Comparisons

  • Breville Barista Express Vs. Barista Pro

    If you've followed Breville's espresso machine output you're definitely familiar with the Barista Express. This legendary machine is so many home barista's first machine due to its built in grinder. We love the simplicity of this machine and how it helps you learn the basics of crafting espresso. It also lets you use unpressurized portafilters, so you can learn and grow with the machine. This year Breville introduced the Barista Pro. This machine is very similar to the Express, but offers some extra bells and whistles. We wanted to dive into the differences between the machines to help you make a decision for your first purchase, or upgrade

    External Design and Features

    First, the basics: Both of these machines feature a built in burr grinder perfect for producing grounds specifically for them. They also share a case form factor, with the Pro offering slightly sleeker lines but generally the same shape. Both machines have a dedicated hot water spout for crafting Americanos. That said, the Pro's spout is angled slightly to fire directly into you cup so you can pull the water without moving it.

    The biggest difference between the two machines is the digital vs. analog displays. The Express has several buttons for different functions and an analogue pressure gauge in the middle of its interface. By comparison, the Pro has a bright, backlit digital display with smaller buttons. Some users do prefer having the analogue steam gauge, but we don't feel it ultimately adds all that much. The best way to dial in a shot is to focus on the time it takes to pull, rather than watching a steam gauge. That screen on the Pro also gives you deep control over brewing without cluttering the face with buttons.

    Internals and Performance

    The visual/interface differences between these machines is the most noticeable thing from afar. However, it's the performance that really sets the Pro apart. The Barista Express features Breville's Thermocoil water heating. Water is pulled through a heated coil to reach the perfect brewing temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its allows the machine to heat fairly quickly, but you'll still want to turn it on and give it a minute or two to warm up.

    The Pro, on the other hand, uses Breville's newer thermojet heating. This allows you to pull shots within 20 seconds of flipping the machine on, it also means lightning fast warm up time for steaming. That also means almost non-existent downtime between drinks. The design principals between the two heating elements are similar, but the Pro's heating is just... better.

    Conclusion

    Both of these machines offer fantastic introductions to home espresso. It's why the Pro is offered alongside the Express rather than as a replacement. Which one makes sense for your first machine depends on your preference in their appearance, and whether you value the faster drinks of the Pro or the analogue gauge of the Express. If you already own an express and want a little more performance without advancing to an even higher end machine, the Pro is a fantastic upgrade. You can check them both out on our Breville brand page.

  • 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.

  • Top Three Single Boiler Espresso Machines

    The Round Up

    Single boiler espresso machines are a great choice for your home, and we have the right machines to get the job done! Today’s top three machines are the Capresso EC Pro, Rancilio Silvia M and Crossland Coffee CC1.

    Single boiler espresso machines are more affordable than heat exchanger or double boilers, while still providing better steam pressure and thermal mass than comparable thermoblock models. Not to mention great for straight espresso drinkers, too! So, what’s the tradeoff? Single boilers require more attention to detail. For instance, temperature surfing is a technique used to bring the boiler down from steam to brew temperature—you don’t want to burn your espresso!

    For baristas new to espresso machines, these machines are the perfect introduction into espresso. That said, on today’s roundup even experienced hobbyists will find an espresso machine they’ll love without breaking the bank. Check out our top three machines and let us know what you think!

    The Novice: Capresso EC Pro

    If you’re new to using semi-automatic espresso machines, check out the Capresso EC Pro. It's small, but looks can be deceiving—the EC Pro has all the essentials you need to make creamy lattes! This novice machine offers baristas the opportunity to hone their techniques. The pint-size boiler offers slower and steadier steam power so you can learn how to texture milk at your own speed! This makes  perfect, silky milk for latte art easier to achieve than on quick-steaming commercial-rated machines.

    Even though it’s a novice machine, the EC Pro includes a non-pressurized bottomless portafilter so newbies can see the flow of espresso and improve their extraction—you don’t see this feature on machines in this price range! And it also comes with a pressurized portafilter—a super sweet cheat for baristas who want delicious espresso but haven’t gotten the extraction just right. The downside to this tiny machine is it’s small 42-ounce water tank and inarticulate steam wand. All-in-all, these cons don’t overshadow the EC Pro’s affordable price and introductory design.

    The Veteran: Rancilio Silvia M

    While producing fantastic espresso machines for cafes, Rancilio paused and gifted home baristas with a home machine, the Rancilio Silvia. Since then, home baristas have been going nuts for it! The Rancilio Silvia is a tried-and-true single boiler espresso machine that hasn’t changed much since its creation. However, the improvements that have been made have created today’s model, dubbed the Silvia M.

