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  • Gail's Picks: Best Espresso Grinders of 2019

    Today we're powering on with our top machines of 2019! Earlier this week we brought you our top 3 brew grinders for the year. We have 4 espresso grinders to talk about today! As usual, our top machines lists take a look at new and old machines to provide guidance on what the best options on the market are as of preparing the list. Like brew grinders, we have some great classic espresso grinders and a newer face or two as well! Join us as we give these machines a look.

    Baratza Sette 270Wi

    This grinder was featured on our 2018 list, and it maintains its spot here for good reason. This grinder makes its mark with its weight based dosing feature. Incorporating Acaia technology, the portafilter holder actually weighs during grinding. This means that you can get a perfect grind weight without needing to dial in a timer. This makes dialing in your overall shot very easy compared to trying to figure it out by timing. The result is faster dialing in times with less wasted coffee, which is all anyone can ask for in their grinder!

    Dosing wouldn't help if the Sette didn't also produce great grounds, and we can confidently say this one does. Some of the best, most consistent grounds we've ever seen come out of the Sette, especially impressive when considering the price point. Add in bells and whistles like easily removable burrs (for cleaning), a hopper gate, and a compact footprint and it's easy to see why this grinder makes the list.

    Eureka Mignon Specialita

    The Specialita is a compact, powerful, and consistent grinder that easily makes our list. 55mm flat steel burrs and a powerful motor bring some incredibly consistent and high quality grounds to your espresso set up. The vibrant touchscreen allows for timed dosing that allows you to quickly and easily dose for a shot. Outside of that, the simplicity of this machine is part of why it is so very great. Eureka's Mignon line does a wonderful job of putting very little technology between you and your grounds without sacrificing quality and performance.

    On top of all of this, the Specialita is whisper quiet, has a hopper gate and stepless grind adjust, and should fit on virtually any countertop. As a bonus, it's available in striking red and chrome finishes.

    Rocket Espresso Faustino

    Rocket Espresso is one of the most well known names in Italian espresso machines. This is for good reason, their brewers are some of the most incredible machines you can get from a style and performance perspective. This year they extended that to the home espresso grinder in the new Faustino. Featuring 50mm flat steel burrs, stepless grind adjust, and time dosing, this is a wonderful grinder to pair with your new Appartamento. That's not all though, the compact footprint of the Faustino is a selling point too. This is a grinder that you can easily fit in a wide range of setup sizes, and its stylish looks will compliment more than just a Rocket Espresso machine.

    All of this is why we're happy to include it on our 2019 best of list!

    Eureka Atom 65

    On the high end of our best of 2019 list we've got the mammoth Atom 65 from Eureka. This beast of a grinder may not have the footprint of the other grinders on the list, but its sheer power, consistency, and and quiet operation makes up for its taller profile. Its name comes from the brilliant 65mm flat steel burrs that its powerful motor drives, and those burrs and that motor really do provide some of the best grounds you can get. It's also an incredibly quiet grinder that will have the rest of your home sleeping like babies when you grind for your morning shot.

    The Atom 65 also features burrs that adjust from the bottom. That may not seem like a big deal, but it means you can open and clean the grinder without losing your grind setting. It's a feature found most often on commercial grinders, and one that makes maintenance so much easier.

    Conclusion

    Check back in for more of our favorites for 2019!

  • Gail's Picks: Top Three Brew Grinders of 2019

    The year is coming to a close and it's time to celebrate our top threes for 2019! We'll be rolling out our top three favorites in a range of categories over the next month. To kick thinks off we're starting with the best brew grinders of the year! These grinders are for use with drip brewers, pour overs, and other non-pressurized brewing methods. (In other words, these guys won't do espresso!) Let's get started!

    Virtuoso+

    The Virtuoso+ comes to us from Baratza. This grinder features 38mm conical steel burrs. That means that it'll produce consistent, clump free grounds perfect for slow brew methods. A digital dial lets you dial in a specific time, which means you can determine how much you'll need for pourovers, drip brewing, or whatever method you use. That'll cut down on waste and ensure that you have the perfect amount of grounds every time. The fact that you can push the button and walk away means you can save time by setting up your grew while it grinds. We also notice less static in the catch bin than what we tend to see with most brew grinders.

    If we can find any cons, its that the hopper does not have a bean gate. This means you'll have a hard time removing all of the beans to change them out without grinding through them.

    Eureka Mignon Filtro

    The Filtro is one of Eureka's new brew grinders for 2019. This grinder steps up the burr game to 50mm flat steel burrs. These large burrs are controlled by a stepless grind adjust. This can feel finicky at first, but the stepless adjust means there are literally infinite settings you can set the burrs to. This will give you very fine control over grinding to adjust flavor for specific roasts. Aside from this, this stylish grinder provides super high quality grounds fed into its durable catch-bin. Simplicity in design means this grinder is a breeze to learn and use, and a hopper gate makes switching beans easy.

    The only real con with this grinder is its simple interface doesn't allow for programmed timed dosing, so you'll have to hold the button down to grind.

    Baratza Encore

    The perfect entry level grinder, the Encore uses 40mm conical steel burrs and simple operation to bring perfect brew grinds to your drip life. While this grinder doesn't offer as much control in burr adjustment as the ones above, it's powerful, consistent, and easy to use. This is a fantastic grinder for a new pourover enthusiast!

    The only real issue here is the simple operation and lack of programming paired with limited control. This is still a grinder that will be perfect for drip, press, and pourover brewing.

    Conclusion

    That's all we've got for 2019's best brew grinders! We'll be back this week with more 2019 best ofs!

     

  • LaMarzocco Linea Mini 2019 Review

    From a storied history producing commercial machines to nearly indestructible home machines, there's a lot to love from LaMarzocco. In light of this, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at a classic made for home. Read on for our 2019 look at the Linea Mini!

    Appearance and Usability

    The Linea Mini is the home version of the legendary Linea. That machine has been a workhorse in commercial settings for decades. Serving coffee shops around the world with reliable, powerful performance. The home version translates the look and feel of the Linea well. Visually, this machine really does give the appearance of the full size Linea. The only main differences are size and the brew paddle, which we'll get into momentarily. We love the look of the Linea Mini, but it's similarity to the commercial machine it emulates may be a turnoff for those looking for a less industrial look.

    From a usability perspective, this machine is a dream. Big, easy to use nozzles for steam and hot water control make those functions a breeze. The articulated steam wand is easy to manage and provides great steam. Finally, that brew paddle greatly improves the functionality of the machine. Giving you more tactile control over water flow means you can pinpoint accurate extraction times. With pre-programmed one second pre-infusion, you know you'll get perfectly responsive brew starts too. Plus, it's a lot of fun to use!

    Rounding out the look and feel of the machine are a big 3.5L water reservoir and a great set of indicators. The lights are easy to read and provide all of the info you need for operation. Meanwhile, that tank should last many shots before needing refilling thanks to its size.

    Performance

    On the performance front, the Linea Mini truly doesn't skimp. In fact, the LM's NSF rating means you could actually use this in a coffee shop if you wanted to. Most shops will need to be able to handle brewing multiple drinks at once, but it speaks to the quality of the machine.

    One piece of this puzzle is the Linea Mini's integrated brew group. Instead of separating the brew group and the boiler, like most machines, the integrated brew groups combine these parts. The result is a single, seamless part that keeps temperature stable throughout the brewing process. This means that the Linea Mini manages stable temps on par with E-61 machines while maintaining the signature Linea look.

    Temperature is maintained with a PID controller, providing rock solid temps that don't fluctuate like with standard thermostats. That controller manages two boilers, a .17L brew boiler and a 3.5L steam boiler. Each is the perfect size to handle its task, and having both means you can brew and steam at the same time with stable temps.

    The steam want on the Linea Mini is the same one that comes on the large standard Linea. This means you'll be steaming milk in seconds with power on par with your favorite coffee shop. Other odds and ends include a solenoid valve, cup warmer, and the option to plumb in the machine.

    Conclusion

    There's only a couple of issues with the Linea Mini. For one, the warm up time might seem extreme if you just want a latte in the morning. It can take 15 minutes to warm up for brewing, and up to 30 to be able to steam. That warmup time is worth the wait, but it also means that you'll either want to leave this machine on 24/7, or start it well before you're ready to brew. The only other con is the lack of programmable pre-infusion. While the pre-programmed option should be all you need, for super invested home baristas, more programmability is a good feature.

    Otherwise, this is a machine that really lives up to the LaMarzocco name. It's one of the closest things to putting the power of a professional cafe right on your countertop.

  • Video Roundup: 11/1/2019

    Hello friends!

    It's time yet again for another weekly video roundup here at SCG! We've got 4 videos hot off the press for you this week, let's get started!

    First, we've got John with a review of the Rocket Espresso Boxer Timer One Group:

    Next is a much requested comparison between the Philips Carina and the Saeco Vienna, should you think about upgrading?

    Then Clementine offered up a tasty treat for this magical season:

    Last but not least, Allie provided some helpful tips and tricks for the Izzo Vivi PID Pro:

    And that's all for now! We'll be back next week with loads more to share.

  • Philips Espresso Machine Giveaway!

    Hey friends!

    If you follow us on social media you know this week we launched a giveaway for 3 fantastic new Philips espresso machines. The machines up for grabs are the Philips Carina, 3200, and 3200 LatteGo. Each of these machines is super easy to use and makes great coffee and milk drinks!

    We've partnered with Gleam to make this giveaway simple to enter. All you need to do is head over to this page and click each item in the list. To get every entry opportunity you'll need a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account, and an email to use for our newsletter! Each list item will ask you to log into your accounts to complete the action, or it will ask for your email address in the case of the newsletter signup. We have tried to make this process as useable as possible, but if you run into issues feel free to contact us. We can't wait to announce the winners after the giveaway wraps up!

  • Izzo Vivi PID Pro Review

    The Izzo Vivi PID Pro is a dazzling stainless steel marvel that comes in at a great price point for what's on offer. Stainless steel casing and boiler material, a powerful heat-exchanger heating element, E-61 group head, and more, Join us as we break down what makes this machine tick.

    Appearance and Usability

    The Vivi really speaks for itself from an appearance standpoint. This machine is a beautiful collision of stainless steel, with the material comprising the casing, frame, and boiler. This means that the Vivi has a stunning shine that will dazzle every morning. There really aren't many other machines that stand out like an Izzo, and the Vivi is no exception. The lines on this machine also offer that classic Italian style to go along with the shine. The PID controls are easily accessible along with other levers and knobs. The PID interface also houses the machine's handy shot timer. The brew lever is nice and snappy, with clear action for starting and stopping water flow. Steam controls are al easy to manage with the twist of the dial. One thing to note is that the dials themselves are plastic, but this is partly to keep them cool to the touch during use. They are high quality, durable, and look great, so we don't see it as a real issue.

    In general, using this machine is a breeze. It is of course a technical brewer, but a great one to learn on. If you've used other Italian espresso machines you'll be right at home with Vivi. If you're more familiar with more entry level machines there will definitely be a learning curve. That said, it's more than worth it to learn to pull shots on a "professional style" machine like this. The only negative we can offer about using the Vivi is that the case does get very hot. Because there's not tons of clearance around the machine and its working components, you do have to be mindful to avoid getting burns.

    Performance

    The Vivi's performance is tough to beat at its price point. We offer some incredible machines around the $2,000 mark, and whole heartedly recommend all of them. The Vivi is no different, and if it wasn't up to snuff with the other brands we sell, it wouldn't be on our shelves. So with all of that said, what really makes this machine tick? First off, the heating element is a heat exchanger in a stainless steel, 1.8 liter boiler. This kind of heating element and volume means you'll be able to steam milk and brew while remaining temperature stable. That's a huge boon for shot and milk quality, as well as time. That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg

    Other brewing elements are the powerful pump, solenoid valve, and heated E61 Group head. The group head in particular is an important piece of the Vivi puzzle. E61s help water maintain temp as it passes through the portafilter, which it also heats. The result is hot shots that are brewed at the proper temp and pressure, without any blowback or spray thanks to the solenoid valve. Overall this is a stellar machine that can churn out delicious drinks in a hurry.

    Conclusion

    Between powerful insides and all of that stainless, there's a reason we offer this exclusive machine. Definitely one of the best options out there at the $2,000 or less pricepoint, and a perfect upgrade from an entry level machine. Learning to brew on a Vivi is worth the learning curve! Check if out on our store here.

  • Video Roundup: 10/25/2019

    Happy Friday coffee fans!

    We've got a few videos for you to check out this weekend, so lets jump right in!

    First up, Gail took a look at the new Philips 2200 superautomatic espresso machine:

    Next, Jamie from DeLonghi took a look at their Dinamica superauto with Gail!

    Last, but as always, not least, Clementine continued her spooky recipes with one so haunted that it scared up some technical difficulties:

    We hope you enjoy!

  • The Importance of Timing and Weighing Your Shots

    Pulling the perfect shot of espresso is a learning experience. It's not easy to go from beginner to proficient at such a delicate process. We've talked in the past more generally about ways to improve your espresso game. Today we wanted to take a look at timing and weighing shots, two key components of brewing great espresso!

    Shot Weight

    Shot weight is important because, as with drip coffee, ratio is key. You need the right amount of water to pass through just the right amount of ground coffee. This ensures that the chemical process of coffee and water molecules bonding takes place. For drip coffee, using a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water is pretty standard. Due to espresso's more concentrated, syrupy nature and the pressure from brewing, 1:2 coffee to water is a good starting point. Using a scale to weigh your shot as it pulls is key here! While you can also use a shot pitcher that measures volume, a scale gives you more freedom. With it, you can brew to exact ratios and try different amounts of coffee and water.

    The important thing here is making sure your scale can accommodate you portafilter for weighing grounds AND be small enough to fit under the brewhead. Examples like the Acaia Lunar are small enough to fit under brew spouts and can be combined with plates to fit portafilters.

    Shot Timing

    In order to manage the perfect extraction, the amount of time a shot takes to pull is very important. Most of the time you'll be aiming for your shot to pull in 20-30 seconds. For more adventurous recipes you might use different timings. If your shot pulls very fast it could mean that you need a finer grind or a tighter tamp. Too long and you may need the opposite. In either case, without timing your shots you'll never know for sure.

    Poorly extracted shots can taste sour or bitter, just generally bad. If the timing is good and you use the right volume of coffee and water, you know that it's a problem with the bean! Many scales offer shot timers, but to truly measure down to the millisecond, try to find a brewer with one built in. Timers on machines will usually start automatically when the shot begins to pull. This ensures everything is synced up exactly. Check out this year's the Rocket Giotto for a great machine with built in timer.

    We hope this article drives home the important of adding a timer and scale to your espresso setup!

  • Video Roundup: 10/18/2019

    It's another Friday and we have LOADS of videos to share this week!

    Let's dive in:

    First up, Gail took a look at the new 3200 LatteGo from Philips.

    Next, we tasted our Roast of the Month!

    Then we got another crew review, this time of the NON LatteGo 3200:

    Allie dropped by the studio to offer some Izzo tips and tricks:

    And last but not least, another terrifying Coffee Collaboration with Clementine!

    That's all for now, get to watching!

  • Roast of the Month: Camber Guatemala Santa Isabel

    This month's Roast of the Month comes to us from Camber Coffee. Camber is a local roaster just north of Seattle in Bellingham Washington. We've been fans of Camber for a while, and we're really excited to be able to feature them!

    Origin

    Guatemala Santa Isabel was grown near the town of San Cristóbal Verapaz. This central Guatemalan town was at one time not renowned for its coffee. The producer of this particular coffee, Don Luis, worked with his son to develop the farm. By improving their cultivation techniques, they're fully developed their crop into a prize winning coffee. We loved Camber's take on this roast, especially given that it's from a region we don't see as many coffees from.

    The Coffee

    The coffee itself is a delicious washed roast that evolves as it cools and depending on the brew method. We've had this coffee as everything from a pourover to a vacuum siphon brew, and it's always interesting. Depending on brew method, you'll get sweeter cherry notes with more prevalence. On the other hand, our siphon brew highlighted the marzipan note that Camber lists. A classic drip brew should give you a nice balance that still offers some interesting taste.

    This adaptability and general great flavor was what really grabbed us about this camber. This is just a great coffee that you and other coffee drinkers you brew for will love too! Check out Camber's Guatemala Santa Isabel here today!

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