Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Does It Compare?

The future is here. You’ve been asking for it and finally we’ve got it! We unboxed the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and we hardly even recognize it. The original Oscar was wrapped in a plastic shroud that dulled the mighty power of its espresso. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is decked in steel and features clean reflective angles—hello, gorgeous! The new design did a complete 360 from original, literally; the new C-shape front allows room for the extended steam wand that rotates on a 360° ball joint to reach every angle of your frothing pitcher.

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The updated steel body and C-shaped structure create beautiful dimension.

The innards of the Oscar II and Oscar are nearly the same. It’s still a heat exchanger with a copper boiler, which produces that fierce steam power and allows you to brew at the same time. The reservoir saw an upgrade in capacity and a bigger hole for sticking your hand in to clean out any gunk. Mostly, the Oscar II’s design finally reflects the high-quality that makes the Nuova Simonelli machines top of the line.

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The updated water reservoir holds 2.8 liters of water for more cappuccinos.

Shot

Hurray for heat exchangers! If you’re like us, we love to brew and steam at the same time so we can get to our latte faster. The Oscar II features front-facing indicator lights for the boiler and reservoir so you’ll know exactly when you’re ready to brew. Even though our indicator light clicked off at the nine-minute mark, you’ll want to give your machine a good 30 minutes to heat up. 

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Program a single or double shot using the soft-padded buttons. Above are two lights that indicate low water and the boiler temperature, respectively.

The two programmable buttons allow you to set the volume of a single or double shot. Getting the right volume is easy-peasy, too. Press and hold one of the volume buttons and wait for it to flash; once it’s flashing, press again to start the flow of coffee. When the cup’s filled to your desired caffeine intake, press it again to program the volume time. Tada! Coffee is served. Great coffee at that! We noticed the Oscar II pulled consistent shots and even at the set factory settings offered delicious espresso. Pro Tip: unboxing the Oscar II we noticed it pulled longer shots that give you enough wiggle room to program your preferred shot time.

Steam

Nuova Simonelli is the official espresso machine provider for the Barista Championship, so you know it’s got it going on. The steam power behind the Oscar II is a force to be reckoned with—they can’t let those professional baristas down. On a 360° rotating ball joint, you can get into any container at any angle to froth. Plus, the four holes releasing steam add extra power on all sides. The steam’s nice and dry, too, so there’s no extra moisture but plenty of piping hot goodness.

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Grabbing the nearest pitcher of ice cold milk, we put the steam wand to the test. Whole-y milk froth, Batman! In less than 10 seconds, we were looking at microfoam and feeling hot, hot hot! Needless to say, you’ll want to watch out where you put your hands when you’re steaming—remember the four holes that release steam. It’s so quick too, that some of Seattle Coffee Gear’s novice baristas were having trouble texturing the milk just right. The steam power is definitely something you’ll want to get a feel for with practice. Of course, our veterans took to it like a duck to water and were swimming in ponds of beautiful latte art quality milk.

Style

Curvy in all the right places, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is carved to catch your attention. The clean look of the steel complements modern taste while the C-shaped frame adds futuristic dimension. Stand head on, the rippled brew head and reflection off the drip tray are reminiscent of a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica (seriously, go search “Cylon” right now). All these elegant curves and edges are interrupted by something it seems Nuova Simonelli forgot to add—oh yeah, the switch for the steam wand. Sticking out like a sore thumb, the switch flips on or off and we’ll generously add you can push it ever-so-slightly to get quick steam. For power and functionality standing behind the steam pressure of the Nuova Simonelli, it’s unfortunate to see the steam lever handled so carelessly.

The color block look is another eye-sore on this machine. We love the chrome. We love the black. We’re not fans of the gray. The color of the steam switch doesn’t coordinate with the rest of the design, either, unless you count the muted gray buttons and portafilter as a close match. Rubbing a finger over the surface of each button, it’s like flipping through the channels of an old remote control. The outdated texture leaves us yearning for more.

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The Oscar II comes with a 58mm commercial-grade non-pressurized portafilter with breakaway spouts—can we just say those open spouts offer the best view in the house? What’s not lovely is the plastic handle. You’d think the chrome cap was metal but it’s not. The other faux-steel look is the rippled chrome brew head. While you can’t tell from a distance it would have been nice to move away from plastic and committed to real steel like the rest of the body and drip tray.

Conclusion

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II captures power and style. The updated steel body reflects the high-quality build of Nuova Simonelli’s internals and the new angled front adds intriguing dimension as well as more room for a longer steam wand. Just to recap, we steamed milk in 10 seconds! The steam wand on the original Oscar has nothing on the new one! It’s much easier to access and angle your pitcher in. While we went off on the plastic components a bit there at the end, the overall design is a refreshing upgrade from the previous model with all the same powerful gears making delicious espresso. 

Crew Comparison: Chemex Ottomatic vs. Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup

How Does It Compare?

If you’re looking for hands-off brewing, then you’ve come to the right place. Sit back, relax and let the Chemex Ottomatic and Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup take the reins. The Bonavita Brewer acts like your typical drip brewer but the Chemex Ottomatic has branched off from the norm and married pour over with automatic functionality. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, the Chemex took their iconic carafe and created a brew system that pre-infuses and blooms coffee as you’d perform for a pour over. Traditional drip coffee makers feature a continuous drip and usually don’t pause to allow the coffee to bloom, which is the case for the Bonavita Brewer.

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The Chemex Ottomatic with the Chemex Classic Coffeemaker Series carafe.
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The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup features the updated stainless steel-lined carafe.

How does the taste compare? We were curious if the Chemex’s innovative automatic pour over would create a different tasting cup. Using a fresh bag of Zoka Coffee’s Tangletown Blend, we brewed a pot on each. Our first thoughts were the taste was the same. After a couple of sips, Gail noticed that the coffee from the Ottomatic was smoother while the Bonavita had brighter acidity. The bottom line is both brewers make a similar cup.

Brew

Now that we know the coffee tasted similar on the Ottomatic and Bonavita, we wanted to understand the brewing processes. The Chemex Ottomatic is a new way to brew and it does it rather elegantly—dinner and a show! There’s no clunky basket obscuring your view of the brewing process; you can see the brew head gently dispenses hot water and pauses occasionally to allow the grounds to bloom. With all that pausing on the Ottomatic, it took roughly seven minutes to get our coffee. The Bonavita Brewer got us a cup in five and a half minutes since it continuously drips. Bonus: The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup (model BV1900TS) is also SCAA certified, which means it went through rigorous testing on brew time, temperature, and overall quality.

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The Ottomatic’s shower head evenly wets the grounds and pauses to allow coffee to bloom.

Another well-known brewing step called pre-infusion is featured on both machines. The Ottomatic automatically pre-infuses before brewing, which we appreciate if it’s truly trying to replicate pour over. The Bonavita, however, needs to be manually started. So grab your manual! While it’s arguably not difficult to turn on, it’s not intuitive either. To turn it on, you press and hold the power switch for about five seconds (or waiting until the light flashes) then release and press it again to engage. The Bonavita will be in pre-infusion mode until you turn it off again—another press and hold situation. See? Not bad but we just skipped all the hullabaloo and went straight to brewing, which didn’t fully utilizing a great feature on the Bonavita.

Use this button to turn on and activate the pre-infusion.
Press and hold this button to activate the pre-infusion feature.

Brains

They might brew up the same cup, but they don’t think the same way. Besides the different brewing methods, the Ottomatic features a hot plate that’s automatically turned on after brewing. The carafe gets pretty toasty and pour over fanatics might scoff at the heating element—you know, we sort of turned our nose to it too. It’s great when you’re moseying around in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee here and there, but if you accidentally leave the house—the Ottomatic won’t turn off. We tested it ourselves with a full carafe and gave it five hours to turn off. When we came back it was still on and the coffee was ridiculously hot. Why Chemex left out the auto shut-off is mind boggling. They included so many brainy automated pour over features in the brewing process that we expected the full automatic deal.

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The Ottomatic features a hot plate that turns off after brewing. The red light signals that it’s brewing.

The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup also switches off brewing—which we’ll add saves your boiler—and simply turns off. Thank you auto shut-off! There is no heating element, instead, it comes with a thermal carafe that can keep your coffee warm for about an hour give or take. For the best results, you’ll want to remove the basket and twist on the lid that comes with it. Speaking of the carafe, you might notice the new carafe is stainless steel lined. Bonavita has discounted the glass-lined and introduced this model instead. The coffee’s still hot and flavorful with the new carafe so it gets high marks from us! Overall, the brains of the Bonavita are not glamorous, but it’s practical and sufficient for getting a cup of coffee. And the Bonavita eliminates worrying about forgetting to turn the coffee pot off on hectic mornings.

The Bonavita's new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.
The Bonavita’s new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.

Beauty

Chemex is renowned for its elegant designs. The carafe’s iconic hourglass shape paired with the wood and leather makes a beautiful statement piece in your home. The history and following of the Chemex Classic Coffeemaker alone make it desirable. Looking at the Ottomatic brewing system without the carafe, the matte black and chrome will complement modern kitchens. It’s compact, smooth and designed to be seen from any angle—we had it lined up next to our Technivorm in the kitchen and then swung it around with the cord against the wall, it looked great either way. The one downside to its design is the plastic water reservoir, brew head, and hot plate surface. It cheapens the overall design of Chemex and one of the appeals of Chemex is the high-quality materials used in the carafe.

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The Ottomatic doing what it does best—making a pot of coffee.

The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup is wrapped in brushed stainless steel and matte black like the Ottomatic. And just like the Ottomatic, the water reservoir, brew head, and basket are plastic—but were you expecting something else from a conventional drip brewer? Technivorm’s coffee makers are nearly identical in the overall structure and feature a stainless steel body with plastic brewing components. It’s a look that works and the materials function to make a good cup of coffee—plus, the Bonavita is SCAA-approved—so you know this coffee maker holds ups.

 

The plastic components, such as the reservoir, are expected on a conventional drip coffee maker such as the Bonavita Brewer.
The plastic components, such as the reservoir, are expected on a conventional drip coffee maker such as the Bonavita Brewer.

Conclusion

Coffee is the most important feature you could ask for in a coffee machine and both machines deliver a robust cup. If you’re looking to replace your old, worn out drip brewer, then you’re probably not looking at the Chemex Ottomatic; it makes a great cup but you’re purchasing a coffee maker like the Chemex for the iconic design. The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup may be the least unique coffee maker on the market but its stainless steel body will look uniform with your stainless steel appliances—and the SCAA certificate pinned on it easily elevates its position.

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The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup (model BV1900TS) is SCAA certified, which means it’s been rigorously tested for brew temperature, time and overall quality.

Crew Review: DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM 6600

How Does It Compare?

There’s something about finding a good deal that’s just so satisfying. You lock eyes with that bright red sign that’s yelling “SALE” and you instantly know you’re getting a super sweet steal. The Refurbished DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM6600 is one of those deals that you can’t pass up. With all the nuts and bolts of a new machine, the refurbished Gran Dama is just that—refurbished. Compared to the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3500, which has the same features and functionality, the Gran Dama has only one lid for the milk carafe that can be adjusted to control the milk froth.

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Shot

DeLonghi has built a reputation for making hot shots. The Gran Dama lives up to the family legacy and creates enjoyable hot espresso just the way you want it. Choose from four pre-programmed settings or customize it as you go! Down the right side of the Gran Dama, you have different volumes for espresso and your coffee or lungo. We sampled the factory settings for the double shot and, you know what, we thought the refurbished Gran Dama held up in the espresso’s crema and flavor.

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If you’re looking for a stronger cup, push the “coffee strength” button (which has two beans and a scoop icon) and change your strength from extra-mild all the way to extra-strong. We appreciate how intuitive the system is, but it’s hard to know what’s “mild” coffee versus what’s “strong” coffee. We suggest trying your favorite blend (not dark, oily roasts, of course) and seeing how you like the taste. Like most machines, it’s a lot of trial and error before you get it just right.

Alternatively, you can switch the grind of your bean. The grind setting is located in the bean hopper and adjusting the settings from one to five will change how it brews. We’ll mention too that like other superautomatics, the grinder of this machine is loud. Of course, you can always skip all that grinding and use the bypass doser for your pre-ground coffee.

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Steam

Then you have your dreamy milk-based drinks, courtesy of the machine’s steaming power. There’s no steam wand here, though. Instead, the DeLonghi Gran Dama has an integrated milk carafe which delivered incredibly hot and foamy drinks in a matter of minutes—and we mean hot. We ordered a latte and it delivered! The Gran Dama first dispensed milk, which we liked because it means our espresso won’t lose heat sitting in the cup, and then espresso. The heat met our expectations for a one-touch machine and the separation of milk and espresso was a beautiful sight.

The Gran Dama offers three milk-based drink options: latte, cappuccino or Italian macchiato. This machine is super smart and the digital screen will guide you through your cup such as asking you to adjust the carafe’s the frothing level—the say what now? We were surprised to find that the Gran Dama’s carafe features a switch with one and two levels to change the foaminess of the milk. Move the pointer towards “1” for dense froth or “2” for less dense. When you’re done, clean out the carafe by pushing the button located near the handle and let the machine clear the milk pipes. Pull the carafe with the rest of your milk out and store it in the fridge.

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The drawback we have for the steam feature is the big, ole carafe. The handle sticks out awkwardly and takes up space when not in use. And if you want an Americano, you’ll need to insert the hot water spout where the milk carafe is—sort of killing the one-touch love. Then you’ll have to store that carafe or spout away when it’s not in use and hope you don’t lose it.

Style

What we thought really made this machine grand is the intuitive interface. As you press the different buttons the screen guides you swiftly to your cup of coffee such as adjusting the “coffee strength” the screen changes from extra-mild, mild and so on. It also features a “program” button to set the auto on and off time or change the time on the clock. Intuitive and easy-to-use? That’s our cup of coffee. Even with such an intuitive interface, the Gran Dama doesn’t utilize it to its full potential and that was a disappointment. Instead, it relies on tons of buttons which clutter the front of the machine.

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The refurbished Gran Dama takes up a small amount of kitchen counter and thanks to the front accessible components, you don’t need to worry about extra counter space off to the side. You will need some extra clearance on the top for opening the bypass doser and bean hopper so be aware if you’re purchasing this machine to place under your cabinets. The ambient heat also got pretty toasty, so we recommend giving some space between the Gran Dama and your other appliances to avoid any damage.

The industrial-inspired design with brushed stainless steel casing complements modern kitchen appliances. The rest of the machine is mostly plastic with the exception of the drip tray. The drip tray’s heavy metal will stand up to dropped mugs and milk carafe’s shoved into the Gran Dama. Whenever there’s a machine that requires pieces to be taken on and off multiple times, it increases the chance of something snapping.

Conclusion

When it comes to making hot, delicious espresso the Refurbished DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM6600’s got it going on! Its intuitive interface makes getting your morning cup of coffee a breeze but also leaves something to be desired. If industrial-style complements your kitchen, it’ll be a welcomed addition to your home. We recommend storing the carafe away when it’s not in use to solve that unsightly problem. For us, the most important thing for us that the Gran Dama makes espresso right: piping hot and full of flavor.

Crew Review: Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker

How Does It Compare?

Introducing the iconic carafe to an automated coffee brewing system was probably the most ingenious move for Chemex. The Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker showcases the elegance of their pour over carafe alongside the unbeatable convenience of a dripper. But this is no ordinary dripper—the brew head on the Ottomatic pulsates with hot water to equally wet and bloom grounds for even extraction. When it’s done brewing, the Ottomatic switched from brewing to heating the hot plate, adding extra cushion for you to secure a hot, freshly poured cup.

