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The Difference Between Coffee and Espresso

What’s The Difference?

Browsing the coffee wall, you might notice some bags are marked as espresso or drip coffee. That get’s you thinking: “What’s the difference between coffee and espresso beans?” Some people think the difference is a specific variety of bean, while others think that it’s a particular roast. A coffee bean is a coffee bean. So, what is it then? The difference between an espresso and coffee bean is the brew method.

Labeling beans as espresso or drip is nothing more than a recommendation from the roaster on how to bring out the flavor of the beans. Of course, there are different roasts and coffee beans—two species actually, Arabica and Robusta, as well as varietals bred from these species—but each is still a coffee bean that can be used in a variety of methods.

We’ll dive into how beans and blends create different flavors and how the recommended brew methods evolved.

Coffee Flavor Profile

Read the label of your favorite bag of beans and you’ll sometimes find food descriptors like oranges or baking ingredients like brown sugar listed on the label. These descriptors are unique flavor notes that the roaster has tasted or smelled in the beans based on their recommended brew process. However, these descriptions do not indicate the quality of brew, but a recommendation based on the background of the beans—such as growing region, process or whether it’s a single origin or blend.

Try brewing based on their recommendation: What do you taste? Perhaps it’s what the roaster detected—subtle sweet and fruit flavors with chocolate undertones or black tea with a tart, citrusy kick—or maybe you’ll find a slightly different flavor.

Espresso vs Coffee

So, how did espresso beans come about? When it was first popularized, coffee farms didn’t have the refinement of cultivating that we see today—and when the lesser quality beans were brewed as espresso it was painfully noticeable. When you put beans under pressure, like you do with espresso, the flavor profile becomes more intense, sort of like the difference between a blueberry tea and a spoonful of blueberry jam. In an effort to create a consistent flavor profile, roasters would use a darker roast to produce smoky, caramelized sugar notes, like we see in an Italian roasts. This roasting method, however, meant that the nuanced flavors were no longer detectable. Nowadays, specialty roasters source high quality beans to make this method of masking taste not necessary. Roasters can experiment with lighter roasts the enhance the flavor of the coffee and share its complexity

Brewed coffee, whether it’s from a standard drip brewer or pour over set-up like Chemex, tends to produce less intense flavors than espresso making it more forgiving when used to brew a variety of coffee qualities. You many also find that brewed coffee is a bit easier to control the extraction and therefore the flavor of the cup you produce. Many find that single origins, beans sourced from one location, are easier to brew in this fashion. Single origins typically have more delicate flavors, which makes it easy to under or over extract making them often difficult to brew with for espresso. Think of it like a target, getting a great cup of brewed coffee is like hitting the board and a great cup of espresso like hitting the bullseye. It’s not impossible, but it will take a bit more time and dedication.

We believe the writing on the bag shouldn’t influence how you brew. It’s a recommendation meant to guide you, but it’s ultimately up to you to experiment and find that ideal brew. While it might require some finessing to dial-in a single origin for espresso, we think the reward is well worth the effort—add some steamed milk and you’ll get a decadent, dessert-like treat. We enjoy pulling espresso shots that taste like a rich blueberry cobbler using a delicious natural processed coffee.

Conclusion

The difference between espresso and coffee beans is just the brew method. When specialty roasters write “espresso blend” or “drip blend,” it’s just what the roaster believes will make the flavor profile really shine. Coffee is a matter of personal taste and preference—you do you and make coffee the way you love.

Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 vs Vario-W

How Does It Compare?

We’re comparing 2011’s hottest grinder, the Baratza Vario-W, to this year’s anticipated Baratza Sette 270. What has changed and improved in Baratza’s grinders in that five-year gap? The Sette 270’s reimagined design helps eliminate wasted grounds thanks to the horizontally mounted motor and outer rotating burr that creates a direct shot from the bean hopper through the burrs and into your brewer. The Vario-W features a scale mounted on the bottom and only worked with the dosing container—you can’t balance portafilters or a V60 on that tiny scale. Fortunately, coffee friends, the Sette 270’s arms can hold brewers like a portafilter or V60. And, when the Sette 270W comes out, those arms will have a scale!

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

Grind

With over 270 steps in your grind, the Baratza Sette 270 has earned its name. The Sette 270 features 31 stepped adjustments from fine to coarse markers and a second adjustment that’s actually stepless. Yep, you read that correctly. Baratza features ABC markers on the second adjustment that act as a guide—Battleship, anyone—but it offers infinite settings. These markers guide beginners back to their ideal grind and create over 270 setting options. It’s actually quite satisfying to be able to get back to your dialed-in grind if you lose your place—almost as satisfying as sinking your opponent’s Battleship.

Sette_display
Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings. The Sette 270 doses by time.

The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 steps of adjustments and it’s all stepped here. There are 10 macro settings and the second set from A to W. Within each macro step, you can adjust the ABC settings to dial in your grind. That’s still an impressive amount of options, even if the Sette 270 beats it—only by a little. The Vario-W has been a solid grinder for home brewers and offers them an easy way to click back to their grinder setting.

The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 grinder settings using two stepped adjustments.
The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 grinder settings using two stepped adjustments.

Steel or ceramic burrs? This is another topic debated in the coffee community. The Baratza Sette 270 is equipped with 40mm conical steel burrs that produce even particles and fewer fines. However, steel burrs can create more friction and heat, which can cause the beans to heat up and potentially burn. The Baratza Vario-W features 54mm flat ceramic burrs that transfer less heat. Ceramic burrs are also sharper and can have a longer life in your grinder if properly cared for. One downside to ceramic burrs is that they are more fragile than their steel counterpart—chipping can be an issue. In a quick match against grinders, we compared the ceramic versus steel grounds and noticed the Sette 270’s steel burrs produced better consistency. The Sette 270 didn’t burn our beans, however, if you’re grinding through a lot of coffee you could noticed warm grounds. In our taste test—the best part—we think both produced phenomenal coffee that wasn’t burned.

