Are you as ready for summer as we are? We thought we’d start off the week with a tall glass of—Fresca coffee? Trust us, you have to try it before you write it off. We’re using Fresca but our coffee pal Ricardo sent in the original recipe using Sprite, which he called the “AeroSprite.” Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
As Ricardo’s recipe name suggests, we’re brewing our coffee in the AeroPress. We picked up a fresh bag of 49th Parallel’s Longitude 123 W for those sweet, dried fruit notes to complement the lime and Fresca—oh, by the way, there’s some lime in this recipe. We thought that might get your attention. We turned to our trusty Breville Smart Grinder Pro to grind our coffee into consistent table salt-sized grounds.
The Capresso EC Pro is one of our favorite machines to recommend to entry-level baristas. Equipped with a pressurized and non-pressurized naked portafilter, low powered traditional steam wand and user-friendly interface, the EC Pro offers plenty of opportunities to hone your craft. Its affordable price and small footprint make it easy to squeeze into your life too. The DeLonghi Dedica EC680 similar price point makes it a worthy opponent to the EC Pro, but it doesn’t offer nearly as much skill-building opportunities.
The Dedica comes with only pressurized portafilter in single and double basket options—if we include looks, the portafilter’s spouts are nothing fancy—that will compensate for subpar coffee grounds and deliver yummy espresso for newbies. The panarello steam wand creates quick and undeniable foamy milk that’s great for cappuccinos. You could make a latte, but you would need to work the milk into paint-like texture before pouring latte art. The Dedica’s great for baristas looking to get quick and easy quality espresso whereas the EC Pro will provide plenty of entry-level experience to improve.
The non-pressurized naked portafilter is a shining gem on this machine. The naked bottom—ahem, we’re talking about the lack of spouts—allows barista’s a clear view of the stream of espresso. It’s essentially training wheels for baristas. When the grind size and tamp pressure are correct, the extraction is even and creates gorgeous tiger-striping, which is the light and dark colors merging together. Some call it magic. Others call it the results of a good extraction. We say it’s both.
We should also mention the portafilters are made from durable stainless steel—that’s commercial-grade right there. Since this is an entry-level machine, however, the interface is simple in design. It features a couple of switches and a dial to change between brewing and steaming. At this lower price point, the EC Pro has a single boiler, which means you can only brew or steam. For entry-level home brewers, that’s actually not a bad feature, so you can focus on one task at a time.
Pro Tip: With any single boiler machine, we recommend steaming first so that you’re espresso does sit and get cold. Texturing milk first also offers the opportunity to work your milk if you’re doing some latte art.
It’s so satisfying to pour latte art that actually looks like art. The Capresso EC Pro’s traditional steam wand provides just enough steam power to allow you time to properly incorporate your milk with air for that just-right microfoam. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up! The one-hole tip provides a steady stream of heat, so getting the wand angled to swirl the milk will help even the temperature and create microfoam.
However, getting a great angle on the EC Pro can be a challenge. The steam wand only adjusts up and down, which limits the wiggle room for containers. The clearance from the machine provides enough space for a pitcher and you’ll easily be able to angle it to perfect your technique.
Surrounded with a stainless steel cover, the little Capresso EC Pro looks like a tyke-size industrial machine. Whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you, but we think that steel cover provides a nice, expensive-looking touch—they could have just wrapped it in plastic, you know? Also, this classic cut looks exactly like a miniature commercial machine. We’ll also remind you the EC Pro has some commercial-inspired features such as the stainless steel portafilter—oh yeah, super nice.
Where the Capresso EC Pro style lacks in flair, it makes up for with amenities. The small footprint also means it’s perfect for tight spaces—say in an apartment next to the microwave? The small cup warmer has a metal top to heat those cups up and tiny rails to keep things aligned. The straight forward switch and dial interface are probably our least favorite look, but it’s efficient and straight-forward.
For any entry-level barista, the Capresso EC Pro will have everything you need. It’s like training wheels on a bike: Once you learn how to ride, you take the wheels off. The EC Pro’s naked portafilter shows you how well it’s extracting—goal is to have tiger stripes—and lets you practice to perfect your technique. And we’ll add it’s just downright gorgeous to see. If you’re looking for convenience during training, the pressurized portafilter’s got your back. All in all, the price-point, entry-level training and high-quality features give the other tiny semi-automatics a run for their money.
