Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Saeco Nina Bar

What started out as pretty darn good in theory didn’t end up very nice in practice. Saeco’s attempt at an easy-to-use single boiler automatic, the Nina Bar, leaves much to be desired. We don’t love all the plastic, the low quality metal used in the portafilter (which doesn’t hold heat very well) or the steaming power. It’s nice, however, that you can program the shot timing and if you’re looking for something a little more stylized than the Aroma, you might dig the case and design.

Watch Gail as she goes over the Nina Bar’s features, pros, cons and demonstrates how to make a latte.

Crew Review: Breville Burr Grinder

While we dig how much metal Breville incorporates into their designs, we don’t know how well their functionality will stand up to the test of time and/or someone with more particular tastes. We checked out their burr grinder to see how it compared to other models that we carry, and weren’t very impressed with its particle consistency or maximum fineness. In fact, we’re pretty sure that even what they call ‘Turkish’ wouldn’t work in most espresso machines — but may very well work just fine in their machines with a pressurized portafilter basket.

At any rate, we had Gail show us this grinder’s ropes and demonstrate how it works.

Crew Review: Mazzer Burr Grinders

If you’re looking to seriously upgrade your espresso setup, you might want to investigate the Mazzer grinders. We can’t emphasize enough how essential a good grind is for producing yummy espresso, and we’ve often even recommended people spend more on their grinder than on their actual espresso machine. Feels a little backward, eh? Well, that’s just how we do ’round these parts.

There are a few different Mazzer models available on the market, and in this video Gail walks us through three of them: Mini, Mini Electronic and Super Jolly. These burr grinders are classified as pretty sophisticated home grinders or can be used in a lower-capacity commercial/pro setting as well.

New Espresso Machine Reviews on Brown Bean

We’ve added a few more listings and reviews of several espresso machines to the Brown Bean Community.

If you own any of these machines, we’d love it if you could take the time to provide your own perspective on what you like and don’t like about it. We play around with and test them, but if you’re using one of these day-to-day, you have a much better feel for how it is to use this machine at home. Why not share those experiences with other coffee lovers looking for a machine?

Francis Francis! X7

Francis Francis! X7 Trio
Semi-Automatic Single Boiler
odea-giro Saeco Odea Giro
Superautomatic with Rapid Steam
odea-go Saeco Odea Giro
Superautomatic
talea-giro Saeco Talea Giro
Superautomatic with Rapid Steam
starbucks-sirena Starbucks Sirena – Made by Saeco
Automatic Single Boiler (with Rapid Steam)

Frothing with the La Pavoni

We really love the shots produced by La Pavoni’s manual lever machine the Europiccola, but the steaming isn’t as easy to get the hang of. While the boiler seems to produce enough steaming power, the angle of the wand is a little bit tricky to use. In this video, Gail tries a couple of techniques to see how close she can get to microfoam.

Crew Review: Francis Francis! X7

What’s so great about the new X7 by Francis Francis!? Obviously, its extra terrestrial stature, but it also has a few other excellent features for a machine in this class: Auto-fill brass boiler (so you don’t run the risk of burning it out like you can on other single boilers), flexible extraction options (grounds or pods) and a powerful steam wand that gets great results.

In this video, Gail talks to us about all these features and demonstrates making a latte.

Crew Review: DeLonghi Perfecta Superautomatic

Some people live and die by convenience. In fact, we’re pretty sure a few wars have been fought over it. And while the DeLonghi Perfecta may have not been high on the mission list, it is an arguably wonderful convenience with some great performance.

In this video, Gail introduces us to the Perfecta’s features, including it’s programming options and one-touch cappuccino interface.

Crew Review: Gaggia Platinum Series

With a more Italian, ornate design and stainless steel accents, the Gaggia Platinum series of superautomatic espresso machines are stylish and a little more sexy than their Saeco Talea counterparts (but maybe that’s just us!).

Watch Gail as she discusses the Platinum Vogue, Swing, Swing Up and Vision, describing their interface and feature differences and then shows us how to make a latte.