coffee

  • Top 3 High-End Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    This is it! The last in our series of Top 3s articles for 2020. We’re closing it out with a particularly fun category: High-end superautomatic espresso machines! These three machines represent our picks for sky’s the limit automatic home espresso. We’re not worried about budget or value here, just the most feature-filled machines on the market. Let’s get started!

    Saeco Xelsis

    We know, we talk about the Saeco Xelsis a lot. But it’s for good reason! For many of us here at SCG, this is the machine we’d pick even if you offered us one that was twice the price. The Xelsis really is a cafe lover’s superautomatic because of the range of options it includes, it’s stylish looks, and of course, its performance.

    Let’s talk about control. The touch screen interface on the Xelsis is truly remarkable, giving you careful control over drink parameters. It’s also easy to use and intuitive, something that isn’t always the case with coffee equipment. Using the Xelsis, you’ll be able to dial in the perfect latte, cappuccino, or other espresso drink and then save it to a preset to pull again and again.

    Then there’s the performance. With hot, delicious espresso that lives up to the Saeco name, you won’t be disappointed. Where this machine really takes performance to the next level is with its milik steaming. We’ve been hard pressed to find a superautomatic with milk production on par with semi-auto steaming. The fact of the matter is that there’s a degree of finesse and control needed during steaming that superautos have a hard time reaching. While the Xelsis isn’t quite on the level of a well trained barista, it’s as close as we’ve seen from a superauto. Our latte art gurus have even managed to pour art with the latte milk from this machine. With foam level being one of the parameters you can control on the Xelsis, you can even fine tune this as well!

    Finally, there’s the convenience features. The Xelsis has a self cleaning steam wand, front loading water tank, and is AquaClean filter ready, which all makes it as easy a machine to own as it is to use. It’s an easy choice for us as one of the best superautos you can buy.

    Miele CM6350

    Miele is known across the world of appliances for delivering high performance and high quality. Their superautomatic espresso machines are no different, and the CM6350 is at the top of that line.

    Th CM6350 is on this list because it is one of the top performing superautos on the market in terms of drink quality. Period. The espresso that this machine brews is fantastic, and the built in hot water spout allows you to make brilliant americanos as well. What’s more, this machines’ automatic milk steaming is the real deal, giving you near cafe quality lattes and cappuccinos. 

    Miele also makes maintaining this machine easy, with a high contrast guided interface for cleaning and maintaining. This interface also aids in drink parameter programming, which isn’t as robust as the Xelsis, but still more than adequate.

    If there are any complaints to be made about Miele superautos, it’s in the temperature department. This machine brews espresso at 200 degrees fahrenheit as needed for espresso, but there’s not much you can do to increase the temperature of the coffee or milk beyond that if you really need a scalding hot drink. We don’t feel this is a major issue with this machine, but it’s worth noting in case you drink coffee at burn-your-mouth temperatures!

    When you put together the quality, consistency, and ease of use with Miele superautos it’s not hard to understand why we hold them in such high regard!

    Breville Oracle Touch

    This last one is interesting. If what you want is a superautomatic machine that gives you your morning drink with just a button press, the Oracle Touch might not be for you. The reason we include it here is because it represents such an interesting crossover between semi and superautomatic machines.

    The Oracle Touch brews using a portafilter like you’d find on a semi-automatic espresso machine. It also uses a steam wand that works similarly to those found on semi-autos. The difference is that it automates the process of grinding, brewing, and steaming by combining a grinder and auto tamper and programming a number of preset drink options. All you have to do to use the Oracle Touch is select your drink on the color screen and move your portafilter to the grinder and back to the group head. The machine does the rest. 

    While this added step may seem counterintuitive, the benefit is you get flavors that are closer to a semi-auto machine using a traditional portafilter. You’ll also have more direct control over your brew since there are some more manual steps you can take as you work through the brewing process. 

    We think this machine is the perfect choice for someone looking to learn more about espresso as they enjoy automated brewing. That makes the Oracle Touch quite unique, and well worth including on this list!

    That’s a wrap for our 2020 best ofs! We hope you’ve enjoyed these articles and we can’t wait to bring you all sorts of holiday fun as we close out the year!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Odds and Ends

    Sometimes you might be shopping for the coffee lover who already has their setup. They may not need a new grinder, brewer, or machine. With that said, there’s always something extra you can find to really enhance your giftee’s coffee setup! That’s where we come in. Let’s take a look at some excellent odds and ends for you or someone on your gift list.

    Storage

    One thing many folks don’t think about is proper coffee storage. When properly stored, coffee can maintain its freshness for much longer than you might think. To do that, you need an airtight storage solution designed specifically for preserving our favorite beans. 

    One way to achieve this is with Airscape coffee containers. These storage containers feature an internal sealing disk that gives you an extra level of vacuumed storage in addition to the gasketed lid. Available in multiple sizes, materials, and colors, there’s absolutely an Airscape for the coffee lover on your list. Our biggest advice when shopping for an Airscape is to keep in mind that the sealing disk does use up some of the capacity of the container, so it’s better to go a little bigger on the size of the container to ensure it’ll be enough storage for your or your giftee’s coffee of choice!

