Crew Review: Capresso EC Pro

How Does It Compare

The Capresso EC Pro is one of our favorite machines to recommend to entry-level baristas. Equipped with a pressurized and non-pressurized naked portafilter, low powered traditional steam wand and user-friendly interface, the EC Pro offers plenty of opportunities to hone your craft. Its affordable price and small footprint make it easy to squeeze into your life too. The DeLonghi Dedica EC680 similar price point makes it a worthy opponent to the EC Pro, but it doesn’t offer nearly as much skill-building opportunities.

The Capresso EC Pro industrial stainless steel body is a nice touch for this lower priced machine.
The Capresso EC Pro industrial stainless steel body is a nice touch for this lower priced machine.

The Dedica comes with only pressurized portafilter in single and double basket options—if we include looks, the portafilter’s spouts are nothing fancy—that will compensate for subpar coffee grounds and deliver yummy espresso for newbies. The panarello steam wand creates quick and undeniable foamy milk that’s great for cappuccinos. You could make a latte, but you would need to work the milk into paint-like texture before pouring latte art. The Dedica’s great for baristas looking to get quick and easy quality espresso whereas the EC Pro will provide plenty of entry-level experience to improve.

Shot

The non-pressurized naked portafilter is a shining gem on this machine. The naked bottom—ahem, we’re talking about the lack of spouts—allows barista’s a clear view of the stream of espresso. It’s essentially training wheels for baristas. When the grind size and tamp pressure are correct, the extraction is even and creates gorgeous tiger-striping, which is the light and dark colors merging together. Some call it magic. Others call it the results of a good extraction. We say it’s both.

The EC Pro comes with a non-pressurized naked portafilter and pressurized filter, respectively.
The EC Pro comes with a non-pressurized naked portafilter and pressurized filter, respectively.

We should also mention the portafilters are made from durable stainless steel—that’s commercial-grade right there. Since this is an entry-level machine, however, the interface is simple in design. It features a couple of switches and a dial to change between brewing and steaming. At this lower price point, the EC Pro has a single boiler, which means you can only brew or steam. For entry-level home brewers, that’s actually not a bad feature, so you can focus on one task at a time.

Pro Tip: With any single boiler machine, we recommend steaming first so that you’re espresso does sit and get cold. Texturing milk first also offers the opportunity to work your milk if you’re doing some latte art.

The user-friendly interface make this machine easy to operate for first time home brewers.
The user-friendly interface make this machine easy to operate for first time home brewers.

Steam

It’s so satisfying to pour latte art that actually looks like art. The Capresso EC Pro’s traditional steam wand provides just enough steam power to allow you time to properly incorporate your milk with air for that just-right microfoam. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up! The one-hole tip provides a steady stream of heat, so getting the wand angled to swirl the milk will help even the temperature and create microfoam.

The traditional steam wand only moves in an up and downward motion, making it difficult to angle milk containers.
The traditional steam wand only moves in an up and downward motion, making it difficult to angle milk containers.

However, getting a great angle on the EC Pro can be a challenge. The steam wand only adjusts up and down, which limits the wiggle room for containers. The clearance from the machine provides enough space for a pitcher and you’ll easily be able to angle it to perfect your technique.

Style

Surrounded with a stainless steel cover, the little Capresso EC Pro looks like a tyke-size industrial machine. Whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you, but we think that steel cover provides a nice, expensive-looking touch—they could have just wrapped it in plastic, you know? Also, this classic cut looks exactly like a miniature commercial machine. We’ll also remind you the EC Pro has some commercial-inspired features such as the stainless steel portafilter—oh yeah, super nice.

The industrial designed EC Pro looks similar to commercial-grade machines.
The industrial designed EC Pro looks similar to commercial-grade machines.

Where the Capresso EC Pro style lacks in flair, it makes up for with amenities. The small footprint also means it’s perfect for tight spaces—say in an apartment next to the microwave? The small cup warmer has a metal top to heat those cups up and tiny rails to keep things aligned. The straight forward switch and dial interface are probably our least favorite look, but it’s efficient and straight-forward.

The brew/steam and on/off switches are user-friendly but not much to look at.

Conclusion

For any entry-level barista, the Capresso EC Pro will have everything you need. It’s like training wheels on a bike: Once you learn how to ride, you take the wheels off. The EC Pro’s naked portafilter shows you how well it’s extracting—goal is to have tiger stripes—and lets you practice to perfect your technique. And we’ll add it’s just downright gorgeous to see. If you’re looking for convenience during training, the pressurized portafilter’s got your back. All in all, the price-point, entry-level training and high-quality features give the other tiny semi-automatics a run for their money.

Crew Comparison: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II vs. Oscar

How Does It Compare

“Life in plastic—it’s fantastic!” Said no coffee lover ever—we felt the same way about the Nuova Simonelli Oscar. Built with a 2-liter heat exchange boiler, professional-grade portafilter and legendary steam power, the Oscar I was an affordable high-quality semi-automatic machine. However, the Oscar’s quality was hidden under a plastic shroud of semi-sheen black or cherry red that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, we can all rejoice in the newest addition, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, and let us just tell you, it looks nothing like the original.

