Monthly Archives: October 2020

  • Roast of the Month: Camber's Dialed In

    Hey coffee fans!

    It's time for a new Roast of the Month, featuring our newest collaboration! We like to work with some of our roasting partners to put out delicious roasts perfect for our customers. This month we're introducing Dialed In Espresso from Camber Coffee! This is a tasty roast perfect for dialing in your new espresso machine and grinder. Let's get brewing!

    Flavor Profile

    Dialed in features notes of cherry, baking spice, and plum. The cherry and plum notes create a rich sweetness that gives you just enough fruity touches. This is what drew us to positioning this roast as an espresso. That sweet set of notes creates a great consistency, flavor profile, and mouthfeel of a more syrupy, rich brew method like espresso. The baking spice note provides some great balance that evens out the sweeter flavors. This balance is key to delivering a really approachable espresso.

    Dialed in also ultimately features a lighter body, more consistent with third wave roasting than Italian roasts you might be used to. This makes it the perfect way to dip your toe into specialty coffee if you normally drink LavAzza or Bristot. We love our Italian favorites as well, but a lighter espresso offers very unique flavors that are with experiencing!

    Brewing

    We worked with Camber to develop a roast that is perfect for newer users. While we think Dialed in is a coffee for everyone, we named it what we did to signal how approachable it is to dial in. This means that we think it's the perfect way to break in your new grinder and espresso machine as you learn the nuances of how to get the perfect shot.

    Dialed in is also an excellent brew for superautomatics. Many brighter flavors can get lost in a superauto, but this roast holds up extremely well in a Philips, Miele, or other superauto.

    Get brewing with Dialed In! Available soon here.

  • Rocket Espresso R Nine One Group

    Rocket Espresso offers an incredible lineup of home espresso machines, with a fit for any user. Today we’re taking a look at the Rocket Espresso R Nine One espresso machine. This is at the highest of the high end for home espresso, but it really does earn it. Note that Rocket Espresso does offer a commercial model called the R9, which bears some similarity, but the R Nine One really is its own specific machine made for home use.

    The Basics

    Calling this section “the basics” is a bit of a misnomer, as the R Nine One is anything but basic. The first thing you may notice about this machine is the price tag. It is an expensive machine, which is specifically designed for home espresso hobbyists who view brewing espresso as a pastime as much as a utility. The R Nine One is a lot more than just a powerful espresso machine, so if you’re looking for something more affordable in the prosumer market, the Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto is an incredible option as well.

    As for the R Nine One, there’s a lot here to cover.

    For starters, this machine is powered by two stainless steel boilers. The brew boiler is 1.9 liters and features PID controlled temperature regulation for stable brew temps. The service boiler is 3.6 liters, providing excellent recovery time between steaming sessions. At a basic level, the R Nine One is one of the most powerful, consistent home machines on the market. This is enhanced by features like its fully saturated brew group and commercial style steam arm, giving you professional grade brewing and steaming. The tactile controls that you come to expect from Rocket Espresso are here as well, with highly visible steam gauges for each boiler as well. The R Nine One also offers a hot water spout for rinsing and Americanos. It’s all wrapped up in a stainless steel case and frame, which gives this machine a stunning appearance and solid construction.

    We’ve established that the R Nine One delivers on a design and performance perspective, but what makes this machine truly special is the last part of its face that we haven’t touched on: That little screen, and what you can do with it.

    Programming and Pressure Profiles

    At a basic level, the touchscreen on the front of the R Nine One gives you elements like a timer and control of the machine’s temperatures. You can even set an auto-on time through the R Nine One’s screen. But the thing that sets this machine apart is its pressure profiling, a feature perfect for espresso hobbyists.

    Pressure profiling is a feature that allows you to manually set a pressure curve either by hand, or electronically. Every espresso machine applies water pressure to the portafilter over a slightly different curve. This is what creates distinct flavors from machine to machine. The R Nine One Group gives you the ability to create a profile by manually moving the brew lever during the brew process. You can also program in the profile you want via the screen. In both cases, you’ll be able to save 5 different profiles. This allows you to recreate virtually any espresso machine in the world.

