Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis Evo

Saeco Xelsis EvoSpring has long been a time of renewal and new beginnings, and that certainly seems to be the case for many of our grinders and espresso machines. A number of our favorite brands have taken your feedback on their products to heart and updated their machines accordingly, and Saeco now joins their ranks. Recently, the Saeco Xelsis Evo was released as an update to the existing Xelsis One Touch Espresso Machine.

The main difference you’ll see on the new Saeco Xelsis Evo is the updated milk carafe. Many of our customers found that on the previous Xelsis One Touch their milk wasn’t getting hot enough, which is problem that we often see on superautomatic machines. Saeco listened to this feedback and updated the hose that runs from the milk carafe to the espresso machine (it is now smaller), the lid on the milk carafe and even the milk frothing software in order to develop a machine that produces much hotter milk. The other nice thing about the Xelsis Evo is that the machine auto rinses whenever you turn it off, on or make a milk-based drink. This feature is almost as good as having your own personal maid, since it will help keep your milk carafe really clean. However, this is not an excuse to skimp on your machine’s maintenance, which is still really important if you want to keep your espresso maker in good running order.

Another thing we like about the Saeco Xelsis Evo is that it is a very sophisticated superautomatic with lots of programmability. You can create up to six different user profiles and save nine customized drink options for each profile. A few of the features  you are able to adjust are the aroma (or the dosage of your coffee), the volume of the shot and if you’re making a milk-based beverage, the amount of milk you want as well. With so many options that allow you to create the perfect cup of coffee for everyone, the Saeco Xelsis Evo is ideal for a large household, or even a small office, with lots of different users. If you don’t have a large family, don’t be surprised if a lot of your friends start coming over for visits!

To learn how to take advantage of all the options on this machine, watch Gail and Brendan as they try a few of them out and make a cappuccino.

Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis Evo

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for E61 Brew Group

Tune Up Kit for E61 Brew GroupThe E61 group head is one of the more popular brew groups, and is seen on a number of different brands of espresso machines like Rockets, Alex Duettos, older ECM machines and some Quick Mills. In fact, the E61 is one of our favorite types of brew groups since it is designed to provide consistent heat, enabling your water temperature to stay the same from the boiler to the moment of extraction. However, just like any other brew group, it is important to clean and perform regular maintenance on the E61 so it continues to produce tasty shots day after day. Luckily, we’ve made the job easier by creating a Tune Up Kit for the E61 Brew Group for both 8mm and 8.5 mm gaskets.

“Why are there two different sized kits?” you may ask. The reason is the metal on metal friction from your portafilter rubbing against your brew head will wear down the “ears” on your portafilter. As a result, there will be a gap between the brew head and the portafilter, causing the portafilter to no longer sit straight in the machine. This is normal and will happen on most machines, but to get it sitting properly again you will need to start using a 8.5mm gasket. Thus, to help you out, we have also made an E61 Brew Group Tune Up Kit with a 8.5mm Gasket.

However, even though you know that doing preventative maintenance on your machine is important, the process can sound a little daunting. After all, once you take the brew head apart there are all of those little pieces to keep track of and then you have to figure out how to put everything back together. The reality is reassembling your brew head it is isn’t too difficult, and we even include step-by-step instructions in our tune up kit for E61 brew group (as well as all our other parts kits) to help you out. If this isn’t enough to dispel your fears, you can allow along with Brendan in this guided video.

 

SCG Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for E61 Brew Group

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder

Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E GrinderEureka! That’s right, we’ve found the prefect high-capacity grinder — the Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder. While this grinder is indeed a great discovery, the name comes from the brand Eureka, which was bought by Nuova Simonelli many years ago. This grinder is basically the same as the Nuova Simonelli MDX and still has as a 65mm burr set and identical internal features. The only difference in the Eureka Zenith 65E is that it has an electronic front on it. Nuova Simonelli created this machine because they really wanted to get into electronic grinders, and it is their answer to others on the market like the Mazzer Type A grinders or the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD.

As such, the big feature on this grinder is the new electronic doser, which is really easy to use. You have two programmable dosing options available to you, enabling you to decide whether you want your coffee to be dispensed by volume or by time, which can be adjusted at the push of a button. If you know an adventurous barista, you can lock these adjustment settings, so they won’t play around and make changes to your grind. Another unique feature on the Nuova Simmonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder is the resettable digital dose counter, which we actually haven’t seen on any of the on demands yet. In fact, people frequently ask how they can reset the counter on a Mazzer and there is no way of doing that.

In addition to these upgrades, Nuova Simonelli has carried over two of the most popular features from the MDX. One is the stepless micro adjustment dial, which allows you to adjust your grind finer or coarser by simply turning a knob with your finger instead of having to struggle to change the setting with a big lever as on other grinders. The second feature is the ability to open up your grinder and clean the burrs without having to recalibrate your grind. Not only does this make cleaning and maintaining your grinder a breeze, but it also makes the process quicker – you can probably the job done in-between shifts at your café.

