Semi-Auto

  • 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.

  • Gail's Picks: Best Semi-Autos of 2019

    Welcome back to our series on the best products of 2019! If you're looking to get started in the wide world of semi-auto espresso machines this list is the perfect place to start! Read on for our top 3 best semi-auto espresso machines of 2019.

    Breville Barista Pro

    The Breville Barista Pro is the new big sibling to the Barista Express. If you're familiar with that machine, the basics apply here as well. This is an espresso machine that combines brewer and grinder into one package. The result is an easy to use, fantastic entry into home espresso brewing. With that in mind, what separates this from the Barista Express?

    The most easily notable difference is appearance. The Barista Pro trades the Express' dials and guages for an LCD screen. While losing the analog look may be a turnoff for some, the screen conveys so much information, and we find workflow to be smoother on this brewer. It is, overall, an easier machine to get used to. The bigger change is internal. The Barista Pro features Breville's new ThermoJet heating system. This heating element gets water up to temp in seconds, giving you near immediate ability to brew after turning the machine on. We feel these things combined put the Barista Pro over the top into one of the best machines of 2019.

    Rancilio Silvia With PID Controller

    The Silvia is a legend, that much you probably already know. The fact of the matter is that despite the years on this machine, it remains one of the best brewers you can get as a new user. It's even the sort of machine that an experienced home espresso enthusiast can get years and years of use out of. It's all down to the simplicity and durability of the machine.

    If there's one thing that the Silvia could see improvements on, its the thermostat. There's nothing wrong with the base Silvia's heating, but like most non-PID controlled heating systems, you have to learn to "temperature surf" to get the most out of the machine. Our exclusive PID controller update to the machine solves that and gives you consistent an reliable temps for steaming and brewing.

    Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato Timer

    While we have the Type V on display here, both that and the Type R model represent one of the best Italian espresso machines money can buy. Dazzling stainless steel casing and classic styling give this machine a great look. With that said, it's the ease of operation and performance that land this machine on our list. The Mozzafiato's 1.8 liter heath exchanger boiler will have you pulling multiple shots in a row and steaming at the same time. What's more, the tactile, responsive controls mean that there's very little between you and your espresso.

    For 2019, the Mozzafiato saw an update in the form of an integrated shot timer. This may seem like a small upgrade, but being able to see your shot times at a glance makes pulling shots far easier. It also helps with dialing in your shots, leading to less wasted coffee and time. We love this machine, and we know you will too.

    Conclusion

    Thanks for joining us for our top semi-auto machines of 2019. We'll have more lists coming very soon, including a list of best semi-autos at the very top end of budget and performance. Check back for that an more soon!

     

  • What Makes An Expensive Machine Better?

    It may seem odd that espresso machines have such a wide price range. Why is it that we recommend such expensive machines when $200 options exist? What makes a $2,000+ machine worth it? Loads of factors actually! Some may seem obvious, but others are not.

    Heating Elements

    Arguably the largest cost point of an espresso machine is its heating element. Espresso needs a tight temperature band right around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Producing consistently hot water like this can be a challenge. You have probably noticed that as soon as you pour boiling water, it drops by a few degrees. Water for espresso needs to get from the water tank, through a heater, then to the portafilter at 200 degrees. Cheap machines tend to fail to do this without telling you. The result is lower quality espresso.

    Another factor is heatup time. Some machines are designed to quickly heat small quantities of water for each shot. Machines with larger boilers take longer to heat up initially but hold more hot water for multiple shots. In both of these cases, water is heated quickly and efficiently, which isn't always true with cheaper brewers.

    Pumps

    Consistent hot water is one of the keys of brewing perfect espresso. Consistent pressure is the other big element. 9 BAR of pressure must be applied to the puck with the water in the portafilter. This pressure is what creates proper extraction. To brew good espresso, the pump must be able to quickly put out 9 BAR and sustain it through the brew process. Cheap machines offset this requirement by using pressurized portafilters. These portafilters have additional material in them to provide resistance. While some great machines do brew with pressurized filters, they generally still have consistent pumps. Cheaper machines lack this.