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar features a classic cut that espresso lovers are sure to enjoy.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar features a classic cut that espresso lovers are sure to enjoy.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II's updated style stunned us! It looks nothing like the Oscar.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II’s updated style stunned us! It looks nothing like the Oscar.

Designed like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, the Oscar II marries futuristic design with industrial stainless steel. The curved-in shape is becoming a new trend, like with the Baratza Sette 270, and we’re digging this style. Comparing it to the Oscar’s classic cut, the Oscar II offers ample space for the brew head and a 360-degree rotating steam wand. The new design for the Oscar II has improved its overall look and functionality—A+ Nuova Simonelli!

Shot

The commercial-grade 58mm portafilter was included in both models with channel spouts that offer a beautiful bird’s eye view of your espresso. The Oscar II’s pronounced brew group also showcases the new volumetric controls that the original Oscar lacked. On the Oscar II, you can program the espresso volume by time for either a single or double shot. The interface remains user-friendly with the new programmability. As you’re brewing, press and hold one of the espresso icons to set your volume, but remember it’s timed based, so you’ll want to dial in your grind and set it to produce consistent shots.

The Oscar II features two time controlled espresso volume.
The Oscar II features two time-controlled espresso volume buttons.

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar and Oscar II create consistently hot espresso thanks to a temperature compensated brew head. It’s a highly debated topic about the consistency of heat exchanger overall. To mitigate those concerns, the heated brew head should assist with consistency—the debate continues. 

Pro Tip: With a heat exchanger, it’s ideal to pull water for seven seconds to warm the brew head and portafilter. The extra heat siphoned through the brew head will help maintain the temperature of your shot.

The Oscar features two simple buttons: on/off and brew, along with a steam dial.
The Oscar features two simple buttons: on/off and brew; along with a steam dial.

Steam

Nuova Simonelli blessed the Oscar II with high-quality heat exchanger and Championship-worthy steam wand (for those of you that don’t know, Nuova Simonelli is the official espresso machine sponsor for the National U.S. Championship). Both semi-automatics are built with a 2-liter copper boiler and produce virtually the same steam power. The perfectly dry steam is exactly what you’re looking for to texture milk—water and milk just don’t mix. The Oscar II, however, has insulation wrapped around the boiler, which is noted to increase energy efficiency.

Hello, steam power.
Hello, steam power.

Nuova Simonelli’s famed four-hole steam tip performs a lot better on the Oscar II’s beautiful steam wand. The Oscar’s stouter steam wand proved difficult to angle a pitcher into texturized milk. To be blatantly honest, it was annoying to work with. The fixed finger guard also got in the way when foam expanded, which made it gunky and a pain to clean. The new extended wand rotates on a 360-degree ball joint and comes with an adjustable finger guard for larger frothing pitchers—A+ again, Nuova Simonelli.

Style

Of course, you can’t compare the Oscar and Oscar II without talking about their looks. The Oscar II radical makeover has completely stunned us. The all-over stainless steel received high praises from the office. It reflects the professional quality materials Nuova Simonelli has gifted their products. It reflects contemporary taste and mirrors modern appliances to keep home brewers’ kitchen’s uniform. Sure, Nuova Simonelli snuck a few plastic parts of the Oscar II—check that out under the Oscar II Crew Review—but in comparison to the Oscar’s complete plastic casing, we’ll be lenient with the Oscar II.

Check out that portafilter.
Check out that portafilter. We’re digging the open-spout view.

We’re also fans of the Oscar II C-shape design, which looks similar to the Nuova Simonelli Musica. This design creates more clearance to allow important features such as the steam wand and brew group to take center stage. The brew group features ridges and curves that create futuristic dimension similar to, you guessed it, a Cylon. Our one critic of the Oscar II is the steam wand switch that sticks out at the top. We appreciate the Oscar II fresh and lively style.

The Oscar traditional espresso machine design is wonderful for coffee lovers who will enjoy the nostalgic appearance. The modern features, however, such as the Oscar’s large, in-your-face steam dial and rubber buttons, took away from the classic style. 

Despite the plastic casing, we appreciate the traditional style of the Oscar.
Despite the plastic casing, we appreciate the traditional style of the Oscar.

Conclusion

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II fresh style finally showcases its high-quality build. While we’re still impressed with the Oscar’s capabilities, the Oscar II new aesthetics are not only pleasing to the eye but offer more functionality from features such as the steam wand. If we had to choose, we’d go with the Oscar II. It’s also important to know that the Oscar has been discounted by Nuova Simonelli too, so you’ll only be able to find it on the market as used. If you’re loving the new wave of futuristic and contemporary styled espresso machines, then you’ll love the way the Oscar II shines in your kitchen.

Crew Review: Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker

How Does It Compare?

Now there’s a handsome brewer! The Ratio Eight Edition Coffee Maker marries pour over with automatic functionality. We’ve categorized this coffee maker as a drip brewer, but we feel it deserves classification as an automatic pour over. What makes the Ratio stand apart from drip coffee makers is the automatic bloom cycles that occur during and just-right brew temperatures. We’ve seen this method of brewing on the Chemex Ottomatic, a fairly new machine too. Comparing these machines, pour over connoisseurs will take note of a couple important differences.