    Tampers, Mats, and Leveling Tools

    For the espresso brewer at home there’s a little more that you need than just a machine and grinder. If you’re using a semi-automatic machine, a tamper is a must have. To keep your workspace clean and your countertop free of nicks, you’ll want to add a tamping mat as well. Finally, an OCD leveling tool can really help you ensure an even distribution of grounds in your portafilter.

    For tampers, there are a lot of options. Many home espresso enthusiasts view tampers as a way to add some flair to their setup. There are simple options out there like the one pictured above, but for a new user you can’t go wrong with an Espro Calibrated Tamper. These tampers “click” at the right amount of pressure, which will help you find the sweet spot for your tamp. 

    Tamping mats come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but you can’t go wrong with a simple tamping mat from Rocket Espresso. Durable and easy to use, this mat will keep your countertop nick and mess free and give you the perfect platform for tamping.

    Mugs

    No coffee setup is complete without mugs to drink from! So much of your mug choice comes down to the kind of coffee you like to brew. For drip brews/pour over we adore the Acme Union. This cup combines bold lines with usability and durability to create a pretty perfect coffee mug. If you’re looking for cups designed for milk drinks, the Fellow Monty comes in excellent latte and cappuccino sizes, and provides performance and elegance unique to Fellow’s prestigious name.

    Sometimes though, you just need a shot glass for that delicious naked espresso shot. For this, and other shot glass applications, we love notNeutral’s Vero demitasse cups.

    For the coffee drinker on the go, we highly recommend the Miir Travel Tumbler! Its spill proof, dishwasher safe design is perfect for your active lifestyle. 

    And there you have it! Some quick tips on ways to expand your coffee setup outside of the standard items. We hope you’ve enjoyed our holiday shopping guides, and we wish you all the best in your gifting (and getting)!

     

  • Top 3 High-End Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    We’ve already taken a look at our favorite semi-automatics when it comes to staying budget conscious. We also know that everyone loves a look at some of the biggest, highest performing options. Today we’re going to toss budget out the window and talk about our picks for the top 3 high-end semi-automatics. These aren’t necessarily the most beginner friendly machines on the market, but they offer incredible performance and deep, hobbyist features. Let’s get started!

    Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto

    This year Rocket Espresso updated the classic R58 with the new Cinquantotto model. The previous R58 long represented the highest end of Rocket Espresso’s home line. The Cinquantotto absolutely lives up to its predecessor. It starts with the machine’s dual boilers, which allow for consistent steaming and brewing with nearly unbeatable recovery time in non-commercial machines. On top of that, the Cinquantotto features a hand built stainless steel case that dazzles and protects the internal components. Finally, the precise, tactile controls and gauges give you the feel of pulling shots and steaming milk in a Milan cafe. 

    But none of this is new, and what is really makes the Cinquantotto shine a little brighter. First, there’s the built in shot timer. Carefully built into the case to retain its classic look, this shot timer helps you dial in and stay dialed for all of your shots. Next, there’s the touchscreen PID controller, which gives you easy access to temp control, diagnostic info, and the new auto-on time programming. Even better, this control unit is detachable, allowing you to set it up and remove it to retain the machine’s looks. Finally, updated styling on the cup rail and legs give the machine a sleek new look that stay true to its classic roots. 

    Overall, the Cinquantotto is an incredible update, and we know you’ll love it as much as we do.

    La Marzocco Linea Mini

    The legendary La Marzocco Linea Mini is basically a commercial machine scrunched down to home size. It even carries and NSF rating, which technically makes it a machine you could use commercially. This really shows in the performance of the machine as well, with dual PID-controlled boilers, a La Marzocco saturated grouphead, precision brew paddle, and commercial style steam setup.

    It’s sometimes hard to express what sets the Linea Mini apart, but that’s just because it is an extraordinary machine when it comes to reliability and performance. This isn’t a machine loaded with complex programming or features, it just does its job better than most espresso machines available.

    Bonuses like pre-programmed pre-infusion, a lighted brewing area, and a large 3.5L water reservoir help improve the Linea Mini’s usability. When you put this together with its exceptional performance, it’s hard not to include this machine on a best of list when you remove budget consideration as a criteria. If you have the capital and want a forever machine, the Linea Mini is a great option!

    Rocket Espresso R Nine One

    The R Nine One gets its name from Rocket Espresso’s R9 line of commercial espresso machines. The one in this machine’s name comes from its single brew group, a distinction that matters when shopping for a commercial machine. With all that in mind, the R Nine One really is a home hobbyist machine, with many differences from the commercial line that make it a highly specialized machine. 