Grade

Baratza knows that flexibility for different brew methods is important and in the last five years that’s been on the forefront of their mind. That’s why the Baratza Sette 270’s new design features two adjustable arms and a third arm to steady different methods…like a portafilter! The Sette’s unique shape offers additional space for large containers or swing those arms around to grasp your 58mm portafilter (or any size portafilter, let’s be honest). The updated holder trumps the Baratza Vario-W—sorry, Vario-W. While we love that the Vario-W could grind from French Press to espresso, you needed some sort of flat-bottomed container to balance on the sensor. AKA, you had to scoop your grounds from a container into your portafilter. If there’s one thing we don’t need more of at Seattle Coffee Gear it’s coffee grounds all over our counter.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Vario-W holds 8-ounces of beans for a couple cups of coffee.
The Vario-W holds 8-ounces of beans for a couple cups of coffee.

As we know, that Sette 270’s seven-shaped design also creates less coffee waste, but more importantly, how’s the consistency? It’s excellent. On the finest setting, we produced beautiful, even grounds perfect for a non-pressurized portafilter. We’re even pleased that the Sette 270’s coarsest setting was still so consistent! The further away the burrs get, the less consistent the grind tends to be, so it was a welcomed sight to see nice, symmetrical grounds. While the Sette 270 is great for most brewing methods, we’re on the fence about it producing big enough grounds for French press. Baratza does market it for coffee presses, so give it a go and tell us what you think about the Sette 270’s performance!

The Vario-W produced excellent consistency on that you can use on a non-pressurized portafilter.
The Vario-W produced excellent consistency on that you can use on a non-pressurized portafilter.

The Vario-W might be a better option for someone who’s a frequent French press brewer. Of course, Baratza has designed these products to accommodate all types of brewing, so we encourage our coffee friends to branch out and try new methods! And the espresso consistency is so beautiful on the Vario-W, it would be a waste not to use it. Between the Vario-W and Sette 270’s espresso grind, we couldn’t see any difference in consistency. Honestly, you could take either one of these grinders home and it would complement any home barista with an extensive coffee bar.

Glamour

We’re digging the Baratza Sette 270’s modern design to boot! It’s a style that’s fashionable and functional. The angular structure is breaking away from Baratza’s boxier grinder styles and most other grinders in the market. We’ve noticed a swing with other manufacturers designing trendy products—we’re thinking about the Rocket Espresso Appartamento and its retro dots—and it’s no surprised that people are also onboard with this! The Sette 270’s colors are also complementary to modern taste and easily assimilates into a home brewer’s kitchen—it’s no surprise to us that the Sette 270 is in high demand.

The Sette 270’s user-friendly interface makes dialing in the grind easy for beginners.

The Baratza Vario-W is designed similarly to the rest of Baratza’s grinders lineup and it’s a style that’s worked for Baratza. The one feature that makes the Vario-W stand out is the combination of the digital LCD display and tactile grind settings. The interface is displayed front and center and is extremely user-friendly for beginners with the marked adjustments. While the Sette 270 is also user-friendly, the adjustments are angled in a downward tier that is a hair more difficult to see. Both interfaces, though, are a snap to navigate for new home brewers.

The Vario-W's mainstream style seamlessly fits into modern kitchens.
The Vario-W’s mainstream style seamlessly fits into modern kitchens.

When we first unboxed the Sette 270, we were so enamored by its style and features that we forgot to note the noise level. After grinding our morning beans, it was hard to block out how loud this guy was. The noise level is partly due to the fact that there’s no metal casing around the Sette 270. And you’re probably thinking, why not add the sound-proofing, the metal case would have driven up the price, coffee friends, and we’re happy with the low cost of this caliber of a grinder. Grinders are notorious for being loud and you’re likely to always be on your neighbors hit list—fear not! There are grinders like the Vario-W that are a bit quieter. The Vario-W has a metal casing that helps control the noise level.

Conclusion

In the five years since Baratza revealed the Vario-W, the demands have changed in the coffee community. The demand has gone up for a grinder that’s flexible for different brewing methods and Baratza has answered that demand by supplying us with the Sette 270. For many home brewers, we can see the highlight of this grinder is its flexible design that can hold a V60 or a portafilter. And as the coffee community grows, so do novice brewers. Both the Vario-W and Sette 270 offer user-friendly settings that are easy to learn how to dial in your grind. We wouldn’t call these entry-level machines, no sir, these are definitely for mid-level and experienced home baristas. What do you guys think? Watch our crew review comparison video and let us know what grinder you’re leaning towards!

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Grinder

How Does It Compare?

The hearty Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a well-rounded machine built with powerful, slow rotating steel burrs and stepped adjustments. With over 40 distinct settings, the Virtuoso makes dialing in you grind a snap. It’s designed to grind for a wide range of brew methods, however, the stepped settings limit you to set increments, which means you have less control over your grind. That’s where the Baratza Preciso Grinder comes in—it’s nearly identical to the Virtuoso but features 40 macro and an additional 11 micro steps for each to create more customization. Both models have 40mm steel conical burrs that can create beautiful, consistent grounds. Just so you know, the Virtuoso is the grinder of choice in the SCG kitchen and it never fails to make the Crew a good cup of coffee! One of the highlights of the Virtuoso is it’s always consistent and not too loud, which for us, means we can make pot after pot without disturbing the office.

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.
The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.

Grind

With 40 grind settings, the Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is ready to grind from fine espresso to a coarse French press. Pro Tip: The marked adjustments are in increments of two, so when you’re going from one (fine) to 40 (coarse) just keep that in mind. We took the grinder out for a spin at the coarsest setting and discovered its consistency left more to be desired. That’s not surprising because the coarser you go the more space the burrs have to allow grounds to escape. We usually have our grinder set at about 20 or 22 for our drip coffee maker and noticed it was much more consistent in the drip range.

The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.
The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.

The consistency of the finer grind is partly thanks to the 40mm steel conical burrs—steel tends to create more consistent grounds. Pair those burrs with the 40 stepped adjustments and it’s easy for us coffee lovers to replicate cup after cup without much fuss. Even though stepped adjustments are limiting, it does make it easier to dial in and find again if you switch the grind size. In fact, if you’re trying to make espresso, that could be a turnoff with the limited adjustments.

