Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Breville Duo-Temp Pro

How Does It Compare?

First glance, we almost mistook the Breville Duo-Temp Pro for the Breville Infuser. These two entry-level machines feature the Breville touch with tons of user-friendly features and accessories to make home brewing convenient and, may we add, fun! However, the Duo-Temp Pro is equipped with one dial to flipped between brewing and steaming whereas the Infuser has two programmable buttons. While programmability is a bonus, we reap the benefits of the Duo-Temps Pro affordable price point while still being chock-full of advanced features, the same technology we see in the Infuser.

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.
The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.

Others at this price point are the Saeco Via Venezia; however, some of the Duo-Temp Pro features and functionality outshine the Via Venezia. The Duo-Temp Pro comes with both a pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters allowing beginners a chance to grow into their machine. The Duo-Temp Pro also automatically purges water from the Thermocoil boiler to bring it from steam temperature back down to brewing—an incredibly convenient feature on a single boiler. Let’s dive right into the Duo-Temp Pro’s espresso.

Shot

The espresso on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro is impressive. The combination of our trusty grinder—the Rancilio Rocky right now—and the automatic pre-infusion time, it doesn’t take long to pull a wonderful shot. The pre-infusion is completely controlled by the Duo-Temp Pro since the only controls are the one dial that flips between brew or steam/hot water and the “Select” button for steam or hot water. That’s it. While it may feel limited, the fewer controls allow beginners to focus on honing their skills. Fewer controls, though, doesn’t mean fewer features. The pre-infusion is just the cherry on top.

The Duo-Temp Pro's clean controls make it easy for beginner's to learn.
The Duo-Temp Pro’s clean controls make it easy for beginners to learn.

As we touched on briefly, the Duo-Temp Pro has an automatic purge, which is huge for a machine of this caliber. Since this is a single boiler machine, you can’t brew and steam at the same time, so naturally, we always steam first. After steaming, flip the switch back to neutral and you’ll hear the auto-purge remove the hot water and then flush in cool water from the reservoir. In a matter of seconds, you’re ready to brew! Bonus for the Duo-Temp Pro: It’s equipped with an internal PID that helps regulate the temperature.

The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.
The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.

The simple controls and automatic features create a user-friendly experience perfect for beginners, so without fail Breville paired it with the appropriate accessories. Generally, we see machines at this price point with only a pressurized option, however, the Duo-Temp Pro has both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the 54mm portafilter. The non-pressurized basket is an opportunity for beginners to hone their skills and advance into the professional’s field. Breville also included accessories such as their patented RAZOR Dose Trimming Tool, cleaning accessories and the magnetic tamper, which is stuck alongside the brew head out of the way.

Steam

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features a traditional steam wand, which will take more practice to learn but offers more rewards than a panarello-style steam wand. Because the Duo-Temp Pro uses a thermocoil heater, the steam wand produces heat on the fly and it’ll take a while to get up to speed—hey, that offers beginners plenty of time to get their technique down. We decided to use the Duo-Temp Pro to froth milk for latte art to test its capabilities (and ours). The Duo-Temp Pro has a one-hole steam tip, which does present some challenges heating the milk. If you leave it pointed in one direction and don’t angle it correctly, you’ll likely to unevenly heat the milk. The key here is to become familiar with the steam wand and find that sweet spot to spin the milk to incorporate any microfoam with the warm milk.

The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.
The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.

So, how did it go? Because it takes a while to get to full steam power, we had plenty of time to find that sweet spot and we were able to get beautiful latte-art milk on the Duo-Temp Pro. One thing we noted was from startup it took the thermocoil about 25 seconds before we saw steam. If you turned the dial to steam to remove condensation and then to neutral it would auto-purge and for a moment, we thought that was it. Fortunately, it only took a few seconds for the steam power to kick back in and work it’s way up to full steam.

Style

Clad in a brushed stainless steel casing, we couldn’t be happier with the outfitting on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro. The user-friendly controls are clean, evenly spaced and the buttons are backlit when the machine’s on, creating a seamless interface. Commercial-grade stainless steel portafilter and steam wand further accentuate the Breville’s fresh style and, of course, make delicious coffee. Bonus to the Duo-Temp Pro, it is BPA free for all the parts that come in contact with water and coffee.

Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won't be running to the sink very often.
Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won’t be running to the sink very often.