    Case Material, Interface, Odds and Ends

    Another core element of machine pricing is materials. It may seem obvious, but a shiny stainless steel machine just costs a lot more to produce than one made of plastic. While plastic isn't always a bad thing, it can be a factor for many users. Having that solid, metal case can be a major selling point. More important than the case though, is the inside. hoses, gaskets, and fittings made from solid, long lasting materials matter. Cheaper machines might use plastic on the inside of machines at common failure points. More expensive machines avoid this by using stronger metal and rubber.

    Also important are things like controls. Does your machine have mechanical control elements like levers and dials? Or are you simple pushing a cheap feeling button for steam? This won't matter for some, but for others having that tactile control is important.

    Finally, little odds and ends like cool touch steamwands, specific grouphead styles like E61, and three way solenoid valves may SEEM minor, but they can matter. E61 groupheads, for example, help hot water stay hot during brewing. There are a lot of seemingly small bullet points that really matter in the long run.

    ...And Much Much More!

    Beyond everything here, there's so much more to talk about in the nitty gritty. Temperature controllers, plumbability, NSF certifications for commercial outlets, and even more! Trust us when we say, there's a lot that goes into upping your espresso game. It's worth it to do hard research on your new machine purpose to understand the cost. It'll help you end up with a generational machine for you to learn on instead of one you'll replace in a year or two.

  • Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato Timer Review

    Rocket Espresso makes some of the most impressive home espresso machines on the market. This is a manufacturer that has spent decades merging machine innovation with classic Italian design, and it shows. New this year are Rocket Espresso's models with timers. Both the Type V and Type R model received this timer update. We figured this would make now the perfect time to revisit these excellent machines!

    Appearance and Usability

    Both versions of the Mozzafiato feature Rocket Espresso's stunning case design. We often hear folks comparing these machines to other Italian espresso machines, but they are really a cut above. The solid stainless steel casing, industrial dials and gauges, and tactile controls and steam wand/water dispenser are a cut above the competition in the looks department. Other simple accents like the fact that you can hide the PID controller and the integrated cup rails are nice touches. Finally, the adjustable feet will help you slide these machines under your cabinets. All of this combined makes this a stunning machine that will turn heads and excited guests to try out a latte or americano.

    The visual difference between the Type V and the Type R is pretty minimal. The Type R's gauges feature a black background, while the Type V's are white. The biggest 2019 update to these machines is the integrated shot timer. While not brewing, this unassuming cutout really blends into the machine. While brewing, it's an easy to read (and handy) tool for making sure your shots are consistent.

    Using either of these machines is a real joy. The dials for the hot water and steam feel mechanical and satisfying, and respond well. The same can be said for the brew lever. Flipping it up and down gives you full control over the pump without buttons and touchscreens getting in the way. The aforementioned shot timer will allow you to get a perfect idea of how your shot pull is faring. This allows you to ensure that your espresso is pulling in 20-30 seconds, but can help you dial in longer shots for tricky single origins as well. This works especially well when paired with a scale like the Acaia Luna.

    Powerful steaming allows you to steam perfect latte milk to go with your carefully crafted shot as well. Lastly, the PID controller allows you to set and control the temperature of the boiler, and is controller with a handy connected remote. This can be hidden under or behind the machine to keep it from clashing with the look of the rest of the machine.

    Performance

    The inside of these machines is really where they go from great to fantastic. Both the Type V and Type R versions come equipped with a 1.8 liter heat-exchanger boiler. On a basic level, this means that you'll be able to brew espresso and steam milk at the same time on these machines. The Type R even comes with an insulated boiler, helping the machine to retain heat and use power more efficiently. Either way, with PID controlled temps, hot water,  steam, and espresso are all always just a twist or flip away. Both of these machines feature an E61 grouphead, which keeps the brew unit and the portafilter heated. This means that water doesn't lose as much heat when flowing through your coffee grounds. The result is better shots, pulled at the exact right temp. This is very important for recreating café quality espresso, just don't touch the brewhead!

