Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Francis Francis Y5If you are in the market for a capsule espresso maker, the new Francis Francis Y5 for illy is the way to go. This is largely because the machine is both sophisticated and very convenient. With brushed and mirrored stainless steel casing, the machine will look very elegant on your countertop. The machine is also very slim, it probably is even smaller than a toaster, so you won’t have any trouble finding room for it on your counter. Yet despite its small size, the Y5 still has a water tank that is larger than most in its class, which is nice because that means you won’t be constantly refilling it. There is even a nice staging area on the top machine, which heats up as you use the machine so you can take the chill off your cups.

The Francis Francis Y5 truly is a no fuss, no muss machine. To brew a shot, all you have to do is pop your Iperespresso Capsule into the top of the machine, select whether you want a single or double shot, and the machine will do the rest for you. In less than a minute, you will have a full-bodied shot of espresso, with rich crema, waiting for you. If you like to get fancy and play around with the settings on your machine, you are able to do so on this machine as well. You can program the volume of both the single and double shots on your machine. To program the machine, simply hold the button for your single or double shot (whichever you are programming) while brewing and then make your adjustments. The Y5 will then remember these setting for the next time you brew, so you won’t have to worry about entering them in again. Best of all, when the machine is done brewing your shot it will automatically eject the espresso capsule from the brewing chamber in to the dredge box.

Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong with this machine. Even Brendan admitted that this is his favorite capsule machine, because it has such a nice look and is easy to use. Check out the sleek styling of the Francis Francis Y5 as Brendan and Dori brew up a shot.

Crew Review: Francis Francis Y5

Brew Tips: How to Froth Milk

How to Froth Milk2Among our most frequently asked questions is “how do you create perfectly frothed milk?” This question is often closely followed by, “how do I then use that milk to create latte art?” or “how do I incorporate that milk into a shot to make a latte, cappuccino, etc.?” This comes as no surprise, since one of the trickiest parts of making a great drink is getting the milk frothed just right. You don’t want your milk to be too frothy, but not entirely flat either. In most cases the goal you are trying to achieve is creating just the right amount of microfoam. To further help you achieve caffeinated bliss; we’ve decided to tackle all of these questions in this series of brew tips, starting with how to froth milk. After all, creating perfectly frothed milk is the one of the key components for creating all the other drinks.

Getting your technique down, and then practicing a lot, is an important part of successfully frothing milk. However, the type of machine you are using as well as the type of steam wand the machine has, will also impact how your milk turns out.  For instance, inexpensive espresso makers and machines like the Saeco Via Venezia, often have panarellos, which basically foam your milk for you. This is great if you are an espresso newbie who isn’t used to using a manual steam wand or just want to have foamy milk and aren’t picky about what type of foam you get. The plastic models usually have four or more holes on the top, which bring in a lot of air and will make your milk bubblier. If you don’t like bigger, airy foam with a lot of bubbles, you might want to upgrade to one of the stainless steel panarellos that typically only have one hole.

When it comes to frothing milk on a machine that has a traditional steam wand, like the Nuova Simonelli Musica, the rules about the number of holes in steam arm change. Wands with four holes will give you a lot of steam power and will heat the milk really quickly. These wands will also create really amazing microfoam. However, the quality of the microfoam you get is partially based on what type of machine you are brewing on as well as the tip. For instance, the Musica naturally has a lot more steam power, as opposed to a machine like the Breville Dual Boiler, which is a bit slower when it comes to steaming. That being said, neither machine is better than the other, it just depends on what you are looking to create. The Dual Boiler is nice in that it gives you a lot more time to work with, and produce a lot of, foam. On the other hand, it can be tricky to get a lot of foam on the Musica because it heats up so fast.

Once you’ve got what machines and wands you will be using for brewing, it all comes down to practice as we mentioned before. However, we realize this can be harder than it sounds, so here is our cheat sheet for how to froth milk for a latte or a cappuccino.

11 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Latte

1)   Start with a very cold pitcher and milk. This will gives you more time to work with your milk. If it is already warm already it’s going to heat up faster, providing you with less time.

2)   Blow out the extra water in the steam wand.

3)   Adjust the angle of the steam wand to suite your preferences. We typically keep ours at a pretty high angle, but you can play around with it to see what works best for you.

4)   Hold the tip of your frothing pitcher against the steam wand; this will give you more leverage when moving the pitcher around.

5)   You will also want to angle your frothing pitcher to the side, which will help you get the milk swirling around in a circle.

