Author Archives: Kat

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Intelia Focus Test Mode

    Saeco Intelia SuperautomaticsSince the Saeco Intelia Focus features a pretty darn clear menu screen that will alert you specifically to any issues and errors, we thought that going over them was of very little import. Instead, we wanted to focus on its Test Mode, which is cool because it allows you to run each of the functional components separately and independently of actually making coffee. So if your machine is behaving badly (naughty machine!) and you want to find out what might be the source of its bad behavior, test mode can be a helpful deduction tool.

    Watch as Brendan guides us through test mode -- how to get into it, navigate through it and then use it to diagnose any functionality or performance issues with your machine. And while we did use the Saeco Intelia Focus as the demo machine for this troubleshooting video, this process applies its Cappuccino and SS counterparts, too.

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Intelia Focus Test Mode

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco OdeaWe had a customer come into the store a few years ago with his Saeco Odea Giro in tow. He loved the coffee that it made and wanted to have it tuned up by our repair team. While he had it in, however, he wanted to find out if his model had a particularly tender heart because he felt like the only way it would work each morning is if he started out by giving it a hug.

    It's true that the Odea series kind of got a bad rap because not only were its sensors particularly sensitive, it had limited tools with which to communicate its feelings to you. What does a slow blinking exclamation point mean versus a fast blinking or solid exclamation point?

    In these two videos, Brendan demystifies the rather cryptic errors and alarms that the Saeco Odea series of espresso machines can show. Then, he shows us how to take the machine into Test Mode so you can run each functional component separately and diagnose what might be having an issue.

    If you're in need of a secret decoder ring for your Saeco Odea machine, check out these videos.

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Series Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Alarms & Errors

  • Crew Review: Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PID

    Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PIDWhile we've seen PIDs implemented on heat exchange espresso machines before (primarily as a method for managing the steam boiler's pressure versus being able to effectively manage brew temperature,) the Pasquini Livia G4 also incorporates an additional thermoblock at the brew head so that you can actually manage the brew temperature. The PID interfaces with the steam boiler, which in turn affects the water in the heat exchange, supplying a thermoblock at the group head with pre-heated water. The result? Markedly improved temperature regulation and the ability to produce more consistent espresso shots.

    The new LIvia G4 series also incorporates a few other changes: Expanded cup warming surface, weight-based water reservoir sensor, a super sexy portafilter and increased steaming functionality. It's also available in three different formats -- the standard Semi-Auto without a PID, a Semi-Auto with a PID and an Auto with a PID -- so you can take advantage of some or all of the upgrades Pasquini has made to their Livia series.

    Watch as Teri guides us through the features and tech specs, then takes it for a test drive by making some espresso and a cappuccino for the crew to enjoy.

    Crew Review: Pasquini Livia G4 Auto with PID

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco Vienna PlusPossibly the hardest working superautomatic in the business, the Saeco Vienna Plus has a long and storied history of home espresso performance. It's the machine that many people started out with, years ago, and it's hung in there for over a decade (in some cases,) dutifully delivering your java.

    But what it offers in a hard working focus on helping you make coffee you love, it lacks in bells and whistles. Some might argue that said bells and whistles are not necessary, and they might be right; but one of the missing bells and/or whistles is an easy-to-read user interface system that tells you what might be going on when the machine isn't working properly.

    So we asked one of our resident Vienna Plus lovers, Brendan, to guide us through two different diagnostic videos: First, he shows us how to put the machine into Test Mode, so that you can bypass functionality and test individual components. Then he talks us through the different alarms and errors that the machine may experience, and how to diagnose which means what.

    If you own a Saeco Vienna Plus and have often wished there was a way to better interpret its rather cryptic blinking lights, these videos will serve as your secret decoder ring!