Grade

Sure, the 40 stepped settings offer a wide range of brewing methods for baristas, but there’s a catch. The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder can do espresso but it’s incredibly limited to how dialed in you can get—that’s why there are so many grinders specifically designed for espresso. Even at the finest setting, we felt it would be better suited for a pressurized portafilter. That means you’re probably not using the Virtuoso with high-end machines with only non-pressurized options. If you were interested in using the Virtuoso on a semi-automatic without a pressurized portafilter, we’d recommend stepping up to the Preciso. However, at this affordable price point, we think people interested in the Virtuoso are also interested in pour over, drip or a smaller, entry-level espresso machine.

Glamour

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder runs quietly, thanks in part to the slow 450 RPM  burr speed. All grinders make a little noise, but the Crew appreciates that we can grind enough coffee for a couple of pots without alerting the whole office. Another reason it grinds smoothly is the metal casing wrapped around the top, which helps the stability of the grinder and keeps the vibration down. Fashion and function! We dig it.

The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.

The compact, sleek design is one of its glamorous qualities—the 8-ounce bean hopper only makes the grinder 13 inches high. We bet that’ll clear most cabinets. Most of the specialty coffees we carry are in 12-ounce bags, so we can easily run a whole bags worth. The only catch is that the steel burrs heat up if grinding that much coffee—we recommend grinding smaller amounts and then letting the grinder rest. And with the manual-style 60-second timer, it’s clear to us that it’s designed to grind small amounts.

The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.
The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.

Conclusion

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder features a wide range of easily adjusted settings to accomplish drinks from an espresso to a rich French press coffee. We typically see this grinder going home with beginner brewers, but at SCG, we have a wide range of experienced baristas, who all enjoy using the Virtuoso in the morning. It’s compact, quiet and the stepped grind settings make it a user-friendly grinder. What’s your favorite feature on the Virtuoso? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Crew Comparison: Rocket Espresso Appartamento vs Breville Dual Boiler

How Does It Compare?

There’s nothing we love more than being able to brew and steam at the same time! And with either the Rocket Espresso Appartamento or the Breville Dual Boiler, we can do just that, but the user experience is completely different. The Dual Boiler packs in dedicated boilers alongside options like a pressurized portafilter and programmable shot buttons. On the other end of the spectrum, the Appartamento is Rocket’s smallest semi-automatic and, like other models in the line-up, sports a heat exchange boiler and traditional manual controls. The Appartamento will require more commitment and the dedication to learn, whereas Breville’s programmable features and range of accessories give baristas the ability to hone their skills.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.

Shot

Breville pulls out all the stops when it comes to crafting user’s experience. We’ve got a list of what makes the Breville Dual Boiler user-friendly, but one that stands out is its programmability. It features two programmable espresso buttons, in single or double shot quantities, the control volume by time. So while you’re concentrating on frothing your milk, you can press a button and let the Dual Boiler do the work—well, most of the work—for you. If you want to change it up, it also has a manual button to give you full control. The Dual Boiler also features pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the portafilter. For beginners, the pressurized portafilter assists in extracting delicious espresso, especially if the grind is off. This gives beginners a chance to perfect their technique, or honestly, allows baristas to be lazy with the grind. When you finally perfect the grind, switch it up to the non-pressurized portafilter to brew like a professional. Whichever way you brew, the Dual Boiler’s user-friendly brewing makes it an easy machine to learn on.

The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.
The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s design is influenced by traditional Italian espresso machines with its manual control lever and turn-dial knobs. Manual controls offer you freedom over your espresso and milk steaming. And with the Appartamento’s commercial-grade build, you’ll feel just like a professional barista. It’s equipped with two 58mm stainless steel portafilters (single and double spouts) and an E61 brew head that produces consistently hot espresso. Since there are no programmable features, there is a fairly steep learning curve and most of that is learning how to time pulling a shot while frothing milk. For experienced baristas, it’s muscle memory. For beginners, it’s more to handle—you can always slow down and froth, then brew. The Appartamento has features designed for an intermediate to an experienced barista, but with a will to learn an entry-level barista can pull delicious shots too.

The respectable 2.25-liter water tank is easy to access in the back.
The respectable 2.25-liter water tank is easy to access in the back.

The Dual Boiler has an 84-ounce water reservoir that feeds a 10-ounce brew boiler and a 32-ounce steam boiler. The boilers may seem small but that’s to your advantage. After pulling espresso shots for the whole family, the small 10-ounce boiler refills and reheats in no time. The Appartamento, on the other hand, has a respectable 60-ounce (1.8-liter) boiler that we expect to find on a heat exchange machine. The larger boiler takes longer to heat up. It has to heat the whole boiler to steam temperature before it can heat water on the fly from the reservoir, so we have to wait (again) to pull consistent shots. Once the Appartamento is heated, it can make multiple lattes before needing time to refill and reheat.

Steam

While we’re on the subject of boilers, the Breville Dual Boiler has a programmable PID to control both boilers. This allows you to set the ideal temperature to create consistency for your brew. Also, the latest update on the Dual Boiler now allows you to control the steam boiler range from 265 to 285 degrees. Paired with the traditional steam wand, it feels like a true barista experience. The Dual Boiler features a three-hole steam tip that shoots hot steam evenly in your pitcher—it’s super easy to get your milk rotating into a nice whirlpool. However, we will say that the steam wand will take more practice and patience for a beginner to learn.

Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.
Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is right up there with practice and patience. The 60-ounce boiler packs some incredible steam power and, paired with the two-hole steam tip, it whips up milk foam with ease. The Appartamento, however, doesn’t include a PID to set your temperature, so you’re stuck with Rocket’s standard heat settings. If you wanted to get technical with your brew, Rocket does offer other models with a PID. After making a handful of lattes on the Appartamento, we’re impressed with the temperature and consistency. When we compared its steam power to the Dual Boiler, to us it seemed obvious the Appartamento stole the show.