To learn more about the features on the Eureka Zenith 65E, watch as Brandon explains what makes it different from other grinders on the market in this video. Just don’t blame us if find yourself shouting “eureka!” too by the end.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder

Interview with Breville’s Phil McKnight

BrevilleAn influencer in the espresso and drip coffee industry for the past 15 years, Breville has long been one of our favorite brands. Not only do they create beautiful die cast espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, blenders and even ice cream makers, but they also put a lot of work and research into developing their products. For instance, when Breville makes an espresso machine there is nothing left behind; all the gadgets you need to create a drink (portafilter, different sized portafilter baskets, frothing pitcher, cleaning tools, etc.) are included an there is even a place to store them. As a result, you can expect to receive machines with great functionality like the new Oracle BES980XL, which enables you to easily pull a shot and froth your milk for latte while still giving you control over the parameters involving the extraction of your shot. This approach also permits Breville to improve products that have become old standbys, like their dual boilers, by gathering customer feedback to create something even better, such as the Dual Boiler BES920XL.

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have Breville pay us a visit all the way from Australia to do some training. While they were here, we got a chance to chat with Breville’s Global Business Manager for Beverage Products, Phil McKnight. Since he started at Breville Phil has been known as the “coffee guru” as he has over 10 years of industry experience in coffee, including judging the Australia Barista championships and running his own café in Sydney. We were eager to hear his thoughts on coffee makers and espresso machines, and asked him to if he’d be willing to do an interview with us so we could learn more about one of our favorite brands. Phil happily obliged and shared some of his insights about the brand’s history, manufacturing techniques and what products we can look forward to seeing in the future.

Interview with Breville’s Phil McKnight

Rocket Cellini Premium Plus with PID & Giotto Premium Plus with PID

Rocket Cellini Premium Plus with PIDRocket Espresso has outdone themselves once again! The brand has updated their Giotto and Cellini V2 models to create the Rocket Cellini Premium Plus with PID and the Giotto Premium Plus with PID. These machines still have all the high-end features that were found in the previous models, but they now also include an integrated PID (proportional integral derivative) for a more precise brewing temperature. The folks at Rocket didn’t want to change the sleek, clean lines of the machines (which are handcrafted in Italy) so they have artfully hidden the PID inside each machine’s drip tray.

What are the benefits of having a PID as part of the machine? The PID makes controlling the brewing temperature more efficient, since it considers a variety of factors when calculating the temperature instead of just the pressure, which is what V2 models with just a heat exchanger did, allowing you to get a consistent temperature over and over again. In addition, the PID enables the machine to keep the temperature within one degree of the temperature you have programed in, where as with a typical heat exchanger there is a little bit more variation.

Some of our favorite features on the Rocket Cellini Premium Plus with PID and Giotto Premium Plus with PID that have continued on from the V2 models are the copper insulated heat exchanger boiler, huge water tank and the ever-popular E61 brew group and its thermo syphon system that efficiently heats the brew head. Another nice feature is the anti-burn steam arm, which will prevent your milk from burning and hardening onto the steam arm if you forget to wipe it off right away. However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean the steam arm won’t be hot; it will be, so be careful not directly touch the wand after each use.

To learn more about the new functionally on the Giotto and Cellini Premium Plus with PID machines and see how to program their PIDs, allow Gail and Brendan to walk you through the steps in this video.

 

Crew Review: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus with PID & Giotto Premium Plus with PID

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Crème Brulee

Coffee Creme BruleeCrème brulee is a dessert prep that has withstood the test of time (it has been around since 1691), and for good reason – it is so delicious! We recently found that if we were going to be historical about it we should have served this dessert last week, since in Catalan cuisine crème brulee is served on March 19th for Saint Joseph’s Day.

However, if you ask us, it’s always a good time to consume this scrumptious treat so we went ahead and made it anyway. After all, there’s nothing quite like the satisfying crunch of cracking through the crisp, glossy brunt sugar crust on a crème brulee. Although, diving into the smooth and creamy custard underneath is a close second. Our version of this old standby does have a slight twist to it though – coffee! As you might have guessed, we love espresso so much that we add it to a recipe whenever we have the opportunity. We must admit it does taste pretty darn good.

Watch as Brandi and Kaylie play with fire (we promise no buildings were harmed or burned down during this film) and create some mighty fine coffee crème brulee.

 

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Creme Brûlée

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of light cream
  • 2 teaspoons of finely ground espresso
  • 8 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon brandy

Directions

  • Start by heating your stove to medium, and combining the cream, finely ground espresso and half the sugar in a medium sized pan.
  • Stir the ingredients until all of the sugar is dissolved and the coffee is mixed in well.
  • Meanwhile, put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat in the flour to make a smooth paste.
  •  Then, gradually stir the warm coffee mixture into the egg paste you just created until everything is combined well.
  • Return this mix to the pan and heat gently, stirring the mixture for 5-10 minutes until it forms a thick custard.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brandy.
  • Pour the custard into 4 small ramekins. Let them cool, then cover and chill the custard in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • When you are ready to serve the crème brulees, sprinkle each one with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Next, caramelize the sugar with a kitchen blowtorch. If you don’t have a kitchen blowtorch, you can achieve the same effect by the placing the sugar covered custard under your oven’s broiler for about 5 minutes until the sugar caramelizes.