    Defining the term “prosumer,” the R Nine One really achieves more than most commercial machines. With a temp-stable saturated group and dual PID controlled boilers, you’ll get effortless steaming and brewing for drink after drink. You get all the expected bells and whistles as well like volumetric dosing, extremely high quality stainless steel casing and frame, and commercial style milk steaming. But where the R Nine One really shines is with its pressure profiling.

    Pressure profiling allows you to manually build a pressure curve for your shots, mimicking virtually any machine in history. If you know the curve that another machine generates, you can program it here. You can also manually use the brew lever to dial in pressures, which the R Nine One’s computer reads and stores. From there, you can simply press a few buttons and load a profile for perfect shot recreation every time. This may sound like overkills, but for those who really want to dig into hyper specific elements of flavor and body, there’s nothing like brewing on an R Nine One. 

    This is the ultimate espresso machine, with a price to match, but it really is a powerhouse.

    So there you have it! Our picks for the top 3 high end semi-automatic espresso machines available in 2020. We hope one of them is your dream machine!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Semi-Automatic Espresso

    Semi-automatic espresso machines can be daunting at first glance. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to crafting cafe style espresso drinks, and getting started with the right gear is key. That’s why we’ve got another one of our holiday shopping guides to help you give the gift of great espresso gear, or get some for yourself! Let’s get started!

    Grinders

    Grinding for espresso requires a highly precise, consistent grinder that will give you a fine enough grind to generate the pressure needed for this brew method. To understand this, it’s important to understand the difference between pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets. On a basic level, pressurized portafilter baskets have extra screens or chambering to create back pressure on water coming into the filter. This is to make up for a grind that’s too coarse or inconsistent to generate the needed pressure for proper espresso extraction.

    If you’re shopping for a grinder that will last you for semi-automatic espresso, you’ll want something that can grind fine enough for non-pressurized baskets. While you might want to start with pressurized baskets, having the ability to jump to those non-pressurized baskets will give you the ability to enjoy the trickiest single origins with your espresso setup.

    With all of this in mind, it’s hard not to recommend the Eureka Mignon Notte espresso grinder. This is a grinder that produces that fine grind that will work for both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets. It’s also got a precision, stepless grind adjustment that really lets you get that perfect consistency for various different roasts. These are features you’ll usually find on much more expensive grinders, so to get them in a grinder at the Notte’s price point is particularly impressive.

    With your grinder choice locked in, the next thing you’ll need to decide on is your machine!

    Machine

    Your choice of machine really depends on two things: Budget and how willing you are to practice. Thankfully, there’s an answer for both ends of either spectrum! 

    If you’re looking for a great entry point on the lower end of cost, the Solis Perfetta is the perfect machine for you. This espresso machine offers great performance, timed shot programming, and high quality steaming at a great price. It’s also all in a small footprint, so you should be able to fit this machine in just about any kitchen. Overall it makes for a perfect starting point for new users, and is also a great upgrade if you’ve been using a cheaper espresso machine to see if you like it. The Perfetta’s ability to grind with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets ensures that you’ll be able to start with the “training-wheels” so to speak, and graduate to unpressurized baskets when you’re ready.

    If you really want to jump in with both feet, there’s always the Rocket Espresso Appartamento. The Appartamento is a little more challenging to learn on than the Perfetta, but it also offers a more “professional” feel and feature-set. This machine has a powerful heat exchanger boiler that will have you pulling shots and steaming at the same time. The steam wand and handle mirror commercial setups, and the tactile controls for controlling the brew head feel more hands on as well. There’s also the fact that the Appartamento is built to last, with stainless steel casing and high grade components, you really get what you pay for here. Finally, this is also one of the most affordable machines that features a heated group head on the market. Why is this important? By heating the portafilter you don’t lose any temperature during the brew process, which stands in contrast to other, lower cost machines.

    Both of these options work great depending on your budget and degree of confidence!

    Extras

    In addition to your grinder and scale, there are some extras you’ll want to consider as well. The first thing is a scale. It’s very important to ensure the proper brew ratios when you’re dialing in a new espresso. To do this, you’ll need a reliable scale. In a best case scenario you’ll be working with a water-resistant, espresso focused scale like an Acaia Lunar. Given that that might not be an expense you’re quit ready for, something like the Hario V60 Drip Scale can at least help you dose the correct amount of grounds. Just be careful not to get it wet!

    You’ll also want to have a knock box handy for cleanup. Knock boxes are used to eject used espresso pucks from your portafilter before dumping them into the garbage or compost. There are lots of knock boxes out there, we recommend something like the Rocket Espresso Knock Box to ensure longevity.

    Cleaning your machine is important too, and we love Urnex Cafiza for regular cleaning like backflushing. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for machine maintenance and cleaning to keep it in tip top shape!

    Lastly, you’ll want a shot pitcher with clear and readable measurements. This allows you to keep your shots at the right volume over the right amount of time. Once you’ve got an espresso dialed in, you can switch to brewing directly into your cup! We are big fans of the Rhino Coffee Gear Espresso Shot Pitcher for this purpose.