Ratio_Side

To start, the Ratio Eight Edition performs a proper bloom that completely stops the flow of water for 30 seconds. The Ottomatic does the same, but occasionally water dribbles from the brew head for marginally earlier extraction than is intended. The Ratio also automatically turns off after brewing—no heating element here—so coffee is fresh and never overheated. Meanwhile, the Ottomatic’s hot plate design has no automatic functionality at all, continuously burning your coffee without end. Another pro, the Ratio Eight Edition only has one plastic component that is BPA-free and FDA certified for food-grade applications. Check out our Chemex Ottomatic Crew Review for in-depth pros and cons of the new Ottomatic.

Brew

You’re only seven minutes away from a full 8-cup carafe of crisp pour over coffee. Designed after the Fibonacci Spiral, hot water is evenly dispersed over grounds for equal extraction. Pour over connoisseurs will be happy to know that the pre-infusion and bloom process is about 30 seconds per pause. It’ll continue this process until it runs out of water and you have a whole 40-ounces to brew through, so it’ll take a few minutes depending on your grind. If you’re curious what grind setting to do on this new automatic pour over machine, we decided to use our standard pour over grind setting for the Ratio Eight Edition and found that setting was ideal. If the grounds were too fine, the coffee would overflow (yeah, that happened) and too coarse wouldn’t extract properly. We clocked the finished pot at about seven minutes with our grind.

Ratio_brew

Brains

The Ratio Eight Edition is incredibly easy to operate. It has one on/off button at the front that automatically starts the pre-infusion and brewing process and is outfitted with lit icons that indicate where you are in the brewing process. For instance, “Bloom” is used for pre-infusion and “Ready” means the good stuff is served. You can press the on/off button again to stop your coffee, but once it’s interrupted you’ll have to start over.

Ratio_buttons

If you’re a bit forgetful, then you’re going to love these next two features. The Ratio includes a magnetic activator on the bottom of their carafe to engage the Ratio Eight. If it’s not there, then it won’t brew! Some people might view the special carafe as a double edge sword; it means you can’t use a non-branded carafe with the Ratio. If you’re not an 8-cup-a-day drinker, then you might find the large carafe a bit too much. Then, there are the clumsy people; fortunately for you, they sell the carafe separately if you happen to break yours.

Lastly, forgetful connoisseurs, there is no heating element on the Ratio Eight Edition. Once the reservoir is empty, the brewer turns off. We heard some complaints about the lack of the auto-off on the Chemex Ottomatic’s heating element, a similar machine to the Ratio, so we’re pleased to inform everyone that you don’t need to worry about the Ratio—rejoice! This also means that coffee-lovers don’t have to be concerned about the flavor of coffee after overheating on an element. It will be a fresh cup each time.

Beauty

Designed and assembled in Portland, Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition is built from the highest-quality material. Its look says it all. Thick and tempered borosilicate glass is hand-turned for a smooth, seamless finish. The body is constructed from aluminum that reflects a rich sheen in the light. Being born in Oregon, the Ratio Eight Edition included premium hardwoods such as the maple found in the Silver Edition we carry.

Ratio_water

Its footprint leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a massive machine that’s designed with a wider base and arms that extender ever so slightly off the side. It’s a coffee maker that’s meant to stand out; it’s not meant to be situated next to a microwave or fridge. The hope is that an owner of a Ratio Eight Edition will treasure it’s elegant curves and edges no matter the size.

Conclusion

While we’re discussing high-quality material, the price tag is a frequent topic with a machine of this caliber. It’s nearly twice as expensive as the Chemex Ottomatic, so why would you purchase this machine? For starters, Ratio offers a beautiful 10-year limited warranty on manufacturer’s defects—Ten. Years. We think some coffee owners out there would agree that they could easily go through a handful of the lower priced coffee makers in that time. Then there’s also the fact that there are not many automatic pour overs on the market that are as elegantly designed and constructed from high-quality materials. If you love the look, love the quality and love pour over, it’s a worth while investment.

Crew Review: Rocket Espresso Appartamento

How Does It Compare?

The Rocket Espresso Appartamento’s apartment-size footprint means you don’t have to sacrifice counter space for delicious espresso. Rocket shaved a few inches off the sides of the Appartamento to optimize counter and cabinet space: 10.5 inches wide by 17 inches deep and 14.25 inches tall. That’s 1.5 inches narrower and nearly 2 inches shorter than the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2 Even with its healthy trim, the Appartamento doesn’t lack in capability.

 The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with the same 1.8-liter copper boiler and E61 brew group as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is outfitted with the same 1.8-liter copper boiler and E61 brew group as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione.

It’s built with the similar heavy-duty components as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2 and the Appartamento espresso and steam performance continues to shine amongst the other semi-automatics. The Cellini Evoluzione and Appartamento are equipped with a 1.8-liter copper boiler, but unlike the Cellini Evoluzione, the Appartamento doesn’t have an insulated boiler. That extra padding improves thermal stability and increases energy savings. Aside from the insulation, the Appartamento’s performance is on par with the Cellini Evoluzione.

