Make Coffee You Love!

  • Cleancaf or Dezcal?

    Lime, calcium and other trace minerals exist in nearly every water supply, leaving behind white scaly deposits when the water has evaporated. Removing this scale on a regular basis is an essential component of any coffee maker or espresso machine maintenance regimen -- even if you have 'soft' water, there will be trace amounts left over time that can build-up and hinder your machine's performance.

    Some folks suggest using filtered or distilled water from the get-go, so that you don't risk pitting your boiler through repetitive use of the acid required to remove scale. That's certainly one tack to take, but we've found that we prefer the taste of espresso made with water that has some mineral content to it. Because of that, we descale our machines about every three months to ensure that no deposits build up and ultimately burn out the boiler.

    If you prefer minerals in your java as we do, there are a couple of products on the market that will help you keep your espresso machine or coffee maker in tip-top shape: Cleancaf or Dezcal. Which is better? Again, it depends on your preferences.

    Billed as a cleaner and descaler, Cleancaf combines descaling acid with a detergent that will also break down the oils left behind by coffee beans. It also features a blue dye that helps with thorough rinsing.

    Dezcal, on the other hand, is a straight-up descaler -- and an incredibly powerful one at that. While it doesn't have a detergent component, it's a much stronger product and removes more scale; also, it doesn't have a blue dye, which we think is a good thing.

    Of the two, we recommend Dezcal over Cleancaf, but we carry both of them so you can determine which product is right for you.

  • 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.
  • 4...3...2...1...Pulling Delicious Shots with the La Pavoni

    People often think that La Pavoni's manual lever espresso machines are overly complex throwbacks created just for hardcore purists, but they're actually relatively easy machines to use -- and they make amazing espresso!

    In this video, watch Gail use the La Pavoni for the first time, experimenting with different grind levels in order to get a great shot.

  • 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.

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