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Chili (With Coffee as the Special Ingredient)

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:34 AM
Related Categories: Recipes

There are some food combos you have to try to believe. This chili recipe, featuring coffee as an ingredient, is one such example. Trust us, this creative, tasty chili will keep your guests talking and raving for some time to come.


  • 1 can/bottle (12 fl oz) of dark beer
  • 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 can (14 oz) of beef broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cans (6 oz) of tomato paste
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • ½  cup of packed brown sugar
  • ¾ pound of beef sirloin (cubed)
  • 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa  powder
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 3 ½ tbsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 4 cans (15 oz) of kidney beans
  • 4 hot chile peppers (fresh, seeded and chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 onions (chopped)


To start, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, cubed sirloin and ground beef into the saucepan and let cook for 10 minutes in oil (or until the onions are tender and the meat is well done).

Then, add the beef broth, diced tomatoes with juice, coffee, beer, and tomato paste. Season with salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, and cocoa powder and mix in 2 cans of beans and hot chile peppers. At this point, you’ll want to lower the heat and let everything simmer for 1.5 hours.


Chili I from allrecipes.com

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Cooking with Coffee

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Related Categories: Recipes

When you think of coffee, you generally imagine a steaming hot beverage that's the perfect pick-me-up any time of day. What you may not consider is that coffee is also a multi-purpose kitchen ingredient. Be it main courses or after-dinner treats, coffee adds a special kick to any recipe.

The Main Event

Ready to give your dinner some zip? These coffee concoctions are sure to be mouth-watering additions to your dining room table.

Espresso Roasted Chicken and Vegetables (Aabree Contest Recipe Winner, Trisha K.!)

Marinade/sauce:     Ingredients:
½ cup strongly brewed espresso coffee
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 eggplant, unpeeled, diced in 1 inch cubes
½ pound mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips
1 yellow pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips

In a medium bowl whisk marinade ingredients, reserve ¼ cup. Divide remainder in half and marinade chicken and vegetables in separate zip lock bags for 2-4 hours. Heat oven to 375o and line a large baking pan with heavy duty foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Remove chicken and vegetables from marinade and arrange on baking pan, bake for 30 minutes and drizzle with remaining marinade, return to oven for 15-20 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Makes 4 servings.

Pepper Coffee Barbeque (Surf or Turf)
Perfect for a barbeque or any other summer gathering, this zesty marinade is versatile enough for steak, tuna, or salmon.

Coarse ground coffee beans
Coarse ground black pepper
Olive Oil
For Steak: Worcestershire sauce & garlic powder
For Tuna or Salmon: Lemon juice & dill

*Ingredient amounts will vary according to your preference and the quantity of meat/fish you will be preparing.

Create a 1/3 ground coffee, 2/3 ground pepper mixture.

For Steak:
Coat the steak in olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Season with garlic powder and coat heavily with the coffee/pepper mixture. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

For Tuna or Salmon:
Coat fish with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with dill and coat heavily with the coffee/pepper mixture. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Recipe courtesy of ineedcoffee.com

Coffee Barbeque Chicken Salad

For those of us who prefer lighter fare, this salad has all of the flavor you crave without any belt loosening when you’re done.

Sauce Ingredients:     Salad Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onions
¼ cup minced garlic
2 cups brewed coffee
3 slices bacon, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle chilies in adobo
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup diced tomatoes
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 cups torn, mixed salad greens
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cup shredded cheese of your choice
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a 4 qt pot, render bacon over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno, sautéing until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients, simmering slowly over low heat for 3 hours, until sauce thickens.

Brush both sides of chicken with sauce and grill until thoroughly cooked. Combine all other salad ingredients in a bowl and distribute evenly in bowls or on plates. Cut chicken into thick strips and add to top of salad. Drizzle with additional barbeque sauce and/or the salad dressing of your choice.

Recipe courtesy of recipezaar.com


Here's a delicious espresso drink that's sure to please any crowd.

2 oz Espresso
2.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz Kahlua

Brew a double shot of espresso and let it cool to room temperature.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and all ingredients – shake well.
Pour into a martini glass rimmed with chocolate syrup.

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Demystifying the Different Types of Espresso Machines

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machine Guides

Finding your espresso soul mate is no easy feat. If a machine does not walk that fine line between offering convenience and optimal user control, you’ll undoubtedly find it to be a bad match. We’d like to offer our assistance to help you avoid any missteps. As you personal matchmakers, we’re going to give you a rundown of what’s available, compare and contrast the different types of machines, and send you on your way to a match made in Java Heaven.

Super-Automatics: Fast, Easy, Consistent
If these bad boys capes, you’d probably mistake them for Superman.  Super-automatic s can perform the entire espresso brewing ritual with just the push of a button. And, they’re the fastest machines on the market; we’re pretty sure they’d give a speeding bullet a run for its money!

