Crew Comparison: Breville Duo-Temp Pro vs Infuser

How Does It Compare?

No, you’re not seeing double! It’s the Breville Duo-Temp Pro and the Breville Infuser. These are Breville’s entry-level machines, but don’t let that dissuade you, these models knock our socks off! While these two semi-automatics stack up well against each other, the amount of features and customization is what distinguishes them apart. Both have a built-in PID control to monitor the boiler temperature, but the Infuser features a programmable PID, which gives you more control over your espresso. The most noticeable difference between the two, of course, is the interface. The Infuser features programmable espresso buttons and that iconic pressure gauge that shows you what’s happening in the boiler. The Duo-Temp Pro takes a different approach with a clean interface and one turn-knob to control every aspect of your espresso. We’ll say, even though there’s no programming, it’s incredibly easy to use and packed with a lot of the same features as the Infuser! Both of these machines are superb choices for entry-level or even advanced baristas. We’ll give them a once-over to find which one’s right for you.

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.
The Breville Infuser features two programmable buttons and internal PID.
The Breville Infuser features two programmable buttons and internal PID.

Shot

Equipped with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets, the Breville Duo-Temp Pro and Breville Infuser make the perfect companion to anyone looking to hone their skills. If you’re just starting on your journey with espresso, the pressurized portafilter will extract espresso when it’s at the right pressure. That means for you, coffee friends, that if you’re still learning how to dial in your grind, the Breville’s got your back. Both come equipped with a 61-ounce water tank, 54mm portafilter, magnetic tamper and maintenance accessories to get you started.

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 real differences emerge with the Infuser’s advanced features. The Infuser has an electronic PID that you adjust the temperature up or down two and four degrees from the factory default to increase temperature stability. Since there’s no visible temperature display, you’ll have to trust that it’s at your desired temperature. And, just to be clear, the Duo-Temp Pro has a PID! You just can’t adjust the temperature.

The Infuser comes with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets in single and double sizes.
The Infuser comes with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets in single and double sizes.

Another difference in the Infuser has a single and double shot programmable button. This is, of course, always a great feature to have! It helps maintain consistency when you use the same grind. That does mean, however, that when you switch beans or grind, you might need to dial in the espresso shot time again. The Duo-Temp Pro’s turn-knob offers quick and convenient coffee that you can adjust on the fly. For beginning baristas, the Duo-Temp Pro’s manual controls offer the experience of learning extraction time with every shot pulled.

Steam

Even with these differences, both semi-automatics have all the features that count. The integrated PID maintains the thermocoil for increased temperature stability and makes steaming on the fly more consistent than other machines we’ve tested. Both the Breville Duo-Temp and Infuser take a good minute or two to heat up before we can start steaming. With thermocoils and thermoblocks, it takes a while for the steam to kick into full power. So we recommend turning on the steam and letting it run for a while to get to full temperature. We appreciate the slow progression of steam power for entry-level baristas since it allows more time to learn to aerate your milk. If advanced baristas have the patience, they’ll be able to texture milk on par with most cafés.

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

And, both machines have a traditional steam wand and auto-purge to instantly switch from steaming to brewing. Yes—even the Duo-Temp Pro, Breville’s youngest entry-level machine, has this convenient feature! Built-in auto-purge is one of our favorite features because it means we get our cup of coffee faster. Both machines will purge after you’re finished steaming and return the selector knob to its starting position.

The Infuser uses a turn style knob for steam or hot water.
The Infuser uses a turn style knob for steam or hot water.

The Infuser also has a dedicated hot water spout for people who love an Americano or want hot water for hot chocolate. The Duo-Temp Pro has a button to switch between steam and hot water, but it comes out of the steam wand at a slow and steady stream. We don’t think it’s a deal breaker for the Duo-Temp Pro, but it’s not the quickest way to get hot water.

Style

We find ourselves taking a double take when we have the Breville lineup altogether. Encased in brushed stainless steel, it’s a fairly common style we see in many kitchen appliances. It’s a style that appeals to everyone and transitions well if you remodel or move. The clean-cut look also complements Breville’s dedication to creating a user-friendly experience. Breville shines at developing intuitive buttons and a sleek interface. The stainless steel buttons feel sturdy under our fingers and are the exact same buttons found on their higher-end models.