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Pour Over

    It’s time for another holiday shopping guide! Today we’re looking at the wide world of pour over. This is a brew method many new coffee enthusiasts get into to start understanding specialty coffee, and we think it truly is a great way to learn! While pour over isn’t prohibitively expensive, there are more parts to it than with drip or even espresso. With that in mind, let’s get started with the most important part of your pour over set…

    Grinders

    The most important thing about drinking specialty coffee is fresh grinding your beans. With that in mind, a blade grinder just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want a burr grinder designed for grinding in the brew range, as opposed to super-fine for espresso. Luckily, there are multiple grinders in an affordable range to pick from!

    The first on the list is the Baratza Encore. This is a legendary grinder known for its reliability, performance, and ease of use. Any new specialty coffee enthusiast will get years of use out of an encore. This year, Seattle Coffee Gear is also excited to offer the Solis Scala! The Scala isn’t quite as proven as the Encore yet, but offers an excellent value and exceptional performance for drip, press, and pour over brewing, as well as a timed grinding option that the Encore lacks.

    If you’re looking for something a little more challenging to learn on, but that offers more precision, there’s the Eureka Mignon Crono. The Crono’s stepless grind adjust can be tough to master, but it offers the ability to get a very precise grind perfect for getting every note out of those tricky single origin roasts. The Crono does come in at a higher price than the Scala and the Encore, and may be well suited for an upgrade if you’ve already got a burr grinder that you’re looking to grow from. 

    With your grinder picked out, there’s a few more pieces of gear you’ll need to get brewing!

    Scales and Kettles

    Outside of fresh grinding your beans, the other key components to brewing great coffee are water temperature and proper grounds to water ratios. Consistent temperature in the 195-205 fahrenheit range is key to getting a great pour over (or any coffee brew). To achieve that, you’ll want a kettle that you can trust, and that offers variable temperatures. For this, we think the best combination of price, performance, and features for this holiday season is the Bonavita Interurban. The Interurban provides precision temperature control, multiple presets, and a stylish look with multiple finish options.

    In terms of scales, there’s a couple of great ways you can go. Your scale is very important because you need to both weigh your grounds going in, and weigh as you pour to ensure the proper ratio. To achieve this, we recommend either the Hario V60 Drip Scale or the Oxo Precision Scale and Timer. Both are reasonably priced, accurate, and feature timers to help you with your bloom and pours.

    For those looking to take their weighing the extra mile, the Acaia Pearl offers even more precise weight, an expanded set of brew modes, and connectivity with Acaia’s smartphone apps, which help you dial in your pour over recipe to the T.

    Drippers and Servers

    For your choice of dripper, it really comes down to preference, as all drippers do create an almost imperceptible difference in flavor. For starters, there’s the Hario V60, which is a classic, and very affordable. We’d recommend the V60 as you first start exploring pour over. If you’re looking to get a little bit more adventurous, the Kalita Wave and Espro Bloom both offer interesting takes on pour over drippers, and are worth giving a try.

    Many people just brew their pour over directly into their mug of choice, but if you’re looking to brew for two, or just brew extra for yourself, you can pick up a Hario V60 Server, which is a great option for brewing a “pot” of pour over.

    With grounds, water, weight, and dripping all worked out, all you need is to add filters for your dripper of choice, and you’re good to go!

  • Holiday Staff Picks!

    Just in time for the holidays, we’ve got a brand new round of staff picks! If you’re not familiar with our staff picks, we periodically send a survey to every person at Seattle Coffee Gear asking them what their favorite items are in each category. We put those results together and mark each product that gets enough votes a staff pick badge on the site! Let’s run through some of these results.

    Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

    In the semi-automatic category we saw big wins for Rocket Espresso, and a whopping eleven winners overall. Rocket Espresso’s Giottos, Appartamento, Appartamento Nera, both Mozzafiatos, and the R58 Cinquantotto all made our list. Also joining the staff picks is for the first time is the Solis Perfetta, which we’re thrilled to see as one of our newest machines. 

    Both Rancilio Silvias (PID and standard) made the list, and finally, the Bambino Pro, and Barista Pro from Breville made it on as well. 

    This list of semi-automatic espresso machines represents a wide spread of options and price points, which we’re really happy to see! 

    Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    On the superuato front we saw an excellent spread of options from Breville (Oracle Touch), Miele (CM 6350), Saeco (Xelsis), Jura (A1), and Philips. Philips saw two machines on the list with the Carina and 3200 LatteGo. We’ve seen most of these machines on the list before, and it makes sense again that they fall into a number of price points. With a little less differentiation in the superauto space, price is definitely a prevailing factor. Of note here is the Jura A1, which is the only machine on the list dedicated purely to espresso, with no milk steaming option. It’s a testament to the quality of the espresso that comes out of this machine that it made it on alongside the others!

    Espresso Grinder

    For espresso grinders we saw a big win for Eureka, with the Mignon Notte, Mignon Specilita, and the Atom 75 all making the list. Rocket Espresso’s Faustino also made the list, along with the Baratza Sette 270Wi. Here the Sette and Notte fit in as great starter options, with the midrange Faustino and Specilitas sitting between them and the higher end Atom 75.

