiastic mission to positively impact the coffee industry — and the world. They accentuate the art inherent in espresso, and this little baby’s design speaks volumes about their singular approach to aesthetic form and function.
We can’t wait for this machine to hit the market and, hopefully, a cafe near us so we can check it out. And we almost made it through this whole post without making references to buttrock and mullets, but clearly our restraint is limited and easily overcome.
Ah, yeah….we dig curves. Especially if they come bearing low-acidity, cool brewed coffee. Okay, they usually don’t come with that — but now they can, thanks to the Hourglass Coffee Maker.
Debuting at the International Home Housewares show this weekend in Chicago, this voluptuous little number cold brews a coffee extraction, which results in 69.6% less acidity in the java. For hot coffee, you add hot water to the extraction, or you can take the cold extraction and mix it up for an iced coffee.
We’ll be at the show and can’t wait to try it out — cool, smooth coffee never looked so good!
We can’t help but hear Patricia Arquette’s refrain in the second-to-last scene of True Romance when we look at the Jura Capresso Cool Control Automatic Milk Cooler. But instead of slipping it a note with hearts on it, we’ll just write about it here.
This handy little gadget is fairly lo-fi, costs pennies to run each day and will keep your milk cool and easily accessible on your counter top for all of your favorite latte or cappuccino drinks. It directly connects to the frothXpress adapter that is featured on many of the Jura superautomatic espresso machines (such as the Z7, C9 & S9, and Ena 3 and will cool your milk to 39F, the perfect temperature for fluffy, frothy foam!
If you’ve ever forgotten about your thermal milk container and suffered through cleaning up some nasty ol’ milk, gift yourself with never doing that dirty job again! The Cool Control will keep the cottage cheese out of your lattes and in your favorite…dish? We’re not actually sure how people use cottage cheese.
Arguably the best little workhorse in the business, the Saeco Aroma is a robust machine that had really only one major flaw (in our opinion): Its pressurized basket. Lauded as a triumph for non-grinding, quick-n-dirty espresso lovers everywhere, the pressurized basket gives merely the illusion of crema by aerating the espresso as it’s extracted. People that don’t want to put the time and effort into learning how to fine tune their grind and tamp love this contraption because it does give a fairly good shot without much fuss.
But if you’re a geek like us and love yourself some rich, thick crema, you’re going to be thrilled with the latest release out of the Saeco camp — a non-pressurized portafilter handle that uses the same baskets that came with your original pressurized portafilter. You can pull a delicious shot with this new non-pressurized portafilter — one that may rival the Rancilio Silvia!
In addition to the Saeco Aroma, this portafilter is compatible with the following machines:
- Starbucks Barista
- Starbucks Via Venezia
- Estro Profi
- Saeco Magic Cappuccino
- Saeco Gran Crema
- Saeco Via Veneto
Watch Gail pull a shot with the new non-pressurized basket on the Saeco Aroma:
Love your Ascaso Basic, Dream, Arc or UNO Special Edition espresso machine but wish that it produced a better shot? Well, we did, too — so we talked with Ascaso and asked them about creating an upgrade kit! While the original screen and water delivery works well for E.S.E. pods, its concentrated-stream functionality just doesn’t properly moisten ground coffee to the level required for a great extraction, so the upgrade kit includes an improved screen that showers water more evenly across the coffee.
The resulting espresso is rich, creamy and has a thicker crema — as good as any shot you’d pull from a Rancilio Silvia. This easy-to-install upgrade is essential, we think, but especially so if you dig using ground coffee in your Ascaso.
We often see folks struggling between two points: Which is more important, convenience or flavor? It’s the base notion in the semi-automatic vs. superautomatic debate and is one of the main questions we try to understand when helping a customer find the machine that is best for them.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be! We were lucky enough to get our hands on the new Quick Mill Superautomatic espresso machine, which sought to marry the convenience and excellent flavor factors in a prosumer-level home espresso machine. While it took us some time to dial in the machine and we wasted quite a bit of coffee (and a couple of hours) in finding the right balance between bean and machine, the shots we ended up with are the best we’ve ever tasted on a superautomatic — most likely due to the fact that it’s internal workings are not plastic, so temperature regulation is definitely superior.
We also love the traditional — and powerful — steam wand, although getting used to it’s position on the right side takes a bit of ergonomic adjustment if you’re more used to working with a wand positioned on the left. The high-quality stainless steel design, while bulky and taking up perhaps a larger footprint than many might want to sacrifice to their java needs, is sleek and definitely built to last.
All in all, we think this is a great first outing from Quick Mill in the superautomatic space and look forward to its continued evolution — we’d love to see more programmability in the future.
Some people may consider the moment that you plunk down nearly $2k on an espresso machine a moment of personal reflection: Is excellent espresso so important to you that you can justify this expenditure? We consider it simply a moment of truth — while others may end up spending over $2k on their coffee throughout the year, they’d prefer to do it in $4 increments that seem like a negligible investment. You, on the other hand, have vision.
If you’re serious enough to get into the ‘prosumer’ class of home espresso machines, we can’t recommend the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus highly enough. It could be our favorite machine…and while we do try to remain machine-agnostic in our quest to ply you with the best coffee gear to suit your needs, our own moment of truth tells us that the espresso machine waiting on the other side of nirvana must certainly be the Giotto Premium Plus.
With its excellent temperature control, powerful steaming functionality and extremely functional design, the Giotto Premium Plus makes amazing espresso and silky foamed milk every time you go toe to toe. We love the separate water tank lid and its molded design — although we do wish that the drip tray was a bit bigger and we think the hot water nozzle sometimes gets in the way.
The Rocket stars in many of our YouTube videos, so check them out to see it in action — and then maybe it will be time for your own moment of truth: Yes, excellent espresso is that important.
Flavored lattes originated in:
You’ll find out the answer to this and 59 other caffeinated trivia questions in CoffeeSmarts, a fun and interesting Q&A game that covers everything from coffee history to concoctions. In addition to the 60 Q&A cards, CoffeeSmarts includes a 16-page CoffeeTips guide with information on brewing, drinking and traveling to some of the world’s most infamously perky places.
Or…you can find out the answer…after the jump!
Continue reading New! CoffeeSmarts
We just got in a batch of Kenneth Davids’ seminal coffee book, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying and we highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in an in-depth explanation of pretty much all there is to know about coffee.
Covering the entire lifecycle of your favorite bean, this book talks about history, agriculture, roasting, tasting, grinding, brewing and serving — a resource-rich compendium that will most certainly answer any coffee-related question you might have had.
Kenneth also authors the website Coffee Review, which provides detailed assessments of hundreds of different coffees from around the world. If you’re looking into trying out some new coffees, his website is definitely a place to start your research.