    The Rancilio Silvia M requires solid technique and skills to operate well. It comes with a 58mm non-pressurized portafilter—one of the most common commercial portafilter sizes—and a traditional steam wand. This classic single boiler, while impressive, has finicky temperature stability, so naturally, we included a fix—a built-in PID. We offer the Rancilio Silvia M with PID give you control over temperature to the degree. This makes coming back up to brew temperature after purging steam from the boiler much more accurate than classic 'temperature surfing'. That said, this single boiler espresso machine, with or without the PID, can produce impressive pressure for powerful steam and perfect espresso.

    The Hobbyist: Crossland Coffee CC1

    With the Crossland Coffee CC1, you can customize your coffee to your heart’s content! It features programmable espresso, pre-infusion and wait time that you can save to three profiles. Bonus: The CC1 also has a built-in PID for the same price point as the Rancilio Silvia M without the PID. Awesome.

    While the CC1 features user-friendly programmability, it still requires practice to master. The CC1 comes with a 58mm non-pressurized portafilter and a traditional steam wand (like the Silvia M). And with a single boiler, we want to steam and then brew, which means you’ll temperature surf to get the boiler back to brew temperature—but wait! There’s more.

    So, we’ve told a little white lie about this machine—it’s not a true single boiler. While the CC1 does have one boiler, it has an extra feature—a thermoblock for steaming! The thermoblock lessens the time between steaming and brewing by not bringing the boiler up to full steam temperature. We still consider the CC1 a single boiler, but with an extra trick up its sleeve—hey, we’ll never complain about getting our lattes faster!

    Conclusion

    Our top three single boiler espresso machines are the Capresso EC Pro, Rancilio Silvia M and Crossland Coffee CC1. For home baristas looking for their first classic espresso machine, check out one of these single boilers. Single boilers offer more control over espresso and these three picks have different features for every user level. Tell us what you think of these three single boiler espresso machines in the comments below.

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  • Crew Comparison: Aerobie AeroPress vs Wacaco MiniPresso

    How Does It Compare?

    Coffee to-go takes a whole new meaning with today’s two travel coffee makers, the Aerobie AeroPress and the Wacaco Minipresso Portable Espresso Machine. As you probably guessed, the Minipresso is a lightweight, compact espresso-making fiend—it makes a perfect camping companion for espresso lovers. Most of you don’t need an introduction to the AeroPress, a crowd favorite for home brewing and exploring! Like the Minipresso it’s incredibly light and stores easily. It makes a smooth, rich cup of coffee that we’ve heard some people compare to espresso. The AeroPress definitely brews a stout cup, but the Minipresso makes a strong shot that even has crema! Keep reading to find out the different mechanics of these two travel brewers.

    The Minipresso's lightweight, compact design is perfect for hiking, camping and more. The Minipresso's lightweight, compact design is perfect for hiking, camping and more.

    AeroPress

    Brew

    The Wacaco Minipresso Portable Espresso Machine has everything you need to make espresso anytime, anywhere. Brew basket? Check. Water tank? Check. Pressure? Check! The Minipresso uses a semi-automatic piston that extracts with 8 BARs of pressure just like your typical espresso machine! Pop open the piston in the middle of the machine and squeeze it about one pump per second—and presto! A delicious single shot in seconds! The brew basket holds 8 grams of coffee for a proper dose.

    The Wacaco Minipresso has everything you need! Portable espresso machine, cup, scoop—check! The Wacaco Minipresso has everything you need! Portable espresso machine, cup, scoop—check!

    By comparison, the Aerobie AeroPress has defined a new way to brew. It’s still an immersion-style coffee maker (French press anyone?) but the results are a cleaner, more concentrated cup of coffee. Instead of a metal filter, the AeroPress uses micro-filtered paper that picks up oils and grit that create a smoother sip. Some have described it as espresso; however, it creates less pressure and is made with 1:10 coffee to water. Whether you brew traditionally or with the inverted method, the beauty of the AeroPress’ design allows you to stop extraction whenever you like! It makes 1 to 4 cups of bold, rich coffee.