    Coffee Grinders

    On the brew grinder front we’ve got both the Baratza Encore and Forte BG, two solid Baratza workhorses that we all know and love here. The Eureka Mignon Filtro and Crono also made the list with their stepless brew grinding, and for the first time we see the Fellow Ode and Solis Scala make the list. Finally, fitting into that “espresso or brew” gap, the Rancilio Rocky made its way to the list as usual!

    Drip Brewers

    For drip brewers, we saw winners with Technivorm, Ratio, Breville, and Bonavita. Both models of Technivorm’s KB741 made the list along with the Ratio Six, Bonavita Connoisseur, and Breville Precision Brewer Tribute Edition. Here again we see staff opinions coming in in favor of a range of pricing options, with the Bonavita as the most affordable all the way up to the high customizability of the Precision Brewer.

    Here’s a few more categories of winners for your perusal!

    Presses

    Stovetop and Cold Brew

    Pour Over

    Scales

    Kettles

  • Top 3 Brew Grinders of 2020

    It’s that time of year! Time for the best machines and accessories of 2020. We love everything we offer at Seattle Coffee Gear, but each year our content team puts our heads together to come up with the gear that we think is the best in the industry for right here and now. Today we’re digging into our top 3 brew grinders of 2020.

    What does brew grinder mean? It means these grinders are the best of the best for brewing pour over, drip, press, cold brew, and other “slow” brew methods. This is in contrast to espresso grinders, which are specifically designed for grinding fine enough to use with an espresso machine. We don’t recommend these grinders if you’re on the hunt for a grinder to use with your Rocket Espresso machine or Rancilio Silvia Pro. Stay tuned for our Top 3 espresso grinders if you’re in that market!

    Eureka Mignon Crono

    The Eureka Mignon Crono is a peculiar grinder, but one that we absolutely love. Built on Eureka’s tried and true Mignon platform, this is a grinder that offers a little more than the Mignon Filtro. But before we look at that, let’s look at what makes Eureka’s Mignon grinders tick.

    The first thing you’ll notice about the Crono is its rock solid case design. Mignon grinders are built like tanks, and last many years if properly maintained. The Crono is no different, with a full metal case and sturdy interior components. This build quality is where a large chunk of the price tag comes from. It’s also a looker, available in black or white with the smoked catch bin and hopper built from high quality, easy to clean plastic.

    Also of key importance with the Crono is its specifically designed brew path, motor, and burr set. While other grinders in the Mignon line are engineered for espresso, the Filtro, Crono, and Brew Pro are engineered specifically for slow brew methods. Finally, the stepless adjust these grinders feature can be a challenge to use initially, but also provide heightened precision for dialing in roasts to tease out their full flavor.

    What sets the Crono apart from the Filtro is its timer. The Filtro uses a simple manual control that you have to keep held down. This means you can’t set it and walk away. The Crono on the other hand uses a simple timer, which makes single dosing a breeze. If you prefer to keep the hopper filled, you can dial in a grind time as well.

    It’s a precise, consistent, powerful, and reliable grinder with a little something extra in the form of its timer.

    Fellow Ode

    The Fellow Ode is the newest kid on the block in this list. New for 2020, the Ode is something of a revolution in brew grinding. In keeping with Fellow’s theme of empowering hobbyist coffee fans with incredible gear for pour over, the Ode is loaded with features. 

    For starters, the Ode features massive 64 mm flat burrs. This type of burr set is typically found in high-end commercial grinders, so it’s a big deal that Fellow has scrunched these into a home brew grinder. With its solid construction, beautiful visual design, and 31 grind settings, the Ode has the basics covered.

    Then there’s its wild innovations. On the simpler side, there’s the Ode’s noise reduction, which is best-in-class. From there, things get very interesting. One thing that many coffee enthusiasts will tell you is that the way to the freshest coffee is through single dosing. What that means is that you store your beans in an airtight container, and then you only put what you need for your morning brew through your grinder. This cuts down on waste and preserves your beans better than storing your beans in a grinder hopper. The Ode embraces this fully, with a small loading area that only has room for a single dose of beans. While it has plenty of space for your extra large coffee bot, it isn’t the type of hopper you leave beans sitting in. 

    Once you’ve loaded the beans, you just have to engage the motor and the Ode takes care of the grinding. With a PID Controlled motor, the Ode is able to tell when it has finished grinding your beans. A built in grinds knocker and magnetically attached catch bin reduce mess and ensure minimal retention. It really is an incredibly innovative, premium package.

    Breville Smart Grinder Pro

    We say it all the time: Use a dedicated espresso grinder if you can. But that last part is important, because not all of us can! If you have budget or space limitations, maintaining two grinders might just be impossible. There are a few grinders that can actually perform well for espresso and slow brew methods, and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is one of them.

