Category Archives: Reviews

Brew Tips: Tamper Base Testing

Does the shape of your tamper’s base make a significant difference in your shot’s quality? That’s the question that we asked and we brought in five base variations to help determine the answer.

Dialing in the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus with a standard flat base, we then pulled shots using the c-flat, US curve, Euro curve, ripple and c-ripple base styles available from Reg Barber. Watch as Gail tastes each shot to practically assess whether or not the base structure makes a noticeable difference.

Crew Review: Jura Impressa XS90 Commercial Superauto

While the Rancilio Egro ONE is at home on a large cruise liner, the Jura Impressa XS90 is best suited to an office environment — one that requires a large water tank, extra bean storage and just enough dregs and drip tray capacity to be dangerous.

Watch Gail as Kat bosses her around this superautomatic espresso machine — including the usual feature description and a demonstration of its one-touch cappuccino functionality.

Crew Review: Saeco Vienna Plus – Refurbished

Sometimes, simplicity is the thing: Too many bells and whistles and we might never figure out how to get our espresso. Superautomatics handle most of the java crafting for you, but if you don’t need programming, a bi-pass doser or a cup warmer, you might want to consider the Vienna Plus‘ scaled down approach to automation.

Watch Gail take us through the features of this machine and demonstrate making a latte. We’re using a refurbished model, but the Vienna Plus is also available new for a slightly higher price tag.

Crew Review: Airscape Storage Containers

Oxygen may be our friend, but it has no love for the coffee bean. Once you open up your bag of freshly roasted beans, the air starts to dry them out, causing them to go stale over time. It’s downright degrading!

You can keep ‘em fresher and yummier by storing them in airtight containers and there are a few different options on the market for doing this — plastic storage containers, battery operated vacuum gadgets and now the Airscape. We dig this new addition because it’s lo-fi and definitely not going to break down or run out of batteries over time. It’s also rather fetching and available in a variety of colors (not just pea green like the 70’s era Tupperware you’ve previously been rocking).

Watch Gail as she show us how these work (not complicated) and talks about how much volume these guys can hold.

Crew Review: Capresso FrothPro

For the separatists in the group, we offer up a new stand-alone milk frothing/steaming unit by Capresso, the FrothPro. Whipping up silky milky (hot or cold) is easy and fairly fool-proof, which we dig — plus, the milk pitcher is dishwasher safe! We’ve seen a couple of questionable Aeroccinos, so this could be the answer to those that are a little bit too busy to handwash their gadgets.

It’s also a great value, coming in at around $60, so that’s cool, too. The inserts are plastic, however, which we don’t love quite as much — but it’s all about balance, baby.

Watch Gail show us its specs and give it a run through.

Crew Review: Rancilio Egro ONE Commercial Superauto

Got a spare $13k lying around that you’re just not sure what to do with? Of course you do! And the obvious expenditure is on a commercial-class superautomatic like the Rancilio Egro ONE.

OK, maybe it’s not up your alley for a home machine, but this fully programmable superautomatic would be right at home in a convenience store — you can program specific drinks and set it up to take payment — or a high capacity restaurant, cafe or drive-through espresso stand that requires extreme efficiency.

Watch Gail go through all the features and make us a few different drinks on this super fancy little number.

Crew Review: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

We recently got our little paws on the very popular programmable One-Touch Tea Maker by Breville. Featuring presets for type of tea (black, green, Oolong, herbal, etc.) and then a correlated variable steeping time that determines brew strength, the One-Touch Tea Maker also lets you customize for your preferences and program it for auto-on functionality. Yes, that means you can finally realize your dream of waking up to that fresh pot o’ tea in the morning.

Watch Gail run through features, functionality and then brew up a pot of Dammann loose leaf tea.

Which Brew Temperature is Best for Lavazza Super Crema?

We took one of our most popular coffees, Lavazza Super Crema, and brewed it using different temperatures on theLa Spaziale Mini Vivaldi. While the 204F degree espresso extraction temperature is a general rule of thumb, a lot of single origin/estate beans and even some blends are particularly sensitive to heat and will perform better at a different temperature.

Watch as Gail brews several shots at different temperatures, tasting each to determine the ideal brew temp for Super Crema.

Francis Francis X7 Internals

While working on a Francis Francis in our repair center, we found out it’s awesome little secret: It comes with an internal PID! You can’t adjust it yourself, and some of the newer models like the X7 aren’t designed to be adjusted at all, but it will keep the boiler’s temp within 1 degree of the set temperature — unlike less sophisticated thermostats that have a varying range of about 20 degrees and, thus, require temperature surfing.

Josh and Gail cracked open an X7 to show its guts and glory!