Author Archives: Kat
This summer, we started filming Brandi as she tried out the rather unique drinks included in the Barista menu of the ultra-sophisticated Jura GIGA 5. From pepper-infused espresso to a souped-up latte macchiato, sampling these recipes was quite an adventure.
At long last, we've reached the end of the menu, topping it off with an interesting gem called Winter Magic Coffee. With ingredients such as chocolate hazelnut spread and ground ginger, we weren't quite sure what to think. But we took it on anyway and were pleasantly surprised.
Like many of the drinks incorporated into the Jura GIGA 5's Barista menu, it is an interesting answer to a question we had never even thought to pose: Will ginger and cardamom meld well with the flavor of espresso? Watch as Brandi rocks it out, again, and then both she and Gail give their feedback on the flava!
Recipe: Winter Magic Coffee a la Jura GIGA 5
If this drink intrigues you and you don't happen to have a GIGA 5 at your disposal, here's the recipe:
- 1 teaspoon chocolate-hazelnut spread
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 pinch of ground ginger
- 1 pinch ground cardamom
- 1.5 oz of espresso
- steamed milk to taste
- In your serving mug, combine the chocolate, honey, ginger and cardamom together, then stir well until smooth.
- Add the espresso and again stir until everything is well incorporated.
- Top with steamed milk to taste and serve!
We'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!
The 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
If you asked us to characterize the nature of our time recently spent with the Victoria Arduino Adonis at Nuova Simonelli's US headquarters, it would not be fit for the family-friendly tone of this blog. This sleek, gorgeous and elegant commercial-class espresso machine takes the sophisticated functionality of Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 T3 and wraps it in an incredibly fetching design.
Available in two to four brew group configurations, each with individually-controlled temperature and volumetric shot programming, the Adonis is designed for cafes that want the best of both worlds … if those worlds happen to be named Form and Function. With its gleaming stainless steel, accent lighting and unique brew head design, the Victoria Arduino Adonis is an elegant showpiece that will also produce exceptional coffee.
In this review video, Brandon guides us through its features and specs, then demonstrates how to make a latte. If you're designing your cafe to include an element of showmanship and high design, then the Adonis by Victoria Arduino should definitely be considered.
Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Victoria Arduino Adonis
Perhaps 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
While we affectionately refer to Jura's Impressa Z7 as 'the elder statesman' of their one-touch superautomatic espresso machines, it is by no means outdated! At one time, it was their most sophisticated espresso machine, offering an array of programming features and one-touch cappuccino functionality.
Then came along the TFT-enhanced models like the J9 or the big daddy, the GIGA 5, and the Z7 seemed downright simple in comparison. But rather than considering it simplistic, we prefer to accentuate how streamlined it is -- and even though there are other show ponies now available, it's still a solid choice.
With Jura's intuitive menu interface, the ability to program a selection of different drinks and the upgraded automatic frother technology that produces a finer, denser foam, there is a lot to love about the Impressa Z7. So we asked someone who truly loves it -- and has for a long time -- to refresh our review! Watch as Chris takes us through all of the features and specs, then demonstrates crafting a delicious latte macchiato at the single touch of a button.
Crew Review: Jura Impressa Z7 - Redux!
When you have to stay up all night to deliver goodies around the globe, you need a sufficient amount of caffeine to stay legit. After all, you don't want to run that sleigh off the road, do you? Or deliver an arsenal of presents to a small child who was naughty, and a trove of coal to another who was nice? No way! You want to stay alert and on point.
This is where a magical elixir that combines the energy-enhancing properties of both caffeine and sugar comes in. Yes, you could stick with a classic espresso shot or thermos of freshly brewed drip coffee, but why not put a little cheer in your cheer? With an infusion of spice in the form of Monin's Chai Tea Concentrate and Gingerbread syrups, balanced by a little cream, this coffee recipe takes a simple pot of java and elevates it to something altogether more festive.
And even if you're not traveling around the world delivering goodies near and far, you may still find this brew will properly motivate you through a long night of seemingly endless dollhouse construction and bicycle wrapping. Watch Brandi brew up a batch!
