Cleancaf or Dezcal?

Lime, calcium and other trace minerals exist in nearly every water supply, leaving behind white scaly deposits when the water has evaporated. Removing this scale on a regular basis is an essential component of any coffee maker or espresso machine maintenance regimen — even if you have ‘soft’ water, there will be trace amounts left over time that can build-up and hinder your machine’s performance.

Some folks suggest using filtered or distilled water from the get-go, so that you don’t risk pitting your boiler through repetitive use of the acid required to remove scale. That’s certainly one tack to take, but we’ve found that we prefer the taste of espresso made with water that has some mineral content to it. Because of that, we descale our machines about every three months to ensure that no deposits build up and ultimately burn out the boiler.

If you prefer minerals in your java as we do, there are a couple of products on the market that will help you keep your espresso machine or coffee maker in tip-top shape: Cleancaf or Dezcal. Which is better? Again, it depends on your preferences.

Billed as a cleaner and descaler, Cleancaf combines descaling acid with a detergent that will also break down the oils left behind by coffee beans. It also features a blue dye that helps with thorough rinsing.

Dezcal, on the other hand, is a straight-up descaler — and an incredibly powerful one at that. While it doesn’t have a detergent component, it’s a much stronger product and removes more scale; also, it doesn’t have a blue dye, which we think is a good thing.

Of the two, we recommend Dezcal over Cleancaf, but we carry both of them so you can determine which product is right for you.

New! CoffeeSmarts

Flavored lattes originated in:

  1. Seattle
  2. Rome
  3. Portland
  4. Vienna

You’ll find out the answer to this and 59 other caffeinated trivia questions in CoffeeSmarts, a fun and interesting Q&A game that covers everything from coffee history to concoctions. In addition to the 60 Q&A cards, CoffeeSmarts includes a 16-page CoffeeTips guide with information on brewing, drinking and traveling to some of the world’s most infamously perky places.

Or…you can find out the answer…after the jump!

Roasting Art

We found this great article on coffee roasting and it inspired us to think more about roasting beans at home. We carry three different models of roasters, and have been thinking about trying out the i-Roast 2 to get more familiar with the roasting process. Do you roast your own beans at home? Got any tips for us? We’d love to hear them!

Article reprinted here for your reading pleasure.

The Great Grind Off: Burr vs. Blade

Home espresso enthusiasts often say that if they could change one thing about the early days of their espresso equipment purchases, they would have invested in a better grinder. While there are a multitude of factors that play a part in a high quality shot extraction, the impact of the coffee ground itself cannot be overstated.

The two types of grinders on the market are Burr or Blade — so what are the differences between these two types of grinders and how do they work?

Cream, Sugar and….Salt?

We love to adulterate our favorite brew with all manner of sauces, syrups and additives — we’ve even been known to throw a little bit of cayenne into the mix. But salt isn’t something that comes readily to mind when we’re concocting a new espresso recipe.

Cut to the Taiwanese, who are going gaga over ‘Salt Coffee’ — brewed coffee topped off with two layers of milk and cream infused with sea salt. The craze was inspired by their current mass-love for all things sea salt because of its higher mineral content and improved health benefits over regular table salt. 85 Degree Bakery Cafe, Taiwan’s largest coffee chain, developed the idea and imbibers report that it’s not so much a salty brew, it’s just a heightened taste sensation…which makes sense, given salt’s uncanny ability to accentuate the positive in nearly every other flavor.

We’re heading to the testing lab to develop a salt coffee recipe of our own!