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  • 2020 Carina Holiday Gifting Guide

    Is someone on your gift list getting a Philips Carina this year? We’re here to help! The Philips 1220 Carina is a great way to get started with brewing espresso at home, and we’ve got some great gifts to help you help them!

    Filters

    One of the great things about the Philips Carina is that it’s compatible with AquaClean water filters. These filters reduce the number of descalings that the Carina needs by delivering water with the perfect mineral content to the brewer. 

    It may seem a touch boring, but a gift of some filters is a great way to help the new Carina owner on your list cut down on one of the few recurring costs that come with the Carina. Plus it’s convenient to not have to remember to order new filters!

    Cups and Mugs

    With a world of drink options, that new Carina owner will need some mugs to enjoy them! Sure, you could just brew any drink into a standard coffee cup, but adding a bit of flair is always fun! We love Acme mugs for enjoying lattes and cappuccinos, these mugs are durable, functional, and look great.

    Looking for something with a little more flair? Cups from notNeutral offer bold, colorful ways to enjoy your favorite espresso drinks.

    Storage

    Coffee storage is important for getting the most out of your beans. Coffee maintains its freshness for up to a month in the bag, but you can extend its life by storing it in a proper airtight container. There’s a few options out there, but we find Airscape containers to really offer a great balance of capacity, performance, price, and looks.

    These containers feature a gasketed lid, but also have a vacuum sealer that can be used to provide true vacuum storage for your coffee. In an airscape, coffee can last months. Perfect for stocking up on holiday roasts! Just remember to get an Airscape that’s a little bit bigger than what you need for it to fit the sealer.

    Coffee

    Speaking of coffee, we’ve got a whole category of Superauto Friendly roasts to help any new Carina owner get started. Prefer to let our experts do the work? Check out our wonderful new gift coffee subscriptions! Just pick blends or single origins (we recommend blends for the Carina) and our team will do the rest. 

  • 2020 Rocket Espresso Holiday Gifting Guide

    Do you know someone receiving a new Rocket Espresso machine this holiday season? Turns out, getting the most out of it takes more than just the machine. We’re here to help you help them to get the most out of their new machine! Important to note - if they got their Rocket Espresso machine through Seattle Coffee Gear then they probably received a Rocket Espresso Pro Upgrade Kit! This is exclusively available from SCG, and covers some great additional items like a naked portafilter, premium tamper and milk pitcher,  and more. Worth checking to see if they have this kit before purchasing them another tamper or pitcher! We’ll give those a look in our first section!

    Tampers, Mats, and More

    While a Rocket Pro Upgrade kit may come with a premium tamper, having an Espro Calibrated Tamper doesn’t hurt. This tamper “clicks” when proper pressure is applied, so it helps to train new users on the perfect tamp. 

    Another key element of any espresso setup is a tamping mat. These rubber mats help contain any mess from spilled grounds and provide a places to tamp while protecting your countertop. Perfect for their new Rocket Espresso machine, check out this Rockest Espresso Tamping Mat!

    Finally, while it’s on the higher end, the Ona Coffee Distribution Tool is a great tool for improving shot quality. This adjustable, weighted tool helps to evenly distribute grounds across the portafilter for even extraction and reduced channeling. It’s a great addition to any Rocket Espresso setup!

    Pitchers, Glasses, and Storage

    Another great addition to a Rocket Espresso setup is a premium frothing pitcher. While one of these comes in the aforementioned Rocket Espresso Pro Upgrade Kit, we also recommend this stylish and easy to use Rocket Espresso Frothing Pitcher. The spout and shape make it the perfect pitcher for learning to froth and pour latte art.

    Speaking of pitchers, it’s key to get the perfect volume as you dial in shots. While we think a scale like the Acaia Lunar is a great addition to any espresso setup, you should also consider a Rhino Coffee Gear shot pitcher!