The brushed casing and compact size allow the Duo-Temp Pro to easily fit into any home brewer’s kitchen. At only 10.25 inches wide, its slim profile can easily squeeze on the smallest counters and fit a couple mugs on the cup warmer. Even though it’s a compact unit, the spacious 61-ounce water tank can easily handle multiple lattes. We were worried at first that the auto-purge would drain the reservoir but we went from the reservoir’s maximum capacity down to the minimum with four lattes and an espresso shot. Perhaps the only downside to the auto-purge is it’s a bit noisy doing it.

Conclusion

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro is an excellent entry-level semi-automatic. Its simple controls are balanced with advanced features, such as auto-purge, and offer beginners plenty of opportunities to hone their skills. The Duo-Temp Pro can produce several milk-based drinks and perhaps the only misgivings we could see people experiencing is the steam power. Since it’s a thermocoil, it takes a time to kick in but, hey, that’ll allow beginners some time to find the right angles to texture their milk. Practice makes perfect and the Duo-Temp Pro is the right machine for practicing.

Crew Review: Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder

How Does It Compare?

If you’re ready to move away from your old blade grinder, the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an excellent entry-level machine! The Infinity has features that won’t disappoint coffee lovers. The steel conical burrs, for instance, have stepped adjustments for beginner’s to learn how to perfect their grind for different brew methods. The Infinity’s affordable price places it in the same market as favorites like the Baratza Encore. Both are slated for new at-home baristas interested in brewing on a Chemex, Hario V60 or French press.

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.

Grind

Built with steel conical burrs, the Capresso Infinity munches through beans with ease. It doesn’t grind quickly though and that’s actually a good thing. The lower RPM (rotations per minute) of the steel burrs creates less friction and heat build up. This means you’re less likely to burn your beans and retain the flavor profile. Not to mention the slower speed makes this grinder ridiculously quiet. The finer we adjusted the settings we noticed the pitch got higher, but it was still extremely quiet for an automatic grinder.

The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.
The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.

The stepped grind adjustment is perfect for people wanting to learn how to make great coffee at home. There are 16 settings with four categories that range from Extra Fine to Coarse. If you’ve been reading up on grind differences for brewing, it’ll be intuitive to guess what setting you’ll want to use. A little less intuitive is the timer to activate the grinder. The dial features settings from one to 10 that act more as a reference point than actual timed dosage. When you grind at Extra Fine, there is less coffee per second passing through the burrs than grinding on Coarse. We’d recommend dialing in your grind and using the timer as a personal reference for dosage. That does pose some extra work for beginners to become familiar with dosage, consistency and timing.

Glamour

The Capresso Infinity is a quiet machine perfect for apartment living—the Crew has had neighbors complain about their noisy grinders in the wee hours of the morning. The Infinity will keep the peace. It’s small footprint also squeezes into that extra space on your apartment’s small countertop. Another bonus is that the 8.8-ounce bean hopper is compact and doesn’t stick out from the top of this machine, so it’s easy to clear low cabinets—a renter’s dream!

The Infinity's small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.
The Infinity’s small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.

After grinding up a Chemex’s worth of coffee, it was easy to see that the grounds were sticking everywhere. There’s no anti-static coating on the container, which makes it a bit sticker to remove the grounds. We didn’t lose tons of coffee, but we’d recommend keeping a towel and brush on hand to clean up escapees. The Infinity includes a comically adorable brush—that we upgraded with our Pallo—and scooper to get you started. These are great beginner accessories that we recommend upgrading once you’re using your grinder daily.

Grade

This entry-level grinder is an excellent machine for home brewers looking to make rich and smooth pour over or French press at home. The wide range on the Capresso Infinity offers a lot of grind options, so you’ll be able to dial in and customize your consistency. The Extra Fine and Fine setting on the Infinity, though, don’t quite make the cut for an espresso machine like the Rancilio Silvia M. It doesn’t make consistent enough grounds, so we’ll just tell you now, this grinder isn’t a great match for non-pressurized portafilters. You could use the Infinity with a pressurized portafilter like on the DeLonghi Dedica.

There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you're likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.
There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you’re likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.

Conclusion

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an affordable, entry-level machine. For home brewers emerging into the coffee sphere, the Infinity offers a lot of bang for its buck. Just remember this machine is better suited for Chemex, pour over or a drip coffee maker. If you’re starting your journey with espresso, then you’ll want to pair this grinder with a machine that uses pressurized portafilters. Its compact size will leave plenty of space for an entry-level espresso machine on your coffee bar.

