Education

We aim to teach! Whether you're new to the coffee world, or a seasoned home barista, we want to help you learn the best ways and techniques to make coffee you love!
  • Tech Tip: Superautomatics and Oily Beans

    We have written before about the no love lost between superautomatic espresso machines and oily, dark roasted coffee beans, but when we got a machine in the repair center last week that was caked to the gills with coffee cement, we just had to film it and show you what we're talking about.

    Watch Gail take apart the grinder of a Saeco Vienna superautomatic espresso machine and show what happens over time to the internal grinders on these machines if someone is using super-dark and oily beans. We definitely recommend sticking with a lighter, drier roast for the long term health of your machine -- and now you'll see why!

  • Tech Tip: Adjusting the Temperature/Pressure on the Rocket Giotto

    While Rocket thoroughly calibrates their espresso machines prior to shipping them out, some folks have found that, over time, they can maintain their shot quality by adjusting the temperature of the water that's delivered to the brew group.

    Gail walks us through the process of popping open the lid of the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus and adjusting the pressure to improve the temperature -- and while we know people love to geek out and mod their machines themselves, following this process will void any warranties still on the machine. If yours is still under warranty, leave this to the pros.

  • Heat Exchange vs. Double Boiler

    We admit it, we're guilty. We thought that size did matter with regard to boilers on a semi-automatic espresso machine -- namely, that two boilers was better than one. The hierarchy in our mind was:

    1. Single Boiler: From the Saeco Aroma to the Rancilio Silvia, the single boiler is a great little semi-automatic espresso machine that requires special attention to boiler temperature so that you're brewing well below the steaming temp and not burning your espresso. With a single boiler, you're not able to brew and steam at the same time -- we recommend steaming first, then brewing.
    2. Heat Exchange: Instead of pulling your brewing and steaming water from the same vat, per se, heat exchangers like the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus or Quick Mill Andreja Premium transports fresh water from the reservoir through the boiler via a copper tube that is specifically designed in length and girth to heat the passing water to the optimum brewing temperature, not the steaming temperature. We are talking about a nearly 40F degree difference, so this improved temperature regulation significantly upgrades the espresso shot quality. This functionality also allows for simultaneous brew and steam.
    3. Double Boiler: Only a few models on the market, such as the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi or Izzo Alex Duetto, feature absolutely separate boilers for steaming and brewing, which allows you to maintain disparate temperatures and brewing and steaming at the same time. You can generally program your preferred brew boiler temperature on these machines and, in the home espresso machine space, they generally feature a quicker recovery time than their heat exchange counterparts.

    So, based on those assessments, you'd understand why we were confused by the more is better idea -- that maintaining temperature is significantly easier when you've got two separate boilers doing their own thing.

    However, in our recent research and education around the new line of commercial Faema machines we're now carrying, we learned that our hierarchical view was incorrect -- in fact, Italians haven't been using double boiler technology for decades, believing that the heat exchange technology provides for significantly improved espresso due to one major reason: It's alive!

    Boiler water is considered 'dead' water because it's sitting in a little metal unit cooking away. Over time, this results in a significantly increased alkaline content in the water (ah yes, that lovely scale we keep talking about so much) and a mineral imbalance in extraction. Basically, the flavor's different.

    Since heat exchange machines are continuously cycling fresh water through their siphoning system, they have an improved mineral balance and cannot become stale like the water in the double boilers might. So the flavor is significantly better and, therefore, preferred by connoisseurs the world over.

    If you're in the market for a 'prosumer' machine, this is definitely important information for you to mull over. Not only is the footprint smaller on a heat exchange machine vs. a double boiler, but it just might pull a better shot.

  • Coffee in High Altitudes

    It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were wondering in the store how brewing coffee or pulling espresso differs at higher altitudes. We're basically at sea level here, but we'd been talking about the kind of coffee some of us have found in the higher elevations of Montana -- more bitter and like 'coffee water' than what we make and drink here.

    We found the answer in this interesting piece on coffee in Santa Fe, NM. A Qasimi discusses how the higher altitude affects brewing and roasting:

    I don?t drink home-brewed coffee in Santa Fe. I?ve often found it sour and lacking in the depth, robustness and natural sweetness that makes great coffee great. How does high altitude affect coffee and espresso quality at home and with the use of commercial equipment? Drip coffee machines that merely boil are convenient devices but they deliver water to the grounds at below the ideal range of temperatures, leading to underextraction of the beans and a sour, dull or poorly developed brew.

    Thus, the only way to compensate for altitude is pressure -- and that means espresso -- but pulling a proper espresso shot is not easy at this altitude either. Ironically, though the best coffee grows at higher altitudes, with water?s lower boiling point in elevated places, brewing can get tricky. Roasting, on the other hand, merely benefits from altitude: The best possible results come from roasting the beans at the same altitude as they?ll be used and particularly at high altitudes that allow for faster roast development at lower temperatures

  • Ask the Experts: What's the Difference Between Pressurized and Non-Pressurized Filter Baskets?

    We brought out the big machines for today’s top three double boiler espresso machines, the La Marzocco Linea Mini, Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler and Breville Dual Boiler. Double boiler espresso machines are equipped with two boilers: a brew boiler and a steam boiler. While the steam boilers reach and hold pressure ideal for frothing milk, the other maintains consistent brewing temperature. Chances are in your search for a high-quality espresso machine, you’ve read the debate between double boilers and heat exchange espresso machines. Coffee enthusiasts have long expressed their opinions about the pros and cons of each boiler type and we suspect it’ll continue on. One of the benefits dual boilers reap is temperature stability and the capability to brew more drinks back-to-back than a heat exchanger. Not to mention that, like a heat exchanger, you can brew and steam simultaneously. A double boiler machine is for someone who wants to brew multiple drinks back-to-back and requires a faster turnaround time.
  • Tech Tip: Backflush Flashback


    If you have a semi-automatic espresso machine with a 3-way pressure release, or solenoid, valve, you need to backflush it on a regular basis to keep the machine in fine working order. Backflushing will clean up behind the screen and into the brewing system, cleaning out coffee or grounds residue and reducing the potential for clogs.You can watch Dane as he cleans a Rocket Giotto, or follow these steps:

    1. Replace brew basket with a blind basket in the portafilter (or you can use this universal insert in your existing basket)
    2. Place 1/2 teaspoon of a backflush detergent such as Cafiza or Joe Glo (Important: make sure it indicates backflushing as its primary use on the label -- do not use Dezcal or any other standard detergent here!)
    3. Insert the portafilter into the brew group and initiate a shot
    4. Allow the pump to run about 4 - 5 seconds maximum
    5. Turn the pump off and allow the water and suds to release through the valve
    6. Repeat this process until the water coming out of the valve is clear and suds-free
    7. Remove the portafilter, rinse it in cool water to cool it down and then switch out the baskets again
    8. Before you pull your first shot, run a blank shot through the system to make sure there is no residue leftover
  • Health Watch: Aluminum Boilers & Alzheimers

    One of the more controversial topics within the discussion of Alzheimer's is whether or not aluminum has a causal relationship to the development of the disease. Since the first study in the 1960's that found higher concentrations of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer's than in the brains of people without the disease, scientist have been exploring the influences and attempting to correlate the two, with contradictory results. To this day, there is not conclusive evidence one way or the other, and the medical community is still very uncertain about whether or not the aluminum found at the center of the plaques which they believe to be the cause of the disease are the cause of the plaques or simply a harmless secondary association.

    What does a discussion of neuroscience and disease have to do with coffee? Well, many people are concerned about the uncertain and contradictory information on this topic -- one that might be close to home to any of you with an espresso machine or stovetop espresso brewer with an aluminum boiler. Since aluminum is part of the earth's crust and used in tons of products, from toothpastes to antacids to cookware, it's difficult to avoid it altogether. But the amount of aluminum that might leach into your espresso during the brewing process is relatively minimal, if any, than you would intake normally, so it's likely not much of a concern.

    While the jury is still out on whether or not aluminum is a contributing factor to developing Alzheimer's, or just coincidentally happens to be along for the ride, you're probably pretty safe to continue enjoying your delicious espresso -- aluminum boiler or not.

Items 201 to 207 of 207 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. ...
  3. 17
  4. 18
  5. 19
  6. 20
  7. 21
Subscribe

Finally, something for that inbox

Join our email list and be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products.

close

Join our email list

GET 10% OFF ONE ITEM*

Be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products - starting today!

 

JOIN
*Some exclusions apply. See email coupon for more details.