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!
We have spent years proselytizing about our shooting-from-the-hip ways, and while we may not be giving that up completely, we are beginning to enjoy the part a bit of precision can play when experimenting with coffee and tea. To that end, we have been regularly using the both gorgeous and functional Arti scale by Escali.
Featuring a shiny silver glass finish, multiple weight units and tare functionality, this is a great scale for coffee and food measurement alike. Watch Gail show it off to us!
Is convenience king in your world? We know that sometimes the day doesn’t have nearly enough time in it, but we still want a delicious latte! So take back a few minutes by using illy’s super-easy and super-tasty espresso machines which utilize their iperespresso capsule system.
The the X7.1 (AKA ‘The Alien’) looks like several Francis Francis machines of yore, incorporating a traditional steam functionality into the mix for latte or cappuccino lovers. On the other hand, the Y1.1 is a sleek, espresso-only machine designed especially for ristrettos, shots, lungos and beyond!
Watch Gail take us through two Crew Reviews of these machines, discussing their features and functionality and then demonstrating making a drink.
Francis Francis X7.1
Francis Francis Y1.1
In addition to the temperature, foam quality and other general performance questions we get about stand-alone milk frothers, how they whip up non-dairy milks is definitely high on the list of many folks researching these little gems.
Since soy is one of the most popular non-dairy milks around, we selected it to perform a side-by-side functional comparison of the Capresso FrothTEC, Breville Milk Cafe and Nespresso Aero3. Watch our experiment video to learn how they measure up!
We’ve been setting the Rancilio Silvia up against foe after foe in our legendary grudge matches lately, so we decided to give her a little showcase all on her own.
The version 3 of the Silvia was released a few years ago and, in that time, Gail has had a lot of time to thoroughly get to know her. Learn all about the Silvia’s features, technical specs, tips, tricks, quirks and performance in this updated review video.
You don’t actually have to break the bank to pick up an espresso machine, love. In fact, there are several great options under the $300 mark that will produce great shots and steamed milk so that you can easily craft your favorite espresso drinks at home.
We asked Jess and Teri to choose a few of their favorites within this price bracket and they selected DeLonghi’s EC155, Saeco’s Poemia & Aroma and Krups’ XP5280. Watch them discuss the features and specs of each of these machines, how they compare and what they do and don’t like about them.
Decided to up your latte game and invite a ‘prosumer’ espresso machine into your home? I was interested in learning more about two of the the heat exchangers that we have in the store — the art deco inspired Nuova Simonelli Musica and the hand crafted Rocket Giotto Evoluzione — so I decided to take them each for a test drive. Now, if you’re into straight up features and spec comparisons, check out the table I’ve laid out below; but if you learn more from hands-on experiences, read on!
I started with the Musica and instantly fell in love with its portafilter. The smartly angled handle enables the filter basket to lie flat on the counter. Jessica held my hand as I dialed in the grind using the Mazzer Mini E – Type A grinder. After pulling a number of double shots, I came to appreciate the Musica’s automatic pre-infusion and programmable volumetric buttons, making this machine a breeze once you figure out the right grind and tamp for your bean. You can also steam milk extremely quickly using the standard three hole steam tip. I loved the paddle functionality to control the steam, allowing you to pulse or flip up for maximum power.
As I approached the Rocket, I could see my reflection in its highly polished casing. With a commercial-grade brew head, I was in store for consistent shots given the thermal stability provided by the E61. After inserting the portafilter, I flipped up the lever all the way to begin shot extraction. I was glued to a timer while pulling shots, and this would be best practice given there isn’t volumetric programming on this machine. Steaming was straightforward with a traditional steam knob and single hole tip, giving me a little more time to work up the microfoam.
In the end, there was no difference in shot or milk quality from these two exceptional machines, so it all boils down to a few essentials in your decision set. If you need a convertible water source, crave sleek steel lines and appreciate the ritual of classic espresso extraction, the Giotto Evo is a strong bet. If you need an NSF rated machine for a small cafe environment or dig modern conveniences like programmable volumetrics and disco lights, give the Musica a happy home.
Nuova Simonelli Musica
Rocket Giotto Evoluzione
|Dimensions||12.75 in W x 16 in D x 16.75 in||12 in W x 17 in D x 15 in (16.5 in w/ cup rails)|
|Reservoir Size||2.3 Liters||2.9 Liters|
|Water Source||Either reservoir or direct connect||Convertible|
|Case Design||Stainless steel with optional disco lights||Stainless steel and fancy like a race car|
|Steam Wand||Traditional, not insulated, 3 hole tip||Traditional, insulated, 2 hole tip|
|Pre-infusion||Automatic and programmable||Passive|
|Boiler Volume||2 Liter||1.8 Liter|
|Gauges||Boiler pressure||Steam boiler & brew head pressure|