When is it time to say when? We’re often asked where the portafilter should be in respect to the machine — at a 90 degree angle? 45 degree? A little over to the right? Every machine will be a little bit different and the key is to make sure that it feels snug. Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll move it further as the gasket ages.
Watch as Gail demonstrates the position on several of our demo machines of varying style and age.
You know we are so focused on cleanliness, baby! In addition to descaling, backflushing and washing all your gear regularly, cleaning around the brew head and keeping the gasket free of coffee residue will ensure an effective seal with the portafilter — and a better shot in the end.
If you have a machine with a 58mm brew head, check out this snazzy little brush by Cafelat. It locks into the brew head and makes short work of your maintenance.
Nespresso’s proprietary capsules are made out of aluminum, and we have been often asked if they are recyclable. Well, yes, once you get the coffee out of them. Instead of struggling with cutting them open, you can pick up this gadget which easily separates the coffee from the aluminum — send one half to the recycle bin and the other to the compost pile!
Watch as Gail demonstrates how easily — and strangely satisfying — it is to use the Outpresso.
In our regularly rotated set of roasted-to-order single origins, we’ve had a few popular superstars. Last week, we swapped out the three previously featured beans with a new set that are delicious as espresso, pour over and even drip coffee, if that’s what floats your caffeinated boat. We’re now featuring a bright Mexico Nayarita (which just received a 90/100 from Coffee Review), a chocolatey Brazil Pico Agudo Estate and pink grapefruit-imbued El Salvador Pacamara.
Velton came up for a visit and pulled these three new varieties as espresso so we could see how they compare. Delish!
Last week, Joe Monahan and Jack Kuo of La Marzocco were kind enough to talk with this about their new, highly-precise basket — currently dubbed the Strada (after their cutting edge pressure profiling machines). Watch as they explain the theory behind it, why they wanted to build a better basket and the calibration process itself. The goal? Increase consistency in extraction, of course! These 58mm baskets will be available shortly.
Our next round of Krups testing features two espresso machines — one is a pump driven model and the other is steam driven.
We were pleasantly surprised by this little automatic — it has a unique portafilter design, pre-infusion and an automatic cooling cycle between steam and brew. We didn’t like that it has an aluminum boiler, but it’s one of the few automatic/programmable machines under $300. Because of its surprising, unique features and it’s price, we’ll be adding it to our line-up.
This steam machine is pretty standard and was nothing really to write home about. Performs well, makes suitable stovetop-like coffee and has powerful steam. It didn’t offer anything unique over the steam driven machine we already carry (Capresso’s 4-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino machine), so we opted not to carry it.
Awhile ago, we stored some beans in their original roaster bags in the freezer, then we pulled shots with them. The taste of freezer burn was so distinct, however, it was hard for us to recommend folks store their coffee this way. That video raised that hackles of many a folk (which we were very surprised to hear!) and we received a lot of feedback regarding ways in which they stored their beans in the freezer to ensure they still retained good flavor. So we tried three different variations recommended, two different freezers and two different grinders to see if any of them provided good results.
Watch as Gail goes through testing these different storage methods.
We went on a Capresso testing spree last week as we tried out some new products we’re bringing in to the store.
First up, the Perfect Tea, which enables you to boil water to a specific temperature:
Next is the H20Pro Kettle, which also enables you to boil water to a specific temperature, but also provides a holding temp option and a rapid boil duration option (if you want to dissipate chlorine in your water):
Finally, the simple, straight forward CM200 drip coffee maker:
We love this little workhorse, but one of the baddest raps she gets is in regard to her temperature instability. It’s the way the cookie crumbles when you’re working with a small single boiler using a bi-metal thermostat to manage its temp. Folks have been tricking out their Silvias pretty much since day one, and the most popular modification is to add a PID, which will maintain the boiler’s temperature within one degree of a setpoint you select. We tested several models and finally settled on these by Auber, which you can pick up and install on your own or add during purchase and have us install for you before the machine leaves our warehouse.
Watch Gail talk about what a PID is and walk us through its functionality. These will be available for sale within the next couple of weeks.
We’ve got a couple new kids on the block! Nuova Simonelli, purveyors of world-class espresso machines (and the models used in the World Barista Championship competitions) has two semi-professional machines designed for exuberant home espresso lovers or smaller commercial applications. Both of these machines are NSF-rated and are available in either direct plumbed or pour over (reservoir) models.
First up, the Musica. This gorgeous heat exchanger has two different trim options — black, as featured in the review video, or lux, which is lighted — and can be programmed for automatic volumetric dosing or used as a semi-automatic if you prefer to be a little more hands-on. Excellent steaming function and commercial-class components make this a definite contender when you’re considering which higher end espresso machine is right for your home. It is a bit on the tall side, but it’s so delectably designed you won’t want to hide it away underneath cupboards, we promise!
Next is the Oscar, a simple, straight forward and easy to use heat exchange with a highly attractive price. While that may be the only attractive thing about it, the Oscar will definitely get the job done and if you don’t want to spend a small fortune on your home espresso equipment but are looking for great results, the extraction and steam functionality is excellent. This is also a great choice for professional applications that require some mobility, as it’s lightweight and easy to move around, but will still afford you commercial-quality espresso drinks.