    The Smart Grinder Pro also represents excellent value. With 40mm conical steel burrs you’ll get a quality grind at both ends of the spectrum. You’ll also get a full 60 stepped grind settings, which is why the grinder can move so far at either end of the spectrum. A vibrant touchscreen works with the knob to give you a really clear indication of what setting you’re on as well, which is very convenient. Speaking of adjustments, you can actually get even finer or coarser grinds by opening the grinder and making adjustments to the top burr, which is supported as a feature, not a hack.

    The timed dosing offered here is impressive as well. Using the touchscreen’s foolproof interface you can set grind times. This is helpful for once you dial in a grind. If you do want to grind manually, you can just hold the activation button down as well. Finally, you can pause mid-grand to level out the grounds or check weight, which can help with dialing in that time programming. 

    While we really do love the Smart Grinder Pro, it is important to note a couple of tradeoffs. It’s not going to perform quite as well at either end of the grind scale as a dedicated brew or espresso grinder. While it’s going to produce a good grind, there is still a reason to seek dedicated grinders. Part of that is also that switching back and forth from an espresso grind to a brew grind can be frustrating, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Otherwise, this is a great pick for anyone working with a tighter budget or who doesn’t have room for two grinders.

    Baratza Encore

    And here we have an entry that could very well make this list forever. The Baratza Encore remains one of the best starting points in coffee. There are few pieces of gear that a budding pour over enthusiast will get more use out of. The Encore continues to combine high quality engineering, a commitment to reliability and repairability, and an attractive price point.

    If you’re not familiar, the Encore is a simple machine. A rotating hopper provides 40 stepped grind settings, a simple on off switch engages the motor, and a molded catch bin catches the grinds. You can also grind a little extra with the Encore’s pulse button, located above the hopper.

    It’s the Encore’s performance and reliability that make this grinder such a shoe in for our best of list every year. With extensive parts availability through Baratza, your Encore could last decades with proper maintenance and the occasional repair. Its 40mm burrs are easily accessible and simple to clean as well. Once you put it all together you get a grinder for the ages, and it’s available at an excellent price point.

    New this year is a stylish white finish, finally offering an alternative to the black version.

    All three of these grinders could be the last brew grinder you ever need to buy, and we love them for that. Stay with us for more best of 2020 content throughout the month! Make Coffee You Love!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Drip Brewers

    Today we’re taking a look at shopping for the perfect drip brewing setup whether its for someone on your gift list or yourself! We’ll go over brewers, grinders, and all the extra odds and ends. Let’s get started!

    Brewers

    Your choice in drip brewer is guided primarily by how much choice you want when it comes to your coffee. For many coffee drinkers, simply pressing a button and getting a great cup is enough. Others want much more careful control over temperature, flow rate, and other parameters. Both are valid approaches, a high quality pot of coffee at the push of a button is a really great way to start the day. On the other hand, some people really enjoy the granular control of being able to experiment with parameters and settings.

    The good news is, you can get a brewer that offers both a simple, consistent option and puts control at your fingertips. We’re talking, of course, about the Breville Precision Brewer.

    The Precision Brewer offers a standard gold cup brewing setting that’s certified by the Specialty Coffee Association. This means that you can get that nice and simple pot of delicious coffee with just a few button presses. You can also control a whole host of parameters like flow rate, temperature, and pre-infusion time. The Precision Brewer also has pre-settings for single cup brewing, iced coffee, and pour over (with the Tribute Edition’s included pour over adapter).

    It all makes the Precision Brewer the very best you can buy and a brewer that will handle all of your coffee needs. 

    For the more budget conscious shopper, the Bonavita Connoisseur and Metropolitan are simple brewers that produce high quality results. With strong temperature stability and push button operation, these machines are solid choices for those just getting started in the world of coffee.

    Grinders

    Grinding for drip is a little less difficult than espresso, but you will need more than just a blade grinder! Using a burr grinder is important for getting just the right consistency and quality in your grind. The good news is there are a few really great starting points for new coffee enthusiasts!

    The thing you’re looking for in getting started with brew grinding is really that consistency. You want grounds that are uniform and at just the right level of coarseness. There are a few grinders we recommend to get the job done. First, there’s the relatively new kid on the block, the Solis Scala. This is a grinder that offers simple timed dosing options and stepped grind settings. You’ll get just the right grind every time, and you can use this grinder for a range of slow brewing applications. If you’re looking for an alternative, the Eureka Mignon Crono offers even more precise grinding than the Scala. With Eureka's high quality burrs, you'll get very high quality grounds with a stepless grind adjust for extremely precise grinding. This precision will help you dial in even the trickiest single origins for your new drip brewer, but it'll take a touch of practice!

    Odds and Ends

    There are a couple of odds and ends we highly recommend you add to your drip brewing setup. For starters, there’s drinkware. We really love the Acme Union as a classic stock standard cup to enjoy your drip from. It’s stylish, durable, and easy to drink from. It really has that classic coffee cup look, and it’ll serve your new drip setup well.

