July 31, 2006

Basics on Super Automatic Espresso Machines

We’ve had a lot of people ask about what the big deal is about Super Automatics, and what they can do for you. Well if you have to know, they really can do almost everything but drink the espresso for you. There are a lot of different types, and they offer a lot of really great features that makes having one like having a personal barista in your house.

Overall, a Super Automatic espresso machine will pull beans from a whole bean bin, grind, then tamp them. It will then brew your espresso, using its onboard water reservoir, at high pressure to extract all of the goodness for you to enjoy. The machine will have some settings that will allow the user to set water volume and coffee drop weight so that you can customize the size and strength of your espresso. Super Automatic Espresso makers also have a steaming function through a steam wand. Let’s look at a few features that help set machines apart:

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July 28, 2006

Bialetti Stovetop Modern Espresso Maker


Before I had an ESE machine I started with a stovetop maker. This modern Bialetti Espresso maker is an adaptation of the classic stovetop espresso maker and is at home in any kitchen. It makes 5 espresso servings of 2 ounces each. These are easy to use; just fill the lower chamber with water, put your fine ground espresso roast in the integral filter, and screw on the top of the maker. The dual chamber design is easy to use and only takes minutes on the stove. It is made from heavy-gauge, 18/10 stainless-steel body and stainless-steel filter basket, as well as a black rubberized handle and knob for graceful serving. Made in Italy, the stovetop espresso maker measures approximately 8 inches tall by 4 inches wide and carries a 10-year limited warranty.

Easy, simple, elegant. These make great gifts and make great espresso.

You can compare it to the classic Bialetti Moka pot below.


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July 28, 2006

Butteryfly Espresso Cups


Thought I would pass this one along; not your average espresso set. This butterfly set comes complete with wings in several colors and is sure to be a hit at any summer party where espresso is served. The cups are 2.5 ounces each and come in a set of six.


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July 27, 2006

Basics of ESE Espresso - What is an ESE Espresso Pod?

In 1998 a consortium of manufacturers made an agreement to have a single standard for espresso pods and makers to help people around the world to consistently make an excellent espresso. The ESE standard was born. There were 7 founding members and has grown to over 120 members today. ESE Stands for Easy Serving Espresso, and the standard sets the requirements for the pods – 7 grams of coffee, a proper grind, and a shape and diameter that allows it to be used only in ESE approved machines. The pods sandwich the coffee between two layers of sealed filter paper. esepod.jpg
The diameter of the ESE pod is 44-45 millimeters, which is much smaller than the 55-60 mm pods that are available for the “Single Serve” coffee makers that have become popular in the last few years (learn a lot more about Single Serve Coffee at our sister site: singleservecoffee.com). The ESE Machines work in a similar way; to promote ease of use, and consistently good espresso. Fill the reservoir with water, turn on the machine, open the foil sealed package containing the E.S.E. pod, drop a pod into the pod holder and lock it into the machine. Turn the machine on and in about 30 seconds you will have a beautifully pulled espresso with a nice head of crema. Clean up is pretty easy too. Open the pod holder, dump the pod in the trash or recycle it, rinse the holder and you are done.

Many espresso machines these days come with optional pod baskets. So, this is to say that you can choose to use espresso ground coffee to fill and tamp into the basket yourself, or use the pod holder to use ESE pods. Obviously we advocate making sure that the machine has a pod adapter. Pods really are a great way to get into making and drinking espresso at home. They can be expensive when compared to whole bean coffee, but we prefer them for convenience and consistency. One study out says that only 1 in 5 households that has an espresso maker uses it on a regular basis. Those 4 out of 5 cite the bother and mess associated with making espresso with ground coffee as a key reason that they stopped using their machine. Viva la pod!

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July 26, 2006

Delonghi EAM3200 SuperAutomatic - Easy Espresso


DeLonghi is known for producing excellent machines espresso machines, and the DeLonghi EAM 3200 is their entry into the super automatic espresso maker market. (We have the higher end DeLonghi EAM 3500 in for reivew right now.) The machine does everything for you, and out comes a delicious espresso. So, if you want an espresso that’s easy, pour the beans in the top, and the DeLonghi EAM 3200 grinds, and tamps the beans, then makes the espresso. With the powerful thermo-block heater that can turn out espresso after espresso. It has a strength and size of cup adjustment. The used coffee puck gets kicked into a waste chamber that you can remove and empty when full. The patented frothing wand is powerful, and swings out for great frothing of your milk.

It has a cup warmer, and a removable 1.8 liter (60 ounce) water chamber that will make plenty of espresso before refilling. It also has an automatic shut off after 3 hours.

Amazon is offering at a new lower price, and you get Free Shipping. Also, save $25.00 when you spend $125.00 or more on Kitchen & Housewares products offered by Amazon.com.

