Tag Archives: espresso machines

The Reluctant Barista: Jura GIGA 5 and the Secret Menu

giga5_feature4There is something so intriguing about a secret menu. Starbucks has one. In-N-Out Burger has one. And now, the Jura GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Center does too. After a hot tip from Kat that there was indeed a secret menu, I decided to play detective. I found these new recipes through my favorite machine testing method called ‘random button pushing.’ You won’t find this covered in the Jura user manual (unless you happen to look at page 20…). The Reluctant Barista has some delicious insider information to share.

The initial screen shows what you might come to expect from a superautomatic menu: Ristretto, Espresso, Coffee, Hot Water, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Milk, Milk Foam. From these simple settings you can further customize the coffee dosage, water temperature, water volume, milk volume and milk foam. The Jura GIGA 5 does not come standard with an integrated milk carafe, so I used a Jura Cool Control Automatic Milk Cooler and the included hose that came with the GIGA 5 to make a bevy of milk-based beverages.

Last week I made my go-to drink, a foamy hazelnut latte and was happily surprised by how hot the drink got. Monday morning I had the GIGA 5 pour me a double cappuccino. I needed it! After the caffeine kicked in, it was time to explore uncharted territory. There were 12 more “secret” recipes once I twirled the rotary dial on top. I have to admit, these recipes perplexed me. Were they chosen by an Italian espresso aficionado? Were they chosen by the Swiss manufacturer? Who mixes lemonade and espresso? They did not seem to be targeted to Seattle taste profiles, or at least not my particular taste. However, I did try the recipe for ‘Winter Magic Coffee.’ This turned out to be what I would describe as a Nutella Latte. It was so popular with the SCG Crew that I ended up making 5 drinks back to back.

Sadly, there was no barista gnome inside the Jura GIGA 5 to prepare the drinks. You need to provide your own ingredients. From home I brought my treasured Nutella and used Monin Honey Sweetener although it was sweet enough without it. The GIGA 5 walked me through each step with a series of easy to read screens. I especially liked the final step of each drink I made when the GIGA 5 screen simply said, ‘Enjoy!’

The Jura GIGA 5 “Secret” Drink Menu:

  • Marocchino – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, chocolate powder
  • Pepresso – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, mixed peppercorns (Watch Brandi make this recipe)
  • White Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, ice cubes
  • Gourmet Latte Macchiato – espresso, evaporated milk, Monin Irish Cream Syrup (non-alcoholic) or Bailey’s Irish Cream (alcoholic)
  • Irish Coffee – coffee, brown sugar, Irish Whiskey (alcoholic), whipped cream on top
  • Café Melange – coffee with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top
  • Viennese Coffee – coffee, vanilla ice cream, Monin Vanilla Syrup and chocolate shavings on top
  • Winter Magic Coffee – espresso, Nutella, honey and a pinch of ginger and cardamom on top
  • Shakerato – espresso, lemons, sugar, ice
  • Mango Lassi – espresso, yogurt, mango puree
  • Red Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, Campari (alcoholic), ice
  • Summer Fire – espresso, Monin Coconut Syrup, lemon pepper

Thank you GIGA 5 — we will enjoy!

The Reluctant Barista: Tackling the Rocket R58 Dual Boiler

58I had an ‘Aha! Moment’ this morning and it changed my whole relationship with espresso prep. Very reluctantly, and only because I was on a deadline, did I approach the Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler. Kat asked me why I was more reluctant than usual to pull shots on this machine and I didn’t have a good answer. Shiami encouraged me and told me that I would love the quality shots an E61 brew group produces.

To start, I frothed a pitcher of milk, which I do regularly on the Rocket Giotto, and the difference between a heat exchanger and a dual boiler became apparent. In the same time it takes me to get a nice velvety microfoam at 150 degrees on the Rocket Giotto, I found the Rocket R58 had gotten up to 170 degrees! There was foam but the higher temperature killed the creaminess. The powerful steam cut frothing time almost in half and I had not adjusted for that fact.

Next, I enlisted Fillmore from the repair department to expertly dial in the grinder. I watched him grind into the portafilter from a Mazzer Mini. He pulled a shot and it was too quick. He adjusted the grind a tick finer, pulled another shot and it was still a little fast. He re-adjusted, then felt the espresso grounds in his hand and they were fine like ground pepper. On the third extraction the shot pulled evenly and within 22 seconds we each grabbed a shot and tasted it. Zoka Organic Espresso Quatro — yum!

As I stared at the shiny stainless steel Rocket R58 with its 58mm portafilter, I was still reluctant to pull my own shots. I recounted all of the variables Gail recommends for a perfect espresso shot: filtered water, the right grind, the correct tamp and a deluxe hand-built Italian espresso machine (just kidding! Kind of…). Finally the answer was clear to me: While I understand how to make espresso, my problem is I can’t tamp!

I love it when Kaylie makes me a latte, I use E.S.E. pods at home and I will occasionally use the new Francis Francis capsule machine for an afternoon pick-me-up. As a result, I have avoided the tamping issue altogether. Aha!