    Pushing the water through the grouphead and your ground coffee is a powerful pump. On the Type V, this means a vibratory pump similar to the one found in the Apartamento. This powerful pump uses a three-way solenoid valve to manage pressure, and will perform for many years. The Type R features a rotary pump, which allows you to plumb the machine as well. This plumbing option is great if you're setting up a dedicated bar in your home and don't want to fiddle with a water tank.

    As already noted, the steam on these machines is excellent, allowing you to steam milk as well as they do at your favorite café. Ultimately, this means that with enough practice, you'll be brewing up cappuccinos and lattes to rival the best baristas in town.

    Conclusion

    The Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato line is, simply put, an excellent legacy machine. You can buy a brewer like this and not have to worry about upgraded or replacing for decades with the proper care. It's hard to imagine a better offer at its price point. Shop the Mozzafiato here.

     

  • An Overview of Izzo Espresso

    You may have noticed an exciting new product line on SCG recently: Izzo Espresso! We're extremely excited to bring Izzo to our list of machines. We thought we'd take some time to introduce each of the machines in the line here today.

    Roasting First

    One of the things that differentiates Izzo from other machine manufacturers is heritage. Many machine companies start with a goal of building a great espresso machine. This has created incredible machines from a wide range of producers. Izzo, on the other hand, started as a roaster! This means that the company sought to create the perfect machine for brewing their coffee.

    This unique approach is precisely why we've decided to bring on Izzo coffee alongside their machines. This is classic Italian espresso roasting with big flavor and big body. We definitely recommend grabbing some coffee with your new machine! We should, however, be really clear that this coffee tastes great in many machines. Further, these machines are incredible brewers capable of brewing coffee from anywhere! Let's give them a look!

    Vivi PID+ Pro

    The Vivi Pro is Izzo's most compact machine. Like its bigger siblings, the first thing you'll notice about Vivi is its stunning design. The gorgeous, shiny stainless steel extends to the case, frame, and boiler of the machine. The controls on the machine are tactile and responsive, giving you fine control of pre-soaking grounds and steam. The gauges on the front of the machine are precise and easy to read, and the machines' PID temperature controller interface is simple and doubles as a shot timer. Finally, you might notice the Vivi's exposed E-61 grouphead. This group keeps water temperature constant as it flows into the portafilter. This leads to even extraction and hot shots, every time.

    The inside of this machine is exciting as well. The Vivi's stainless steel boiler is 1.8 liters and features a heat exchanger design. This means the boiler heats up incredibly quickly and has the power to pull shots and steam milk at the same time.

    Our criticisms are very minor. For one, this is a hot machine. This is normal for machines of this type, but you'll definitely want to avoid leaning on it! We also found ourselves making fine adjustments to the PID setting to really find the best temp to pull shots AND steam milk. This is because of the size and shape of the boiler. It's a minor nuisance though, and one common in machines of this nature.

    Overall, this is an excellent brewer for someone looking to get into high-end espresso and really start tweaking their drinks.

    Alex PID+ Pro

    Next up is the Alex PID+ Pro. For starters, this machine offers everything that the Vivi does so well. The Alex PID+ is all about "more is more." The boiler is stepped up to a 2.3 liter size. This is a massive boiler for a home machine, and it means you'll be pulling shot after shot without slowing down. This added capacity means added size as well, so fitting this machine on your countertop may prove more difficult than with the Vivi. Bigger size means more room for cups, and a deeper drip tray as well. Finally, the Alex PID+ has a rotary pump, making plumbing in possible if you have the right water!

    The only real complaint we have with this machine is that it might be a little bulky for some kitchens. If that's not a concern for you, it's a fantastic option.