    Drinkware is also important, and we have a wide range of cups and mugs to choose from. Mugs and cups always make a great gift!

    Last but not least, there’s storage. No coffee setup is complete without a way to store coffee. You can store coffee in the bag, but to really get the most out of it you’ll want to keep it in an airtight canister. We like Airscape’s range of different coffee containers. It’s important to remember that the vacuum seal takes up some room inside of the canister, so you’ll want to get one a bit larger than the capacity of beans you want to store!

    Coffee!

    To top it all off, you’ve gotta gift them some coffee! We’re excited to offer gift coffee subscriptions for the first time here at Seattle Coffee Gear! Just select blends or single origins and a length of time and we’ll do the rest!

    Hopefully this has given you some great options for helping them get the most out of their new Rocket Espresso machine for the holidays!

  • Cyber Monday Deals Guide!

    It’s Cyber Monday 2020! That means we’ve got a whole load of great savings across the site. We wanted to highlight a few of the great deals you can get right now! Please note that these deals are available at the time of this posting, they may not be at the time that you’re reading. Be sure to check out our holiday deals page for up to date information on 2020 holiday savings!

    Semi-Automatic Espresso

    In the semi-auto department we have exclusive deals like the Solis Perfetta for just $429. You can also bundle a Eureka Mignon Notte and save more! The Crossland CC1 is also available at $150 off for just $549 for all of the hobbyist espresso drinkers out there. If all you need is a grinder, the Notte mentioned above is available standalone for $50 off as well!

    We’re also excited to bring you the Breville Dynamic Duo, a powerful pairing of a Breville Dual Boiler espresso machine and Smart Grinder Pro espresso grinder for $100 off! This already excellent deal is even sweeter this holiday season.

    If you’re a fan of La Marzocco, we also have the classic Linea Mini available for $300 off.

    Superautomatic Espresso

    In the superauto category we’ve got an exciting $100 off offer on the Philips Carina. This puts this machine at the low price of $399! It’s an incredible way to get started in the world of espresso for a fantastic price. 

    If you’re looking for a higher end superauto, Miele machines are a full $200 off right now. These extraordinary machines only get better with a holiday price point!

    Drip and Slow Brewing

    We’ve also got the entry-level Solis Scala grinder available for just $79, making it one of the best values for new brew coffee enthusiasts.

    Then there’s coffee! Right now you can grab a gift coffee subscription for a friend or family member, which will get them delicious hand picked roasts selected by our coffee experts!

    Plus, you can save sitewide with our holiday tiered discounts! Just used the following codes at checkout:

    • HOLIDAY10: Take $10 off orders $100 - $249
    • HOLIDAY25: Take $25 off orders $250 - $449
    • HOLIDAY50: Take $50 off orders $500+

    We’ve got more savings coming over the course of this week, so be sure to sign up for the Seattle Coffee Gear newsletter and watch our holiday deals page for more savings!

     

  • 2020 Solis Holiday Gifting Guide

    Are you gifting a Solis Espresso machine this holiday? Maybe you know someone receiving one and want to help make their holiday the best it can be. We’ve got some tips for the best way to deliver that new machine to the coffee lover on your list!

    The Bundle

    First of all, for holiday 2020 you can get a Solis Perfetta bundled with the stellar Eureka Mignon Notte for a great deal. Just find the option to add a grinder on the Perfetta’s product page. The Mignon Notte offers an incredible, consistent grind that compares to grinders way above its price point. You’ll need this to be able to take advantage of the Perfetta’s unpressurized portafilter basket. By bundling these two options together, you can save big!

    With that in mind, there are more odds and ends that make the perfect add on to you or your giftee’s new espresso machine. 

    Scales and Storage

    One of the keys to properly brewing any coffee is getting the right ratios. You’ll want to ensure that you start your espresso brew with a ratio of 2:1 water to coffee. A great way to do this is by using a scale like the Acaia Lunar and the portafilter plate add-on. These tools are on the expensive side, but they provide a high degree of accuracy for weighing your grounds going in, and the shot coming out. 

