We have carried Nespresso capsule machines for awhile now and we know that while they’ll definitely get the caffeinated job done, it’s unlikely that the shots they produce will ever knock your socks off. illy came to the scene recently with their reworked Francis Francis! machines that utilize the Iperespresso capsule functionality, so we decided it was time for a little side-by-side taste-off.
Note that there are a ton of variables at play here, especially since both of these use proprietary capsule systems and blends, we couldn’t necessarily judge the machine’s tech separate from the coffee’s flavor. Bunny selected a dark roast, light roast and single origin from each manufacturer for us to taste; watch as the crew gives their feedback on flavor!
For a moment there, we thought we’d lost them! When we first discovered Concept-Art, we fell in love with their simple and elegant design, as well as variety of pro-level gear at a great price. So when we heard that they wouldn’t be exporting to the US any longer, we were super bummed. Conversely, when we learned that they had figured their export story out, we were super stoked!
Since our line-up changed a bit, we decided it was time for a redux. Watch as we go through all these beautiful goodies!
Next up in the grinder battle to the death (wait, what?!): The Mazzer Mini vs. the Rancilio Rocky. Now, these are fairly different grinders in terms of features and functionality, but when folks consider whether or not to go with the more budget-conscious Rocky or to upgrade to a Mazzer, the Mini is the entry level model that is often targeted.
Watch as we go through how these two grinders compare in specs and grind quality.
Due to popular request, we decided to match up the Baratza Vario and the Rancilio Rocky coffee grinders. While these are in similar price ranges, they both have different pros and cons and folks are often torn on which to choose.
If you’re not sure which might best suit your needs, watch as we go through features, compare burr sets and then demonstrate their grind quality.
Get ready for a gastronomical journey, friends! Brandi goes all mad scientist on us with today’s recipe, featuring a rather unique treat: Espresso Caviar. Watch her craft this crazy concoction!
- 2 – 3 cups vegetable oil
- (2) 1/4 oz. packages of powdered gelatin (4 teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 3 oz. espresso – freshly brewed
- 1/4 cup salt for water bath
- Plastic squeeze bottle
- Mesh sieve
- Chill oil overnight in the refrigerator. The oil must be very, very cold for the gelatin to set properly.
- In a medium bowl, mix the gelatin and water until combined, then let it stand while you make your espresso.
- Pour hot espresso over gelatin mixture and mix until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Transfer the melted gelatine mixture to the plastic squeeze bottle and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down before you start the caviar making process. If it’s too hot, the caviar will be misshapen.
- Put oil in a 1 quart metal or glass container.
- Prepare an ice bath by filling a larger bowl with ice and water until it is 2/3 full, then add salt and stir thoroughly. Rest the chilled oil bowl on top.
- Begin dropping the gelatin mixture in the chilled oil, 1 – 3 drips at a time.
- Allow the droplets to sit in the cold oil for 3 – 5 minutes, then scoop out and strain in a metal sieve.
- Repeat this process until you’ve used all of the gelatin mixture.
- Serve immediately over ice cream or any other dessert you think you benefit from a little extra espresso!
- You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge; just add enough oil to cover them and they’ll remain moist for about a week.
Now that I have built my espresso connoisseurship from zero to somewhere above average, but still far below that of Juan Valdez, I was reluctant to go back to my lazy ways. New single-cup espresso capsule machines from Francis Francis for illy arrived awhile back and I played coy. I stayed away until I found out our crew of espresso machine technicians were proponents of this capsule craze.
I wrangled one each of the Francis Francis Y1.1 and the Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machines over to my desk. Mike and Jeff from the refurbish crew volunteered to be my guinea pigs …er, I mean taste-testers. They programmed the extraction time on both machines to their preferred shot length to assist me with a side-by-side comparison. The new illy coffee capsules come in a canister — like the whole bean and pre-ground illy coffees do — and in the same flavor profiles. I popped the top off of a can of illy iperespresso Dark Roast capsules to try in the two new machines.
In the end, it ‘all boils down’ to case style and drink preference. The illy iperespresso capsules have a patented pressurized design and both machines provide the right brew temperature and pressure to get the most flavor extracted. Upon Shiami’s suggestion we ran hot water through the machines to get them up to temp and to pre-warm the demistasse cups. Then we hunkered down and watched the espresso as it streamed out of the two machines for 29 seconds each.
All variables being equal, Mike and Jeff preferred the Y1.1 since it has one-touch operation right out of the box. Shiami preferred the X7.1 for her lungo. There may be a slight temperature advantage as the X7.1 maintained heat within the metal portafilter, but I did not taste a discernible difference as I sampled the espresso produced. If you are in need of steady milk frothing, the X7.1 is the one to pick. If your need for steamed milk is more occasional, an accessory frother like the Breville Smart Cafe paired with the Y1.1 is also a winning combination.
So who did we declare the winner? For me, at least, simple is always better, so the tie goes to … the Y1.1!
Today is the day when we look ourselves in the mirror and sternly pose the following question: If required to at gunpoint, would we be able to perform a side by side comparison of the Baratza grinders? Why we might be required to do so at gunpoint is neither here nor there, but we do believe that an unquestioned life is not worth living … so we ask the tough questions.
To get the answers, we turn to the beautiful Bunny Malaspino, who was more than happy to perform such a comparison (sans weaponry) for us in this video. Watch as she breaks down the current Baratza line-up — Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, Vario and Vario-W — and shows us how they compare functionally. If you’ve been concerned about your own ability to perform such a comparison under such stressful circumstances, this video is for you.
Part of their newer series of machines, Saeco’s Intelia Cappuccino is both petite and, quite simply, gorgeous. Featuring an upgrade to their one-touch milk frothing functionality that produces hotter auto-frothed milk and a sleek case design, we love its simple interface and its hematite hue.
Watch as Gail takes us through its features and then demonstrates making a one-touch cappuccino in this video review.
Mazzer’s suite of grinders offers something for everyone — from the small in stature and simplicity of the Mini all the way to the sophisticated conical burrs of the Robur E, you’d be hard pressed not to find one that meets your needs.
We’ve never had them all around at one time in order to compare them side by side, so when the opportunity presented itself, we had to jump on it! Watch as Gail takes us through all of their features and specs, shows off their burrs and then compares their performance.
As any good product developer knows, the key to keeping things real for their customers is to iterate, iterate, iterate! In Rocket’s newest version of their popular R58 dual boiler espresso machine, they’ve made a few adjustments to improve both the form and function of the machine.
Form-wise, they’ve strengthened the chassis, added nylon rails to improve the fit of the drip tray and implemented a magnetic drip tray closure. Function-wise, they’ve installed a new control board to optimize steaming and brewing and updated the firmware on the external PID.
Watch as Gail takes us through all the features and specs of the V2 R58, then makes a delicious cappuccino in a gorgeous Lino cup!