    This is a beautiful machine best suited for a heavy espresso drinker looking for a "prosumer" solution to the daily coffee shop run. While the Vivi is an excellent option for a wide range of kitchens, the Alex PID+ is a slightly larger size investment. With that said, the larger boiler, rotary pump, deeper drip tray, and cup warmer real estate definitely justify the slight bump in price.

     

    Alex Duetto IV+ Pro

    Last but not least, the Duetto IV+ Pro. At first glance, this machine may look just like the Alex PID+ Pro, and while it shares similarities in terms of design and component quality, it's a different animal. This machine takes the exquisite attention to detail of the PID+ and Vivi and adds a host of tweakable features, and a whole second boiler. The second boiler means that the machine is able to steam and brew far faster than you can. We'd challenge even the busiest home barista to outrun this machine!

    But it's not just the boiler that sets the Duetto apart. First of all, if you have a kitchen wired for 20A, the Duetto can accommodate. While it works perfectly fine for 15 amp wiring, the 20 amp mode gives accelerated heatup times and blazing fast steam recovery times. It's a great option for the busy kitchen with the ability to take advantage of the feature. Additionally, this machine is a techie's dream.

    The Duetto gives you external access to elements like pump pressure, boiler drains, and heating elements. This means you can tweak and tease every aspect of the machine's operation. All of this means that hobbyist home baristas will have field day making fine adjustments and changes to their shot creation. Most machines make accessing these components much more of a chore, so it's a welcome addition alongside the larger boiler. It is worth noting, only experienced users and technicians should mess with a lot of these items, and doing so could affect your warranty.

    We hate to sound like a broken record, but the only thing we can knock the Duetto for is potential size concerns in smaller kitchens. It combines the smart design throughline of the other Izzo machines with a second boiler and tweakability not common in machines at this price point. Check out all of these machines below!

     

     

     

  • Seattle Coffee Gear’s Top Three Espresso Machines of 2018

    It’s that time of year again! Leaves are falling, the air is getting cool and crisp, and Summer is well and truly in the rear view mirror. All of this means that we have plenty to share about our favorite machines for 2018! Today we’re taking a look at SCG’s top espresso machines of 2018! We focused on picking the best buys of the year, not limiting the list to machines that came out this year.
     
    Chances are that if you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ve seen a machine from Rancilio. From stalwart commercial machines to no-frills home machines, Rancilio earns its reputation. The Silvia is no exception! For starters, many of the Silvia’s features are inspired by its commercial siblings, but adapted for the smaller form factor. The controls are also extremely easy to use. Simple on/off switches control extraction and steaming, with clear indicator lights to tell you when something’s not right.
    All of this combines with excellent construction and component quality to produce a solid machine. The Silvia doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some higher dollar machines. It also doesn’t have the boiler capacity of machines above its price bracket. It makes up for this with usability and reliability. New this year is a stylish black powder coat over the stainless steel frame. The classic stainless Silvia is still a nice looking machine, but the black may fit better in your kitchen, and we love how it looks.
    The Silvia is the perfect machine for someone upgrading from an entry level brewer or looking to spend a little extra on their first machine!
     
    If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that we’re big fans of this machine. The Saeco Xelsis is an update to a classic machine that well outperforms the previous model. We’ve said it before, but the programmability, milk quality, and ergonomics of this machine punch above their weight. It’s an excellent superautomatic in its price bracket.
    The control options in the Xelsis are more varied than most other superautos. This means you get to change things like milk texture, flavor, strength, and so much more with the slide of a finger. Additionally, while the shots from the Xelsis are on par with any of its competitors, the milk is the real star. The hygiesteam system froths milk with quality that’s not easy to achieve from a device of this nature. That system, plus Saeco’s tried and tested AquaClean water filtration, make maintaining the Xelsis easy.
    It’s great machine wether it’s your first superauto, or an upgrade.
     