    Beauty

    Streamlined for traveling, the Wacaco Minipresso weighs 12.8 ounces and is 7 inches at its longest. Every inch counts when you start to factor in carrying the water and coffee to brew! The ergonomic design slips in backpacks or purses for a caffeinated companion while you’re hiking or traveling. The only downside for people on the road is the Minipresso requires basic maintenance to clean out the old coffee and has several small pieces such as the brew chamber—something that’s easily misplaced on the road. If you include a few extra moments to give the Minipresso some TLC, this portable espresso machine will make coffee you love everywhere!

    In just a couple pumps, you'll have a delicious shot of espresso. In just a couple pumps, you'll have a delicious shot of espresso.

    The AeroPress is renowned for it’s innovative, lightweight and user-friendly design—coffee aficionados just can’t get enough of it! And rest assured, the AeroPress is now BPA-free and dishwasher safe Outdoor enthusiasts or travelers will appreciate that it has fewer pieces for assembly and makes a larger cup of coffee. The only beef we’ve heard with the AeroPress is it can really engage the biceps—if you know what we mean. The plunger and pressure help develop the fuller body of coffee, but that said, it’ll be different for everyone.

    Conclusion

    If you’re looking for the perfect traveling coffee maker, check out the Wacaco Minipresso and AeroPress. Whether you’re on-the-go or just hanging at home, the AeroPress will fit into many lifestyles. With the immersion brewing, the AeroPress makes a strong, smooth cup some have compared to espresso. Of course, if you crave the real deal, the Minipresso is our top pick for portable espresso! Ready to travel in style with one of these portable coffee makers? Tell us which one is your favorite in the comments below.

  • Crew Comparison: DeLonghi Dedica vs. Saeco Via Venezia

    How Does It Compare?

    The Saeco Via Venezia and DeLonghi Dedica are made for the blooming barista. Both come equipped with pressurized portafilters, which transform inconsistent coffee grounds into enjoyable espresso that anyone can pull. When it comes to features, though, the Dedica has programmable buttons that adjust the espresso temperature and volume, and also includes auto-descale to maintain your machine. Lastly, the Dedica’s size and weight is considerably less compared to the Via Venezia. Its narrow body leaves only room for a 32-ounce water tank and is incredibly lightweight (enough to toss it off the counter if you're not careful), whereas the still not-so-big Via Venezia holds a 98-ounce tank and is weighed down. You be the judge! Watch the full comparison and get more reviews and comparisons by following us on our YouTube channel.

    Shots

    Both semi-automatics are built to accommodate entry-level brewers. The pressurized portafilter is a helpful assistant that takes subpar grounds and extracts the coffee without the fuss. Saeco and DeLonghi approach the pressurized design a bit differently, though. The Via Venezia uses a pressurized portafilter instead of the basket, so you'll need to buy a non-pressurized portafilter to make the switch. The Dedica uses pressurized baskets with the same portafilter that you can switch out with an E.S.E pod basket—no non-pressurized baskets on the Dedica, though!

    Another brewing bonus is that the Dedica has programmable buttons to adjust the temperature (low, medium or high) and volume of your espresso. It also allows you to set the water hardness to adjust, which makes it easier to know when it needs to be descaled—another feature on the Dedica. Together, these features make home brewing a snap for beginners.

    Steam

    Both feature a panarello that turns milk into a hot, foamy goodness. The biggest difference we noticed is the Dedica produces dryer steam against the Via Venezia. You really don’t want water in your milk but it’s also not enough condensation to affect the taste.

    The Dedica and Via Venezia can only brew or steam one at a time, so after steaming you’ll need to bring the temperature down before brewing. Luckily, you can temperature surf on both of these machines by running water out of the steam wand.

    Style

    The Saeco Via Venezia has been around a long time and you might be thinking it looks a lot like the Starbucks Barista—well, you’re right! This style has stood the test of time. Both machines will sparkle on your countertop thanks to the stainless steel body (though it should be noted the Dedica is stainless steel covered plastic).

    What we’re interested in is the size. The DeLonghi Dedica is a slim fellow coming in at 6.75 inches wide compared to the Via Venezia’s 9.625 inches. The Dedica is also practically weightless due to the compact size and plastic casing that's surrounded by the stainless steel. That's all good for saving counter space—which with tons of cool kitchen gadgets you'll want room for all of them—but you’ll have to hold the machine when you’re cranking on the portafilter.

    The Via Venezia is small, too, but sturdier. The stainless steel body adds weight to the machine so it doesn’t go flying when you want espresso. It also stores a 98-ounce water tank, which means less time running to the faucet to fill up and pull more shots.