There are benefits to having the entire SCG demonstration arsenal at my disposal. I lined up a tamping mat, a tamper and a knock box. Long overdue tamping practice began and continued until both the Rocket R58 drip tray was full (twice!) from pulling shots and the knock box was full of spent pucks. From this experience I found out the following:

  1. The R58 brew head warning sticker states, ‘Caution Hot Surface,’ and that’s the truth
  2. Pre-warming your portafilter in the brew head yields great results, however it also makes it hot to touch when you tamp
  3. Fillmore’s Pro-Tip: A half flip of the lever allows for a mellow pre-infusion using passive boiler pressure
  4. It is hard to get espresso grounds out from under your fingernails

Many people go through a coffee preparation progression as their taste, budget or skills change. I went from French press to stovetop espresso maker to a small single boiler machine. How do you know when you are ready for the next step, in this case a dual boiler? Identify your comfort level and your ultimate goal. My comfort level had me afraid to tamp, but my goal was a fresher shot. So it turns out that I am ready to upgrade. For now, a heat exchanger model is my next step.

There is a machine for every person though, so who does need a dual boiler espresso machine? For me, the styling of the Rocket line is what an espresso machine ‘should’ look like — I would love to see one on my counter top. Like a heat exchanger, a dual boiler saves time if your preferred drink is milk-based since you can froth and pull shots simultaneously. The R58 in particular can be used with the internal reservoir or plumbed-in for even more convenience. Finally, espresso is all about consistency; with commercial grade parts, dual pressure gauges, a rotary pump and an external PID, the Rocket R58 uses current technology to allow you to pull the best shots you are capable of every time.

Where will your preparation progression lead you? The Rocket R58 Dual Boiler is not a starter machine. When you are ready to take things to the next level though, this espresso machine is one of the very best. Don’t be reluctant to try it!

Compare: Rocket Espresso R58 vs. Quick Mill QM67

Dual boilers are where it’s at when it comes to controlling the temp of your shot while also sporting steaming functionality that is almost embarrassing in its ferocity.

These little babies come in variety of formats and price ranges, and Gail shows us models from Rocket Espresso (the R58, what!) and Quick Mill (the QM67, what!) to show you how their form, function, tech specs, internals and performance compare.

Compare: Rocket R58 vs. La Marzocco GS/3

In the market for a big baddie? Is having control over your brew temperature and/or steaming enough milk to serve up cappuccinos to a small army a high priority for you? If yes, you probably should check out the Rocket Espresso R58 or La Marzocco GS/3 double boiler espresso machines.

Look we don’t want to tell you how to live, but we do care about you. So we’ve put these two popular machines side by side to show off their features, tech specs, internals and performance. Watch Gail walk us through this glorious adventure!

Crew Review: Nespresso U Capsule Espresso Machine

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: When it comes to convenience and cleanliness in the java makin’ world, the capsule system by Nespresso is where it’s at.

Often sporting several different features and functions — like steam wands or automatic frothers — the U is a streamlined version of their capsule espresso machine. It’s small, incredibly intuitive to use and, since it’s using the same brew technology and capsules of its pricier counterparts, produces a great cup of coffee with minimal work on your part. Plus, it incorporates magnets and you know how much we love that. The future!

Want to see it in action? Check out Gail’s walkthrough and demo of the Nespresso U.

Playing with Preinfusion on the Breville Dual Boiler

It’s fun to play with parameters! If you didn’t learn that in the 2nd grade, life has probably been pretty rough for you — but now is your time to shine.

One of the elements you can control on the Breville Dual Boiler is both the pre-infusion pressure and the duration prior to shot extraction. Factory setting is 60% of the overall pump pressure for 7 seconds, but what happens when you change the pressure? Or if you keep the pressure the same and change the timing? Of course, all coffee will react differently to these settings, so we decided to experiment with Equator’s Espresso Blend to see how making changes to this parameter affected the overall flavor of the shot.

Watch Gail try different pressures and different pre-infusion times to determine if the factory settings are the best bet for Equator Espresso.

Crew Review: Jura ENA 4 Superauto

One of our favorites in terms of straight up shot appeal, the Jura ENA 4 is a simple superauto that’s designed for smaller kitchens. While its steam wand functionality leaves a bit to be desired, making rich espresso shots and Americanos at the touch of a button make this machine one of our favorites in this product set.

Watch Gail take us through its features and specs, then demonstrate how it functions.

Compare: Saeco Poemia & Saeco Aroma

If your kitchen counter space is at a premium, an espresso machine with a small footprint is likely your first consideration. Saeco’s Poemia and Aroma models are great options to consider, as they pack a lot of simple functionality into a relatively small punch.

Watch Gail talk us through their features, how they compare and why you might choose one over the other. Then she demonstrates making a cappuccino on each so you can see them in action.

What it is!

Crew Review: Saeco Intelia Focus

Featuring a small footprint, simple to use interface and a cool new approach to the finger guard that actually promotes — instead of hindering — coffee bean feeding, there’s a lot to love about Saeco’s new Intelia Focus superautomatic espresso machine.

Watch as Gail takes us through the ropes, including its features, functionality and an overview of the accessories Saeco includes. Then she demonstrates making a delicious cappuccino!

 

Crew Review: Breville Cleaning & Maintenance Supplies

Given that she had to coerce us into cleaning our bedroom by rather surreptitiously hiding small change in the corners (and encouraging us to ‘find what the fairies left!’), our mother would be quite relieved to know of our passion for cleanliness in adulthood! And while you won’t find nickels and dimes in the brew head or the water tank — at least, you shouldn’t — Breville’s maintenance supplies make it easy and almost as fun to keep your espresso machine clean.

First, watch as Gail shows us how to use their cleaning tablets to clean the brew head of the Breville Dual Boiler.

She then discusses their charcoal/resin filters, shows how to install them and explains why they’re necessary — especially with the Dual Boiler.