Category Archives: Semi-Automatic

Crew Review: DeLonghi EC860 Espresso Machine

The traditional artistry of semi-automatics meets the one-touch capabilities of superautomatics in this entry-level machine. The DeLonghi EC860 is a semi-automatic with programmable features and a milk carafe to froth-up a piping hot cappuccino right into your cup!

DeLonghi_EC860

We know what you’re thinking, it’s strange to see a milk carafe on a semi-automatic. The EC860 comes with the option to auto steam with the carafe or manual steam with the panarello. If you’re worried about the milk temperature with the carafe, don’t! The carafe delivers hot, frothy milk right into your cup just like a one-touch.

The programmable features also don’t fail to impress us. Customize the temperature and volume of your espresso shot and, for the speciality drinks, you can change the milk volume. That’s something you generally don’t see in an entry-level machine! 

This entry-level machine is also equipped with a pressurized portafilter with baskets for a pod, single or double shot. With a pressurized portafilter, newcomers don’t need to worry about dialing in a consistent grind, it’ll compensate for you!

Con-wise, we’re not too keen on the plastic scamper—the scoop and tamper combo (which is not as convenient as a spork). Even with the pressurized portafilter aiding your shot, you still want a nice, even tamp to reduce grinds on the brew head and, of course, deliver a delicious espresso. We recommend purchasing a sturdier tamper. Also, this machine lacks a three-way solenoid valve, which makes a soupy coffee puck.

No matter how you look at this machine (oh, by the way, super nice stainless steel body) the pros outweigh the cons. We recommend this machine for entry-level folks who want a semi-automatic with the convenience and programmable features of a superautomatic. Or, hey, this machine is great seasoned coffee-brewers, too! Check out the video with the full review below and tell us what you think!

Crew Comparison: La Marzocca Linea Mini vs Rocket Espresso R60v

When it comes to top-of-the-line machines, it just doesn’t get any better than these two high-end semi-automatics. The La Marzocco Linea Mini and Rocket Espresso R60v are two powerful machines that bring cafe-quality espresso right into your home. If you’re deciding between one or the other, check out the video below to see these two semi-automatics at work.

Linea Mini

The Linea Mini has a couple things over the R60v. For one, the professional-grade—the same ones you’ll find at a cafe—stainless steel portafilter makes tamping worry-free. The portafilter is outfitted with an angled handle for even tamping and, in addition, a breakaway spout in case you don’t know your own strength. But hey, save your nerves and counter and use the flat spot under the portafilter that fits perfectly against the edge of the counter.

Another difference is the Linea Mini’s steam wand, which has four holes (instead of the R60v’s two) releasing steam, making it one powerful milk-frothing machine. That doesn’t overshadow the R60v’s steam power, though. If you’re worried about the steam power, go to 7:50 on the video and watch Gail demonstrate both machines. What did you think? When it comes to steam power, we’re happy with the results from both machines.

Now, let’s take a look at the R60v. Sleek, streamlined and built with power, it’s a definite favorite with our staff. Besides appearance, the biggest difference you’ll see in the R60v is its digital PID and pressure profiling—something you usually see on commercial machines! What’s pressure profiling, though? Instead of the typical 20 to 30 seconds of brewing at nine bars of pressure, pressure profiling on the R60v allows you to have three profiles that allow up to five different stages of pressure applied during your brew. If you’re looking to have more pressure control, the R60v gives you that tailored espresso shot.

So, did you figure out what machine you’re taking home? When it comes to deciding between the Linea Mini and R60v, you can’t go wrong with either machine!

Crew Review: Rancilio Silvia M

Say hello to the latest version of Rancilio’s Silvia, the Rancilio Silvia M. Like it’s predecessor, it features an all-over stainless steel body, traditional steam wand, and non-pressurized portafilter, but with some technical (and rather handy) upgrades. Check out the Crew Review video below to see the new additions at work.

Rancilio Silvia M

For those of you new to the Silvia, the machine features a traditional steam wand with a hot water feature and comes with a 58mm chrome plated brass portafilter—the same ones found on their commercial machines, so you know it’s good stuff—and stainless steel single and double shot baskets. It is a durable machine with equally reliable accessories, and we only recommend upgrading that plastic tamper for a metal-bodied one.

So, what has changed? The Silvia M has a new green “on” light. It may sound trivial, but as the machine is heating up, the orange light (directly below the green) will be on and then it’ll turn off. Since the green light will remain on, when the orange turns off it’ll be easy to see when your machine is ready to brew.

The Silvia M is still a single boiler machine, which means you’re steaming and brewing one at a time, so the two lights will help you temperature surf from steaming to brewing to get you ready to brew!

Inside the machine, there is a new the lead-free boiler and insulation wrap around the boiler. The heating element is still removable in case you do happen to get burnout, which will reduce the costs to fix it (but no worries there, our techs got you covered!).

