Do you read Instructables? I've found a bunch of good things there, and this one came up; thought I'd share it. Instructables is a website where users can upload step-by-step directions on how to make things; just about anything actually.
This Instructable is a handmade Portafilter handle and it shows a step-by-step process for taking a local branch, and milling it to make your own replacement handle for your Portafilter. I think the project came out pretty good, and shows a great way to put a little sweat equity into making your espresso machine a little more customized.
Most people know Bialetti for its iconic Moka Pot brewer that boils water in the bottom, forcing it up through the espresso cake and into the top reservoir. It brews at about 2-3 bar and makes a decently strong cup of coffee/espresso. They have also announced a new single serve brewer that uses capsules to brew espresso at 20 bar, giving users the espresso flavor, look and taste that they look for these days.
The Bialetti Mini Express espresso machine is designed to fit in a small space, and give great authentic flavor brew after brew. The 20 bar extraction system assures a great extraction every time, with plenty of crema and flavor in each cup. There is a 20 ounce reservoir, and a spent capsule bin that holds up to 10 used capsules.
There are five capsule varieties available, including:
Milano - "An espresso that is always smooth and light-bodied,with a pleasing aroma." this is a light and balanced espresso.
Venzia -"A round and delicate espresso, with rich vanilla accents." Light with a vanilla note.
Roma - "An intoxicating coffee aroma with a rich, bold taste. " Strong profile with dried fruit notes.
Napoli - "A full-bodied and intense espresso, with a unique aroma." Full flavored with a hearty body and full finish. I would suspect this has a hint of robusta in it to give the full body and flavor finish.
Italia Deca (Decaf) - " A decaffeinated aromatic coffee with a velvety, enveloping texture." Medium to light body.
Ok, so maybe the world isn't ending yet, but just in case things start to fall apart, you can bring your battery operated espresso machine with you. This new item is a battery operated espresso machine from Trisa Electronics delivers about 16 shots before the end of the battery's life.
With a 350ml reservoir, the machine will be good for 7-8 shots. It can take an ESE espresso pod, making this an easier on-the-go experience. If you need a quick charge, a 12v power cord helps out in a pinch if your car is still working wherever you are.
A lot of consumers are looking for a machine that provides some authentic pump-extracted espresso, with a minimum amount of work to get high quality results. With a machine like the Krups EA5280, preparing a good espresso comes easy. We aren't talking about high-end customized extraction here, but we are talking about good espresso from your own ground coffee, in an easy to use package.
Krups EA5280 includes a feature to tamp the ground coffee, called Precise Tamp, that reportedly sets the right pressure on the grounds before extracting. This is less important in a consumer model than it is at your local barista's, but it adds to the confidence that your espressos are going to be great.
The Krups EA5280 also includes a portafilter that can use ESE espresso pods, an easy to use steam wand, and a 15-bar pump. Comes in a nice looking stainless steel.
UPDATE: Price is about half off right now at Amazon; $192 down from $399 list price.
CBTL and Target are running a special - buy a CBTL Americano and get four free boxes of capsules. That's worth about $45. The CBTL Americano brews the CBTL capsules which come in several coffee and espresso varieties as well as several flavors of tea. I like the Premium Espresso the best for its slightly sweet and caramelized flavors.
Below you can see the price tag at Target for the CBTL brewer, and the special offer for free capsules.
Keurig is no stranger to brewed coffee, but they aren't well known for their work in espresso. They announced earlier this year that they are working with Lavazza, the famed Italian coffee company to bring an espresso system to market in the US that uses Lavazza coffee, and a milk frothing system to address the US market tastes.
The Keurig Rivo Machine
With 15-bars of pressure, the Rivo brings out coffee flavors like only pressure can, leaving a née creme on top. The capsules, in several different espresso varieties, are from Lavazza, including Intenso, Classico, Delicato and Decaf.
Using fresh milk the frothing is going to take place in a sidecar, letting you manually pour the milk from the carafe into your cup. not elegant, but it works.