    This might be a lot for newer users to take in. It’s hard to wrap your head around the differences between different machines, but this is likely the last machine a big fan of home espresso will ever need to purchase. It’s for this reason that we believe the Rocket Espresso R Nine One justifies its price point for true enthusiasts, and we can’t imagine a better machine for the serious espresso hobbyist. Shop the R Nine One here now.

     

  • Video Roundup: 10/23/20

    It's Friday once again!

    You know what that means, another video roundup!

    Today we've got a crew review and some tips and how-tos. Let's get started!

    First, it's a look at some Eureka grinder cleaning with Jake!

    Next up, we've got a Crew Review of the lovely little Toddy Artisan with Ariel:

    And finally, some Breville Bambino Tips and Tricks:

    That's all for this week, make some coffee you love this weekend, especially if you're in for some chilly weather!

  • Jura A1 Review

    The Jura A1 is a dedicated superauto that is completely dedicated to brewing excellent espresso. The A1 is unique in that it forgoes a milk steaming system, making it an excellent choice for a user interested in getting some of the best espresso without concern for lattes and cappuccinos. Today we’re taking a look at what makes the A1 tick, so read on to learn more!

    The Basics

    As mentioned above, the Jura A1 is a dedicated superuatomatic espresso machine focused entirely on delivering espresso. It’s a compact model, measuring just 9 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and 12.7 inches high. This makes it easy to squeeze into even the smallest kitchen, and makes accessing its water tank and bean hopper easier than with larger machines. An adjustable spout allows for cup clearance from 2 to 5.5 inches.

    Speaking of the reservoir, the A1’s 37 oz. water tank is comparable in size to other brewers, but since it doesn’t provide water for a steam boiler, you’ll refill it less than if you were brewing up milk drinks. It’s 5 oz. bean hopper is relatively small, but its sealed lining helps keep beans fresh while they sit in the hopper. This also allows you to keep beans extra fresh by storing them in an external airtight container.

    Internally, the A1 features Jura’s Aroma G3 conical burr grinder for minimal retention and faster grind times. Jura’s Pulse Extraction Process powers the brew unit, which we’ll touch on in the next section. In terms of drink options, the A1 is able to produce a ristretto, espresso, and “coffee.” A ristretto is a short shot that is more intense than a standard espresso, with the “coffee” option actually being a lungo, or long shot. While this is different than a traditional drip coffee, it uses more water than a shot of espresso, creating a less intense drink at a larger volume. Each of these three drink volumes can be programmed with 8 or 10 gram coffee doses, allowing you to adjust the strength of the brew.

    Jura A1’s also feature a rigorous rinsing cycle that helps keep the spout and brew unit clean. Further enhancing the cleanliness of the machine is the A1’s Clearyl water filtration. It’s important to note that different A1 models can use different filters, so you’ll want to refer to the machine’s documentation to ensure that you get the right ones.

    Pulse Extraction Process

    Jura’s real claim to fame is their proprietary Pulse Extraction Process (which is often abbreviated to P.E.P. This process produces some of the best superautomatic coffee around, and it’s why we recommend this machine for those who prefer their espresso without milk. With most brewers, coffee is extracted with one sustained burst of water pumped through the coffee grounds.

    Jura’s Pulse Extraction Process is different. Instead of a single stream of water pushed through by a pump, Jura machines with P.E.P. use pulses of water for extraction. These pulses help to fully saturate the grounds during brewing and prevent any channeling or uneven saturation. The result is a really well rounded shot that offers full, delicious flavor.

    While some users will still prefer espresso shots from a Miele, Saeco, or Philips machine, it’s undeniable that Jura’s P.E.P. produces excellent espresso. With the A1 offering this excellent coffee in a minimalist, compact package, it might be the perfect machine for you! Shop the Jura A1 here today.

     

  • Philips 3200 With LatteGo Review

    Last year Philips introduced a new line of superautomatic espresso machines. From the 1220 Carina to the 3200 with LatteGo, this line is a wonderful way to get brewing espresso at home. We love this line so much that we brought the Carina in as an exclusive machine here at Seattle Coffee Gear! Let’s take a look at how the LatteGo steaming system and the 3200 platform stacks up!

