A lot of folks want to know some of the similarities, differences, pros and cons of the heat exchange espresso machines we carry, so we asked Gail to walk us through several different models and give us the goods.
In this video, she discusses the Rocket Cellini & Giotto, the Quick Mill Anita & Andreja, the Grimac La Valentina and the Pasquini Livia 90. The latter two come in either semi-automatic or programmable automatic versions, while the first four are lever-controlled semi-automatic only.
Look, we’re not joking. Yes, there are a lot of things we poke fun at and crack wise about, but scale build-up in your boiler is absolutely not one of them. And it will never be — oh no, we are deadly serious about this.
Okay, not really, but scale build-up is often underestimated by folks. They think that by using filtered or bottled water, they won’t need to descale their espresso machine, and this just isn’t the truth. While these waters may have other impurities removed from them, they often have the same mineral content (and, in the case of bottled water, it may even be significantly higher, depending on the source) as your tap water. Using distilled water, water put through a reverse osmosis or a commercial-grade water design system like Cirqua are the primary methods for keeping lime and calcium from building up in your espresso machine’s boiler and related water works, but it’s important to note that mineral content in water does play an important role: It contributes to the flavor.
So if you don’t like the way the water from these treatment sources taste, how do you think it’s going to make your coffee taste? We recommend using water you like to drink to make espresso, which will often involve a regular descale to keep everything working well. Scale build-up will symptomatically show up as failure or very slow to heat up, not enough steaming pressure and/or leaking out of the steam wand and the brew head. Here in the Seattle area, we have pretty soft water, but other areas of the country have very hard water — and if you’re pulling straight from a well instead of the municipal water supply, you likely have a high mineral content.
A few months ago, we received a Rancilio Silvia V2 that was a few years old on a trade-in. The owner lived in Southern California and had never descaled the machine, so the guys put it through a commercial level descale just to start it off — high intensity citric acid was pulled into the boiler and allowed to sit overnight. When they came in the next day and rinsed it through, the machine was still exhibiting signs of scale build up, so they decided to crack it open to see if it was something more than scale. What they found is in the pictures accompanying this post — yes, this is scale build-up that was not able to be dissolved by the citric acid over a 24 hour period. The guys cleaned it out thoroughly and now it’s working just fine — and, obviously, this is representative of scale build up using the municipal supply in Southern California and will differ by region — but if the original owner had continued to use it without descaling, eventually everything would have burned out. It was caught just in time, however, so now it has a happy home somewhere else.
Not sure how to descale? Watch Gail descale a Rancilio Silvia and give tips on how to do this on other types of espresso machines.
Over on our new resource website, Brown Bean, we have been working hard on putting up editorial reviews of all kinds of espresso machines. We’ll be eventually expanding the reviews to include other kinds of equipment — grinders, accessories, even coffee — but a big part of us being able to provide a full picture of a machine’s performance is to balance our editorial opinion with user reviews like yours.
If you have a Rancilio Silvia, we’d love it if you could take the time to fill out a review on Brown Bean. You’ll have the opportunity to share your experiences, talk about the pros and cons of the machine and indicate whether or not you recommend it.
We currently have a couple dozen machines listed and reviewed up there, so if you don’t have a Silvia and would like to review your machine, check them out to see if there’s a listing. We’re always adding to it, but if your machine isn’t listed, please email us with the make and model and we’ll promptly list and review it if possible, then let you know when it’s ready for your feedback.
Looking forward to learning more about your thoughts on your equipment!
Our primary goal with auctioning off the Giro D’Italia Giottos was to raise a nice chunk of change for Coffee Kids, one of our favorite charities. And while we got a lot of coverage and many folks learned about our auctions, the going price for these machines wasn’t quite what we were hoping for — they’re more expensive than the regular Giotto Premium Plus models, but many of the going auction prices for this limited edition ended up being around the same retail as the standard Giotto. We weren’t able to close one of the bidding deals and we were able to secure one more machine, so we thought that we’d do something a little different with the final two for sale.
Instead of auctioning them off, we’ve opted to list them on our website for the price of $3299, which will include a $1500 donation directly to Coffee Kids. Our original goal was to raise about $2500 (or, $500 from each machine), so this will definitely cover that and then some. These are collector’s edition models and will only be more rare as time passes, so we’re hoping that someone out there will find the value in both the machine and Coffee Kids’ cause and purchase this model because they resonate with them both.
Our first real foray into charitable auctions didn’t turn out as well as we would have liked, but we learn something new all the time! We’re optimistic that the right two people will come along and purchase these last two available models at some point in the future, and that we’ll be able to pass along their generosity to Coffee Kids.
If you’ve just picked up a new grinder or an espresso machine/grinder package and you’re wondering how to get it setup for that perfect shot extraction, check out this video. Gail shows us how to calibrate a grinder with an espresso machine and discusses tips for determining the extraction level and tweaking your puck.
This beautiful espresso machine is limited to only 100 total in production, and we’re the only folks to have imported them into the US! Get this gorgeous and functional collector’s item while also contributing to the wonderful cause Coffee Kids. The auctions are closing at around the price of the non-limited edition model, and all proceeds will be donated to the charity, so please help us raise some cash!
Watch Gail show us the unique features of these machines as they compare to the Giotto Premium Plus — the differences are aesthetic only and this machine functions exactly the same as the Giotto.
We are thrilled that today kicks off our series of five auctions of Giro D’Italia Giottos to benefit the non-profit organization Coffee Kids! This is such an awesome machine — we’re still waiting for them to arrive (they needed to engrave the name of 2009 winner Denis Menchov) and we can’t wait to get our grubby little paws on them.
These machines take all of the excellent performance and functionality of the Giotto Premium Plus and accent it with several specialized touches that make this limited edition stand apart — and since we’re the only US importer bringing these machines in stateside, these unique collector’s items are incredibly rare as well. But while your friends will be coveting the gorgeous stainless steel design or perhaps the Maglia Rosa-inspired pink manometer, the bragging rights will really be about all the money you donated to Coffee Kids, giving you a direct hand in helping to support tons of community projects for coffee growing families throughout Central America.
You know we’re big fans of Rocket Espresso and think that the Giotto Premium+ and Cellini Premium+ are some of the best prosumer espresso machines on the market. When Rocket contacted us about a limited edition model of the Giotto that they designed in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Giro D’Italia cycling race, we thought we’d make buying this collector’s item a little bit more special.
And what better way to do that then to auction them off and donate all the proceeds to the non-profit organization Coffee Kids? We love their mission and we love Rocket, so for us they go hand in hand.
Beginning on 6/19/09 and continuing through 7/24/09, we’ll be auctioning off one Giro D’Italia Giotto each week, 5 of the 100 total espresso machines available in this limited edition run. If you or someone you love digs cycling, owning this little piece of history will give you something to brag about — not only because these machines are so unique, but you’ll be giving to a really great cause, too!
Interested in learning more about the race, the machine or the auction? Check this out.