    The other important part of any coffee setup is storage. Storing your coffee beans in your grinder hopper can lead to staleness depending on how fast you use them. That’s why we recommend the use of a container like an Airscape to get the very best out of your fresh whole bean coffee. Available in multiple sizes, materials, and colors, we’re sure there’s an Airscape perfect for your coffee kit!

    And there you have it! Everything you need to get yourself or someone on your gift list started in the wonderful world of specialty drip coffee brewing!

  • Top 3 Drip Brewers of 2020

    Welcome to another 2020 Best Of article! ‘Tis the season for our content team to come together and bring you our picks for the best coffee gear of 2020. Today we’re taking a look at our favorite drip brewers of the year! 

    In case you’re new to the world of coffee, a drip brewer is your classic “coffee maker.” These machines are usually pretty simple. Generally, you’ll put ground coffee in a filter, which you’ll then place in a basket. Next, you’ll fill up a water tank with water to the desired coffee volume you’re brewing. From there, you’ll turn the machine on, and it’ll begin to heat the water and pour it onto the grounds. The water will filter through the grounds and into a vessel as delicious coffee.

    Technivorm Moccamaster KBT741 Coffee Maker

    The key to brewing the perfect pot of coffee is temperature stability. You need water heated to 195-205 degrees fahrenheit. The thing we love about Technivorm brewers is how rock solid the temps are in their machines. Because they use copper boilers, you’ll get quick heatups and a 5-6 minute brew cycle with hot, delicious coffee every time. Like the other brewers on this list, the SCAA certification here confirms that the Specialty Coffee Association of America has confirmed that this machine keeps its water in that ~200 degree fahrenheit range. 

    Another key part of the brewing process is proper saturation of the coffee grounds. You want even spray of water around the brew basket to ensure that the water spreads correctly through the grounds. Many cheap brewers will drop water through a narrow spout right into the middle of the basket. This wastes all of that coffee around the edges of the basket and leads to less flavorful coffee. The Moccamaster features a spray head designed to evenly apply water to the coffee.

    We couldn’t talk about Technivorm without talking about that look. The KBT741 features the same industrial design that other brewers in the Technivorm lineup offer. While it won’t be the perfect fit for every kitchen, we love the stark modern aesthetic that Technivorm’s designs offer. The model featured here comes with a thermal carafe, which we like for heat retention. Some users will prefer a glass carafe with a heating plate, which Technivorm also produces.

    The cherry on top is the Moccamaster’s longevity. The high quality components that produce such great coffee also have the added benefit of being long lasting. In fact, with appropriate cleaning and maintenance, we’ve heard stories of Technivorms lasting decades. While your mileage may vary here, these are incredibly solid drip brewers. It’s this durability paired with the high quality coffee that the Moccamaster produces that has earned it a spot on our list.

    Breville Precision Brewer (Tribute Edition)

    If we had to pick ONE favorite drip brewer, it’d have to be the Precision Brewer from Breville. This brewer delivers many of the features of the Technivorm mentioned above. A high degree of temperature stability and excellent sprayhead design provide the same brewing quality that you get from machines like the Moccamaster. The Precision Brewer alse offers extensive programming.

    This programming is really where the value of the Precision Brewer comes into play. A robust menu system gives you a wide range of brewing options. From simple combinations of parameters like a “Gold Cup” option, which adheres to SCAA Gold Cup settings, to more exotic and unique settings, this brewer can do a lot. We love the Precision Brewer’s iced coffee and cold brew settings, which are programmed specifically for cold copy. It also has single cup and pour over options (which work with the adapter included in the Tribute Edition). 

    The best part of all this programmability? You can also build your own settings. You can control volume with water in just like any machine, and the menus allow you to manually set temperature and flow rate. This is the kind of control you can usually only achieve with manual brewing methods like pour over. The reason these kinds of options are so great is the experimentation you can do with the Precision Brewer and a tricky single origin that has flavors a standard set of drip brew parameters won’t quite tease out.

    The Precision Brewer also hits other bullet points offered by premium drip brewers. From solidly built components like a sturdy thermal carafe (also available in glass), the Tribute Edition’s pour over attachment, and a brew basket that can accommodate multiple types of filters to a long lasting internal pump and heating element, this machine is built as well as it performs. 

    It’s really difficult to point to a better drip brewer for the coffee enthusiast who wants the widest range of brew options. The only potential turn off with the Precision Brewer is that there can be a learning curve as you come to understand its menu system. We feel the menus are intuitive, but they’re a little more complicated than the push button operation of other drip brewers.

    Ratio Six

    The Ratio Six is another brewer that makes the list based purely on its incredible quality. While it doesn’t feature the programming of the Precision Brewer, it’s just a really solid machine that brews great coffee. This, of course, starts with its incredible output. This machine makes some of the best drip coffee we’ve had. A stellar heating element and sprayhead produce heat stable water that properly saturates the coffee grounds. This commitment to quality components stays true inside and out as well, with stainless steel casing giving it the most premium feel of any of the brewers on this list.