“Life in plastic—it’s fantastic!” Said no coffee lover ever—we felt the same way about the Nuova Simonelli Oscar. Built with a 2-liter heat exchange boiler, professional-grade portafilter and legendary steam power, the Oscar I was an affordable high-quality semi-automatic machine. However, the Oscar’s quality was hidden under a plastic shroud of semi-sheen black or cherry red that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, we can all rejoice in the newest addition, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, and let us just tell you, it looks nothing like the original.
Designed like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, the Oscar II marries futuristic design with industrial stainless steel. The curved-in shape is becoming a new trend, like with the Baratza Sette 270, and we’re digging this style. Comparing it to the Oscar’s classic cut, the Oscar II offers ample space for the brew head and a 360-degree rotating steam wand. The new design for the Oscar II has improved its overall look and functionality—A+ Nuova Simonelli!
The commercial-grade 58mm portafilter was included in both models with channel spouts that offer a beautiful bird’s eye view of your espresso. The Oscar II’s pronounced brew group also showcases the new volumetric controls that the original Oscar lacked. On the Oscar II, you can program the espresso volume by time for either a single or double shot. The interface remains user-friendly with the new programmability. As you’re brewing, press and hold one of the espresso icons to set your volume, but remember it’s timed based, so you’ll want to dial in your grind and set it to produce consistent shots.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar and Oscar II create consistently hot espresso thanks to a temperature compensated brew head. It’s a highly debated topic about the consistency of heat exchanger overall. To mitigate those concerns, the heated brew head should assist with consistency—the debate continues.
Pro Tip: With a heat exchanger, it’s ideal to pull water for seven seconds to warm the brew head and portafilter. The extra heat siphoned through the brew head will help maintain the temperature of your shot.
Nuova Simonelli blessed the Oscar II with high-quality heat exchanger and Championship-worthy steam wand (for those of you that don’t know, Nuova Simonelli is the official espresso machine sponsor for the National U.S. Championship). Both semi-automatics are built with a 2-liter copper boiler and produce virtually the same steam power. The perfectly dry steam is exactly what you’re looking for to texture milk—water and milk just don’t mix. The Oscar II, however, has insulation wrapped around the boiler, which is noted to increase energy efficiency.
Nuova Simonelli’s famed four-hole steam tip performs a lot better on the Oscar II’s beautiful steam wand. The Oscar’s stouter steam wand proved difficult to angle a pitcher into texturized milk. To be blatantly honest, it was annoying to work with. The fixed finger guard also got in the way when foam expanded, which made it gunky and a pain to clean. The new extended wand rotates on a 360-degree ball joint and comes with an adjustable finger guard for larger frothing pitchers—A+ again, Nuova Simonelli.
Of course, you can’t compare the Oscar and Oscar II without talking about their looks. The Oscar II radical makeover has completely stunned us. The all-over stainless steel received high praises from the office. It reflects the professional quality materials Nuova Simonelli has gifted their products. It reflects contemporary taste and mirrors modern appliances to keep home brewers’ kitchen’s uniform. Sure, Nuova Simonelli snuck a few plastic parts of the Oscar II—check that out under the Oscar II Crew Review—but in comparison to the Oscar’s complete plastic casing, we’ll be lenient with the Oscar II.
We’re also fans of the Oscar II C-shape design, which looks similar to the Nuova Simonelli Musica. This design creates more clearance to allow important features such as the steam wand and brew group to take center stage. The brew group features ridges and curves that create futuristic dimension similar to, you guessed it, a Cylon. Our one critic of the Oscar II is the steam wand switch that sticks out at the top. We appreciate the Oscar II fresh and lively style.