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The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker is the other brewing system that combines pour over with automatic functionality. The main difference here is the Ratio has no plastic components and doesn’t include a heating element to keep the coffee warm. Of course, the other noticeable difference is that the Chemex is much narrow and fits easily on the counter than the Ratio’s tall and round design. For our kitchen, the Chemex and Technivorm were designed more ergonomically to fit in on our counter. Check out our Crew Review above to see for yourself! 

Brew

The Chemex Ottomatic proved that speed wouldn’t be an issue. When we turned on the Chemex, it took about 45 seconds before the brewing cycle started. It brews between 15 to 40-ounces and while we can fit the smaller carafes under the brew head, make sure you add the right amount of water—we may have accidentally overfilled the carafe.

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The stainless steel shower head evenly distributes the water, while the pulsing brew head helps achieve what you’d want from a pour over—a soft, steady flow of water with interruptions to keep the coffee blooming and extracting. The Chemex Ottomatic can brew up to the eight-cup carafe and when you think about it, it would be so time-consuming to stand around to pour for those larger carafes, so thank you Chemex!

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Brains

Once the Ottomatic is done brewing, it switches the heating element on under the carafe, keeping the coffee warm indefinitely (or until someone switches the brewer off, a major con for forgetful people). The heating element has divided us between labeling it a pro or con of the machine’s functionality. Our coffee connoisseurs relish a freshly pour cup of coffee and the heating element would overheat and potentially burn the coffee, essentially ruining the flavors. For the rest of our less indulgent connoisseurs, we love the convenience of going back cup after cup to warm coffee and can still enjoy the flavors that develop through pour over.

To back-track what we mentioned earlier, the heating element doesn’t turn off after it’s engaged. This machine is purely on and off. We tested it out and found the coffee to be extremely, even borderline, hot a few hours after brewing. So in conclusion, this machine needs to be monitored at all times when it’s turned on.

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Beauty

The Chemex Ottomatic comes with the shapely, hourglass carafe and is a welcomed sight for many coffee lovers. People recognize Chemex by their sophisticated design. The wood and leather tie around the neck add homey texture. If you’ve never owned a Chemex in any form, we highly recommend adding this timeless beauty to your kitchen.

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When it comes down the design of the Ottomatic, Chemex elevated their style with an equally elegant and sophisticated system. The polished chrome and matte black will complement modern homes effortlessly and we adore its smooth shape. The Chemex Ottomatic also has a plastic reservoir, so people looking to brew coffee without plastic will need to look elsewhere. We were surprised it had plastic, but we didn’t have that nasty plastic taste, so give the Ottomatic a chance. Alternatively, you can check out the Ratio Eight Edition, which features similar functions to the Ottomatic, but with no plastic and different style. The evolution of pour over has certainly caught on and we’re ecstatic that the Chemex Ottomatic is everything we wanted and more.

Crew Review: Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino

The Intelia—part two? That’s right, folks! It’s the newest addition to the line: the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino Espresso Machine. Not to be confused with the Saeco Intelia One Touch Cappuccino, the previous model, the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino is an upgraded coffee-making machine with more programmable options and updated style. Check out our video Crew Review below and tell us what you think of the new Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino in the comments below!

How Does It Compare?

The biggest difference you’ll notice in the new model is the features. Sure they look the same (with some minor flashy additions) but the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino features new intuitive buttons such as the carafe quick clean and “OK” button or aka the “Aroma Strength” button. The menu is considerably cleaned up and the word-choice is far more obvious than the previous model. These additions made navigating the interface a snap and while we’re talking about snappy, could we get coffee any quicker? In 33 seconds we had the machine warmed up and ready to brew espresso. The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino has all the improvements you’d expect from Saeco and more.

