latte

  • DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM35020B Superautomatic Espresso Machine Review

    DeLonghi has been producing superautos for some time now, and while they offer some innovative machines, they haven't had a breakthrough like some of their competitors. Over time, these machines have become more and more refined, improving on performance and reliability, but the Dinamica ECAM35020B feels like a leap forward. Check out our full review to learn why!

    Appearance and Usability

    One thing to note at the top is that while the case is very plastic, it also maintains a pretty unified look. The sleek black plastic with chrome accents gives it a muted, but pleasant, appearance. It definitely stands up to other machines at its price point without necessarily wowing either. One huge plus on this machine is the footprint. This is a machine that should fit on most countertops, and under most cabinets. With a front loading water tank, you'll also be able to refill it frequently. This is important, because the tank is, admittedly, a bit on the small side.

    Otherwise, you're looking at some pretty standard case design. The brew unit is pretty easily accessible behind the water tank, and the drip tray is convenient and easy to clean. If we have one complaint it's that it's still a bit of a chore to slide the machine out to fill the bean hopper, but this is a less frequent need than filling the water tank, and there's not much you can do to avoid putting the hopper where it is.

    The face of the machine is simple, but functional and attractive enough. While the interface may take some getting used to, it is to the point and functional. Programming and user profiles are great value adds, but there is something to be said for the simplicity of pushing a single button and getting a consistent shot. That simplicity and consistency is the name of the game here. The panarello wand is also easy to use, and once you understand how to get it to switch between steam and water it is very functional. The rinse button on the face is a nice to have as well for cleaning out the brew unit on demand.

    Performance

    With functional, if simple, case and interface design, the most important thing is performance. Overall we can say pretty happily that the Dinamica does a great job in this area. With some dialing in, the shots this machine can produce are quite good, and quite hot. This is good news for anyone disappointed with temps from semi-autos in general. With hot water from the panarello and easy single and double shot buttons, brewing espresso and americanos is a breeze. If you're a drip fan, the Dinamica also offers an intriguing coffee function. Usually, the "coffee" button on a superauto just provides an extra long shot. While you're still getting espresso, you're getting it watered down enough to be less strong. The Dinamica handles its coffee setting a little differently.

    The coffee button cases the machine to grind less than it would for a shot, and then pulse water through the coffee instead of applying sustained pressure. The result is a cup of coffee that isn't quite a pourover and isn't quite a long espresso shot, and you really can taste the difference. While we don't think it tastes like what you'll get out of a drip brewer, it's a closer approximation than what most superautos can provide. This means that your drip loving family member can get something close to what a drip pod machine can do without needing a second machine.

    The panarello has the issues you'd expect from this type of wand. It doesn't produce loads of foam, and doesn't produce particularly fine microfoam. That means it's hard to pour latter art or make a cappuccino with this machine. That said, it makes fine foam for a normal latte and because it's manual you can control how hot you want the milk. This is a boon for latte drinkers, as many superautos spit out milk that you might find too cool.

    Lastly, the over ice button is a neat little tool. It alters the brew temp, and volume of both the grind and water to go best with brewing over ice. It's a great feature for fans of iced lattes and americanos.

    Conclusion

    In the end the Dinamica is a strong option at its price point. While it lacks some bells and whistles, it gets it right where it counts and provides some nice add ons you might not expect. One to take a good look at for your next superauto. You can shop the DeLonghi Dinamica on Seattle Coffee Gear here.

  • Video Roundup: 8/3/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for yet another recap of some of the great video content from Gail and Co. from this week!

    First, John gave us some latte art tips!

    next, Heather showed us an interesting way to use coffee in the kitchen: On the grill!

    Finally we took a look at the Saeco Incanto Plus Vs. the Jura E6 in a Crew Comparison with Gail!

    Enjoy, and remember to make coffee you love!

  • Lactose-Free Lattes | Part Four

     Are all of the options we’ve discussed in the previous parts still not meeting your whole milk standard? In this last segment of our four-part series, we’ll explore specialty versions of coconut, soy, and almond milk designed specifically for lattes.

    While researching how to make lattes with nondairy milks, we came across Pacific’s “Barista Series” that we decided to try out! The company claims subtle flavor profiles, curdle-free frothing, and perfectly textured milk for professional cafes to use. We were skeptical going into it (how different could they be?), but in the end, the results were fantastic! Overall, coconut milk was the clear winner, and soy and almond tied for second around the office for the best latte.