    Coffee storage is important as well! By using a container like an Airscape you can extend the life of your coffee. These containers make a great gift!

    Upgraded Accoutrements

    The Solis Perfetta comes with a great tamper and milk pitcher, but that’s not all the budding home barista needs to use their new machine to the fullest! For starters, a tamping mat from Rocket Espresso really helps to avoid countertop nicks and contain any mess. 

    There’s also the option of an upgraded milk pitcher! We’re impressed with the pitcher that comes with the Perfetta, but there’s always room for an upgrade. Rocket Espresso’s stylish matte pitcher is a great candidate and makes pouring latte art a little easier with its spouted mouth. 

    Finally, a shot glass with volume markings is a great little tool for dialing in the perfect shot. We recommend this one from Rhino Coffee Gear.

    Mugs Galore

    The one thing missing after all of this is something to drink out of! Without a functional, stylish mug, it can be difficult to enjoy that tasty latte or cappuccino!

    For those looking for stylish, colorful additions to their cupboard, we really love mugs from notNeutral. The glass look offers refinement and keeps things unique with smoke or colors. If you’re into the modern look but not the notNeutral style, mugs from Fellow are the perfect fit. the Monty and the Joey always end up as consistent SCG favorites around the office. Finally, for those seeking traditional styling and high performance sipping, look no further than mugs by Acme Co. 

    That just about covers it, but what’s a great espresso setup without some fresh coffee? We’re excited to offer Seattle Coffee Gear Coffee Club Gift Subscriptions starting this holiday! Head over here to get a subscription set up, and your giftee will enjoy delicious fresh coffee hand picked by our experts!

    We hoped this has helped to make your giftee’s Solis holiday a little extra special!

  • 2020 Shopping Guide and Best of Roundup

    It's been an exciting year here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We've enjoyed bringing you a range of our Top 3s and shopping guides for this holiday season. Today we're recapping everything that's been happening on the blog this past month!

    Top 3s

    Shopping Guides

    We hope we've made your holiday shopping just a little bit easier! Be sure to keep an eye on Seattlecoffeegear.com for all of our great deals!

  • Top 3 High-End Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    This is it! The last in our series of Top 3s articles for 2020. We’re closing it out with a particularly fun category: High-end superautomatic espresso machines! These three machines represent our picks for sky’s the limit automatic home espresso. We’re not worried about budget or value here, just the most feature-filled machines on the market. Let’s get started!

    Saeco Xelsis

    We know, we talk about the Saeco Xelsis a lot. But it’s for good reason! For many of us here at SCG, this is the machine we’d pick even if you offered us one that was twice the price. The Xelsis really is a cafe lover’s superautomatic because of the range of options it includes, it’s stylish looks, and of course, its performance.

    Let’s talk about control. The touch screen interface on the Xelsis is truly remarkable, giving you careful control over drink parameters. It’s also easy to use and intuitive, something that isn’t always the case with coffee equipment. Using the Xelsis, you’ll be able to dial in the perfect latte, cappuccino, or other espresso drink and then save it to a preset to pull again and again.

    Then there’s the performance. With hot, delicious espresso that lives up to the Saeco name, you won’t be disappointed. Where this machine really takes performance to the next level is with its milik steaming. We’ve been hard pressed to find a superautomatic with milk production on par with semi-auto steaming. The fact of the matter is that there’s a degree of finesse and control needed during steaming that superautos have a hard time reaching. While the Xelsis isn’t quite on the level of a well trained barista, it’s as close as we’ve seen from a superauto. Our latte art gurus have even managed to pour art with the latte milk from this machine. With foam level being one of the parameters you can control on the Xelsis, you can even fine tune this as well!

    Finally, there’s the convenience features. The Xelsis has a self cleaning steam wand, front loading water tank, and is AquaClean filter ready, which all makes it as easy a machine to own as it is to use. It’s an easy choice for us as one of the best superautos you can buy.