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Shot

This guy’s a hot shot—literally. We were impressed by the temperature of our shot and how much customization you could do with the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino. Each button can be double tapped for twice the volume and it’s easy to adjust the temperature and volume of your cup. And you set your customized cup at any time by pressing the button again. If you’re looking for a robust cup, the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino’s got you covered. It has five dosage levels and 10 grinder settings to make your taste buds holler. 

Looking for a special cup of joe? The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino isn’t called that for nothing—order the Baby Cappuccino for a pint-size cup that’ll complement a mid-afternoon caffeine craving (this guy is located in the specialty menu). Of course, if you’re ready for some shut-eye and caffeine is the last thing you need, use the bypass doser for your decaffeinated beans.

Steam

Piping hot milk is exactly what you need with you hot shot. The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino has a milk carafe on the side ready to disperse hot, foamy milk into your latte or cappuccino. There is no other option to add a manual-type steam wand, so you’ll need to be satisfied with the carafe controlling the milk for you. No need to worry about the milk chilling your drink, though. We found the milk temperature to be hot enough to complement the espresso without degrading the milk’s flavor. Customize the amount of steamy, creamy goodness in your cappuccino by simply pressing the “OK” button indicated on the digital display.

When it comes to foam, though, what you see is what you get. Without a manual steam options, you’re unable to customize the froth yourself. This is great for people looking to get a quick drink to-go since the carafe dispenses milk right into your cup. When you’re done with the carafe, it conveniently stores into the fridge for tomorrow’s coffee.

While this one-touch wonder does a great job at making milk based drinks if you wanted an Americano, you’ll need to move the cup over to get hot water. Where are you getting hot water, you ask? The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino comes with a removable hot water spout that is inserted in the same place as the milk carafe. This feature takes away from the one-touch functionality, but not enough to call it an inconvenience.

Bonus: Before inserting the carafe into the machine, you’ll need to pull out the milk spout. Fortunately for you, coffee-lovers, the carafe won’t fit into the machine otherwise, eliminating the potential annoying mess. Also, you’ll need come in at an angle with the carafe to get it in just right. You’ll know when it’s in when it clicks into place.

Style

Brushed stainless steel is the go-to, eye-catching look for kitchen appliances and we’re definitely pleased the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino will complement our stainless steel oven and fridge. The milk carafe went from a plastic handle on the previous generation to a sleek stainless steel finish on the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino. The sides are plastic, however, but you can cozy this machine up to the microwave because the water tank and dump box are accessible from the front. You’ll only need to access the side to clean off the brew unit every so often.

The digital display menu is easy on the eyes not just for looks, but for functionality as well. The light blue display looks cleaner and makes navigating the different menus effortless. The intuitive naming and buttons will make learning this machine’s inner programs a breeze. Error messages will also pop up when something is amiss, such as a low water tank or missing dump box, and make it so you can’t use the machine and potentially damage it. There’s definitely a learning curve even with the more intuitive display but with some patience and the trusty menu (don’t throw that bad boy away) you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Pro Tip: The “Aroma Strength” button is also the “OK” button (indicated by the checkmark in the top right corner). The OK button will be used often to adjust different settings such as volume. A cool addition on the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino is that the display will have the checkmark in the left hand, lower corner when it can be used. It’s conveniently located right next to the OK button, too. We highly recommend going through the manual and reading up on the display section and learning the different symbols. 

Crew Review: Eureka Zenith 65E Coffee Grinder

“Eureka! I have found it!”

Shout it out! If you’re looking for a commercially designed machine built to change beans into beautiful, consistent espresso grounds, then this is your machine! Are you shouting “Eureka!” yet? On this Crew Review, we’re exploring the Eureka Zenith 65E Burr Grinder and showing you some cool features on this mighty machine.

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Do you have three pounds of beans you’re looking to grind up? Because the Zenith 65E can handle it. The bean hopper holds three pounds of beans and is matched with 65mm stainless steel flat burrs that’ll turn nails to dust—just kidding! Don’t try that at home. But really, these burrs create grounds quickly and consistently, which is what you need for a great espresso shot.