    One of our favorite unique features of the Ratio Six is its optional heat shield. Most drip brewers have at least a very small gap between the showerhead and the filter basket that can release some of the water’s heat. The Ratio Six helps to ensure heat retention by including an optional silicone gasket that sits between the sprayhead assembly and the filter basket. While this can seem a little awkward to use at first, it helps produce extra hot coffee.

    None of this touches on another key part of the Ratio Six: Looks! While we always value function over form, the Ratio Six has performance covered already. In the looks department, this one’s a keeper. From gorgeous angles to that stainless steel finish, this brewer is a bit large, but it’s quite the art piece too. It’ll look great alongside a similarly stylish grinder, and it’s neutral color should make it a great fit in a variety of kitchens. 

    All of these features come together to make the Ratio Six a really excellent brewer that we’re happy to include among our 2020 favorites!

    And there you have it! Three of the very best drip brewers money can buy in 2020. Stay tuned for more Best Of 2020 content here and on our YouTube channel!

     

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Alternative Brewing

    Hello and welcome to the first of our 2020 Holiday Shopping Guides! These guides differ a bit from our “Top 3 2020” articles in that they’re complete shopping guides for you or someone on your gift list to get brewing this holiday! Today we’re focusing on alternative brewing methods.

    Brewer’s Choice

    The first choice here is what sort of alternative brewing are you looking to do? When we talk about this term, we mean all of those brew methods that don’t fall under drip, pour over, or espresso. This means options like coffee presses, Turkish coffee, and stovetop brewing. There’s a lot of room here, so we’ll break it down piece by piece.

    Let’s start with Turkish coffee. Turkish is a brew method that is extremely rich and intense, and relies on hyper fine grounds being dissolved into hot water. The most important part of brewing for Turkish is your choice in grinder, and in our opinion there’s no real option other than a Turkish hand grinder. Along with this, you’ll want a Turkish coffee pot, and you’re pretty much good to go!

    Then there’s press and stovetop. These are sort of the bread and butter here. If you know you’re interested in press brewing, you can’t go wrong with an AeroPress Go. This press is all in one, portable, and proven. It’s filter based brew chamber creates some of the best press coffee we’ve ever tasted. If you’re looking for a more traditional press, you can’t go wrong with Espro’s line of coffee presses.

    As far as stovetop brewing is concerned, there are a number of excellent Ilsa stovetop brewer’s. We’re fond of the lot of them, but the Neapolitan is a particularly favored option among stovetop enthusiasts. We love all of the above, but if you want the flexibility to brew many different ways with one purchase, we have to recommend the Varia Multi-Brewer.

    The Varia Multi-Brewer offers three distinct brew styles all from one device. At a basic level, you can brew pour over, press, and moka pot brew styles with the included attachments. On top of this, you can also brew tea and cold brew, or use the kettle as a stovetop hot water source. To make it even easier, the Varia’s brew screens are designed to use the same grind across all three styles. This means you simply dial your grinder in for pour over and then you can use that setting for press and stovetop brewing. It even comes with a brew guide, pour over filters, and a spare set of gaskets for the kettle.

    With the Varia or one of the other options listed above, you’ll have your brewer, but you’ll still need two very important things. Hot water, and ground coffee!

    Grounds and Water

    Arguably the most important part of any fresh brew is the coffee grounds you use. The nice thing about alternative brew methods like press and stovetop is that you can use the same grinder here, for pour over, and for drip! 

    Given this, we’ve got two recommendations for those looking to upgrade from that old blade grinder. The first is the classic Baratza Encore. This is a legendary grinder that is perfect for any slow brew coffee method (like the ones we’re talking about today). It’s a simple to use grinder with stepped settings and a basic on/off switch for operation. You can also pulse the grind with the button on the front of the grinder. The Encore produces a fantastic, consistent grind and will last years and years. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.

    We’ve also got a new kid on the block for 2020, the Solis Scala! The Scala hasn’t yet built up the reputation that the Encore has, but we’re excited about it just the same. The Scala also produces an excellent grind for slow brew methods, and even includes timed dosing. This means that you can dial in a time for your grind and simply push the button!

    The other key part of the perfect brew is your water! You have to have hot water to make coffee, and our recommendation with where to start here is very simple. The Bonavita Interurban is a great way to get water at the perfect temperature. This stylish kettle comes in four colors and includes programmable presets for different temp options. This feature is especially useful if you like tea!

    The last thing we want to touch on is scales. For stovetop you may just want to measure with a measuring spoon, but we think having a scale is the right call for press (and can be for stovetop as well). For slow brew methods, the Oxo Precision Scale and Timer is a great option that won’t break the bank. You can use it as a timer as well to measure brew time for your press.

    And that does it for our first shopping guide for 2020! Check back soon for guides on gifting or buying for other brew methods.

Items 21 to 30 of 525 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 53
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.