The Oscar traditional espresso machine design is wonderful for coffee lovers who will enjoy the nostalgic appearance. The modern features, however, such as the Oscar’s large, in-your-face steam dial and rubber buttons, took away from the classic style.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II fresh style finally showcases its high-quality build. While we’re still impressed with the Oscar’s capabilities, the Oscar II new aesthetics are not only pleasing to the eye but offer more functionality from features such as the steam wand. If we had to choose, we’d go with the Oscar II. It’s also important to know that the Oscar has been discounted by Nuova Simonelli too, so you’ll only be able to find it on the market as used. If you’re loving the new wave of futuristic and contemporary styled espresso machines, then you’ll love the way the Oscar II shines in your kitchen.
Now there’s a handsome brewer! The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker marries pour over with automatic functionality. We’ve categorized this coffee maker as a drip brewer, but we feel it deserves classification as an automatic pour over. What makes the Ratio stand apart from drip coffee makers is the automatic bloom cycles that occur during and just-right brew temperatures. We’ve seen this method of brewing on the Chemex Ottomatic, a fairly new machine too. Comparing these machines, pour over connoisseurs will take note of a couple important differences.
To start, the Ratio Eight Edition performs a proper bloom that completely stops the flow of water for 30 seconds. The Ottomatic does the same, but occasionally water dribbles from the brew head for marginally earlier extraction than is intended. The Ratio also automatically turns off after brewing—no heating element here—so coffee is fresh and never overheated. Meanwhile, the Ottomatic’s hot plate design has no automatic functionality at all, continuously burning your coffee without end. Another pro, the Ratio Eight Edition only has one plastic component that is BPA-free and FDA certified for food-grade applications. Check out our Chemex Ottomatic Crew Review for in-depth pros and cons of the new Ottomatic.
You’re only seven minutes away from a full 8-cup carafe of crisp pour over coffee. Designed after the Fibonacci Spiral, hot water is evenly dispersed over grounds for equal extraction. Pour over connoisseurs will be happy to know that the pre-infusion and bloom process is about 30 seconds per pause. It’ll continue this process until it runs out of water and you have a whole 40-ounces to brew through, so it’ll take a few minutes depending on your grind. If you’re curious what grind setting to do on this new automatic pour over machine, we decided to use our standard pour over grind setting for the Ratio Eight Edition and found that setting was ideal. If the grounds were too fine, the coffee would overflow (yeah, that happened) and too coarse wouldn’t extract properly. We clocked the finished pot at about seven minutes with our grind.
The Ratio Eight Edition is incredibly easy to operate. It has one on/off button at the front that automatically starts the pre-infusion and brewing process and is outfitted with lit icons that indicate where you are in the brewing process. For instance, “Bloom” is used for pre-infusion and “Ready” means the good stuff is served. You can press the on/off button again to stop your coffee, but once it’s interrupted you’ll have to start over.
If you’re a bit forgetful, then you’re going to love these next two features. The Ratio includes a magnetic activator on the bottom of their carafe to engage the Ratio Eight. If it’s not there, then it won’t brew! Some people might view the special carafe as a double edge sword; it means you can’t use a non-branded carafe with the Ratio. If you’re not an 8-cup-a-day drinker, then you might find the large carafe a bit too much. Then, there are the clumsy people; fortunately for you, they sell the carafe separately if you happen to break yours.
Lastly, forgetful connoisseurs, there is no heating element on the Ratio Eight Edition. Once the reservoir is empty, the brewer turns off. We heard some complaints about the lack of the auto-off on the Chemex Ottomatic’s heating element, a similar machine to the Ratio, so we’re pleased to inform everyone that you don’t need to worry about the Ratio—rejoice! This also means that coffee-lovers don’t have to be concerned about the flavor of coffee after overheating on an element. It will be a fresh cup each time.
Designed and assembled in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition is built from the highest-quality material. Its look says it all. Thick and tempered borosilicate glass is hand-turned for a smooth, seamless finish. The body is constructed from aluminum that reflects a rich sheen in the light. Being born in Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition included premium hardwoods such as the maple found in the Silver Edition we carry.
Its footprint leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a massive machine that’s designed with a wider base and arms that extender ever so slightly off the side. It’s a coffee maker that’s meant to stand out; it’s not meant to be situated next to a microwave or fridge. The hope is that an owner of a Ratio Eight Edition will treasure it’s elegant curves and edges no matter the size.
