No, there weren’t any wrestlers present, but there was a high concentration of coffee related ninjas on the floor. Last week, we were lucky enough to head down to Anaheim, CA, for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Main Event, which is a specialty coffee industry educational and trade show that covers everything from coffee growers to roasters to equipment suppliers to mad skilled baristas. This year, it also hosted the United States Barista Championship — with Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia defending and re-securing his title. He’ll be heading out to compete with the rest of the national barista champs from around the world at the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) event this summer in the UK.
But back to the show. We attended a few different lectures, talked with many of our vendors on the trade show floor, watched Midwest Barista Champ Mike Marquard compete in the USBC semi-finals and even headed to a little partay that Intelligentsia, La Marzocco and Espressi (makers of the MyPressi TWIST) were throwing at Intelligentsia’s roastery in L.A. Yes, Grammy got her groove on.
In this video, Gail talks to us about what she learned from the lectures we attended, discusses some new products we saw and even shares with us her new love for TWIST-inspired cocktails.
Saeco’s newest one-touch superautomatic, the Xelsis, is just about to hit the market in the US and we were able to get a prototype in the store to play around with it! These little ladies are available for pre-order on the Seattle Coffee Gear site and they’ll be shipping in early May.
Watch Gail take us through the basic features and show us how to make a one-touch cappuccino:
Arguably one of the best features of this one-touch is that, unlike the other one-touch models available from Saeco or Jura, the Xelsis also comes equipped with a powerful traditional steam wand. This is excellent flexibility if you have multiple coffee drinkers and one of them likes their milk extra hot because the automatic frothing will still make the milk at around the standard 165F. Watch as Gail shows us how the steam wand works:
For Richard Branson, an essential criteria for his business success, his compass, is the idea of ‘fun’. He has infused it into all the brands he has founded, promoted and seen flourish — and it’s arguable that the simplicity of the idea in and of itself is what has made the brands he’s launched gain traction and longevity in their respective markets. Sure, when we get too complicated, we lose sight of what we’re trying to achieve and run the risk of confusing the people with whom we’re trying to communicate.
While we absolutely cherish and extol the virtues of fun, when we thought about boiling down what we do at Seattle Coffee Gear to one simple, essential idea, we settled on another word: Knowledge. It’s in this blog we write, in the videos we produce, in our product descriptions, in the customer service we give on the phone and in the store — we have even dedicated a whole website to providing resources and knowledge to folks as they navigate the sometimes far-too-complex world of choosing their coffee related gear. While we have fun with this and it’s important to us to communicate the elemental joy to be found in the experimentation with, creation and drinking of coffee, teaching people, being honest and giving them the information they need to make the right choice for them is our ultimate ideal.
From a pure data perspective, this industry is really young in the United States: In Europe, the average household spends around $800 on their home coffee machine, while we spend an average of $80 in the US — obviously, there is significant room for growth and a big part of that growth is education. One of the most common refrains we hear from customers is that they want simple and concrete information, they’re confused by all the options, which is the best choice, etc. What these people are looking for is honesty, facts, advice and candid experience.
Now that we have all our Hario stock in the store, we had a chance to play around with the new grinders to see how they work with espresso machines. Watch as Gail goes through different grinds and tries them out on the Rancilio Silvia.
Originally manufactured for Starbucks by Saeco, the Sirena is a flexible and fetching automatic espresso machine. We are refurbishing a ton of these machines, fixing some original manufacturing defects and bringing them up to a ‘Like New’ state. You can check out our original review of this machine from several months ago and watch Gail talk about how we’re refurbishing these machines below.
Rocket Espresso’s new Evoluzione machines are the next step in functionality. Sure, they’ve got many of the lovable features that other Rockets do (the E61 brew head, insulated steam and hot water wands, polished stainless steel casing) and share the dual pressure gauge functionality previously released on the Professional version, but these babies also have one major difference: They have a convertible water source, so you can easily switch between an internal reservoir or plumbing it in!
Watch Gail take us through the features of the Evoluzione and talk about how to tweak certain aspects of it. While we feature the Giotto, the Evoluzione is also available in the Cellini style.
The final video (yes, can you believe it?!) from our field trip to Hario USA earlier this year features a competition between Gail and Velton regarding who could produce the better cup of pour over coffee. Velton might have had the edge, since his coffee was ground in a hand mill that had previously ground cloves — truly making it a ‘clovered coffee’. Hilarity ensues.
The newest superautomatic available in the US by Swiss manufacturer Jura Capresso, the Impressa C5 is economical, straight forward and has more programming options available than models available from the Ena series — although it’s right around the same price. It also has side access for the water and coffee beans, plus a heated metal cup warmer up top.
Released this year, Capresso has a couple of more inexpensive burr grinder options now available on the scene. We tested them out to see how they perform — will they grind fine enough for espresso? And are they as inconsistent as their Infinity brethren?
Watch as Gail shows us the grinder’s specs, grinds at the finest/coarsest and then demonstrates using it with the Saeco Via Venezia espresso machine.