    We don’t have too much to say about this machine that we haven’t already. Between the Appartamento’s stellar looks, excellent build quality, and capable components, this is simply one of the most successful home espresso machines that we offer. The first thing you’ll likely notice is its looks. This machine shines with its beautiful stainless steel casing and tactile controls. These controls give you the ability to make fine adjustments to your brewing process. They also help you “feel” every aspect of pulling the shot and steaming your milk. This gives you a great sense of the science behind your brewing.
    It wouldn’t be one of our favorites though if wasn’t also high performing. The Appartamento features a 1.8 liter heat exchange boiler, this will allow you to steam milk and brew shots at the same time, something that’s hard to find in machines at this price point. The heated E-61 group also keeps water temps and extraction even through the brewing process. To top it off, the build quality of the Appartamento is extremely solid. In the end it’s a fine machine for someone ready to buy a machine they’ll hold onto for a very long time.
    Check out the video version of this piece, where I discuss these picks in our studio! Stay tuned for even more best of 2018s, coming very soon!
  • Top Three Budget Espresso Machines

    The Round Up

    Making espresso you love at home has never been easier or more affordable with these top three picks! We rounded up our top three budget espresso machines, the DeLonghi EC155, DeLonghi Dedica and Breville Duo-Temp Pro.

    When we picked our three budget machines, we were looking at the cost to features. It's no surprised that our machines featured pressurized portafilters and panarello-style steam wands since these are entry-level machines. That said, programmability and capability also helped us decide which machine made the cut! That goes for the Duo-Temp Pro too. Sure it's a little extra, but the price balanced the advanced features—we'll talk more about this machine below. Check out our top picks and let is know which one’s for you!

    Most Bang For Your Buck: DeLonghi EC155

    The DeLonghi EC155 is the smallest machine in the roundup but don't be fooled by its size. It features a one-liter water tank and a single boiler! Surprised? Sometimes great things come in small packages. This machine also has an amazing community dedicated to getting the most out of it. And it’s no wonder! This machine has a lot to offer for the price. The panarello-style steam wand is designed to froth for you, a perfect option for beginners! Not only that, but the pressurized portafilters ensure the espresso is extracted perfectly each time. This machine is designed to make delicious cappuccinos, no sweat.

    That said, the EC155 has some weak spots. Since this is a single boiler, you have to temperature surf after steaming in order to brew. Don’t forget to always have a full reservoir so you don’t burn out the boiler, too. Also, some nit-picky cons are the plastic built-in tamper and clunky plastic steam tip. Overall, the EC155 is a great machine with an affordable price tag!

    Most Programming: DeLonghi Dedica

    If getting espresso at the touch of a button sounds fantastic to you, then you need the DeLonghi Dedica! Built with two programmable espresso buttons and a pressurized portafilter, the Dedica brews espresso without any fuss. Plus, the panarello-style steam wand automatically incorporates air for you and makes fluffy foam perfect for cappuccino. Bonus: The Dedica comes with a single or double basket.

    The Dedica requires more patience and maintenance. As with any machine with a shared boiler (or thermoblock), you have to steam and brew one at a time. But, if you want to lessen the wait time, we recommend using a technique called temperature surfing. Bonus: The Dedica protects the thermoblock by pausing after steaming and forces you to cool it down before brewing. This keeps your machine in tip-top shape!

    Similar to other budget espresso machines, we weren’t a fan of the plastic accessories. And, while we adore the Dedica’s slim profile, it has a small drip tray to fills up quick. If you plan on temperature surfing, have a separate cup or the sink nearby to purge.

    Most Room For Growth: Breville Duo-Temp Pro

    The Breville Duo-Temp Pro knocks it out of the park with advanced features! It's equipped with both non-pressurized and pressurized baskets, so home baristas can grow their skills with this machine. While this entry-level machine has a simple interface, the Duo-Temp Pro packs in pre-infusion and, our personal favorite, auto-purge. What’s auto-purge? Instead of temperature surfing, it purges hot water to cool the thermoblock to brewing temperature—saving you time!