While we’re discussing high-quality material, the price tag is a frequent topic with a machine of this caliber. It’s nearly twice as expensive as the Chemex Ottomatic, so why would you purchase this machine? For starters, Ratio offers a beautiful 10-year limited warranty on manufacturer’s defects—Ten. Years. We think some coffee owners out there would agree that they could easily go through a handful of the lower priced coffee makers in that time. Then there’s also the fact that there are not many automatic pour overs on the market that are as elegantly designed and constructed from high-quality materials. If you love the look, love the quality and love pour over, it’s a worth while investment.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s apartment-size footprint means you don’t have to sacrifice counter space for delicious espresso. Rocket shaved a few inches off the sides of the Appartamento to optimize counter and cabinet space: 10.5 inches wide by 17 inches deep and 14.25 inches tall. That’s 1.5 inches narrower and nearly 2 inches shorter than the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2. Even with its healthy trim, the Appartamento doesn’t lack in capability.
It’s built with the similar heavy-duty components as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2 and the Appartamento espresso and steam performance continues to shine amongst the other semi-automatics. The Cellini Evoluzione and Appartamento are equipped with a 1.8-liter copper boiler, but unlike the Cellini Evoluzione, the Appartamento doesn’t have an insulated boiler. That extra padding improves thermal stability and increases energy savings. Aside from the insulation, the Appartamento’s performance is on par with the Cellini Evoluzione.
Rocket stuck with what they do best and outfitted the Appartamento with professional grade materials. It’s equipped with a heat exchanger and the legendary E61 brew group for consistently hot performance. Trust us, after pulling a couple shots, the portafilter got nice and toasty—perfect for retaining heat for your shots. Pro Tip: Do a seven-second flush through the brew head to get the best shot possible.
Rocket’s standard commercial-grade 58mm portafilters made it in the box too, and we’re happy to have them! This tiny tyke didn’t get skimped on accessories: it comes with double and single spout portafilters that can pair with their respective baskets to please everyone’s caffeine needs. And we’ve complained time and time again about plastic tampers—fear not with Rocket, they included the same nice, shiny metal tamper you see with other models.
What it didn’t come with is a plumb-in option that a few Rockets do include. At this price point, we’re not missing it with the Appartamento’s respectable 2.25-liter reservoir. While the reservoir is a nice size, the drip tray is a bit shallow for catching that excess water from the solenoid valve. Without any bevels, it’s easy to wear the contents of the tray if you’re not careful—Pro Tip: empty it out sooner rather than later. At least you have a nice view of that beautiful stainless steel while you’re concentrating on not spilling.
Built with a 1.8-liter boiler like the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2, it comes as no surprise that the Appartamento has similarly magnificent steam performance. The two-hole steam wand evenly warms and circulates milk to achieve perfect microfoam. It heats up so quickly that a beginner might find they didn’t have enough time to texture their milk, but we would still recommend this machine to an entry-level to a prosumer buyer.
Like the previous models, it’s a no-burn wand, which means it’s harder for the milk to burn on after steaming. Keep those finger guards on, though! The steam wand is still extremely hot to the touch after a couple of lattes.
Those big, beautiful spots. Choose white or copper, but choose wisely: The pearl white complements everyday kitchen appliances (yahoo…) whereas that copper sing to more modern vibes. OK, so the SCG Crew is a little torn between the two colors. To be fair, the copper is a bit on the darker side—some would say bronze—so that’s where the true-to-its-name white got the Crew’s vote. Check out the video and tell us what color you dig.
Someone’s had to notice by now that the colored cutouts match the new wider, stouter feet. This is another debate between the Crew (as most aesthetics are a heated topic around here) and we’re 50/50 on the look. The body’s clean edges against the curved detailing provide a beautiful contrast. The gear-inspired knobs and Rocket’s logo stamped boldly on the front add a nice touch to this machine. The stainless steel casing that Rocket is known for continues to showcase their equally famous high-quality products. It’s no surprise that Rocket continued these fine-tuned details, even in a small and lower priced machine.
We thought perhaps the smaller footprint would mean small everything else, but a quick glance at the manual says otherwise: it has a 1.8-liter boiler, 2.25-liter water tank and E61 brew group. So what did it lose? To be honest, nothing. The cup warmer is a bit roomier and Rocket’s given us an (unfortunately plastic) cup rail to wrangle in mugs. We tried to replace it—because you know us and aesthetics—and discovered it’s not compatible with Rocket’s current metal racks. Perhaps a future accessory down the road, Rocket? We sure hope so. Either way, all that room for a handful of mugs means we can finally display our sweet Acme cups.
What do you think of Rocket’s new addition? The Rocket Espresso Appartamento has all the makings of Rocket’s bigger models packed into a mini machine. The new colored dots add extra style to an already good looking machine, and with two color options, there are more choices for a home brewers kitchen.
Here it is, the Baratza Sette 270! We’ll be testing its counterpart, the Baratza 270W soon, but in the meantime, we’ll give you the low down on Baratza’s two newest grinders. The main difference is the Sette 270W measure grounds by weight and features Bluetooth technology while the Sette 270 measures by time (as you’d find on a lot of grinders). Besides the extra technology added into the Sette 270W, these grinders, these grinders feature the same powerful mechanics.
Built with 40mm steel conical burrs,the mechanics of the Sette 270 seem similar to most other grinders on the market. We’ll just tell you, they’re not! The Sette 270’s magic is in its design. It’s the only grinder that has the outer burr rotate while the inner burr is fixed. With the motor mounted horizontally instead of vertically, the bean hopper is seated directly above the burrs, giving the beans a straight shot down the hatch—leaving virtually no grounds behind! Seriously, the coffee only travels vertically so the grounds don’t have a place to sit and stale.
This inspired design increases the Sette 270’s speed and efficiency. Baratza clocked the grinder at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second! If you’re in doubt, check out our Crew Review video for yourself! Outfitted with a stepped macro and a stepless micro adjustment ring, it allows you to fine-tune your grind from French press coarse down to espresso fine. We’ve experimented with the finest settings to see if we could choke the grinder and the Sette 270 persevered! We’re blown away by how fast and efficiently the Sette 270 turns beans the size of pencil erasers into powdered sugar.
Once you’ve played around with the Sette 270 and found your just-right grind, Baratza gives you three programmable buttons to lock in time. But let’s say you want to change up your volume, Baratza’s got an answer for that too! Kyle from Baratza calls it, the “pulse” button. If you press and hold it, it’ll start manually grinding until you release it.
Pro Tip: It takes a second to engage the manual grind, so be quick about it! If you only want a small amount, do some trials with the grind and program it to save on beans.
Did you know Sette in Italian is seven? Right, right! The name’s in the design. Purely talking about the Sette 270’s looks, the shape is similar to some recent espresso machines that have been released like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II. The angular shape is breaking away from the mainstream style we’re accustomed to and showing off more curves. All these new dimensions are aesthetically pleasing and fit in easily with different espresso machines and coffee makers available.
Cleanup has never been easier! With the beans direct path, there are almost no residual grinds. If you do want to do some light cleanup, the bean hopper comes off easily with a door (Kyle calls it a ‘Hopper Stopper’) that swings shut. There’s a handful of beans left over, so you’ll want to either vacuum or tip those out. Afterward, we recommend taking a grinder brush and sweeping out the leftover grinds. A deeper clean is easy to achieve too. You don’t need a screwdriver on the Sette 270, the whole burr twists right off! Take the macro adjustment past the lowest setting and it’ll drop out. This does mean you’ll lose your grind setting, so be aware of the macro setting and be patient dialing it back in. Luckily, there are no loose screws or small parts to worry about.
We’ve been working our way up to this: What other benefits are hiding in the Sette 270’s horizontal design? Constructed to optimize efficiency, Baratza created the best convertible holder we’ve seen in a long time. The horizontal design freed up space for a container up to 5.75 inches tall and 3.50 inches wide. The width is based on how far the two arms extend. These arms also have a third smaller arm to easily hook in your portafilter. Switch it from espresso to holding a Hario V60—yeah, it can do that. It can handle holding different types of equipment for the different grind settings it offers.
We know you’re itching for the deets on the Sette 270W. Kyle from Baratza visited us and revealed the in and outs of this new innovation. Both are built with the same mechanics, but the Sette 270W takes this innovation further using weight measurement and Bluetooth. Check out our Baratza Sneak Peek 270W video and let us know what you think!
Once in a while you need a little extra humph with your coffee. What’s better than a little tequila and coffee liquor to get the engines revving? Quick answer: Adding ice cream to your booze! Drink up this deliciously creamy Adult Mexican Coffee Affogato that’s just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Thank you, Jane for taking all of our favorite things into one yummy drink!
We used the trusty Breville Barista Express so we could grind and brew our espresso in one go. The easy programmability is nice after a couple of espresso shots, too, and you can be sure you’ll have a line out the door for this drink! We picked Victrola’s Streamline Espresso for the smooth chocolate and fruit flavor that’s robust in an espresso.
Pro Tip: We recommend a robust coffee blend for this drink, but it’s not necessary with the coffee liquor to get a well-rounded flavor.
The future is here. You’ve been asking for it and finally we’ve got it! We unboxed the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and we hardly even recognize it. The original Oscar was wrapped in a plastic shroud that dulled the mighty power of its espresso. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is decked in steel and features clean reflective angles—hello, gorgeous! The new design did a complete 360 from the original, literally; the new C-shape front allows room for the extended steam wand that rotates on a 360° ball joint to reach every angle of your frothing pitcher.
The innards of the Oscar II and Oscar are nearly the same. It’s still a heat exchanger with a copper boiler, which produces that fierce steam power and allows you to brew at the same time. The reservoir saw an upgrade in capacity and a bigger hole for sticking your hand in to clean out any gunk. Mostly, the Oscar II’s design finally reflects the high-quality that makes the Nuova Simonelli machines top of the line.
Hurray for heat exchangers! If you’re like us, we love to brew and steam at the same time so we can get to our latte faster. The Oscar II features front-facing indicator lights for the boiler and reservoir so you’ll know exactly when you’re ready to brew. Even though our indicator light clicked off at the nine-minute mark, you’ll want to give your machine a good 30 minutes to heat up.
The two programmable buttons allow you to set the volume of a single or double shot. Getting the right volume is easy-peasy, too. Press and hold one of the volume buttons and wait for it to flash; once it’s flashing, press again to start the flow of coffee. When the cup’s filled to your desired caffeine intake, press it again to program the volume time. Tada! Coffee is served. Great coffee at that! We noticed the Oscar II pulled consistent shots and even at the set factory settings offered delicious espresso. Pro Tip: unboxing the Oscar II we noticed it pulled longer shots that give you enough wiggle room to program your preferred shot time.
Nuova Simonelli is the official espresso machine provider for the Barista Championship, so you know it’s got it going on. The steam power behind the Oscar II is a force to be reckoned with—they can’t let those professional baristas down. On a 360° rotating ball joint, you can get into any container at any angle to froth. Plus, the four holes releasing steam add extra power on all sides. The steam’s nice and dry, too, so there’s no extra moisture but plenty of piping hot goodness.
Grabbing the nearest pitcher of ice cold milk, we put the steam wand to the test. Whole-y milk froth, Batman! In less than 10 seconds, we were looking at microfoam and feeling hot, hot hot! Needless to say, you’ll want to watch out where you put your hands when you’re steaming—remember the four holes that release steam. It’s so quick too, that some of Seattle Coffee Gear’s novice baristas were having trouble texturing the milk just right. The steam power is definitely something you’ll want to get a feel for with practice. Of course, our veterans took to it like a duck to water and were swimming in ponds of beautiful latte art quality milk.
Curvy in all the right places, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is carved to catch your attention. The clean look of the steel complements modern taste while the C-shaped frame adds futuristic dimension. Stand head on, the rippled brew head and reflection off the drip tray are reminiscent of a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica (seriously, go search “Cylon” right now). All these elegant curves and edges are interrupted by something it seems Nuova Simonelli forgot to add—oh yeah, the switch for the steam wand. Sticking out like a sore thumb, the switch flips on or off and we’ll generously add you can push it ever-so-slightly to get quick steam. For power and functionality standing behind the steam pressure of the Nuova Simonelli, it’s unfortunate to see the steam lever handled so carelessly.
The color block look is another eye-sore on this machine. We love the chrome. We love the black. We’re not fans of the gray. The color of the steam switch doesn’t coordinate with the rest of the design, either, unless you count the muted gray buttons and portafilter as a close match. Rubbing a finger over the surface of each button, it’s like flipping through the channels of an old remote control. The outdated texture leaves us yearning for more.
The Oscar II comes with a 58mm commercial-grade non-pressurized portafilter with breakaway spouts—can we just say those open spouts offer the best view in the house? What’s not lovely is the plastic handle. You’d think the chrome cap was metal but it’s not. The other faux-steel look is the rippled chrome brew head. While you can’t tell from a distance it would have been nice to move away from plastic and committed to real steel like the rest of the body and drip tray.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II captures power and style. The updated steel body reflects the high-quality build of Nuova Simonelli’s internals and the new angled front adds intriguing dimension as well as more room for a longer steam wand. Just to recap, we steamed milk in 10 seconds! The steam wand on the original Oscar has nothing on the new one! It’s much easier to access and angle your pitcher in. While we went off on the plastic components a bit there at the end, the overall design is a refreshing upgrade from the previous model with all the same powerful gears making delicious espresso.
The sun is shining, Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and we’ve got coffee on the brain! Naturally, we picked up a bag of our only coffee grown in Mexico, Velton’s Mexico Nayarita, and brewed ourselves a pot. This single origin is bursting with sweet notes of apricots and strawberries with hints of citrus and that got us thinking…we need a scone with this! Well, truth be told Gail has been dropping not-so-subtle hints on our videos that she really wants scones with her coffee. Inspired by the flavors of Velton’s Mexico Nayarita—and Gail’s subtle hints—we cooked up this recipe for Spring Apricot Scones!
We surprise her with a fresh batch of these scones on this week’s episode of Good Morning Gail—and let’s just say they were a hit with Gail and her cup of Velton’s coffee.
Cookie sheet for baking
Brush for egg wash
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cups peach greek yogurt*
3/4 cups dried apricots
1 lemon for zest
Optional 1 egg for egg wash
Optional pinch of Demerara sugar**
Set the oven to 425 degrees and grab the cooking utensils you’ll need.
Prep ingredients. Grab a cold stick of butter from the fridge and chop into small chunks (you don’t want it melted or at room temperature). Dice apricots to the desired size and zest one lemon. The lemon adds refreshing flavor perfect for springtime!
In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Add the chopped butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
Fold in peach greek yogurt, dried apricot and lemon zest until all the flour is moist (don’t use the pastry blender for this part).
Add a bit of flour to a flat surface and shape the dough into a circle. Aim to have the dough height at half an inch and then cut into triangular sections at the desired size. Pro Tip: We cut it once down the middle and then into five triangle pieces.
Optional, but highly recommended, scramble an egg and wash the top and sides of the scones. Sprinkle Demerara sugar on the top. **Demerara sugar doesn’t melt and adds a nice sugary crunch to the top of these scones.
Bake for about 13 minutes or until the tops are golden. Enjoy these refreshing scones with a cup of Velton’s Mexico Nayarita coffee!
*Like, you could use plain greek yogurt, but peach is just oh-so-good in these apricot scones.
If you’re looking for hands-off brewing, then you’ve come to the right place. Sit back, relax and let the Chemex Ottomatic and Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup take the reins. The Bonavita Brewer acts like your typical drip brewer but the Chemex Ottomatic has branched off from the norm and married pour over with automatic functionality. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, the Chemex took their iconic carafe and created a brew system that pre-infuses and blooms coffee as you’d perform for a pour over. Traditional drip coffee makers feature a continuous drip and usually don’t pause to allow the coffee to bloom, which is the case for the Bonavita Brewer.
How does the taste compare? We were curious if the Chemex’s innovative automatic pour over would create a different tasting cup. Using a fresh bag of Zoka Coffee’s Tangletown Blend, we brewed a pot on each. Our first thoughts were the taste was the same. After a couple of sips, Gail noticed that the coffee from the Ottomatic was smoother while the Bonavita had brighter acidity. The bottom line is both brewers make a similar cup.
