Author Archives: Kat

  • How to Descale a La Pavoni

    Uncle BobWe've descaled double boilers, heat exchangers, every superautomatic under the sun and even simple thermoblock-driven machines, but in all of our years giving scale the what-for inside espresso machines, we had not descaled a La Pavoni. So when Sam's Uncle Bob asked us to show him the ropes, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to delve into something completely new!

    La PavoniThe first part of the process, of course, was to find a willing participant, and Bunny stepped in to do the job. After working in our retail store for years and performing tune-ups for customers, she knows a thing or two about descaling machines, so we tasked her with researching how to perform it on a manual lever style machine like the La Pavoni. What she learned (and what we then filmed) was deceptively simple! It will take some time, patience, a little elbow grease and, of course, some Dezcal, but it was a very effective method for removing scale within the La Pavoni's boiler and on its heating element.

    Watch as she guides us through the process. And if you happen to have a La Pavoni or a lever machine that you descale in a different way, we'd love to learn new techniques! Post your process in the comments and we'll share with the class.

    SCG How-To Guides: Descaling La Pavoni Manual Espresso Machines

  • How to Program an Auber PID on the Rancilio Silvia

    Rancilio Silvia with Auber PIDPerhaps more than any other home espresso machine, the Rancilio Silvia has a devoted, storied following. Originally designed by commercial espresso machine manufacturer Rancilio to give as a gift to their distributors, it quickly took on a life of its own and, for many years, was considered the go-to espresso machine for home enthusiasts who wanted to craft specialty coffee quality drinks.

    Owing to its creators, the Silvia featured largely commercial-grade components, which hadn't really been on offer for many home-class espresso machines before. With copper-plated brass internals, a 58mm standard chrome-plated brass portafilter and a traditional steam wand, it provides the tools you need to make excellent espresso-based drinks. But it does have one major design element that have caused some folks to deem it as 'finicky.'

    The Silvia is a single boiler espresso machine that employs a rather simplistic temperature regulation system -- a bi-metal thermostat that engages and disengages the heating element by bending one way or the other (as determined by the machine's temperature). So, if the machine is on the lower end of the temperature spectrum, a small metal piece will bend one way in order to make a connection and allow the electrical current to reach the element, beginning the heat up process. On the other side of the spectrum, once the machine's internal temperature reaches a high that causes this thin metal to bend in the opposite direction, it will interrupt the current and the machine will cease heating up. This is a very common method of temperature regulation used in appliances or thermostats around the home, and while it is cheap, reliable and effective, it also lends itself to a wide arc of variable temperature.

    When these temperature variables happen in your home, you put on a sweater; when they happen in your espresso machine, they can result in marked differences in shot quality. At the hottest end of the spectrum, your coffee will taste burnt and over extracted, while on the coldest end it will taste sour. One way you can ensure you're brewing at the right temperature, however, is to 'temperature surf' -- pull just enough cold water into the boiler to engage the heating element, then, after it's heated up to its highest temp, wait a bit (to allow the temp to come down from its hottest level) and then brew. Another way you can manage this is to circumvent the bi-metal thermostat altogether and install a PID!

    The PID will take over managing the boiler's temperature by using a more sophisticated and programmable electronic chipset. At SCG, you have the option of ordering a Rancilio Silvia from us that already has an Auber PID installed, which offers the ability to program the boiler temperature and elements of extraction such as pre-infusion and shot timing. In the video below, Gail shows us how to get into the Auber PID unit that we install on the Rancilio Silvia, navigate through it and program it for your specific needs.

    Yes, this was a rather extensive and detailed lead-up to a simple how-to video, but knowing is half the battle, friend. And the other half is brought to you by espresso.

    SCG How-To Guides: Programming the Auber PID on the Rancilio Silvia

  • Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

    Bonavita Coffee MakerYour trusty Bonavita coffee maker brews up batch after batch of delicious java with relatively little assistance from you. It doesn't have a lot of moving parts, so it's easy to overlook regular care and maintenance when it just simply works, right?

    Implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will result in both increased equipment longevity and improved flavor in the cup. Certain components -- like the carafe -- will show their wear and tear, but other, more internal parts can't give you a visual cue. Accordingly, it's a great idea to come up with a schedule that you follow on a regular basis, descaling and cleaning the machine's components at least a few times each year.

