Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Rancilio Rocky Grinder Redux

When we think of reliable and hardworking, we think of the Rancilio Rocky rocky_grindersgrinder. Is that weird? We don’t think so…

The Rocky is available in a doser version, for those that go through a decent amount of coffee and/or rarely change their grind, or a doserless version, which grinds directly into your portafilter. Each one gives you a sturdy build and 55 different grind settings, so you can go from espresso to drip (and back again) with ease.

Given that the Rocky is the apple of our eye, we decided it was time for an updated Crew Review. Check it out below and watch as Gail and Brendan walk us through features, dialing in the grind and removing the burrs for maintenance!

Crew Review: Primula Coffee and Tea Products

We love a product that can do double duty (or, in this case, triple duty)! Primula Products

The Primula coffee and tea products do just that, allowing you to brew everything from cold brew coffee to fruit infused iced tea. They even have a bottle that lets you make cold brew on-the-go! So, let’s take these products one by one, shall we?

First up, the Primula Cold Brew Glass Carafe System. Simply add 16 tablespoons of ground coffee to the mesh filter, screw the insert into the carafe, add water and let brew in your refrigerator overnight. Easy peasy, yes? You can also store it the refrigerator for up to 14 days, so you’ll never be far from a chilly caffeine jolt!

Then you have the Primula Flavor It 3-In-1 Beverage System, which has inserts for: Brewing tea, infusing your beverage with fruits or herbs and a core you keep in your freezer for a quick cool down (minus the dilution of ice). But who needs tea when you can make sangria? Yeah, we went there. Oh, and you can use the same inserts from this little guy with the cold brew carafe.

Last, but not least, is the Cold Brew Bottle. It allows you to make cold brew on your way to work…’nough said!

If you want to learn more, you should watch the video below. Heck, you should watch the video below regardless. Sarah and Teri have a grand old time with the Primula product line!

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

Toddy Cold Brew SystemInterested in one of the summer’s hottest (or should we say coolest?) gadgets? If you’re in to cold brew coffee or even coffee in general, there’s a good chance you have heard of the Toddy Cold Brew System. The Toddy was originally created 50 years ago by Todd Simpson, after a Peruvian process for producing coffee concentrate inspired the chemical engineering graduate to make his own system for brewing cold (and hot!) coffee with less acid to be easier on the stomach. The rest is history and the Toddy has been popular ever since. In fact, ever since we opened our first store around eight years ago, people always came in asking for the Toddy. This brewer has gotten even trendier in the last year or so, and we are lucky enough to have it now gracing our shelves.

It seems we got the Toddy at just the right time, since we don’t know if we would have survived this scorcher of a summer without it. Several of our crewmembers haven’t been able to start their day without heading to the refrigerator for a fresh cup made on the Toddy Cold Brew System. It’s easy to see why everyone has fallen in love with the Toddy, even though it may not be the fanciest looking piece of equipment we carry, since it is incredibly easy to use and requires minimal prep-work.

Besides being easy to use, the Toddy Bold Brew System does also create some very smooth and tasty coffee. If you can’t get enough of this cold brew or want to serve it in your cafe, there is an even larger Commercial Toddy Cold Brew System that will produce 2.5 gallons of goodness. Now, that is a lot of coffee concentrate! The nice thing about this commercial brewer is that even though you are making more coffee, the process is relatively similar to that of the home sized brewer and takes the same amount of time. In addition, if coffee isn’t your bag, you aren’t out of luck as you can also cold brew tea on both models of the Toddy!

While it was hard for us to find many downsides to the Toddy, we do wish the removable handle were a bit sturdier, as all the weight from the coffee made it feel a little unstable at times. Likewise, we would also like to see the home model of the Toddy come with a lid for the brewer in the future, like on the commercial model, as this would make us worry less about our previous coffee getting disturbed during the steeping process.

Overall, the few issues we found were fairly minor and are made up by the days of coffee the Toddy can provide a solo sipper and all the fun recipe ideas that come with the brewer. Perhaps there will some experimenting in our future. In the meantime, you can pick some brew tips from Brendan and Gail as they review the Toddy and come up with a few recipes on the fly.