The Infuser features stainless steel button that have lit ring that turn on when in use.
The Infuser features stainless steel buttons that have lit ring around each that turns on when in use.

The Infuser, of course, has a different look than the Duo-Temp Pro with more buttons and a pressure gauge. We sort of love the iconic pressure gauge and miss it on the Duo-Temp Pro. That said, the one style point we’re not a fan of is that the Duo-Temp Pro has the turn knob on the front, which is completely different from the rest of the Breville lineup. This style of knob is also found on the Infuser next to the steam wand, but we like it better out of sight.

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

Conclusion

If you’re currently trying to choose between Breville models, then good luck to you—Ok, we kid. Breville includes the best basics in each model and then increases the advanced features to make every machine a little more unique. The Breville Duo-Temp Pro is the newest and most basic model currently, but it’s certainly not lacking in capabilities. With some patience, we’re able to produce latte-worthy milk. The Breville Infuser is on par with steam power, but features a programmable PID and two espresso shot time buttons that allow even more control over your espresso. Between you and us, deciding between the two is difficult. So, which one would you take home? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Crew Review: Saeco Intelia Deluxe

How Does It Compare?

Currently brewing in the Crew’s kitchen is just one of Saeco’s many superautomatics—the Saeco Intelia Deluxe. Equipped with programmable espresso, a tactile button interface and a cappuccinatore attachment, the Intelia Deluxe is built to simplify making great coffee at home. What’s the cappuccinatore, you ask? It’s an automatic milk frother that’s featured on the Intelia Deluxe’s steam wand stem. The cappuccinatore is interchangeable with Saeco’s line of panarello steam wands—there’s black, stainless steel—offering more ways to customize your machine. Compared to other superautomatics, like the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino (don’t let the names confuse you, the Intelia’s are different models), you have fewer options to customize your steam wand. The Deluxe Cappuccino, for instance, only has a carafe. We’ve heard a lot of home brewers aren’t a fan of the milk temperature that the carafes produce.

The Saeco Intelia Deluxe comes with an interchangeable cappuccinatore that can be replaced with Saeco's panarellos.
The Saeco Intelia Deluxe comes with an interchangeable cappuccinatore that can be replaced with Saeco’s panarellos.

Shot

With superautomatic espresso machines, the name of the game is simplicity and the Saeco Intelia Deluxe doesn’t disappoint! It features a dedicated espresso and lungo button with programmable shot time. To program, simply press and hold the button you want to program and release when you have the desired volume (just remember it’s time-based). The Intelia Deluxe also allows you to customize coffee temperature and water hardness to help you determine when it’ll need maintenance—keeping your espresso tasting fresh.

The Intelia Deluxe features a user-friendly interface.
The Intelia Deluxe features a user-friendly interface.

If your coffee is a little lackluster, the Intelia also has an adjustable coffee strength (from one to five) and grinder settings (from one to 10). It’s also equipped with ceramic burr grinders that retain less heat so you can continue to pull shot after shot without burning your beans. And with that whopping 10.5-ounce bean hopper and 53-ounce water reservoir, why wouldn’t you make multiple cups?

The bean hopper holds 10.5-ounces of beans!
The bean hopper holds 10.5-ounces of beans!

Steam

We know what you’re thinking, “Where’s the cappuccino button?” Well, there isn’t one and that’s actually better for you, coffee friends. With the panarello add-on, you can use the Milk Froth button to manually control the amount of milk and, with a little finessing, the froth. The cappuccinatore won’t offer the same control over froth, but it makes a mean cappuccino foam.

Want to practice frothing your milk? Switch the cappuccinatore for the panarello!
Want to practice frothing your milk? Switch the cappuccinatore for the panarello!

The steam on the Saeco Intelia Deluxe is pretty mean as well. Inside this machine, you will find a thermoblock heating element which heats the water for brewing and steaming on the fly. The benefit of a thermoblock is that it doesn’t take as long for your machine to heat up, however, the drawback can be that your temperature for brew or steam is not quite as consistent as you might like. That being said, we were very impressed with the temperature of both the coffee and milk produced on the Intelia Deluxe (something that is hard to say for most superautomatics)!

Style

The brushed stainless steel casing is here to stay and we can’t complain. This look appeals to modern taste and, of course, will complement your kitchen appliances—it’s beneficial to keep the machine clean cut for a wider audience. That said, the cappuccinatore protrudes awkwardly from the machine. Perhaps it’s the pencil-thin wand or the unusual shape of the frother. Whatever it is, the panarello add-on feels complete and with the manual frothing button, it feels like it was made for the Intelia Deluxe. The wand stem has space to pivot left or right— thankfully or else it would be blocking the water tank—and enough clearance to accommodate a tall glass, which is great for a frothing with a panarello. If you were to use the cappuccinatore to froth directly into your mug (the best for early mornings before work), just keep in mind that the espresso spouts can only clear a five-inch mug.

The brushed stainless steel casing looks nice against the matte black side panels and panarello.
The brushed stainless steel casing looks nice against the matte black side panels and panarello.

Daily maintenance is incredibly easy thanks to the front-accessible water reservoir and coffee ground bins. If you did need to access the removable brew group, take out the coffee grounds bin and make room to open the side door. The Intelia Deluxe automatically rinses the brew heads when it turns on and off, and even alerts you when the water runs low. The only downside we see with maintenance is that there’s no automatic rinsing for the steam wand, so you’ll have to remember to properly clean the cappuccinatore or panarello. We recommend using a glass of water and using the steam function to rinse. When you’re done, you can program your machine into energy efficient standby mode, which saves on electricity and puts your mind at ease knowing that your machine will automatically turn off.

The removable brew group makes cleaning a breeze.
The removable brew group makes cleaning a breeze.

Conclusion

The Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino features intuitive programming and sufficient drink options to make coffee you love easily. While some might miss the convenience of a dedicated cappuccino button, the manual steam design allows you to add a panarello and gain more control over your milk. Of course, you can always use the cappuccinatore to have that one-touch frothing experience. If you’re looking for simplicity in your espresso, then check out the Intelia Deluxe and tell us what you think.

The Difference Between Coffee and Espresso

What’s The Difference?

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

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

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

Coffee Flavor Profile

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

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

Espresso vs Coffee

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Crew Reviews: Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti

How Does It Compare?

The Gran Baristo line just keeps getting better and better. Built with a dedicated smartphone app, coffee is only a tap away with the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti. The app features an impressive drink menu and a “Help & Manuals” section to provide an extra helping hand. Even with the app, you can still program your drink preferences with the Avanti’s digital display. We have to say, we’d happily take this machine home. If you’re already looking at the Gran Baristo, it might be well-worth the extra expense to purchase the Avanti for the added functionality.

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features an app that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.
The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features an app that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

Shot

With 18 customizable drink options, the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti makes it feel like the possibilities are endless. Choose from favorites like a flat white, latte macchiato (or even an espresso macchiato), espresso, etc. There’s even an “energy coffee,” which seems to be a very potent Americano (also known as a ‘shot in the dark’). With each of these drinks, you can customize the aroma from very mild to extra strong as well as adjust the volume of coffee and milk. In the “Expert Settings,” you get more specific by adjusting the temperature and taste. Once you’ve got the ideal drink, hit the “Favorite” button near the drink picture and it’ll be saved to “My Coffees” for you to brew again and again.

Use the Saeco Avanti app to customize your espresso and milk preferences.
Use the Saeco Avanti app to customize your espresso and milk preferences.

We took Saeco’s standard latte macchiato sizing and increased the milk to fit a 10-ounce cup. The only annoyance we—to clarify, some of the Crew—had with the settings is the amount is in milliliters and you can’t change it. For those of us who order from the local coffee shop, we intuitively know sizing in ounces. Luckily, you’re already using your phone, so it’s just a matter of consulting the internet to convert milliliters to ounces. Better yet, you can program your espresso using the machine’s interface; simply press and hold the espresso button, release and then press once you have the amount you want. You can also program the amount of milk for milk-based drinks.

