Category Archives: Tips – Tech

Ask Gail: Espresso Shot Quality

espresso shot qualityAs with everything in life, when you choose one thing you will always have give up a little something elsewhere. And that’s not always a bad thing! But in order to make an informed decision you should know what it is exactly that you will be gaining and losing. When it comes to espresso machines, a lot of what you will be gaining and losing is espresso shot quality.

Let us preface by saying that there are a lot of factors that need to come together in unison in order to create the perfect shot of espresso. Everything from the grind, to the tamp, to the humidity in your environment need to be just right for that espresso to make the ultimate list of all things delicious. So one machine simply can’t make all things come true. But it certainly can get you close.

When it comes to espresso machines you have essentially three families: manual, semi-automatic and super-automatic. We are going to focus on the semi- and super-automatics since they tend to be the most popular. The super-automatics are the one stop shop machines. Espresso at the push of a button. Super convenient for those who want it. The semi-automatics give you a little more control over your espresso shot. You have the ability to fine tune your grind and tamp pressure to just how you like it. That is not to say that super-automatics don’t give you options, but there will inherently be less.

As a result, your shots will vary from machine to machine. We think that you can pull better shots on a semi-automatic but that comes at a cost. You will be required to hone your craft in order to get that sweet nectar just right. While a super-automatic will get you close enough with little to no effort. It all comes down to what you want! That’s really the best part of it all.

Watch the video below to hear Gail’s full explanation of espresso shot quality from machine to machine. And be sure to check out our YouTube channel as well for more information and Crew Reviews!

 

Ask Gail: Troubleshooting a Panarello

Troubleshooting PanarelloOne morning you are frothing up perfect milk with your panarello and the next all you get is warm milk. What is going on?! Troubleshooting panarello issues can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for.

A panarello is designed to simultaneously infuse a small amount of air with the steam so you don’t have to do a thing in order to get that foam we all crave. Some of them do it better than others, and you end up with everything from super spongy meringue-like foam to nearly microfoam quality, depending on how the manufacturer designed the adapter. But what to do when things stop working?

Well, we Asked Gail to walk us through the potential issues that the panarello adapters could encounter. Watch the video below to find out what you might be able to do to get everything up and running again. Hint: you may need to grab a safety pin!

After you watch the video be sure to head over to our Youtube Channel and see what else Gail is chatting about.

Ask Gail: Superautomatic Espresso Machine Care

Superautomatic espresso machine careWe all love our superautomatic espresso machines. And why wouldn’t we? They make us our espresso drinks with just a push of a button and for that we are grateful. Superautomatics are so good at what they do that we sometimes forget that they too need a little love and attention every so often.

So we asked Gail to give us a run down on what we should be doing to keep the espresso flowing morning after morning.

Watch this new installment of Ask Gail to find out the steps to proper superautomatic espresso machine care.

 

 

 

Ask Gail: Can I Use Oily Beans in a Superautomatic Espresso Machine?

If we had a nickel for every time we heard this question, or a dime for every time a superautomatic was decommissioned due to this, we’d be rich (okay, maybe not rich, but we’d easily have a couple of dollars). However, we’d much rather save some machines then have the extra change jingling around!

The short answer is, unfortunately, that you cannot use oily beans in a superautomatic. Very dark and oily roasts clog up grinders and brew units over time, eventually leading to one very unhappy coffee robot. In superautomatic espresso machines, this is quite problematic, as you cannot take apart the grinders to give them a good, old fashioned cleaning. Eeeks!

If you’re looking for more info, and we know you are, Gail and Miranda have the lowdown for you. Take it away, ladies!

Tech Tips: Temperature Surfing on the Rancilio Silvia

Oh, Miss Silvia! A beloved home espresso machine among many a household, she can pull an Rancilio Silviaespresso shot like nobody’s business. However, like other single boiler espresso machines, you need to do a bit of temperature surfing after steaming your milk in order to get a quality shot of espresso. Unlike regular surfing, though, you don’t need to wear a bathing suit, so that’s pretty sweet.

Why do you need to temperature surf? Well, steam temperature is right around 212 degrees F, whereas brewing temperature is between 195-205 degrees F. If you steam your milk and jump immediately into the brewing process, you’re at far too hot a temperature for a tasty shot of espresso. Yes, it will still pull the shot, but there will be plenty of burned taste to be had!