Brewing the espresso gives you the push button choice of shorts and longs, and brews in under a minute. the reservoir is on the side, where it is easy to refill.
Check out the Keurig promo video below of the Keurig Rivo:
Superautomatics do just about everything for you; grind, tamp, extract, steam the milk and more. For that, they tend to cost a lot. The Krups EA82 is close, and gets the espresso end automated so you can take advantage of great whole bean coffee, and get the freshest cup of espresso on the block. What it won't do is automatically steam your milk right into your cup for you in the way a typical super automatic would. Sorry, you'll have to use the steam wand to do that.
The Krups EA82 holds a few day's worth of whole beans in the hopper (seals to keep beans fresher), grinds with its burr grinder, and extracts via their thermoblock heater and 15-bar pump. The heat time is fairly short, and the LCD screen gives you a quick and easy path to what's brewing: anything from an espresso to a taller coffee, it brews up to about 8 ounces.
The used espresso cake or puck gets ejected into a bin which will hold about 14 pucks. The 60-ounce reservoir should keep you going for a while. Pretty easy to maintain overall.
On sale now at a pretty good discount off the $1,200 list price; coming in at around $740 at this writing. Available in Black and Red.
Starbucks is going hard to bring their new Verismo system to market, with full push button latte making capability. According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, nearly half of all adults aged 25-39, have at least one espresso drink per week. That's pretty astonishing, and creates the reference point of a $4-$5 coffee; making an at-home latte of about $1 pretty enticing.
Starbucks is promising to bring the authentic flavor of the cafe home to your own kitchen - "Starbucks quality at home." Given the ability to have a professional barista, freshly ground beans and freshly steamed milk prepared for you in a cafe, vs. the Versimo machine, using pods, make this a pretty tough comparison.
We've been using the Verismo for a few weeks now, and most of the drinks we've made are those Lattes that are supposed to taste as good as that cafe drink. Currently Starbucks offers ten different varieties and combinations of Pods for their Verismo Brewer. Sorry, you can't use Nespresso, CBTL, or any other branded pods in the Versimo brewer, and the Versimo pods don't fit those other machines either. Versimo is part of a KFee System of pods.
I had to point this one out; it's an impressive machine with a few features that make this a little coffee shop on your countertop. The machine has a built in conical burr grinder/doser on it so that you can grind and dose right into your portafilter, just seconds before you brew. Breville is pushing the fact that fresher is better here, as they talk of better flavor and better crema on your shots. We all know fresher is better; this machine helps you get there.
This machine gives you control over grind size, and grind amount, so you can dial in your best shot, and then pull that shot with either pre-programmed sizes, or pull your own size shot if you want.
Consumer vs. Professional
The machine has dual walled portafilter inserts, or commonly known as "Consumer" level ones that give you great crema time after time. The dual walled inserts have a small hole/holes that create the back pressure for proper extraction. The machine also comes with single walled inserts, that are a mesh, commonly known as "Professional" type inserts. For this, you'll need to properly tamp the coffee to get it dense enough, offering the back pressure to develop as it tries to squeeze through the coffee puck.
The DeLonghi EC-702 is a sharp looking machine, ticking off a lot of the features that you need to get authentic espresso in an easy to use machine at home. No, it's not push button automatic, but it does have the features that you need to extract good flavor, and steam milk for a nice Latte.
With a 15-bar pump, the extraction pressure is sufficient to create that creme layer on top of your espresso, in its easy to use portafilter - add grounds, tamp and extract. The stainless steel boiler keeps things tasting clean, and the cup warmer helps you serve espresso at the right temperature. Especially good in the wintertime. The EC-702 also uses the ESE Espresso pods.
This is in the sweet spot for consumer espresso machines; full featured enough to get you a good coffee, but not so expensive as to break the bank.
It happens to be on sale now with a $20 rebate (through 12/31), selling for $139 at Amazon , after rebate.
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