    Coconut Milk: Barista v. Conventional Coconut Milk: Barista v. Conventional

    Wow! The Barista Series coconut milk was amazing! This is easily our standout. In a cup, you get all the good, sweet flavor from regular coconut milk except with a rich foam that steamed well. Not to mention the latte art!

    Almond Milk: Barista v. Conventional Almond Milk: Barista v. Conventional

    Similarly, the Barista Series almond milk was definitely a step up from the regular almond milk we tested, but some of the tasters still opted out due to the persistent bitter undertones.

    Soy Milk: Barista v. Conventional Soy Milk: Barista v. Conventional

    The Barista Series soy milk was good, but it wasn’t our favorite. The texture was much improved when mixed with the acidic espresso, but still not as good as coconut. However, we thought that the flavor of the other milks paired better with our coffee.

    Nutrition per 8 ounces Nutrition per 8 ounces

    Sodium Citrate is a food additive that emulsifies liquid and fat. Pacific likely added this so that their milks had a creamier texture than comparable conventional options.

    Gellan Gum is an additive to some alternative milks to help them foam and behave more like dairy milk. We suspect that the barista soy milk doesn’t contain Gellan Gum because soy milk has a tendency to get thicker foam than dairy milk, which they were aiming to fix.

  • Lactose-Free Lattes | Part Three

     

    Next round of finished lattes! Next round of finished lattes!

    Are the milk alternatives we’ve already explored still not satisfying your morning caffeine cravings? If so, keep reading to find your next cup companion. In part three of this four-part series, we’ll explore some uncommon lactose-free and vegan alternatives to dairy milk.

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    In this round, oat milk won the gold medal, with cashew milk being a close runner-up. Oat milk boasted a rounded flavor and a mild oatmeal taste. The texture was slightly different than dairy milk, although most of our taste testers didn’t mind. Check out the article about the rising popularity of oat milk in Sweden on page 71 in Volume 4 of Drift Magazine. It is a common alternative to soy and dairy milks due to its sustainability and taste.

    Next, cashew milk was a yummy alternative to too-bitter almond milk that is more widely available than hazelnut milk. It presented a creamy texture that fell somewhere in the middle on the latte art potential scale. Good sign: our blind test tasters thought this was oat milk at first!

    Lastly, the flax milk fell a little short due to its thin texture and lack of flavor. The flavor seemed overly bland, but it wasn’t terrible. However, flax milk could be an option if you are interested in comparing the flavors of several espresso blends without adding too much flavor.

    Nutrition per 8 ounces Nutrition per 8 ounces

    Gellan Gum is an additive to some brands of alternative milks to help them foam and behave more like dairy milk. We suspect that the flax milk has less of this additive, which would explain its lack of frothiness.

  • Hayden's Cinnamon Coconut Latte Recipe

    We’re digging the coconut oil trend here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We’re trendy. We previously whipped up a delicious coconut oil recipe with butter that made one creamy creation, but this time, we’re leaving the butter at home. Hayden sent us in this recipe for a Cinnamon Coconut Latte and we’re more than excited—but not as much as Gail—to try it out!

    We’re pulling out big guns—the Rocket R60v—to make our latte. If you haven’t been following us, we’re head over heels for the new R60v. It’s a high-end home espresso machine built to be on par with their commercial. We brewed Counter Culture’s Fast Forward for our espresso shots. This light bodied blend with sweet and nutty notes is a perfect match with the refreshing coconut flavor.

    Equipment:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + a dash
    • 20 grams of ground coffee (makes 2 ounces espresso)
    • 8 ounces of 2% milk
    1. Prep your semi-automatic machine. Before brewing give your machine 30 minutes to warm up.
    2. Grind 20 grams of coffee into a double-shot portafilter. This makes 2 ounces of espresso. Lattes are generally made with 1-2 ounces of espresso per 8 ounces of milk or 1:3 ratio.
    3. Pour 8 ounces of milk and add one teaspoon of coconut oil and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.
    4. If you can steam and brew at the same time, we like to start the shot and then begin frothing the milk while it's extracting the coffee. If you can’t do both, first steam your coconut and milk mixture and then make your shot so it's at the hottest temperature.
    5. Add the 2 ounces of espresso to a 10-ounce glass and then pour the steamed milk on top. Try a little latte art while you’re at it!
    6. Add a dash of cinnamon to the top. Enjoy!

    Thanks Hayden for the recipe! We’re thinking about putting it on ice for this warm weather we’re having in Seattle.

    Send us your favorite recipes in the comments below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all things coffee related!

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