Crew Comparison: Saeco Xsmall vs. Xsmall Vapore + Xsmall Chrome!

The Saeco Xsmall is retiring to the Bahamas and handing down the family legacy to the juniors—the Saeco Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome! There’s a striking family resembles—but don’t be fooled, these juniors come equipped with the skills to make one amazing cup.

The Xsmall Chrome and Xsmall Vapore are one and the same but in different colors. The Chrome resembles the original Xsmall with sophisticated two-tones of silver and black while the Vapore is a rich black. Because we want your machine to complement your kitchen, we have two different reviews on our YouTube channel for the Xsmall Chrome here and the Vapore here. Take a peek at the colors and tell us what you think in the comments below!

x-small_chrome

The improvements Saeco made to the Xsmall Vapore and Chrome are mainly aesthetic. The original Saeco Xsmall’s all plastic body might have turned people away, but the new machines come with metal drip trays that sparkles and shines against your cup. While the body of the machines are still plastic, there’s a nice sheen to the black and chrome that make up for the fact that they’re still, well, plastic. The plastic does cut down the cost on a machine at this caliber and makes the price tag affordable and well worth the purchase for the features you get on this superautomatic.

x-small_vapore

OK, so feature-wise you’re getting the same deal—and why wouldn’t you when their predecessor did it so well? Latte, cappuccino, Americano…you get the idea! This tiny bot can handle a variety of drinks without all the buttons and icons some other machines have. The Saeco Xsmall features one dial to rotate between espresso, hot water or steaming and buttons for two espresso options.

Are you feeling like an Americano? The panarello style steam wand dispenses hot water using the quick-heating Thermoblock. After it’s done, simply switch it make to espresso (the bean icon), press and watch your coffee come together! Latte, anyone? The wand is also great for steaming and requires no skill to get frothy foam. Make sure to keep the steam wand’s air intake clear and you’ll be making hot lattes for everyone.

Check out the full comparison between the original Saeco Xsmall and Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome. Drop us a comment if you’re loving the new Saeco Xsmall!

Crew Review Comparison: Breville Oracle vs. Barista Express

Breville has made it their mantra to infuse their coffee makers with simplicity and convenience. When you’re comparing the Breville Oracle and Breville Barista Express, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Both are semi-automatics with similar style and capabilities to whip up delicious espresso, but they have their own approach to getting the job done. On this Crew Comparison, we’ll break down feature-by-feature to see the full  differences of the Oracle and Barista Express!

Breville_Oracle

Grinder & Tamper

A closer look at the Oracle’s robust portafilter holder reveals some hidden features. Once the portafilter is locked in place, with the flick of the wrist the grinder dispenses coffee right into it. Here’s the real hidden gem: When it’s done grinding, the Oracle automatically tamps for you! Like many features we’ll dive into on this machine, the tamping pressure and grinder settings can be programmed using the digital display.

There’s no love lost with the Barista Express’s grinder! Unlike the Oracle, you can program the volume of your grounds for a single or double shot. To activate the automatic grinder, simply press the portafilter against the back, but instead of the grinder and tamper working together like in the Oracle, you’ll have to manually tamp. The Barista Express comes with a tamper that magnetically sticks into the machine to easily store away when it’s not in use.

Silvia vs Barista Express

Brewing & PID

The intuitive digital display on the Breville Oracle allows you to fine-tune the PID to the exact temperature you want and then the machine maintains it. The real kicker for the Oracle is the dual boiler and pump system that allows you to brew and steam at the same time. The PID and dual boilers work in sync to maintain the correct temperature for each, so you’ll never worry about semantics again.

We learned from Gail that the Barista Express has a basic PID. This just means that it can only be adjusted between four degrees of the programmed temperature. That being said once the PID is set it will heat the boiler to the desired temperature and maintain it. The boiler on the Barista Express is a thermocoil and it can only brew or steam separately. Even though this isn’t a dual boiler machine, the PID keeps the temperature in check and that deserves some brownie points in our book!

