Possibly the hardest working superautomatic in the business, the Saeco Vienna Plus has a long and storied history of home espresso performance. It’s the machine that many people started out with, years ago, and it’s hung in there for over a decade (in some cases,) dutifully delivering your java.
But what it offers in a hard working focus on helping you make coffee you love, it lacks in bells and whistles. Some might argue that said bells and whistles are not necessary, and they might be right; but one of the missing bells and/or whistles is an easy-to-read user interface system that tells you what might be going on when the machine isn’t working properly.
So we asked one of our resident Vienna Plus lovers, Brendan, to guide us through two different diagnostic videos: First, he shows us how to put the machine into Test Mode, so that you can bypass functionality and test individual components. Then he talks us through the different alarms and errors that the machine may experience, and how to diagnose which means what.
If you own a Saeco Vienna Plus and have often wished there was a way to better interpret its rather cryptic blinking lights, these videos will serve as your secret decoder ring!
Prime numbers. Prime rib. Prime rate. Optimus Prime. These are just a few of the primes we know and love, but if you’ve ever spent some quality time with an espresso machine, priming is another prime that you’ll learn to appreciate.
The phrase ‘prime the pump’ is often used to describe things not quite so literal (it’s a particularly popular phrase used in reference to economics) but exists for a reason: By adding something to a system, you can facilitate action. In the case of today’s SCG Tech Tip, it’s adding water to a pump to force any air out of it and start the pump processing water from the reservoir or main line to the machine’s internal boiler and related waterworks.
Espresso machine priming occurs primarily with new machines, which don’t have any water in them, but a machine that has had its boiler drained (for shipping or long term storage) or machines that have sat awhile may also require priming.
To prime the machine, you open either the steam or hot water valve in order to encourage the pump to draw water from the reservoir and fill the boiler system. This is the tender way of doing it, but sometimes an espresso machine is a bit stubborn (read: It somehow got air pockets in its water lines, making it difficult for suction to occur) and you’ll have force the issue — literally. Using a tool like an ear syringe or turkey baster, you force water under pressure into the water intake area while engaging the pump; this gives the machine the extra oomph it needs to prime itself.
To learn all you ever wanted to know about espresso machine priming, we asked Brendan to break it down for us in the priming primer! He talks with us about what priming is, how and why you do it, then gives us a few tips and tricks to help the process go smoothly.
The new Saeco Minuto is the innovative answer to a very common problem: How does a household split between an appreciation for drip brewed coffee and a love for espresso-based drinks ever see eye to eye? Historically, the resolution to such an issue was found in one of three ways:
Completely separate pieces of equipment that yielded the best quality product for both preparations;
Selecting a single piece of equipment that favored one preparation while short changing the other; or
Engaging in an arm wrestling competition, wherein the victor gets to choose the home’s coffee setup.
Where the first option is concerned, you often have to give up considerable kitchen counter space to brewers, grinders and espresso machinery; not everyone has that luxury — in either kitchen or budget size — so collecting a variety of java accoutrement may not even be a viable option.
In regard to the second solution, implementing it means that you have to choose between lackluster coffee or less than stellar espresso. Combination drip brewer and espresso machines often utilize steam power for both preparations, which is just perfect for drip coffee but the fluctuating temperature of which wreaks havoc on espresso. Conversely, traditional espresso machines will produce delicious shots that can be mixed with water to approximate a drip coffee-style drink, but this is often considered not as rich or as smooth as some drip coffee aficionados adore.
Finally, putting everything on the line by competing in a feat of physical prowess may be preferable for those of you that rock especially enviable upper body strength, but the rest of us might not be as comfortable allowing our home coffee enjoyment to be decided by a session of biceps-roullette.
With the introduction of the Saeco Minuto, however, an effective compromise that doesn’t involve sacrifice or brute strength now exists! With the simple flip of a lever, the Minuto will adjust its pressure to either the traditional 9 BAR of espresso extraction or roughly 3 BAR for a drip coffee preparation. You can freshly grind and brew a single cup of rich coffee that tastes just like it was brewed in a high quality drip brewer, all at the single touch of a button. Pretty cool, eh?
So if you’ve been facing this coffee vs. espresso challenge in your own household, check out Gail’s review and demonstration of the Saeco Minuto; we go through its features, experiment with its different functionality and sample its delicious java. Might it be the one you’re looking for?
Does your Saeco Via Venezia need to be repaired but you don’t have a repair center in your area? Did you try on a DeLonghi Magnifica for size and it didn’t quite fit? Will that Rocket Espresso R58 see more action at your vacation home? Regardless of your reason for shipping your espresso machine — repair, return or simple transit — ensuring that it’s packed properly to limit damage is key.
In this series of videos, we asked a member of our shipping crew, Spencer, to guide us through the best practices for three general styles of espresso machines: Small (under 35lbs), large (over 35lbs) and superautomatics (watch those drip trays!). Check out the video that most closely matches your style of machine to learn how the pros do it.
Episode One: Packing a Small (Under 35lbs) Espresso Machine
Episode Two: Packing a Large (Over 35lbs) Espresso Machine
Episode Three: Packing a Superautomatic Espresso Machine
With its volumetric dosage, convertible portafilter (pressurized or non-pressurized, depending on how you roll) and high cup clearance, there was a lot to love about the Sirena. Originally produced for Starbucks by Saeco, it also had a long and glorious life on the market as a refurbished espresso machine once it was discontinued. If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one and it met your needs, you might want to take extra special care of it as there’s no way to pick-up a replacement.