    While we adore Breville’s newest entry-level model, we miss the programmable shot times. And the Duo-Temp Pro is outfitted with a traditional steam wand, which could be a pro or con depending on your skill level. The thermoblock pressure builds slowly so baristas will either be a) happy because you get to practice your technique or b) frustrated because it requires more time and skill to froth. That said, we love what the Duo-Temp Pro has to offer home baristas!

    Conclusion

    While these machines are easy on the wallet, they certainly didn’t go easy on the features! The DeLonghi EC155 is the most affordable of our budget machines and is built with a single boiler—an amazing feature for the price! Our other DeLonghi, the Dedica, impressed us with its programmable espresso buttons. And, of course, if you want to grow with your machine, the Breville Duo-Temp Pro is equipped with the accessories to get the job done! What did you think of our top picks? Tell us your favorite machine in the comments below.

  • Top Three Heat Exchanger Espresso Machines

    The Round Up

    Heat exchangers are a popular choice for home baristas looking for professional equipment on a budget. Because there’s only one boiler, the brew water heats through a tube (usually copper) specifically designed to reach the optimal temperature—brewing high-quality shots at the fraction of the cost of a dual boiler machine. Our top three picks are the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and Rocket Espresso Evoluzione. Each machine is well-designed with high-quality components and professional grade materials. It comes down to the nuances that’ll make all the difference for making coffee you love at home.

    Best For Beginners: Rocket Espresso Appartamento

    We start off with the newest Rocket, the Appartamento. This machine is designed for entry-level and professional baristas who want to bring home a quality espresso machine. And it’s apartment sized to fit on virtually every countertop—or hey, just install a coffee bar. It features an E61 brew head, a 1.8-liter copper boiler—the same boiler in the Evoluzione—and commercial-grade 58mm portafilters.

    Another seductive draw of the Appartamento is it’s fashionable polka-dot side panels—available in white or copper! It still maintains the beautiful clean profile that Rocket is known for, but with a fun, modern twist. That said, the Appartamento is entirely manually operated by the barista, while our next pick has some handy programmability.

    Best Programmability: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

    Equipped with two programmable espresso buttons, brewing and steaming at the same time just got oh-so-easy! Set your ideal single and double shot time for your favorite brew. Like the original Oscar, the Oscar II is outfitted with high-performing components like a heated 58mm group head that keeps shots consistently hot. You can get the Oscar II with a reservoir or plumbed-in, but it’s not interchangeable, so you’ll have to choose one way or the other.

    Of course, we can’t forget to mention that famous steam power we all know and love! The Oscar II’s updated design opened up more room for an articulated steam wand that has far better rotation than the original Oscar. The four-hole steam tip reaches every angle of your pitcher for perfectly frothed milk—just keep an eye on it since the Oscar II is a fast steamer! We also appreciate the steam switch that allows us to feather the milk for more control.

    Best Options: Rocket Espresso Evoluzione

    Built with the legendary E61 brew head, 1.8-liter copper boiler and commercial-grade 58mm portafilter, the Rocket Espresso Evoluzione is a powerful machine. If you’re thinking this sounds like the Appartamento, you’re right on track—these machines have identical components! However, the Evoluzione features differences that make it shine. For starters, the Evoluzione has a rotary pump versus the Appartmento’s vibratory plumb. Not only does the pump make the Evoluzione’s quieter when brewing—your household will thank you for that—but the boiler is also insulated to increase thermal stability up to 30 percent.

    Did we mention you have choices with the Evoluzione? Setup your Evoluzione to use the internal reservoir or—our favorite option—plumb it in directly to your water! Are you remodeling your kitchen or moving? No problem—the Evoluzione can switch back to fit your needs. You also have two styles to choose from; the Cellini, which has a clean-cut and boxy shape, and the Giotto, which sports sleek winged panels.

