Monthly Archives: January 2010
We have been using the Handpresso for awhile now for our portable espresso maker needs, but thought we'd give the MyPressi TWIST a try to see how it compares. Watch as Gail uses the MyPressi with the regular basket, pod basket and pressurized basket (for coarse or variable grind) to see how they compare, shot-wise. Great quality on the ground basket shots, but not so good on the pod basket. We think this might be because it's designed for the double-pods you can't easily find in the US...but we're not sure.
Look for this as a new addition to our products at Seattle Coffee Gear within the next few weeks.
We took a first look at the new Uno Pro with PID by Ascaso in December, and now that we've had a little bit of time to play around with it, we're taking a second look. In this new video, Gail talks to us about programming the PID, pulls some shots, steams up some milk using the other steam wand attachment and shows us the included accessories. The jury is still out on the longevity/build quality/reliability of this machine -- since it's new on the market -- but so far so good, functionality-wise.
Not that we're suggesting that you let your espresso machine's steam wand get as caked up with dried milk as the wand we use in this demonstration, but if that ever is the case, Rinza is the product you should turn to for your easy cleaning needs. Gail shows us how a diluted solution of this stuff can break down the milk on even one of the gnarliest of steam wands!
As we wrote about earlier this month, Handpresso has a new model available with a little filter basket that you can use with pre-ground coffee. It's a great option because it gives you brewing flexibility -- you can choose whatever coffee you love instead of having to rely only on the coffee produced in ESE pod format -- but it is definitely a little messier. The results were markedly better than with a pod, however, as Gail shows us in this video.
The winter season is dragging along 'round these parts and we seriously need to pretend we're somewhere sweet and summery. What better way to do that than with a frozen cocktail? Whip up a batch of these, crank on the thermostat and dip your toes in the bathtub for an hour or two, just to live the dream.
- 2 oz Monin Watermelon Gourmet Syrup
- 1.25 oz light rum
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- 2 oz cranberry juice
- 1.5 cups of ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with a lime -- and an umbrella if you're sassy (and you are!).
In the coffee world, there is a lot of conversation around sustainability -- environmental, cultural, social and economic. Some specific brands of commerce and marketing (such as the Fair Trade certification or the development of direct trade relationships between larger coffee roasters and coffee plantations) have begun to flourish and really mean something to us, the consumers, at the other end of the coffee mug.
We may try to buy coffee that we know has a socially conscious providence or we may elect to do business with companies that are trying to create more equality throughout the entire coffee production cycle, from tree to cup. Another way we can contribute is to engage in microloans -- giving money to an international entrepreneur through an organization such as Kiva, because $25 really can go a lot further in some parts of the world. These loans are mostly paid back to the lending organization and then you can choose to take your money back or to roll it into another microloan to help someone else.
For an example of how such a program can positively affect the coffee agriculture business, check out this great blog article on Kiva that shares the impact of its program on coffee farmers in Costa Rica.
Navigating the available options in the world of home espresso machines can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Functionally speaking, there are a few different basic variations:
- Manual/Lever: With these machines, you are the pump. You grind, tamp and control the pressure during the extraction. You also manage the whole steaming process.
- Semi-Automatic: Semi-automatics have 15 - 17 BAR pumps involved, which will settle down to about 9 BARs of pressure if your grind/tamp is accurate. You will grind & tamp, then initiate the shot on and off. Steaming is also up to you.
- Automatic: Still grinding, tamping and steaming on your own, but you can program these machines to dose out a specific amount of water, so it will automatically end the shot.
- Pressurized Portafilters: Automatic and semi-automatic machines can have a variation that includes a pressurized porftafilter. This makes the machine a little bit easier to use because you don't have to be super particular about your grind and tamp.
- Pod-Friendly: Another variation of semi-automatic and automatic machines are those that allow you to use what is basically a ground coffee version of a tea bag. These single serving pods make for easy, mess-free brewing.
- Superautomatic: These machines manage the whole grind and tamp process for you, but on most of them you will still be required to steam your milk. Some of them (usually called 'One Touch') provide automated frothing and shot extraction into your cup at the touch of the button; others have an automated frothing system that will froth the milk separately and you can pour it into the cup after it's automatically extracted.
- Capsule: Probably the most simple machine in terms of materials and labor, these guys use a proprietary capsule filled with pre-ground coffee and extract it at the touch of a button -- no grinding and tamping. Some of them have automatic frothing options.
We asked Gail to talk to us about these different machines, why someone would want to buy a specific type and why perhaps they wouldn't want to buy it. Hopefully, this video will function as a good primer for learning the basic functional differences and help you as you research which machine best suits your needs.
If you're looking for a stepless burr grinder with a small footprint and all metallic casing, Ascaso's I-Steel is a great option. It's simple, easy to use and allows you infinite adjustment to truly dial in your grind. Additionally, even its chute is metal -- unlike the plastics often found on other machines -- and some people really dig that. This comes with either flat burrs (i-Steel I-1) or conical burrs (i-Steel I-2).
Round two of our experimentation with the Breville machines covers steaming. We liked the fact that you could take off the panarello sleeve on this machine and have access to a standard steam wand that would allow you more control over steaming. So Gail tried it out both ways -- with the panarello sleeve and without -- to see how it performed and this video records the result for posterity.
The Brevilles are a recent addition to our suite of products here at Seattle Coffee Gear, and we have been messing around with them for awhile to determine the best way to make them perform well -- and if that's even possible! In this video, we take the Breville Die Cast Programmable espresso machine through the paces, trying out different grinds, tamps, filters and measuring the temperature. The result? Watch to find out!