Steam Wand

What the heck is that on the Breville Oracle? That’s the Oracle’s steam wand—a hybrid of manual and auto steaming. And it’s extremely smart. Set your wand to auto, adjust the temperature to the “happy zone” and let it froth! The tip of the wand has a sensor that will indicate when the desired temperature is reached. Once it’s achieved, the wand automatically stops steaming. Can we just say the milk was fantastic? The froth on the Breville Oracle is perfect for a latte without a lot of effort.

Bonus points for the Oracle: When you’re done steaming, push the wand back into place and it automatically purges for you! Say goodbye to gunky steam wands. This feature will help maintain the life of your machine and keep it sparkling.

Breville Oracle Care

The Barista Express has a steam wand that would be better suited for a beginner. The traditional steam wand features one hole to release steam and lower pressure steaming. The lower power will take longer to heat up the milk, but on the other hand, it will be easier for a budding barista to hone their craft! There’s no auto feature, too, so steaming is done completely by hand.

Bonus Round:

The Oracle has some additional features that we couldn’t resist pointing out. There are two ridiculously easy ways to access the water tank. To add water, the Oracle is outfitted with an access point on the top. Press down the lid and it’ll pop right open!

The second feature is hidden beneath the drip tray. Remove the tray and you’ll notice a dial, which you can turn to engaged a swivel foot under the machine that makes accessing the water tank in the back a piece of cake! This round goes to the Breville Oracle!

Watch the full Crew Review and witness these powerful machines at work. We’re attractive to the convenience and thoughtful features of the Breville Oracle, but the Barista Express certainly doesn’t lack in capabilities! Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Coffee Collaboration: Portuguese Mazagran Coffee – A Coffee & Lemonade Treat!

 While you’re impatiently waiting for short season, we’ve got a refreshing drink that’ll curb your summer appetite! Today’s concoction includes a summer favorite, lemonade, and our personal favorite, coffee, to create one delicious treat. Thanks Nick for the awesome recipe!

Gail went ahead and made herself a glass! Here a tip Gail discovered: make sure you have a tall enough container. We recommend at least a 12-ounce glass for this brew.

Gail_Drink

Nick’s Portuguese Mazagran Recipe:

Equipment:

  • 12 ounce+ glass
  • AeroPress
  • Scale

Ingredients:

  • 56 grams fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 356 grams filtered water
  • 56 grams sugar
  • 100 grams of Ice
  • 25 grams of light roast coffee ground fine
  1. In a carafe with 100 grams of ice, combine the sugar, lemon juice and 56 grams of water to make a concentrated lemonade.
  2. Bring the remaining 300 grams of water to a boil.
  3. Set the AeroPress on top of the lemonade mixture and add in 25 grams of coffee.
  4. Slowly add 300 grams of boiling water into the AeroPress. Stir and brew for about 4 minutes and press when done.
  5. Stir to combine the lemonade with the coffee and pour into a glass with fresh ice!

Mazagran_Seperation

This sweet infusion reminds Gail of iced tea with lemonade—another summer favorite!

Do you have a recipe to share with us? Drop us a comment below and we’ll brew up your favorite cup!

Coffee On The Brain: Mundo Novo & Catuai Coffee Varietals

On this Episode of Coffee On The Brain, we travel to Brazil to explore the Mundo Novo and Catuai coffee varietals. These South American coffees create a tasty blend that you have to try! After a short history lesson, we’ll brew up some of 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza coffee blend

The Mundo Novo coffee varietal thrived in Brazil and is a natural hybrid of Typica and Bourbon plant. It’s a favorite amongst farmers for its resistances to disease and its higher fruit yield than a Bourbon varietal. It didn’t, however, inherit the desired flavor profile that people love from a Bourbon. That doesn’t mean you can’t find quality Mundo Novo beans! When you are lucky enough to come across some, the flavor is described as heavy and sweet with lower acidity.

What do you do then when beans are missing desired traits? You make new ones, of course! The Catuai is a high-yield Arabica cultivar from the Mundo Novo and Caturra coffee varietals. It was bred in the 1950s by the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil likely as an attempt to create a high-yielding, pest resistant plant with delicious cherries.

The Catuai is a high-yielding cultivar with a sweet, Bourbon-desired flavor, but, unfortunately, it is susceptible to diseases—we call this a success in the coffee world! Two out of three desired traits isn’t too bad. While the dream for a bean with all three traits wasn’t fully realized in this varietal, the Catuai coffee produces some espresso blends that we’ve come to love.