    Conclusion

    The Delonghi Dedica is compact and would easily fit in tight counter spaces. Even with its small stature, this entry-level machine is built with programmable features that make life easier. This machine is designed for the big city (and a small apartment, if you know what we mean) and will easily fit in an office setting. Maybe even right on your desk!

    The Saeco Via Venezia has both pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter options available, which would allow you to grow with the machine. It still saves on real estate but comes with a huge water tank that's perfect for brewing multiple cups without running back and forth. The stainless steel body helped put some weight on the Via Venezia, too and that made it easier to use when making espresso.

  • Crew Comparison: Saeco Xsmall vs. Xsmall Vapore + Xsmall Chrome!

    The Saeco Xsmall is retiring to the Bahamas and handing down the family legacy to the juniors—the Saeco Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome! There’s a striking family resembles—but don’t be fooled, these juniors come equipped with the skills to make one amazing cup.

    The Xsmall Chrome and Xsmall Vapore are one and the same but in different colors. The Chrome resembles the original Xsmall with sophisticated two-tones of silver and black while the Vapore is a rich black. Because we want your machine to complement your kitchen, we have two different reviews on our YouTube channel for the Xsmall Chrome here and the Vapore here. Take a peek at the colors and tell us what you think in the comments below!

    x-small_chrome

    The improvements Saeco made to the Xsmall Vapore and Chrome are mainly aesthetic. The original Saeco Xsmall’s all plastic body might have turned people away, but the new machines come with metal drip trays that sparkles and shines against your cup. While the body of the machines are still plastic, there’s a nice sheen to the black and chrome that make up for the fact that they’re still, well, plastic. The plastic does cut down the cost on a machine at this caliber and makes the price tag affordable and well worth the purchase for the features you get on this superautomatic.

    x-small_vapore

    OK, so feature-wise you’re getting the same deal—and why wouldn't you when their predecessor did it so well? Latte, cappuccino, Americano…you get the idea! This tiny bot can handle a variety of drinks without all the buttons and icons some other machines have. The Saeco Xsmall features one dial to rotate between espresso, hot water or steaming and buttons for two espresso options.

    Are you feeling like an Americano? The panarello style steam wand dispenses hot water using the quick-heating Thermoblock. After it’s done, simply switch it make to espresso (the bean icon), press and watch your coffee come together! Latte, anyone? The wand is also great for steaming and requires no skill to get frothy foam. Make sure to keep the steam wand’s air intake clear and you’ll be making hot lattes for everyone.

    Check out the full comparison between the original Saeco Xsmall and Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome. Drop us a comment if you’re loving the new Saeco Xsmall!

  • Crew Review Comparison: Breville Oracle vs. Barista Express

    Breville has made it their mantra to infuse their coffee makers with simplicity and convenience. When you’re comparing the Breville Oracle and Breville Barista Express, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Both are semi-automatics with similar style and capabilities to whip up delicious espresso, but they have their own approach to getting the job done. On this Crew Comparison, we’ll break down feature-by-feature to see the full  differences of the Oracle and Barista Express!

    Breville_Oracle

    Grinder & Tamper

    A closer look at the Oracle’s robust portafilter holder reveals some hidden features. Once the portafilter is locked in place, with the flick of the wrist the grinder dispenses coffee right into it. Here’s the real hidden gem: When it’s done grinding, the Oracle automatically tamps for you! Like many features we’ll dive into on this machine, the tamping pressure and grinder settings can be programmed using the digital display.

    There’s no love lost with the Barista Express’s grinder! Unlike the Oracle, you can program the volume of your grounds for a single or double shot. To activate the automatic grinder, simply press the portafilter against the back, but instead of the grinder and tamper working together like in the Oracle, you’ll have to manually tamp. The Barista Express comes with a tamper that magnetically sticks into the machine to easily store away when it’s not in use.

    Silvia vs Barista Express

    Brewing & PID

    The intuitive digital display on the Breville Oracle allows you to fine-tune the PID to the exact temperature you want and then the machine maintains it. The real kicker for the Oracle is the dual boiler and pump system that allows you to brew and steam at the same time. The PID and dual boilers work in sync to maintain the correct temperature for each, so you’ll never worry about semantics again.

    We learned from Gail that the Barista Express has a basic PID. This just means that it can only be adjusted between four degrees of the programmed temperature. That being said once the PID is set it will heat the boiler to the desired temperature and maintain it. The boiler on the Barista Express is a thermocoil and it can only brew or steam separately. Even though this isn’t a dual boiler machine, the PID keeps the temperature in check and that deserves some brownie points in our book!

