Top 3

  • Gail's Picks: Best Drip Brewers of 2019

    Welcome to another edition of Gail's Picks for 2019! Today it's all about drip brewers, and we have three fantastic coffee machines to share with you. Drip brewers are really a standby for any coffee lover, and finding the perfect one can be a challenge. That's why we're showing off a few, with specific brewers working best for specific coffee drinkers. Without further adieu, let's get started!

    Bonavita Connoisseur

    The Bonavita Connoisseur is the perfect brewer to get for that budding coffee fan in your life. It also makes an excellent secondary brewer if you primarily drink another form of coffee like espresso or press. This is an affordable machine that has no frills, but doesn't need them. For under $200 you're getting rock solid temperature stability, arguably the most important part of a drip brewer. That means that while you can't control the temperature of the water, it is solidly in the 198-202 degree range for proper extraction. It'll brew your coffee perfectly without scorching it and creating that icky flavor that cheaper drip brewers create. This is why we think it's perfect for new coffee drinkers. In a lot of cases people think that burned tasting coffee is just the way coffee tastes. The Connoisseur can show them a better way!

    This brewer also has a great pre-wetting feature that blooms the coffee in a manner that you'd get from pour over. Overall it creates a really tasty pot of drip without complications, and that's why we think it's one of the best drip brewers of 2019!

    Technivorm Moccamaster

    The Technivorm Moccamaster is a classic machine that will last many years if properly maintained. While this brewer lacks programmability, it makes up for it in sheer reliability, performance, and style. Featuring Technivorm's signature industrial design, the temperature stability here is exceptional. There's something about Technivorm brewed coffee that's just different than what you get out of other brewers. It's bold, flavorful, and complex, and that's all thanks to the design of the heating element and spray head. Again, this machine is also built like a tank. We've seen Technivorms last decades if properly maintained and cleaned. This glass carafe version also features an auto-shut off warming plate that won't burn the coffee after it has been brewed.

    What's more, these machines com in a variety of different colors! This makes it the perfect option for the style conscious kitchen. You'll be able to match your machine to the color scheme of the rest of your equipment.

    Breville Precision Brewer

    Finally, we have the Precision Brewer. This machine combines the incredible performance of the above mentioned machines with a suite of customization options. From pour over, to cold brew, to iced coffee, and more, the Precision Brewer lives up to its name. You'll be able to control every aspect of the brewing process with this machine, making it one of the smartest drip brewers available. For times when you're not looking for all of that functionality, you can just brew with the pre-programmed SCAA-rated Gold Cup setting. This will brew coffee that adheres to standards set by the specialty coffee association for properly tasting and evaluating minute details in the coffee. When you do want to get more hands on, you can play with the different settings to get the perfect flavor profile from different kinds of coffees. Pretty much the pinnacle of drip brewing tech, we love this machine!

    The SCG exclusive Tribute Edition also includes a pour over adapter. This allows you to use a pour over dripper and the built in settings to brew incredible automatic pour over.

    Conclusion

    That brings us to a close on another set of top threes! With that, we're done with Gail's Picks for 2019! We hope we've helped you make some tough decisions about what to pick up to step up your coffee game this holiday season.

  • Top Three Milk Frothers

    If you’re looking to enliven your plain old cup of joe with delicious frothy milk, then you’re going to love having an electric milk frother! At the touch of a button, boring milk is whipped into frothy foam perfect for your morning cappuccino crave. To make it easier for you to choose, we rounded up the top three milk frothers: the Bodum Schiuma Milk Frother, Jura Automatic Milk Frother and Breville Milk Carafe. Pair these stand alone frothers with your drip brewer or French press to make coffee setup! Find out the features and functionalities of our top three picks!
  • Top Three Alternative Coffee Brewers

    Every coffee geek wants to play the mad scientist. It’s time you shake up your daily coffee routine with one of these alternative coffee brewers: the Copper Turkish Coffee Pot, Hario Drip Pot and Bodum Santos Stovetop Vacuum Coffee Maker. Sure, you could brew a regular old French press—or you can entertain your brunch crowd with a live showing of fresh coffee from a vacuum pot! Or divine their future through a coffee reading with Turkish coffee. Step away from the ordinary and discover a new way to brew.
  • Top Three French Press Coffee Makers

    French press. It’s the go-to coffee maker that anyone can use. It’s easy to learn how to brew with and makes a deliciously full-bodied cup. What’s not to love? To narrow down your choices, we rounded up the top three French press coffee makers: Bodum Brazil French Press 3 Cup, Espro Press P5 and Frieling Insulated Coffee Maker French Press.
  • Top Three Pour Over Kettles