Luckily, Gail and Brendan are here to walk us through the simple process in the video below. And let’s try to keep daydreaming about the beach to a minimum, shall we?

Tech Tips: Plumbing in a Rocket Home Espresso Machine

We hear from customers quite frequently that directions for pluming in a Rocket Espresso machine are needed…desperately! We’re not going to lie, we’ve even heard from plumbers calling in on behalf of their customers, as they are in their homes trying to complete the installation. And, on more than one occasion, we’ve had stories recounted of multiple hardware store trips and a fair amount of frustration.

So we’re here to set the story straight: You don’t need a plumber to install your plumbed in machine. You don’t need to spend hours, or really more than 10-20 minutes, on the installation. Last, but not least, you certainly don’t need to suffer through sixteen trips to [insert name of your favorite hardware store]. What you do need is to watch the video below, which is a step-by-step walkthrough (with SCG’s very own repair technicians!) of how to plumb in your Rocket home espresso machine!

They’ll even explain how to disconnect the hoses, in case you need to remove the machine for a repair or relocation, and show you the steps for programming the PID to accept a direct connection the R58. Espresso lovers, unite!

Tech Tips: How to Replace the Bean Hopper on a Rancilio Rocky

Rancilio RockyCoffee enthusiasts will rejoice when they discover how much control they can have over their grind when they use the Rancilio Rocky coffee grinder. It is no wonder that this machine is one of the most recognized names in the industry. In addition, the Rocky won’t look bad on your counter and it is made to last. However, just as with any other coffee equipment, if you don’t take good care of your grinder and keep up on its maintenance, your Rocky won’t stay looking beautiful forever. If you do make the mistake of falling behind on your machine’s maintenance and your bean hopper starts looking more green than blue, you do have the option of replacing it. In case your wondering, the reason your hopper has changed color isn’t a trick, it is because coffee oils and residue have built up on the plastic and stained the hopper. Discoloration is not the only reason for replacing your hopper. You may also want to replace your hopper if it is really old or has gotten damaged during shipping.

Once you’ve decided to replace your bean hopper on your grinder, the process isn’t overly complicated, but it does involve a couple of steps. Keep in mind that while you’re replacing the bean hopper on your Rancilio Rocky is also a great time to complete a grinder service on the inside of your machine. This will allow you to clean up any stale coffee grounds and residue that have built up inside your grinder that can cause your coffee to taste off or even damage your machine.

While the replacement hopper does come in a kit that includes directions for installation, a stopper, screws and a sticker, the instructions are not incredibly clear, so we have broken them down to make them a bit easier to consume. Better yet, you can use this process to replace the bean hopper on both the doser and doserless versions of the machine, so it doesn’t matter which model of the machine you own.

Watch as Jeremiah guides Brendan through the process step by step. If you’re still feeling nervous, just know that this was also Brendan’s first time completing this swap, and he completed the task without any major hang-ups. If Brendan can replace the bean hopper on a Ranicilo Rocky grinder, so can you!

Tech Tips: How to Replace the Bean Hopper on a Rancilio Rocky

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livietta

SCG's Tune Up Kit for Pasquini LiviettaLast week we shared our affection for the Pasquini Livia G4, and discussed how to care for the machine. This week, it is time for another of one of Pasquini’s semi-automatic espresso machines to enjoy the spotlight. Almost like a little sibling to Livia, at just 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide the Livietta is probably one of the smallest semi-autos on the market. However, don’t be fooled by the machine’s diminutive size, it still packs a powerful punch. The Livietta has two thermoblocks, which enable simultaneous brewing and steaming, as well as a very fast heat up time. Since this machine does so much work for you, it is important to provide your Livietta with a little TLC every once and a while. As part of this process, we recommend giving the machine a thorough cleaning and using SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livietta to exchange the parts that are showing signs of wear and tear.