GBAvanti_espresso

One of the overlooked features on the Avanti is probably our favorite—the removable bean hopper. With a fairly large 9.3-ounces, it’s easy to fill it up with beans and later change your mind. In front of the hopper, you simply slide it to unlock and then pull it out. This feature is especially great if your beans have gone stale. Underneath the hopper is the adjustable grind setting, so you can customize your espresso even more! If you have pre-ground coffee, the Avanti also has a bypass doser.

The Avanti features a removable bean hopper and adjustable grind setting.
The Avanti features a removable bean hopper and adjustable grind setting.

Steam

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features a carafe to create that one-touch brew you can’t help but love. Select your favorite milk-based drink and it’s made directly into your cup. The carafe holds up to 500 ml (nearly 17-ounces) of milk, which you can remove and store in the fridge for tomorrow’s cup. One thing we’re missing on the Avanti is the ability to customize the milk temperature and frothiness. You can choose the amount of milk in each drink—an awesome feature—but you’re limited to the preprogrammed foam of each drink. Although, if you want to experiment, you can tweak the milk amount to achieve something new.

The carafe holds nearly 17-ounces of milk.
The carafe holds nearly 17-ounces of milk.

Style

One-touch brewing is definitely improved by Bluetooth connectivity. The Saeco Avanti app is intuitive and easy to use—we give it a thumbs up! We also appreciated how easy it was to install the app on the Crew’s iPhone and Android devices. While we love the idea of never needing to get out of bed, you’ll still have to get up to put out fresh, cold milk. Another reason to get up is the Avanti auto-rinses when it turns on and off, so your cup will be full of rinsing water. But, hey, the app allows you to multitask more than ever!

The Saeco Avanti app features a "My Coffee" section that saves your favorite drinks.
The Saeco Avanti app features a “My Coffee” section that saves your favorite drinks.

In the app, there are three main coffee tabs (color coordinated like the Italian flag) for your coffee: Classic Coffee, My Coffee and Recent Coffees. The beautiful, illustrated coffee icons make it easy to see what you’re getting—in the iPhone app version, when you adjust the espresso or milk volume, the picture will change. The straightforward icons and settings make it easy to get down to business and brew yourself a cup of coffee.

Even with the app, the Saeco features a intuitive digital display.
Even with the app, the Saeco features an intuitive digital display.

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti certainly has the style to match its enhanced interface. The brushed stainless steel casing appeals to modern taste and integrates well with modern kitchens. The sleek, rectangular body easily slips onto counters but watch out for it’s deceptive depth—it’s more than 19 inches long! It’s definitely not the biggest machine we’ve seen, but the length might leave the drip tray hanging off the counter. We do like how narrow the Avanti is and thanks to the front-access into the machine we can easily squeeze it next to other appliances. While you can place the Avanti under a cabinet just don’t forget that the water tank and bean hopper will need extra clearance to be removed.

The Avanti is more than 19-inches deep.
The Avanti is more than 19-inches deep.

Conclusion

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti is built with an intuitive app that makes grabbing a delicious cup of coffee a snap. We already enjoy the conveniences that one-touch superautomatics offer, so the addition of an app sweetens the deal even more. The app makes it incredibly easy to adjust your shot temperature, volume and strength to find that ideal espresso—and let’s not forget, you can also adjust the milk amount for an extra rich latte. The Avanti’s definitely on our wish list! What do you think of the latest superautomatic from the Gran Baristo lineup—would you take the Avanti or a different Saeco machine home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Gear Guide: Convenience Rules With Superautomatic Espresso Machines

Find Your Dream Espresso - Superautomatics

Taking Home A Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In our last post, we asked you how committed you were to your espresso. If you’re the one running out the door empty-handed and caffeine deprived, then you’re in the right place—we’re about to revolutionize your life—enter the superautomatic espresso machine. Superautomatics do all the heavy lifting and will grind, tamp and brew delicious espresso for you. It’s the perfect solution for coffee lovers who are “just friends” with their cup.

Of course, there are a variety of superautomatics, so while they make getting a cup of coffee a snap, you still have some choices to make on how committed you’ll be to your machine. The way we like to decide between models is to use this simple scenario: You walk into your favorite coffee shop, what do you order?

Espresso, Americano Or Drip For Me!

