Just 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.
In 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.
Happy 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!
With 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.
All 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.
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.