If you retrofit a PID on a Rancilio Silvia, how should you calibrate it to ensure you’re getting the ideal shot temperature? How much of an impact does preheating your cup have on the end shot temperature? In this video, Gail measures the temp of extraction with and without preheating the demitasse beforehand.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about descaling your espresso equipment, we haven’t been doing our job! We’re devotees to excellent maintenance, and regularly descaling your machine will maintain its performance and extend its overall life.
Heat exchange machines need to be descaled a bit differently than single boiler or thermoblock models, so we asked Gail to show us how it’s done in this updated version of our instructional video. Watch as she walks us through the process and then demonstrates it on a Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione, using Dezcal.
It’s time to get serious people.
If you want to make excellent espresso drinks at home, a double boiler machine allows you to demonstrate both your dedication to the cause and your enviable skills. Featuring separate boilers for steaming and brewing, these machines offer excellent temperature control and simultaneous brew/steam functionality.
In this video, Gail talks to us about four different models — the Rocket Espresso R58, Izzo Alex Duetto II, La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II and Breville Dual Boiler — including their features, pros & cons and why you might purchase one model over another.
Earlier this week, Gail and Kat whet your appetite with an overview of the EC155, BAR32, EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix. Are you still craving more? Wondering about shot performance, steaming functionality and other nuances between these machines? As a newbie to Seattle Coffee Gear, here’s my take on the Delonghi single boilers. Let’s start with the similarities:
Ease of Use: All of the single boilers have the same basic functionality, and are extremely easy to operate. They all use pressurized portafilters and include plastic tampers (all uptamp excluding the kMix). The EC155 and BAR32 have a dial to power on and select either steam or brew functionality. With the EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix, these were updated to 3 buttons vs the dial. One push (or turn), and you’re good to go!
Shot performance: I used illy Medium Roast Espresso in my testing, and overall shot performance is comparable across these models. I noticed slightly less crema from the EC155, but aroma and shot temperature (130-135 degrees) seemed on par.
Milk Frothing: All of these models come with slightly different panarellos, which make frothing a breeze. The average time for milk to reach 140 degrees was 45-50 seconds. The panarellos all have limited mobility, and smaller pitchers work best, especially for the EC155 and BAR32. You won’t get a velvety microfoam from these wands, but there was no difference in foam quality across the board.
Now, on to the differences:
EC155: This has the smallest footprint of the bunch, but with that comes extremely low cup clearance – nothing but a small shot glass will fit under the brew head unless you remove the drip tray. While none of these machines include a solenoid valve, this machine delivered the wettest puck.
Bar 32: The retro styling of this machine is the only thing setting it apart from the EC155, and with that comes slightly higher cup clearance.
EC270: This machine marries the styling of the two previous models – with the studded metal top from the EC155, and the Bar32’s rounded lines. Crossing the $100 threshold gets you a passive cup warmer and a side knob for steam control.
EC702: Stainless steel casing sets this machine apart, and it has the largest footprint of the group. It also delivered the driest puck!
ECO310BK: If you want rounder lines, a passive cup warmer and a monster drip tray, this is your best bet.
kMix: Its compact design packs a punch with great cup clearance, shorter recovery time between shots and nice build quality. This model also has an upgraded portafilter with rubberized grip.
So, after all this testing, which single boiler would come home with me? It mostly boils down to aesthetics and space. With little counter space to spare, I’m sold on the kMix’s small footprint and cup warmer. For under $200, I’d place my bet on the EC702, but I’m a sucker for stainless and straight lines.
We asked Gail to set these guys up and give us a side-by-side feature set comparison between the EC155, BAR32, EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix. Watch as she breaks it all down into wonderful, bite-sized pieces.
In search of a small single boiler espresso machine? Check out how these three models from Saeco stack up.
|Casing||Cased in a steel casing, this compact machine won’t take up too much space with it’s boxy figure.||Internally you can call this bad boy and the Aroma twins, but externally it’s a little more of an upgrade. Cased in the same steel material, the Venezia’s curves do more of the talking.
||Like triplets on the inside, it’s the Poemia that physically stands out from the rest of them by far. Modeled after the Saeco Xelsis and Exprelia, it has a compact metal and plastic casing.
|Footprint||8.25″ W x 9.75″ D x 11.75″ H||9.63″ W x 11.5″ D x 13″ H
||7″ W x 9.5″ D x 11.5″ H|
|Steam Wand||Making life a little easier with the panarello wand, you’ll be able to get foamy milk in no time. However, this wand will only move left to right making it a little more difficult to fit bigger frothing pitchers underneath.||With the ease to foam your milk into velvety goodness, this panarello wand gives you a little more clearance with your frothing pitcher. Its ability to swivel also makes for easier clean-up.
||Taking a cue from its superautomatic cousins, the Poemia’s panarello wand has their design and will allow you to easily create milk with microfoam. However, like the Aroma, its right to left motion makes fitting larger frothing pitchers underneath more difficult.
|Drip Tray||This may be a little messier than most. But with a more compact machine comes smaller parts. You’ll find yourself having to lift the tray out of the casing to empty out a lot more often than not.
||With more room and accessibility to slide the drip tray out when it’s time to empty, the Venezia gives you less of a mess. It also sports an accessory drawer underneath that is removable to provide more room for larger cups.
||Ridged (baffled) that will prevent messes and sloshing, you’ll find it easier to empty out your drip tray when it’s time, no matter how full it is.|
|Water Reservoir||80 oz.
||98 oz.||34 oz.
|Portafilter||Equipped with a pressurized stainless steel with plastic cased portafilter, it will help you pull ideal shots no matter what grind you use. However, the quality of this portafilter is more basic than the sleek portafilter that comes with the Black Via Venezia.||The Black Via Venezia comes with a sleek upgraded look to the heavy metal portafilter, however you’ll find the stainless steel version to have the same basic portafilter as the Aromas.
||Functions as well as both the Aroma and Venezia portafilters, you’ll find that the quality of the Poemia is not as sturdy. Made of aluminum wrapped in a plastic case, it will still do the job.|
As you know, it doesn’t take much to make us happy, but something we love more than anything is when a manufacturer gets a little bit crazy with its bad self and releases a piece of equipment unlike others we have tested. DeLonghi’s new EC860 is a sort of hybrid between traditional espresso machines and their robotic counterparts, featuring standard espresso extraction with the option to automatically froth the milk.
Watch as Gail talks to us about its features, then demonstrates shot extraction, frothing with the wand and making a one-touch (aside from all the touching involved with grinding and tamping, of course!) cappuccino with its automatic frothing option.
If you drop serious coin on your home espresso setup, will there be a practical performance difference? What if you spend more on your espresso machine than your grinder or vice versa?
We asked Gail to test out an entry level (Capresso Infinity) and a prosumer (Mazzer Mini E) grinder with an entry level (Krups XP5280) and prosumer (Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2) espresso machine to see how they compare. Do you get a better shot using a high end grinder with an entry level machine? What about an entry level grinder with a high end machine?
Watch and find out!