Category Archives: Superautomatic

Steam Test: Non-Fat vs. 2% vs. Whole Milks

Silky milky! We tested out non-dairy milks to see how well they produced microfoam and now it’s time to turn to dairy milks — specifically, which steams better: Non-fat, 2% or whole milk? And do they perform similarly across the board, regardless of the machine used?

Gail steamed up each of the milks on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione, Saeco Xelsis and Saeco Via Venezia to see which works the best, if there are commonalities or if each machine works better with different types of milk. Watch and learn the results!

Field Trip: Uesugi USA – Recycling Center

Where do espresso machines and coffee makers go to die? Not in the landfill, if we can help it! At Seattle Coffee Gear, we launched a recycling program last year in an effort to keep as many fully assembled machines from landing in the trash. Many of these are pretty complex — they have circuit boards, electrical wiring and miscellaneous metals that are best kept out of our ground water supply.

Our partner in this venture is Uesugi USA, a Japanese company that (as luck would have it) have a US presence here in the Seattle-area. We pulled Henry into the mix and headed out to their facility to talk about what they do and see how they take these machines apart, break them down to their components and funnel them back into the commodity supply chain as cleanly as possible.

The Lowdown on Espresso Machine Thermostats

A style of thermostat often used in espresso machines is an analog bi-metal thermostat that measures the temperature on the outside of the boiler. This utilizes two different types of metal that react to different temperatures to regulate whether or not the boiler needs to kick on and heat up or kick off and cool down.

We asked Gail to take one apart and show us how it works, so she did! If you’ve ever wondered what accounts for the variable boiler temperatures, here is your answer.

SCG is a Certified DeLonghi Repair Center

Adding to the laundry list of manufacturer repair certifications (such as Ascaso, Pasquini, Quick Mill, Rancilio, Rocket Espresso and Saeco), our techs can now take on your DeLonghi espresso machine and make it as good as new. Well, within reason, of course.

We’re now both a regional warranty repair center (for DeLonghi superautomatics) and certified for out-of-warranty repairs on superautomatics, semi-automatics and coffee makers. While we doubt anyone will be bringing in their $50 drip maker for repair (given the average parts/labor would be around $50), we’re really excited to have easy access to parts so that we can help folks get a little longer life out of their machines.

If you own a DeLonghi superautomatic that is still under warranty, you would continue to contact them directly for warranty support; they will direct you to our repair center if we’re the regionally closest option available. If your machine is outside of warranty and it needs repair, however, feel free to contact us and we can setup a Repair Authorization number for you to send it in to the repair center for a free diagnosis and estimate.

Talking about Water Filters & Softeners

Mineral content in your water will play a part in the coffee that you make and your machine’s longevity. In this video, Gail talks to us about a few different filters and softeners available for espresso machines, as well as explaining how a filter and softener differ.

Compare: Jura Impressa Z5 vs. Saeco Xelsis

For a long time, we had what most people would consider an unnatural love for the Jura Impressa Z5. It was so sleek, so flexible — and it did everything we asked it to. Who wouldn’t love that?

But an appreciation rooted in gadgetgeek love is always at risk of being supplanted, and the Saeco Xelsis is definitely wooing us. Watch Gail take us through the features of both of these machines and demonstrate their one-touch cappuccino functionality.

Yeah — it’s still a tough call. You can get a deeper understanding by watching the complete individual reviews of the Xelsis and the Jura Impressa Z5.

Ask the Experts: What’s a Panarello?

Creating a silky microfoam can be a challenging enterprise: Even with the higher end prosumer machines we sell, it is arguably the most difficult skill to learn and sometimes takes more practice (and patience!) than folks expect from the outset.

The technique involves infusing the right amount of air and steam at the right pace to ‘stretch’ the milk, ultimately resulting in that wet paint texture that can be used in latte art, if you’ve got the skillz. You rest the tip of the steam wand on the surface of the milk and ‘ride’ it as the milk is slowly expanding with tiny air bubbles and coming up to temperature via the machine’s steam. You’ve got to keep a steady roll going, the bubbles to a minimum and eventually you’ll submerge the wand completely once you’ve achieved the amount of foam you want and need to simply bring it up to temperature.

Continue reading Ask the Experts: What’s a Panarello?

Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis One-Touch Superautomatic

Saeco’s newest one-touch superautomatic, the Xelsis, is just about to hit the market in the US and we were able to get a prototype in the store to play around with it! These little ladies are available for pre-order on the Seattle Coffee Gear site and they’ll be shipping in early May.

Watch Gail take us through the basic features and show us how to make a one-touch cappuccino:

Arguably one of the best features of this one-touch is that, unlike the other one-touch models available from Saeco or Jura, the Xelsis also comes equipped with a powerful traditional steam wand. This is excellent flexibility if you have multiple coffee drinkers and one of them likes their milk extra hot because the automatic frothing will still make the milk at around the standard 165F. Watch as Gail shows us how the steam wand works:


If you’re anything like us, you probably used your gear’s user manual for one of three things:

  1. To ineffectively swat at flies, yet one day you accidentally killed one and couldn’t bear to keep the gut-stained book around.
  2. To prop up the uneven handmade bookshelf lovingly made by a friend/parent/spouse/sibling/child that never sits right on the wood floor.
  3. To start a fire in the fireplace to enjoy while sipping on a delicious glass of chai spiced wine. (Guilty!)

Or, maybe you just recycled it by accident. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that now you have no wisdom to guide you. We created our manufacturer manual repository over at Brown Bean to connect you with the source code. We have manuals for a lot of models both current and historical, so if you’re looking for tips on how to perform maintenance or need to find out what that error code means, check ‘em out.

Don’t see your model there? Leave a comment here and we’ll see if we can’t track it down and add it to the repository.