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July 25, 2006

Hilton to offer Lavazza coffee in its hotel rooms


Hilton Hotels announced the launch of its new Hilton Serenity Collection in-room coffee system, featuring world-renowned Lavazza coffee from Italy, and an exclusive Cuisinart dual-cup, single-brew coffeemaker. The new coffee system begins shipping to select hotels today and will be implemented in more than 230 hotels in the continental U.S. and Alaska over the next several months. While it's not espresso, it's good news to hear that Lavazza is getting some US acceptance. Who knows, ESE machines might be close behind!

Interested in Lavazza Grand Crema ESE Espresso Pods? - See our recent review on Lavazza Grand Crema ESE Pods

"Guest surveys revealed that premium coffee was the single most important in-room amenity in the upscale segment," said Bill Brooks, vice president of product development, Hilton Hotels. "We continue to make the guest experience a priority by offering an exclusive coffee system unique to Hilton Hotels."

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July 20, 2006

World’s Most Expensive Coffee


So you thought that your Capp cost you a lot, or that pound of coffee from the corner coffee shop ran you a pretty penny? Well, there are some more expensive beans to be had out there. A Forbes article covers some of the most expensive beans that are being sold these days (some available, and some are not), and most come from highly coveted single estate sources, known for their care in handling of the coffee from plant to roasted state. This spring, an estate coffee form Panama (Hacienda La Esmeralda) set a record at auction for most expensive coffee at $50 per pound, green. This will result in a retail price of about $100; so drink up. The article runs down the top 10 most expensive coffees, including the # 1 Kopi Luwak coffee that is eaten by a marsupial, excreted and then “carefully” retrieved. I have had this stuff before, and let me tell you its price is driven by the exclusivity, not its quality, so move on to #2.

ReadMore at Forbes

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July 19, 2006

Preva xSport - Espresso on the Mountain


We found our North this past weekend. The Preva xSport came with us this weekend as we hiked up Mount Washington in NH and stayed over a the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on Saturday night. The hiking was pretty serious up a couple of thousand feet to this great little oasis at 5050 feet above sea level. The Lakes hut is perched just below the summit of MT Washington, in the saddle between Mt Washington and Mt Monroe. The hut holds 90 people for an overnight, and is a full service hut, which means that they provide meals and shelter provided by a staff of about 10. While they offer coffee, they don’t offer a nice espresso. We toted the Preva up the mountain along with a dozen Starbucks Espresso Pods for use while up there. Since the hut was providing the boiling water, I got to try out the Preva without needing to boil my own. It’s not going to give you an espresso that rivals your coffee shop, but keep reading; I thought it was great.

See a Review on the Preva xSport on our sister site: Single Serve Coffee.

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Lighter Fare at Starbucks


So, with the summer here, a lot of people are switching their coffee routines at the local coffee shop for some alternative drinks. Well, if you are also trying to watch your waistline, you could check out these fine beauties at Starbucks:


  • Iced Caffe Latte with Nonfat Milk Grande size = 100 calories, 0 gram fat, 9 grams protein, 25% Daily value for Calcium
  • Coffee Frappuccino Light (no whip) Tall size = 110 calories, 1 gram fat, 5 grams protein, 15% Daily Value for Calcium
  • Espresso Frappuccino Light Tall size (no whip) = 100 calories, .5 g fat, 4 grams protein, 10% Daily Value for Calcium
  • Espresso Doppio = 10 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 0% Daily Value Calcium.


  • Tazo Green Tea Lemonade Tall size = 90 calories
  • Green Iced Tea Tall size = 60 calories

    If you are watching calories, you may want to stay away from these:

  • Banana Caramel Frappuccino Blended Coffee – whip venti = 720 calories
  • Caramel Frappuccino Blended Coffee – whip grande = 530 calories
  • Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème – whip venti = 720 calories

    For reference, a Big Mac will only run you 560 calories, and a Whopper only 670 calories!

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  • July 13, 2006

    SkyEurope serving Illy Espresso on Board


    Sky Europe, the Euro low cost airline, has introduced Italian Espresso and Cappuccinos on board so that you can taste the authentic Illy flavor while flying to your favorite Euro destinations. The system is designed for consistently great coffee. Made from nine varieties of Arabica beans, Illy unique leading-quality blend offers an unmistakable flavor and aroma, always constant in every cup and in any part of the world.

    “We are continuing our process of expansion and internationalization, which allows us to export Italian style coffee culture. This new partnership allows us to reach a new public to whom offer a full experience that is gratifying to both the sentences and the spirit” said Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of illycaffè S.p.A.

    They are not the first to offer espresso on board, as Nespresso has been a supplier to numerous airlines around the world with their own capsule system.