Crew Review: Jura Z6

How Does It Compare?

The Jura Z6 comes with all the convenience you crave from a superautomatic plus new features that we’re excited to share. One of the newest features in the Z6 is Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) that pulses during the brewing cycle for espresso and specialty coffees to strengthen the flavor and intensity. You’re probably wondering if it works. Superautomatic owners know that they sacrifice quality espresso for convenience. Enter the Z6’s solution: P.E.P.  and we’re totally onboard with this new addition.

The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.
The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.

Jura also didn’t neglect us latte lovers out there. The Z6’s updated  milk temperature and milk foam temperature system can now select the temperature up to 10 levels with level one being the coolest temperature. Previous models haven’t come with a milk carafe and the Z6 is no different. However, Jura updated their cleaning system and it’s definitely one of our favorite hidden updates! The Z6 comes with a kit full of goodies, including a handy container for cleaning. Use this container with the cleaning solution to rinse out the milk hoses and you’re ready to store away—thank you, Jura!

Shot

Let’s dive more into the newly introduced P.E.P. system. The Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) optimizes the extraction time to increase the strength of espresso or specialty coffees like ristretto. Check it out for yourself—listen to it pulse at 5:45. Jura’s well-known for the exceptional strong espresso thanks to their machines dosing more grams per shot. With the new P.E.P. brewing alongside their preprogrammed dosage, it has only benefited the strength and flavor of their coffee. You can also adjust the bean strength—the number of grams added per shot—and grind setting to dial in the perfect extraction time for your coffee. Our taste-tester, Gail, took the new P.E.P. for a spin and yeah, the coffee is definitely full of flavor! Bonus: The crema on our espresso was thick and beautiful.

Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.
Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.

We’re pleased the Jura Z6 features a front-facing digital screen with easy-to-use buttons to select our choice. Choose from over 12 preprogrammed drink options and set your top six favorite drinks in the main menu. If you want to get into the whole menu, on the top right corner there is a dial that you spin for more drinks—iPod, anyone? To customize your drink preferences and locate other options such as auto-on time, press the circle button of the dial to access advanced settings such as “Expert Mode.” This is where you can also create your top six drinks that are saved to the home screen for easy access.

Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.
Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.

Equipped with an 81-ounce water tank and 9.9-ounce bean hopper, the Z6 has enough fuel to keep you fueled all morning long. The hopper features a tinted lid and rubber gasket for the freshest beans, which is great if you store beans in the hopper overnight—and hey, why wouldn’t you with the auto-on feature? The adjustable brew head slides up and down to maximize up clearance, which at the max is six inches tall. That’s enough space for a travel mug—unless you’re like us and your travel mug is more like the whole coffee pot. The brew head spouts also swing in and out (about two inches wide) to brew for a single or double portion.

Steam

We’ve heard the concern before from coffee lovers that they’re hesitant about taking home a superautomatics because of the frothing capabilities. Jura Z6 dashed those doubts with the upgraded programmable milk temperature and milk foam temperature settings. You can finally customize the temperature of your cappuccino foam! The temperature scale for the milk is set from one to ten—about a 22-degree difference—so we recommend trying one temperature settings at a time. The Z6’s additional temperature controls make getting your ideal temperature on milk-based drinks achievable.

The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.
The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.

As we mentioned earlier, one of our favorite features is the updated maintenance options. Before, you could clean the milk system, but there was never a dedicated spot to insert the milk hose. The Z6 comes with a handy little kit filled with maintenance goodies such as a fitted container for cleaning. Once you’re in the “Clean the milk system” setting, it’ll walk you through how to properly assemble the cleaning system. Start the program and watch it as it makes your machine squeaky clean!

Hello, swimming pool! The Z6 has a 81-ounce water reservoir.

Our only complaint is that the Z6 doesn’t come with a carafe. The hose features a fitted in to insert into one of Jura’s carafe (sold separately). If you don’t own a Jura carafe, the hose is placed into a container of your choice. We get our milk by the gallon here at SCG so that small hose can’t reach the bottom of the jug. We also appreciate a complete set and the stainless steel Jura carafe looks really nice up against the Z6’s aluminum front.

Style

The soft sheen of the aluminum casing makes the Jura Z6 stand out amongst superautomatics. The texture-rich front gives the Jura that expensive look you want in a smart one-touch superautomatic. Sure, the water tank and sides are plastic, but this machine’s sleek, futuristic style outshines the rest. The drip tray is also a heavy metal—perfect for standing up to ceramic mugs and cleaning—and under the Z6’s built-in light system, it sparkles. Yes, you read that right, the Z6 features a built-in light system under the brew head and in the water tank. You can turn it off and on, but when it’s on the reflection in the water give it that futuristic flair.

The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.
The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.

The Z6, unfortunately, is not designed to go under your cabinet. The power button is located in the far back next to the bypass doser and grinder setting. The Z6 has a large footprint and at 14.5 inches tall, it might be too snug under a cabinet anyway. Fortunately, the soft aluminum casing extends to the top and can stand alone on an open countertop. If you purchase the Z6, check out the manual and other printed goodies they send you home with. The futuristic space theme style on the machine is reflected in their beautiful printed goodies.

The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.
The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.

The Z6 features a front-facing screen that is navigated by the six side buttons or dial in the top right corner. The retro iPod-inspired dial makes navigating easy enough, but it can be frustrating if you spin the wheel to fast and miss your mark. Once you get a feel for the responsiveness of the dial, it’s easy to pick up. The digital screen features pictures and labels for each drink and action and is incredibly intuitive to make selections. When you’re not spinning the wheel, the menu defaults to your six favorite drinks, which you can select through the center dial.

Conclusion

The Jura Z6 improved P.E.P. brewing system and milk and milk foam temperature controls have made it easy for latte lovers to achieve that barista-quality espresso at home. And with its roomy water reservoir and bean hopper, it’s easy for  home brewers to make cup after cup. This one-touch superautomatic comes equipped with all the automatic maintenance tips you’ll need to upkeep the Z6 and we’re pleased with our updated milk cleaning system. The Jura Z6’s upgrades have improved the overall quality of coffee and milk temperature and we’re excited to use it more.

Crew Review: Miele CM6310

How Does It Compare?

Say hello to the Miele CM6310. Miele’s new to our product line up and we’re impressed with it’s convenient and customizable features for a superautomatic machine. Compared to some long-time favorites, like the Saeco Gran Baristo, the Miele CM6310 will give superautomatics a run for their money. The Miele CM6310 retails under competitors like the Gran Baristo without sacrificing a lot of those features necessary for early morning risers. The Miele offers four user profiles with the ability to customize every drink under that profile. The Gran Baristo offers six profiles and customization. The other noticeable difference is the Miele’s detached carafe. While not the most elegant integration, you can store the carafe in the fridge or the Miele has a second milk hose to insert into your own container. If you’re not itching for more profiles and are looking at a smaller price tag, the Miele will fit the bill.

The Miele CM6310's streamlined design complements modern kitchens.
The Miele CM6310’s streamlined design complements modern kitchens.

Shot

The Miele CM6310’s one-touch intuitive interface makes grabbing a quick cup of coffee or latte a snap. At first, you might be turned away from the unlabeled icons, but quickly consult the manual and it’s easy to see the function of these intuitive symbols. For instance, the “My Profile” icon is a person. Press the icon and the LCD screen displays up to four profiles and options to customize drinks. Customize the pre-infusion time, temperature or volume for each one of your favorite drinks and save it for next time under your profile. Adjust the strength of your coffee using the coffee strength icon (a bean symbol that we see used in other superautomatics) and grind setting. The grind setting is located inside the machine, so you’ll need to keep the right side clear to access. But once you’ve dialed in your grind, just simply enter your profile, choose your favorite drink and watch the Miele pour you a tall glass of goodness. Hello, convenience in a cup.

Miele_espresso
The Miele CM6310 offers a double portion button to make two drink in one go.

The convenience of the interface doesn’t outshine the coffee either. With all the available customization, it’s easy to perfect your cup to your taste. We left the factory settings alone and were more than impressed with our first cup. Our first espresso shot was hot, smooth and full of flavor. And when we wanted a latte, we got a latte. The carafe system directly siphons milk into the brew headwhere it’s frothed. Like with most superautomatics, it brews and steams one at a time and our freshly steamed milk didn’t lose temperature before our espresso made it in the cup—color us impressed.

Don't be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.
Don’t be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.