Style

The real show stopper is the Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s new style. It’s still the same beautiful stainless steel body but with white or copper side panels that are revealed through cutouts. The body sticks to Rocket’s clean cut style with gear-inspired knobs and their logo stamped front and center. The Appartamento may have been built like a traditional espresso machine, but its style is better described as contemporary, especially with those retro spots. While the Crew is divided about what color we like more, both will easily integrate into a home brewer’s kitchen. And it’s no problem squeezing the Appartamento on any apartment counter—it’s Rocket’s smallest machine to date. It’s even smaller than the Breville Dual Boiler, which is 6.25 inches wider than the Appartamento. Think of that prime counter space you’ll save.

Copper or white? We're digging the retro dots.
Copper or white? We’re digging the retro dots.

Even though the Dual Boiler’s a tad wider, it’s equipped with convenient extras that make up for it. One of those extras is hidden under the drip tray—Breville has included a swivel foot that drops down on the counter to easily rotate the machine around. This makes accessing the water tank effortless. It also included a hidden storage tray behind the drip tray and a magnetic tamper—everything you need for espresso is close at hand. While the Dual Boiler also has stainless steel casing it’s a cover over a plastic body, but we’re OK with that since we still get the style with an affordable price tag.

The Dual Boiler comes with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets and a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.
The Dual Boiler comes with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets and a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.

Conclusion

Between the Breville Dual Boiler and Rocket Espresso Appartamento, it comes down to what sort of user experience you desire. With the user in mind, the Dual Boiler comes equipped with programmability and accessories like pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters for beginners or experienced baristas. The Appartamento’s got style. It’s one of those machines you look at and can’t help but ask about. But the manual controls require commitment and plenty of patience to learn how to brew. So if you have the time and the will to learn, either machine will offer you the chance to hone your skills.

The Crew is still debating what color is better: white or copper? Tell us what color you like the best in the comments below!

 

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

How Does It Compare?

We’re always in the mood for cold brew! The Toddy Cold Brew System is one of our go-to brewers for making the perfect coffee concentrate. The magic of the Toddy is it requires little effort on your part and then does all the hard work (making your coffee) overnight. There are a handful of other cold brewers on the market, but there’s nothing better than the Toddy’s super-sized five-gallon commercial model—yes, five gallons! Both use the same convenient brew methods, but the smaller, counter-size Toddy feels at home in your kitchen whereas the big five-gallon would fit in just fine at a cafe or restaurant. Of course, you could always size up, but be aware that the commercial model uses different filtration system: a combination of a reusable mesh strainer and disposable filters. So when you upgrade, don’t forget your filters (trust us, you’ll soon be on a cold brew train that five gallons won’t be enough)!

The Toddy Cold Brew System makes about 48-ounces of concentrated coffee.
The Toddy Cold Brew System makes about 48-ounces of concentrated coffee.

Brew

Brewing with the Toddy Cold Brew System is probably the easiest things we’ve ever done. Measure out your coffee, add water (no waiting for it to boil) and brew for 12 to 24 hours. It makes about 48-ounces of coffee concentrate—the final product—and is designed to hold a pound of ground coffee and 72-ounces of water. Of course, you’re not drinking this coffee in a cup. Since it’s concentrated, you will definitely want to dilute it and that leaves plenty for more. In fact, Toddy estimates it makes about 32 (6-ounces) cups of coffee concentrate. It’s enough coffee that the Crew frequently has a Toddy steeping on the counter to caffeinate the whole office with enough for round two.

While the coffee steeps for 12 to 24 hours, the rubber stopper keeps the coffee in until it's ready to drink.
While the coffee steeps for 12 to 24 hours, the rubber stopper keeps the coffee in until it’s ready to drink.

What makes the Toddy so delicious is its efficient design. Created by Todd Simpson in 1964, the cold brew method removes “67% less acid” than hot brewing methods, according to Toddy’s website. The allure of cold brew is the deliciously smooth taste with less bite from the acids, so it holds up for us! Another important and sometimes forgotten factor in creating the smooth flavor is the Toddy’s filter (definitely don’t forget to put that in the Toddy). The filters are specifically designed for cold brewing to help remove the bitter acids and oils from the coffee. And for all you tea drinkers out there, we have good news for you—the Toddy is perfect for cold brewing tea too!

Beauty

One of the features we appreciate about the Toddy Cold Brew System is that it comes with a brew container and glass carafe. Once your brew has steeped for 12 or 24 hours, place it over the glass carafe and release the rubber stopper. The carafe makes it easy to pour a glass and store in the fridge for later—we recommend drinking it within two weeks—and eliminates trying to find the right container. Most importantly, since you can enjoy it for weeks, it stops the extraction process for that just right brew.

The Toddy comes with a brew container and glass carafe for serving.
The Toddy comes with a brew container and glass carafe for serving.

Unlike paper filters, the Toddy filters can be reused! Toddy recommends changing it out every 10 to 12 uses or after three months. The only catch is you’ll need to clean and store filters in the fridge or freezer. We recommend a good rinse, without soap, and squeeze out the water before storing. We typically toss ours in the butter holder so we can find it for next time.

While the Toddy’s white, plastic brew container won’t win any fashion awards, the ease-of-use and phenomenally smooth coffee more than makeup for looks! And the glass carafe is a nice touch. There are only a couple of design issues we have and those are 1. It doesn’t have a lid and 2. The handle is flimsy. We all know summer means bugs and it’s a bummer that without the lid, we could end up steeping flies along with our coffee. We usually cover the top with plastic wrap or foil to solve that issue. The handle, however, is too flimsy and we recommend using both hands to move the brewing container.

The glass carafe makes it easy to pour yourself a glass (or two) of smooth coffee.
The glass carafe makes it easy to pour yourself a glass (or two) of smooth coffee.

Conclusion

Cold brew is here to stay and we’re in love! The well-designed and affordable Toddy Cold Brew System makes it an easy option to add to your kitchen. And, as we mention above, if you need an upgrade, there’s a five-gallon commercial model available. Hands down, one of the features we appreciate the most is the Toddy’s reusable filters. These filters not only last for 10 to 12 uses (or three months, whichever comes first) but they help trap bitter acids and oils to create a smooth cup of concentrated coffee. And with about 48-ounces of concentrate to mix with, we bet there are plenty of amazing drink recipes out there.

