We’ve heard concerns from customers on whether or not they should worry about trace amounts of lead or metal poisoning within their machines’ boilers and parts. So we’re going to break down the makeup of particular metals that are housed within your unit to ease your mind — and your fears of caffeine withdrawal.
Water corrosion is where it all begins and understanding your machine and what conditions cause corrosion — oxygen, water, metal and a catalyst — will help you manage and maintain your espresso machine.
Used for some espresso machine boilers and stovetop espresso makers as it heats up the fastest, ‘aluminum is protected from corrosion by increasing the amount of naturally occurring aluminum oxide (Aluminum + Oxygen) on its surface.’
As a mixture of metals, also referred to as an alloy, and under ideal circumstances, Sergio Louissant of LatteMaestro.com explains that this combination protects the aluminum but also has a quicker turn around time in breaking down the aluminum oxide causing the aluminum to corrode.
Chloride in tap water wears down the catalyst that breaks the shield that is the oxide layer between the metal and boiler water, as stated in a piece in the JL Hufford Coffee Tea Supporter Forum. This causes damage to aluminum parts over time so it is best to use filtered water or to regularly clean and descale your machine to slow down the deterioration process.
However, even though machines with aluminum parts are less expensive, that doesn’t mean they’re frowned upon. With its ability to maintain good resistance against corrosion, it just may take more of a closer eye and knowledge to understand the chemistry of it’s maintenance and when its time to switch out parts to prevent the quick deterioration of this material. Because the connection between aluminum and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is still unclear, many folks try to avoid aluminum as a precaution.
Very resistant to corrosion, stainless steel can be found in Saeco, Nespresso and Capresso machines. But its downfall is being the life of the party when it comes to hosting bacteria for a longer period of time on its surface compared to any other metal.
However, bacteria aside, since you won’t be cutting, dicing or chopping any raw meat on or with stainless steel espresso machine boilers and parts, as long as you keep the stainless steel within your machine clean, this material is ideal for espresso machines as it provides excellent heat retention and assures rapid steam function.
Unlike stainless steel and aluminum, espresso machines that use copper/brass boilers and parts, such as Rocket, Rancilio, Quick Mill, Pasquini, LaPavoni and Francis Francis, not only act like a repellent to those grimy germs and retain heat longer, but they also are the most resistant to corrosion than any other metal.
However, even with it’s popularity in higher end machines, some users are still left worried about the lead content in brass boilers.
While lead is added to some brasses, most manufacturers plate brass with nickel, such as Rocket Espresso, preventing any lead from leaching into water, reducing corrosion and acting as a barrier between brass and water.
But taking extra care when it comes to lead in products, it was in October of 1999 that the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content, leading to the reduction of lead content to 1.5 percent from it’s original 2 to 3 percent in products sold within that state. Following this action manufacturers were asked to reduce lead or to follow the requirement to warn consumers about lead content even if it didn’t have the ability to leach into materials such as water.
Hopefully this trend will catch up to the rest of the 49 states in the U.S. but for now, whether you choose a machine with aluminum, stainless steel or brass, taking precaution is key but knowing how your machine works and what it reacts well with will also keep you happy, healthy and caffeinated.
To plumb in your Rocket Professional or Evoluzione espresso machines, you receive the connecting hose with the machine but not much else. One of the biggest stumbling blocks we’ve seen is that the end of that hose is a British Standard Thread — a fitting into which US plumbing components will not fit. So you have to, first and foremost, convert the hose’s end to a US standard in order to hook it into the rest of your plumbing apparati.
We found this adapter, which takes the hose’s fitting and converts it into a US standard. By attaching this to the end of the included hose, you can then easily attach the other necessary components for plumbing your machine into your location’s main water line.
Rocket Espresso and Mazzer joined their considerable forces to take the popular Mini and Mini E (Type A) versions of Mazzer’s grinders and wrap them up in a big ol’ Rocket bow. They have the same functionality as their non-branded counterparts, but with a polished stainless steel exterior and a Rocket badge on the back.
Watch Gail take us through these beautiful new grinders.
We have a wide array of cleaning products available — from descaler to milk frothing cleaner to backflushing detergent — and, admittedly, we sometimes get a little stuck in our ways. Machines with a three-way brew pressure release/solenoid valve (such as the Rancilio Silvia, La Spaziale machines, many of the Ascaso machines and any of the machines with an E61 brew head), require regular backflushing in order to keep that system in tip top shape.