    The Basics

    The Philips 3200 with LatteGo is a superautomatic espresso machine. This means it’s a machine that combines an espresso brew unit, a milk steaming system, and a grinder in one machine. What’s more, it means that the machine uses extensive automation to make drink prep extremely simple. With just a few button presses you can get a shot of espresso or a latte.

    In the case of some superautomatics, you have to hold a milk pitcher up to a steam wand in order to make lattes and cappuccinos. While not as challenging as a full commercial style steam tip, these panarello wands don’t provide the same level of simplicity as an automated system. Some machines opt for a siphon system that pulls milk into a steaming chamber and then dispenses it into a drink. Finally, carafe based solutions have you fill a carafe of milk that the machine siphons cold milk from to steam for milk drinks.

    We’ll get into the specifics of why the 3200 with LatteGo is a little different from traditional superautos with its milk steaming in a little bit. The first question most users have though, is how’s the espresso? We’re happy to share that the 3200 matches the rest of the Philips superautomatic line in terms of espresso quality. The difficulty in evaluating espresso from superautomatics is that much of it is subjective. With that in mind, here at Seattle Coffee Gear we feel that Philips’ brew process offers a good platform for enjoying a wide range of beans.

    The 3200’s interface is easy to use, with simple controls to produce espresso, a long shot (labeled as “coffee”), americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, or hot water. There are also buttons to adjust the dose (or amount of coffee used per drink) and drink volume, as well as milk foam amount. 

    Finally, there’s the LatteGo’s maintenance. All of the machines in this line of Philips superautos are compatible with AquaClean water filters. With a simple notification on the machine face, you’ll know when it’s time to swap the filter, or even clean/descale the machine entirely. AquaClean filters filter the water you put into the machine’s reservoir to both produce excellent coffee and extend the time between descalings.

    Design and Features

    The biggest thing that sets this machine apart from others in the Philips line is the LatteGo steaming system. As mentioned above, LatteGo is a little different from a typical carafe. Most carafe based options still use a siphon to pull milk into a steaming chamber. With LatteGo, milk is siphoned through the carafe, but upon heating it is poured through a spout that is part of the carafe itself. 

    The difference here is a very simple system that looks like a standard carafe on its surface, but one where the milk doesn’t have to move through tubing inside of the machine to get to a spout at the brew unit. The result is a much easier to clean system that actually produces hot, well textured milk.

    In terms of the design of the 3200, it features a top loading bean hopper and front loading water reservoir. While it can be a pain to have to pull your machine out from under your cabinets to load beans, the front loading water reservoir means you won’t have to repeat this too often. This is a smart design feature that many superautos miss, and it really makes day to day use of the machine more convenient. 

    By combining the consistency of Philips’ espresso brewing and range of brew options with the high quality, easy to clean LatteGo system, the 3200 with LatteGo is a fantastic starting point or upgrade for your home espresso journey.

  • Video Roundup: 10/16/20

    Hey coffee fans!

    We've got two crew reviews and some tips and tricks for you today, so let's dig in!

    First up We've got some Breville Oracle Touch tips and tricks with Jake!

    Next up, we've got a Crew Review with the Eureka Brew Pro's stylish smoked accessories.

    Last but not least, we've for a fresh Crew Review of the Rancilio Silvia for 2020!

    That's all for this week, stay tuned for more great videos!

  • Breville Oracle Touch Review

    A lot of home espresso users know exactly what sort of machine they’ll want. On the one hand, you’ve got traditional semi-automatic espresso machines. These machines require some patience and practice to learn to use. The upside here is that they offer a high degree of control and precision. On the other hand, there’s the convenience of superautomatic espresso machines. While these machines tend to make the espresso they make, they are also extremely easy to use and can create delicious drinks with just a button press or two. For those looking for something a little more in the middle, there’s the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine. How does the Oracle Touch stack up in 2020? Read on to find out.

    The Basics

    The Breville Oracle Touch is a hybrid machine that offers some of the control of a semi-automatic machine while automating many of the steps of brewing like a semi-auto. This can be a tough concept to wrap your head around, but it makes sense when you start working with the machine. 

