Even 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.
Spring 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.
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
You’ve been asking about it, and now we have it! That’s right, the Breville Oracle is here at last. The next generation of their previous dual boilers, Breville has really out done themselves with this machine. As such, the Oracle has a lot of the great features fans of Breville machines have grown to love, as well as some very impressive new ones.
For many of us, it was love at first sight when this beautiful machine arrived at our door. Gone are the need for a grinder, scale and tamper as all these features are built into the machine. That’s right, the Oracle will automatically dose, grind and tamp your coffee straight into the portafilter that is included with the machine. If you feel like letting out your inner barista, you can still adjust the grind, the tamp pressure and length of the tamp, shot temperature and the shot volume. However, the automation doesn’t end there. The Breville Oracle espresso machine can also heat and steam your milk to the exact temperature and texture that you desire. Better yet, the steam wand comes with an auto-purge feature so you can clean it after each use, which is important when dealing with hot milk. This will allow to you to avoid sucking milk back into the boiler and causing damage to your machine, a la our example last week.
The only thing the Oracle couldn’t do was divine what category of machine it should fall into for us. After a bit of debate, we decided the Oracle is a semi-automatic as you still have to grind and tamp espresso into a portafilter. However, the fact that these features are automated makes it a super, semi-automatic. Experience the joy of this machine yourself and come by our store and give it a whirl. Of course you can also sit back, relax and watch as Gail and Dori test it out and make us a drink, complete with latte art.
There’s a lot to love about tea in general — there’s such a wide variety of styles and applications that it would seem nearly endless! We adore everything from a crisply brewed genmaicha to a bright earl gray over ice, herbal infusions when we have a sour belly or sore throat to fruit-infused tisanes that perk up creative cocktails. So when we brought in the blooming teas by Chai Diaries we were excited to experience yet another approach to brewing tea — albeit one that is significantly more gorgeous!
Over the following weeks, we brewed up and tasted all of their blooming teas, watching them with rapt attention as they slowly unfurled inside our Adagio Glass Water Kettle. We loved that not only did they produce a delicious pot of tea, they offered a lovely show and point of discussion for our whole crew. We can imagine these Chai Diaries teas as a unique and tasty centerpiece to a very special tea party!
Watch as Bunny and Brandi show us the different varieties we offer, then brew a pot of Double Happiness, a delicate tea infused with jasmine and chrysanthemum.
In recent years, the popularity of slowly-crafted, by-the-cup coffee preparations like pour over and immersion brewing has steadily increased in cafes across the US. Some shops will employ dueling hot water kettles in order to tailor the water temperature to each and every brew, and if you’re offering a wide selection of coffees prepared in this manner, then that still may be a great way of doing it. However, if you find that you’re brewing these coffees at relatively similar temperatures or your demand dictates a more efficient approach to water delivery, the Curtis G3 hot water dispenser is an essential tool of the trade.
With a simple programming interface, temperature control and the ability to aerate your water prior to delivery to ensure it is highly oxygenated — and tastes great — the G3 is an updated version of their tried-and-true electric hot water dispenser. It has a much more fetching case design, allowing it to fit right in behind the counters of even the most hip and stylish cafes, but it’s still easy to use under high volume brewing conditions.
In this review video, Brandon guides us through the Curtis G3’s features and functionality, shows us how to program it and set temperature and then discusses what kind of applications it is best suited for. In addition to aforementioned manual coffee brewing methods, we think this would also be an exceptional tool in a tea house.
Earlier this year, we added a wide array of delicious, loose leaf teas from Rishi Teas. Shortly thereafter, we filmed a few tastings of them so that you could learn what kind of flavors and notes these teas offered. Since adding three new teas to our selection, we decided that we should give them the same treatment, no?!
Tangerine Ginger – This tea features hibiscus, so brews up into a brilliant ruby color. The tangerine gives it a bright top note, complemented by the warm spice of the ginger.
Vanilla Pu-erh – The earthiness of this pu-erh is balanced by smooth vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. A rich brew that is a great choice for someone who would prefer to have coffee but needs to tone down their caffeine intake a bit.
Chocolate Chai – Brewed like a traditional tea, this tastes spicy and smooth, with just a hint of bittersweet chocolate. When mixed with warm milk, it’s rich and creamy, a more rowdy interpretation of a hot cocoa.
And for those of you who would like to watch the show, here it is:
Perfect for a small office kitchen environment, the Krups Cup on Request allows you to brew into a removable stainless steel urn that doubles as a dispenser. With two programmable options, dosage selections, volumetric and manual pours and the ability to keep it warm for up to four hours, the Cup on Request provides excellent functionality in an improved design.
Here at SCG, we love our Technivorms and always have a few of them going at any given time. Because we drink the coffee so quickly, we prefer to use the glass carafe — this also prevents sad moments when you attempt to pour out of an empty thermal carafe. But this does result in more messiness, with coffee sometimes spilt on the hotplates, resulting in a burned in residue.
We love that the Cup on Request enables you to easily dose out fresh, hot coffee in regular or to-go cups with ease. Watch as Gail goes through all of her fancy book learnin’ and then demonstrates making a pot!
We’ll admit that we weren’t deeply in love with DeLonghi’s superautomatic espresso machines. For a long time, we felt like their grinders were on the louder side of the spectrum, their coffee wasn’t quite hot enough and their automatic milk frothing was just a smidge shy of amazing.
But all of that changed a few years ago with the release of their new series of machines. Their coffee quality improved, their grinders toned down a bit and their automatic milk frothing reached that heavenly nexus between temperature and foam density that cappuccino dreams are made of. With their newest model, the PrimaDonna De Luxe, they’ve taken their recent functional improvements and wrapped it in a gloriously gleaming stainless steel case.
Featuring intuitive programming, a front loading water reservoir and optional one-touch cappuccino functionality, the PrimaDonna De Luxe is both flexible and refined. Watch as Gail guides us through all of its specs and then demonstrates both one-touch and standard cappuccino creation.
Crew Review: DeLonghi PrimaDonna De Luxe Espresso Machine
When you’re dropping a couple thousand bucks on an espresso machine, your choices generally involve models with a more luxe approach to style and design, replete with commercial-grade components and sophisticated functionality. But beneath the heavy use of polished stainless steel and chrome-plated brass, these prosumer-class espresso machines feature different technical specifications that speak to the specific manufacturer’s method of getting to the same goal: You, making excellent espresso-based drinks for everyone you know.
And because you know we have a deep, abiding love for a grudge match, we’re pitting two more pieces of coffee gear against each other, for fun and profit! In the left corner, we have the Livia G4 Auto with PID by Pasquini and, in the right, we have a Nuova Simonelli Musica. While these are two Italian heat exchange espresso machines with commercial-class build quality, they have some pretty big functional differences.
First, the Livia G4 is available in a few configurations (semi-auto, semi-auto with PID and auto with PID) while the Musica is a simple, straightforward heat exchange with no temperature control options. Next, the Musica has proprietary brew head temperature regulation that produces some of the best no fuss, no muss espresso shots we’ve ever had, yet the Livia G4’s unique internal technical design (on the auto, its heat exchange is controlled by a PID and a thermoblock at the brew head maintains a consistent brew temp) means that you can play with how different brew temperatures affect your coffee. Finally, the Livia’s steam functionality, while strong, is a little more tame than what the Musica produces, giving it an edge to folks that are learning how to steam and texture milk.
Want to learn more about these two espresso machines? Watch as Teri gives us functional overview, then shows us how they compare, performance-wise.
SCG Compares: Pasquini Livia G4 v. Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machines