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  • ECM vs. ECM Manufacture

    Since we're fairly vocal proponents of Rocket Espresso, we often have older models produced by the previous manufacturer, ECM, coming into our repair center for tune-ups, parts replacements and general repairs.

    A couple of weeks ago, we had an older ECM Giotto come in for a seemingly simple repair, but it spiraled into the mire once we realized that this wasn't just any Giotto we were dealing with: It was an ECM Manufacture Giotto. Apparently, the German company was a distributor of the Giotto and the Cellini products, eventually deciding to bring the production of these machines in house. Despite facing legal action from the Italian ECM company, the German company built and distributed their version of the machine for some time -- the external design very reminiscent of the original machine, and with the ECM Giotto or Cellini name badges on the machine. A few years ago, they spun off the machines under their own names -- like Technika, Barista or Mechanika -- so now it's easy to tell the difference between these machines. You can also look at the ECM logo itself to determine if you have a German or Italian produced model: The ECM Manufacture machines reference Heidelberg instead of Milan.

    If you have an older version of an ECM Giotto or Cellini that you purchased in Germany, keep in mind that the internals and parts for the German-produced versions of the machines are not the same as the original Italian versions. Before having the machine repaired, make sure who you're working with has access to the ECM Manufacture-specific parts. We poked around to see if we could find anyone who sells or has parts for these and, as of this writing, we weren't able to find anyone who imports these models into the US.

  • Crew Review: Starbucks Sirena

    We had a customer contact us over at Brown Bean, looking for some help with her newly purchased Starbucks Sirena. Well, since we can't sell these fine ladies, we asked her if she'd bring it in so we could play around with it -- and then we'd be able to help her!

    Witness our first crew review video of a machine that we do not (and cannot!) carry. These machines were manufactured for Starbucks by Saeco, so we often see them in for a couple of issues during their warranty period. Watch as Gail discusses the machines features, talks about a couple of it's easily fixed manufacturing defects and demonstrates making a latte.

  • New! Breville Non-Pressurized Portafilter Basket Upgrade

    When we started carrying the Breville espresso machines a few months ago, arguably the most common complaint we heard was that the pressurized filter basket easily clogged and was difficult to clean. We looked into the construction to see if there was something we could change about that, but decided to go with a upgrade altogether by creating a unique, non-pressurized porftafilter basket specifically designed to fit Brevilles!

    In this video, Gail talks to us about the baskets and pulls us a shot to show us how they perform. If you have a Breville, this is a highly recommended upgrade to your setup. You will need to be more in tune with your grind and tamp than if you're using the pressurized baskets, however, but you'll have the opportunity to  significantly improve your shot.

  • Ask the Experts: Oops! I Poured Water into the Bean Hopper - What do I do?

    We've all had a few rough mornings where we're not sure where the floor and ceiling are in relationship to each other, so it's no surprise that a few of us have had a tragedy occur: Accidentally pouring water into the bean hopper/grinder instead of the reservoir on our superautomatic espresso machine.

    If this happens to you, the most important thing is DO NOT USE THE MACHINE. There is nothing that you can do to fix this because the grinder needs to be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible to prevent it from seizing up. In this video, Gail shows us what happens when water gets into contact with the grinder and gives us advice on what to do -- you know, after we've run around screaming in panic.

  • Crew Review: Jura Capresso Impressa Z5 Superautomatic

    Possibly our favorite one-touch cappuccino superautomatic espresso machine, the Z5 combines tons of programmability with near-perfect automatically frothed milk. Gail shows us how this little baby works, talks about its features and functionality and makes us a cappuccino.

  • New! Breville Die-Cast Programmable Espresso Machine BES820XL

    Always on the look-out to expand the vast array of espresso machines we have available, we just added the Breville series to our products over at Seattle Coffee Gear. As we've begun testing them, we're starting to dig the 820XL -- for a machine under $500, it's got some great features.

    First off, the die-cast, stainless steel casing is really gorgeous, with smooth lines and incredibly sturdy and durable finish. It also has programmable buttons, so you can easily reproduce your espresso shot every time, without having to worry about watching it to turn it off. Finally, it has a unique boiler design that results in a bit better temperature regulation than you might find on other single boilers in this class.

    On the downside, it only comes with a pressurized portafilter, so you'll have less control over your shot and it will be infusing the espresso with air -- not producing a traditional crema. It doesn't have a three-way release valve, so you end up with a watery puck, and the portafilter is stainless steel so suffers from some inconsistency in temperature regulation (unlike its chrome-plated brass brethren).

    Overall, it's a good value -- if you're not ready to lay down the cash for a Silvia but want something a little more powerful than the Aroma, this could be right up your alley.

  • (Almost) New! Refurbished Jura Espresso Machines

    We're really thrilled to have just inked a partnership with the US arm of Jura Capresso, which will allow us to begin selling refurbished models! Jura has excellent service and support, but runs their warranty and repair in-house, so we have never had the opportunity to take in Juras as trade-ins and then refurbish them for resale. And, honestly, these machines are so well built and perform so fantastically that we rarely, if ever, even get an offer!

    Although we aren't refurbishing these ourselves, they are given a complete once-over by the Jura factory and come with a 1 year manufacturer warranty. The pricing is really awesome, too, so if you've been considering a Jura for awhile but haven't been able to get comfortable with the pricing, now might be the perfect opportunity to get into one of these machines.

    Juras are our favorite superautomatics on the market and we highly recommend them!

  • Coffee Roasts: Shades, Names and Flavors

    Back in May, we wrote a little bit about Italian vs. French Roasts, but lately we have been sampling a lot of different roast and blend types and decided to read more about the basic theory behind roasting and blending. In our research, we ran across Kenneth Davids' excellent table describing the different roast styles and their corresponding flavor, so we thought we'd reprint it here for easy future reference.
  • Crew Review: Rancilio Epoca E Commercial Espresso Machine

    The Rancilio Epoca E is a commercial-class automatic dosing espresso machine that features highly advanced heat exchange and boiler temperature/pressure management technology, which makes whipping up a long line of lattes or cappuccinos ridiculously easy. It can be configured for either 110v or 220v, is plumbed-in and drain-out only and is available in either 1 or 2 group heads.

    Watch Gail as she talks about the machine and shows us how it works. Beautiful!

    While it may be a little bit of a stretch (for both your pocketbook and your kitchen space!), the Epoca single group would make a great choice for someone who wants to take a step up from a home machine into one that has a significantly more powerful boiler -- the steaming functionality on these commercial class machines just can't be beat.

  • Ask The Experts: How Much Electricity Does My Espresso Machine Use?

    Sure, our espresso machines give us energy, but how much are they taking from the planet? We ran a test on a few of our favorites to show examples of the electricity draw and cost involved with running these machines each year. Our cost estimates are based on a national US average of $.11/kWh -- you can find more accurate data for your specific area here.

    Machine Name & Type kWh Used Estimated Annual Cost

    Jura Ena 3 & 4

    Superautomatic

    .17/day

    62.05/year

    $6.83

    Jura Impressa Z7

    Superautomatic w/One-Touch

    .24/day

    87.6/year

    $9.64

    Rancilio Silvia V3

    Semi-Automatic w/Single Boiler

    .81/day

    295.65/year

    $32.52

    Rocket Espresso Cellini Premium Plus

    Semi-Automatic w/Heat Exchange

    1.91/day

    691.15/year

    $76.03

    Incidentally, we measured how much kWh it took to make a one-touch cappuccino on the Jura Z7 and found that it was .02kWh -- at $.11/kWh, that means you'd need to make about 5 cappuccinos to rack up 1 cent in energy costs!

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