Super-automatic espresso machines come with integrated coffee grinders and water reservoirs—they’ll take care of you from beginning to end. All you have to do is press the brew button to kick things into gear; the machine will grind the right amount of beans, apply the perfect tamp, extract your coffee, then toss the leftover puck into an internal disposal unit.

These are the easiest espresso machines to use, which may explain their growing popularity; hands down, super-automatics are the fastest growing segment of the market. Being user-friendly doesn’t mean the super-automatic is a slouch when it comes to taste. On the contrary, it is known for delivering consistent coffee, whose quality exceeds that of the java produced by the average person.

Depending on your preferences, some super-automatics will give you the ability to control the strength of your brew by dictating the amount of coffee used in each extraction. You can use this feature to make crema, double shots, as well as made-to-order espresso.  Select super-automatic models even offer enhanced flexibility by providing a bypass doser. This nifty feature will allow you to skip the grinder in favor of using pre-ground coffee. This is key for the occasional decaf drinkers; helping to avoid the temptation of dumping the beans out of the hopper.

All super-automatics come with frothing adapters, which help aerate the milk—producing a thick froth. Instead of boilers, these espresso machines use thermablock technology, heating up water as it moves through a tube enclosed in an aluminum block. This is a very effective system that allows for continuous steaming and is great for hot water dispensing.

For those who dislike the cleanup that invariably comes with brewing a shot of espresso, the super-automatic comes bearing good news. These are the among the most low-maintenance machines on the market. Some models are self-cleaning, with automated decalcification and auto-rinse cycles, while others are no-tools-required systems. If you’re the type that likes to check under the hood, the entire brew group can be removed on some super-automatics. These machines will also alert you if it is out of water and when the internal dump box is full. 

While users lose ability to manipulate brew pressure manually with a super-automatic, this will, in turn, help eliminate human error. Another tidbit to keep in mind, you cannot control the tamp pressure with these automated machines. However, the super-automatic will deliver a consistent tamp, each and every time.

Semi-Automatics: Most Popular Machines for Home Use
With a semi-automatic, you’ll be able to participate in the brewing process—firing things up with an on/off switch and stopping the pump when you’ve got your desired extraction. There’s an average learning curve, you should be able to have things figured out relatively quickly.

A separate water reservoir is standard with most semi-automatics, giving users easy access to hot water for teas or café Americano. Some semis use a boiler to heat up water, while others come equipped with thermoblock systems. Unless you’ve got a preference, consider the machine, not the boiler style when making your decision.
All of our semi-automatics will steam at least 14 oz of milk, which should be more than adequate for normal use. Machines with frothing adapters will make the aeration process much easier, however those featuring steam wands are a cinch to use once you’ve mastered the technique.

There are a few things you should look out for when choosing a semi-automatic, one of which is the steam wand’s range of motion—a tall steaming pitcher may prove to be a challenge for some models.  Also it may be difficult for the steam wand to reach low levels of milk (4-8 oz).

The Fully-Automatic: A Super-Semi Hybrid
These guys extract and froth in the same manner their semi-automatic counterparts; however, they also offer the convenience of a one-touch system. Once you’ve started the process with a touch-pad switch, the fully-automatic will extract until it has met a preset volume of espresso. Since these machines will stop on their own, you will have the freedom to attend to other tasks without having to watch over the extraction process.

Fully-automatics are great for cafes and restaurants, but the selection available for home use is limited and usually based on modified semi-automatic models. You should compare and contrast the overall price and performance of a fully-automatic to that of a semi-automatic when making a buying decision.

The Piston: The Godfather
This is the device that gave us espresso, as we know it. The piston is a classic, old-world espresso machine—considered to be functional art, some models have even been known to make appearances as museum displays!

These machines are usually reserved for people who truly take delight in the ritual of making espresso. There’s a high learning curved associated with pistons, but they are just as capable of extracting a great shot as their high-tech offspring. To make a beverage, pull down on the piston’s handle to force hot water through the coffee. Be prepared to put some elbow grease into it, as consistent pressure is necessary to produce a good extraction.

Some pistons come with auto-frothers, while others do not, regardless you should have no problem making a cappuccino. But, since these guys don’t come with a water reservoir, you may have trouble keeping with drink orders at a large social gathering.

Before you take the piston home, make sure you’re prepared for its cleaning and maintenance needs. These machines usually come with copper, chrome, or brass finishes—which will show every bump, scratch, and fingerprint mark if not meticulously cleaned. But then again, they make breath-taking showpieces!

