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.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Little Green Men

A few weeks ago, the coffee news world was inundated by newspaper and blog reports regarding a study that stipulated the discovery of a cause-effect relationship between high caffeine intake and the possibility of experiencing hallucinations. When we read through the study, however, we felt it to be lacking any truly cause-and-effect data and it seemed the sample group was too small and specific to imply any accurate general population claims.

And we’re not the only ones! One of our favorite study assessment sites, The British Medical Journal came to the same conclusions — and many more — regarding this study’s accuracy and data collection process. If you were confused or alarmed by the recent news, reviewing the study is well worth the read.

So, we’re not saying that you won’t hallucinate if you drink 15 cups of coffee in a 24 hour period, but we do think your daily java habit is highly unlikely to inspire deep conversations with an imaginary Marvin the Martian.

Perfect Packaging

If you need to send in your machine to us for a repair and haven’t kept the original packaging, you need to take some care in packing to make sure it doesn’t get damaged during shipping. We often see machines come in with scratched up surfaces from lose drip trays or portafilters, so we thought that Dane, our shipping manager, could give a brief run through on his recommended packaging. Check out the video!

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!