What’s your favorite way to drink cold brew? If you got a drink recipe you love, share it in the comments below! We’d love to try it out.

Want to learn how to make better cold brew? Check out this Coffee On The Brain episode with Amber.

Tips & Tricks For Better AeroPress

The AeroPress

It’s a press…it’s a dripper…no, it’s the AeroPress! The AeroPress Coffee Maker is a popular choice for brewing coffee. It’s a type of immersion brewer that’s similar to a press, but it has  a paper filter that removes coffee grit, unlike other styles. It’s an affordable, compact and lightweight brewer that’s incredibly easy to use.

If you’re like us and have one (or even two) of these in your kitchen, you’ve probably gotten a brewing routine down, but it’s never too late to learn some new tricks! We’ve got four new tips for you to start using on your AeroPress today—so what are you waiting for? Let’s get brewing.

The AeroPress is one of the most versatile pieces of brewing equipment we use!
The AeroPress is one of the most versatile pieces of brewing equipment we use!

AeroPress Tip #1: Wet Your Filter

We recommend you don’t skip this one! Rinsing your paper filter helps reduces the papery or woody flavor taste.The best way to get it wet is to put the dry filter into the AeroPress’ black filter basket and place it over a cup, which also pre-heats your cup—win, win! Don’t worry about if the filter cools down before you brew because you’ll be pouring some hot water through it soon.

AeroPress Tip #2: Level Out Your Grounds

Your filter’s rinsed and ready to go—now it’s time for coffee! Grind 15 grams of coffee at about a drip coffee grind or a Chemex, but not too fine like for a espresso. Got it? Perfect, now let’s use that handy little funnel and add your grounds into the AeroPress.

Now for the tip: Level out your grounds by giving it a quick shake back and forth (don’t stress it too much). The more even the grounds bed is the more even your extraction will be and the more even an extraction means a tastier cup of coffee!

When you add your hot water, you want to evenly wet grounds by pouring in a circular motion. Since an AeroPress uses immersion brewing and pressure, we’re not worried about letting the coffee bloom. Go ahead and add all your water to the AeroPress and stir gently to ensure all your grounds are equally wet.

AeroPress Tip #3: Use Back Pressure To Stop The Drip

You’ll notice once you add the hot water, the AeroPress will start dripping—but this isn’t drip coffee! To stop the drip, insert the plunger piece into the body and…ta-da! Using back pressure is one of those wonderful tricks the scientist in us loves. It stops the flow of water and allows the coffee grounds to extract that wonderful flavor until we’re ready to plunge.

We’ve also brewed the AeroPress in the inverted style, which is when the plunger is already attached. Using this method, you add your 15-grams of coffee and hot water through the opposite end or where the filter basket is placed. After you’ve let it steep, you twist on the filter basket (don’t forget the paper filter) and carefully flip the AeroPress onto your cup. Plunge as usual! Since it’s us, when we flip it we tend to make a mess. If you haven’t used the back pressure method, we totally recommend it when you’re brewing with the AeroPress!

The inverted method is a popular brew technique on the AeroPress.
The inverted method is a popular brew technique on the AeroPress.

AeroPress Tip #4: Fast, Forceful Press = More Body and  Slow, Even Press = Less Body, Cleaner Cup

You can think about this tip in terms of espresso, but, let’s be real, you won’t be able to create enough pressure for actual espresso. Espresso is extracted under pressure in a relatively quick time, typically, between 20 to 30 seconds, to produce a full-bodied shot. The idea applies to how AeroPress uses air pressure to extract flavor, but with human pressure. Another way to get more body is how far you plunge. If you push far enough to hear the air escape (that hissing sound) you’re no longer pushing coffee water, but the slurry of dissolved coffee that’s been extracted.

As they say, slow and steady wins the race. There’s no right or wrong way to press the AeroPress, but there’s something to love about the slow method. The slower plunge allows the nuanced flavors, such as berries and fruits, to come forward and creates a cleaner bodied cup. We did about a 30-second slow plunge and stopped pushing after we heard the air release. This gave us a crisp, clean cup that we were looking for.

Tell us what you think! Do you have any tips or tricks you like to do with the AeroPress? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Crew Comparison: Breville Barista Express vs Smart Grinder Pro

How Does It Compare?

We’re comparing grinder to grinder today—but we made this Crew Comparison more interesting by matching the Breville Smart Grinder Pro with the grinder in the Breville Barista Express. We actually get this question a lot: How’s the grinder in the Barista Express compared to a standalone grinder? For starters, most built-in grinders are designed specifically for that machine, which is true for the Barista Express. This semi-automatic comes equipped with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters that’s perfect for beginner to experienced baristas, who want to practice pulling espresso shots. We took the Barista Express’ grinder for a spin with both portafilters and found it could easily be dialed in for different beans, and if you got lazy with the grind, the pressurized basket was capable of compensating and making a delicious shot.

The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.
The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.

In comparison, the Smart Grinder Pro has the capacity to work with other brewers. You could dial it in for coarse French press or fine espresso—extremely fine too. If you’re looking to use your grinder for different brewers, the intuitive digital display on the Smart Grinder Pro makes it easier to dial in. Since it’s designed to use with many brewers, Breville included a grind container with a lid and two portafilter holders for your convenience. That said, both of these machines are made by Breville—who, we might add, consistently includes user-friendly features throughout their line-up—so we took each machine home for a closer look.

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.

Grind

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features a manual turn dial to set the “grind size” from one to 60 (60 being the coarsest). The 40mm stainless steel conical burrs are designed to create even particles and fewer fines. Just for fun, we decided to see how long it would take to grind up enough grounds for 12 cups of coffee at the coarsest setting (60 grind size). We clocked it in at 38.2 seconds! Fortunately, the big 16-ounce bean hopper had plenty of beans to accommodate 12 cups worth of grounds.

Bonus: The Smart Grinder Pro has an additional 10 adjustment located on the top of the burr. However, these are intended to extend the life of your machine and not to pull right out of the box and adjust down to the finest setting. Check out this video with Phil McKnight from Breville for a thorough explanation.

To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.
To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.

The Breville Barista Express is naturally going to be different. It’s designed for espresso so the coarse to fine range is limited. We’ve done this before on Ask Gail and thought you could maybe get a pour over grind out of the Barista Express, but nothing close enough to a French press. We still checked out the burrs and found they were conical stainless steel like the Smart Grinder Pro! The 8-ounce bean hopper is half the size as the Pro, but hey, we’re working with smaller quantities when it comes to espresso.

The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.
The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.

Grade

We weren’t kidding about Breville’s user-friendly features. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro display is marked with brew methods (press to espresso) to help indicate where your grind setting might be. On top of that, it has three feature on the front: grind amount, shots/cups and start/pause (to clarify, the grind amount is based on a timed dosage, something we see in a lot of grinders). Those are your basic settings for programming your grind, but what’s cool about the Pro is the interaction of each setting. When we’re within the press to drip range, we have up to 12 cups that we can program using the grind amount, which conveniently also says Program under the dial. You only need to turn the knob to the time you want and it’s programmed—voila! Move the grind size on over to espresso and cups turns into shots, which we can set from one to 8. Of course, those shots/cups amounts don’t necessary mean you’ll get one cup since the amount will be determined by the time you have set to grind.

The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.
The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.

So, how does the Barista Express match up? Since it’s designed for espresso, it has two programmable filter sizes: single and double. It features the same timed grind amount but without the digital display. The less to more measurements are useful enough, albeit, not as fancy or convenient as the Smart Grinder Pro. The same can be said for the Barista Express’ grinder size dial, which is located off to the side—you’re going to have to peak over to make adjustments. Like we mentioned earlier, the coarsest setting is still within an espresso range—possibly for drip but not other brew methods.

The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.
The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.

Glamour

We rave about Breville’s extra features and it’s no exception with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and Breville Barista Express. In both, Breville included an activation switch behind the container/portafilter to enjoy hands-free grinding or the option to manually dose. And, of course, the accessories: The Smart Grinder Pro comes with two portafilter holders for 50-54mm and 58mm portafilters, and a container—perfect for a wide variety of brewers. Since the Barista Express’ grinder is designed for espresso, the built-in portafilter is all we need to support our caffeine needs. Both include a removable bean hopper, for those of us who change out our beans.

The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind a breeze.
The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind incredibly easy.

The most noticeable style difference is the Smart Grinder Pro’s digital interface. The beautiful backlight display makes it convenient to dial-in different grind settings and, frankly, if you’re going from French press to espresso, the stepped grinder and markers are ideal. On top of the ease-of-use, this smart grinder is a grammar nerd—yeah, you read that right. If you adjust the Pro from one cup to five cups, it corrects the word “cup” from singular to plural—it’s a Smart Grinder Pro, after all.

Conclusion

By now, you probably know which machine is right for you. Are you looking to brew more than espresso? Then the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is the machine for you. The magic of the Breville Barista Express is that convenience of a built-in grinder ready to produce fresh grounds that can be brewed right away. That freshness is what espresso drinkers desire. The Smart Grinder Pro handles espresso, too, and would pair perfectly with the Breville Dual Boiler or other machines without a built-in grinder. But what makes the Pro a Pro is the wide range of grind settings, so you can enjoy good ole French press too. If you’re interested in learning more about these grinders, check out the links below:

Update To The Update: Breville [Smart Grinder Pro] Adjustable Burr video
Ask Gail: Using The Barista Express Grinder For French Press

Crew Review: Breville Dual Boiler

How Does It Compare?

The Breville Dual Boiler and Breville Oracle are two crowd favorites in the Breville line-up. Both feature double boilers to control brew and steam temperature and have programmable features. The Dual Boiler, however, features a traditional steam wand while the Oracle is equipped with a panarello-style steam wand that limits your ability to texturize milk the traditional way. If you were looking to perfect your technique on a traditional-style wand, the Dual Boiler’s your machine. We typically view the Oracle as a hybrid between a semi-automatic and superautomatic (it auto-tamps and auto-steams with the panarello), so if you’re looking to perfect your barista skills, we’d recommend you check out the Dual Boiler.

The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.
The Breville Dual Boiler features two boilers that reach brew and steam temperature independently.

Shot

Breville excels at providing people the perfect opportunity to improve their barista skills while still enjoying easy and convenient features. The Breville Dual Boiler has two programmable buttons to set your ideal volume for one or two shots. Or, if you want to have control on the fly, you can manually start and stop the flow of espresso with the manual button. While we’re talking about convenience, the Dual Boiler also has a digital interface that allows you to easily program settings such as brew temperature or pre-infusion length. So while experienced baristas have the option to take control over the brew, there is also an opportunity for beginners to easily customize their preferences.

The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.
The Dual Boiler features digital interface and programmable buttons to easily customize your drink.

Inside the machine, the Dual Boiler features stainless steel boilers and Italian pumps to create lattes seamlessly. It creates the ideal maximum extraction pressure during brewing and a nice low pressure during pre-infusion. The electronic PID, that you can set using the LCD display, keeps both boiler temperatures within a few degrees for consistent extraction. It also features a heated group head to maintain the stability of your espresso shot. Together, these features create a delicious and consistent shot that you can enjoy with or without milk.

Steam

Speaking of milk, the Breville Dual boiler features a traditional steam wand that allows you total control over the aeration. The 360º swivel steam arm gets at any angle to help you properly incorporate air with your milk. It’s also equipped with a three-hole tip that shoots hot steam into different directions to create evenly heated milk. If you’re looking to improve your frothing technique, the Dual Boiler’s steam wand sets you up to evenly achieve the right milk texture.

Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.
Showing off the steam power on the Breville Dual Boiler.

The Dual Boiler also has a dedicated hot water spout for those Americano fans. We appreciate the separated functionalities because it can take awhile to draw hot water through traditional steam wands. You’ll be pulling hot water from the steam boiler, which you can set between 265ºF – 285ºF so that water is hot, hot, hot! Be careful, especially if you use the hot water spout for drinks like hot chocolate for the kids.