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of machine that will best meet your needs. If you need more information, check out our Buyer’s Help Center, where you can compare different espresso machines, coffee makers, and grinders before making a buying decision.
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Latte Art Made Easy

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:17 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Essentials

Leonardo da Vinci turned a blank canvas into the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo shaped a hunk of marble into the Statue of David. So, how about making your latte into a piece of art? No pressure.

Viewed by coffee lovers as the ultimate finishing touch, latte art has become a source of pride for accomplished baristas, as evidenced by the Millrock Latte Art Competition. Held annually, the contest challenges American baristas to make the best tasting, most aromatic and visually appealing drink. Regarding the competition’s growing popularity, professional barista Chris Deferio says, “Millrock, itself, is getting to be more and more prestigious. It’s gaining in notoriety and is becoming a norm in the lexicon of the coffee professionals.”

Mastering a free pour, required to create works of latte art, is critical creating a creative “signature” to give your beverage that personal touch.  “Latte art is the professional ethos of a barista, like the handshake after the deal is made,” notes Deferio.

To create latte art, you’ll want to have these items handy:

  1. Whole milk
  2. An espresso machine
  3. Frothing thermometer and pitcher
  4. A wide mug
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The Art and Science of Making Espresso

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:16 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Essentials

Achieving Java Nirvana requires an understanding of the rituals associated with making great espresso. First, you need to know what to look for; crema, or the foam that materializes on top, is the universal sign of a good shot of espresso. A thick crema is easily recognized and respected by coffee lovers worldwide, but achieving a good shot can be a trying experience. So, we’re here to demystify the process for you! Don’t worry; we’ll have you brewing like a pro in no time.

The Art
Generally, a double shot of espresso should contain 2-2.5 fl oz and take roughly 20-25 seconds to extract. In order to get the optimal results, you’ll need to spend some time getting acquainted with the nuances of your grinder, espresso machine, and coffee. This is the “art” part of the process, as the interactions among your coffee, grinder, and espresso machine can have an effect on the resulting shot.

The Beans, The Beans! Won’t Somebody Think About The Beans?
Nowadays, coffee beans come many varieties; what you ultimately end up choosing is largely a matter of personal preference. However, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the three different kinds of roasts available. Coffee comes usually comes in light, medium, and dark roasts and can be easily identified by the shade they exhibit. Generally, light roasts are not appropriate for espressos, so we’ll be better served by focusing on medium and dark roasts.  

While most people equate a dark roast with a “true espresso,” a great shot can also be made with a medium roast. You can easily distinguish between two by examining the beans, a dark roast will have a glossy surface and because of their oily texture, they have a habit of sticking together. When it comes to down the practicalities, it’s important to keep in mind that a dark roast will require a coarser grind than its medium roast cousin for the same extraction. Also be careful, of a grind that is too fine, as it can wear out your grinder burrs, clog an espresso machine, and make a bitter-tasting cup of Joe! Ideally, you should shoot for a texture that is slightly finer than granulated sugar.

You’ll know you have the right grind when your shot makes its time target (20-25 seconds). Keep in mind that as your beans age, the extraction time will shorten up, even if all the other factors remain constant. This is because the beans are drying out, which causes less resistance when you tamp. Unfortunately, this is also a sign that the flavors are drying out…an indication that perhaps it’s time to kiss those beans goodbye.

Back to the Grinder
Grinders come in two variations, blade and burr. For espresso-making purposes, steer clear of anything with a blade in it! Blade grinders are responsible for causing inconsistent grind fineness, heat, and dust—all factors you want to eliminate, when making a shot of espresso.

Instead of whirling blades, burr grinders have two opposing wheels and it is the distance between them that determine the size of your grind. The grinding is normally slower with a burr grinder, but this is a good thing, because the process produces less heat—helping to preserve the flavors in your coffee.

Burr grinders can be broken down into two categories, conical and flat. There is really no difference in quality between the two; you should be happy regardless of which burr grinder you decide to use.

The ideal espresso grind setting should fall within the 3-8 range on the grinder’s index; the lower the number, the finer the grind. However, the level of finesse of the grind settings is not universal, so you shouldn’t assume that a 4 on one grinder will be the same if you switch brands. It’s also important to note that the grinder should be running when you’re adjusting the settings, to prevent damage to the machine.

Brewing Pressure and Temperature
Drum roll, please, this is where your espresso machine comes in! While home machines may indicate a maximum pressure rating of 15-19 bars, you only need 8 or 9 bars to achieve the optimum environment for extraction. As a general rule of thumb, you really don’t have to worry about the pump’s pressure. Most machines are designed to allow for no more than 11 bars; if the pressure exceeds this level, the back pressure relief valve will open to divert the water. This will prevent your coffee from being over extracted and protect the pump from excessive pressure build up.