The Miele features a double portion button that brews two drinks at once. Press the double portions button and then pick your favorite drink and watch it whip up one for you…and one for you later. Unlike other superautomatics, the milk is siphoned through the brew h where it’s dispensed through the same two spouts as the espresso, which creates the two portions. Along with your lattes and cappuccinos, the Miele has a dedicated hot water spout and menu options such as hot water or hot milk. Grab a hot chocolate for the kids or make yourself a cup of tea, the Miele’s got plenty of options for the whole crew.

Steam

The Miele’s milk frothing system won’t disappoint latte and cappuccino lovers. The stainless steel thermal carafe keeps milk cool for a long time and easily stores in the fridge when you’re finished. It attaches to a hose system that draws cool milk up to the brew he where it’s then steamed. With all superautomatics, the texture and froth are hard to come by, and we found the Miele’s performance to be right there with some of the best superautomatics. The first sip of our latte, even after waiting for the espresso, was still hot, but not hot enough to burn your tongue. Of course, with all the customization, you can adjust the milk temperature for piping hot milk. At the factory setting, we were impressed by the temperature of our latte.

Pro Tip: The Miele CM6310 features an active cup warmer that can be turned on under the settings. Preheat your cups before brewing to maintain the best temperature from your milk and espresso.

The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn't lose temperature.
The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn’t lose temperature.

One of the things we disliked about the Miele is the aesthetics of the carafe off to the side. We’ve seen this design with Jura’s superautomatics and this style has its pros and cons. Along with the carafe, the Miele includes a second hose to insert directly into containers like a milk carton. All those hoses hanging off are unsightly and if you’ve ever cleaned a straw, cleaning a rubber hose is just as difficult. Luckily, Miele has created a solution to that dilemma with the “rinse milk pipework” feature and a steel rod that’s inserted into the hoses. To clean the carafe, remove the nozzle from the carafe and insert it into the drip tray—a handy feature we definitely appreciated after steaming multiple lattes.

The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele's brew group.
The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele’s brew h.

Style

The Miele CM6310’s sleek design features an intuitive LCD display that shows off its modern style. The Miele features an automatic timer that you can program to turn on in the morning and turn off when you’re headed out the door. It also includes an Eco Mode to reserve energy while it’s in use, although this does turn off some features like the cup warmer. The black and silver body, while plastic, has a beautiful sheen that’s clean and complements the streamlined, square structure. The adjustable brew h easily moves up or down for better cup clearance and the stainless steel drip tray created a sturdy platform for cups that sparkled under the built-in lights.

The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew h to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.

Bonus: The brew he comes apart to easily access the spouts so you can clean them of coffee oils or milk when you need too. Of course, the cleaning system on the Miele is so thorough, that we barely need to give cleaning a second thought. Before and after brewing the Miele automatically performs a rinse in the spouts. Also, after frothing, it prompts the “rinse milk pipework” cycle. The descriptive instructions make it easy to maintain this machine, so if you’re prone to forget to clean your machine, the Miele’s got you covered.

The Miele's right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.
The Miele’s right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.

Measuring at 10 inches wide by 16.75 inches deep and 14.12 inches tall, the Miele CM6310 large footprint makes it challenging to fit on a small countertop. We took it home and cleared the bottom of the cabinet with ease. If you want to access the grind settings, though, you’ll need to keep the right side door clear or be willing to muscle it out from the counter—the door is nearly as deep as the machine. Depending on the number of appliances on your counter, we had no problem keeping it clear in case we needed to open it up. The water tank is removed from the top of the machine, but fortunately, you need only a couple inches of clearance to remove the tank from the rails that guide it into place. We recommend measuring your cabinet clearance when you’re finding the Miele a home on your counter and if you have space, the Miele’s a perfect companion for coffee lovers.

Conclusion

With up to four profiles that can save individual’s drink preferences, the Miele CM6310 is the perfect machine for the family or small office. It’s packed with tons of convenient features such as the double brew option that will make two portions at the touch of a button. This one-touch superautomatic does all the heavy lifting and doesn’t disappoint our taste buds. We made a handful of lattes and cappuccinos and were impressed with how hot our drinks were between brewing. Even using the double portion option, we noticed the drinks didn’t cool too much. While the Miele is loaded with tons of features, the large footprint could make it a difficult espresso machine to fit onto a counter. But if you have the counter space, the Miele CM6310’s one-touch technology and customizable features will have you enjoying lattes in no time. 