Style

Breville’s brushed stainless steel casing continues through their product line-up and we’re definitely OK with that. The soft, brushed steel makes the Breville look like a million bucks with an affordable price tag. With Breville’s line-up, the price is reflective of the advanced features and functionality. For example, the Dual Boiler is packed with, not one, but two powerful boilers and a programmable interface, so that makes us happy with its price point.

The Dual Boiler features a drop-down swivel foot that allows you to roll the machine to access the back.
The Dual Boiler features a drop-down swivel foot that allows you to roll the machine to access the back.

Breville included other handy features that generally people don’t realize they want—or need, frankly. The Dual Boiler is a hefty machine, weighing in at nearly 30 pounds, so accessing the back is nearly impossible—or is it? Like the Breville Oracle, the Dual Boiler comes with a hidden drop-down swivel foot under the drip tray. Once you engage the foot, it’ll easily roll around on your counter to remove the water tank. If you just need to fill up the reservoir, Breville’s thought of that too with a lid at the front of the machine to pour water into. You can even see when the water is low through a small window in the front of the machine. It’s the small, user-friendly features like this that continue to make Breville a go-to for new and experienced espresso machine owners.

The Dual Boiler comes with a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.
The Dual Boiler comes with a tamper that magnetically stick into the machine.

Conclusion

The Breville Dual Boiler features something for beginners and experienced baristas alike. With both programmable and manual options, you can control the length of your brew or bask in the convenience by getting an espresso at the touch of a button. And since this is a double boiler machine, you can brew and steam at the same time—simply press the pre-programmed espresso button and you can concentrate on texturizing your milk. In the line-up of Breville products, the Dual Boiler is an advanced machine packed with features that will impress new and veteran home brewers.

Crew Comparison: Rocket Espresso Machine Class Line-Up

How Does It Compare?

Hand-built in Italy, the craftsmanship and attention to detail have made Rocket Espresso some of the most desired espresso machines. Their line-up includes a list of impressive features, including the  legendary E61 brew head, and is constructed with commercial-grade materials. When you’re trying to decide on one machine, though, that’s where it can get tricky. Rocket’s contemporary, clean design resonated throughout the line-up and the deciding factor comes down to the features and details. In this Crew Comparison, we mixed it up to  dive deeper into certain features. We’ll discuss the differences between a heat exchanger and double boiler and  how a PID and pressure profiling affect coffee.

Boiler

Rocket equips their espresso machines with either a heat exchanger or double boiler system. While there is a bit of misconception that double boilers are superior, each system offers something unique. Take the double boiler, such as the Rocket Espresso R58. We used to categorize the double boiler at the top since you could set the appropriate temperature for each boiler. And, let’s face it, it’s much easier controlling two separate boilers. However, we’ve discovered that two isn’t always better than one. While the boilers are working, minerals are slowly leaching and creating what is affectionately called “dead” water. In short, the idea is that this water isn’t fresh.

The Rocket R58 features a dual boiler and PID to control the brew and steam  boiler.
The Rocket R58 features a dual boiler and PID to control the brew and steam boiler.

That’s where the heat exchanger excels. A heat exchanger works by pulling fresh, cool water from the reservoir through a tube that runs the length of the steam boiler—this creates the ideal brew temperature. To keep the temperature consistent, Rocket designed the system with the legendary E61 brew head to maintain heat as the water leaves the brew chambers and hits your coffee. Of course, that means the E61 is correcting an issue, so there’s question over consistency. We recommend pulling a shot evenly heat and to also purge water sitting in the tube. Two of the machines that feature heat exchangers is the new Rocket Espresso Appartamento and the Rocket Espresso Evoluzione.

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with a 1.8-liter copper boiler and legendary E61 brew group.

PID

PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) is a temperature controller on the boiler(s). Thermostats and pressurestats are used to control the boiler heat and many machines are pre-programmed by the manufacturer. Enter the PID. The PID allows users to set the temperature that they want within a few degrees. It monitors the temperature and controls how often the boiler turns on or off. This regulate temperature and create less fluctuation. So, what does this mean for your brew? The consistent temperature evenly extracts grounds and enhances the quality of your coffee.

The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus with PID features a hidden PID under the drip tray and sleek, kicked out side panels.
The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus with PID features a hidden PID under the drip tray and sleek kicked outside panels.

On the Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID, the PID setting is hidden under the drip tray to maintain that clean cut style. But it’s there, continuously monitoring the boiler and maintaining it at steam temperature. Other models like the R58 have an external PID monitor that can be plugged in or stored away. Bonus, the R58’s PID controls the steam and brew boilers, which mean you can set the ideal temperature for each.

Pressure Profiling

What is pressure profiling? Pressure profiling is, put simply, the ability to change your extraction pressure. Common practice says the ideal pressure for the perfect espresso extraction is 9 bars, but recently coffee geeks have been playing with varying pressure to extract different flavors. The Rocket Espresso R60V features pressure profiling and our resident coffee geek, Joe took over the studio and presented an easy breakdown in this video. He started a low but long pre-infusion at two bars, then ramped it up to nine bars (classic pressure) and then slowed it down to six bars to extract more. Joe also did a modern pressure profile with pre-infusion at four bars and finished strong at nine bars. Of course, each profile will be unique to the coffee, so it’ll take some experimenting to find that sweet spot.

Rocket features a pressure gage so you can see what's happening in the boiler.
Rocket features a pressure gauge so you can see what’s happening in the boiler.

Conclusion  

Of course, there are other considerations you’ll make before you purchase a Rocket. The Appartamento is the smallest in the lineup and easily fits on a small counter, but if you’ve got space, the larger R58 is packed with dual features for the ultimate control. Or if you’re looking for a more stylish look, you could choose between the Giotto or Cellini in the Premium Plus or Evoluzione. Other models offer plumbable versions, so you would never have to refill your water tank again. We’ve glanced at the Rocket lineup, learned some of the key differences  and now we want to hear which model you’d like to take home! Drop us a comment below and let us know.