Shot

Rocket stuck with what they do best and outfitted the Appartamento with professional grade materials. It’s equipped with a heat exchanger and the legendary E61 brew group for consistently hot performance. Trust us, after pulling a couple shots, the portafilter got nice and toasty—perfect for retaining heat for your shots. Pro Tip: Do a seven-second flush through the brew head to get the best shot possible.

Rocket’s standard commercial-grade 58mm portafilters made it in the box too, and we’re happy to have them! This tiny tyke didn’t get skimped on accessories: it comes with double and single spout portafilters that can pair with their respective baskets to please everyone’s caffeine needs. And we’ve complained time and time again about plastic tampers—fear not with Rocket, they included the same nice, shiny metal tamper you see with other models.

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

What it didn’t come with is a plumb-in option that a few Rockets do include. At this price point, we’re not missing it with the Appartamento’s respectable 2.25-liter reservoir. While the reservoir is a nice size, the drip tray is a bit shallow for catching that excess water from the solenoid valve. Without any bevels, it’s easy to wear the contents of the tray if you’re not careful—Pro Tip: empty it out sooner rather than later. At least you have a nice view of that beautiful stainless steel while you’re concentrating on not spilling.

Steam

Built with a 1.8-liter boiler like the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine V2, it comes as no surprise that the Appartamento has similarly magnificent steam performance. The two-hole steam wand evenly warms and circulates milk to achieve perfect microfoam. It heats up so quickly that a beginner might find they didn’t have enough time to texture their milk, but we would still recommend this machine to an entry-level to a prosumer buyer.

Appartamento_3:4
The traditional steam wand and dedicated hot water tap make creating lattes or Americanos a snap.

Like the previous models, it’s a no-burn wand, which means it’s harder for the milk to burn on after steaming. Keep those finger guards on, though! The steam wand is still extremely hot to the touch after a couple of lattes.

Style

Those big, beautiful spots. Choose white or copper, but choose wisely: The pearl white complements everyday kitchen appliances (yahoo…) whereas that copper sing to more modern vibes. OK, so the SCG Crew is a little torn between the two colors. To be fair, the copper is a bit on the darker side—some would say bronze—so that’s where the true-to-its-name white got the Crew’s vote. Check out the video and tell us what color you dig.

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

Someone’s had to notice by now that the colored cutouts match the new wider, stouter feet. This is another debate between the Crew (as most aesthetics are a heated topic around here) and we’re 50/50 on the look. The body’s clean edges against the curved detailing provide a beautiful contrast. The gear-inspired knobs and Rocket’s logo stamped boldly on the front add a nice touch to this machine. The stainless steel casing that Rocket is known for continues to showcase their equally famous high-quality products. It’s no surprise that Rocket continued these fine-tuned details, even in a small and lower priced machine.

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.

We thought perhaps the smaller footprint would mean small everything else, but a quick glance at the manual says otherwise: it has a 1.8-liter boiler, 2.25-liter water tank and E61 brew group. So what did it lose? To be honest, nothing. The cup warmer is a bit roomier and Rocket’s given us an (unfortunately plastic) cup rail to wrangle in mugs. We tried to replace it—because you know us and aesthetics—and discovered it’s not compatible with Rocket’s current metal racks. Perhaps a future accessory down the road, Rocket? We sure hope so. Either way, all that room for a handful of mugs means we can finally display our sweet Acme cups.

Conclusion

What do you think of Rocket’s new addition? The Rocket Espresso Appartamento has all the makings of Rocket’s bigger models packed into a mini machine. The new colored dots add extra style to an already good looking machine, and with two color options, there are more choices for a home brewers kitchen.

How To Guide: Ask a Question

Ask a Question

You’ve probably spent hours reading through product reviews and prolonged stories just to discover the question you’re looking for wasn’t there. Enter: Ask a Question—our way of saying, “Hey, we know you’ve got burning questions best answered before you’ve made a purchase.” Ask a Question is an interactive community of machine owners and product experts answering questions using their real experience. If it goes unanswered, our Crew steps in with the best response—we’re coffee machine owners, too!

Where To Find It

Under every product, we’ve included the “Ask a Question” tab. Click on the tab and you’ll see all the questions and answers. To ask and answer questions, you can be anonymous or log in to your account.

How This Works

  1. Type in your question. If there are matching questions in our Q&A database, we’ll show them immediately.
  2. If there aren’t any, submit a new question. You’ll get fast answers from customers who really own the item(s) and from our product experts. (About half the time you’ll get an answer in under two hours, depending on your question and the item you are asking about…)

Done! Now you can save time searching through the internet. If you need a place to start thinking of questions you’d want to ask, we’ve got you covered.

Good Topics To Ask About

  • Which items will best meet your needs
  • What customers who own an item think of it
  • How to use, fix or take care of an item
  • Product information
  • General advice related to the types of products we sell
Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 4.15.53 PM
Here’s a customer’s answer to a question on the Saeco Xelsis Evo.


