We’re really excited about it, as you may have been able to tell from the first sentence of this post, but what does this mean in practical terms? Well, you can now have multiple, whole bean blends at the ready to switch up your espresso routine. As we all know, fresh ground coffee creates the best tasting shot, so you can officially say “goodbye” to a pre-ground alternate. Though the bypass doser option technically still exists with the Gran Baristo, so you can really go wild with your on-hand bean selections! Extra bonus points for the coffee empty cycle, which grinds through the leftover beans in the grinder chute, allowing your next shot to be the blend that is currently in your hopper.
There are about nine other things about this machine that we’re in love with, but we don’t want you to doze while we ramble. So, without further ado, a Crew Review to answer all of your burning questions about the new Saeco Gran Baristo!
The Saeco Via Venezia is one of our favorite machines. The perfect blend between affordable and sturdy, the Via Venezia has also proven to be a trooper in terms of longevity. With the most commonly replaced part on this machine being the steam knob, which Brendan demonstrates below to be easy peasy when using our Via Venezia Steam Knob Kit, you and your machine will enjoy many a year of great espresso together!
If you’re a new at home barista, the Saeco Poemia espresso machine is probably your new best friend. Not only is the machine is easy to use, but it is also very forgiving of those who are still learning. The pressurized portafilter means there is no need to perfectly tamp your espresso and the panarello wand makes milk frothing a breeze too! With this compact and stylish machine by your side you will be making lattes in no time!
However, what happens if, heaven forbid, your best friend eventually starts to act funny? For instance, you may notice that coffee or water is pouring over the top edge of your portafilter when you pull a shot on your machine. While this sounds scary, never fear, this is not the end of your relationship. All it means that your brew head gasket is no longer making the seal between the brew head and the gasket, which can easily be remedied by using SCG’s tune up kit for the Saeco Poemia.
The tune up kit comes with five parts: a brew head gasket, brew screen and screw, boiler spring and boiler valve. It is easiest to install these parts by flipping the machine over, but before you do this you will want to remove all accessories so they don’t get in your way while you are working on the machine. Once you have flipped your machine over, the next step is to remove the worn out parts so you can replace them. You should remove them in the following order: 1) brew screen 2) boiler bushing – make sure keep this piece close at hand since there is no replacement part included in kit 3) boiler spring and boiler valve and last, but not least 5) the brew head gasket.
After you have removed all the old parts, make sure to clean and remove any coffee grounds that have gathered around the brew head. You may even have to flip your machine right side up again to get all the grounds out. However, it is really important to make sure all of the grounds are removed since coffee is acidic and will eat away at your brew head gasket. Once you have give your espresso maker a thorough cleaning, you can begin installing the replacement parts from SCG’s tune up kit for the Saeco Poemia in your machine. You should install the parts in the reverse order that you removed them, so start with the brew head gasket. When you have installed the new parts and reassembled you espresso machine, you can then double check your work by inserting your portafilter into the machine to make sure that it lines up properly.
Knowing it is time to give your beloved Saeco Poemia some maintenance isn’t always as dramatic as having coffee leaking over the side of your portafilter. Some other signs that it is time replace these parts are if you hear your pump working harder than it used to. This can happen if you have so much coffee residue built up on your screen or portafilter, so that your pump does actually have to work harder to get through that pressure. Or you may find that your coffee just tastes off and you’re having trouble noticing a difference in taste between different blends of coffee. This could also be due to the fact that you have a lot of coffee residue built up that is affecting the taste of your shot. Luckily, SCGS’ Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia can resolve all of these issues, and the installation is actually relatively painless. For more detailed instructions, watch as Brendan walks us through the process step-by-step. Your old friend will be up and running again before you know it!
We love the fact that the Intelia Focus (also known as the black version of the Intelia) is energy efficient and has vibrating finger guard to quickly and painlessly send our beans down the grinder chute. However, we’ve long wondered if it is possible to use a cappunccinatore on this machine to froth your milk as you can on its stainless steel brother and the Intelia Cappuccino. Don’t get us wrong; we do like the panerello that comes with this machine, since it does allow for slightly more controlled milk frothing. Yet, since the Intelia Focus is superautomatic machine, there are some of us that wish the entire process was automated.
For people who aren’t familiar with the cappuccinatore, it is a hose-like attachment that travels from the milk frothing pitcher with your milk to the milk frother inside your machine. The milk is then sucked up from the container, frothed in the machine and finally dispensed in your cup. Before we tested the cappunccinatore on the Intelia Focus, we wanted to see how well it worked on a machine the cappunccinatore is built for, so we started our experiment on the Intelia Cappuccino. The milk this little frother produced was surprisingly hot, around 173 degrees Fahrenheit according to our Fluke temperature probe. After this impressive result we decided to repeat the experiment on the Intelia Focus. Since the Focus has the same internals as the Intelia Cappuccino, we had a good feeling about how this test would turn out. As expected, the cappuccinatore did indeed work on the Focus. We were surprised to find that the temperature of the milk produced was considerably cooler, however, coming in at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit on our thermometer. We’re not sure why there is such a huge difference in temperature, but were excited to that our experiment worked, since having more options is an always an advantage. Check out our video with Gail and Brendan to see how the cappuccinatore works on Intelia Focus for yourself.
(Not so Scientific) Experiment: Cappuccinatore on the Intelia Focus
Are you new to the world of espresso and searching for a machine that you can cut your teeth on? Or perhaps you’ve gotten a starter apartment (or a weekend home) and are looking to outfit it with the latest gear with out breaking the bank? Well, you’re in luck since there are quite a few espresso machines under $300 that not only brew espresso but also allow to you to froth milk. To help you narrow down your options, Dori and Chris have kindly gathered their five favorite inexpensive machines – the Saeco Poemia, DeLonghi EC702 Pump, Saeco Aroma, Capresso EC Pro and the Krups Precise Tamp, to show them off.
A few of our favorite aspects on each machine (which are ranked from low to high in terms of price) are:
Saeco Poemia – With a pressurized portafilter and panarello, the Poemia is very forgiving and makes brewing your favorite drink a breeze.
Saeco Aroma – The Aroma has been around for ages, and is one of our most loved and best performing home espresso machines we have tested. You can also easily get parts for this machine should you need to replace anything.
DeLonghi EC702 Pump – The EC702 self-primes so you don’t have to wait a long time for your DeLonghi to heat up in the morning. In addition, the machine maintains consistent heat for brewing and steaming with two separate thermostats.
Capresso EC Pro – The EC Pro is a great option if you are looking to a machine that you can grow into. This machine comes with a pressurized portafilter basket to ease you into espresso as well as a naked basket if you really want to get into perfecting your tamp and timing your shots. Plus, the simple design of the machine makes easy to use no matter what your level.
Krups Precise Tamp – Unlike the other espresso machines under $300, which only have on/off brew cycles, the Precise Tamp is programmable. The machine also will auto-tamp your coffee grounds and has cappuinatore, which is like an automatic frother and can make a cappuccino or a latte – a big upgrade over the other options.
When it comes down to it, all five of these compact semi-automatics are great starter options for people who want to get a machine at a reasonable price point. The main differences when you go up the scale in price are that you get a machine with more metal components (instead of primarily plastic pieces) and slightly heftier parts (such as chrome-plated brass portafilters instead of aluminum). With these espresso machines you also have the option to upgrade to a non-pressurized portafilter and traditional steam wand once you’ve gotten the hang of pulling your own shots. Check out our video to learn more about each machine and find out Chris and Dori’s top picks.
Spring has long been a time of renewal and new beginnings, and that certainly seems to be the case for many of our grinders and espresso machines. A number of our favorite brands have taken your feedback on their products to heart and updated their machines accordingly, and Saeco now joins their ranks. Recently, the Saeco Xelsis Evo was released as an update to the existing Xelsis One Touch Espresso Machine.
The main difference you’ll see on the new Saeco Xelsis Evo is the updated milk carafe. Many of our customers found that on the previous Xelsis One Touch their milk wasn’t getting hot enough, which is problem that we often see on superautomatic machines. Saeco listened to this feedback and updated the hose that runs from the milk carafe to the espresso machine (it is now smaller), the lid on the milk carafe and even the milk frothing software in order to develop a machine that produces much hotter milk. The other nice thing about the Xelsis Evo is that the machine auto rinses whenever you turn it off, on or make a milk-based drink. This feature is almost as good as having your own personal maid, since it will help keep your milk carafe really clean. However, this is not an excuse to skimp on your machine’s maintenance, which is still really important if you want to keep your espresso maker in good running order.
Another thing we like about the Saeco Xelsis Evo is that it is a very sophisticated superautomatic with lots of programmability. You can create up to six different user profiles and save nine customized drink options for each profile. A few of the features you are able to adjust are the aroma (or the dosage of your coffee), the volume of the shot and if you’re making a milk-based beverage, the amount of milk you want as well. With so many options that allow you to create the perfect cup of coffee for everyone, the Saeco Xelsis Evo is ideal for a large household, or even a small office, with lots of different users. If you don’t have a large family, don’t be surprised if a lot of your friends start coming over for visits!