    For starters, this machine features a built-in burr grinder along with its two PID-controlled stainless steel boilers. This combination gives you everything you need to brew great espresso on its own, but then there’s the interface. Using the machine’s color, touchscreen interface you can automate the entire process of grinding, tamping, brewing, and steaming if you want. The only part the machine needs you to handle is moving the portafilter to the grinder, then back to the brew group, then cleanup of the espresso puck and wipedown of the steam wand. 

    The nice part about this is that you can automate as much of the process as you want to. If you like hand steaming milk, that option is there for you. If you hate milk steaming but want to tamp yourself, that’s an option as well. All of this makes the Oracle Touch a fantastic machine for any user that isn’t sure how involved they want to be in the brewing process. What’s more, while this machine is expensive, it doesn’t cut corners on quality or performance. 

    The Details

    As mentioned about, this machine features two boilers, one for steaming and one for brewing, with PID controlled temperatures. This means that you’ll be able to pull shots and steam milk continuously with stable temperatures and minimal downtime. The group head of the Oracle also features an electronic heating element, which keeps the portafilter at temp. This is important because it keeps water from the boiler at temp as it is pushed through the grounds in the portafilter. All of this ensures consistent, even extraction.

    The 58mm pro style portafilter also helps provide the most even extraction of the espresso. A built-in solenoid valve ensures pressure consistency and makes backflushing easy as well. With volumetric or timed programming, you can also dial in the perfect shot manually and have the machine reproduce it every time if you like that sort of hands-on preparation.

    Finally, there’s the steam wand. The Oracle’s steam wand monitors temperature of the milk and can be programmed to introduce a specific amount of air. The results is true differentiation between cappuccino and latte steaming, allowing you to trust in the machine to produce your perfect milk. 

    The biggest problems in the Oracle Touch come from it’s slightly slimmed down control options from the non-touch Oracle, and its size. As a result of development on the touchscreen interface, Breville has removed the programmable tamp pressure and pre-infusion, option for static values for each of these. This was done in an effort to make the machine a little easier to use for new users. Additionally, like the Oracle, and Breville’s Barista line of machines, the Oracle Touch is a large machine. While we think it makes up for this by combining grinder and brewer, having to find room for a combination machine can be a challenge.

    Taken as a whole, the Oracle Touch is a phenomenal platform for any user looking for the control of a semi-automatic and the available automation of a superauto.

  • Baratza Encore 2020 Review

    The Baratza Encore is one of the most popular brew coffee grinders in the world. Featuring conical steel burrs, stepped grind adjustment, and simple operation, all for an entry level price, it’s easy to see why this grinder is so popular. Read on for more details about this fantastic grinder below!

    The Basics

    The Baratza Encore is a grinder specifically designed for brewed coffee. This means that it works for press, drip, and pour over brewing, but can’t grind fine enough for espresso. This has nothing to do with it being lower quality, and everything to do with specific design.

    The Encore’s 40mm conical steel burrs are engineered to provide consistent grounds and reduce retention from finer drip settings all the way up to coarse press settings. These burrs grind fast and are incredibly durable, which means they should produce the perfect grind for your brews year after year. Grind setting is handled by an well marked stepped adjustment operated by rotating the hopper. It’s intuitive, comfortable, and precise. This stepped adjust makes it easy to switch between grind levels for different brew methods.

    The Encore can be engaged by rotating its bi-directional on/off switch, or by pressing and holding the pulse button found on the front of the grinder. Both control options work great, and the catch bin is easy to remove and scoop grounds from. The Encore is also a stylish grinder, available in slick white and black color options. This makes it adaptable if looks are important to you!

    What really puts this grinder over the top for us is its reliability and support. Baratza offers highly engineered, long-lasting products. Considering the Encore’s price, we’d normally assume it is an entry level grinder that you’d wear out after a few years of use. Not so. This is a grinder that is built like a tank and really goes the distance.

    One of our favorite ways to use the Encore is as a single dose, so let’s talk a little bit about that next.