Share Your Experience

As a proud new owner of a coffee maker, you’re in the know. Make suggestions for newbies or share your early morning coffee routine. It’s your time to shine and show you’ve got this—remember the pure satisfaction of knowing the answer in class and impressing all the kids and teacher. Yeah, it’s something like that.

Now, you owners might be wondering how you’ll know there’s a new question to be answered. We’ll shoot you an email and let you know when there’s a new one. Or you can take a look under the Ask a Question tab and see if there’s anything you can answer. If you don’t know and you’re thinking you got to know too, just click on the “I Have This Question Too,” to let owners know. Our Crew can take on unanswered questions or provide other suggestions we know.

That’s all there is to it! Check out how many questions and answers you or others have entered by clicking on their name. You might be surprised at how much you know—any excuse to call Mom and brag, right?

 

Crew Review: Baratza Sette 270

How Does It Compare?

Here it is, the Baratza Sette 270! We’ll be testing its counterpart, the Baratza 270W soon, but in the meantime, we’ll give you the low down on Baratza’s two newest grinders. The main difference is the Sette 270W measure grounds by weight and features Bluetooth technology while the Sette 270 measures by time (as you’d find on a lot of grinders). Besides the extra technology added into the Sette 270W, these grinders, these grinders feature the same powerful mechanics.

Sette_front
The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has arrived on this week’s Crew Review.

Grind

Built with 40mm steel conical burrs,the mechanics of the Sette 270 seem similar to most other grinders on the market. We’ll just tell you, they’re not! The Sette 270’s magic is in its design. It’s the only grinder that has the outer burr rotate while the inner burr is fixed. With the motor mounted horizontally instead of vertically, the bean hopper is seated directly above the burrs, giving the beans a straight shot down the hatch—leaving virtually no grounds behind! Seriously, the coffee only travels vertically so the grounds don’t have a place to sit and stale.

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.

This inspired design increases the Sette 270’s speed and efficiency. Baratza clocked the grinder at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second! If you’re in doubt, check out our Crew Review video for yourself! Outfitted with a stepped macro and a stepless micro adjustment ring, it allows you to fine-tune your grind from French press coarse down to espresso fine. We’ve experimented with the finest settings to see if we could choke the grinder and the Sette 270 persevered! We’re blown away by how fast and efficiently the Sette 270 turns beans the size of pencil erasers into powdered sugar.

Sette_display
Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings.

Once you’ve played around with the Sette 270 and found your just-right grind, Baratza gives you three programmable buttons to lock in time. But let’s say you want to change up your volume, Baratza’s got an answer for that too! Kyle from Baratza calls it, the “pulse” button. If you press and hold it, it’ll start manually grinding until you release it.

Pro Tip: It takes a second to engage the manual grind, so be quick about it! If you only want a small amount, do some trials with the grind and program it to save on beans.

Glamour

Did you know Sette in Italian is seven? Right, right! The name’s in the design. Purely talking about the Sette 270’s looks, the shape is similar to some recent espresso machines that have been released like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II. The angular shape is breaking away from the mainstream style we’re accustomed to and showing off more curves. All these new dimensions are aesthetically pleasing and fit in easily with different espresso machines and coffee makers available.

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.

Cleanup has never been easier! With the beans direct path, there are almost no residual grinds. If you do want to do some light cleanup, the bean hopper comes off easily with a door (Kyle calls it a ‘Hopper Stopper’) that swings shut. There’s a handful of beans left over, so you’ll want to either vacuum or tip those out. Afterward, we recommend taking a grinder brush and sweeping out the leftover grinds. A deeper clean is easy to achieve too. You don’t need a screwdriver on the Sette 270, the whole burr twists right off! Take the macro adjustment past the lowest setting and it’ll drop out. This does mean you’ll lose your grind setting, so be aware of the macro setting and be patient dialing it back in. Luckily, there are no loose screws or small parts to worry about.

Grade

We’ve been working our way up to this: What other benefits are hiding in the Sette 270’s horizontal design? Constructed to optimize efficiency, Baratza created the best convertible holder we’ve seen in a long time. The horizontal design freed up space for a container up to 5.75 inches tall and 3.50 inches wide. The width is based on how far the two arms extend. These arms also have a third smaller arm to easily hook in your portafilter. Switch it from espresso to holding a Hario V60—yeah, it can do that. It can handle holding different types of equipment for the different grind settings it offers.

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

We know you’re itching for the deets on the Sette 270W. Kyle from Baratza visited us and revealed the in and outs of this new innovation. Both are built with the same mechanics, but the Sette 270W takes this innovation further using weight measurement and Bluetooth. Check out our Baratza Sneak Peek 270W video and let us know what you think!

Crew Comparison: Breville Dual Boiler Vs. Rocket Premium Plus with PID

How Does It Compare?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. The Breville Dual Boiler and Rocket Premium Plus are two completely different looking machines packed with impressive espresso power! The Breville Dual Boiler, as the name implies, features a double boiler while Rocket Premium Plus comes equipped with a heat exchanger. For someone looking to purchase one of these beautiful machines, one question to ask yourself is what type of boiler do you want: heat exchanger or double boiler?