Crew Review: Capresso EC Pro

How Does It Compare

The Capresso EC Pro is one of our favorite machines to recommend to entry-level baristas. Equipped with a pressurized and non-pressurized naked portafilter, low powered traditional steam wand and user-friendly interface, the EC Pro offers plenty of opportunities to hone your craft. Its affordable price and small footprint make it easy to squeeze into your life too. The DeLonghi Dedica EC680 similar price point makes it a worthy opponent to the EC Pro, but it doesn’t offer nearly as much skill-building opportunities.

The Capresso EC Pro industrial stainless steel body is a nice touch for this lower priced machine.
The Capresso EC Pro industrial stainless steel body is a nice touch for this lower priced machine.

The Dedica comes with only pressurized portafilter in single and double basket options—if we include looks, the portafilter’s spouts are nothing fancy—that will compensate for subpar coffee grounds and deliver yummy espresso for newbies. The panarello steam wand creates quick and undeniable foamy milk that’s great for cappuccinos. You could make a latte, but you would need to work the milk into paint-like texture before pouring latte art. The Dedica’s great for baristas looking to get quick and easy quality espresso whereas the EC Pro will provide plenty of entry-level experience to improve.

Shot

The non-pressurized naked portafilter is a shining gem on this machine. The naked bottom—ahem, we’re talking about the lack of spouts—allows barista’s a clear view of the stream of espresso. It’s essentially training wheels for baristas. When the grind size and tamp pressure are correct, the extraction is even and creates gorgeous tiger-striping, which is the light and dark colors merging together. Some call it magic. Others call it the results of a good extraction. We say it’s both.

The EC Pro comes with a non-pressurized naked portafilter and pressurized filter, respectively.
The EC Pro comes with a non-pressurized naked portafilter and pressurized filter, respectively.

We should also mention the portafilters are made from durable stainless steel—that’s commercial-grade right there. Since this is an entry-level machine, however, the interface is simple in design. It features a couple of switches and a dial to change between brewing and steaming. At this lower price point, the EC Pro has a single boiler, which means you can only brew or steam. For entry-level home brewers, that’s actually not a bad feature, so you can focus on one task at a time.

Pro Tip: With any single boiler machine, we recommend steaming first so that you’re espresso does sit and get cold. Texturing milk first also offers the opportunity to work your milk if you’re doing some latte art.

The user-friendly interface make this machine easy to operate for first time home brewers.
The user-friendly interface make this machine easy to operate for first time home brewers.

Steam

It’s so satisfying to pour latte art that actually looks like art. The Capresso EC Pro’s traditional steam wand provides just enough steam power to allow you time to properly incorporate your milk with air for that just-right microfoam. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up! The one-hole tip provides a steady stream of heat, so getting the wand angled to swirl the milk will help even the temperature and create microfoam.

The traditional steam wand only moves in an up and downward motion, making it difficult to angle milk containers.
The traditional steam wand only moves in an up and downward motion, making it difficult to angle milk containers.

However, getting a great angle on the EC Pro can be a challenge. The steam wand only adjusts up and down, which limits the wiggle room for containers. The clearance from the machine provides enough space for a pitcher and you’ll easily be able to angle it to perfect your technique.

Style

Surrounded with a stainless steel cover, the little Capresso EC Pro looks like a tyke-size industrial machine. Whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you, but we think that steel cover provides a nice, expensive-looking touch—they could have just wrapped it in plastic, you know? Also, this classic cut looks exactly like a miniature commercial machine. We’ll also remind you the EC Pro has some commercial-inspired features such as the stainless steel portafilter—oh yeah, super nice.

The industrial designed EC Pro looks similar to commercial-grade machines.
The industrial designed EC Pro looks similar to commercial-grade machines.

Where the Capresso EC Pro style lacks in flair, it makes up for with amenities. The small footprint also means it’s perfect for tight spaces—say in an apartment next to the microwave? The small cup warmer has a metal top to heat those cups up and tiny rails to keep things aligned. The straight forward switch and dial interface are probably our least favorite look, but it’s efficient and straight-forward.

The brew/steam and on/off switches are user-friendly but not much to look at.

Conclusion

For any entry-level barista, the Capresso EC Pro will have everything you need. It’s like training wheels on a bike: Once you learn how to ride, you take the wheels off. The EC Pro’s naked portafilter shows you how well it’s extracting—goal is to have tiger stripes—and lets you practice to perfect your technique. And we’ll add it’s just downright gorgeous to see. If you’re looking for convenience during training, the pressurized portafilter’s got your back. All in all, the price-point, entry-level training and high-quality features give the other tiny semi-automatics a run for their money.