How do you know when its time to replace some of the parts on your machine? A few key signs to look out for are water or coffee coming over the top edge of your portafilter when brewing, your pump working harder or the flavor of your coffee just generally tasting off. The first scenario is likely occurring because your brew head gasket has failed and is no longer making a seal with your portafilter. Meanwhile, the later two scenarios are probably being caused by coffee residue that has built up on your brew head screen or in your portafilter basket, which does actually make your machine work harder and can taint your coffee. In either case, your Livietta is definitely in need of a tune up, so you can replenish the rundown parts.

Removing and installing SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Pasquini Livietta is basically the same process we used on the Livia. You will remove all the accessories on the machine, flip it over and began removing the brew head components (brew screen screw, brew screen, diffuser and gaskets). The main difference between the two machines in this process is that in addition to the brew head gasket, the Livietta also has a shower screen holder gasket. This just means that you have two gaskets to uninstall, remove the shower screen holder gasket followed by the brew head gasket, which might require a bit of extra elbow grease. As usual, the next step is to clean any coffee grounds and residue out of the brew head (your diffuser and portafilter basket should already be soaking in a Cafiza solution made with the tablet provided) to prevent it from eating away at the new parts you will be installing.

Next you can begin installing the new parts in the reverse order from which you removed them. When it comes to the gaskets, install the brew head gasket first, followed by the shower screen holder gasket. When installing the screen gasket into the groove created for it, make sure that you don’t twist the gasket to make it fit or it won’t fit properly. To speed up and simplify the installation process, you can lineup the diffuser, shower screen and screw and thread them back into the brew head. Do one final check with your portafilter to make sure everything is seated right, and you’re done!

Want to see the process of installing SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Pasquini Livietta in action before tackling it yourself? Check out this video to have Brendan walk you through it.

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livietta

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4

SCG's Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4Not only does the shiny Pasquini Livia G4 espresso machine look beautiful on your counter, but it is also a workhorse of a machine. The Livia produces consistent shots time after time and it is heat exchanger, meaning you can steam your milk and brew your coffee at the same time. As a result, you can expect to spend a lot less time on whipping up your favorite lattes. With more time on your hands, perhaps you’ve thought about giving your machine some extra TLC in return, to ensure it continues to fuel your caffeine habit. A good deep cleaning is a great place to start, and you should also take stock of the some the parts on your machine. If you have noticed that your coffee has been tasting off recently or the pump has been working harder when you are pulling a shot, coffee residue has built up on your brew screen and its time to replace it.  Likewise, if you see water or coffee pouring over the edge of your portafilter when you are pulling a shot, it means your brew gasket is no longer sealing properly and needs to be replaced as well. Luckily, SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4 fixes both of these issues. Do keep mind that the parts on this kit are slightly different that those that were used on the original Livia 90. Therefore, if you have an earlier model of the Livia this kit won’t work for you.

The kit includes a brew head screen, a brew head gasket, a shower screen screw and a Cafiza cleaning tablet (to use to clean your diffuser and portafilter basket). The process for installing SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4 is similar to that of the other tune up kits we have created. First, you will want to remove all accessories on the machine as well as the drip tray, drip tray grate, water tank, water tank lid, the cup warmer panels and the portafilter. This will prevent any of stainless steel pieces on the machine from getting scratched (as they have been removed) so your machine can continue looking shiny. Next you will your machine over and remove the components of the brew head – the brew screen screw, the brew screen, diffuser and the brew head gasket.

You will want to clean the diffuser, the portafilter basket and the brew head screen (if you want to keep an extra around as a spare) by soaking in hot water mixed with the included Cafiza packet. You should also clean up any coffee residue that had built up around your machine’s brew head. Use something like a small vacuum cleaner attachment or a can of compressed to blow all of the coffee out of the brew head. It is important that you get the brew head really clean before you install the new gasket since coffee is acidic and will start eating away at the gasket instantly.

The final part of the process is to reinstalling all the new pieces in your tune up kit. Replace the pieces in the reverse order you removed them, starting with the brew gasket and finishing with the brew screen screw. Once you have completed this process, insert your portafilter into the machine to make sure everything is aligned, and you are done! Ready try out SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4 on your machine? Let Brendan walk through all the steps as he completes the process himself. It really is easier than you might think.

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livia G4

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia

SCG Tune Up Kit for the Saeco PoemiaIf 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!

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia