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Crew Review: Breville Duo-Temp Pro

How Does It Compare?

First glance, we almost mistook the Breville Duo-Temp Pro for the Breville Infuser. These two entry-level machines feature the Breville touch with tons of user-friendly features and accessories to make home brewing convenient and, may we add, fun! However, the Duo-Temp Pro is equipped with one dial to flipped between brewing and steaming whereas the Infuser has two programmable buttons. While programmability is a bonus, we reap the benefits of the Duo-Temps Pro affordable price point while still being chock-full of advanced features, the same technology we see in the Infuser.

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.
The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features an internal PID, auto-purge and pre-infusion to create great coffee at home.

Others at this price point are the Saeco Via Venezia; however, some of the Duo-Temp Pro features and functionality outshine the Via Venezia. The Duo-Temp Pro comes with both a pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters allowing beginners a chance to grow into their machine. The Duo-Temp Pro also automatically purges water from the Thermocoil boiler to bring it from steam temperature back down to brewing—an incredibly convenient feature on a single boiler. Let’s dive right into the Duo-Temp Pro’s espresso.

Shot

The espresso on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro is impressive. The combination of our trusty grinder—the Rancilio Rocky right now—and the automatic pre-infusion time, it doesn’t take long to pull a wonderful shot. The pre-infusion is completely controlled by the Duo-Temp Pro since the only controls are the one dial that flips between brew or steam/hot water and the “Select” button for steam or hot water. That’s it. While it may feel limited, the fewer controls allow beginners to focus on honing their skills. Fewer controls, though, doesn’t mean fewer features. The pre-infusion is just the cherry on top.

The Duo-Temp Pro's clean controls make it easy for beginner's to learn.
The Duo-Temp Pro’s clean controls make it easy for beginners to learn.

As we touched on briefly, the Duo-Temp Pro has an automatic purge, which is huge for a machine of this caliber. Since this is a single boiler machine, you can’t brew and steam at the same time, so naturally, we always steam first. After steaming, flip the switch back to neutral and you’ll hear the auto-purge remove the hot water and then flush in cool water from the reservoir. In a matter of seconds, you’re ready to brew! Bonus for the Duo-Temp Pro: It’s equipped with an internal PID that helps regulate the temperature.

The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.
The Duo-Temp Pro features a concealed storage for your extra baskets and accessories.

The simple controls and automatic features create a user-friendly experience perfect for beginners, so without fail Breville paired it with the appropriate accessories. Generally, we see machines at this price point with only a pressurized option, however, the Duo-Temp Pro has both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the 54mm portafilter. The non-pressurized basket is an opportunity for beginners to hone their skills and advance into the professional’s field. Breville also included accessories such as their patented RAZOR Dose Trimming Tool, cleaning accessories and the magnetic tamper, which is stuck alongside the brew head out of the way.

Steam

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features a traditional steam wand, which will take more practice to learn but offers more rewards than a panarello-style steam wand. Because the Duo-Temp Pro uses a thermocoil heater, the steam wand produces heat on the fly and it’ll take a while to get up to speed—hey, that offers beginners plenty of time to get their technique down. We decided to use the Duo-Temp Pro to froth milk for latte art to test its capabilities (and ours). The Duo-Temp Pro has a one-hole steam tip, which does present some challenges heating the milk. If you leave it pointed in one direction and don’t angle it correctly, you’ll likely to unevenly heat the milk. The key here is to become familiar with the steam wand and find that sweet spot to spin the milk to incorporate any microfoam with the warm milk.

The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.
The Duo-Temp Pro comes with a traditional steam wand.

So, how did it go? Because it takes a while to get to full steam power, we had plenty of time to find that sweet spot and we were able to get beautiful latte-art milk on the Duo-Temp Pro. One thing we noted was from startup it took the thermocoil about 25 seconds before we saw steam. If you turned the dial to steam to remove condensation and then to neutral it would auto-purge and for a moment, we thought that was it. Fortunately, it only took a few seconds for the steam power to kick back in and work it’s way up to full steam.

Style

Clad in a brushed stainless steel casing, we couldn’t be happier with the outfitting on the Breville Duo-Temp Pro. The user-friendly controls are clean, evenly spaced and the buttons are backlit when the machine’s on, creating a seamless interface. Commercial-grade stainless steel portafilter and steam wand further accentuate the Breville’s fresh style and, of course, make delicious coffee. Bonus to the Duo-Temp Pro, it is BPA free for all the parts that come in contact with water and coffee.

Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won't be running to the sink very often.
Equipped with a 61-ounce water reservoir, you won’t be running to the sink very often.

The brushed casing and compact size allow the Duo-Temp Pro to easily fit into any home brewer’s kitchen. At only 10.25 inches wide, its slim profile can easily squeeze on the smallest counters and fit a couple mugs on the cup warmer. Even though it’s a compact unit, the spacious 61-ounce water tank can easily handle multiple lattes. We were worried at first that the auto-purge would drain the reservoir but we went from the reservoir’s maximum capacity down to the minimum with four lattes and an espresso shot. Perhaps the only downside to the auto-purge is it’s a bit noisy doing it.

Conclusion

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro is an excellent entry-level semi-automatic. Its simple controls are balanced with advanced features, such as auto-purge, and offer beginners plenty of opportunities to hone their skills. The Duo-Temp Pro can produce several milk-based drinks and perhaps the only misgivings we could see people experiencing is the steam power. Since it’s a thermocoil, it takes a time to kick in but, hey, that’ll allow beginners some time to find the right angles to texture their milk. Practice makes perfect and the Duo-Temp Pro is the right machine for practicing.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

When you purchase fresh coffee beans, you’ll probably notice a roast date labeled on the bag and you might wonder: “How long do coffee beans last?” “Do coffee beans expire?” At Seattle Coffee Gear, we receive these questions a lot and it’s a tough one to answer. We adhere to roaster guidelines for freshness and that right there is the keyword: freshness. Not expiration in the way most people understand it like a sour glass of milk. We could quickly agree that those foul smelling notes mean the milk has expired, but open coffee roasted six months ago and there probably won’t be that telltale reek. However, your nose may detect something is different. Coffee is volatile and the coffee industry only agrees on one fact: coffee changes.

To answer the question, “How long do coffee beans last?” Let’s be frank: Until it stops tasting good. Let’s break down what “good” coffee is.

Coffee Freshness

In the coffee community, freshness is generally agreed upon by the roast date. The closer it is to the roast date, the fresher the beans. The moment coffee is roasted it begins to stale thanks to oxidation, not time. Of course, the more time oxygen has to work on the beans, the more it’ll stale. However, roasters haven’t agreed upon what “stale” means for coffee. As James Hoffman puts it in The World Atlas of Coffee; “The specialty coffee industry has failed to make a real impact because there is no strong agreement on how quickly coffee goes stale, and at what point it will have passed its best-before date.” Our practice at Seattle Coffee Gear is to follow the individual roaster’s guidelines, which are between two and four weeks then we’ll pull the coffee off the shelf.

How long the coffee freshness lasts after roasting also depends on roaster’s processes like the packaging. There are different types of bags like the triple-ply foil that prevent fresh air from getting in while a valve allows carbon dioxide out. It’s a common packaging we see with our roasters and at your local grocery store. There are also packaging techniques that factor in coffee freshness such as nitrogen flushing. This process, used by Lavazza, helps preserve coffee beans by flushing away the oxygen and so temporarily eliminates it going stale. We say temporarily because as soon as you open the bag, oxygen finds its way in and begins to stale your coffee.

How To Tell If Coffee Is Bad

We know you were thinking about it. You’re probably sniffing your bag of beans trying to decide if it was bad or stale. Your nose is your best detector. “The human tongue can only really taste five flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami,” our Portland store manager, Joe, says. “The nose, however, is a magical input drive that can delineate between thousands and thousands of distinct compounds and the brain processes this information in the same place/way. Smell and taste are intimately linked.” So when your nose can’t smell the coffee, you can assume the flavor is gone.

Of course, what’s most important for coffee drinkers is flavor, and the freshest beans don’t guarantee the best flavor. In fact, we’ve brewed beans a month past their roast date and loved them. We’ve had those same beans right after roasting and preferred the aged beans. That’s why we think how long coffee beans last can be gauged by flavor. Each coffee’s flavor profile is different, but once the volatile aromatics break down, so does the flavor. Think of it in terms of cooking. The oils carry the flavor and so when the oils in coffee are gone, so is the flavor. “As they are volatile, these compounds slowly leach from the coffee so the older it is the less interesting it will taste,” writes Hoffman.

Storing Coffee

The best way to store and keep your coffee as fresh as possible—because inevitably, you will open your freshly roasted beans and start the cycle of oxidation—is to keep it in a cool, dry place. Oxygen and moisture are the enemies of coffee. Once water comes in contact with beans, it starts the brewing process and extracts the flavor. That’s why products like the AirScape Coffee Bean Canister are excellent to keep around since it uses a one-way valve to push out oxygen and air-tight lid to keep out the elements—hello, fresh coffee.

Freezing coffee, then, seems like a bad idea but it’s a trend we’ve seen in the coffee community. It’s not all misplaced either. Done properly, freezing coffee has its benefits. One benefit is using it for espresso to extract a richer, thicker body. If you freeze ground coffee, it’ll dissolve faster in hot water and produce a fuller flavor. However, once you take the coffee out of the freezer, you can’t let it thaw. Any moisture that condenses on the beans will start the extraction process on your coffee. A way around this is to measure the dosage for how much coffee you’ll need.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

In the coffee community, the word expired describes coffee differently than other foods like milk. There’s no defined expiration or best-by date for coffee. We can only guarantee that coffee is volatile substance and therefore will rapidly change. How long coffee beans last also depends on the type—sorry didn’t mean to throw you a curveball. Ground coffee, for example, has more surface area for oxygen to leach out the flavor compounds. If you wanted to keep your coffee fresher longer, we’d recommend leaving the beans whole and grinding them only when you’re ready.

Lastly, the best way to determine if your coffee is fresh, like we’ve discussed, is to follow your senses. If you no longer taste the notes you love, it’s safe to say your coffee expired and it’s time for a new bag. What’s really important is if you still enjoy your coffee regardless of the best-by date. Of course, at Seattle Coffee Gear, we make sure to adhere to roaster’s guidelines and pull coffee that’s past the freshness date provided. While we enjoy sipping our coffee sooner rather than later, we follow our senses and let the coffee speak for itself.

Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 vs Eureka Mignon

How Does It Compare?

We’ve been grinding with our Baratza Sette 270 for the last month—eagerly awaiting its arrival—and we asked ourselves, “What else we could compare to the Sette 270?” On this Crew Comparison, we decided to match it against the Eureka Mignon. In stores, we use the Mignon with our semi-automatic machines, such as the Rocket Appartamento, and we knew it would be a fierce contender against the Sette 270. Both feature time-based dosing with quality steel burrs that can grind beans from drip to espresso. When it comes down to deciding between the two, the nitty gritty details and the unique design will ultimately influence what you take home.

The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has finally arrived.
The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has finally arrived.
Oh hello, Eureka Mignon. Mignon means “dainty” in French. We can see where it gets its name from.

Grind

We’ll start the nitty gritty details with the burrs (pun intended). The compact Eureka Mignon is equipped with 50mm flat steel burrs that have been a constant companion for our store machines. It creates consistently fine grinds for espresso thanks to those steel burrs and even could make a consistent grind for our pour over samples. Needless to say, we’ve been impressed with the Mignon. If you’ve read our Crew Review on the Baratza Sette 270, it’s safe to say you probably know the phenomenal consistency, from espresso to pour over, of the Sette 270’s 40mm conical steel burrs. In fact, the Sette 270’s coarsest setting is the most consistent grind we’ve seen at that caliber. Side-by-side, the espresso grounds are nearly identical and well suited for a non-pressurized portafilter espresso machine, but the Mignon can go finer than the Sette 270.

The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.
The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.

Another reason the Mignon’s our go-to choice for in-store use is because of its simple controls. It features either a manual or timed dosing (although, we’ll tell you right now the timed controls are not as sophisticated as the Sette 270). The time dosage is on the right side of the machine and it’s just your typical twist timer like those old kitchen timers. You can time between 4 to 15 seconds or switch it to manual—how we have it in store—and dose until your container is full. The Sette 270 features three programmable buttons to set your timed dosage. The digital interface can be adjusted from 0 to 99 seconds and is incredibly user-friendly. It also features a manual button, which is activated when you press and hold the start/pause button.

The Mignon's old-timey dial is easy to use, but offers less precision than a programmable timed dosage.
The Mignon’s turn-dial is easy to use but offers less precision than a programmable timed dosage.

One of the more user-friendly features on the Sette 270 is the grind adjustment. There is a stepped adjustment with 31 macro settings and a second set of stepless settings, which have the letters A-W as guides. The Mignon’s stepless grind adjustment offers limitless grinding options but once you lose it, you’ll need to dial in your grind all over again. Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate the amount of control with a stepless grinder, but it’s a blessing and a curse. For entry-level barista’s, the Sette 270’s professional grinding power with the programmable, user-friendly control is an easy go-to suggestion.

Grade

As we mentioned above, these grinders easily turn whole beans into beautiful grounds from espresso to pour over. The range on the Eureka Mignon might actually be a little better, in our opinion, thanks to the stepless grind adjustment. However, going back and forth on the Mignon can be frustrating, so we’ve always got our store models dialed into one machine—then we barely touch it again. You could get a decent French press grind on the Mignon, but then you’ll be wildly spinning the dial back to espresso…need we say more?

The stepless grinder is both a blessing and a curse. It create limitless options, but is difficult to dial-in if you lose your sweet spot.
The stepless grinder is both a blessing and a curse. It creates limitless options but is difficult to dial-in if you lose your sweet spot.

The Baratza Sette 270 has 31 stepped settings and an additional stepless adjustment ring with guided labels for fine tuning the grind. With these guided markers, it makes it a lot easier to adjust for a range of brewing. We’re still not convinced it can make a coarse enough grind for French press, but we’ve tried it with AeroPress and it holds up well. AeroPress has more pressure, so we tend to grind between a pour-over and French press, which is why the Sette 270 performs well.

Sette_display

Glamour

Both grinders live up to their clever name. The Eureka Mignon, which means “dainty” in French, is compact and features angled sides that can squeeze between kitchen appliances. The Baratza Sette 270 get its name from the unique seven shape—sette is seven in Italian—and features 270 grind settings if you use the guides. The Sette 270’s shape isn’t all glamour, the motor lays horizontally and allows beans to flow from the hopper directly into your portafilter, decreasing the chance of grounds sticking and going stale. We don’t see a lot of static on the Mignon’s chute, but grounds are notorious for sticking to every surface and Baratza’s solution takes out the middleman—the chute in this case—and creates a direct shot.

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.

The Sette 270’s unique shape also makes it wider—it’s nearly three inches taller than the Mignon. Of course, that does free space below the burrs for different brewing methods. The Sette 270 features three adjustable arms—the third one is there to help stabilize—that hold anything from a V60 to a portafilter. The dainty Mignon has the advantage with its square shape to be able to integrate easily in the kitchen, but it only has a portafilter holder. Some of our retail store Mignon’s we’ve removed the portafilter holder, so we could use it for pour over. In the few seconds, you’ll be grinding, holding your brewer there isn’t the worst feature.

The square-shaped Mignon makes it easy to fit into tight spaces on a home brewers counter top.
The square-shaped Mignon makes it easy to fit into tight spaces on a home brewers counter top.

If you wanted to have an exact grind every time, the Sette 270 is the way to go. The three programmable options and intuitive digital display create a swift user experience. The Mignon, by no means, is hard to handle, but it’s turn-dial disappears on the side. You know what the say: Out of sight, out of mind. We generally use manual dosing, which is efficient for our in-store use, but some users might miss the digital display.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.

Conclusion

Could you go wrong with either of these machines? We don’t think so! The Baratza Sette 270 is a powerful machine featuring reimagined design and functionality. However, we adore the Eureka Mignon and have made it one of our go-to grinders in store. That said, between the two, the Sette 270 is better suited for entry-level baristas or brewers looking for convenience. The digital and programmable display create an effortless user experience and the stepped and marked stepless adjustments allow you to learn how to dial in your grind. Both of these grinders will easily make you a delicious cup of coffee and it all comes down to the nitty gritty details. What do you think? Drop us a comment below and let us know if you’d take the Sette 270 or the Mignon!

Stay tuned this summer for the release of the Baratza Sette 270! Before you know it, you’ll be grinding with one of these guys.

Crew Review: Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder

How Does It Compare?

If you’re ready to move away from your old blade grinder, the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an excellent entry-level machine! The Infinity has features that won’t disappoint coffee lovers. The steel conical burrs, for instance, have stepped adjustments for beginner’s to learn how to perfect their grind for different brew methods. The Infinity’s affordable price places it in the same market as favorites like the Baratza Encore. Both are slated for new at-home baristas interested in brewing on a Chemex, Hario V60 or French press.

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.

Grind

Built with steel conical burrs, the Capresso Infinity munches through beans with ease. It doesn’t grind quickly though and that’s actually a good thing. The lower RPM (rotations per minute) of the steel burrs creates less friction and heat build up. This means you’re less likely to burn your beans and retain the flavor profile. Not to mention the slower speed makes this grinder ridiculously quiet. The finer we adjusted the settings we noticed the pitch got higher, but it was still extremely quiet for an automatic grinder.

The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.
The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.

The stepped grind adjustment is perfect for people wanting to learn how to make great coffee at home. There are 16 settings with four categories that range from Extra Fine to Coarse. If you’ve been reading up on grind differences for brewing, it’ll be intuitive to guess what setting you’ll want to use. A little less intuitive is the timer to activate the grinder. The dial features settings from one to 10 that act more as a reference point than actual timed dosage. When you grind at Extra Fine, there is less coffee per second passing through the burrs than grinding on Coarse. We’d recommend dialing in your grind and using the timer as a personal reference for dosage. That does pose some extra work for beginners to become familiar with dosage, consistency and timing.

Glamour

The Capresso Infinity is a quiet machine perfect for apartment living—the Crew has had neighbors complain about their noisy grinders in the wee hours of the morning. The Infinity will keep the peace. It’s small footprint also squeezes into that extra space on your apartment’s small countertop. Another bonus is that the 8.8-ounce bean hopper is compact and doesn’t stick out from the top of this machine, so it’s easy to clear low cabinets—a renter’s dream!

The Infinity's small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.
The Infinity’s small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.

After grinding up a Chemex’s worth of coffee, it was easy to see that the grounds were sticking everywhere. There’s no anti-static coating on the container, which makes it a bit sticker to remove the grounds. We didn’t lose tons of coffee, but we’d recommend keeping a towel and brush on hand to clean up escapees. The Infinity includes a comically adorable brush—that we upgraded with our Pallo—and scooper to get you started. These are great beginner accessories that we recommend upgrading once you’re using your grinder daily.

Grade

This entry-level grinder is an excellent machine for home brewers looking to make rich and smooth pour over or French press at home. The wide range on the Capresso Infinity offers a lot of grind options, so you’ll be able to dial in and customize your consistency. The Extra Fine and Fine setting on the Infinity, though, don’t quite make the cut for an espresso machine like the Rancilio Silvia M. It doesn’t make consistent enough grounds, so we’ll just tell you now, this grinder isn’t a great match for non-pressurized portafilters. You could use the Infinity with a pressurized portafilter like on the DeLonghi Dedica.

There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you're likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.
There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you’re likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.

Conclusion

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an affordable, entry-level machine. For home brewers emerging into the coffee sphere, the Infinity offers a lot of bang for its buck. Just remember this machine is better suited for Chemex, pour over or a drip coffee maker. If you’re starting your journey with espresso, then you’ll want to pair this grinder with a machine that uses pressurized portafilters. Its compact size will leave plenty of space for an entry-level espresso machine on your coffee bar.

Crew Comparison: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II vs Rocket Appartamento

How Does It Compare?

Crafted from brightly polished stainless steel, both the Rocket Appartamento and Nuova Simonelli Oscar II are beautiful machines we’re torn between—we can’t decide which one we love more! If you’re in the market for a powerful, semi-automatic espresso machine, you’re in the right place. Both machines are built by well-loved manufacturers in the coffee community, so whichever way you go, you’ll have plenty of fellow coffee lovers to show off too!

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.

The main difference between the Oscar II and the Appartamento is control. The Oscar II features programmable shot time buttons, while the Appartamento offers mechanical control over the entire brew process. To that point, the Oscar II has no option to change the factory-set pre-infusion time, unlike the Appartamento’s manual pre-infusion brew lever. The Oscar II, however, is NSF certified! If you’re a small business looking for a fantastic machine, the Oscar II is suitable for a commercial environment and with the two programmable buttons anyone can make delicious espresso.

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II's updated style stunned us! It looks nothing like the first Oscar.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II’s updated style stunned us! It looks nothing like the first Oscar.

Shot

Operating these two heat exchangers feels completely different. The Rocket Appartamento features a manual operation reminiscent of classic lever espresso machines, but we’d call the Appartamento’s style contemporary. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is built with a set pre-infusion time without the option to customize and two programmable buttons—introducing the convenience of a superautomatic. The Oscar II’s programmed by time, not volume, so the consistency of your grind each time will affect the volume of your espresso. For instance, the finer the grind, the slower the flow. While there’s no manual extraction time on the Oscar II you can stop the flow of espresso at any time.

The Oscar II features two time controlled espresso volume.
The Oscar II features two timed controlled espresso volume.

Side-by-side, the Appartamento was slimmer than the Oscar II. It may be small, but its espresso is anything short of spectacular. Designed with the legendary E61 brew head, the Appartamento produces consistently hot shots on par with the rest of the Rocket lineup. The 1.8-liter boiler is the same size as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione V2 and only 0.2-liters smaller than the Oscar II—so the Oscar II has the Appartamento beat there.

Check out that side profile of the legendary E61 brew head.
Check out that side profile of the legendary E61 brew head.

Pro Tip: We recommend pulling seven seconds of hot water to heat the brew head and portafilter, so they don’t cool your shot. Since these are heat exchangers, it’ll also purge warm and stagnant water that’s been sitting in the tube.

Check out that portafilter. The open spouts offer a beautiful view of your espresso.
Check out that portafilter. The open spouts offer a beautiful view of your espresso.

We’re pleased both machines included commercial-grade portafilters. The Appartamento comes with two heavy-duty, stainless steel portafilters, in single and double spout options with interchangeable single and double baskets. The Oscar II features breakaway spouts on their one double spout portafilter with a single or double shot basket (no second portafilter for the Oscar). Rocket included more heavy-duty accessories such as their sleek metal tamper whereas Nuova Simonelli dropped in a plastic guy—not a deal breaker, but we’re more appreciative of Rocket’s thoughtfulness.

Steam

Of course, if you’re considering the Oscar II, you know by now that Nuova Simonelli’s steam power is famous—Barista Championship famous. They’re the official espresso machine for the competition and the proof is in the microfoam. The four hole tip evenly heats milk in all directions while the steam pressure is nice and dry, perfect for incorporating air into the milk. With the Oscar II’s updated 360° rotating ball joint, it’s easy to texture milk at any angle and achieve the ideal foam whether you’re a latte or cappuccino lover. It is a traditional wand, so have a towel on hand to wipe away milk. We’d still call the OScar II an entry-level to a prosumer machine, but the spring-loaded lever makes it difficult to regulate steam pressure.

Hello, steam power.
Hello, steam power.

The Rocket Appartamento, like its other siblings, has an anti-burn traditional steam wand and dedicated hot water spout. Anti-burn doesn’t mean it’s cool to the touch—seriously, use caution—but it’ll help milk from sticking on. Don’t skip wiping down the wand! You’ll still want to purge and clean it like the Oscar II’s wand. We’ll also add that the steam pressure on the Appartamento is powerful and capable of creating beautiful latte art worthy microfoam, however, it’s a lot harder to control. Texturing milk takes practice and practice makes perfect, so don’t give up with either machine.

The iconic Rocket logo and power switch on the front of the Appartamento.
The iconic Rocket logo and power switch on the front of the Appartamento.

Style

Mamma mia! Handcrafted in Italy, each Rocket is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind machine in every box. The Rocket Appartamento introduced big, beautiful and bold dots on the sides and we’re absolutely smitten with the new design! The SCG Crew is, of course, in a heated debate about which color is best—copper or white—and it’s safe to say there’s no ending that topic anytime soon. The colored cutouts correspond with the wide, stout feet on the Appartamento, which are noticeably bigger when you remove the drip tray like an adorable, large-footed puppy. Make no mistake, while the Appartamento’s sized for an apartment, it’s a fierce espresso machine. Its small footprint is packed with commercial-grade features.

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

The updated style of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II has left us starstruck! This famous machine is carved to reflect the light like the futuristic cyborg it reminds us of—Cylon, anyone? The stainless steel casing extends to the front and sides but is replaced in the brew head with a chrome-coated plastic. Still, the curves and edges complement this powerful heat exchanger. Even the less-desirable steam switch sticking out at the top can be overlooked by its new extended steam wand (though we’re still not a big fan).

Conclusion

We’re still torn between the Rocket Appartamento and Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, but it’s easier to decide once you know what you want. If you want 100% control, the Appartamento is your guy. If you love the convenience of a superautomatic, but want to have more control, then you want the Oscar II. Both have updated styles with polished stainless steel that shines like a beacon to your espresso. Their unique style and shape will also make it easy for you to decide on which is best. The Oscar II’s curved edges are nothing like the Appartamento’s boxy body. These two heat exchangers make it hard for a Crew to decide, but you know what, we like options here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We’re curious what you guys think about the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and Rocket Appartamento—drop us a comment and tell us which one you’re leaning towards. Also, don’t forget to tell us if you like the Appartamento in copper or whitewe’ve got a debate to settle.

Crew Review: Jura Z6

How Does It Compare?

The Jura Z6 comes with all the convenience you crave from a superautomatic plus new features that we’re excited to share. One of the newest features in the Z6 is Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) that pulses during the brewing cycle for espresso and specialty coffees to strengthen the flavor and intensity. You’re probably wondering if it works. Superautomatic owners know that they sacrifice quality espresso for convenience. Enter the Z6’s solution: P.E.P.  and we’re totally onboard with this new addition.

The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.
The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.

Jura also didn’t neglect us latte lovers out there. The Z6’s updated  milk temperature and milk foam temperature system can now select the temperature up to 10 levels with level one being the coolest temperature. Previous models haven’t come with a milk carafe and the Z6 is no different. However, Jura updated their cleaning system and it’s definitely one of our favorite hidden updates! The Z6 comes with a kit full of goodies, including a handy container for cleaning. Use this container with the cleaning solution to rinse out the milk hoses and you’re ready to store away—thank you, Jura!

Shot

Let’s dive more into the newly introduced P.E.P. system. The Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) optimizes the extraction time to increase the strength of espresso or specialty coffees like ristretto. Check it out for yourself—listen to it pulse at 5:45. Jura’s well-known for the exceptional strong espresso thanks to their machines dosing more grams per shot. With the new P.E.P. brewing alongside their preprogrammed dosage, it has only benefited the strength and flavor of their coffee. You can also adjust the bean strength—the number of grams added per shot—and grind setting to dial in the perfect extraction time for your coffee. Our taste-tester, Gail, took the new P.E.P. for a spin and yeah, the coffee is definitely full of flavor! Bonus: The crema on our espresso was thick and beautiful.

Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.
Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.

We’re pleased the Jura Z6 features a front-facing digital screen with easy-to-use buttons to select our choice. Choose from over 12 preprogrammed drink options and set your top six favorite drinks in the main menu. If you want to get into the whole menu, on the top right corner there is a dial that you spin for more drinks—iPod, anyone? To customize your drink preferences and locate other options such as auto-on time, press the circle button of the dial to access advanced settings such as “Expert Mode.” This is where you can also create your top six drinks that are saved to the home screen for easy access.

Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.
Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.

Equipped with an 81-ounce water tank and 9.9-ounce bean hopper, the Z6 has enough fuel to keep you fueled all morning long. The hopper features a tinted lid and rubber gasket for the freshest beans, which is great if you store beans in the hopper overnight—and hey, why wouldn’t you with the auto-on feature? The adjustable brew head slides up and down to maximize up clearance, which at the max is six inches tall. That’s enough space for a travel mug—unless you’re like us and your travel mug is more like the whole coffee pot. The brew head spouts also swing in and out (about two inches wide) to brew for a single or double portion.

Steam

We’ve heard the concern before from coffee lovers that they’re hesitant about taking home a superautomatics because of the frothing capabilities. Jura Z6 dashed those doubts with the upgraded programmable milk temperature and milk foam temperature settings. You can finally customize the temperature of your cappuccino foam! The temperature scale for the milk is set from one to ten—about a 22-degree difference—so we recommend trying one temperature settings at a time. The Z6’s additional temperature controls make getting your ideal temperature on milk-based drinks achievable.

The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.
The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.

As we mentioned earlier, one of our favorite features is the updated maintenance options. Before, you could clean the milk system, but there was never a dedicated spot to insert the milk hose. The Z6 comes with a handy little kit filled with maintenance goodies such as a fitted container for cleaning. Once you’re in the “Clean the milk system” setting, it’ll walk you through how to properly assemble the cleaning system. Start the program and watch it as it makes your machine squeaky clean!

Hello, swimming pool! The Z6 has a 81-ounce water reservoir.

Our only complaint is that the Z6 doesn’t come with a carafe. The hose features a fitted in to insert into one of Jura’s carafe (sold separately). If you don’t own a Jura carafe, the hose is placed into a container of your choice. We get our milk by the gallon here at SCG so that small hose can’t reach the bottom of the jug. We also appreciate a complete set and the stainless steel Jura carafe looks really nice up against the Z6’s aluminum front.

Style

The soft sheen of the aluminum casing makes the Jura Z6 stand out amongst superautomatics. The texture-rich front gives the Jura that expensive look you want in a smart one-touch superautomatic. Sure, the water tank and sides are plastic, but this machine’s sleek, futuristic style outshines the rest. The drip tray is also a heavy metal—perfect for standing up to ceramic mugs and cleaning—and under the Z6’s built-in light system, it sparkles. Yes, you read that right, the Z6 features a built-in light system under the brew head and in the water tank. You can turn it off and on, but when it’s on the reflection in the water give it that futuristic flair.

The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.
The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.

The Z6, unfortunately, is not designed to go under your cabinet. The power button is located in the far back next to the bypass doser and grinder setting. The Z6 has a large footprint and at 14.5 inches tall, it might be too snug under a cabinet anyway. Fortunately, the soft aluminum casing extends to the top and can stand alone on an open countertop. If you purchase the Z6, check out the manual and other printed goodies they send you home with. The futuristic space theme style on the machine is reflected in their beautiful printed goodies.

The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.
The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.

The Z6 features a front-facing screen that is navigated by the six side buttons or dial in the top right corner. The retro iPod-inspired dial makes navigating easy enough, but it can be frustrating if you spin the wheel to fast and miss your mark. Once you get a feel for the responsiveness of the dial, it’s easy to pick up. The digital screen features pictures and labels for each drink and action and is incredibly intuitive to make selections. When you’re not spinning the wheel, the menu defaults to your six favorite drinks, which you can select through the center dial.

Conclusion

The Jura Z6 improved P.E.P. brewing system and milk and milk foam temperature controls have made it easy for latte lovers to achieve that barista-quality espresso at home. And with its roomy water reservoir and bean hopper, it’s easy for  home brewers to make cup after cup. This one-touch superautomatic comes equipped with all the automatic maintenance tips you’ll need to upkeep the Z6 and we’re pleased with our updated milk cleaning system. The Jura Z6’s upgrades have improved the overall quality of coffee and milk temperature and we’re excited to use it more.

Crew Comparison: Jura A9 vs Miele CM6310

How Does It Compare?

Jura’s well-known for their strong espresso produced from their machines, so we knew we needed to put the Jura A9 up against a comparable superautomatic, the Miele CM6310. The A9, as with most Jura models, have more grams per shot than other superautomatics. However, the Miele’s first espresso shot was hot and rich in flavor, giving the Jura a run for its money. Jura’s also well-respected for the durability of their products, so when the Miele’s built-in rinse cycles kicked in before and after brewing we knew the Miele and Jura face-off was going to be a great comparison.

The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
We love the clean face of the Jura A9.
We love the clean face of the Jura A9.

Shot

The Miele CM6310 comes equipped with a 60.8-ounce water tank and 16.9-ounce bean hopper—that’s over a pound of beans, coffee friends—that can make lattes and cappuccinos for days. The Jura A9 has a smaller tank at 37.2-ounce and a 4.4-ounce bean hopper, but that’s about a quarter pound of beans and plenty to get multiple cups of coffee. Of course, we know Jura’s strong espresso is thanks to the build of their machines that adds more grams of coffee per shot, so we can expect to go through coffee quicker. That said, in a side-by-side taste test between the Jura A9 and the Miele CM6310, we thought both flavors were exceptional for a superautomatic with the Jura A9 only slightly stronger.

Jura is known for serving more grams of coffee per shot, so we weren't surprised by the strength of our espresso.
Jura is known for serving more grams of coffee per shot, so we weren’t surprised by the strength of our espresso.

On the Jura, there’s no access to the brew group, which we’ve seen featured with competitors like Saeco, DeLonghi and Miele. Jura durability and impressive automatic maintenance mean less work for you, coffee lovers. If you’re thinking about cozying the Miele up against appliances, you’re going to want to measure the space first. The Miele’s brew group is accessed behind a door on the right side of the machine along with the grind setting, which can be a hindrance if you want to dial in your grind to make the most of your coffee. Jura’s grind dial is easily accessed on the top of the machine alongside the touchscreen display.

The Miele's right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.
The Miele’s right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.

Both superautomatics are true one-touch machines that’ll whip up a latte or espresso straight into your cup. Both feature digital displays that are smooth to navigate and make selecting and customizing your drink preferences effortless. We’ll dive into the aesthetics of the displays later, however, grabbing a cup on the Miele CM6310 is completely different from the Jura A9. Miele features intuitive icons on the front of the machine with an LCD screen for other drink options. The A9 features an LCD touchscreen that you scroll through to select one of their many drink options, including two new coffee selections called the latte macchiato doppio and cappuccino doppio. 

Steam

Latte macchiato, anyone? No problem! These one-touch superautos will froth up the perfect milk for a latte or even hot chocolate. Getting that right milk texture with a superautomatic is tough to come by, so we did a subjective test to see just how different these two would perform. The density of the foam looked a bit better on the Jura A9—perfect for a cappuccino! When we tested the temperature—using Gail’s as our thermometer—it was clear the Miele outdid the Jura A9. The temperature on the Miele is something we noted when we first introduced this machine to our line up. We’re glad it was able to stand up against other superautomatics that have been around longer.

The Miele CM6310 comes with a stainless steel carafe to store and keep milk cool.
The Miele CM6310 comes with a stainless steel carafe to store and keep milk cool.

Equipped with a stainless steel thermal carafe, the Miele’s steaming accessories get the thumbs up from us. The Miele also comes with a second hose to directly siphon milk from a container, if you wish. Now that’s smart thinking. The second hose is also stored away next to the brew group. The Jura A9 only has the option to use the hose in an outside container, so you could use a frothing pitcher or milk carton, but either way, it’s less convenient than the Miele.

The Jura A9 features a 37.2-ounce reservoir.
The Jura A9 features a 37.2-ounce reservoir.

Another feature we noticed is the Miele CM6310 performs an automatic “rinse milk pipework” cycle that thoroughly cleans the hoses. The hoses come with a nozzle that’s inserted into the drip tray during cleaning where it then flushes out any lingering milk—thank you, Miele! The Jura A9, however, doesn’t have the option to clean the hoses, which means you’re responsible for rinsing it. If you’ve ever cleaned a straw, you know just how annoying it is to clean and with milk, you don’t want leftovers curdling in your machine. We think it’s safe to say that the steaming and maintenance features on the Miele CM6310 definitely won us over.

Style

The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele's brew group.
The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele’s brew group.

It’s not often we see a full touchscreen option on espresso machines and it’s even less often that they work so well. The Jura A9’s touchscreen flawlessly scrolls with no long delays and features intuitive pictures and names of drinks. Perhaps the one downside of the Miele’s icons is that there are no names associated with them, so it’s likely you’ll need to consult the manual the first time. The Miele also has a screen but it’s navigated by buttons off to the right side. Once you get a feel for the Miele, the icons are intuitive to the functionality and we didn’t have a problem customizing our favorite drinks.

The Jura A9 features a touchscreen that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

The Jura A9 features a touchscreen that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

Measuring in at 17.25 inches deep, the Jura A9 is surprisingly longer than the Miele by half an inch. However, the Miele is wider and taller than the Jura A9 and looking at them straight up that extra width makes the Miele appear larger. If you’re thinking about placing one of these under a cabinet, the height and depth on the A9 benefit the use of this machine since the touchscreen is located on top. While the Jura A9 has a clean face, we frankly would have preferred the touchscreen front and center and easier to access—we got tired of craning our necks just to pick out a drink. Depending on your cabinet height and depth, you might not be able to access the Jura’s interface. So while we applaud to Jura A9’s smaller footprint, there’s a lot to consider when fitting it into your home. The Miele’s got a large footprint, too, but fortunately, you only need a couple inches on top to remove the water tank and about a foot of space on the right side for the brew group, extra milk hose and grind settings.

The Jura A9's footprint is a bit smaller than the Miele CM6310.
The Jura A9’s footprint is a bit smaller than the Miele CM6310.

Conclusion

Both superautomatics are ergonomically designed with sleek edges to make the most of their larger footprint. The Jura A9’s intuitive touchscreen was probably the highlight of the machine style and we’re disappointed that it wasn’t easier on our necks to look at—perhaps this is a machine for us taller folk? Without a doubt, we were impressed that both machine’s delivered excellent, hot and smooth espresso for a superautomatic. However, the Miele CM6310 outshined the competition with it’s incredible pipe cleaning system and overall hotter milk temperature. If you’re going to be mostly drinking milk-based drinks, we would recommend the Miele because of its performance and convenient features.

Crew Review: Miele CM6310

How Does It Compare?

Say hello to the Miele CM6310. Miele’s new to our product line up and we’re impressed with it’s convenient and customizable features for a superautomatic machine. Compared to some long-time favorites, like the Saeco Gran Baristo, the Miele CM6310 will give superautomatics a run for their money. The Miele CM6310 retails under competitors like the Gran Baristo without sacrificing a lot of those features necessary for early morning risers. The Miele offers four user profiles with the ability to customize every drink under that profile. The Gran Baristo offers six profiles and customization. The other noticeable difference is the Miele’s detached carafe. While not the most elegant integration, you can store the carafe in the fridge or the Miele has a second milk hose to insert into your own container. If you’re not itching for more profiles and are looking at a smaller price tag, the Miele will fit the bill.

The Miele CM6310's streamlined design complements modern kitchens.
The Miele CM6310’s streamlined design complements modern kitchens.

Shot

The Miele CM6310’s one-touch intuitive interface makes grabbing a quick cup of coffee or latte a snap. At first, you might be turned away from the unlabeled icons, but quickly consult the manual and it’s easy to see the function of these intuitive symbols. For instance, the “My Profile” icon is a person. Press the icon and the LCD screen displays up to four profiles and options to customize drinks. Customize the pre-infusion time, temperature or volume for each one of your favorite drinks and save it for next time under your profile. Adjust the strength of your coffee using the coffee strength icon (a bean symbol that we see used in other superautomatics) and grind setting. The grind setting is located inside the machine, so you’ll need to keep the right side clear to access. But once you’ve dialed in your grind, just simply enter your profile, choose your favorite drink and watch the Miele pour you a tall glass of goodness. Hello, convenience in a cup.

Miele_espresso
The Miele CM6310 offers a double portion button to make two drink in one go.

The convenience of the interface doesn’t outshine the coffee either. With all the available customization, it’s easy to perfect your cup to your taste. We left the factory settings alone and were more than impressed with our first cup. Our first espresso shot was hot, smooth and full of flavor. And when we wanted a latte, we got a latte. The carafe system directly siphons milk into the brew headwhere it’s frothed. Like with most superautomatics, it brews and steams one at a time and our freshly steamed milk didn’t lose temperature before our espresso made it in the cup—color us impressed.

Don't be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.
Don’t be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.

The Miele features a double portion button that brews two drinks at once. Press the double portions button and then pick your favorite drink and watch it whip up one for you…and one for you later. Unlike other superautomatics, the milk is siphoned through the brew h where it’s dispensed through the same two spouts as the espresso, which creates the two portions. Along with your lattes and cappuccinos, the Miele has a dedicated hot water spout and menu options such as hot water or hot milk. Grab a hot chocolate for the kids or make yourself a cup of tea, the Miele’s got plenty of options for the whole crew.

Steam

The Miele’s milk frothing system won’t disappoint latte and cappuccino lovers. The stainless steel thermal carafe keeps milk cool for a long time and easily stores in the fridge when you’re finished. It attaches to a hose system that draws cool milk up to the brew he where it’s then steamed. With all superautomatics, the texture and froth are hard to come by, and we found the Miele’s performance to be right there with some of the best superautomatics. The first sip of our latte, even after waiting for the espresso, was still hot, but not hot enough to burn your tongue. Of course, with all the customization, you can adjust the milk temperature for piping hot milk. At the factory setting, we were impressed by the temperature of our latte.

Pro Tip: The Miele CM6310 features an active cup warmer that can be turned on under the settings. Preheat your cups before brewing to maintain the best temperature from your milk and espresso.

The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn't lose temperature.
The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn’t lose temperature.

One of the things we disliked about the Miele is the aesthetics of the carafe off to the side. We’ve seen this design with Jura’s superautomatics and this style has its pros and cons. Along with the carafe, the Miele includes a second hose to insert directly into containers like a milk carton. All those hoses hanging off are unsightly and if you’ve ever cleaned a straw, cleaning a rubber hose is just as difficult. Luckily, Miele has created a solution to that dilemma with the “rinse milk pipework” feature and a steel rod that’s inserted into the hoses. To clean the carafe, remove the nozzle from the carafe and insert it into the drip tray—a handy feature we definitely appreciated after steaming multiple lattes.

The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele's brew group.
The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele’s brew h.

Style

The Miele CM6310’s sleek design features an intuitive LCD display that shows off its modern style. The Miele features an automatic timer that you can program to turn on in the morning and turn off when you’re headed out the door. It also includes an Eco Mode to reserve energy while it’s in use, although this does turn off some features like the cup warmer. The black and silver body, while plastic, has a beautiful sheen that’s clean and complements the streamlined, square structure. The adjustable brew h easily moves up or down for better cup clearance and the stainless steel drip tray created a sturdy platform for cups that sparkled under the built-in lights.

The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew h to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.

Bonus: The brew he comes apart to easily access the spouts so you can clean them of coffee oils or milk when you need too. Of course, the cleaning system on the Miele is so thorough, that we barely need to give cleaning a second thought. Before and after brewing the Miele automatically performs a rinse in the spouts. Also, after frothing, it prompts the “rinse milk pipework” cycle. The descriptive instructions make it easy to maintain this machine, so if you’re prone to forget to clean your machine, the Miele’s got you covered.

The Miele's right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.
The Miele’s right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.

Measuring at 10 inches wide by 16.75 inches deep and 14.12 inches tall, the Miele CM6310 large footprint makes it challenging to fit on a small countertop. We took it home and cleared the bottom of the cabinet with ease. If you want to access the grind settings, though, you’ll need to keep the right side door clear or be willing to muscle it out from the counter—the door is nearly as deep as the machine. Depending on the number of appliances on your counter, we had no problem keeping it clear in case we needed to open it up. The water tank is removed from the top of the machine, but fortunately, you need only a couple inches of clearance to remove the tank from the rails that guide it into place. We recommend measuring your cabinet clearance when you’re finding the Miele a home on your counter and if you have space, the Miele’s a perfect companion for coffee lovers.

Conclusion

With up to four profiles that can save individual’s drink preferences, the Miele CM6310 is the perfect machine for the family or small office. It’s packed with tons of convenient features such as the double brew option that will make two portions at the touch of a button. This one-touch superautomatic does all the heavy lifting and doesn’t disappoint our taste buds. We made a handful of lattes and cappuccinos and were impressed with how hot our drinks were between brewing. Even using the double portion option, we noticed the drinks didn’t cool too much. While the Miele is loaded with tons of features, the large footprint could make it a difficult espresso machine to fit onto a counter. But if you have the counter space, the Miele CM6310’s one-touch technology and customizable features will have you enjoying lattes in no time. 

Crew Comparison: Chemex Ottomatic vs Ratio Eight Edition

How Does It Compare?

Everyone’s talking about the Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker and Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker, so we naturally have a Crew Comparison for you today! What’s all the buzz with these new coffee makers? These machines are a marriage of automatic drip and traditional pour over technique in a new brew method we’re calling automatic pour over. Both machines pre-infuse coffee and allow the grounds to bloom as you’d do for pour over making both a new class of brewer.

Ratio_Side
The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker features premium maple, borosilicate glass and aluminum casing to create one elegant machine.

One of the most debated topics we’ve seen between the Chemex Ottomatic and the Ratio Eight Edition is about plastic. We know the plastic debate is a big one in the coffee community and we hate to disappoint, but the Ratio Eight Edition does feature an internal plastic component. Before you stop reading this—we know some of you are die-hard no plastic fans—there’s a good reason for the component to be plastic. Plastic performs better when heated. Under the website’s FAQ section, Ratio mentions it is “FDA-grade silicone and a single BPA-free plastic component are used internally.” It’s clear that Ratio is dedicated to creating a high-quality product that people desire.

ChemexOtto_1
Hello, Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker, you’re looking nice with an aluminum glow and matte sheen.

Brew

Both machine feature shower heads to evenly wet grounds for optimal extraction. The pulsing brew system allows grounds to bloom and rest before showering again. Back to our plastic debate, the Chemex Ottomatic is built with a plastic shower head whereas the Ratio Eight Edition is stainless steel. However, Chemex’s high-quality craftsmanship is not lost. The iconic hourglass carafe wrapped with the beautiful wood and leather tie sits delicately on the Ottomatic. The Ratio Eight Edition’s carafe is hand-turned from a heat-resistant glass as is the Chemex so both will withstand the heat.

ChemexOtto_4
The Ottomatic’s shower head thoroughly wets ground to create even extraction.

Built with 40-ounce reservoirs, the Ratio and Ottomatic clock in at about seven minutes with a full tank. Ratio only offers one size carafe but we could totally fit any Chemex from a 3 to 8-cup carafe! If you wanted, you could squeeze your 10-cup under there, but remember the reservoir holds 40-ounce. Also, just so you don’t make the same mistake as we did, the Ottomatic comes with a 6-cup carafe, so don’t be overfilling your reservoir, if you like your coffee in the pot and not on your shoes. Fortunately, Chemex added intuitive markers to show the different water lines in cups.

Ratio_water
The 40-ounce reservoir holds enough water to fill the Ratio’s glass carafe.

Brains

Staying true to their automatic nature, the Ottomatic and Eight Edition perform all the handy work of pour over. Turn them on and let them brew! You can watch the lights on the Ratio as it takes your coffee from “Bloom” to “Brew,” which is a nice feature on an uncluttered interface. Both machines are incredible user-friendly since both only need to be turned on to start brewing. Oh! We should mention you can’t brew with the Ratio without their specially designed carafe. Ratio included a magnetic that engages the brew unit so you’ll never miss the pot again—keeping the coffee of your shoes.

Ratio_buttons
The Ratio features three icons with a soft white light to indicate the current brewing stage.

When the brew is done and the pot’s full of piping hot coffee, that when you’ll notice the machines start to differentiate. The Ratio Eight Edition automatically shuts off and a cool, white light shines above the “Ready” icon. Connoisseurs will enjoy the fresh and never overheated pot from the Ratio, but what about us busy folk? The Chemex includes a heating element to keep the coffee piping hot all day long—literally. The one downside to this convenient feature is it doesn’t include an auto-off functionality, which completely mystifies us since the Ottomatic has other tech-savvy qualities. The Chemex’s famous high-quality heat-resistant glass offers extra assurance if you leave it for a couple of hours, but just like your kitchen oven, don’t forget to turn the Ottomatic off when you’re done.

ChemexOtto_3
The red light indicates that the Ottomatic is done brewing and is engaged in heating the hot plate.

Beauty

Easy on the eyes, both machines are a beautiful addition to a home brewer’s kitchen. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker is another elegant creation. It’s meant to be placed front and center in your kitchen and not hid between the pantry and plastic microwave. That’s where these two machines differ—the Ratio is built with premium hardwood accents, smooth aluminum body and borosilicate glass reservoir and carafe. The Ottomatic features aluminum design, but the shower head, body and water reservoir are made of plastic. The Chemex Ottomatic deserves love for its modern style, iconic carafe and lower price point—we often see the price as a hindrance when comparing machines, but in this instance, the plastic components compensate buyers.

Ratio_brew
The light creates a soft glow on the aluminum brew head.

The iconic Chemex carafe is a staple of many home brewers and if it’s not already in your home, just look up #chemex in Instagram—you’ll quickly snag one of those elegant carafes. Chemex had to create an equally stunning machine for to match with their carafe and we think they hit the nail on the head. Crafted with a soft aluminum sheen and matte black, the Ottomatic is a sophisticated looking machine. Its sleek design smoothly integrates with the countertop and the salt and pepper look complements modern kitchen appliances.

ChemexOtto_5
The Chemex Ottomatic comes with the 6-cup iconic carafe.

Thinking about the Ratio again, one thing we’ll add: The Ratio is designed to be the centerpiece of your dining room table like a family brunch. But trying to look over it will prove a bit challenging. It’s a massive machine that’ll quickly become the focal point in any room. With light maple wood arms and aluminum casing that glow beneath the chandeliers—people still have chandeliers, right—so we’re OK with it’s larger build. The Ottomatic’s smaller footprint and oblong shape are reminiscent of a Technivorm that could be placed lengthways against the wall or pulled out. Its style and size will easily incorporate into home brewers kitchen.

Conclusion

Side-by-side you couldn’t go wrong with either of these machines. Preferences in style and material will likely be the determining factor when choosing between these two. Glancing at the Ratio Eight Edition, the attention to detail, such as the two chambers in the reservoir that siphon water, is a testament to Ratio’s craftsmanship for coffee. The Chemex is there with Ratio with their iconic carafe that’s lasted through the ages. The recognizable hourglass shape and homey wood and leather tie create a look that’ll always be relevant. Whether you choose the Ratio or Chemex, if you’re looking for this new wave of automatic pour over coffee makers, we highly recommend either.

Fresca Coffee Recipe

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.

Equipment:

Brew Method: Inverted AeroPress

Ingredients

  • 30 grams coffee
  • 200 grams Fresca or Sprite
  • 100 grams ice
  • 100 grams water
  • 2 lime wedges
  1. Heat water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grind coffee into table salt-sized or medium fine grounds. Turn the AeroPress upside down with the plunger in and add 30 grams of coffee.
  3. Add water to AeroPress and brew for one minute.
  4. While you’re brewing, add 100 grams of ice to your glass and then pour cold Fresca on top.
  5. Squeeze two lime wedges into the glass and if you’re feeling fancy, stick a couple of wedges to the side of the glass.
  6. Plunge the AeroPress over the glass with Fresca—don’t miss the show! The coffee creates beautiful swirls.
  7. Stir the coffee into the Fresca and take a big sip—I told you to trust us! It’s perfect for summer.