We have two heat exchange, automatic espresso machines in our store so we thought we’d do a lil of the old side-by-side comparison, if you know what we mean. Gail runs through a basic overview of the features on the Nuova Simonelli Musica and Pasquini Livia 90, then pulls shots off each to see if there is any practical difference in shot quality or flavor.
We asked a selection of our crew to tell us what machines they dig in the single boiler and heat exchange/double boiler class. Watch Rob, Jessica, Allison, Radoje and Gail talk to us about what their favorite gear is, why they like it and if it has any drawbacks.
Check out this stepped grinder that offers more adjustment options than a standard stepped grinder at a great price. The Grinta comes in a variety of colors and is easy to use — plus, it’s a little more cleanly than its brethren.
Watch Gail take us through its features and pull a shot using the Oscar.
One of the newest additions to our grinder line up is this petite stepless & doserless model by Nuova Simonelli. The MCI features a shiny chrome case, very easy to use adjustment wheel, removable bean hopper and a cool, industrial-retro design. Great performance with a tiny footprint make this a grinder to consider for any home setup. The drawbacks? It’s a bit on the messier side of the spectrum (but, let’s face it, all grinders are messy at the end of the day) and it’s got a high price tag.
Watch Gail as she takes us through the features and uses it to pull a shot on the Musica.
Filtering your water is essential if you plan on plumbing in your espresso machine to a direct water line in your location. Without this, you run the risk of scale build-up that can only be removed by a professional taking apart the machine and physically removing the scale. How quickly this occurs will depend on your location — we did have a cafe attempt to go without filtration for just a couple of months and their equipment completely seized up as a result. Clearly, they were working with very hard water, but it’s not a risk we recommend you take, at all.
For commercial locations, there are tons of filtration options that will address a wide variety of water source needs. If you’re looking at that kind of a setup, then you’ll need to install something a bit more sophisticated and robust that will be able to address the multiple appliances that will require water (such as drip coffee makers, ice machines, water fountains and your espresso machine) in a way that’s easy to manage. But for just straight espresso machine filtration, the Mavea Purity C filters are simple, easy to install and do an excellent job of filtering out what you don’t want in your espresso machine’s boiler.
Watch Gail as she walks us through an overview of how she installed a Mavea filter on our La Marzocco Linea.
When is it time to say when? We’re often asked where the portafilter should be in respect to the machine — at a 90 degree angle? 45 degree? A little over to the right? Every machine will be a little bit different and the key is to make sure that it feels snug. Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll move it further as the gasket ages.
Watch as Gail demonstrates the position on several of our demo machines of varying style and age.
You know we are so focused on cleanliness, baby! In addition to descaling, backflushing and washing all your gear regularly, cleaning around the brew head and keeping the gasket free of coffee residue will ensure an effective seal with the portafilter — and a better shot in the end.
If you have a machine with a 58mm brew head, check out this snazzy little brush by Cafelat. It locks into the brew head and makes short work of your maintenance.
We’ve got a couple new kids on the block! Nuova Simonelli, purveyors of world-class espresso machines (and the models used in the World Barista Championship competitions) has two semi-professional machines designed for exuberant home espresso lovers or smaller commercial applications. Both of these machines are NSF-rated and are available in either direct plumbed or pour over (reservoir) models.
First up, the Musica. This gorgeous heat exchanger has two different trim options — black, as featured in the review video, or lux, which is lighted — and can be programmed for automatic volumetric dosing or used as a semi-automatic if you prefer to be a little more hands-on. Excellent steaming function and commercial-class components make this a definite contender when you’re considering which higher end espresso machine is right for your home. It is a bit on the tall side, but it’s so delectably designed you won’t want to hide it away underneath cupboards, we promise!
Next is the Oscar, a simple, straight forward and easy to use heat exchange with a highly attractive price. While that may be the only attractive thing about it, the Oscar will definitely get the job done and if you don’t want to spend a small fortune on your home espresso equipment but are looking for great results, the extraction and steam functionality is excellent. This is also a great choice for professional applications that require some mobility, as it’s lightweight and easy to move around, but will still afford you commercial-quality espresso drinks.