    Miele CM6350

    Miele is known across the world of appliances for delivering high performance and high quality. Their superautomatic espresso machines are no different, and the CM6350 is at the top of that line.

    Th CM6350 is on this list because it is one of the top performing superautos on the market in terms of drink quality. Period. The espresso that this machine brews is fantastic, and the built in hot water spout allows you to make brilliant americanos as well. What’s more, this machines’ automatic milk steaming is the real deal, giving you near cafe quality lattes and cappuccinos. 

    Miele also makes maintaining this machine easy, with a high contrast guided interface for cleaning and maintaining. This interface also aids in drink parameter programming, which isn’t as robust as the Xelsis, but still more than adequate.

    If there are any complaints to be made about Miele superautos, it’s in the temperature department. This machine brews espresso at 200 degrees fahrenheit as needed for espresso, but there’s not much you can do to increase the temperature of the coffee or milk beyond that if you really need a scalding hot drink. We don’t feel this is a major issue with this machine, but it’s worth noting in case you drink coffee at burn-your-mouth temperatures!

    When you put together the quality, consistency, and ease of use with Miele superautos it’s not hard to understand why we hold them in such high regard!

    Breville Oracle Touch

    This last one is interesting. If what you want is a superautomatic machine that gives you your morning drink with just a button press, the Oracle Touch might not be for you. The reason we include it here is because it represents such an interesting crossover between semi and superautomatic machines.

    The Oracle Touch brews using a portafilter like you’d find on a semi-automatic espresso machine. It also uses a steam wand that works similarly to those found on semi-autos. The difference is that it automates the process of grinding, brewing, and steaming by combining a grinder and auto tamper and programming a number of preset drink options. All you have to do to use the Oracle Touch is select your drink on the color screen and move your portafilter to the grinder and back to the group head. The machine does the rest. 

    While this added step may seem counterintuitive, the benefit is you get flavors that are closer to a semi-auto machine using a traditional portafilter. You’ll also have more direct control over your brew since there are some more manual steps you can take as you work through the brewing process. 

    We think this machine is the perfect choice for someone looking to learn more about espresso as they enjoy automated brewing. That makes the Oracle Touch quite unique, and well worth including on this list!

    That’s a wrap for our 2020 best ofs! We hope you’ve enjoyed these articles and we can’t wait to bring you all sorts of holiday fun as we close out the year!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Odds and Ends

    Sometimes you might be shopping for the coffee lover who already has their setup. They may not need a new grinder, brewer, or machine. With that said, there’s always something extra you can find to really enhance your giftee’s coffee setup! That’s where we come in. Let’s take a look at some excellent odds and ends for you or someone on your gift list.

    Storage

    One thing many folks don’t think about is proper coffee storage. When properly stored, coffee can maintain its freshness for much longer than you might think. To do that, you need an airtight storage solution designed specifically for preserving our favorite beans. 

    One way to achieve this is with Airscape coffee containers. These storage containers feature an internal sealing disk that gives you an extra level of vacuumed storage in addition to the gasketed lid. Available in multiple sizes, materials, and colors, there’s absolutely an Airscape for the coffee lover on your list. Our biggest advice when shopping for an Airscape is to keep in mind that the sealing disk does use up some of the capacity of the container, so it’s better to go a little bigger on the size of the container to ensure it’ll be enough storage for your or your giftee’s coffee of choice!

    Tampers, Mats, and Leveling Tools

    For the espresso brewer at home there’s a little more that you need than just a machine and grinder. If you’re using a semi-automatic machine, a tamper is a must have. To keep your workspace clean and your countertop free of nicks, you’ll want to add a tamping mat as well. Finally, an OCD leveling tool can really help you ensure an even distribution of grounds in your portafilter.

