Category Archives: Reviews

Crema Stability Testing

Unless the roaster is using some type of preservative measure (such as the nitrogen flush used by large roaster Lavazza), coffee starts aging within its sealed bag from the moment it’s roasted. We set aside bags from March and June batches of Velton’s Bonsai Blend to compare the aged coffee against coffee roasted last week.

Check out our test and take a moment to appreciate our dedicated commitment to science — we tasted some seriously nasty shots for the team, people!

Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Available Now

We finally got our paws on the new Virtuoso Preciso, which gives you 11 micro adjustments within the standard 40 macro adjustments (allowing you to dial in your grind more precisely). It also comes standard with the Portaholder. Check out our video review on this from a couple of weeks ago to learn more about this grinder’s basic specs, or watch Gail compare it with the regular Virtuoso and the Vario.

As of this writing, we have 6 to sell until the end of October — Baratza had a very limited initial manufacturing run, so they limited retailers to just 6 this time around. If you’ve been coveting this, grab it soon or you may have to wait until later this month or early November for your chance.

Crew Review: DeLonghi Magnifica ECAM23210B Compact Superauto

In the newly inaugurated War of Petite & Powerful Superautomatic Espresso Machines (okay, it starts now, actually), DeLonghi has proffered it’s champion: The Magnifica ECAM23210B Compact. If you needed more proof, this little dude and/or dudette furthers the case that highly cute and highly functional are not mutually exclusive.

Watch Gail give us her usual rundown on the ECAM23210B, including her trademark latte — sadly, artless. :(

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Burr Grinder

Hitting the streets this coming October is Baratza’s newest offering, which is a variation on a theme: The Virtuoso Preciso takes it’s basic functionality from the popular Virtuoso grinder, but it’s tweaked a bit with some of the dialing-in features available on the more expensive Vario model.

Watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and functions.

Compare: Francis Francis X1 vs. Ascaso Dream UP

For the antique/retro lovers in the crowd, the X1 by Francis Francis and the Dream UP by Ascaso have an old school look without the old school technology. Gail takes us through the similarities and differences of these two single boiler espresso machines.

Crew Review: Francis Francis X1

We are not ashamed to admit that we have been diggin’ hard on the Francis Francis machines lately. We really love their auto-fill boiler and their sophisticated temperature control — with only around a 2 degree variance instead of the 15-ish degree variance we sometimes see on single boiler espresso machines in this similar price class.

Watch Gail take us through the features of the X1 — a stainless steel counterpart to the X7:

Now watch her compare the functional and feature differences between the X1 and the X7:

New! Saeco Superautos: Xelsis Digital ID & Focus

We’ve just added two new kids to the Saeco lineup, at opposite ends of the spectrum: The Xelsis Digital ID for fancypants folks and the Focus for semi-fancypants folks that also have limited counter space. Here are their stories:

Saeco Xelsis Digital ID
This one-touch superautomatic is identical to it’s non-Digital ID counterpart except for one thing: Fingerprint reading! Yes, that’s right, if you can’t get it together to scroll through the different programmed users to find your profile that early in the morning, maybe simply placing your index finger on a panel atop the machine is the answer. The Digital ID can be programmed to recognize the print on the finger of your choice, automatically pulling up your preferences. Then getting your coffee is as easy as pushing the button that corresponds to a previously programmed product — espresso, long coffee, cappuccino and more.

The Verdict: While we’re all about technological gadgets that improve our quality of life, we’re not totally certain that this fingerprint-reading espresso machine is one of them. We love the Xelsis otherwise, however, and this machine has all the same excellent features and functionality. Maybe this functional addition could be a fun conversation piece?

Saeco Focus
For adherents to a more streamlined, less complicated approach to life, the new Focus is an excellent option — it’s functionally very similar to the new Saeco Syntia, sharing its compact design, simple and straightforward interface, ceramic grinder and SBS functionality, but with a black casing instead of the stainless steel.

The Verdict: It would be hard to go wrong with this machine, and if stainless steel doesn’t matter to you, stylistically, you’ll get the same functional machine with the Focus that you do with the Syntia for a little bit cheaper.