Want to get your hands on some Catuai coffee?

49th_honduras

Amber brewed up 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza and gave it a try. She detected notes of sweet, caramel balanced with tropical fruit undertone—like a mini-vacation in a cup! Try it and tell us what you think. 

If you’re curious to try Amber’s quick pour over, here’s the easy instructions.

Quick Pour Over Recipe:

  • Chemex Carafe with filter
  • 30 grams of ground 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza coffee
  • 500 grams of water at 205 degrees
  • Brew for 3:50 minutes
  • Serve  hot and enjoy!

Crew Review: Eureka Zenith 65E Coffee Grinder

“Eureka! I have found it!”

Shout it out! If you’re looking for a commercially designed machine built to change beans into beautiful, consistent espresso grounds, then this is your machine! Are you shouting “Eureka!” yet? On this Crew Review, we’re exploring the Eureka Zenith 65E Burr Grinder and showing you some cool features on this mighty machine.

eureka_zenith_front_black_1

Do you have three pounds of beans you’re looking to grind up? Because the Zenith 65E can handle it. The bean hopper holds three pounds of beans and is matched with 65mm stainless steel flat burrs that’ll turn nails to dust—just kidding! Don’t try that at home. But really, these burrs create grounds quickly and consistently, which is what you need for a great espresso shot.

The stepless grinder gives you full control to find your sweet spot—the best grind for your shot—which marries seamlessly with the powerful burrs. You have complete control over the coarseness (as Gail demonstrates in the video). With unlimited options, it’s easy to see how you could lose it. This is what we’d call a double edge sword. A cool feature on the Eureka Zenith 65E to keep your grind is that the bottom burr adjusts the setting. When you go to clean your grinder you’ll remove the top burr and avoid losing your sweet spot!

The Eureka Zenith 65E has a built-in portafilter holder that’s ready for anything. Adjust the holder up or down to hold different sized portafilters and, when you’re ready, activated the grinder by pushing the portafilter into the button directly behind. The Zenith 65E also features an adjustable spout to dispense your grinds at different angels and a spotlight shining down onto your grounds. Didn’t we tell you it was ready for anything?

Once you’ve found your sweet spot and lined-up your portafilter, don’t forget to program your grind! Using two programmable portions, customize your volume for your ideal single or double shot. As long as you keep everything in place, you’ll have a consistent grind to come back to each time.

The Eureka Zenith 65E a worthy machine to bring into any home. Realistically this massive machine and its power might not be best for individual use. It would work wonders in an office, apartment community, commercial setting or a home business where you have people trickling in and out. Fill the bean hopper in the morning and you can pull espresso shots all day long.

Check out the full video below and tell us what you think of the Eureka Zenith 65E by leaving us a comment on our YouTube video!

Ask Gail: How To Sign Up for SCG Subscriptions!

CoffeeSubscriptions_EmailBanner

Imagine waltzing into the office and throwing a friendly “hello” to Gail before making a beeline to the kitchen. You expect to be greeted by the aroma of piping hot coffee but the stale air and huddle of co-workers around the pot confirm your suspicions. You ran out of coffee. Again.

Why run out of coffee when you can get fresh roasted beans delivered straight to your home or office? We launched SCG Subscriptions to put the pep back in your step and free your mornings for important tasks like brewing another pot. With SCG Subscriptions, you can have selected coffee, tea and cleaning supplies mailed directly to you!

If that’s not the definition of convenience, then this certainly will be! We made it super easy to sign up and change your subscription. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1. First, you’ll need a Seattle Coffee Gear Account. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to create one or log in before you can set up your subscription. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.16.51 PM (2)

Step 2. To start your subscription, go to seattlecoffeegear.com. For an example run-through, we’ll subscribe to—you guessed it—coffee! Click on the “Coffee & Tea” tab and browse through the coffee based on their flavor profile and specialities. Currently, we offer SCG Subscription on most coffees, teas and cleaning supplies.

 Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.16.18 PM (2)

Step 3. Choose an item and click on the photo to get more information. This is also where you will subscribe to that item.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.16.27 PM (2)

Step 4. On items that are available for SCG Subscription, under the “Add to Cart” button is the “Subscribe” button. Click on “Subscribe” and the website will prompt you to login to your SCG Account.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.16.38 PM (2)

Step 5. Log in to your account and fill out the subscription information. In your account, you will be able to:

  • Adjust frequency between every week, two weeks, a month or two months for delivery
  • Address who’s receiving the delivery
  • Change your address when you move
  • Add, change or cancel your order at any time!

That’s all there is to it! Watch the full video below with Gail and Miranda as they explain the awesome convenience of this new feature!

Tune Up For What: How To Remove A Stuck Saeco Brew Unit

You’re trying to give your machine some TLC and lo and behold the brew unit won’t budge. You’ve pushed and pulled and it’s clear the brew unit is just stuck. Luckily, with a little know-how you can easily get your machine back to working in no time! In this episode of Tune Up For What, Spencer and Jeremiah demonstrate how to remove a stuck Saeco brew unit.

We get busy, impatient and we start doing things we end up regretting later—we get it, we’ve all been there! A common reason your Saeco brew unit gets stuck is that the brew cycle was interrupted and now it’s in the “working position,” which means it’s engaged with the machine. Most likely the piece that’s getting stuck is the water connection. The easiest way to see if this is your problem is if it’s difficult to remove the dump bin. Go ahead and check, we’ll be here when you get back!

Did you see the problem? Awesome! In this video, we’re using the Saeco Intelia Deluxe and the following instructions will teach you how to fix this machine. We also did a video on accessing the Saeco Xsmall’s Test Mode that you can watch if you have that machine!

Let’s get started:

  1. Go into the machine’s Test Mode. For the Saeco Intelia Deluxe, hold down the “Espresso” and “Menu” buttons and then press the “On/Off” button.
  2. The digital display will now be in Test Mode. Scroll up to where it shows “BU” aka Brew Unit.
  3. Press and hold the “Espresso Lungo” button and you’ll start to hear the unit moving!
  4. Voila! Remove the brew unit and give it some TLC.

Pro Tip: Review the manual’s cleaning and troubleshooting section for maintenance tips and tricks. Every machine is different and has different needs.

Is your brew unit still stuck? Ah, man! That’s a bummer, but luckily our customer service representatives are here to help.

Phone: toll free – 866-372-4734 | 206-774-3164
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7am – 6pm | Saturday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm (pacific)

Crew Comparison: Breville Infuser vs. Rancilio Silvia M

When it comes to purchasing a solid semi-automatic machine, the Rancilio Silvia M and the Breville Infuser both would be a welcomed addition to any home! But hey, we’re in the business of making choosing easier for you, so we’ll give you our two cents on which machine would be better for a beginner and experienced barista. Watch the full video below for the full comparison on the Rancilio Silvia M versus the Breville Infuser.

Breville_Infuser

To all those new to coffee out there, welcome! We’ve all started our coffee journey somewhere and what’s a better place to start a beginner than with a Breville Infuser? This semi-automatic machine is filled to the brim with convenient features for—you guessed it—beginners. The 54mm stainless steel portafilter has a pressurized basket that helps get a delicious espresso shot out of subpar coffee grinds. It also comes with non-pressurized baskets that would be great for people looking to perfect their craft after practicing with a pressurized basket.

Pro Tip: We  recommend if you’re interested in brewing with semi-automatics that you start by purchasing a high-end grinder. The flavor, texture and enjoyment of your cup come down to consistent grinds and high-end grinders will answer the call to this task.

The Infuser also comes with a  tamper that sits nicely up in the machine. There aren’t a lot of machines with tampers built-in like that and it’s a sweet bonus for people who haven’t purchased a tamper yet.

This machine also has some programmable features such as two volume controlled buttons and a PID. On the side, you can flip a switch between hot water and steaming. The steam power on this machine, however, is weak. Although, we think that the Infuser’s softer steaming gives espresso newbies a chance to learn how to froth milk on a traditional steam wand, so you can’t go wrong with that!