Recipe: Mrs. Claus' Brewed Coffee Recipe
During our recent field trip to Nuova Distribution, the US arm of Nuova Simonelli, we had the opportunity to interview one of their master technicians, Ryan, on the ins and outs of the uber-sophisticated Talento commercial superautomatic espresso machine.
As a follow-up to Brandon's comprehensive review and demonstration video, Ryan speaks to the design approach and methodology that makes the Talento such an excellent choice for certain commercial environments. With a high level of control on the part of the administrator and extensive troubleshooting tools for techs, the Talento is designed to provide worry-free espresso based drinks in environments that may not be conducive to lengthy barista training.
He also shares with us the technical decisions behind elements of the machine's design, specifically around the brew group functionality, and then dives deeply into guiding us through the machine's internal menu -- how to program it, the different options and settings available, what each sub-menu is designed to do and more!
If, after watching Brandon's video review, you wanted more detail on the Talento, this video is right up your alley. And if you want even more info on or want to discuss whether or not this machine is the right fit for your business, contact us!
Field Trip: Nuova Simonelli Talento Overview with Ryan
Earlier this year, we added a wide array of delicious, loose leaf teas from Rishi Teas. Shortly thereafter, we filmed a few tastings of them so that you could learn what kind of flavors and notes these teas offered. Since adding three new teas to our selection, we decided that we should give them the same treatment, no?!
The new kids on the block are Tangerine Ginger, Vanilla Pu-erh and Chocolate Chai teas. For those of you not interested in watching Brandi and Bunny taste these teas and give their opinions, here are the crib notes:
- Tangerine Ginger - This tea features hibiscus, so brews up into a brilliant ruby color. The tangerine gives it a bright top note, complemented by the warm spice of the ginger.
- Vanilla Pu-erh - The earthiness of this pu-erh is balanced by smooth vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. A rich brew that is a great choice for someone who would prefer to have coffee but needs to tone down their caffeine intake a bit.
- Chocolate Chai - Brewed like a traditional tea, this tastes spicy and smooth, with just a hint of bittersweet chocolate. When mixed with warm milk, it's rich and creamy, a more rowdy interpretation of a hot cocoa.
And for those of you who would like to watch the show, here it is:
Crew Review: New Rishi Tea
The Pasquini Livietta T2 espresso machine has been around for several years in its current iteration, yet we'd never had a demo in the store in order to give it our signature Crew Review treatment! When we had the opportunity to set one up, we had Gail dive in deep and not come up for air until she knew every possible thing about it.
With a diminutive size perfect for a home kitchen and dual thermoblock functionality that allows you to brew and steam at the same time, the Livietta T2 certainly packs a serious punch, while wearing very dainty gloves! It is a standard semi-automatic with a toggle switch interface, and it's all wrapped in shiny stainless steel. Because its steam functionality uses a thermoblock, it isn't very robust; while it will take some time to produce frothed milk, it is very easy to use and produce micro foam if you're just learning how to do it. Additionally, you don't have a lot of control over the brew temperature, but it does extract great shots without a lot of fancy footwork on your part.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you can't descale the Livietta T2's steam thermoblock, so be certain to use filtered water and even consider bringing it in to a tech for a thorough cleaning every couple of years. Other than that, it's a sturdy little workhorse!
Want to learn more? Check out Gail's comprehensive review and demonstration video to see it in action.
Crew Review: Pasquini Livietta T2
When Jura released their ENA series of superautomatic espresso machines a few years ago, they were a unique offering in terms of both ease of use and footprint. Designed to fit into the space of a legal-sized sheet of paper, they were targeted toward folks with limited kitchen counter space. But one thing this series of streamlined machines was missing was a true one-touch model … until the ENA 9, that is!
Released a few years after the initial round of machines, the Jura ENA 9 has the super-intuitive interface of previous ENA models, paired with Jura's one-touch cappuccino functionality. Since we have spent a considerable amount of time with it over the past couple of years, we thought it was time to refresh our review! And what better way to do that than by having Chris offer his perspective on this popular superautomatic?
Watch as he guides us through all of the ENA 9's features and specs, provides his own tips and tricks on getting the best cup and then demonstrates making a one-touch cappuccino. While Jura has released newer model variations since the ENA 9, this one-touch still offers excellent features for the price.
Crew Review: Jura ENA 9 One-Touch - Redux!