    For tampers, there are a lot of options. Many home espresso enthusiasts view tampers as a way to add some flair to their setup. There are simple options out there like the one pictured above, but for a new user you can’t go wrong with an Espro Calibrated Tamper. These tampers “click” at the right amount of pressure, which will help you find the sweet spot for your tamp. 

    Tamping mats come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but you can’t go wrong with a simple tamping mat from Rocket Espresso. Durable and easy to use, this mat will keep your countertop nick and mess free and give you the perfect platform for tamping.

    Mugs

    No coffee setup is complete without mugs to drink from! So much of your mug choice comes down to the kind of coffee you like to brew. For drip brews/pour over we adore the Acme Union. This cup combines bold lines with usability and durability to create a pretty perfect coffee mug. If you’re looking for cups designed for milk drinks, the Fellow Monty comes in excellent latte and cappuccino sizes, and provides performance and elegance unique to Fellow’s prestigious name.

    Sometimes though, you just need a shot glass for that delicious naked espresso shot. For this, and other shot glass applications, we love notNeutral’s Vero demitasse cups.

    For the coffee drinker on the go, we highly recommend the Miir Travel Tumbler! Its spill proof, dishwasher safe design is perfect for your active lifestyle. 

    And there you have it! Some quick tips on ways to expand your coffee setup outside of the standard items. We hope you’ve enjoyed our holiday shopping guides, and we wish you all the best in your gifting (and getting)!

     

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    If you’re looking for a fast, simple way to brew delicious espresso, you can look no further than a superautomatic espresso machine. These machines combine a brew unit, grinder, and a milk steaming unit to craft incredible coffee drinks. Even better? With simple touch based interfaces you’ll be able to brew these drinks with just a few button presses. A unique thing about superautomatic espresso machines is how little you need to purchase with them to get brewing. That’s why today we’ll take a look at a few different machine options for differing budgets and tastes.

    Philips 1220 Carina

    The Philips 1220 Carina arguably represents the best value in home espresso machines. With great performance, easy maintenance, and ease of use, it’s hard to find a more convenient way to get a great morning coffee drink. First, let’s talk about performance. With a built in burr grinder, you just need a couple of button presses to go from whole bean coffee to delicious espresso. This convenience is great, and with AquaClean water filtration maintenance is as easy as following the guide lights on the touch panel.

    The one area of compromise you’ll make with the Carina is in milk steaming. This machine features a panarello steam wand that requires holding a pitcher up to it for steaming. With that in mind, it’s still quite easy to use, and does give you fine control over your steaming. This way you can get milk that is as hot as you like!

    Overall the Carina is an easy recommendation for your first superauto, or a replacement for an older machine. Looking for something on the higher end of the pricing spectrum?

    Saeco Xelsis

    The Saeco Xelsis represents a real luxury superauto. This is a machine that offers exceptional performance and quality drinks, as well as a fine degree of control. The Xelsis has all of the features you’d expect of a high end superauto: great espresso, easy cleaning and maintenance, and automatic milk steaming. What really sets it apart is its interface and its milk quality.

    The Xelsis features a touchscreen interface similar to what you might find on a smartphone. Using this interface you can control everything from temperature, to strength, to milk texture for your lattes and cappuccinos. This is the sort of control you don’t get from similar machines, usually only from semi-automatics where you’re manually setting those parameters. It means you can craft your perfect latte or espresso shot and return to it every morning. 

    Also of note is the Xelsis’ high quality milk steaming. With a simple siphon system the Xelsis can create some of the best milk texture we’ve seen in a superauto. We’ve actually had success pouring latte art with the milk out of this machine (though you’ll need a steady hand and plenty of practice!

    The big prohibitive difference between the Xelsis and the Carina is price. While we truly believe that both machines are worth their price, we know that’s a decision only you can make!

