Category Archives: Reviews

Rancilio Silvia & La Marzocco Filter Basket Face Off

One of the most loved home espresso machines on the market is the Rancilio Silvia, which offers a great value in terms of price and performance. And, as with most things that are well-loved, this machine gets a ton of attention, tweaks and upgrade suggestions as folks quest for the best shot possible. One of the suggested changes is to swap out the stock filter basket that comes with the Silvia for one that is manufactured by La Marzocco — not only does the latter basket fit more coffee volume, it also has straight sides so you can tamp it more firmly.

We picked up one of these baskets and Gail did a toe-to-toe comparison of how each basket performs to see if there really is a noticeable difference. Enjoy!

DeLonghi Gran Dama Dosages

Some of the earlier versions of the DeLonghi superautomatics didn’t seem to brew as rich of an espresso shot as their counterparts made by other manufacturers. With the release of the newer Gran Dama and Perfecta (the 6600/6700 and 5500 models), we noticed that the shot not only was hotter, it was richer too. Our techs examined the grounds from a disassembled machine and let us know that these machines were now grinding finer than the previous versions; additionally, the dosage functionality has changed.

Watch Gail talk about the dosages, grinding, programming functionality and how to brew a double shot roughly equivalent to what you can get off a semi-automatic.

Steam Test: Non-Fat vs. 2% vs. Whole Milks

Silky milky! We tested out non-dairy milks to see how well they produced microfoam and now it’s time to turn to dairy milks — specifically, which steams better: Non-fat, 2% or whole milk? And do they perform similarly across the board, regardless of the machine used?

Gail steamed up each of the milks on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione, Saeco Xelsis and Saeco Via Venezia to see which works the best, if there are commonalities or if each machine works better with different types of milk. Watch and learn the results!

Steam Test: Non-Dairy Milks

Maybe the moo juice just doesn’t agree with you or perhaps you’ve got philosophical dietary restrictions that say coffee is okay but animal’s milk isn’t and you still want a latte. Whatever the reason, it’s well known that achieving microfoam with non-dairy milk is next to impossible.

We recently requested samples of Pacific Natural Foods’ Barista Series soy blenders, which are specifically formulated to achieve better steaming and foam results. They also sent along some samples of rice and hemp milk, so we took those out for a spin, as well, to see how they stood up under the pressure.

Watch Gail test ‘em out! Mmmmmnnnnnutty.

Video Crew Review: Hario Pour Over a la Gail

We spent an afternoon up at Hario USA (now Roustabout Products) earlier this year and posted a wide array of videos from that field trip. But there’s nothing like a Gail review, is there? So we asked her to show us the ropes on how to use one of the Hario pour overs. Watch as she talks to us about the process and whips up a smooth cup of coffee using Velton’s Twilight Blend. Delish!

Which is Better: 2 Hole or 4 Hole Steam Tip?

We often get asked whether or not a 4 hole steam tip is worth the upgrade on a machine like the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione. You definitely need to have more power to back up a multiple hole tip — as was seen on the first iteration of the Rancilio Silvia V3, the boiler size did not match well with the 3 hole tip and folks got very lackluster results. So it’s important to match the right tip to the right machine.

Gail shows us how each performs side by side and gives her assessment on their benefits/drawbacks.

Video Crew Review: New Capresso CoffeeTEAM TS

Capresso re-worked their grind-n-brew drip coffee maker, the CoffeeTEAM, in 2010 with a few improvements: An easier to navigate programming interface, increased bean hopper capacity/grinding time and the ability to use the grind and brew functionality OR simply brew directly with your favorite pre-ground coffee.

Watch as Gail takes us through the paces — including the machine’s specs, functionality, coffee temperature — and brews up a pot of coffee. We demonstrate the TS version with the thermal carafe, but there is also a GS version with a glass carafe/hot plate function.

How to Steam & Brew with the Pasquini Livia 90

In a follow-up to the basic specification, pros and cons review we did of the Pasquini Livia 90 a little over a year ago, we’ve finally strong-armed Gail into showing us how it works!

Watch as she recaps the Livia 90’s functionality and makes us a latte — with some of the most abstract latte art you’ll find this side of Jackson Pollock. Enjoy!

The ‘Great’ Breville Temperature Experiment

First we took brewing to the mat with The ‘Great’ Breville Brew Experiment, then we took on the steaming side o’ things with The ‘Great’ Breville Steaming Experiment and now it’s time to give temperature the what for.

A YouTube viewer suggested that we try pulling shots with cool tap water and then warm water in the reservoir to see how it would measure up with the Breville’s thermoblock. The results? Much better temperature with the warm tap water versus the cold tap water — so if you’re using a Breville and trying to get a great shot, you might want to introduce this variable into the mix.

Watch all the action:

Video Crew Review: Hario Cold Brew

When the weather starts heating up, we love nothing better than a rich iced coffee drink. Seriously — nothing. In the past, we have be known to brew espresso directly onto ice or pour out hot-brewed drip or press coffee into an iced cup, knowing that there would be dilution in the mix. We are now converts, however, of the cold brew coffee preparation — specifically, Hario’s Cold Brew Pot makes a deliciously smooth and rich cup of coffee.

Gail tried it out with Velton’s Twilight Blend and there were cheers all around. For the coffee AND the cups, obviously. Check it out!