    Here's what we recommend:

    • Weekly - Each week, wash the carafe and filter basket with warm soapy water. Using a food-friendly cleaning solution, wipe down the machine, paying special attention to the hot plate if your model has one.
    • Monthly - Every fourth external cleaning, wipe out the water reservoir to limit any residue build-up. If you're using water with a higher mineral content, you should also descale at this time.
    • Quarterly - For softer water, a quarterly descale using a descaled and detergent combo like Cleancaf will improve your coffee maker's performance.

    Watch as Gail demonstrates and guides us through a thorough maintenance regimen using the Bonavita coffee maker with a glass carafe.

    SCG How-to Guides: Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

  • Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 T3 Commercial Espresso Machine

    Aurelia 2 T3While sophisticated temperature control and experimenting with how different brew temps affect the flavor of coffee was born in the world of Third Wave coffee, more and more cafes are getting in on the fun lately. Nuova Simonelli designed their Aurelia 2 T3 commercial espresso machine to meet this need. Combining their well-known commitment to excellent build quality, ergonomic design and intuitive functionality, they've designed the T3 version of their popular Aurelia 2 series of machines with independent brew boilers and separate temperature control.

    By using a combination of heat exchange and multiple boiler technology, each brew head on the T3 (from two to four) will produce a very consistent shot. You can program each of them for different temperatures, allowing you to brew coffees in different ways without having to adjust your machine in the process. As this is targeted toward higher end specialty coffee businesses, it is currently only available in a semi-automatic configuration -- Nuova Simonelli is assuming that you and your baristas will want to be actively involved in your shot extraction!

    To learn more about the Aurelia 2 T3, we visited Nuova Simonelli's US headquarters in Ferndale, WA, and took one out for a test drive. In this comprehensive review video, Brandon guides us through the T3's tech specs, functionality and design, then demonstrates how to make a latte.

    These machines are designed for very high volume businesses, so if you're in the market for something that affords you sophisticated customization yet can also keep up with your busiest rush, the Aurelia 2 T3 is well worth your consideration.

    Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 T3 - Commercial Espresso Machine

  • Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Mythos

    Nuova Simonelli MythosWhile we've reviewed other Nuova Simonelli commercial-class coffee grinders like the MDX and Eureka, we had never had the opportunity to spend quality time with the oft-mentioned Mythos. So when we visited Nuova Simonelli's US headquarters in Ferndale, WA, we couldn't wait to get our paws on one -- let alone three!

    Currently, the Mythos has a couple of variations that will soon evolve into three distinct models: The Basic, the Plus and the ClimaPro. The Basic is a straightforward dosing grinder that has an expansive bean hopper, programmable dosing functionality and the Mythos' unique vertically-aligned burr set. The Plus has everything the Basic does, but adds a mechanical tamper to the mix. Finally, the ClimaPro features a smaller profile and a heating element in the dosing chute, which maintains a consistent temperature and, therefore, grind consistency amidst ambient temperature changes.

    Watch as Brandon guides us through these three grinders, showing us how they work and compare with each other. He also talks about which type of business would benefit more from each of these styles of Mythos grinders, so you'll be able to select the right model for your coffee-oriented business.

    If you'd like to learn more about these specific models or pre-order a model, please contact Brandon and he can work with you to do so.

    Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Mythos Grinders

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

    Mazzer MajorEach time we provide an overview of a new coffee grinder like the Mazzer Major, we feel the need to also get down to the nitty gritty and show you how to take it apart, care for it, look for signs of wear & tear, then put it back together again.

    A lot of our day-to-day work involves helping people get the most from their coffee gear, and one big way that you can do that is by keeping it enviably clean. Especially if you are running a coffee-oriented business! Day in and day out, you're serving up delicious coffee to your adoring customers and you want to make sure that it's fresh and fully represents what you're all about, right? Taking care to regularly clean your grinder's bean hopper, burr set, grinder chute and doser chamber (if applicable) will go a long way to improving both the consistency and the flavor of your espresso.

    In this comprehensive how-to video, Brandon guides us through how to perform regular care and maintenance on the Mazzer Major. Watch him take it apart, assess the internals, clean and then re-assemble this popular commercial coffee grinder. If you own or work for a business that uses a Mazzer Major in your operation -- and you're not performing similar maintenance on a regular basis -- might we recommend that today's the day you change that trend? Follow Brandon's guidance and you'll see how simple it is to do so.