Crew Review: Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker

How Does It Compare?

Now there’s a handsome brewer! The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker marries pour over with automatic functionality. We’ve categorized this coffee maker as a drip brewer, but we feel it deserves classification as an automatic pour over. What makes the Ratio stand apart from drip coffee makers is the automatic bloom cycles that occur during and just-right brew temperatures. We’ve seen this method of brewing on the Chemex Ottomatic, a fairly new machine too. Comparing these machines, pour over connoisseurs will take note of a couple important differences.

Ratio_Side

To start, the Ratio Eight Edition performs a proper bloom that completely stops the flow of water for 30 seconds. The Ottomatic does the same, but occasionally water dribbles from the brew head for marginally earlier extraction than is intended. The Ratio also automatically turns off after brewing—no heating element here—so coffee is fresh and never overheated. Meanwhile, the Ottomatic’s hot plate design has no automatic functionality at all, continuously burning your coffee without end. Another pro, the Ratio Eight Edition only has one plastic component that is BPA-free and FDA certified for food-grade applications. Check out our Chemex Ottomatic Crew Review for in-depth pros and cons of the new Ottomatic.

Brew

You’re only seven minutes away from a full 8-cup carafe of crisp pour over coffee. Designed after the Fibonacci Spiral, hot water is evenly dispersed over grounds for equal extraction. Pour over connoisseurs will be happy to know that the pre-infusion and bloom process is about 30 seconds per pause. It’ll continue this process until it runs out of water and you have a whole 40-ounces to brew through, so it’ll take a few minutes depending on your grind. If you’re curious what grind setting to do on this new automatic pour over machine, we decided to use our standard pour over grind setting for the Ratio Eight Edition and found that setting was ideal. If the grounds were too fine, the coffee would overflow (yeah, that happened) and too coarse wouldn’t extract properly. We clocked the finished pot at about seven minutes with our grind.

Ratio_brew

Brains

The Ratio Eight Edition is incredibly easy to operate. It has one on/off button at the front that automatically starts the pre-infusion and brewing process and is outfitted with lit icons that indicate where you are in the brewing process. For instance, “Bloom” is used for pre-infusion and “Ready” means the good stuff is served. You can press the on/off button again to stop your coffee, but once it’s interrupted you’ll have to start over.

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If you’re a bit forgetful, then you’re going to love these next two features. The Ratio includes a magnetic activator on the bottom of their carafe to engage the Ratio Eight. If it’s not there, then it won’t brew! Some people might view the special carafe as a double edge sword; it means you can’t use a non-branded carafe with the Ratio. If you’re not an 8-cup-a-day drinker, then you might find the large carafe a bit too much. Then, there are the clumsy people; fortunately for you, they sell the carafe separately if you happen to break yours.

Lastly, forgetful connoisseurs, there is no heating element on the Ratio Eight Edition. Once the reservoir is empty, the brewer turns off. We heard some complaints about the lack of the auto-off on the Chemex Ottomatic’s heating element, a similar machine to the Ratio, so we’re pleased to inform everyone that you don’t need to worry about the Ratio—rejoice! This also means that coffee-lovers don’t have to be concerned about the flavor of coffee after overheating on an element. It will be a fresh cup each time.

Beauty

Designed and assembled in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition is built from the highest-quality material. Its look says it all. Thick and tempered borosilicate glass is hand-turned for a smooth, seamless finish. The body is constructed from aluminum that reflects a rich sheen in the light. Being born in Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition included premium hardwoods such as the maple found in the Silver Edition we carry.

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Its footprint leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a massive machine that’s designed with a wider base and arms that extender ever so slightly off the side. It’s a coffee maker that’s meant to stand out; it’s not meant to be situated next to a microwave or fridge. The hope is that an owner of a Ratio Eight Edition will treasure it’s elegant curves and edges no matter the size.

Conclusion

While we’re discussing high-quality material, the price tag is a frequent topic with a machine of this caliber. It’s nearly twice as expensive as the Chemex Ottomatic, so why would you purchase this machine? For starters, Ratio offers a beautiful 10-year limited warranty on manufacturer’s defects—Ten. Years. We think some coffee owners out there would agree that they could easily go through a handful of the lower priced coffee makers in that time. Then there’s also the fact that there are not many automatic pour overs on the market that are as elegantly designed and constructed from high-quality materials. If you love the look, love the quality and love pour over, it’s a worth while investment.