    On today’s Top Three, we selected the best kettles to complement your pour over coffee maker. Whether you’re brewing with a Hario V60 or Chemex, you need a good kettle to control the flow and accuracy of your pour. Our top three pour over kettles are the Bonavita 1L Electric Gooseneck Variable Temperature Kettle, Fellow Stagg Pour Over Kettle and Hario Buono Coffee Drip Kettle in copper.
  • Top Three Coffee Scales

    Why should you use a scale to brew coffee? We’ve all eyeballed or heaped in a tablespoon of coffee and hoped for the best. We’ll let you in on a little secret: To enjoy sipping a consistently delicious cup of coffee, use a coffee scale to weigh your grounds and water.
  • Top Three Double Boiler Espresso Machines

    The Round Up

    We brought out the big machines for today’s top three double boiler espresso machines, the La Marzocco Linea Mini, Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler and Breville Dual Boiler. Double boiler espresso machines are equipped with two boilers: a brew boiler and a steam boiler. While the steam boilers reach and hold pressure ideal for frothing milk, the other maintains consistent brewing temperature.

    Chances are in your search for a high-quality espresso machine, you’ve read the debate between double boilers and heat exchange espresso machines. Coffee enthusiasts have long expressed their opinions about the pros and cons of each boiler type and we suspect it’ll continue on. One of the benefits dual boilers reap is temperature stability and the capability to brew more drinks back-to-back than a heat exchanger. Not to mention that, like a heat exchanger, you can brew and steam simultaneously. A double boiler machine is for someone who wants to brew multiple drinks back-to-back and requires a faster turnaround time.

    La Marzocco Linea Mini

    In your morning quest for coffee, chances are you’ve encountered the La Marzocco Linea series powering your local café. Home baristas can now rejoice! The La Marzocco Linea Mini is your pint-sized commercial machine for home brewing. Well, not quite pint-sized, the Linea Mini is the largest machine on our list. It certainly puts a dent in the budget and counter, but for the right espresso lover, this espresso machine will impresses with an integrated brew group to maintain temperature stability and energy efficiency, and commercial-grade portafilter and steam wand.

    Home brewers aren’t the only people who’d benefit from the Linea Mini. Built to commercial standards, the Linea Mini is NSF-rated, so homey cafés and small diners can bring espresso to their menu. And, hey, this large machine’s roomy cup warmer will ensure patrons can enjoy toasty cups with their coffee.

    Rocket Espresso R58 Dual boiler

    The Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler was an easy pick to make our list. The craftsmanship of Rocket’s espresso machine continues to entice coffee enthusiasts. Equipped with a programmable PID and, of course, double boilers, espresso temperature is under control—your control that is. Best of all, the PID is removable to store when it’s not in use to preserve the clean, classic style Rocket is famous for.

    The Rocket lineup is renowned for its commercial-quality build and the R58 is no exception. It’s build with the legendary E61 brew head that helps maintain temperature stability during brewing. And the R58 features a commercial-grade rotary pump that’s quiet—so the house can sleep in without sacrificing your morning espresso.

    Breville Dual Boiler

    Designed with the consumer in mind, the Breville Dual Boiler is user-friendly and affordable—like really affordable. What we love about the Dual Boiler is its intuitive interface that creates an enjoyable experience for anyone ready to master espresso. Two programmable espresso buttons make it easy for you to focus on frothing the perfect latte milk while the Dual Boiler pulls your pre-programmed shot. And if you’re an experienced barista, switch to the manual brewing to operate on the fly.

    Keeping true to their brand, Breville has designed this machine with extra goodies to fit anyone’s lifestyle. The Dual Boiler comes with two pressurized baskets for beginner baristas to practice their grind and two non-pressurized for experienced brewers. There is also a magnetic tamper conveniently attached to the machine and auto-on feature, so you can wake up to a pre-heated machine.

    Conclusion

    We’ve pulled out some of our top three double boiler espresso machine, the La Marzocco Linea Mini, Rocket Espresso R58 and Breville Dual Boiler. Equipped with dual boilers, these espresso machines create impressive steam pressure in one boiler while the other maintains the perfect  brew temperature. What do you think of our choices? Share your favorite double boiler espresso machine in the comments below.

  • Top Three Budget Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    The Round Up

    These espresso machines can do it all and they can do it on a budget. We compared our best superautomatic espresso machines under $1,000: the Saeco Xsmall, Saeco Intelia Deluxe and Jura Impressa C90.

    Superautomatics are built to make grabbing a morning cup convenient: they grind, they tamp and they brew all at the touch of a button. Heck, even some machines froth for you! In this round, we choose machines with panarello-style steam wands and automatic milk frothers that require little to no technique involved (emphasis on the no). Each of these machines has different levels of brewing customization that is sure to please the casual coffee drinker.