    Conclusion

    Our top three heat exchanger—the Appartamento, Oscar II and Evoluzione—each offer unique benefits for home baristas looking for an affordable and reliable espresso machine. What’s your favorite heat exchanger espresso machine? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Crew Review: Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID

    How Does It Compare?

    The Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID’s high-quality build and timeless design will always be in style for us! We thought another review of this heat exchanger was in order. The Premium Plus’s headliner is the PID that maintains consistent boiler temperature alongside the E61 brew head—a favorite feature in the Rocket lineup. The Premium Plus shares many of its design elements—E61 group, professional-quality portafilter and 1.8-liter heat exchange boiler—with Rocket’s littlest machine, the Appartamento! But while the Appartamento has a lot to offer, the Premium Plus still has a leg up with its PID that allows home baristas more control over their espresso. An we love more ways to tweak our coffee! While the machines in Rocket’s lineup have different features, they all sport the same hand-built Italian pedigree and top-notch materials. Check out the Premium Plus and see what it has to offer.

    The Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID comes in two body styles, Cellini and Giotto (pictured). The Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID comes in two body styles, Cellini and Giotto (pictured).

    Shot

    The Rocket Espresso Premium Plus features an insulated 1.8-liter copper boiler to maintain temperature stability. What does that mean for you, coffee friend? The thermal retention helps your machine consistently brew delicious espresso! Paired with the PID, we can program the ideal temperature—we’re more than pleased with the results!

    As a refresher, the PID (proportional integral derivative) measures and controls the temperature in the boiler. Since this is a heat exchanger, you’ll want the boiler set higher than the brew temperature. Fortunately, Rocket has provided a manual with a helpful guide on how to program the PID to the ideal temperature.

    Like all Rockets, the Premium Plus comes with stainless-coated brass portafilters sure to stand the test of time. Rocket includes two standard baskets, single and double, and, best of all, two portafilter styles, the single and double spout—oh man, do we love these spouts! Match the basket size to its corresponding portafilter and never worry about prying off the basket again (your fingers will thank you).

    Steam

    Eager to perfect your frothing technique? The Rocket Premium Plus with PID features powerful steaming that quickly heats milk in seconds. Before you know it, your milk is heated and ready to pour! We’ll never discourage beginner baristas from getting their hands on this machine, but the power requires patience and practice. Experienced baristas will appreciate the speed—just like rush hour in the cafe. That said, everyone can appreciate the fluidity of the articulating steam wand that makes it easier to texture your milk at any angle.

    Style

    Wrapped in polished stainless steel and a clean, cut style, the Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID is a timeless centerpiece for any barista’s kitchen. The PID is hidden away under the drip tray to maintain a clean surface unburdened with electronic lights. The Rocket’s lever and knob control design mirrors traditional espresso machines, while the PID brings this machine into the modern age—you really get the best of both worlds with the Premium Plus!

    The Premium Plus also comes in two styles, the Cellini and Giotto. The Cellini features straight side panels that create a simple, boxy body shape while the Giotto features more dramatic geometric side panels that extend out and taper back down at the drip tray. That Giotto has a wider footprint than the Cellini, but that is the only difference between the two models.

    The Premium Plus features a hidden PID that complements the machines clean look. The Premium Plus features a hidden PID that complements the machines clean look.

    Conclusion

    While Rocket Espresso has introduced us to new models like the Appartamento, the Rocket Espresso Premium Plus with PID continues to amaze us with it’s built-in PID. If you love to change up your beans or simply want more control over your espresso, the Premium Plus is for you. Don’t forget that the Premium Plus has two styles—check out the Rocket Espresso Cellini Premium Plus with PID and Rocket Espresso Giotto Premium Plus with PID.

  • Crew Review: Crossland Coffee CC1

    How Does It Compare?

