Tag Archives: espresso machine

Crew Review: Nespresso Gran Maestria

The counterpart to the recently reviewed Nespresso Maestria, the Gran Maestria features a new variation of their Aeroccino milk frother (the Aero 4, which offers you the ability to control different types of milk froth and temperatures) and a demitasse cup steamer. Also, it’s built like a B52 bomber!

Watch Gail introduce us to the machine, from box to cup. She talks about its features, how capsule espresso works and then demonstrates making a cappuccino.


Crew Review: Nespresso Maestria

For ease, convenience and cleanliness, there’s really no beating a capsule espresso machine. Sure, you’re not going to achieve the God Shot, but if you’re looking for a great cup of coffee that you can easily make at home — one cup at a time — Nespresso‘s series of machines are definitely worth your consideration.

One of their newer machines, the Maestria, combines their typical espresso extraction technology with one great new feature: A steam wand! We really dig this because, historically speaking, milk frothing on a Nespresso machine was handled either by a stand alone frother (different variations of the Aeroccino) or via a cappuccinatore type system — neither of which gave you much control over the milk foam quality nor temperature.

Watch Gail take us from box to cup — showing us how to set up the Maestria and then making a latte using its steam wand.

Compare: Entry Level vs. Prosumer Coffee Gear

If you drop serious coin on your home espresso setup, will there be a practical performance difference? What if you spend more on your espresso machine than your grinder or vice versa?

We asked Gail to test out an entry level (Capresso Infinity) and a prosumer (Mazzer Mini E) grinder with an entry level (Krups XP5280) and prosumer (Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2) espresso machine to see how they compare. Do you get a better shot using a high end grinder with an entry level machine? What about an entry level grinder with a high end machine?

Watch and find out!

Crew Review: Saeco Poemia

It’s the little espresso machine that could! Saeco’s newest small single boiler espresso machine takes design queues from their Xelsis-era of machines and functional queues from the tried-and-true Via Venezia and Aroma.

Watch Gail take us through features, show us how it works and then talk to us about how it compares to its predecessors.

Field Trip: Zipwhip’s Textspresso Machine

Let us introduce you to the hardest working robot in the business: Zipwhip’s Textpresso!

This super-modified Jura Impressa XS90 shows off Zipwhip’s cloud-based texting service by allowing you to text an order to the machine and have it automatically craft it for you. Without leaving your desk/couch/hot tub, thankfully. If you needed a one-touch superautomatic espresso machine that is even more automated, then this little number will make all your dreams come true.

Watch as Gail and Allison visit with Zipwhip’s John and Kelsey, who walk us through how they modified the machine and then craft two drinks at the touch of Gail and Allison’s cell phones.



If you want to learn more detail about how they created the Textpresso, check out their blog; or if you’re interested in making your own little java robot powered by text message, it’d probably be a good idea to start by signing up for Zipwhip’s service.



Crew Review: Rancilio Bottomless Portafilter

While we have carried a bottomless portafilter for E61 brew heads that also did work fairly well in the Rancilio Silvia’s brew head, it didn’t seal quite as we might like and so there was often a little bit of water leakage over the top that really was just gauche.

Rancilio released their own version for their commercial machines that fits the Silvia, so we gave it a test drive. We did notice a bit of water leaking over the top, but nothing like the former model. And the spurting/spraying/mini-geysers? There were a few present in Gail’s extraction — more of a fine mist — but that’s just a result of channeling, baby.

Wanna see it in action? Watch Gail demonstrate it on our store’s PID-enhanced Silvia.

Crew Review: Rocket Espresso Machines – V2

Rocket Espresso has souped up their popular machines with a couple of cool new improvements:

  • Premium Plus — both the Giotto and Cellini models will now have dual manometers, one for the steam boiler and one for the brew head. The boiler has also been insulated to decrease recovery time between shots or steaming.
  • Evoluzione — since the Giotto and Cellini versions already had dual manometers, their background color will be changed to differentiate them from their PP counterparts and the boilers will also be insulated.

Both models will also feature an upgraded stock tamper, as well.

Watch Gail walk us through these new models and demonstrate making a latte.

The Lowdown on Distilled Water

A common inquiry we receive is in regard to the type of water customers should use in their coffee making equipment. Some folks think that distilled water will be their best bet, as they won’t have to worry about scale build up or performing descaling procedures for the life of the machine. While there seems to be as many supporters as there are detractors regarding whether or not it’s healthy for the human body, we do know that distilled water is not healthy for your machine. Seriously!

First up, let’s talk about your equipment. Putting water that has a lack of ions or mineral content through equipment that is basically composed of minerals (stainless steel, copper, nickel, brass, etc.) means the water will take that opportunity to take on ions from the surrounding space, contributing to a slow breakdown of those materials. It will essentially leach minerals out of the metal components and degrade the machine’s performance over time. Additionally, there are several models of machines on the market (such as the Rockets) that use a minor electrical charge to determine if there is water in the reservoir. If there aren’t enough minerals in the water to conduct that charge, the machine’s sensor will report that the reservoir is empty.

Now, let’s talk about the coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association of America performed extensive testing and found that the ideal mineral balance is 150 parts per million (ppm). Coffee produced with water that contains this level of hardness is better balanced and a smoother cup. A lower mineral content allows for too much available space, often resulting in an overextraction and a bitter flavor. Conversely, water with a higher mineral content won’t have enough available space, so coffee will be underextracted and possibly more sour. As distilled water has hardly any mineral content (roughly 9ppm), using it for coffee preparation will result in a bitter cup.

We often say that you should use water that you like to drink to make your coffee — after all, coffee is over 98% water. Another option is to use softened water, which encapsulates the minerals, maintaining their structure within the water while prohibiting their ability to adhere to internal components. This can give you the best of both worlds: A smooth and balanced cup of coffee while also reducing the overall maintenance for the life of the machine.

SCG Tech Tips: Espresso Machine Maintenance & Care

So you’ve finally pulled together the courage to add up how much you’ve been spending on all those lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos you’ve consumed at your local cafe everyday. After looking at the grand total you think, ‘Wow, I could’ve set up my own espresso shop!’

When considering their purchase, folks often think about the kind of coffee they want to make and how easy it will be to use — generally, how much work they’re willing to do to craft their favorite drink every day. They also consider the initial monetary investment when purchasing the machine, but we rarely have folks thinking about the overall care and feeding of their new gear: How much work will it take to maintain and keep these machines running well? What kind of life expectancy might a specific machine have? Are there any known issues they should be aware of and prepare for?

To answer these questions, we’ve delved into the tech nitty gritty: From entry-level single boilers to high end ‘prosumer’ semi-automatics to mini caffeine robots (also known as superautomatics), we’ve got the 411 on the general longevity, maintenance and care of different machines. We couldn’t hit all of them, of course, but hopefully there’s enough info here to help you while considering which machine is right for you.

Crew Review: Izzo Alex Duetto II

One of the more popular double boiler espresso machines on the market, the Alex Duetto II has a lot to love about it. The functionality is awesome — PID interface to set the coffee and steam boiler temperatures, easy access to switching between 15 or 20 amp, convertible water source so you can use either the internal reservoir or plumb it in, anti-burn hot water and steam wands — which also now features a four hole steam tip.

Since our last look at this machine, several upgrades have been made, so we decided it was time for another run-through. Watch as Gail talks about features and specs, then demonstrates shots and making a latte. Dig it!