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

Taste Test: Mokito Coffee

Mokito CoffeeHere at SCG we love trying new things, and are always on the lookout for new coffee and tea to sample or new products to experiment with. As such, we couldn’t believe our excitement when we got our hands on Mokito coffee. This coffee has been produced in Lombardy, Italy since 1931, but it can be a bit challenging to get a hold of outside of the country. In fact, as far as we know, we are the only ones in the United States that currently sell Mokito blends.

Once these roasts traveled safely into our stores, we had to sample them! To make it a fair comparison, we decided to brew all the roasts across the same brew method. This time around, our brew method of choice was the Bodum Brazil French press. We loaded 45 grams of each flavor, ground to a French press grind, into our presses and added 23 oz. of 200-degree water. Then came the best part, actually drinking the coffee! Here are our thoughts on each Mokito Coffee:

  • Bianco: Best brewed as drip coffee, half of our taste testers feel in love with the Bianco blend. We found the blend to have hints of nutty flavors (although one taster thought the brew also had a slightly vegetable taste), and it was very clean and smooth.
  • Verde: The mildest of all three of the blends, we thought the Verde blend would be a great option for people just getting into coffee or for people who don’t like starting the day off with strong coffee. We also thought this coffee had a slightly green hue, but the name could have biased us. During later testing we found this roast tasted the best when brewed as drip coffee.
  • Rosso: Definitely the strongest blend, Rosso preforms really well as an espresso. We thought this blend had a smokey flavor, similar to toasted or roasted almonds. We also picked up a few hints of chocolate.

If you are a fan of Italian coffee, we highly recommend giving Mokito coffee a try. Overall, we found all three Mokito blends to be very smooth, and its flavor and aroma are very comparable to other well-known Italian brands, like Lavazza. For more tasting notes, watch as some of our crew sample this wonderful coffee.

Taste Test: Mokito Coffee

Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Francis Francis Y5If you are in the market for a capsule espresso maker, the new Francis Francis Y5 for illy is the way to go. This is largely because the machine is both sophisticated and very convenient. With brushed and mirrored stainless steel casing, the machine will look very elegant on your countertop. The machine is also very slim, it probably is even smaller than a toaster, so you won’t have any trouble finding room for it on your counter. Yet despite its small size, the Y5 still has a water tank that is larger than most in its class, which is nice because that means you won’t be constantly refilling it. There is even a nice staging area on the top machine, which heats up as you use the machine so you can take the chill off your cups.

The Francis Francis Y5 truly is a no fuss, no muss machine. To brew a shot, all you have to do is pop your Iperespresso Capsule into the top of the machine, select whether you want a single or double shot, and the machine will do the rest for you. In less than a minute, you will have a full-bodied shot of espresso, with rich crema, waiting for you. If you like to get fancy and play around with the settings on your machine, you are able to do so on this machine as well. You can program the volume of both the single and double shots on your machine. To program the machine, simply hold the button for your single or double shot (whichever you are programming) while brewing and then make your adjustments. The Y5 will then remember these setting for the next time you brew, so you won’t have to worry about entering them in again. Best of all, when the machine is done brewing your shot it will automatically eject the espresso capsule from the brewing chamber in to the dredge box.

Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong with this machine. Even Brendan admitted that this is his favorite capsule machine, because it has such a nice look and is easy to use. Check out the sleek styling of the Francis Francis Y5 as Brendan and Dori brew up a shot.

Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Crew Review: Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots

Rishi Tea Simple Brew TeapotsRishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots1Love tea? So do we! In these hot summer months, and particularly the “Dog Days of August” as some people like to call them, there is nothing better than a glass cold, smooth iced tea to cool you down. Luckily, with the Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots, making iced tea has never been easier!

To all of you who love coffee as well, this brewer might remind you of a French press. The construction is similar, as there is a filter attached to the brewer’s lid. However, unlike a French press, you don’t press the filter down. The purpose of filter is not to help extract the tea, but to prevent any tea particles from escaping into your cup. To make iced tea, fill the larger, 24 oz. Simple Brew Iced Teapot to the halfway mark with hot water, add your tea and let it steep for the desired length of time. After your tea has steeped, fill the other half of the teapot to cool down your tea. You might also want to refrigerate the tea and add ice to help cool it down even faster. Serve by pouring over a couple of ice cubes in a glass.

