Tech Tip: Removable Brew Group Maintenance

This tip goes out to all of you Saeco superautomatic espresso machine owners out there. Keep your machine humming along by taking regular care of the removable brew group — we suggest performing the following tasks about once a week (more or less depending on your usage):

  1. Remove the group and thoroughly rinse with very hot water — do not use soap
  2. Older models with a removable screen: Take it off (by unscrewing the screw in the middle) and wash it thoroughly — you will find there is a fine coffee silt behind it
  3. Lubricate all moving parts with a food grade lubricant (give us a call if you need ideas on where to get this)
  4. When the group is out of the machine, thoroughly wipe down the interior chamber to make sure all of the connection points are grounds-free

UPDATE: Watch Gail perform maintenance on the Saeco Talea Giro superautomatic espresso machine

Brew Tip: Half Double Decaf in a Half Caf (with a Twist of Lime)

He may have been poking fun at the overly complex ordering practices of his fellow Angelenos, but Steve Martin’s humorous cafe scene in LA Story is a (semi-)appropriate backdrop for our tip today: Brewing rich, delicious espresso with just a bit of a kick.

When we’re craving the taste of coffee but still need to get to bed before 2am, we meld together a blend of 1/2 Lavazza Super Crema and 1/2 Lavazza DEK espresso. Mixing the caffeinated with the decaffeinated takes things up a notch, but not the full whammy we usually find at the bottom of our cup. And while Lavazza’s DEK is some of the tastiest decaffeinated coffee out there, we love the added creamy dimension of the Super Crema.

What’s Your Water Profile?

We’ve talked a little bit about the water mineral content for great espresso, specifically in terms of descaling vs. using distilled water, but we didn’t have a great understanding of how the water can effect coffee and tea brewing — until now.

In this informative article, Joshua Lurie of Food GPS introduces us to Cirqua, a customized water company employed by Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Intelligentsia, among others, to create a water profile specific to enhancing the flavor of the brew. He walks us through a taste test of both coffee and tea, with the only variable being the type of water used. The results? Low mineral content water produced a more bitter taste, high mineral content yielded a muted taste and the customized water…well, it was delicious.

While Cirqua’s products have been available only to commercial groups until now, they will be launching a kit for you to use at home in April at the Specialty Coffee Association of America. We’re excited to try it out and compare the difference!

Crew Review: 4-Hole Steaming Tip

One of the best things about investing in a higher-end semi-automatic espresso machine, such as the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus or Rocket Cellini Premium Plus, is the improved steaming functionality. Larger boilers and professional-grade steam wands make producing velvety microfoam the standard in your home or office — but you can always improve on a good thing, can’t you?

Check out the steam tip upgrade available for any of the Rocket Espresso machines including the Rocket Cellini Classic. This 4 tip set features different hole patterns that will improve the aeration of your milk while steaming, allowing you to easily make creamy steamed milk, every time. We love the ability to experiment above and beyond the factory-provided steam tip and think it’s an excellent accessory to your already excellent machine.

Jura Ena5 Wins Good Design 2008 Award

This is cool!

One of our favorite machines, the Jura Ena 5, recently received a 2008 Good Design award from the Chicago Athenaeum. It’s one of the most prestigious design awards and focus on a high quality blend of form, function and aesthetic. Judging was performed by a panel of design specialists, who based their selections on concept, materials, utility, energy-efficiency, cutting-edge design, construction and sensitivity to the environment.

Winners of this award become a permanent part of the Chicago Athenaeum’s exhibit, touring around the US and abroad. We also honored Jura in this video on all the awesome features and functionality.

Recipe: Soft-Centered Chocolate Pudding with Espresso

OK, this recipe for Soft-Centered Chocolate Pudding with Espresso sounds ridiculously awesome and we’ll definitely have to try it very, very soon.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dark (bittersweet) chocolate, such as Valrhona 65 percent, coarsely chopped or shaved
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, preferably at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot espresso

Directions

  1. Heat 1 to 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl just big enough to fit over the saucepan without touching the water. Place the bowl over the saucepan; when the chocolate has softened, stir to incorporate it with the melted butter, then add the milk, cream and pepper to taste, mixing well.
  3. Pour into 4- to 6-ounce ramekins or coffee cups. Place in the freezer, spaced well apart. Check after 45 minutes to see whether the puddings are set. When their edges are firm (which can take from 45 to 90 minutes) but the puddings are still somewhat soft in the middle, they are ready for the next step or can be transferred to the
    refrigerator to keep cold until just before serving.
  4. When ready to serve, dissolve the sugar in the hot espresso. Fill a (clean) turkey baster or large syringe with the hot liquid and inject it into the middle of each cold chocolate pudding, or make room with a spoon and pour the espresso in. Serve immediately.

Serves 4