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Errors & Alarms

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

    Nuova Simonelli MDXCaring for your Nuova Simonelli MDX is an essential element of producing excellent espresso, and it's easier than you think! The MDX features a burr configuration that adjusts the bottom burr instead of the top during calibration, so cleaning it doesn't mean you'll need to completely dial in your grinder again. It also has a super simple method for removing the front doser chamber for cleaning, so you can also keep this area in tip-top condition.

    In addition to regularly running a product like Grindz through it, you should completely disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Nuova Simonelli MDX every so often to ensure optimal performance. The frequency of this is dictated a bit by how busy your cafe is -- many businesses do this weekly, while others do it monthly. You'll know which is the best schedule for your coffee shop once you start doing it regularly and can gauge how much coffee is building up in the burr chamber.

    Recommended tools include a vacuum of some sort and a firm-bristled brush, like the Grindminder; other than that, a little soap and water for the bean hopper and doser chamber keeps everything squeaky clean. For guidance on this procedure and tips on how to care for the grinder once you've taken it apart, watch Brandon's in depth video.

    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

  • Brewin' with Brandi: B52 Latte Recipe

    It's not a bomber nor is it a particularly funky pop group from the 80's. It is, however, a delicious latte recipe inspired by the cocktail of the same name featuring Irish cream and orange liqueurs.

    This sobriety-friendly version, however, infuses two Monin syrups (Irish Cream and Mandarin Orange) with espresso and tops it all off with delicious frothed milk. Sound good? Watch Brandi whip it up for us using the Jura Ena Micro One and Automatic Milk Frother!

    B52 Latte Recipe

    Ingredients

    Directions

    Combine syrups and espresso together in a serving glass; stir well to incorporate. Top with steamed or frothed milk to taste. Head down the Atlanta highway.

  • Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli MDX Grinder

    Nuova Simonelli MDXWhen we first met the Nuova Simonelli MDX a few years ago, it seemed to fall into the same class as other similarly sized commercial-grade grinders did: It ground coffee quickly, uniformly and easily, so that you could extract a shot of espresso in under a minute from start to finish. But as we got to know it a bit better, we found that some its unique features made it a particularly learned choice for coffee connoisseurs and crafters alike.

    First, unlike other grinders that keep the bottom burr stationary and move the top burr up and down during calibration, the Nuova Simonelli MDX does the opposite. The top burr remains stationary while the bottom adjusts up and down during calibration. This means that when you remove the top burr during cleaning, you don't lose your grind setting and post-cleaning dial-in is a snap.

    Next, the adjustment mechanism on the MDX is pretty tight: A smooth moving knob on top of the grinder versus a sometimes-jerky adjustment collar. It's super simple to dial in the grind using the knob, leaving very little guesswork around where your grind setting is.

    Other than that, though, it's a fairly standard mid-sized commercial grinder -- removable bean hopper, stainless steel flat burrs with a ~1100lb. bean lifetime, front doser chamber to capture ground coffee on the fly. In Brandon's crew review video, he goes over all the Nuova Simonelli MDX's features and specs, then demonstrates its grind consistency and performance.

    Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

  • Espresso Machine Priming Primer

    Espresso Machine PrimingPrime numbers. Prime rib. Prime rate. Optimus Prime. These are just a few of the primes we know and love, but if you've ever spent some quality time with an espresso machine, priming is another prime that you'll learn to appreciate.

    The phrase 'prime the pump' is often used to describe things not quite so literal (it's a particularly popular phrase used in reference to economics) but exists for a reason: By adding something to a system, you can facilitate action. In the case of today's SCG Tech Tip, it's adding water to a pump to force any air out of it and start the pump processing water from the reservoir or main line to the machine's internal boiler and related waterworks.

    Espresso machine priming occurs primarily with new machines, which don't have any water in them, but a machine that has had its boiler drained (for shipping or long term storage) or machines that have sat awhile may also require priming.

    To prime the machine, you open either the steam or hot water valve in order to encourage the pump to draw water from the reservoir and fill the boiler system. This is the tender way of doing it, but sometimes an espresso machine is a bit stubborn (read: It somehow got air pockets in its water lines, making it difficult for suction to occur) and you'll have force the issue -- literally. Using a tool like an ear syringe or turkey baster, you force water under pressure into the water intake area while engaging the pump; this gives the machine the extra oomph it needs to prime itself.

    To learn all you ever wanted to know about espresso machine priming, we asked Brendan to break it down for us in the priming primer! He talks with us about what priming is, how and why you do it, then gives us a few tips and tricks to help the process go smoothly.

    Espresso Machine Priming Primer

  • Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

    Baratza Forte APThere's a lot to love about Baratza grinders in general, but the Baratza Forte models take all of that love and kick it up to a higher level. Seriously.

    Featuring a high grade metal casing, sophisticated programming (by either time or weight variables), an upgraded bean hopper with a gate valve (for easy bean removal!) and an LED screen, both the Baratza Forte AP and BG models are solidly commercial grade.

    What's the difference between the two of them? Primarily the burrs: The Forte AP has flat ceramic burrs and the Forte BG has flat stainless steel burrs. This translates into the AP functioning as more of an all-purpose grinder, geared toward an espresso through fine drip range, while the BG is built specifically for pour over preparation and, therefore, isn't meant to grind in the espresso range. Other than that, the AP also comes with a solid metal holder on which you can rest your espresso machine's portafilter, because you'll now be able to calibrate the grind and program the weight, then automatically update your programming to grind the correct weight directly into your portafilter.

    To find out more about these grinders, check out our first look review of them. Gail goes over the features and specs, then demonstrates their grind consistency and performance.

    Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

  • Crew Review: Saeco Minuto Automatic Espresso Machine & Coffee Maker

    Saeco MinutoThe new Saeco Minuto is the innovative answer to a very common problem: How does a household split between an appreciation for drip brewed coffee and a love for espresso-based drinks ever see eye to eye? Historically, the resolution to such an issue was found in one of three ways:

    1. Completely separate pieces of equipment that yielded the best quality product for both preparations;
    2. Selecting a single piece of equipment that favored one preparation while short changing the other; or
    3. Engaging in an arm wrestling competition, wherein the victor gets to choose the home's coffee setup.

    Where the first option is concerned, you often have to give up considerable kitchen counter space to brewers, grinders and espresso machinery; not everyone has that luxury -- in either kitchen or budget size -- so collecting a variety of java accoutrement may not even be a viable option.

    In regard to the second solution, implementing it means that you have to choose between lackluster coffee or less than stellar espresso. Combination drip brewer and espresso machines often utilize steam power for both preparations, which is just perfect for drip coffee but the fluctuating temperature of which wreaks havoc on espresso. Conversely, traditional espresso machines will produce delicious shots that can be mixed with water to approximate a drip coffee-style drink, but this is often considered not as rich or as smooth as some drip coffee aficionados adore.

    Finally, putting everything on the line by competing in a feat of physical prowess may be preferable for those of you that rock especially enviable upper body strength, but the rest of us might not be as comfortable allowing our home coffee enjoyment to be decided by a session of biceps-roullette.

    With the introduction of the Saeco Minuto, however, an effective compromise that doesn't involve sacrifice or brute strength now exists! With the simple flip of a lever, the Minuto will adjust its pressure to either the traditional 9 BAR of espresso extraction or roughly 3 BAR for a drip coffee preparation. You can freshly grind and brew a single cup of rich coffee that tastes just like it was brewed in a high quality drip brewer, all at the single touch of a button. Pretty cool, eh?

    So if you've been facing this coffee vs. espresso challenge in your own household, check out Gail's review and demonstration of the Saeco Minuto;  we go through its features, experiment with its different functionality and sample its delicious java. Might it be the one you're looking for?

    Crew Review: Saeco Minuto Superautomatic Espresso Machine

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