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

There’s a heated debate about which type of boiler is better. Double boilers have a dedicated boiler for brewing and steaming, which allows you to accurately dial in the correct temperature for each independently. A heat exchanger has one boiler at steam temperature and a tube siphoning water from the reservoir through a chamber within the boiler that indirectly heats the water to a brewing temperature. While this method isn’t always consistent, an estimated brew temperature is based on the length of the chamber.

You’re probably wondering why this is even a debate. It sounds like you’d want a double boiler for consistency. We’ve dived into the differences in a past post you can check out here, but the gist is that heat exchangers are continually siphoning fresh water to brew while double boilers use water that’s collecting minerals from boiling. That’s not to say a double boiler makes worse brewing water, but the argument is how the water’s heated to brew. A double boiler actually has a quicker recovery time to brew drinks back to back, so you might consider in your comparison for the right espresso machine for you.

Shot

Breville is known for its user-friendly functionality and they certainly didn’t let us down! The Dual Boiler is outfitted with two programmable buttons that set your customized espresso volume and temperature settings. Or opt for the manual button to control the process. There’s also a little extra cushion for newbies: Breville comes with non-pressurized and pressurized portafilter baskets to make up for inconsistent coffee grounds (you know, the occasional chunkier grounds). Hallelujah! This semi-automatic has a little bit of something for entry level and experienced baristas.

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

The same can’t be said for the Rocket Premium Plus—it’s all hands on! It comes with the standard non-pressurized baskets and the PID is the only digital control you have over this machine, otherwise, you’re manually controlling pre-infusion and brew time. The Rocket’s manual lever mechanics are reminiscent of traditional Italian espresso and is well suited for this machine’s sleek design, but that does mean you’ll have to dedicate yourself to expanding your barista skills and techniques.

The Rocket's built in PID is purposefully hidden underneath the drip tray to maintain the sleek appearance.
The Rocket’s built-in PID is purposefully hidden underneath the drip tray to maintain the sleek appearance.

Being consistent on a heat exchanger adds an extra challenge for brew temperature, but the legendary E-61 brew head uses a thermal siphon system to maintain the brew head temperature and makes your espresso consistently hot—and the brew head even hotter. Seriously, don’t touch that bad boy! It’s too hot to handle. Jokes aside, the E-61 brew head is exposed and poses a risk for burning whereas the Breville Dual Boiler also features an enclosed heated brew head that’s out of harms way.

Steam

Both use a traditional steam arm, which generally take practice to perfect your frothing technique. If you’re willing to put in the time, these machines are capable of making delicious steamed milk in short order. Bonus points go to the Rocket Premium Plus for outfitting it with a no-burn wand making cleanup a breeze. We will say while the Rocket is a no-burn that doesn’t mean it’s not hot—it’s on fire! After making ourselves a latte, we needed to use a towel to handle the steam arm. With the Breville steam wand, you’ll also want to keep a towel nearby to quickly wipe it off after use, as it becomes a bit harder to clean if you leave it too long. While it may take a bit more cleanup, Breville designs its products to be incredibly convenient and added a finger guard loop that makes it easier to adjust the wand for steaming and cleaning even when it is hot.

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

Circling around to the PID again, they upgraded the Breville Dual Boiler so you can adjust the steam boiler temperature between 265ºF – 285ºF. The PID on both machines will keep the temperature within  one degree of the set temperature. Since the Rocket is a heat exchanger, the boiler is designed for steam and that’s pretty evident when you turn it on. The Rocket’s steam pressure is comparable to the Nuova Simonelli’s. Hands down, the Rocket Premium Plus has powerful steam and we’d even venture to say it’s more powerful than the Breville Dual Boiler.

P.S. The Rocket uses Celsius, so Fahrenheit users will have to convert the temperature. That’s what you get when you get a Rocket hand-made in Italy.

Style 

Every Rocket’s hand-made in Italy with individual personality showing through the fine details. Rocket’s contemporary design will look flawless in brewer’s kitchens while it’s traditional components please espresso enthusiasts. The Premium Plus, both the Giotto and Cellini models, are purposefully constructed with simple turn knobs and levers and has no visible technology. Like we mentioned before, there is a digital PID, which has far better temperature control than without it, but Rocket was stern on maintaining a clean, structured style.

The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus features sleek designs with kicked out side panels.
The Rocket Giotto Premium Plus features sleek designs with kicked outside panels.

 The Breville Dual Boiler owns its modern design and is outfitted with a list of convenient features. The brushed stainless steel maintains uniform with many of today’s kitchen appliances. The pressure gage placed front and center on the Dual Boiler adds some vintage taste alongside those convenient programmable features. In fact, Breville hides a lot of the components, such as the three-way solenoid valve that’s clearly visible behind the Rocket’s brew group. The Breville Dual Boiler user-friendly features such as being able to program the auto-on time and alerts make the Breville’s overall design a crowd pleaser.