Heretofore we have always recommended powdered backflush detergent — Cafiza or Joe Glo — but when we were meeting with Urnex a couple of weeks ago, they mentioned using the Cafiza tablets for backflushing. And it blew our minds.
Yeah, it doesn’t take much, does it?
If you want to be precise about the quantity of detergent you’re using in your backflushing and cleaning your gear, these tablets are the exact amount you need. Place one tablet in your backflush basket and follow your process as normal; one tablet in a couple cups of hot water is perfect for soaking baskets, portafilters and any other gear you may have that comes into contact with coffee oils and needs a good scrub down.
So what we previously attributed solely to superautomatic brew group cleanliness is cross functional and a great way to easily backflush your equipment without concern of using too much/too little detergent.
Gift hunting season is on! For those with caffeinated accoutrement in their sights — but who are not quite sure about their target — we’ve created a series of introductory Buyer’s Guides to give you some ideas.
Check ‘em out:
- Back to School Coffee Fix for Students: Next semester is going to be even better than the last! Right? Right. Make it so with these java preps which require very little equipment and can easily produce excellent coffee from the convenience of cramped quarters — like dorm rooms.
- Give your Student the Gift of Espresso: It will increase their focus and concentration. They will get a 4.0. There won’t be a grad school that won’t accept them. They’ll go on to be extremely successful in their field. They’ll build you a little retirement cottage on a river somewhere. You will both thank that little espresso machine for years to come. Live the dream.
- First Time Espresso Makers: 2011 is your time to shine. We’ve selected some excellent introductory espresso machines that will have you — and/or the lucky beneficiary — making your favorite espresso drinks at home with ease.
- Picking a Grinder for your Cup o’ Joe: If you know anything about us, you know we’re serious about picking a good grinder. There are several out there that work for a specific purpose or budget, and this guide is a great primer.
- Gadgets for the Espresso Enthusiast: Is buying coffee gear for someone in your life kind of like trying to buy Richard Branson something he doesn’t already have? Here are some options for items they may not have in their setup — although we make no promises here.
We are squealing like a gaggle of teenage girls outside a Guns n Roses concert a la 1989 (yes, we realize we’re aging ourselves here) because — at long last — Seattle Coffee Gear’s Guide to Rocket Espresso DVD is complete!
Shot over the summer, sliced, diced and then lovingly molded into something akin to a visual user’s manual, this comprehensive DVD is incredibly informative, covering a variety of topics related to setup, care, maintenance and repair — including:
- How to plumb in the Evoluzione or Professional models
- Dialing in your grinder and how to steam milk to produce microfoam
- Routine maintenance such as backflushing or replacing the brew head gasket
- Troubleshooting tips that will resolve any of the minor issues we see with these machines
Plus a whole lot more!
This custom DVD will be included with all Rocket Espresso machines purchased from Seattle Coffee Gear beginning December 2010, but if you purchased your Rocket from us before that and would like to receive a copy, we’d love to send one to you! Just send us an email with your original SCG order number and your current mailing address and will drop one in the mail for you.
If you have been on the long lost search for the perfect O-ring, gasket, steam manifold or thermostat for your DIY espresso machine rebuild project, you’re going to be pretty excited to learn about the new parts section of our site. Admit it, you are.
We’re now offering tons of internal parts for espresso machines, easily located via exploded machine diagrams. Right now we’ve built out the parts for several of Saeco’s machines and we’ll be expanding those as well as adding other manufacturers in the future — such as Ascaso, Quick Mill, Rancilio, Rocket Espresso and Solis.
If you’re technically savvy enough to diagnose your machine, understand which parts it requires for repair and then install said parts without injuring a) yourself and/or b) the family pet, this is for you. However, if you think you need information on what’s wrong, what to buy and how to install, let us tell you like a friend: We have an excellent repair center that will more than meet your needs.
If our love for Rocket Espresso was any more pronounced, things would be getting a leetle bit x-rated around here. As if they heard our mating call from across the sea, Rocket Espresso has launched a new line of high-end branded accessories with which to court us.
Their slew of shiny new objects (ooooo!) include a tamper, tamping stand, bottomless portafilter, frothing pitcher, knock box, a steam tip set and cups — both cappuccino and espresso styles. These gorgeous pieces are just as beautiful and functional as their machine counterparts and, obviously, are a must-have for any true Rocket lover.
In the history of great competitions, never has there been a match so perfectly paired than that of Gail versus a steaming thermometer. Will her sense of touch correlate to an accurate steaming temperature? Is she stopping when it’s too cool or scalding her milk? Will she ever be able to do latte art? We asked these big questions and put her to the test to find out the answers.