So, you take your coffee black? Then we recommend checking out some introductory superautomatic espresso machines. These machines focus on convenience and are incredibly easy to learn and are built with fewer features and programmability. Before you jump to any conclusions, remember that saying “less is more?” We tend to see people favor an introductory superautomatic for its ease of use, affordability and small footprint. The coffee options are usually espresso, coffee or, sometimes called, lungo. Generally, you can program the volume but you really don’t see settings for temperature, coffee strength, etc. There are some doubts that superautomatics produce good espresso. While there will be quality differences between semi-automatic and superautomatics, we have definitely made delicious espresso with superautomatics.

If you like your coffee with milk, no worries—there are introductory superautomatics with milk options. A panarello-style steam wand is the frother of choice because it does all the frothing for you. Panarello’s work by aerating milk through a slit in the top. No skills required! Since it’s doing all the heavy frothing, you won’t have to worry about controlling the milk texture. It’s easy to achieve fluffy cappuccino foam without any technique. Occasionally, some superautomatics won’t have a milk frother, in which case you could look into getting an external frother.

Another benefit of these introductory superautomatics is their small footprint and maintenance. With fewer features, these machines tend to run small; small enough to fit into any kitchen or even squeeze on your desk at work (you’d be a hit at the office). Maintenance is also a breeze. If there’s no steam wand, then you’ll never need to worry about properly cleaning off the milk. And if you have a panarello, it’s easy to disassemble and clean. Most superautomatics will have an automatic rinsing cycle before and after brewing, keeping your machine in tip-top shape. But you’re not off the hook completely. You’ll still have to descale and clean the brew group (if accessible) as the manufacturer recommends, but it’s nice to have some of the maintenance handled.

Latte Or Cappuccino, Please!

If you crave control, then we recommend bumping up to a mid-range, intermediate or advanced superautomatic espresso machine. A lot of these machines will allow you to adjust the temperature, volume, coffee strength, etc. Many feature a user-friendly interface, such as a digital display or labeled buttons, to make programming effortless. One of our favorite features is customizable profiles that allow a select number of users to program and save their drink preferences (of course, it’s only available on some machines. More on those in our next post). The amount of customization offered in superautomatics makes it easier to tailor your drink to your liking.

Latte and cappuccino lovers, get ready to jump for joy—there are machines that blend coffee and cream directly into your cup. One-touch superautomatics have an attached carafe that siphons milk to steam. When you’re done, you can remove the carafe and store extra milk in the fridge.  Some machines even let you adjust the milk temperature, milk foam texture or milk foam amount. There can also be a more traditional steam wand, so if you wanted to improve your frothing technique, here’s your chance!

With the additional customization, there will be a learning curve. Occasionally, the settings aren’t intuitive and you’ll find useful features buried under lists or icons. We recommend referring to the manual to learn the ins and outs of the machine—it can even help with troubleshooting. There are alerts or lights that’ll indicate when something’s amiss, like when you run out of water or the coffee ground  bin is full. Typically, we’ll find a troubleshooting section in the manual that provides instruction to fix the common issues . These machines will also automatically perform or recommend daily maintenance, such as rinsing milk pipes or descaling. Like the introductory superautomatics, these built-in features keep your machine well maintained.

Conclusion

If you’re just friends with your coffee, then a superautomatic espresso machine is the choice for you! Since there are a variety of superautomatic espresso machines we have another post coming out for you. We’ll dive into mid-range, intermediate and advanced superautomatics and what sort of features and functions you’ll find on those machines.

If you’re looking for caffeine on the go, an introductory superautomatic is the machine for you. These machines offer a balance of convenient features without the fuss of programming. Some may only offer espresso options, but you will find some with panarello-style steam wands. If you’re satisfied with those features, we recommend checking out some of these machines.

Saeco Xsmall Superautomatic Espresso Machine

Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 vs Vario-W

How Does It Compare?

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

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

Grind

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

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

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

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

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

Grade

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

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

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

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

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

Glamour

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Grinder

How Does It Compare?

