Category Archives: Reviews

Brown Bean : The Community!

If you have read our About page before, you know that we spun off the blog from Seattle Coffee Gear a few months ago in order to start building out a community resource site under the moniker of Brown Bean. Well, the Brown Bean Community is now live and we’d love it if you’d check it out!

Featuring equipment reviews, forums, a comprehensive repository of all of our videos, articles, how-to guides and recipes, the site has a ton of great resources to help you make a better cup of coffee at home. We’ll be adding to it regularly and updating it often, so definitely take a moment to register and see what we’ve been up to.

We hope you’ll find it useful and make it one of your regular stops on the web. See you there!

Curves of Steel

One of our favorite methods for making coffee at home is using our moka pot on the stove — sure, it’s not technically espresso, but it is a delicious, smooth brew that is a wonderful complement to a lazy Sunday afternoon. So it was with great relish that we tracked the development and evolution of OTTO, billed as the world’s best stovetop espresso maker. More than just a labor of love for engineer Craig Hiron of Sydney, Australia, OTTO is a significant achievement in function and design as well, taking the basic design of the 40′s era Atomic stovetop coffee maker and re-engineering it for a new millennium.

The folks over at CoffeeCrew got their hands on an OTTO and wrote a great review of how it works, comparing it to traditional pump-driven espresso machines and the standard moka pot. You can also check out a few videos that the makers of OTTO have produced to show off how it works. It looks like they’re shipping all over the world, with a base price of $595AU — it seems a little bit steep to us, but perhaps it will find a good home in the market usually explored by La Pavoni/lever espresso machine connoisseurs. It is a gorgeous piece of engineering, however, so if its functionality aligns with its design, it could be well worth the investment.

Crew Review: Nespresso Capsule Machine & Aeroccino

As we wrote about last week, we just added the Nespresso suite of machines to our inventory and we’ve been having a ton of over-caffeinated fun testing out all the different capsules available. We really haven’t found one we didn’t like yet, and particularly we love the Fortissio Lungo for its rich and full bodied flavor — although the single origin blends are quite lovely as well, specifically we enjoyed the spicy Indriya from India.

We wanted to show folks how easy this machine is to use, as well as demo the really awesome Aeroccino, a stand alone milk steamer or frother that could be a part of anyone’s kitchen setup. It’s silent and makes really excellent frothed milk. Check out the video — Gail shows us the features, makes us an espresso, froths some milk and talks to us about the ins and outs of getting the capsules (which can only be purchased directly from Nespresso).

Giro D’Italia Giotto Charitable Auction Status

We were able to secure one more limited edition Giro D’Italia Giotto, so we’ve auctioned three so far and now have three more to go!

This beautiful espresso machine is limited to only 100 total in production, and we’re the only folks to have imported them into the US! Get this gorgeous and functional collector’s item while also contributing to the wonderful cause Coffee Kids. The auctions are closing at around the price of the non-limited edition model, and all proceeds will be donated to the charity, so please help us raise some cash!

Watch Gail show us the unique features of these machines as they compare to the Giotto Premium Plus — the differences are aesthetic only and this machine functions exactly the same as the Giotto.

Crew Review: Nespresso Capsule Espresso Machines

Looking for a quick, easy and relatively mess-free start to your day? The patented Nespresso capsule espresso machine may be the one for you. Taking all of the guesswork out of making your coffee — something that many of us require before, say, noon — Nespresso provides you with delicious variations of capsules and an easy-to-use system with which to extract them.

The good is all about the different modern designs available from this series (we personally love the ‘cube’ line) as well as its simplified functionality and great tasting espresso. The bad? Well, there’s a lot of waste involved here — every cup produces a used capsule, so if you’re trying to cut down on your non-organic waste, this would not be a good choice. Also, you have to order the capsules directly from Nespresso because they don’t resell them to any retailers — we hear the shipping is fast and efficient, however, which may end up being more convenient for the online shoppers among us. The capsules cost between $.50 and $.70/pop, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at the long term costs of owning this machine.