However, these teapots aren’t just for making iced tea, they will also brew a pretty tasty cup of hot tea. We love that these teapots because they are multifunctional as it allows you to use them all year long. The smaller, 13-15 oz. teapot is especially a good option for brewing hot tea, as it is more of personal-sized teapot that you can use to brew up one to two cups of tea. The process for brewing a hot cup of tea is similar to that of brewing a cold tea. All you have to do is spoon your loose leaf tea in to the bottom of the teapot, add hot water, let the tea steep for as long as you want and enjoy.

The smallest of these Rishi Simple Brew Teapots are also just big enough to allow a blooming tea ball to expand as it steeps. Thus, at your next tea party you can not only impress your guests with these classy looking teapots, but also entertain them as they watch their tea unfurl into a beautiful flower as it steeps. To discover more uses for these teapots, watch as Dori shows tea-newbie Brendan the ropes.

Crew Review: Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 OD

Rancilio KRYO 65 ODWant to be able to create the perfect grind on demand when making drinks at your cafe? Now, you can with the Rancillio KRYO 65 OD. The “OD” just happens to stand for “On Demand.” With this grinder you will be able to easily dose any amount of coffee you want to be ground with the single, double and customize buttons on the machine. The thing that is particularly nice about this customize feature is that you can grind continuously when making drinks. For instance, if you are making a single, double and triple, you have the function to grind for all three drinks without actually going in and changing the settings as you would on most other machines. Likewise, with this grinder you will be able to grind for nearly any application you can imagine – French press, drip coffee espresso, fine drip/pour over and even Turkish coffee.

While the On Demand function is what makes this machine standout most from its “sibling” the KRYO 65, there are a couple of other features, such as dosing and counting, which are unique to the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD. One feature we really like is the “start dose” option. This setting provides you with the choice of starting the dose by activating the grinder with a portafilter or the press of a button. Thus, if you don’t like to have to constantly push in your portafilter to start your grind, this is a very nice option.  Another option you have within the KRYO 65 OD’s dosing settings is to set the grinder to dose out your coffee based on time. To do this you will have to figure out how many seconds your grinder needs to run to in order to fill up your portafilter for a single or double shot, but once you do so, you can program the machine to run for that length of time every time you want it to grind for a single or double shot.

When it comes to counting your drinks, the KRYO 65 OD allows you to keep track how many total drinks you have made, as do many other machines. However, unlike other machines, you can also keep track of how many single, double and customized shots you produced on the grinder. By keeping track of your drinks this way, you can make sure you aren’t running through a bunch of espresso and not charging for it. In addition, there are counters for the burrs themselves, a feature we haven’t seen on many other machines. These counters allow you to calibrate your grinder by weight, so it will tell you exactly how many grams of coffee you use when you make a shot. You then can take that weight and input it into the settings of the machine, so your grinder thinks every time it makes a shot it is dosing a certain amount of coffee. Finally, you can then use the burr counter to see how much weight has gone through the machine. While this process isn’t completely perfect, it is great because it allows to you too see how much coffee has gone through your machine so you know when you are due to replace your burrs (this typically after going through 900-1,000 pounds of coffee).

Ultimately, we found the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD to be a pretty great grinder. It is a pretty clean grinder, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning up a huge mess after making a drink. In addition, the price point of the machine is pretty reasonable, especially considering all the great features that are included. To see what actually all of these features and options to do, watch as Brandon explores some of the machine’s settings.

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 OD

Crew Review: Jura Impressa F8

Jura Impressa F8Jura has been busy designing a lot of new machines, and this latest model is sure to impress all of your friends! The Jura Impressa F8 contains a mix of some of the best features from the brand’s new and older machines. However, in our opinion the nicest part about this machine is its software and all of the programmability it has.

One of our favorite settings on the Impressa F8 is the “Expert Mode,” which allows you to be the authority and change the settings (shot volume, shot strength, shot temperature and amount of milk used) for all the drinks that are programmed on the machine. Likewise, the F8 gives you the option of changing the volume of your shot once the machine starts to brew, allowing you to customize and play around with your drinks on the fly. Finally, the machine also has a counter so you can keep track of how many shot you’ve pulled and how many drinks you’ve made, and use that to help calculate when your machine is due for a cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning, while Jura doesn’t provide you with access to the brew unit, which is the case on all of their superautos, they do provide you with some pretty efficient automated cleaning tools. These tools can be found and accessed in the maintenance section of the machine’s programming. For instance, you can program the Jura Impressa F8 rinse both your coffee and milk system to ensure your machine doesn’t get gunked up with coffee residue or old milk.