Crew Review: Baratza Sette 270

How Does It Compare?

Here it is, the Baratza Sette 270! We’ll be testing its counterpart, the Baratza 270W soon, but in the meantime, we’ll give you the low down on Baratza’s two newest grinders. The main difference is the Sette 270W measure grounds by weight and features Bluetooth technology while the Sette 270 measures by time (as you’d find on a lot of grinders). Besides the extra technology added into the Sette 270W, these grinders, these grinders feature the same powerful mechanics.

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The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has arrived on this week’s Crew Review.

Grind

Built with 40mm steel conical burrs,the mechanics of the Sette 270 seem similar to most other grinders on the market. We’ll just tell you, they’re not! The Sette 270’s magic is in its design. It’s the only grinder that has the outer burr rotate while the inner burr is fixed. With the motor mounted horizontally instead of vertically, the bean hopper is seated directly above the burrs, giving the beans a straight shot down the hatch—leaving virtually no grounds behind! Seriously, the coffee only travels vertically so the grounds don’t have a place to sit and stale.

The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.
The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.

This inspired design increases the Sette 270’s speed and efficiency. Baratza clocked the grinder at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second! If you’re in doubt, check out our Crew Review video for yourself! Outfitted with a stepped macro and a stepless micro adjustment ring, it allows you to fine-tune your grind from French press coarse down to espresso fine. We’ve experimented with the finest settings to see if we could choke the grinder and the Sette 270 persevered! We’re blown away by how fast and efficiently the Sette 270 turns beans the size of pencil erasers into powdered sugar.

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Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings.

Once you’ve played around with the Sette 270 and found your just-right grind, Baratza gives you three programmable buttons to lock in time. But let’s say you want to change up your volume, Baratza’s got an answer for that too! Kyle from Baratza calls it, the “pulse” button. If you press and hold it, it’ll start manually grinding until you release it.

Pro Tip: It takes a second to engage the manual grind, so be quick about it! If you only want a small amount, do some trials with the grind and program it to save on beans.

Glamour

Did you know Sette in Italian is seven? Right, right! The name’s in the design. Purely talking about the Sette 270’s looks, the shape is similar to some recent espresso machines that have been released like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II. The angular shape is breaking away from the mainstream style we’re accustomed to and showing off more curves. All these new dimensions are aesthetically pleasing and fit in easily with different espresso machines and coffee makers available.

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

Cleanup has never been easier! With the beans direct path, there are almost no residual grinds. If you do want to do some light cleanup, the bean hopper comes off easily with a door (Kyle calls it a ‘Hopper Stopper’) that swings shut. There’s a handful of beans left over, so you’ll want to either vacuum or tip those out. Afterward, we recommend taking a grinder brush and sweeping out the leftover grinds. A deeper clean is easy to achieve too. You don’t need a screwdriver on the Sette 270, the whole burr twists right off! Take the macro adjustment past the lowest setting and it’ll drop out. This does mean you’ll lose your grind setting, so be aware of the macro setting and be patient dialing it back in. Luckily, there are no loose screws or small parts to worry about.

Grade

We’ve been working our way up to this: What other benefits are hiding in the Sette 270’s horizontal design? Constructed to optimize efficiency, Baratza created the best convertible holder we’ve seen in a long time. The horizontal design freed up space for a container up to 5.75 inches tall and 3.50 inches wide. The width is based on how far the two arms extend. These arms also have a third smaller arm to easily hook in your portafilter. Switch it from espresso to holding a Hario V60—yeah, it can do that. It can handle holding different types of equipment for the different grind settings it offers.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.

We know you’re itching for the deets on the Sette 270W. Kyle from Baratza visited us and revealed the in and outs of this new innovation. Both are built with the same mechanics, but the Sette 270W takes this innovation further using weight measurement and Bluetooth. Check out our Baratza Sneak Peek 270W video and let us know what you think!

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 the 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.

Oscar2_water
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. 

Oscar2_buttons
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.

Oscar2_steam

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.

Oscar2_sidefront

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.
Bonavita8_Full
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.

ChemexOtto_5
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.

Bonavita8_ShowerHead
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.

Delonghi6600_1

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.

Delonghi6600_3

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.

Delonghi6600_5

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.