Rancilio Silvia M

If you want to brew with the big boys, the Rancilio Silvia M has a lot of the same features but with more advanced skills needed. The professional grade 58mm portafilter only comes with non-pressurized baskets—meaning you’d want to purchase a quality grinder to get the grounds just right.

Both machines have a PID but there is an additional cost to adding it on the Silvia M. The extra cost does mean extra precision! The PID on the Silvia M controls the temperature between one degree of where you set it and keeps it there, sets the pre-infusion time, the wait time between pre-infusion and brewing, and the brew time.

Here’s another hot-shot difference. The Rancilio Silvia M is built for steaming. You can see in the video at 5:40 Gail demonstrates both machine’s steaming power and the Silvia M blows the Infuser out of the water with performance. The traditional steam wand on the Silvia M will create fluffy microfoam and hot milk at lightning speed. It’s easy to see that this high-powered machine would be a great addition to an intermediate or experienced barista’s home.

We’d recommend if you’re new to coffee to purchase a machine like the Breville Infuser. It’s simple, sweet and gets to brewing without too much fuss. The Rancilio Silvia M, though, is the machine for you if you’re looking to upgrade from an entry-level machine like the Infuser. It’s built with power that an intermediate or experienced brewer would love.

Didn’t see a video you were looking for? We’re open to suggestions! Drop us a comment on our YouTube channel and tell us two machines you’d like us to compare.

Coffee Collaboration: Coffee + Butter + Coconut Oil = Yum!

You asked for it, so Gail brewed it! It’s time for the much anticipated bulletproof coffee recipe on Coffee Collaboration!

This fresh, creamy drink takes you on a tropical island cruise that you’ve always dreamed of and leaves your taste buds swimming in an irresistible buttery-smooth texture—until the cup’s empty and you find yourself back in your kitchen. Needless to say, this pallet pleaser lives up to its hyped reputation!

Besides the incredible taste and texture, there are some positive reviews out there about the health benefits of bulletproof coffee. One of those benefits comes from consuming coconut oil. Its benefits include speeding up your metabolism and giving you an extra energy boost (you know, in case caffeine wasn’t enough). There are also opinions that coconut oil and certain butter (depends on the kind) add healthy fats to your diet too. Benefits or no benefits, Gail is more than impressed with the final flavor results! Enough chit-chat; let’s make this recipe!

Grab:

  • 10 ounces of coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Blender
  • Coffee maker (we used a French press)
  • Mug!
  1. Brew 10 ounces of coffee. Check out our How To Make Excellent French Press Coffee, if you’re new to the French press brew method.
  2. Grab a blender and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Pour your fresh coffee into the blender and blend! Drink up, me hearties!

Tips & Tricks: Try grass-fed butter for a different flavor and health benefits.

Do you have a recipe you want us to try? Leave us a comment on the video with your unique cup of joe and, as always, get all things coffee by subscribing to our YouTube Channel!

Coffee On The Brain: Timor & Catimor Coffee Varietals

What do you get when you cross a Robusta and Arabica plant?

The Timor coffee varietal!

This cross breed is a rare and hard to find coffee varietal. The Timor was discovered by chance on the East Asian Island of Timor (where it got its name) and was loved because of its unique characteristics. The Robusta parent had blessed the Timor with disease resistant qualities that farmer’s love while it maintained the desirable flavor profile of its Arabica parent.

Eventually, the Timor grew up and had other coffee varietals of its own. One of those varietals is the Catimor, the child of the Timor and Caturra coffee varietals (here in the coffee-sphere, we mashup coffee names like they’re celebrities). It was purposely bred to have the disease resistant qualities of the Timor and the sweet and fruity notes of the Caturra. The flavor results of the Catimor, however, weren’t satisfying.

If you’re lucky enough to find high-quality Catimor beans, the notes are nutty with an herbal aroma. Occasionally, some beans have cherry or berry undertones. However, without the proper care, the beans become overwhelming earthy and rubbery (mmm, delicious). Because of the Catimor’s flavor profile, it’s not a highly sought after varietal, and therefore, it’s rare to find.

Luckily, as Amber points out, there are way better coffee varietals out there! Amber gave us the 411 on the Caturra varietal last week on Coffee On The Brain. Check out the full video on the Timor and Catimor varietals below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get a healthy stream of all things coffee!