New! Ascaso Brew Head Upgrade Kit

Love your Ascaso Basic, Dream, Arc or UNO Special Edition espresso machine but wish that it produced a better shot? Well, we did, too — so we talked with Ascaso and asked them about creating an upgrade kit! While the original screen and water delivery works well for E.S.E. pods, its concentrated-stream functionality just doesn’t properly moisten ground coffee to the level required for a great extraction, so the upgrade kit includes an improved screen that showers water more evenly across the coffee.

The resulting espresso is rich, creamy and has a thicker crema — as good as any shot you’d pull from a Rancilio Silvia. This easy-to-install upgrade is essential, we think, but especially so if you dig using ground coffee in your Ascaso.

Recipe: Mocha Fondue

Love is in the air today and what better way to top off an intimate V-day dinner than with a molten mocha dip?

Ingredients

  • 1 milk chocolate bar (about 3.5 oz.)
  • 1/8 cup espresso or coffee
  • Dipping item of your choice – strawberries, angel food cake, macaroons, bananas, dried fruit

Directions
Conventional method: Break up the chocolate and put in a saucepan with the espresso. Over low heat, stir with a small wire whisk until ingredients are smooth and combined. If the resulting sauce is too thick, add a few drops of water and whisk to blend. Serve in a small bowl with desired fruit and nuts. If fondue becomes cool and thick microwave for 10
seconds and stir, repeat if necessary.

Microwave: Break up the chocolate and put in a plastic bowl with the espresso. Give the mixture of ingredients 10-to 20-second bursts in the microwave, whisking in between. Do this until blended and warm.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Source: Green & Blacks Organic Chocolate

Deep Cheese Coffee Massage

Yes, we have an unnatural love for cheese — particularly artisan creations that imbue lovely cultures with all manner of flavor and depth. From hay to honey and lavender to lemon, we cherish hand-rubbed creations that give unique dimensions to the already full-bodied fromage.

When we heard about Beehive Cheese Co’s prize-winning Barely Buzzed, which features a nutty cheddar lovingly massaged with a coffee and lavender mixture, we thought to ourselves, Yes! Why hadn’t anyone thought of that before?

We immediately ordered their Prize Box and can’t wait to taste this unique cheese, complemented by an espresso-imbued stout, perhaps?

Amp Up Your Ink

Just in from the ‘Green for Green Sake’ department, a new printer that uses coffee or tea dregs in the printer cartridge. The dreamchild of Korean designer Jeon Hwan Ju, this sepia-toned gadget utilizes a mixture of old coffee grounds or tea leaves and water and is powered by your brute force.

While form is definitely outweighing function here, in our opinion, this is a great step in a lovely-scented new direction and may be the basis for further development of more automated methods for using ink alternatives (and supporting more homegrown recycling methods) in printers and faxes.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to see coffee expanding it’s expressive scope from just accidental mug circles and spills to work histories and haiku.

Hot Blog on Blog Action: jimseven

If you’re interested in the life and times of a coffee-obsessed 2007 World Barista Champion, you might just love to read the blog of James Hoffman. He is now roasting with Square Mile Coffee, based in London, and writes a lot about his trials, tribulations and triumphs with the great bean.

We’ve learned a lot about some of the finer points of coffee, thanks to his singular perspective, and think he’s a great read.

Crew Review: Quick Mill Superautomatic

We often see folks struggling between two points: Which is more important, convenience or flavor? It’s the base notion in the semi-automatic vs. superautomatic debate and is one of the main questions we try to understand when helping a customer find the machine that is best for them.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be! We were lucky enough to get our hands on the new Quick Mill Superautomatic espresso machine, which sought to marry the convenience and excellent flavor factors in a prosumer-level home espresso machine. While it took us some time to dial in the machine and we wasted quite a bit of coffee (and a couple of hours) in finding the right balance between bean and machine, the shots we ended up with are the best we’ve ever tasted on a superautomatic — most likely due to the fact that it’s internal workings are not plastic, so temperature regulation is definitely superior.

We also love the traditional — and powerful — steam wand, although getting used to it’s position on the right side takes a bit of ergonomic adjustment if you’re more used to working with a wand positioned on the left. The high-quality stainless steel design, while bulky and taking up perhaps a larger footprint than many might want to sacrifice to their java needs, is sleek and definitely built to last.

All in all, we think this is a great first outing from Quick Mill in the superautomatic space and look forward to its continued evolution — we’d love to see more programmability in the future.