The stepless grinder gives you full control to find your sweet spot—the best grind for your shot—which marries seamlessly with the powerful burrs. You have complete control over the coarseness (as Gail demonstrates in the video). With unlimited options, it’s easy to see how you could lose it. This is what we’d call a double edge sword. A cool feature on the Eureka Zenith 65E to keep your grind is that the bottom burr adjusts the setting. When you go to clean your grinder you’ll remove the top burr and avoid losing your sweet spot!

The Eureka Zenith 65E has a built-in portafilter holder that’s ready for anything. Adjust the holder up or down to hold different sized portafilters and, when you’re ready, activated the grinder by pushing the portafilter into the button directly behind. The Zenith 65E also features an adjustable spout to dispense your grinds at different angels and a spotlight shining down onto your grounds. Didn’t we tell you it was ready for anything?

Once you’ve found your sweet spot and lined-up your portafilter, don’t forget to program your grind! Using two programmable portions, customize your volume for your ideal single or double shot. As long as you keep everything in place, you’ll have a consistent grind to come back to each time.

The Eureka Zenith 65E a worthy machine to bring into any home. Realistically this massive machine and its power might not be best for individual use. It would work wonders in an office, apartment community, commercial setting or a home business where you have people trickling in and out. Fill the bean hopper in the morning and you can pull espresso shots all day long.

Check out the full video below and tell us what you think of the Eureka Zenith 65E by leaving us a comment on our YouTube video!

Crew Review: Bonavita Travel Kettle

If you’re looking for a traveling companion for your spring break plans, then you need the Bonavita Travel Kettle! Whether you’re traveling within the US or to Europe, this series has got you covered with the Bonavita Dual Voltage Travel Kettle and Bonavita Mini Travel Kettle.

In this Crew Review, Gail wants to see which one will brew faster. Which one do you think will win? Find out by watching the video below or continue reading. Ready. Set. Go!

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Here are some stats to help you guess which one will win. Both kettles hold half a liter of water despite the different heights (you can see the Dual Voltage is taller). They both auto shut-off once it’s boiling to save the heating element from burning out—a must-have when traveling because who wants that added stress?

The real differences come down to the power. The Dual Voltage model features a 700-watt heating element for fast boiling. This travel kettle model, though, can switch from 120 to 220 voltages, which is great for traveling in Europe. It doesn’t come with a converter plug-in so you’ll have to grab one of those separately.

The Mini is built for traveling within the US. Its itty-bitty size is packed with 900-watts for boiling super fast (no spoilers! You’ll know the winner soon enough). Its smaller size takes up less real estate in an office or suitcase and as long as you only need it for US travels, it’s a great little companion!

Time’s up!

The winner is the Mini Travel Kettle!

The Mini boiled the fastest at four minutes with the Dual Voltage right behind it at about five minutes. So what you’d really want to look for in these travel kettles is how often you’ll need the dual voltage.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Crew Review! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover new products and learn how they work.

Crew Review: DeLonghi EC860 Espresso Machine

The traditional artistry of semi-automatics meets the one-touch capabilities of superautomatics in this entry-level machine. The DeLonghi EC860 is a semi-automatic with programmable features and a milk carafe to froth-up a piping hot cappuccino right into your cup!

DeLonghi_EC860

We know what you’re thinking, it’s strange to see a milk carafe on a semi-automatic. The EC860 comes with the option to auto steam with the carafe or manual steam with the panarello. If you’re worried about the milk temperature with the carafe, don’t! The carafe delivers hot, frothy milk right into your cup just like a one-touch.

The programmable features also don’t fail to impress us. Customize the temperature and volume of your espresso shot and, for the speciality drinks, you can change the milk volume. That’s something you generally don’t see in an entry-level machine! 

This entry-level machine is also equipped with a pressurized portafilter with baskets for a pod, single or double shot. With a pressurized portafilter, newcomers don’t need to worry about dialing in a consistent grind, it’ll compensate for you!