    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

  • Crew Review: Jura Impressa F7

    Jura Impressa F7In the recent evolutions of Jura's long line of sophisticated superautomatic espresso machines, they've been focusing on the one-touch cappuccino experience. If you're someone who doesn't drink milk-based drinks very often but would like the ability to share those with friends and family when they come over, the new Impressa F7 is well worth your consideration.

    Not a traditional one-touch cappuccino crafter, the F7 is two steps: First, you make your shot, then you add your milk (or vice versa, depending on your tastes). Both of them will come out of the same dispenser, however, so you don't have to move the cup around like on previous versions. It also features their intuitive menu within which you can set dosage and temperature of your shots, even the volume if you know precisely what you'd like. But then you can program it on the fly as drinks are being produced, so if you're someone who likes to eyeball your coffee (like us!) then you can do that, too.

    In his inaugural SCG video, our regional store manager, Chris, shows off the F7 to us. He's a huge fan of Jura machines in general, but that doesn't stop him from still giving us (and you) the straight dope on the good, the bad and the particularly gorgeous. Check it out!

    Crew Review: Jura Impressa F7

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Minuto Test Mode

    Saeco Minuto - Test ModeWhile the Saeco Minuto offers some unique functionality compared to Saeco's other superautomatic espresso machines -- such as brewing coffee at a lower pressure to produce a more drip coffee like flavor -- it still offers a Test Mode to help diagnose and resolve issues with the machine.

    Knowing how to get into Test Mode is important, as it can assist you in determining what a particular error might be and how you can fix it. Since you can run each functional component separately, you can test things like whether or not the pump is working or if the grinder is grinding but not dosing. You can also learn helpful info like how quickly your grinder is rotating, how many drinks you've made and more.

    In this video, Brendan guides us through Test Mode on the Saeco Minuto -- how to get into it, navigate through it and interpret what its telling you. Once again, indispensable knowledge for Minuto owners everywhere!

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Minuto Test Mode

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Talea Giro Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco Talea GiroWhen you have an excellent tech resource like Brendan around, you sometimes have to just lock him in a room with a bunch of superautomatics and force him to teach you his ways of diagnostics and troubleshooting! Okay, we really didn't have to lock him in the room -- he was more than willing to share his expertise with us -- but we did spend an afternoon with him as he explained the Saeco Talea Giro's test mode and errors for us.

    As you may have learned from our other forays into Test Mode, this is a wonderfully helpful tool that you can use to run each functional element of your superautomatic separately, without making coffee, in order to determine what might be the cause of an issue with the machine. Is your machine not brewing because the pump isn't working, or are you simply grinding your coffee too finely? You can find out by running the pump to see if water comes out of the machine, sans coffee.

    After he guides us through Test Mode, Brendan then dives into the Talea Giro's more cryptic errors and alarms -- since it doesn't have a display screen and only a series of symbols and lights to communicate any issues it might be having, it can sometimes be difficult to interpret. He gives us a few tips and tricks in understanding what the errors mean and how you might be able to easily resolve them.

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Talea Giro Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Talea Giro Alarms & Errors

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Syntia Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco SyntiaWhile it's true that the Saeco Syntia offers a display with icons and text that will signal to you when something is going wrong, we often hear from folks that aren't clear on what's going on with it. Is that a close up of a fly's head or a symbol telling you to descale? Is it signaling that the tap is open a smidge or is it warning you that snakes are coming out of your espresso machine? These are the big questions, folks.

    In our next series of Saeco superautomatic espresso machine troubleshooting, Brendan takes on the Syntia series. Using the SS model, he first guides us through Test Mode, which is the highly useful diagnostic tool that enables you to run each functional component separately, and without making coffee, so that you can deduce what might be going on with your Syntia. Then, we dive into interpreting the rather cryptic symbols that appear as errors or alerts on the machine.

    Even though we used the SS model for this demonstration, much of this applies to the Syntia Focus and Syntia Cappuccino models, too. If you've wanted to learn more about the inner workings of your machine, these are your go-to videos!

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Syntia Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Syntia Alarms & Errors

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