    Under $500: Saeco Xsmall

    If you’re looking for an espresso machine under $500, it’s time you discovered the Saeco Xsmall. The Xsmall’s small footprint situates into any lifestyle from an apartment countertop to a cozy office setting. It’s also the simplest to learn how to brew, which means anyone learn to make coffee! It features two customizable time-based shots and a big front dial that brews, steams or dispenses hot water. That said, we’re missing brew temperature setting, which would have been nice for aiding our shot flavor. While it lacks some frills, it has an adjustable ceramic burr grinder that gives back some control over your brew. And there’s more control where that came from with the panarello-style steam wand. Froth milk for as long and foamy as you like!

    Under $800: Saeco Intelia Deluxe

    Exclusive to SCG, the Saeco Intelia Deluxe is an intelligent machine rocking a simple interface. Sleek and clean operation is the Intelia Deluxe’s namesake. The digital display makes it effortless to program the brew temperature, coffee strength or maintenance settings while buttons are quickly accessible. Like the Xsmall, the Intelia Deluxe has two programmable time-based shot buttons and a milk frothing button that you turn on or off manually. It’s easy to master in no time!

    Bonus: The Intelia Deluxe comes with a cappuccinatore to instantly froth milk or can be replaced with a panarello attachment to froth milk yourself.

    Under $1,000: Jura Impressa C60

    Looking for the best superautomatic espresso machines under $1,000? How about this one: the Jura Impressa C60. The C60 is as close as you can get without maxing out your budget. Compared to our other picks, the C60 offers a lot of bang for your buck. Jura’s well-known for their strong shots and the C60 is no exception. You can customize the brew temperature or add more coffee to the shot on the fly! The C60 also features programmable shots and an auto-off function to save energy.

    Jura’s Fine Foam Frother automatically froths milk straight into your awaiting cup. Like the Intelia Deluxe’s cappuccinatore, this frother does all the work for you, so you can sit back and enjoy your cup. While it’s not technically a one-touch machine, the attachment swings close enough to froth into your mug.

    Conclusion

    If you’re searching for the best superautomatic espresso machines under $1,000, then start here with these three totally different machines. The Saeco Xsmall features the simplest programming with a manual frother for more control while the other two bumps up in price and features. The Saeco Intelia Deluxe includes more customizable and more accessories with the interchangeable cappuccinatore and panarello. And lastly, the Jura Impressa C60 can be changed mid-brew to accommodate the last-minute coffee rush. With three great options under $1,000, which one will you choose?

  • Top Three "Not Quite" Espresso Makers

    The Round Up

    What’s do we mean by “not quite espresso makers?” As we know, a true espresso shot brews consistently at nine bars of pressure. There are a handful of coffee makers that brew at one to two bars of pressure creating a cup that’s rich, dark and full-bodied like espresso. For coffee lovers craving a stout cup, we rounded up the AeroPress Coffee Maker, Ilsa Express Espresso Stove Top and Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine to get the job done!

    AeroPress Coffee Maker

    First on our list is the beloved AeroPress. Simple, compact and affordable, the AeroPress easily finds its way into homes. It works similar to a French press by immersing grounds in water and then plunge, but the AeroPress brews directing into the bottom of a fresh cup. Not to mention, the pressure buildup is completely different. The AeroPress rubber plunger seals against the chamber and builds up one to two bars of pressure by hand. We’ve heard of some coffee lovers out there getting up to nine bars of pressure with the assistance of a lever device—still not quite espresso.

    Ilsa Express Espresso Stove Top

    The Ilsa Express brews by steam power, it doesn’t extract at nine bars of pressure. So not quite espresso. That said, stovetop makes one mean cup of coffee! And by mean, we’re talking about a seriously stout and strong cup. If you enjoy sipping the rich flavors of espresso, the Ilsa Express can make that happen for you at a fraction of the cost of an espresso machine. The Ilsa Express has a 3, 6 and 10-cup option available and, better yet, the 6-cup has a divider that can cut your portion to 3 cups.

    Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine

    The Wacaco Minipresso Espresso Maker is the closest thing to espresso. It boasts eight bars of pressure and makes a single shot! Similar to a pressurized portafilter, it won’t release the coffee unless it reaches that eight bars of pressure. It’s designed like a mini espresso machine equipped with a brew basket, water reservoir and hand-driven pump system. At the end of the day, if you’re on the road the Minipresso is the perfect companion for a quick pick-me-up.

    Conclusion

    The true espresso coffee lovers crave brews with nine bars of pressure. Our makers don’t quite reach that mark, but they certainly make a strong cup of java! What did you think of our Top 3 “Not Quite” espresso makers? Share what you would have chosen in the comments below!

  • 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.

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