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    July 12, 2006

    Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker with ESE Espresso Pod Holder

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    Looking for an easy way to get into making espresso at home using Pods? Well, look no further than the Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker with ESE Pod Holder that is available for $68. The features on this are serious business, including an 1100 watt 15 bar pump to heat up plenty of water to pull a nice espresso with a good crèma. It’s also got 2-cup water reservoir, not huge, but it will allow you to run through about a dozen espressos before needing to refill. In addition to that, it has an adjustable steam/frothing dial and removable drip tray for easy cleanup. It can also work with ground espresso coffee.

    So, it’s available for $68, which qualifies you for free shipping. If you like that classic Starbucks flavor, add some Starbucks Espresso Pods – 24 ct to try out the ESE experience. Also available in decaf - Starbucks Decaf Espresso Pods – 24 ct. Delicious and very easy.

    If you are going to do Lates and Cappuccinos, you might want to add a frothing pitcher - Krups Frothing Pitcher

    When you get the machine, and start to play, check out how to do some interesting Late Art on your cups too - blow away some dinner guests!

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    July 10, 2006

    Summer's Here: Iced Espresso is Too!


    Summer is definitely here, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pouring a few iced coffees recently – or I should say iced espressos. I usually do them into the Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Thermo-Glass 15 ounce glasses that stand up to the heat and the cold.

    I pull two espresso shots and dump them into the Bodum glasses, add sugar, milk, then ice and stir. I usually add 2 parts espresso, one part milk, add sugar to taste and ice it until it’s cold. Yum! With an ESE machine, it’s easy, and it takes about 2 minutes. The flavor is impressive, and it's easy to do in the morning for yourself, or for guests.

    While I tend to like a bit of espresso/robusta bite to my hot espresso, I tend to like cleaner 100% Arabica coffee for my iced espressos. For this I use something like either Illy Medium Roast Espresso Pods or BioAroma ESE Pods from Miami Espresso.

    Enjoy the summer!

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    July 7, 2006

    Espresso - Commodore 64 Style


    So, I came across this and thought I would pass it on. It's an ad from 1985 featuring an espresso maker that tied into the famous Commodore 64 computer. The ad was scanned from an old magazine issue. I wonder if it made coffee as slow as the Commodore worked, or if the CPU slowed down even more when the espresso kicked on?

    Via BoingBoing

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    July 6, 2006

    Thief Nabbed Stealing the DeLonghi Espresso Machine

    Whoops – here’s a tip, if you really need an espresso drink, buy one at the café instead of stealing a machine to make one at home for your girlfriend. A couple in Massachusetts found out the hard way that stealing an espresso machine isn’t worth it, as the man received a year’s probation, a $1,000 fine plus court costs. He stole a $1,200 DeLonghi Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso Machine, said Wayland Police Detective Sgt. Patrick Swanick. “This machine does everything but give you a back massage,” Swanick said. Apparently the couple worked together, one distracting the manager while the other shot out the back with the DeLonghi, but the thief dropped the box when the manager ran out the back door. Next time, maybe they should have split a $4 mocha and called it a date.

    Via the Boston Herald

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    July 5, 2006

    Vacation at the Beach with Port City Java


    I took some time off to head to the beach last week in North Carolina to enjoy the sun and some fun. I have to say that it was a tough week without a daily espresso right at my fingertips. At home we take our daily espresso from a machine that is essentially the Espressione Nuvola Pod Espresso Machine made by Grimac, and the quality is very high, and so is the weight – I wasn’t bringing the thing on the trip with me. In North Carolina, I was happy to stumble upon Port City Java cafes in a couple of key spots that I could visit and enjoy some solid espresso. The coffee was pretty good, even though the teenie-bopper staff was more interested in who was dating who than top notch customer service. I even took home some of their Hurricane Blend to brew in the drip maker at the beach house in between visits. Port City Java is based in Wilmington, NC, so if you are at the NC shore, and didn’t pack your ESE maker, stop by for a nice cup of coffee and maybe even a little gossip.

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    July 4, 2006

    Painting with Coffee


    I always looked at that coffee stain as a bother; others look at it as a medium to express themselves in art. Check out this artist who uses coffee in various ways to create great works of art in beautiful brown tones through a number of various techniques (hint - it's not just about spilling your espresso on canvas).


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    July 3, 2006

    Coffee Fiber Photo Album


    So when you get home from snapping summer vacation photos, you’ll need a place to put them. Why not slip a few into a great looking photo album from Café Brit, with the cover made entirely of coffee fibers, and interior pages made from recycled paper with a touch of coffee fibers for a touch of cool texture. Café Brit is the big coffee manufacturer in Costa Rica, home of some of the finest coffee beans in the world. You’ll also know that things are better as a result, because “Coffee-fiber Paper” comes from an Earth-friendly process that combines recycled paper with the fibrous waste of the coffee milling process. These beautiful, coffee-fiber products conserve the environment by helping to reduce the estimated 230,000 tons of coffee waste generated each year in Costa Rica, alone.

    See it at Café Brit

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