Con-wise, we’re not too keen on the plastic scamper—the scoop and tamper combo (which is not as convenient as a spork). Even with the pressurized portafilter aiding your shot, you still want a nice, even tamp to reduce grinds on the brew head and, of course, deliver a delicious espresso. We recommend purchasing a sturdier tamper. Also, this machine lacks a three-way solenoid valve, which makes a soupy coffee puck.

No matter how you look at this machine (oh, by the way, super nice stainless steel body) the pros outweigh the cons. We recommend this machine for entry-level folks who want a semi-automatic with the convenience and programmable features of a superautomatic. Or, hey, this machine is great seasoned coffee-brewers, too! Check out the video with the full review below and tell us what you think!

Crew Review: Cuppow Mason Jar Cold Brew Kit

Mason jars, coffee socks and cold brew coffee. You might be thinking this all sounds like an episode straight from Portlandia. But we assure you, coffee-lovers, it’s no joke! The Cuppow Mason Jar Cold Brew Kit is just that: a cold brewing mason jar kit with an organic cotton (we heard you laughing) CoffeeSock to brew your coffee grounds in.

While you might be laughing still, this summer-friendly cold brew is going to knock your socks off (pun intended) with its deliciously smooth flavor.

Check out our full video below to see how quick and easy it is to use the Cuppow Mason Jar Cold Brew Kit.

Cuppow Mason Jar Cold Brew Kit

What it comes with:

  • Organic cotton CoffeeSock Cold Brew Filter, created by Cuppow
  • 32-ounce mason jar

How it works:

  1. If this is your first time using the CoffeeSock, make sure to boil it before you use it.
  2. Take your CoffeeSock and put it inside the mason jar. Fold the open end of the sock over the top of the jar, so it creates a nice opening for coffee grounds.
  3. Add three ounces of coarsely ground coffee into the sock.
  4. Grab 24 ounces of cold water. Add some of your cold water to let the grounds bloom, just like you do with a pour over.
  5. Add the remaining water into the jar.
  6. Close up the CoffeeSock using the built-in tie, so it’s nice and tight to make sure no grounds end up in your coffee.
  7. Stick it in the fridge for 12 hours or up to a day to brew.
  8. When the time is up, take out the CoffeeSock, squeeze it out and pour yourself a cold cup of coffee! (This makes a concentrated cup, so if it’s too strong for your taste, add water or milk. Enjoy!)

P.S. Go ahead and drink it straight from the mason jar—we’re Seattle Coffee Gear, after all, we won’t judge.

Crew Review: Rancilio Silvia M

Say hello to the latest version of Rancilio’s Silvia, the Rancilio Silvia M. Like it’s predecessor, it features an all-over stainless steel body, traditional steam wand, and non-pressurized portafilter, but with some technical (and rather handy) upgrades. Check out the Crew Review video below to see the new additions at work.

Rancilio Silvia M

For those of you new to the Silvia, the machine features a traditional steam wand with a hot water feature and comes with a 58mm chrome plated brass portafilter—the same ones found on their commercial machines, so you know it’s good stuff—and stainless steel single and double shot baskets. It is a durable machine with equally reliable accessories, and we only recommend upgrading that plastic tamper for a metal-bodied one.

So, what has changed? The Silvia M has a new green “on” light. It may sound trivial, but as the machine is heating up, the orange light (directly below the green) will be on and then it’ll turn off. Since the green light will remain on, when the orange turns off it’ll be easy to see when your machine is ready to brew.

The Silvia M is still a single boiler machine, which means you’re steaming and brewing one at a time, so the two lights will help you temperature surf from steaming to brewing to get you ready to brew!

Inside the machine, there is a new the lead-free boiler and insulation wrap around the boiler. The heating element is still removable in case you do happen to get burnout, which will reduce the costs to fix it (but no worries there, our techs got you covered!).

In short, the heavy duty materials that make up the Rancilio Silvia M complement this hard-working single boiler machine and is for someone looking for control and quality in their espresso.