New! Izzo Alex Duetto II Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

The only semi-automatic home espresso machine on the market that allows you to easily switch between main-line and reservoir water sources just got a whole lot cooler!

The Izzo Alex Duetto II features the same flexible plumping technology and double boilers as the original Alex Duetto, but has been significantly upgraded with an all-access PID interface that allows you to easily control the temperature on both boilers, switch either of them on or off (awesome energy savings for you espresso-only drinkers out there!), change it between 15 or 20 amp, select Celsius or Fahrenheit temperature readings and much more.

It also has the awesome E61 brew group, which we’re huge fans of because we definitely think it contributes to a great shot when compared to other models in this class that don’t feature this patented technology. The main drawback to this machine is that it’s a monster — requiring 16.5″ height clearance, which doesn’t leave a lot of room to move under most cupboards. We wish they would have made the warming tray sides up top removable to allow for more flexibility around space requirements, but it’ll give ‘em something to improve upon for V.3.0!

Giro D’Italia Giotto Auction Opens Today!

We are thrilled that today kicks off our series of five auctions of Giro D’Italia Giottos to benefit the non-profit organization Coffee Kids! This is such an awesome machine — we’re still waiting for them to arrive (they needed to engrave the name of 2009 winner Denis Menchov) and we can’t wait to get our grubby little paws on them.

These machines take all of the excellent performance and functionality of the Giotto Premium Plus and accent it with several specialized touches that make this limited edition stand apart — and since we’re the only US importer bringing these machines in stateside, these unique collector’s items are incredibly rare as well. But while your friends will be coveting the gorgeous stainless steel design or perhaps the Maglia Rosa-inspired pink manometer, the bragging rights will really be about all the money you donated to Coffee Kids, giving you a direct hand in helping to support tons of community projects for coffee growing families throughout Central America.

PSA: Starbucks Recalls 530,000 Barista Blade Grinders

We just ran across an announcement from Starbucks, indicating the recall of 530,000 Starbucks Barista and Seattle’s Best Coffee blade grinders. There have been several incidents of laceration when the grinders turned on unexpectedly while being cleaned.

If you or someone you know purchased one of the models listed in the announcement, contact Starbucks immediately for a replacement model. Or, maybe it’s time to upgrade? We’ve never heard of a burr grinder lacerating anyone. :)

Crew Review: Monin Natural Fruit Purees

In the halcyon days of our much-storied youth, we spent a cool 8 months slinging fresh juice from behind the mighty wheatgrass wall of a juice joint. Strawberry lemonades, mango-banana smoothies and peach coolers were all on the menu — three drinks you can now very easily create at home using Monin’s Natural Fruit Purees.

These luscious little numbers are very concentrated and highly potent; the strawberry almost seems like a smoothed jam and the banana reminds us of slipping a fresh one off of a Costa Rican tree. We’ve tossed these into smoothies and mocha shakes and look forward to experimenting with them in desserts and cooking.

Monin says these are shelf-stable, but we’re always a little bit terrified of products that claim that, so we’ve been keeping our open bottles in the fridge. It definitely impacts their consistency, making them a bit thicker to pour, which can be good or bad depending on your application. We’re imagining combining the strawberry with our Meyer lemon-infused vodka for a delicious summer cocktail treat! Care to join us?