Category Archives: Reviews

Crew Review: Capresso FrothXpress

We’re huge fans of stovetop espresso at home, and we’re often just throwing in a little milk after the fact. Having a stand alone milk frother makes it easy to get a latte-style drink at home, sans espresso machine.

In this video, Gail shows us the FrothXpress, by Capresso, and gives us a demonstration on how it works. For our money, the Nespresso Aeroccino is probably still a better buy.

Crew Review: Starbucks Sirena

We had a customer contact us over at Brown Bean, looking for some help with her newly purchased Starbucks Sirena. Well, since we can’t sell these fine ladies, we asked her if she’d bring it in so we could play around with it — and then we’d be able to help her!

Witness our first crew review video of a machine that we do not (and cannot!) carry. These machines were manufactured for Starbucks by Saeco, so we often see them in for a couple of issues during their warranty period. Watch as Gail discusses the machines features, talks about a couple of it’s easily fixed manufacturing defects and demonstrates making a latte.

Comparing Mid-Range Superautomatic Espresso Machines

If you’re in the market for a machine that kind of does it all, choosing which one is right for you can be a little bit tricky. We asked Gail to walk us through the superautomatics priced in the $899 – $1199 price range and in this video she discusses their features, similarities, pros and cons.

New Reviews! Ascaso, Jura & Quick Mill

Over in the Brown Bean Reviews area, we’ve been adding new product listings and reviews for your research, reading and (hopefully!) reviewing pleasure. If you’re researching any of the below machines, please check them out. If you own one, we’d love it if you could write a user review to help others pick the machine that is right for them — your experiences are priceless.

ascaso-basic

Ascaso Basic
Semi-Automatic Single Boiler
ascaso-uno-pro Ascaso Uno Pro
Semi-Automatic Single Boiler
jura-z5 Jura Capresso Impressa Z5
One-Touch Cappuccino
qm-vetrano Quick Mill Vetrano
Semi-Automatic Heat Exchanger (Plumb-in Only)

Comparing Heat Exchange Espresso Machines

A lot of folks want to know some of the similarities, differences, pros and cons of the heat exchange espresso machines we carry, so we asked Gail to walk us through several different models and give us the goods.

In this video, she discusses the Rocket Cellini & Giotto, the Quick Mill Anita & Andreja, the Grimac La Valentina and the Pasquini Livia 90. The latter two come in either semi-automatic or programmable automatic versions, while the first four are lever-controlled semi-automatic only.

Video Crew Review: Grindenstein Knock Box

Looking for a pretty little number that won’t take up too much space and will keep your countertop clean? We’re talking about knock boxes, of course (what were you talking about?). The Grindenstein is a great choice for a home espresso setup and Gail shows us how it works, plus compares it with other knock boxes available.

Field Trip: Slayer

Last week, we headed off to points south and visited the warehouse headquarters of Seattle Espresso Machine Co., creators of the Slayer. We’ve talked about this machine on the blog in the past, primarily because it is the first to offer baristas the ability to independently control pressure during shot extraction. It’s also a ridiculously gorgeous machine.

We filmed our field trip and you can watch all three installments here. One of the founders, Eric Perkunder, and a friend of his, Sam from Equal Exchange, were veritable fonts of information, and there was a lot we weren’t able to catch on camera. Much of the engineering theory was really cool to hear about — specifically in regard to how they started the development process of the machine by examining traditional lever-powered espresso machines that allow for a little more control over extraction. But while the levers give you more control over pressure, it’s impossible to back them off of a certain level of pressure once you’ve built that up, and the Slayer has been engineered to allow for switching between disparate pressures throughout extraction, depending on how the shot is looking. Additionally, you can control the pressure independently at each group head, so you can calibrate the two or three heads for optimum brewing of different types of coffee.

The creation of this machine was inspired by the founders’ love for really great espresso — high quality beans that are either estate specific, season specific or from a single origin were not being given a chance to shine using traditional extraction methods, so these guys decided to experiment with pressure to see how that effected the flavor. What were once ‘scorched’ shots became deliciously sweet and syrupy espresso, with a flavor and consistency that you can drink without additives like milk or sugar. It’s an altogether different experience to taste coffee prepared this way!

The Slayer is currently in several cafes around the world, according to their blog:

“Melbourne, San Francisco, Kirkland, Ann Arbor, and Calgary.  Soon more will be showing up in New York, Germany, Vancouver BC, New Zealand, Portland Oregon.”

If you’re in the Seattle area, the Slayer is in the Zoka in Kirkland and it’s definitely worth your while to experience this delicious coffee. We had an awesome — and illuminating! — time at the factory and really appreciate the guys letting us come in for a tour.

Call for Reviews: Rancilio Silvia

Over on our new resource website, Brown Bean, we have been working hard on putting up editorial reviews of all kinds of espresso machines. We’ll be eventually expanding the reviews to include other kinds of equipment — grinders, accessories, even coffee — but a big part of us being able to provide a full picture of a machine’s performance is to balance our editorial opinion with user reviews like yours.

If you have a Rancilio Silvia, we’d love it if you could take the time to fill out a review on Brown Bean. You’ll have the opportunity to share your experiences, talk about the pros and cons of the machine and indicate whether or not you recommend it.

We currently have a couple dozen machines listed and reviewed up there, so if you don’t have a Silvia and would like to review your machine, check them out to see if there’s a listing. We’re always adding to it, but if your machine isn’t listed, please email us with the make and model and we’ll promptly list and review it if possible, then let you know when it’s ready for your feedback.

Looking forward to learning more about your thoughts on your equipment!

Crew Review: Saeco Incanto Rondo Superauto – Refurbished

A great value for anyone looking to get into a superautomatic espresso machine, the Incanto Rondo combines ease of functionality with a straightforward interface. In this video, Gail talks about its features, describes how our repair center refurbishes them and makes us a latte.