    Single Dosing

    One of the best ways to enjoy multiple coffee roasts and ensure that no beans are wasted is with single dosing. Instead of filling the hopper with beans, you measure out just enough beans for your brew method. This is easiest to do with a scale for pour over, but can work just as well for drip and press brewing too. From there, you dump the grounds in, flip the grinder on, and let it grind through your beans. Because of its relatively low retention, the Baratza Encore makes a fantastic single dose grinder for pour over. 

    You can, of course, fill this grinder’s hopper up to the top and use a combination of the on setting and pulse to grind just enough as well. We just like pointing out that it’s such an excellent single dose grinder because it’s one of the ones we use for coffee testing here at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    It’s for all of these reasons that it’s hard for us not to recommend the Baratza Encore. The perfect blend of performance, price, and reliability, this grinder is a phenomenal way to start your home coffee journey.

  • Video Roundup: 10/9/2020

    Hello out there!

    It's time for another video roundup here at SCG. Let's jump in to this week's videos!

    First up we've got some tips and tricks for the Saeco Xelsis with Jake!

    Next up, we've got a Crew Comparison between the Oxo 8-Cup Coffee Maker and the Bonavita Connoisseur!

    Finally, we've got a Crew Comparison between the Eureka Atom Pro and the Eureka Atom 75!

    That's all for now! We'll be back with more next week.

  • Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto Review

    Rocket Espresso’s home espresso machine line up has seen some evolution over the last year. The Mozzafiato and Giotto received useful new timers, the Appartamento Nera offers a stylish new look for a legendary machine, and now the R58 has received a major overhaul in the form of the Cinquantotto. We’ve looked at the updates to the R58 in a separate post, but we wanted to give a review to the machine on its own as well. Let’s dig in!

    The Basics

    The Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto is a hand-built, double boiler espresso machine that is the very definition of “prosumer.” This is a machine designed for the engaged home espresso enthusiast that wants to make a long-lasting purchase of a machine they simply won’t need to upgrade. This machine features a .58 L dedicated brew boiler offering fast recovery times for brewing multiple shots in a row. The Cinquantotto’s 1.7 L service boiler allows for back to back milk drink steaming and hot water with additionally quick recovery times.

    Perhaps more important than boiler size is overall construction. The boilers themselves are brass/copper, with a stainless steel case and framing for a rock solid brewing and steaming platform that will stand up to year after year of use. On top of all of these, PID controlled temperatures maintain rock solid stability to ensure consistently perfect shots and milk steaming every time.

    Aiding in this is the Cinquantotto’s heated E-61 grouphead, which keeps the portafilter up to temp with the water in the boiler. This means no heat is lost during the brewing process, further ensuring incredible espresso.

    A commercial grade rotary pump delivers perfect pressure every shot, and offers the capability of plumbing this machine in. This provides you the option of using the included water reservoir or directly running a water line to the machine for convenience. 

    All of this combines to deliver an incredible package from a raw power, reliability, and design perspective. What really puts the Cinquantotto over the goal-line is it’s sophisticated controls.

    The Controls and Extras

    The Rockest Espresso R58 Cinquantotto features an all new touch screen PID controller that allows you to control various aspects of the machine. With the basics like temperature control easy to manage, you’ll have more programming at your fingertips as well. This PID controller offers the ability to schedule an auto on sequence, one of the biggest requests from home espresso aficionados. With this functionality, you can schedule your startup so that the machine is heated and ready for duty as soon as you’re ready for your morning espresso.

    Also new to the Cinquantotto is a mini shot timer. This small, unassuming feature is key to helping dial in the perfect espresso shot. Using it, you can ensure that you’re pulling just the right amount of volume over just the right amount of time. This will help you to get that perfect grind from your grinder to pull the perfect shot. It’s a small, but incredible welcome feature for this machine.

    Finally, one of the best parts of all of this is that the PID controller can be detached, letting you keep that classic look. The shot timer also blends in with the machine when not in use, giving you the stunning stainless appearance that gives Rocket Espresso its legendary style. 

    It’s safe to say that we highly recommend this machine to any customer looking for the pinnacle of home espresso. While it may have a learning curve for newer users, it’s a consistent, powerful, beautiful machine that is the perfect way to ensure year after year of incredible coffee.

     

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