 Conclusion

There’s a lot we could say about the Rocket Premium Plus and Breville Dual Boiler: They’re both close in price and feature similar capabilities suitable for entry-level to prosumer. For a powerful, hands-on Rocket, we’ll be preaching, “Practice makes perfect,” to anyone hesitant on buying a more manual espresso machine. The Rocket Premium Plus isn’t as complicated as you’d think—actually, we’d say its simple mechanics make it easier to control and allows you to focus on mastering your grind and extraction time to achieve your perfect espresso. Of course, Breville Dual Boiler compensates a little more for entry-level baristas with the pressurized portafilter and its programmable buttons that let you set your espresso settings, removing all the guesswork each time you brew. Then, of course, we’ve dived into the debate between two types of boilers. Each boiler design has its own list of pros and cons for different people. We’ll just say, checking out all the machine on the market, the way the machine’s mechanics are handled impacts the quality. Breville and Rocket both excellence in quality and the proof is in the coffee.

Adult Mexican Coffee Affogato

Once in a while you need a little extra humph with your coffee. What’s better than a little tequila and coffee liquor to get the engines revving? Quick answer: Adding ice cream to your booze! Drink up this deliciously creamy Adult Mexican Coffee Affogato that’s just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Thank you, Jane for taking all of our favorite things into one yummy drink!

We used the trusty Breville Barista Express so we could grind and brew our espresso in one go. The easy programmability is nice after a couple of espresso shots, too, and you can be sure you’ll have a line out the door for this drink! We picked Victrola’s Streamline Espresso for the smooth chocolate and fruit flavor that’s robust in an espresso.

Pro Tip: We recommend a robust coffee blend for this drink, but it’s not necessary with the coffee liquor to get a well-rounded flavor.

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 16 grams coffee
  • 1/2 ounce tequila
  • 1/2 ounce coffee liquor
  • 1 BIG scoop vanilla ice cream
  1. Prep your espresso machine ahead of time. (If you’re using the Breville Barista Express, we clocked it at 70 seconds)
  2. Add one big scoop of ice cream, tequila and coffee liquor into your glass.
  3. Grind 16-ounces of coffee to make two shots of espresso. Brew straight onto your glass!
  4. Stir it up and take a big bite of your Mexican Coffee Affogato. ¡Delicioso!

Three Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas: Coffee and Food Pairings

Brunch

Skip the hour-long wait for cold coffee and expensive food for Mother’s Day brunch, we’ll help you show off your culinary chops with the best coffee and food pairings. Just like wine, different coffees pair with food to enhance and complement the flavor. We decided to help you cheat a little and made some suggestions for meals to plan with these three coffee profiles: savory, sweet and balanced. Whether your mom has a sweet tooth or prefers her food slathered in hot sauce, we’ve picked out some great brunch ideas to pair with coffee.

Savory: Cafe Ladro Ladro Espresso

ladro_ladro_2

Ladro’s signature espresso blend brings out complex flavors in our cup. Roasting notes describe it as creamy, sweet and chocolatey notes. The SCG crew first thought was, “Spicy Mexican food?” It’s full and savory body is the perfect blend for a robust cup of French press or as espresso. Whichever way you serve it, Ladro Espresso is a shining example of coffee that’ll complement your favorite savory dishes.

Pair It With:

  • Salt & Pepper Avocado
  • Spicy Mexican Food
  • Cornbread Muffins

We’re going all out with our favorite Mexican-brunch dish, Huevos Rancheros! Spicy peppers add an extra kick and lots of flavor to Ladro’s signature blend. Try this delicious Huevos Rancheros recipe from Epicurious. 

Sweet: Victrola Rwanda Gakenke Hinga Kawa

victrola_rawandakawa

Grown by the Hinga Kawa (“Let’s Grow Coffee”) women’s association in Rwanda, this coffee’s as rich in flavor as it is in Rwanda’s women’s history. The women of Hinga Kawa, both Hutu and Tutsi, experienced the darker days of Rwanda’s history but have decided to make poverty their enemy, not each other. This coffee is an example of the brave women at work. Decadent notes of black cherry and cinnamon are sure to please Mom’s sweet tooth while sparkling grape adds a bit of bite. This coffee’s bright profile is best with some fresh fruit and muffins.

Pair It With:

  • Cinnamon Coffee Cake
  • Blueberry Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Baked French Toast

Who says you can’t have coffee and mimosas? A tall glass of OJ and champagne will complement the sparkling acidity found in Victrola’s Rwanda coffee. Pair it with a sweet treat such as this Raspberry Scones recipe from Martha Stewart.

Balanced: 48th Parallel Coffee Longitude 123 Degrees W

49th_longitude123

Serving a balanced breakfast is almost as important as having coffee in the morning—almost. 49th Parallel Coffee’s Longitude 123 Degrees W is a clean cup with delicate sweet notes of fruit and nuts. Delightful to drink without cream or sugar, this blend’s light flavor won’t overpower your meal. This balanced blend is perfect for all types of brewing, so brew it with Mom’s favorite coffee maker.

Pair It With:

  • Berry & Nuts Parfait
  • Scrambled Cheddar Eggs with Citrus Glazed Bacon
  • Eggs Inside Whole Grain Toast

A complete balanced breakfast needs four things: protein, carbs, fat and flavor. Our favorite go-to recipe is pancakes and bacon! Dress it up with this Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes by The Baker Mama for clean eating and Citrus Glazed Bacon by Martha Stewart. The citrus glaze brings out the best acidity in this cup.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Does It Compare?