The Jura Impressa F8 is ideal for someone with a lot of users in their home, such as roommates or large family, that enjoy making a variety of coffee drinks. While we wish Jura had incorporated a little more stainless steel into the casing of the machine, we like that it has features like a bypass doser and digital screen as well as a ton of functionality. Watch as Brendan and Gail play around with the settings for making a cappuccino on the Impressa F8, and attempt Gail’s famous superauto latte art.

Crew Review: Jura Impressa F8

Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips

CappuccinoBy now you’ve probably heard of the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest. If you haven’t, this annual contest hosted by Lay’s allows people to submit their ideas for new potato chip flavors in to the company. The brand then selects three to four “flavor finalists” to actually produce so that the public can sample them and vote on an ultimate winner. Last year’s contest conjured up inventive flavors like Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread (which ended up being declared the winner). This year, contestants have gotten even more creative in developing flavor finalists, which are Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa, Wasabi Ginger and Cappuccino chips.

Being the coffee lovers that we are, we were both surprised and interested to hear that a cappuccino chip was being created. After all it combined two of our favorite things, a cappuccino and potato chips. However, we were a little uncertain how these two flavors would mix, as they are both pretty distinctive. As such, we decided we no choice but to put these cappuccino chips to the test and taste them ourselves. However, we wanted this test to be as scientific as possible and wanted people to taste these chips without developing any preconceived notions about their flavor. Therefore, we decided to invite several of our crew members to blind tasting, so we could find out what they truly thought of the chips.

“What were the results of the experiment?” you may ask.  What did the chips taste like? Are they sweet, salty or somewhere in between? More importantly, do they actually taste like a cappuccino or even coffee? You’ll just have to watch the video of our crew chowing down on these cappuccino chips to find out. Likewise, if you have gotten to try the chips out yourself, we would love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment and share your review.

Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips

Crew Review: Melitta Pour Over Stands

Stainless StandMelitta Pour Over StandsWant to ensure you stay on trend with your coffee making? Why not try pour over coffee? Manual coffee-making methods are becoming increasingly popular, you’ve probably seen them popping up in your favorite cafes and many coffee enthusiasts are using them at home as well. The nice thing about brewing with pour overs is that you have more control over the different variables (the grind, water temperature, length of the pour, etc.) that go into to making a cup of coffee so you can create your ideal cup of coffee. In addition, with a pour over, you can evenly extract your entire basket of coffee, which is big advantage. Oftentimes on drip machines the middle of your coffee will get extracted a lot more than the edges, which can impact the flavor. As result, pour over coffee is typically very smooth and highlights the unique flavor profile of the coffee brewed. Besides providing you with the control you need to create a quality cup of coffee pour overs are also a simple, lo-fi way to create a tasty cup of coffee. All you need is a cup, kettle, pour over and a filter of coffee to start brewing. Of course, if you are brewing on a pour over, it is also nice to have a stand! Devices like Melitta Pour Over Stands put the focus on the coffee brewing process and provide an extra helping hand by holding your pour over in place.

Just as there are a variety of styles and types of pour overs, there are also a couple of different Melitta Pour Over Stands to choose from. However, one of the benefits of these stands is that both types we carry come with a porcelain cone (or even two or three in some cases) as well as filters, so that at least that part of the selection process is taken care of for you. From there, you just have to decide if you would rather go with the Melitta Bamboo Stand, which is a single brewer that will allow you to brew like a “slow bar” professional at home. If you like to drink a lot of coffee, are worried about other coffee drinkers stealing your precious brew or are looking to get a third wave setup in your café, you might want to consider getting the Melitta Stainless Steel Pour Over Bar. These sleek pour over stations allow you to brew either two or three pour overs at once, so you can serve several eager coffee drinkers. Check out Gail and Brendan as they try out these Melitta Pour Over Stands and pick up a few brew tips along the way!

Crew Review: Melitta Pour Over Stands