To learn how to take advantage of all the options on this machine, watch Gail and Brendan as they try a few of them out and make a cappuccino.
True to its name, the Saeco Xsmall is the brand’s smallest superautomatic espresso machine on the market. As result, this machine takes up very little space on your counter but still comes at an affordable price with a lot of basic functionality. The machine’s streamlined design also makes everyday maintenance, like filling the water reservoir, emptying the dregs box or even cleaning the brew group (yes, it’s removable!) a breeze.
Another one of our favorite features on the Xsmall is the troubleshooting-related, test mode section on the machine. In fact, when one of our superautos starts acting up, one of the first things we do is access their respective test mode sections. Why is this helpful? Test mode allows you to operate the functions of your espresso machine freely, outside of the software of the machine. This means you can run your grinder, pump or brew unit motor to see if they are working properly without having to brew a shot and wasting your favorite coffee beans. To make the troubleshooting process easier, these different components are broken down into four test mode levels on your machine (for instance there are different levels for checking the machine’s sensors, brew unit, water flow, grinder and boiler) so you can test everything related to one area individually.
While test mode is extremely useful, getting into it on the Xsmall can be a little challenging. In this video, our parts guru Brendan teaches us how to access it and navigate the four different testing levels on the machine.
In case you’ve missed it, we frequently tout the importance of performing regular maintenance on your home espresso machines. This topic is so near and dear to our heart that we’ve even started offering classes on the subject at our Bellevue store. As we have become well versed on the matter, we are often asked how perform certain tasks, such as descaling, on specific machines. And since we want everyone to have a clean and properly functioning machine, we are happy to oblige! This time around we’re focusing on one of our favorite little semi-autos, the Saeco Via Venezia.
With its compact size, lower price point and easy to use pressurized portafilter, it is no wonder the Via Venezia is a well-loved machine. Plus, the machine is incredibly easy to take care of! The descaling process is similar to that of other Saeco semi-automatic espresso machines and involves pouring a mix of Dezcal and warm water into the water reservoir, pulling the mixture through the boiler and out the steam wand and then repeating the process with clean water to make sure there isn’t any descaling solution lingering in the machine.
Finally, keep in mind that how often you descale your machine shouldn’t be based on how many times a day you use the machine, but rather on timing. Even if you rarely use your machine you can still experience an attack of killer scale since there is water sitting in waterworks of the machine. A good rule of thumb is to descale about every 1-3 months, depending on how hard your water is.
Let Bunny be your guide as she shows us how to complete this process step-by-step.
SCG How-To Guides: Descaling the Saeco Via Venezia
One of the hidden secrets of many espresso machines is that they come with an accessible test mode section. What is great about test mode is that it is an excellent resource for troubleshooting your machine. For instance, test mode can allow you to determine if components like your water pump, grinder or brew unit motor aren’t working because they are broken or because something in the machine has been misplaced and is keeping them from working.
One espresso maker that has this functionality is the Saeco Intuita. Luckily, as its name suggests, getting into the test mode section on this machine is more intuitive than it is on other espresso machines and only requires a few simple steps. Once you are in test mode, there are five different levels to explore, which allow you to test everything from the lights on the machine to the grinder. You can even test the machine’s sensors to make sure they are working properly, which is a great way to help pinpoint what is causing an alarm in regular mode.
In this video, Brendan shows us how to access test mode on the Intuita, guides through each of the different levels and explains how to use each one to diagnose any problems you are having with your machine.
The fact that the Saeco Talea Touch does nearly everything for you (except fold your laundry) makes it one of our more popular espresso machines. Not only does this machine’s technology allow for easy brewing, but it also enables you to access the Test Mode section, so you can give it a “check up” and explore the cause of any issues that may be occurring.
One of the greatest benefits of Test Mode is that it allows you to freely operate the functionality of your machine. For instance, you can do things like check to see if your grinder is working without brewing a shot of coffee, monitor if your brew unit motor is running right or even see if your pump is in good shape. While this mode is useful, the Test Mode for the Talea Touch is one of the more challenging to get into. You must know a special code, as well as how use it, which are both cryptic enough to warrant the use of a secret decoder to finger them out. This is also the case for both the new and the refurbished Saeco Talea Touch Plus, which requires you go through the same process to access the Test Mode.
Luckily, we have something even better – our parts and tech expert, Brendan, who told us the secret code and how and when to enter it. Once we were in, he also showed us how to navigate through the system and play with the options, which are much easier to use.