Part of that care is a regular tune-up — a thorough descale and the replacement of some of the parts that see a bit more wear and tear. Because this was such a popular machine, we produced a Tune-Up Kit especially for it, which includes descaler, the recommended replacement parts and step-by-step instructions.
Interested in performing this tune-up but want to find out what you’re getting yourself into first? Check out Brendan’s walkthrough of the process in this how-to video.
Yes, we’re serious. No, we can’t believe we are, either. We probably shouldn’t let Brandi choose her recipes on her own anymore after she brought this bad boy out to play. Who on earth blends up a slice of chocolate cake and then drinks it?! Probably the same person who blends up a donut.
We apologize in advance for any and all of the havoc this wreaks on your lovely figure, love. Ijole!
4 cups vanilla ice cream
1/2 – 1 cup milk
(1) 8 oz. slice of chocolate cake
2 shots of espresso
In a blender, puree the ice cream and the milk together. Add the cake and the espresso shot, continuing to blend and adding more milk (as needed) to get the right consistency. Serve with a straw and spoon in a pint glass, preferably away from any reflective surfaces.
There are many things in life that have been attributed to such nebulous sources as ‘science’ or ‘engineering’ that are actually deeply rooted in magic. The chromatophores of cephalopods, gelatin-based foodstuffs, magnets — these are just a few examples of magic being passed off as ordinary. It’s unfortunate that their provenance isn’t more keenly celebrated, but we understand why: It’s far easier for people to get their head around these experiences if they disregard their obvious mojo.
And while it’s tempting to add the brew groups of Saeco Superautomatic Espresso Machines to this list, these are actually not operated by tiny magical beings inside your espresso machine; they truly are the result of some fine-tuned mechanical engineering. But don’t take our word for it! Learn all about them with Brendan — what they do, how they work, how to care for them, troubleshooting tips and more.
Back in our wayward youth, we purchased a motorized moon buggy for one of our brothers’ birthdays. After a few days of running it all over sand, grass, asphalt, linoleum and the spongy, pine needle-infused earth of the forest, his curiosity got the best of him: How did it work? To find out, he took it apart and meticulously laid out each tiny component on the table, then spent a couple of hours examining them, playing with where and how they fit, experimenting with how they interacted — or didn’t — with each other. Then it was time to put it back together again … and that’s when everything went a little bit sideways.
This story isn’t particularly unique; sure, it may reference a cheap plastic toy from the ’80s, but we’ve all heard of (or been personally involved with) situations in which someone decided to take the mechanical bull by the horns — literally — and lost. It’s super easy to take things apart, but the skill of a true engineer comes forth when it’s time to put it all back together again.
Preventative maintenance on your Saeco Via Venezia or Aroma includes a semi-regular replacement of some of the brew head components — the gasket, screen, anti-suction valve and more. But taking it apart and putting it back together again can seem daunting to some, and we want to allay your fears! Not only do we have parts kits with step-by-step instructions for each of these machines, we’ve made this guided video, courtesy of our parts guru Brendan. Check it out to see how easy it is to replace these well-worn parts — we promise you won’t have a non-functioning moon buggy at the end of it all.
It had been awhile since we fired up a pod-friendly espresso machine and gave the ESE pods their day in the sun. So Bunny grabbed the Saeco Poemia and a selection of pods from illy (Medium Roast, Dark Roast, Decaf) and Caffe Umbria (Gusto Crema, Mezzanotte Decaf), then we got to tasting. Interested in finding out how these ultra-tidy little dudes perform? Watch them in action!
Everyone’s caffeine requirements vary. Coffee can be highly customized to your specific taste, which is one of the reasons why there are so many variations of coffee makers and espresso machines available today. In fact, there are so many, it is hard to know how to narrow the options to find the right machine for you.
When I’m considering the right machine for my personal needs, I like to start with my drink of choice: Not every espresso machine will accommodate my predilection for a hot hazelnut latte. Some superautomatic machines do not offer milk-steaming capability, which is great if your drink is an Americano, but you are out of luck if you want a Macchiato.
Next, I enjoy hot milk in my latte, around 160 degrees to be more precise. A common drawback to one-touch superautos is that often the milk does not get this hot. This works fine if you aren’t picky about your milk temp, but disappoints if you like your lattes hotter than the center of the sun (like me).
We just got the new Saeco Intuita superautomatic espresso machine in last week and I was curious to investigate where it fell in the spectrum of taste and versatility. Would the features meet my latte-making needs? At first glance the Intuita has a nice small footprint, a satin black retro color reminiscent of a 1980s tape deck and a selection of 6 backlit buttons to match. Fast forward to the good stuff: It also has a powerful panarello.
The cup clearance is such that I was able to steam milk and brew into my double wall glass mug. The panarello was so powerful I got a little out of control with milk splatters until I got the wand to the right depth in the cup. I stuck a drink thermometer in at the end and it measured a perfect 160 degrees. Then I set my cup under the spout and selected a double shot of espresso. With a splash of Monin Hazelnut Syrup I was able to craft my favorite beverage from start to finish in less than three minutes. Better yet, there was no clean up required except to wipe down the panarello with a damp cloth afterwards.
The Intuita is versatile enough to make a variety of beverages. With the combination of buttons you can have a single espresso, a double espresso, hot water for tea and milk-steaming with the panarello. This covers the basic elements needed for most drinks you’d care to make, and it does so with ease. While this machine lacks the high tech level of programmability and an LED screen others offer, the six buttons really do make the Intuita more intuitive. Consider this if you like the convenience of push button espresso with minimal cleanup and maintenance.