Crew Comparison: Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker vs OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup

How Does It Compare?

We’re all about making great coffee you love at home and that includes the infamous drip brewer—they don’t have to be so infamous! The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker and OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker brew at the ideal temperature (197.6 to 204.8 degrees F) earning their spot as an SCAA certified product, AKA these drip brewers deliver excellent coffee. To add some perspective, the SCAA (Speciality Coffee Association of America) has decades of knowledge, research and experience developing standards for coffee makers, so you can be sure you’re getting the best coffee at home.

Bonavita8_Full
The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup features the updated stainless steel-lined carafe.

Drip coffee has never been easier than with these machines. The Bonavita 8-Cup sticks to the basics with simple manual controls, while the OXO Barista Brain—as the name implies—features programmable settings for advanced convenience. For those convenience seekers, the OXO Barista Brain features auto-on for instant morning coffee—need we say more? Let’s dive into the brews and brains of these two SCAA-approved drip brewers.

The OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker is an SCAA certified drip brewer.
The OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker is an SCAA certified drip brewer.

Brew

The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker (model BV1900TS) brews up a flavorful cup of coffee thanks to the U-shaped filter basket. The U-shaped design works to fully saturate grounds and when we pulled the basket out to check, we saw even water distribution from the sides to the center. The OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker differs with a cone-shaped filter, so we saw more saturation in the middle. As we know, drip coffee makers, including the hybrid drip and pour over automatics like the Chemex Ottomatic, can have a tough time evenly extracting coffee, so we were more than pleased with the Bonavita 8-Cup’s performance.

The Bonavita features a U-shaped filter basket that improve saturating grounds.
The Bonavita features a U-shaped filter basket that improves saturating grounds.

These brewers are named for their cup size, but in the coffee world, cup size is a tricky animal. When we talk about cups, we’re using the US coffee cup standard of 6-ounces. In the baking world, 8 ounces equals a cup (and, to be thorough, a European cup of coffee is 4.25 ounces). Bonavita and OXO, however, use 5-ounces for a cup of coffee. That’s why we’ll provide ounce measurements on our website. The Bonavita 8-Cup has a 40-ounce reservoir and the OXO Barista Brain has a 45-ounce reservoir. So if size matters, you’ll have one more cup of joe with the OXO.

The OXO's 45-ounce reservoir makes enough coffee for the whole family.
The OXO’s 45-ounce reservoir makes enough coffee for the whole family.

Brains

The OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup earned its name! The programmable auto-on feature is—going out on a limb, here—the highlight of any home brewer’s morning. It’s also not a hassle to program; to set the auto-on time, simply press and hold, then use the dial to spin to the time of your choice. You can also set the clock and change the number of cups you brew between 2 to 4 or 5 to 9 cups. Since the OXO Barista Brain comes with a stainless steel thermal carafe, there isn’t a heating element. But it’s not missed, the thermal carafe will keep your coffee toasty for about an hour.

With the OXO, you can program the clock, set the auto-on or change the number of cups you're brewing.
With the OXO, you can program the clock, set the auto-on or change the number of cups you’re brewing.

Another brainy feature on the OXO Barista Brian is the pause and pour. Remove the carafe and the brewing process stops so you can pour yourself a glass midway—yes, please. Although, we did notice that there was a considerable amount of dripping coffee after removing the carafe. When you’re done pouring, make sure to place it back within 60 seconds to resume brewing or you’ll start the process all over. And, while this isn’t super brainy, we’ll add that OXO added a silicone mixing tube that channels the coffee from the carafe opening down to the bottom of the pot to thoroughly mix the brew.

The OXO's pause and pour feature allows you to get a cup mid-brew.
The OXO’s pause and pour feature allows you to get a cup mid-brew.

The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker, while built with basic controls, features something the OXO doesn’t have: pre-infusion! What we love about pre-infusion is it’ll create more consistent and even flavor extraction, thus giving you that bright, flavorful cup of coffee you deserve in the morning. See, drip coffee doesn’t have to be terrible. The pre-infusion needs to be manually started and then it will go into the brewing process. That’s to be expected since the Bonavita 8-Cup doesn’t feature an auto-on function. In all honesty, it’s not difficult to start, but it’s more involved than pressing the pot on and letting it brew. If you have 30 seconds in the morning—come on, we know you do—we think you’ll be able to use this feature.

Use this button to turn on and activate the pre-infusion.
Use this button to turn on and activate the pre-infusion.

Beauty

The Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker’s brushed stainless steel casing sports matte black accents, creating a timeless looking coffee maker. And we enjoy the matching stainless steel lined thermal carafe, which will keep your coffee warm for about an hour. Bonavita no longer offers the glass-lined carafe’s and we haven’t noticed any difference in the quality of the coffee. The only beef we’ve heard about the carafe is that it doesn’t pour out all the coffee. Fortunately, coffee friends, we tested it out for you and it only left 0.75 ounces in the carafe. Our solution was to tilt the carafe about 45 degrees over the cup to get the majority of coffee out.

The Bonavita's new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.
The Bonavita’s new stainless steel-lined carafe keeps coffee warm for about an hour.

The OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker has similar looks to the Bonavita with stainless steel casing and a glossy black body. However, the design feels robotic with the clear reservoir and sleek shape. The OXO’s digital display adds modern flair with convenient technology we see on products today. The best feature for the caffeine-deprived is the pause and pour—that’s luxury at its finest. As we mentioned, the only downside is that it’ll drip a little, but with no heating element to burn the coffee, clean up is a breeze.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for impressive drip coffee, then look no further than the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker or the OXO Barista Brain 9-Cup Coffee Maker. Both are SCAA-approved, which means they’re guaranteed to deliver hot and flavorful coffee. If you’re looking for more features and convenience, however, then we’d recommend checking out the OXO Barista Brain to fuel your mornings. The Bonavita 8-Cup is simple to use and features pre-infusion for those who want a little extra control. What do you think—if you had to pick between two SCAA brewers, which would you take home? Let us know in the comments!