6)   Submerge the tip of the steam wand in the milk. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a high pitch squeal followed by slurping. While it is loud at first, this is exactly what you want to hear. As soon as you hear that squealing noise, make sure you bring the pitcher down so you hear that slurping noise as you start to incorporate air. This will help prevent you from getting too much foam, since for a latte you want to create a smaller amount of foam.

7)   Submerge the rest of the wand in the milk after a few seconds.

8)   Once you can feel the bottom of the frothing pitcher get nice and toasty, almost too hot to touch, remove the steam wand from the milk.

9)   Always wipe down and blow out the steam wand when you are done to prevent the milk from getting sucked back into the boiler.

10)     Mix milk in by slowly swirling the milk around the pitcher, to get a rich and creamy consistency. The milk will look a bit more porous before you begin this process, but once you start mixing it in it starts getting a really shiny texture and that’s exactly what you want.

11)     Combine the milk with espresso and relax with your drink.

7 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Cappuccino

1)   Just like with a latte, you will want to start with very cold milk and make sure to blow out the extra water in the steam wand.

2)   Start with the tip of your steam wand submerged.

3)   Once you start hearing that high pitched squealing noise, you will want to slowly bring the pitcher further and further down to incorporate more air.

4)   As soon as you feel the pitcher and milk get hot is when you stop frothing.

5)   Tap the bottom of a pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around the pitcher to mix it in. You will notice that the texture of the milk is a lot thicker.

6)   If you are creating a drier cappuccino (or a cappuccino with more foam and less milk), you will want to let the milk settle a little bit after you have mixed it, and it will separate out.

7)   Combine the milk with your shot of espresso and enjoy.

If you would like to see the process in action and follow along step-by-step, watch as our resident milk frothing expert Dori teaches Sarah how to perfect her pour. If you live in the greater Seattle area, you can also learn how to froth milk with Dori in person if you stop by for her Sunday milk frothing or latte art workshops in our Bellevue store.

Brew Tips: How to Froth Milk

Crew Review: Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots

Rishi Tea Simple Brew TeapotsRishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots1Love tea? So do we! In these hot summer months, and particularly the “Dog Days of August” as some people like to call them, there is nothing better than a glass cold, smooth iced tea to cool you down. Luckily, with the Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots, making iced tea has never been easier!

To all of you who love coffee as well, this brewer might remind you of a French press. The construction is similar, as there is a filter attached to the brewer’s lid. However, unlike a French press, you don’t press the filter down. The purpose of filter is not to help extract the tea, but to prevent any tea particles from escaping into your cup. To make iced tea, fill the larger, 24 oz. Simple Brew Iced Teapot to the halfway mark with hot water, add your tea and let it steep for the desired length of time. After your tea has steeped, fill the other half of the teapot to cool down your tea. You might also want to refrigerate the tea and add ice to help cool it down even faster. Serve by pouring over a couple of ice cubes in a glass.

However, these teapots aren’t just for making iced tea, they will also brew a pretty tasty cup of hot tea. We love that these teapots because they are multifunctional as it allows you to use them all year long. The smaller, 13-15 oz. teapot is especially a good option for brewing hot tea, as it is more of personal-sized teapot that you can use to brew up one to two cups of tea. The process for brewing a hot cup of tea is similar to that of brewing a cold tea. All you have to do is spoon your loose leaf tea in to the bottom of the teapot, add hot water, let the tea steep for as long as you want and enjoy.

The smallest of these Rishi Simple Brew Teapots are also just big enough to allow a blooming tea ball to expand as it steeps. Thus, at your next tea party you can not only impress your guests with these classy looking teapots, but also entertain them as they watch their tea unfurl into a beautiful flower as it steeps. To discover more uses for these teapots, watch as Dori shows tea-newbie Brendan the ropes.

Crew Review: Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 OD

Rancilio KRYO 65 ODWant to be able to create the perfect grind on demand when making drinks at your cafe? Now, you can with the Rancillio KRYO 65 OD. The “OD” just happens to stand for “On Demand.” With this grinder you will be able to easily dose any amount of coffee you want to be ground with the single, double and customize buttons on the machine. The thing that is particularly nice about this customize feature is that you can grind continuously when making drinks. For instance, if you are making a single, double and triple, you have the function to grind for all three drinks without actually going in and changing the settings as you would on most other machines. Likewise, with this grinder you will be able to grind for nearly any application you can imagine – French press, drip coffee espresso, fine drip/pour over and even Turkish coffee.

