Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Jura Capresso Impressa Z5 Superautomatic

Possibly our favorite one-touch cappuccino superautomatic espresso machine, the Z5 combines tons of programmability with near-perfect automatically frothed milk. Gail shows us how this little baby works, talks about its features and functionality and makes us a cappuccino.

Crew Review: Technivorm Moccamaster Thermo Coffee Brewer (KBT741)

The only drip coffee brewer recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association of America for brewing at the optimal temperature, Technivorm’s Moccamaster features an innovative shower head which delivers water more evenly across the coffee to improve flavor extraction. In this video, Gail talks about the Moccamaster’s features and brews us a cup of coffee.

Crew Review: Bottomless Portafilter

If you’re interested in fine-tuning your grind and tamp — or just really love a good show — the bottomless portafilter provides a great tool for calibrating your technique. In this video, Gail shows us how it’s done.

New! Breville Die-Cast Programmable Espresso Machine BES820XL

Always on the look-out to expand the vast array of espresso machines we have available, we just added the Breville series to our products over at Seattle Coffee Gear. As we’ve begun testing them, we’re starting to dig the 820XL — for a machine under $500, it’s got some great features.

First off, the die-cast, stainless steel casing is really gorgeous, with smooth lines and incredibly sturdy and durable finish. It also has programmable buttons, so you can easily reproduce your espresso shot every time, without having to worry about watching it to turn it off. Finally, it has a unique boiler design that results in a bit better temperature regulation than you might find on other single boilers in this class.

On the downside, it only comes with a pressurized portafilter, so you’ll have less control over your shot and it will be infusing the espresso with air — not producing a traditional crema. It doesn’t have a three-way release valve, so you end up with a watery puck, and the portafilter is stainless steel so suffers from some inconsistency in temperature regulation (unlike its chrome-plated brass brethren).

Overall, it’s a good value — if you’re not ready to lay down the cash for a Silvia but want something a little more powerful than the Aroma, this could be right up your alley.

The Grind: September 2009

The September issue of Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter has hit the bricks! In this month’s issue, we have a delicious Buttercream Cappuccino recipe, a directory of our most recent videos, some tips on using oily beans in your superautomatic and a few new product features. Plus, a coupon code for 10% off $99 or more during the month of September. Check it out!

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.