     

  • Top 3 High-End Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    We’ve already taken a look at our favorite semi-automatics when it comes to staying budget conscious. We also know that everyone loves a look at some of the biggest, highest performing options. Today we’re going to toss budget out the window and talk about our picks for the top 3 high-end semi-automatics. These aren’t necessarily the most beginner friendly machines on the market, but they offer incredible performance and deep, hobbyist features. Let’s get started!

    Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto

    This year Rocket Espresso updated the classic R58 with the new Cinquantotto model. The previous R58 long represented the highest end of Rocket Espresso’s home line. The Cinquantotto absolutely lives up to its predecessor. It starts with the machine’s dual boilers, which allow for consistent steaming and brewing with nearly unbeatable recovery time in non-commercial machines. On top of that, the Cinquantotto features a hand built stainless steel case that dazzles and protects the internal components. Finally, the precise, tactile controls and gauges give you the feel of pulling shots and steaming milk in a Milan cafe. 

    But none of this is new, and what is really makes the Cinquantotto shine a little brighter. First, there’s the built in shot timer. Carefully built into the case to retain its classic look, this shot timer helps you dial in and stay dialed for all of your shots. Next, there’s the touchscreen PID controller, which gives you easy access to temp control, diagnostic info, and the new auto-on time programming. Even better, this control unit is detachable, allowing you to set it up and remove it to retain the machine’s looks. Finally, updated styling on the cup rail and legs give the machine a sleek new look that stay true to its classic roots. 

    Overall, the Cinquantotto is an incredible update, and we know you’ll love it as much as we do.

    La Marzocco Linea Mini

    The legendary La Marzocco Linea Mini is basically a commercial machine scrunched down to home size. It even carries and NSF rating, which technically makes it a machine you could use commercially. This really shows in the performance of the machine as well, with dual PID-controlled boilers, a La Marzocco saturated grouphead, precision brew paddle, and commercial style steam setup.

    It’s sometimes hard to express what sets the Linea Mini apart, but that’s just because it is an extraordinary machine when it comes to reliability and performance. This isn’t a machine loaded with complex programming or features, it just does its job better than most espresso machines available.

    Bonuses like pre-programmed pre-infusion, a lighted brewing area, and a large 3.5L water reservoir help improve the Linea Mini’s usability. When you put this together with its exceptional performance, it’s hard not to include this machine on a best of list when you remove budget consideration as a criteria. If you have the capital and want a forever machine, the Linea Mini is a great option!

    Rocket Espresso R Nine One

    The R Nine One gets its name from Rocket Espresso’s R9 line of commercial espresso machines. The one in this machine’s name comes from its single brew group, a distinction that matters when shopping for a commercial machine. With all that in mind, the R Nine One really is a home hobbyist machine, with many differences from the commercial line that make it a highly specialized machine. 

    Defining the term “prosumer,” the R Nine One really achieves more than most commercial machines. With a temp-stable saturated group and dual PID controlled boilers, you’ll get effortless steaming and brewing for drink after drink. You get all the expected bells and whistles as well like volumetric dosing, extremely high quality stainless steel casing and frame, and commercial style milk steaming. But where the R Nine One really shines is with its pressure profiling.

    Pressure profiling allows you to manually build a pressure curve for your shots, mimicking virtually any machine in history. If you know the curve that another machine generates, you can program it here. You can also manually use the brew lever to dial in pressures, which the R Nine One’s computer reads and stores. From there, you can simply press a few buttons and load a profile for perfect shot recreation every time. This may sound like overkills, but for those who really want to dig into hyper specific elements of flavor and body, there’s nothing like brewing on an R Nine One. 

    This is the ultimate espresso machine, with a price to match, but it really is a powerhouse.

    So there you have it! Our picks for the top 3 high end semi-automatic espresso machines available in 2020. We hope one of them is your dream machine!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Semi-Automatic Espresso

    Semi-automatic espresso machines can be daunting at first glance. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to crafting cafe style espresso drinks, and getting started with the right gear is key. That’s why we’ve got another one of our holiday shopping guides to help you give the gift of great espresso gear, or get some for yourself! Let’s get started!