    Steam Wand

    What the heck is that on the Breville Oracle? That’s the Oracle’s steam wand—a hybrid of manual and auto steaming. And it’s extremely smart. Set your wand to auto, adjust the temperature to the “happy zone” and let it froth! The tip of the wand has a sensor that will indicate when the desired temperature is reached. Once it’s achieved, the wand automatically stops steaming. Can we just say the milk was fantastic? The froth on the Breville Oracle is perfect for a latte without a lot of effort.

    Bonus points for the Oracle: When you’re done steaming, push the wand back into place and it automatically purges for you! Say goodbye to gunky steam wands. This feature will help maintain the life of your machine and keep it sparkling.

    Breville Oracle Care

    The Barista Express has a steam wand that would be better suited for a beginner. The traditional steam wand features one hole to release steam and lower pressure steaming. The lower power will take longer to heat up the milk, but on the other hand, it will be easier for a budding barista to hone their craft! There’s no auto feature, too, so steaming is done completely by hand.

    Bonus Round:

    The Oracle has some additional features that we couldn’t resist pointing out. There are two ridiculously easy ways to access the water tank. To add water, the Oracle is outfitted with an access point on the top. Press down the lid and it’ll pop right open!

    The second feature is hidden beneath the drip tray. Remove the tray and you’ll notice a dial, which you can turn to engaged a swivel foot under the machine that makes accessing the water tank in the back a piece of cake! This round goes to the Breville Oracle!

    Watch the full Crew Review and witness these powerful machines at work. We’re attractive to the convenience and thoughtful features of the Breville Oracle, but the Barista Express certainly doesn’t lack in capabilities! Tell us what you think in the comments below.

  • Comparison: Entry Level Superautomatic Machines

    We are back with another comparison for you all! This time we set our sights on a few entry level superautomatic espresso machines! To be a little more specific: the Saeco Xsmall, the Jura Micro 1 and the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300.

    Each of these models has a little something for everyone. So we are certain you will be able to find the right one for you ;) So lets get to it!

    First up the Saeco Xsmall. As the name suggests, it has the smallest foot print. Which is a great feature if you are short on counter space (aren't we all!). It also has the smallest water tank, coming in at 33 oz. We don't consider this a con however, since fresh water is best! Filling up the tank every few uses is a good habit to have anyway!

    Next you have the Jura Micro 1. This one is strictly for coffee and espresso as it does not have a steam arm. So unless you have stand alone milk frother, no lattes. The Micro 1 features a bypass doser which allows you to brew pre-ground coffee, leaving the beans in the hopper where they are. Nighttime decaf anyone?

    The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 also has a bypass doser and a lot more functionality. This is also the only double boiler machine in this line up. But with that benefit comes a larger footprint. So if you are short on space, be sure to take measurements to see if it will fit!

    Those are the basics of these espresso machines. Be sure to watch the full comparison video below so see them side by side! And if you find the video helpful, be sure to subscribe to our channel for more!

     

  • Crew Review: Coffee Grinder Comparison

    Coffee Grinder ComparisonGrinders, grinders, grinders! So many coffee grinders, but which to choose? Well, we asked Gail if she would be so kind and review a few side by side. We decided the best place to start would be taking some grinders that are all in the same price range and see how they match up. In this coffee grinder comparison we took a closer look at the Rancillio Rocky, the Baratza Virtuoso, the Baratza Preciso and the latest from Breville- the Smart Grinder Pro.

    We were very pleased with the quality of all 4 coffee grinders. Hands down the construction of all 4 was nothing short of excellent. They all had a nice design and produced a good quality grind. Gail took each grinder down to it's finest setting to see which would take the cake. In results we got, it was clear that the Rocky Rancillio will give you the finest grind. So, if you are looking for a grind that feels like a fine talc powder, you will want to go with the Rocky Rancillio. The other three grinders all delivered a grind that was consistent and worthy of espresso.

    We also took a closer look into the burrs of each grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso and the Baratza Preciso both have 40mm stainless steel conical burrs. The Rocky Rancillio has 50mm steel flat burrs and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has stainless steel conical burrs. We are in the process of finding out the exact size of the burrs on the new Breville machine (yes, it is that new!).

    Overall each grinder will get the job done, but some are better suited for different environments. Watch this Coffee Grinder Comparison Crew Review to see them side by side and for Gail's take on where each will be best suited!

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