While the On Demand function is what makes this machine standout most from its “sibling” the KRYO 65, there are a couple of other features, such as dosing and counting, which are unique to the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD. One feature we really like is the “start dose” option. This setting provides you with the choice of starting the dose by activating the grinder with a portafilter or the press of a button. Thus, if you don’t like to have to constantly push in your portafilter to start your grind, this is a very nice option.  Another option you have within the KRYO 65 OD’s dosing settings is to set the grinder to dose out your coffee based on time. To do this you will have to figure out how many seconds your grinder needs to run to in order to fill up your portafilter for a single or double shot, but once you do so, you can program the machine to run for that length of time every time you want it to grind for a single or double shot.

When it comes to counting your drinks, the KRYO 65 OD allows you to keep track how many total drinks you have made, as do many other machines. However, unlike other machines, you can also keep track of how many single, double and customized shots you produced on the grinder. By keeping track of your drinks this way, you can make sure you aren’t running through a bunch of espresso and not charging for it. In addition, there are counters for the burrs themselves, a feature we haven’t seen on many other machines. These counters allow you to calibrate your grinder by weight, so it will tell you exactly how many grams of coffee you use when you make a shot. You then can take that weight and input it into the settings of the machine, so your grinder thinks every time it makes a shot it is dosing a certain amount of coffee. Finally, you can then use the burr counter to see how much weight has gone through the machine. While this process isn’t completely perfect, it is great because it allows to you too see how much coffee has gone through your machine so you know when you are due to replace your burrs (this typically after going through 900-1,000 pounds of coffee).

Ultimately, we found the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD to be a pretty great grinder. It is a pretty clean grinder, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning up a huge mess after making a drink. In addition, the price point of the machine is pretty reasonable, especially considering all the great features that are included. To see what actually all of these features and options to do, watch as Brandon explores some of the machine’s settings.

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 OD

Crew Review: Jura Impressa F8

Jura Impressa F8Jura has been busy designing a lot of new machines, and this latest model is sure to impress all of your friends! The Jura Impressa F8 contains a mix of some of the best features from the brand’s new and older machines. However, in our opinion the nicest part about this machine is its software and all of the programmability it has.

One of our favorite settings on the Impressa F8 is the “Expert Mode,” which allows you to be the authority and change the settings (shot volume, shot strength, shot temperature and amount of milk used) for all the drinks that are programmed on the machine. Likewise, the F8 gives you the option of changing the volume of your shot once the machine starts to brew, allowing you to customize and play around with your drinks on the fly. Finally, the machine also has a counter so you can keep track of how many shot you’ve pulled and how many drinks you’ve made, and use that to help calculate when your machine is due for a cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning, while Jura doesn’t provide you with access to the brew unit, which is the case on all of their superautos, they do provide you with some pretty efficient automated cleaning tools. These tools can be found and accessed in the maintenance section of the machine’s programming. For instance, you can program the Jura Impressa F8 rinse both your coffee and milk system to ensure your machine doesn’t get gunked up with coffee residue or old milk.

The Jura Impressa F8 is ideal for someone with a lot of users in their home, such as roommates or large family, that enjoy making a variety of coffee drinks. While we wish Jura had incorporated a little more stainless steel into the casing of the machine, we like that it has features like a bypass doser and digital screen as well as a ton of functionality. Watch as Brendan and Gail play around with the settings for making a cappuccino on the Impressa F8, and attempt Gail’s famous superauto latte art.

Crew Review: Jura Impressa F8

Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips

CappuccinoBy now you’ve probably heard of the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest. If you haven’t, this annual contest hosted by Lay’s allows people to submit their ideas for new potato chip flavors in to the company. The brand then selects three to four “flavor finalists” to actually produce so that the public can sample them and vote on an ultimate winner. Last year’s contest conjured up inventive flavors like Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread (which ended up being declared the winner). This year, contestants have gotten even more creative in developing flavor finalists, which are Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa, Wasabi Ginger and Cappuccino chips.

Being the coffee lovers that we are, we were both surprised and interested to hear that a cappuccino chip was being created. After all it combined two of our favorite things, a cappuccino and potato chips. However, we were a little uncertain how these two flavors would mix, as they are both pretty distinctive. As such, we decided we no choice but to put these cappuccino chips to the test and taste them ourselves. However, we wanted this test to be as scientific as possible and wanted people to taste these chips without developing any preconceived notions about their flavor. Therefore, we decided to invite several of our crew members to blind tasting, so we could find out what they truly thought of the chips.

“What were the results of the experiment?” you may ask.  What did the chips taste like? Are they sweet, salty or somewhere in between? More importantly, do they actually taste like a cappuccino or even coffee? You’ll just have to watch the video of our crew chowing down on these cappuccino chips to find out. Likewise, if you have gotten to try the chips out yourself, we would love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment and share your review.

Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips