Tag Archives: espresso machines

Brew Tip: Steaming on the Saeco Odea Giro sans Panarello

Added to the majority of smaller single boiler semi-automatic and superautomatic espresso machines on the market, a panarello has the benefit of incorporating both air and steam into the milk during the frothing process, enabling even the most green home barista to produce a nice, frothy milk for lattes and cappuccinos. And while it’s true that it does enhance a machine’s frothing functionality — especially when you’re working with a smaller boiler or a thermoblock — the ability to control the end product is very limited: If you’re not looking to produce a dry cappuccino, the foam can sometimes be a bit too, well, frothy.

For those that want to employ some actual stretching-the-milk skill to their drink creation on the Odea Giro, we thought we’d experiment with removing the panarello to see how well it works out. Sometimes, wands without the panarello end up being too short and, therefore, make the process even more difficult.

Watch as Gail demonstrates this simple mod and shows how well it performs in this demonstration video.

Selecting a Commercial-Grade Espresso Machine

You wake up one morning and think, I want to open up my own cafe! Or perhaps you’re already running a small business and you want to add espresso as a complementary service. Or you’re the operations manager at your company and you think espresso in the break room would be an awesome idea. But how do you choose from the plethora of machines available? Do you need a one group, two group — four group?! — machine? What do the terms ‘semi-automatic’, ‘automatic’ and ‘volumetric’ mean in terms of actual functionality and your business’ workflow?

In this overview, Gail walks us through a few things you should consider as you’re researching commercial espresso machines. She discusses how to plan for your busiest times, your budget, your workflow needs and — of course! — grinders! If you’re just getting started and don’t know where to start, this video primer is the place for you.

Crew Review: ADE Pocket Scale

Small things are wonderful. In fact, some of our favorite things in the world are tiny in scale and small in stature. Of course, we could be promoting this perspective because we’re goblin sized, but we also have another proof of concept — the tiny but wonderfully useful ADE pocket scale.

Watch as Gail demonstrates the features and functionality of this scale, perfect for measuring out small amounts of coffee for your portafilter basket.


Selecting a Tamper for your Portafilter

It’s not just about how sexy it looks on your countertop, baby. Well, okay, that’s definitely part of it, but you also need to make sure you’re choosing the tamper that will best fit your portafilter. In addition to basic diameter considerations, there are some models that feature filter baskets with shapes conducive to different styles of tampers.

Watch as Gail shows us portafilters for several different models and provides her recommendations on which tampers fit best.

Brew Tips: Switching Roasts and Grinds

If you’re experimenting with different styles of coffees — roast styles, bean blends, etc. — you’ll need to adjust your grind to dial that specific coffee in for your machine. It’s definitely not a set it and forget type of scenario, and there are general rules of thumb one might follow when switching between coffees that have a significantly different roast profile.

Watch Gail provide tips and advice on things to keep in mind when dialing in different coffees.

The Reluctant Barista: Crossland CC1

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Fake it ‘til you make it?’ This is my mantra in a sea of professional coffee quaffers. The words crema, micro foam, portafilter and panarello were not previously in my vocabulary. I enjoy any coffee that I don’t have to make myself. And after such a confession, you can now see why I approached the Crossland CC1 with trepidation.

At first glance the Crossland CC1 had a nice compact size for a serious espresso machine. It was not a countertop hog. I flipped the switch on and watched Gail’s video while the machine warmed up. Miranda walked by and gave me a pro pointer: ‘Pre-heat the portafilter in the group head.’ There are two knobs on the front of the machine which I pushed with hilarious results as 202°F water streamed through the empty portafilter and into the drip tray; I’m glad the drip tray had good capacity. I glanced at the water reservoir level, visible from the front, and there was still plenty of water left to try again.

Next, I unfolded my Seattle Coffee Gear cheat sheet and began with renewed hope that I could pull a decent shot my first time out. The included 58mm portafilter felt heavy in my hand as I used an Ascaso grinder that had been dialed in already. The delicious smell of freshly ground Velton’s Bonsai Blend filled me with anticipation. I tamped the fluffy grinds using an Espro calibrated tamper that Teri had told me about. This is a great beginner tool since I am not familiar with what 30 pounds of pressure feels like.

Now, the Crossland CC1 was ready, and so was I. From the menu, I selected the one-cup option (which is programmable) and positioned my lucky cow cup to catch the espresso. What I observed was that more dripped out one side than the other — a rookie mistake! My dosing and tamping skills needed much more practice. Before anyone noticed, I used the knock box to discard my mucky puck. This was user error, not the fault of the machine or the grind. My crema looked alright and the espresso was tasty, but I would not win a barista competition any time soon.

The Crossland CC1 was ready to go for milk frothing with no delay, thanks to a large boiler and thermoblock combination. If you like milk based drinks like I do, this is important because you don’t have to wait long to steam your milk. I scored a chilled stainless steel frothing pitcher from the SCG break room (a magical place where countless cups of coffee are consumed) and filled it 2/3 of the way full.

The tip of the traditional steam wand was just under the milk when I turned the front button to ‘steam’ and turned the dial on the side of the CC1 to inject the milk with perfectly heated steam. It made my milk much foamier, much quicker than I expected. I was impressed! *Procedural Note: I had previously frothed my milk prior to pulling the shot, just like Gail has advised us to do on a machine like this, but Kaylie stole my milk for her latte. Hence the CC1 steamed two pitchers of milk and pulled a nice shot of espresso without hesitation.

Although I did not brag about my first attempt, or even my second attempt the next morning, the CC1 is a great machine to learn on. It felt solid and there were no delicate parts for me to break. It was forgiving of my lack of skill! Imagine what it could do for someone who actually knows how to pull an espresso shot — the possibilities are endless.

Crew Review: Saeco Poemia with Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade

There’s a lot we love in the world; we’re just Pollyanna like that. But if we had to pick something we love a bit more than other things (and we’re working on a well developed sliding scale and/or bell curve here), upgrading something lo-fi into something a bit more hi-fi is definitely one of them. Maybe it’s the McGyver-esque shape and feel of it, we don’t know. Whatever it is, the Saeco Poemia was an excellent candidate for a little soupin’ up — especially given our awesome non-pressurized portafilter!

So this is how it went down: We asked Gail to pull shots with it, she did so and we filmed all the action for your viewing pleasure. Really, it’s a blast — so sit back, relax and watch the crema ensue.


New Product Round-Up!

Yeee-haw. We wanted to take a moment to let you know about a slew of new goodies we’ve added over the last few weeks.

Quick Mill QM67 Dual Boiler
A double boiler for under $2k? Quick Mill’s latest model features the E61 brew head, separate boilers for simultaneous steaming and brewing, an integrated PID for controlling the brew boiler temp and a simple case design. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to a prosumer-class machine but your budget hasn’t allowed it, the QM67 is definitely worthy of your consideration.

Bonavita Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
We did a crew review of this featuring the engineer, Brian, a few months back, but the kettles themselves finally hit the market at the end of August! Select a specific temp and the kettle will heat until it reaches it, then hold it at that temp as well. With the curved gooseneck, it’s an excellent option for precision pour over preparation (say that three times fast!).

Refurbished Jura Superautomatics
If you’re a fan of Jura’s superautos — or want to be — you can pick up a factory refurbished model at an awesome discount! We’ve added three new models to our refurb line-up: The space-conscious ENA 5, the ultra sleek J6 and the straight-forward C9 One-Touch.

Saeco Tune-Up Kits
Love your Saeco semi-automatic? Keep it tuned up and in excellent working order with one of our three new parts kits. These include everything you need for a regular cleansing of your Aroma, Sirena or Via Venezia, plus instructions on how to get the job done.

Compare: Rancilio Silvia with PID vs. Nuova Simonelli Oscar

While these two machines certainly have some core functional differences, they are often compared by folks because once you retrofit the Silvia with a PID, its price tag is very similar to that of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar. So, is one better than the other? As usual, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Watch Gail discuss the features and functionality of these machines, then demonstrate how they perform in terms of drink quality. She also talks about why you might choose one over the other, so if you’re on the fence regarding these two models, this comparison video was made with you in mind. Cherish it.

Compare: Heat Exchange Espresso Machines

Heat exchange espresso machines offer simultaneous brew and steam functionality by employing a large steam boiler with an embedded brew boiler and a dual pump. They’re easy to use and work well for the majority of home espresso enthusiasts who aren’t interested in dialing in and playing around with different temperatures.

In this video, Gail explains to us what a heat exchanger is and how it works, then talks to us about models from Pasquini, Rocket Espresso and Nuova Simonelli.