In short, the heavy duty materials that make up the Rancilio Silvia M complement this hard-working single boiler machine and is for someone looking for control and quality in their espresso.

Crew Review: Breville Oracle

Who says you can’t have it all? If you want the control of a semi-automatic and the programmability of a superautomatic, then you’re in the right place! We have the Breville Oracle here ready to change the name of the game for semi-automatics.

Breville_Oracle

Let’s walk through making your morning cup. The Oracle has a built-in grinder and tamper—you heard right, this machine tamps for you—that are both adjustable using the beautiful digital display. What makes the Oracle a hybrid machine are the automated features. You don’t see this sort of programmability in a semi-automatic and that makes it easier to brew a quality shot and spend less time dialing it in.

Are you an Americano drinker? Behind the brew head, you’ll find the hot water dispenser ready to deliver a piping hot Americano (programmable, again, for a shot and amount of water at the same time!) or hot chocolate for the kids.

Like everything else on this machine, the steam wand impressed us with its programmable milk temperature and texture. The display makes it easy to choose and achieve that quality cappuccino foam or perfect temperature for steamed milk drinks. Don’t feel like steaming yourself? No problem! The steam wand has an auto steam option that’ll do all the heavy lifting for you. After steaming, the steam wand will auto-purge to keep your machine nice and clean!

Breville really thinks of everything for home brewers and that’s why we highly recommend this machine. Check out the full review below to see the Breville Oracle in action!

Crew Review: Rocket R60v

The Rocket Espresso R60v might just be the best espresso machine you will ever own. Hand made in Italy, pressure profiling, easy to use PID and constructed with commercial grade components- do you see what we are getting at?r60v

The Rocket R60v is a high end home espresso machine. Rocket Espresso has taken a lot of the features that you find in their commercial espresso machines and brought them to the home user. The biggest (and most talked about) feature being pressure profiling.

What is pressure profiling? Pressure profiling allows you to adjust the brewing pressure throughout the entire brew process. Gone are the days of only brewing at 9 bars of pressure. With the R60v you can set  five different brewing pressures in each profile. This allows you to experiment and get the most out of each coffee you decide to brew.

The pressure profiling can be controlled via the PID (which comes with a handy mounting system) or via the smartphone app. In addition to the pressure profiling the app and PID can adjust both boiler temperatures, set language, turn the service boiler on and off, switch between tank or plumbed in configurations and set temperature units.

The Rocket Espresso R60v is a plumbable machine. Which means you can connect it directly to your water supply, and never need to fill the tank in the back again! The dual boilers are constructed with stainless steel, a shift from the brass/copper design of the R58. This machine is a little bit larger than your standard home espresso machine, so be sure to measure your counter space. The R60v sits 16.75 inches tall, 16 inches wide and 18 inches deep.

Check out our Crew Review of the R60v below! Want to watch our unboxing as well? You can check that out here!

 

 

Comparison: Musica vs. Premium Plus

It’s time for another head to head comparison! This week, we have the Nuova Simonelli Musica vs. Premium Plus with PID from Rocket Espresso!

Two heat exchangers, both from an Italian company. So which is best for you? Let’s take a closer look at the features and find out!

Musica vs. Premium PlusFirst up, the Nuova Simonelli Musica. This espresso machine features a 2 liter brass and copper boiler. The water reservoir holds 3 liters of water, which is on the larger size for this type of machine. The Nuova Simonelli Musica takes about 25 minutes to heat up to brew temperature, not too bad for a 1200 Watt machine. We love the look of this machine, it features a lighted edge which can be turned off if you are not in the mood. The steam tip on this machine is the same steam tip that Nuova Simonelli uses on the machines it provides for the National Barista Championships.

Musica vs. Premium PlusThe Premium Plus with PID from Rocket Espresso features a 1.8 liter brass and copper boiler. So the two machines are pretty comparable in that department. The Rocket Espresso Premium Plus heats up to brew temperature in just 11 minutes. The steam wand is a no burn steam wand. That means it is insulted so that the milk won’t immediately burn on contact. However, you should still be wiping and purging the wand immediately after frothing milk. We do love the contemporary look that all of Rocket’s machines have. It truly looks great in any environment.

Watch our full comparison in the video below! Still want some more information? You can read about all the specs for the Musica here, and the Premium Plus here.

 

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Crew Review: Rocket Espresso Boxer

The Rocket Espresso Boxer commercial espresso machines are the latest set of machines that have impressed us. The Rocket Espresso Boxer comes in a one group version and a two group version, perfectly suited for any volume.

Rocket Espresso takes pride in their finished design, keeping with their iconic contemporary look for these machines. The stainless steel and aluminum finish will look great in any environment and truly give your customers something to look at.