Now that we know the coffee tasted similar on the Ottomatic and Bonavita, we wanted to understand the brewing processes. The Chemex Ottomatic is a new way to brew and it does it rather elegantly—dinner and a show! There’s no clunky basket obscuring your view of the brewing process; you can see the brew head gently dispenses hot water and pauses occasionally to allow the grounds to bloom. With all that pausing on the Ottomatic, it took roughly seven minutes to get our coffee. The Bonavita Brewer got us a cup in five and a half minutes since it continuously drips. Bonus: The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup (model BV1900TS) is also SCAA certified, which means it went through rigorous testing on brew time, temperature, and overall quality.
Another well-known brewing step called pre-infusion is featured on both machines. The Ottomatic automatically pre-infuses before brewing, which we appreciate if it’s truly trying to replicate pour over. The Bonavita, however, needs to be manually started. So grab your manual! While it’s arguably not difficult to turn on, it’s not intuitive either. To turn it on, you press and hold the power switch for about five seconds (or waiting until the light flashes) then release and press it again to engage. The Bonavita will be in pre-infusion mode until you turn it off again—another press and hold situation. See? Not bad but we just skipped all the hullabaloo and went straight to brewing, which didn’t fully utilizing a great feature on the Bonavita.
They might brew up the same cup, but they don’t think the same way. Besides the different brewing methods, the Ottomatic features a hot plate that’s automatically turned on after brewing. The carafe gets pretty toasty and pour over fanatics might scoff at the heating element—you know, we sort of turned our nose to it too. It’s great when you’re moseying around in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee here and there, but if you accidentally leave the house—the Ottomatic won’t turn off. We tested it ourselves with a full carafe and gave it five hours to turn off. When we came back it was still on and the coffee was ridiculously hot. Why Chemex left out the auto shut-off is mind boggling. They included so many brainy automated pour over features in the brewing process that we expected the full automatic deal.
The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup also switches off brewing—which we’ll add saves your boiler—and simply turns off. Thank you auto shut-off! There is no heating element, instead, it comes with a thermal carafe that can keep your coffee warm for about an hour give or take. For the best results, you’ll want to remove the basket and twist on the lid that comes with it. Speaking of the carafe, you might notice the new carafe is stainless steel lined. Bonavita has discounted the glass-lined and introduced this model instead. The coffee’s still hot and flavorful with the new carafe so it gets high marks from us! Overall, the brains of the Bonavita are not glamorous, but it’s practical and sufficient for getting a cup of coffee. And the Bonavita eliminates worrying about forgetting to turn the coffee pot off on hectic mornings.
Chemex is renowned for its elegant designs. The carafe’s iconic hourglass shape paired with the wood and leather makes a beautiful statement piece in your home. The history and following of the Chemex Classic Coffeemaker alone make it desirable. Looking at the Ottomatic brewing system without the carafe, the matte black and chrome will complement modern kitchens. It’s compact, smooth and designed to be seen from any angle—we had it lined up next to our Technivorm in the kitchen and then swung it around with the cord against the wall, it looked great either way. The one downside to its design is the plastic water reservoir, brew head, and hot plate surface. It cheapens the overall design of Chemex and one of the appeals of Chemex is the high-quality materials used in the carafe.
The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup is wrapped in brushed stainless steel and matte black like the Ottomatic. And just like the Ottomatic, the water reservoir, brew head, and basket are plastic—but were you expecting something else from a conventional drip brewer? Technivorm’s coffee makers are nearly identical in the overall structure and feature a stainless steel body with plastic brewing components. It’s a look that works and the materials function to make a good cup of coffee—plus, the Bonavita is SCAA-approved—so you know this coffee maker holds ups.
Coffee is the most important feature you could ask for in a coffee machine and both machines deliver a robust cup. If you’re looking to replace your old, worn out drip brewer, then you’re probably not looking at the Chemex Ottomatic; it makes a great cup but you’re purchasing a coffee maker like the Chemex for the iconic design. The Bonavita Brewer 8-Cup may be the least unique coffee maker on the market but its stainless steel body will look uniform with your stainless steel appliances—and the SCAA certificate pinned on it easily elevates its position.