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

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

Grind

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

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

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

Grade

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

Glamour

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Gear Guide: Expanding Your Skills With Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

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Taking Home A Semi-automatic Espresso Machine

In our previous post, we focused on finding the right machine for you by asking how committed you are to your espresso. Are you just friends? Or are you in a series relationship? If you’re ready to be committed to your coffee, then read on! In this post, we’re continuing our journey to help you make coffee you love at home by focusing on semi-automatic espresso machines.

Whether you’re an entry-level or experienced barista, it’s more important to ask yourself about dedication. Do you have barista skills? If not, are you willing to practice? We’ll discuss what features you should consider when you’re picking between different semi-automatic espresso machines.

Ready And Willing To Brew!

You’ve decided that you’re dedicated to learning how to brew espresso—sweet! Then consider a semi-automatic with a non-pressurized portafilter and traditional steam wand for cafe-quality espresso. A non-pressurized portafilter is designed so that the pressure that extracts your coffee is based on the coffee grind size and how much force you tamp with. That means for you, coffee connoisseurs, it’ll require dedication to learning how to dial in your grind consistency and learn to time the extraction—you may be pulling a few shots before you get the flavor you want.

Let’s be honest, we probably all want to make latte art. A traditional steam wand offers full control over technique from how much air you incorporate to how long you steam your milk. With a little know-how, you can create latte art-worthy milk! The hardest part of frothing milk is not incorporating too much—to pour latte art, you’re looking for texture that’s paint-like. Grab a gallon of milk and try your hand at frothing! If anything, you’ll be able to create a foamy, coffee shop quality cappuccino in no time.

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

At a local cafe, peek behind the counter and you’ll likely see baristas knocking coffee pucks out of portafilters and whipping down steam wands with vigor. Semi-automatics require more maintenance. You’ll spend more time adjusting settings—for instance, if you purchase a machine with a PID, you can change the temperature—and cleaning the machine from daily chores like wiping the steam wand to more in-depth maintenance like backflushing and descaling. Generally, we see these machines last longer than their automatic counterparts—if properly maintained. With more control comes great responsibility, but it’s well worth it for the quality of espresso you’ll be able to make with a little dedication.

Practice? I Just Want Coffee…

Fair enough! There are plenty of semi-automatics out there that are capable of pulling quality espresso with little effort. Some features we look for are pressurized portafilters and panarello steam wands. We like to think of these semi-automatics as entry-level. A pressurized portafilter (most often the basket is pressurized) assists in pulling quality espresso thanks to a double wall that compensates for pressure—meaning that if the grind is slightly off, it has got you covered. That doesn’t necessarily mean your espresso will be cafe quality—you’ll still want to experiment with settings to find coffee you love.

The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the portafilter.
The Breville Duo-Temp Pro features pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for the portafilter.

With a panarello steam wand, just stick it in your milk pitcher and let it go! It froths milk by pulling air in from a small slit at the top and incorporating steam for you. That does mean you get what you get. On most machines, you can’t control the steam power and you’ll generally end up with cappuccino foam. You can really only control how long the panarello steams your milk. Of course, if you’re not interested in learning how to froth milk, then you won’t mind the lack of control or features.

If you’re looking for an easy experience, then we recommend looking into machines that have these user-friendly features! Probably the biggest appeal is the ease of use and, of course, the affordable price that’s is due in part to fewer features. Although, some entry-level machine have both pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter options or even traditional steam wand that is designed to allow brewers to hone their skills.

Conclusion

If you’ve decided you just want coffee without practicing, then it’s the end of the journey for you. We have a few entry-level espresso machines that we’d think you’d enjoy. Remember, these machines have features like pressurized portafilters and panarello steam wands that help beginners make coffee they love effortless. Check these machines out:

Breville Duo-Temp Pro
DeLonghi Dedica EC680

If you’ve decided to be in a committed relationship, we’ve got a couple more tips for you in our next post—so stay tuned! Semi-automatics offer home baristas more control over their espresso with commercial-inspired accessories like traditional steam wands and non-pressurized portafilters.

Crew Comparison: Rocket Espresso Appartamento vs Breville Dual Boiler

How Does It Compare?

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

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

Shot

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

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

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

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

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

Steam

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

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

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

Style

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

How Does It Compare?

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

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

Brew

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

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

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

Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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