The future is here. You’ve been asking for it and finally we’ve got it! We unboxed the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and we hardly even recognize it. The original Oscar was wrapped in a plastic shroud that dulled the mighty power of its espresso. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is decked in steel and features clean reflective angles—hello, gorgeous! The new design did a complete 360 from original, literally; the new C-shape front allows room for the extended steam wand that rotates on a 360° ball joint to reach every angle of your frothing pitcher.

Oscar2_font
The updated steel body and C-shaped structure create beautiful dimension.

The innards of the Oscar II and Oscar are nearly the same. It’s still a heat exchanger with a copper boiler, which produces that fierce steam power and allows you to brew at the same time. The reservoir saw an upgrade in capacity and a bigger hole for sticking your hand in to clean out any gunk. Mostly, the Oscar II’s design finally reflects the high-quality that makes the Nuova Simonelli machines top of the line.

Oscar2_water
The updated water reservoir holds 2.8 liters of water for more cappuccinos.

Shot

Hurray for heat exchangers! If you’re like us, we love to brew and steam at the same time so we can get to our latte faster. The Oscar II features front-facing indicator lights for the boiler and reservoir so you’ll know exactly when you’re ready to brew. Even though our indicator light clicked off at the nine-minute mark, you’ll want to give your machine a good 30 minutes to heat up. 

Oscar2_buttons
Program a single or double shot using the soft-padded buttons. Above are two lights that indicate low water and the boiler temperature, respectively.

The two programmable buttons allow you to set the volume of a single or double shot. Getting the right volume is easy-peasy, too. Press and hold one of the volume buttons and wait for it to flash; once it’s flashing, press again to start the flow of coffee. When the cup’s filled to your desired caffeine intake, press it again to program the volume time. Tada! Coffee is served. Great coffee at that! We noticed the Oscar II pulled consistent shots and even at the set factory settings offered delicious espresso. Pro Tip: unboxing the Oscar II we noticed it pulled longer shots that give you enough wiggle room to program your preferred shot time.

Steam

Nuova Simonelli is the official espresso machine provider for the Barista Championship, so you know it’s got it going on. The steam power behind the Oscar II is a force to be reckoned with—they can’t let those professional baristas down. On a 360° rotating ball joint, you can get into any container at any angle to froth. Plus, the four holes releasing steam add extra power on all sides. The steam’s nice and dry, too, so there’s no extra moisture but plenty of piping hot goodness.

Oscar2_steam

Grabbing the nearest pitcher of ice cold milk, we put the steam wand to the test. Whole-y milk froth, Batman! In less than 10 seconds, we were looking at microfoam and feeling hot, hot hot! Needless to say, you’ll want to watch out where you put your hands when you’re steaming—remember the four holes that release steam. It’s so quick too, that some of Seattle Coffee Gear’s novice baristas were having trouble texturing the milk just right. The steam power is definitely something you’ll want to get a feel for with practice. Of course, our veterans took to it like a duck to water and were swimming in ponds of beautiful latte art quality milk.

Style

Curvy in all the right places, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is carved to catch your attention. The clean look of the steel complements modern taste while the C-shaped frame adds futuristic dimension. Stand head on, the rippled brew head and reflection off the drip tray are reminiscent of a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica (seriously, go search “Cylon” right now). All these elegant curves and edges are interrupted by something it seems Nuova Simonelli forgot to add—oh yeah, the switch for the steam wand. Sticking out like a sore thumb, the switch flips on or off and we’ll generously add you can push it ever-so-slightly to get quick steam. For power and functionality standing behind the steam pressure of the Nuova Simonelli, it’s unfortunate to see the steam lever handled so carelessly.

The color block look is another eye-sore on this machine. We love the chrome. We love the black. We’re not fans of the gray. The color of the steam switch doesn’t coordinate with the rest of the design, either, unless you count the muted gray buttons and portafilter as a close match. Rubbing a finger over the surface of each button, it’s like flipping through the channels of an old remote control. The outdated texture leaves us yearning for more.

Oscar2_sidefront

The Oscar II comes with a 58mm commercial-grade non-pressurized portafilter with breakaway spouts—can we just say those open spouts offer the best view in the house? What’s not lovely is the plastic handle. You’d think the chrome cap was metal but it’s not. The other faux-steel look is the rippled chrome brew head. While you can’t tell from a distance it would have been nice to move away from plastic and committed to real steel like the rest of the body and drip tray.

Conclusion

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II captures power and style. The updated steel body reflects the high-quality build of Nuova Simonelli’s internals and the new angled front adds intriguing dimension as well as more room for a longer steam wand. Just to recap, we steamed milk in 10 seconds! The steam wand on the original Oscar has nothing on the new one! It’s much easier to access and angle your pitcher in. While we went off on the plastic components a bit there at the end, the overall design is a refreshing upgrade from the previous model with all the same powerful gears making delicious espresso.