Both machines come with two cooltouch stainless steel steam wands. Something you won’t find on many one group machines. The steaming power on these machines won’t disappoint either. Be sure to check out the Crew Review videos below for a demonstration of the steaming capabilities!

Both Rocket Espresso Boxer models have microprocessor controlled electronics, allowing you to program your drinks volumetrically. The Boxer 1 group allows for four individual volumes to be programmed, while the Boxer 2 group allows for up to eight different volumes. The Rocket Espresso Boxer also has a manual switch to bypass all the electronic programming. This is a great feature that will keep your down time to minimum, should your electronics ever fail.

Be sure to watch the full Crew Reviews below! Have any questions? Connect with our commercial team here.

 

 

Comparison: 3 Different Espresso Machines

So 3 different espresso machines walk into a coffee bar. A semiautomatic, a superautomatic, and a hybrid. The barista asks, “What’s so special about you?” (referring to the hybrid).  To which Gail responds, let me tell you!

Ok, maybe we should stick to just drinking coffee and leave the jokes to the professionals. Either way, in our quest to demystify the Breville Oracle, the hybrid espresso machine, we decided to compare it to a semiautomatic and a superautomatic so that we can show off what it encompasses from both families.

3 different espresso machinesThe Rocket Giotto Premium Plus with PID is our semiautomatic in this comparison. A classic heat exchanger machine with an E-61 brew head. The steam power on this machine is excellent, but the home barista will need to practice in order to get the perfect milk for their lattes.

3 different espresso machinesThe Breville Oracle is similar to the Rocket Giotto in that they both have a full sized 58mm portafilter. But what makes the Oracle more like a superautomatic is the internal grinder and tamper. The oracle allows you to adjust the tamp pressure and dosage, but the control you have is still limited when compared to the Rocket.

The Saeco Exprelia Evo, our superautomatic in the lineup, features 3 different espresso machinesboth an auto milk system and a traditional steam wand. The Oracle also has an auto milk system, but we think it acts more like a traditional steam wand than anything. On the Oracle, you can adjust the temperature you want your milk to get to as well as your desired foam amount.

Watch our full comparison video below to learn more about these three espresso machines. Which one is the best fit for you?

 

 

Comparison: Breville Oracle vs. Saeco Exprelia Evo

We are back with another comparison! This time we are putting two big players head to head. So let’s get right into it, the Breville Oracle vs. Saeco Exprelia Evo.Breville Oracle Care

So you might be asking, why this comparison? Well, we like to consider the Breville Oracle as a hybrid espresso machine. It has features of a superautomatic machine, but it also boasts a lot of functionality you would typically find on a traditional espresso machine.  Hence our comparison to the Saeco Exprelia Evo. We want to be able to show the benefits of each type of machine!

The Saeco Exprelia Evo is a top of the line superautomatic espresso machine. It features both a traditional steam wand and a one touch auto milk system. So whether you just want to press a button or spend some time crafting the perfect drink, you can.Exprelia Evo

Both the Oracle and the Exprelia Evo have stainless steel double boilers, which will allow you to brew and steam at the same time. The Oracle has an auto milk system that looks a lot like a traditional steam wand. But what the Oracle’s auto milk feature has that you won’t find on any superautomatic is a temperature and foam control knob. This allows you to craft the perfect texture for your milk every time, with little technique required. We love this feature and think it really separates the Oracle from the traditional superautomatic milk system.

If you are still stuck on which machine will be best for you, be sure to check out the full comparison video below! Gail goes through all the specs you could ever imagine!

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Morning Maintenance: CC1 General Maintenance Tips

An espresso machine is a lot like a car. If you keep up on your oil changes and tire rotations, it is going to last a whole lot longer. But don’t worry, you won’t need to bring your espresso machine into a mechanic for the tune up! You can do so in the comfort of your own home.General Maintenance Tips CC1

Below are our general maintenance tips for the Crossland CC1, but a lot of this information can be used on any single boiler machine. Of course it is best to consult your specific machines instruction manual   but feel free to follow along!

The best thing you can do for your machine is to use filtered water. By using filtered water you cut back on the amount of descaling you will need to do, which is good for everyone involved. (It can take a while to go through the whole descaling process!)

Backflushing is another important step to a healthy machine. Coffee has oils, and those oils like to go everywhere! Over time, those oils will build up and can change the flavor of your shots or even create a clog. Watch the video below to see Gail demonstrate how to properly backflush the Crossland CC1.

After each brew session, it is best to wipe down the machine immediately. Especially the steam wand if you steamed some milk. Any milk residue that is left on the wand after steaming will burn, and be very difficult to remove later. In addition to the unsightly burnt milk, the wand can also siphon milk back up and into the boiler as it cools. And milk in the boiler is never a good thing (and can cost a lot to repair)!

Those are our general maintenance tips for the Crossland CC1, be sure to watch the full episode of Morning Maintenance below. If you found this video helpful, subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos just like this!