    For a single boiler machine, the Crossland Coffee CC1 packs a punch with advanced features. Built with a dedicated thermoblock for steaming—a feature most single boilers lack—it whips up frothy milk in minutes! Not to mention it helps reduce the heating time. The digital display’s seamless design allows users to easily program the built-in PID or save up to three espresso profiles. In comparison, the Rancilio Silvia M, another single boiler favorite, features a simple switch interface and factory settings; however, we offer the option to add on a PID. That said, without the PID the Silvia M’s interface operates with simple controls. If you crave control over your coffee, the CC1 offers easily adjusted settings to make coffee you love at home.

    The Crossland Coffee CC1 features a programmable PID and three espresso profiles. The Crossland Coffee CC1 features a programmable PID and three espresso profiles.

    Shot

    The programmable PID displayed on the Crossland Coffee CC1 lets users set their ideal brew temperature and maintains consistency to perfect your shot. While you’re programming the brew temperature, customize the pre-infusion, brew and wait time for your three profiles—oh, and the pod profile is your third profile since the CC1 does not work with pods. That’s a lot of customizable options this machine!

    The CC1 comes with a 58mm non-pressurized portafilter. The CC1 comes with a 58mm non-pressurized portafilter.

    Coffee connoisseurs yearning to hone in their barista skills will love the CC1’s 58mm portafilter—trending to be the industry’s standard—and the option to purchase the CC1 bottomless portafilter. If you’re getting serious with your coffee, the bottomless portafilter opens a window into extracting espresso. While there are different indicators of good espresso, one of our favorites to observe is tiger striping—when espresso cascades with blond and brown stripes to show even extraction.

    Steam

    As with any single boiler machine, we recommend baristas first froth milk and then pull shots. With the added thermoblock, though the Crossland Coffee CC1 reaches steam temperature in no time! But before you start frothing, purge the condensation—a good practice—and give the thermoblock some time to heat up to avoid sputtering. When it’s ready to go, the CC1 produces steady power that is perfect for entry-level baristas. It allows you time to work the milk, hone your technique for frothing.

    Thanks to the thermoblock, the CC1 gets up to steam temperature quicker. Thanks to the thermoblock, the CC1 gets up to steam temperature quicker.

    With the CC1’s articulating steam wand, finding a comfortable angle to work the milk is incredibly easy. The wand’s L-shape design and extra long tip clear the underside of the machine to allow you room to pivot your pitcher. The CC1’s traditional wand is mounted on the underside, which means we can’t adjust the steam wand higher; however, all things considered, the wand is incredibly accessible. If you’re ready to improve your latte art, the CC1 is one of the machines we’ve enjoyed practicing on!

    Style

    The Crossland Coffee CC1 sensible, clean-cut style works in your favor, coffee lovers. The CC1 focuses on features and capabilities while maintaining an affordable price. We often hear people say they’re attracted to the CC1’s industrial stainless steel case. Paired with the boxy construction—reminiscent of traditional espresso machines—the CC1 is pretty identical to the Rancilio Silvia M. The most noticeable differences is the CC1’s digital display that adds a modern touch.

    Coffee connoisseurs appreciate the classic boxy body and L-shaped steam wand. Coffee connoisseurs will appreciate the classic boxy body and L-shaped steam wand.

    The CC1 recently underwent an upgrade and we got to say, we give it two thumbs up! The three-way solenoid valve uses to block the water tank, but now it’s situated inside the machine. The water tank is a touchy subject for some of us—it can be difficult to remove. The portafilter and wand tend to get in the way as well as the water tubes located inside the tank. With the right maneuvering and patience, we can get the CC1 up and brewing!

    Conclusion

    The Crossland Coffee CC1 packs in fantastic features for a single boiler machine. The programmable PID and three profiles let baristas customize their espresso to their perfect drink. While we may not be able to brew and steam at the same time, the dedicated thermoblock for steaming adds enough extra boost to froth beautifully. If you’re ready to hone your barista skills, check out the CC1! Share your thoughts on the CC1 in the comments below.

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