    Grinders

    Grinding for espresso requires a highly precise, consistent grinder that will give you a fine enough grind to generate the pressure needed for this brew method. To understand this, it’s important to understand the difference between pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets. On a basic level, pressurized portafilter baskets have extra screens or chambering to create back pressure on water coming into the filter. This is to make up for a grind that’s too coarse or inconsistent to generate the needed pressure for proper espresso extraction.

    If you’re shopping for a grinder that will last you for semi-automatic espresso, you’ll want something that can grind fine enough for non-pressurized baskets. While you might want to start with pressurized baskets, having the ability to jump to those non-pressurized baskets will give you the ability to enjoy the trickiest single origins with your espresso setup.

    With all of this in mind, it’s hard not to recommend the Eureka Mignon Notte espresso grinder. This is a grinder that produces that fine grind that will work for both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets. It’s also got a precision, stepless grind adjustment that really lets you get that perfect consistency for various different roasts. These are features you’ll usually find on much more expensive grinders, so to get them in a grinder at the Notte’s price point is particularly impressive.

    With your grinder choice locked in, the next thing you’ll need to decide on is your machine!

    Machine

    Your choice of machine really depends on two things: Budget and how willing you are to practice. Thankfully, there’s an answer for both ends of either spectrum! 

    If you’re looking for a great entry point on the lower end of cost, the Solis Perfetta is the perfect machine for you. This espresso machine offers great performance, timed shot programming, and high quality steaming at a great price. It’s also all in a small footprint, so you should be able to fit this machine in just about any kitchen. Overall it makes for a perfect starting point for new users, and is also a great upgrade if you’ve been using a cheaper espresso machine to see if you like it. The Perfetta’s ability to grind with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets ensures that you’ll be able to start with the “training-wheels” so to speak, and graduate to unpressurized baskets when you’re ready.

    If you really want to jump in with both feet, there’s always the Rocket Espresso Appartamento. The Appartamento is a little more challenging to learn on than the Perfetta, but it also offers a more “professional” feel and feature-set. This machine has a powerful heat exchanger boiler that will have you pulling shots and steaming at the same time. The steam wand and handle mirror commercial setups, and the tactile controls for controlling the brew head feel more hands on as well. There’s also the fact that the Appartamento is built to last, with stainless steel casing and high grade components, you really get what you pay for here. Finally, this is also one of the most affordable machines that features a heated group head on the market. Why is this important? By heating the portafilter you don’t lose any temperature during the brew process, which stands in contrast to other, lower cost machines.

    Both of these options work great depending on your budget and degree of confidence!

    Extras

    In addition to your grinder and scale, there are some extras you’ll want to consider as well. The first thing is a scale. It’s very important to ensure the proper brew ratios when you’re dialing in a new espresso. To do this, you’ll need a reliable scale. In a best case scenario you’ll be working with a water-resistant, espresso focused scale like an Acaia Lunar. Given that that might not be an expense you’re quit ready for, something like the Hario V60 Drip Scale can at least help you dose the correct amount of grounds. Just be careful not to get it wet!

    You’ll also want to have a knock box handy for cleanup. Knock boxes are used to eject used espresso pucks from your portafilter before dumping them into the garbage or compost. There are lots of knock boxes out there, we recommend something like the Rocket Espresso Knock Box to ensure longevity.

    Cleaning your machine is important too, and we love Urnex Cafiza for regular cleaning like backflushing. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for machine maintenance and cleaning to keep it in tip top shape!

    Lastly, you’ll want a shot pitcher with clear and readable measurements. This allows you to keep your shots at the right volume over the right amount of time. Once you’ve got an espresso dialed in, you can switch to brewing directly into your cup! We are big fans of the Rhino Coffee Gear Espresso Shot Pitcher for this purpose.

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