Your brewing temperature is controlled by the espresso machine’s thermostat. All of the machines we offer fall within the right temperature range (190-196 degrees). Your in-cup temperature should ideally be between 160-165 degrees. In order to ensure the correct in-cup temp, you should preheat your cup as well as the brew group (the portafilter and it’s the part of the machine that it locks into). Simply letting your machine warm up (5-6 minutes) will automatically pre-heat your brew group. You can also go the extra step and run water through the brew group (with the handle in place). As for your cup, you can heat it using the cup warmer on the espresso machine or by running hot water through it. Hey, whatever works!

So, You Think You Can Tamp?
Tamping, or packing coffee into the portafilter, is often the most difficult part of the espresso making process for beginners. The tampers, supplied with most machines, should do the trick just fine—regardless of whether they’re made of aluminum, wood, stainless steel, or plastic. Generally, you should use 30 pounds of pressure when tamping. Don’t know what 30 pounds of pressure feels like? Fake it, until you make it with the Espresso Gear Click Mat, which will make a clicking sound when you’ve hit the mark. Hey, it’s not cheating. Cheating is having your brother, mother, or significant other do the heavy tamping for you. Think of this mat as your partner in coffee.

Now, if you don’t like working under pressure, consider an espresso machine with built-in resistance technology. These bad boys are designed with pressurized filter handles, which will let you get away with a light tamp.

Quick Tips of the Trade

  1. While it’s tempting to jump into the thick of things when that espresso machine shows up at your door step, make sure you take the time to dial in your machine. This is usually best done with a double shot.
  2. Once you’ve tamped the coffee, the surface should look smooth and even. A rough surface can cause a lot of trouble—from uneven extraction to imbalanced pours—so, make sure you brush any loose grounds away! Getting rid of those stray grounds will also help keep your brew group clean, allowing for a water-tight seal with the portafilter.
  3. Once you’ve pressed the pump button, start watching the clock! At the beginning, the coffee will be dark; but don’t worry, if all goes well, it should take on a golden tint. When you’ve hit the 20-25 second mark, check your shot. If you’ve got about 2-2.5 ounces, congratulations are in order. If there’s less than 2.5 ounces in your shot glass, try a lighter tamp or coarser grind…the opposite applies if you’ve got too much espresso in the glass. Keep in mind, it’s usually easier to vary the grind fineness rather than attempt to switch up your tamp pressure. 

Now that you’ve successfully completed our version of Espresso Making 101, make sure you check out the Buyer’s Guide to find your perfect machine.

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Quick Look: Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:14 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machine Guides

What is a super automatic?

The big idea behind super automatic espresso machines is, in a word, convenience. Super automatics are designed to grind, tamp and brew your espresso for you, so all you have to do is supply your favorite coffee beans and cup. Though all super automatic machines share a supreme goal of making consistent, great-tasting espresso, each machine has its own unique features. Since all super automatic machines utilize similar brewing techniques, it's best to compare the different features of each model to decide which one suits you best.

Is a super automatic right for me?

The ease of using a super automatic machine may make you wonder why there's any other kind of espresso machine, and for coffee lovers that prefer the effortless approach to espresso making, it's a fair question. After all, super automatic machines are designed to go through the entire brewing process internally, so in addition to being easy to use, there's no major clean up. However, the automated espresso making process has its disadvantages for those who wish to perfect the art of making espresso. Though super automatic machines are known for making consistent, great-tasting espresso with almost no personal effort, the potential for even better tasting espresso exists for those who prefer to grind, tamp and brew by hand. When deciding between a super automatic machine and a semi-automatic or manual machine, it's important to consider your personal needs. If having consistent, great tasting espresso at the press of a button outweighs the joy and precision of making it yourself, then the super automatic espresso machine was designed just for you.

Diagram of a super automatic espresso machineWhat makes super automatics so super?
The essential features found on all super automatic machines:
  • A fully automated brewing system means there's no manual grinding or tamping.
  • Each super automatic features a built-in burr grinder to grind your beans when you're ready to brew, so you don't have to worry about losing freshness as you would with preground coffee.
  • The internal brew group is the heart of the brewing system, making brewing a quiet, hands-free operation without any exterior mess.
  • An internal dump box collects the used coffee grounds and can be removed and emptied when full.
  • All super automatics have an alert system to let you know when your dump box is full, when your machine needs more water or beans, and when there is a problem.
  • Adjustable liquid volume control lets you change the amount of espresso you brew at a time, so you get just the right amount in your cup.
  • If you want a cappuccino, latte or Americano, super automatic machines feature a built-in steam and hot water dispenser for all of your frothing and steaming needs.
Can it get easier?
Additional features that make some super automatic machines a cut above the rest:
  • Instead of blinking lights, machines with a digital display or touch screenexplain the alert system in text, in your language of choice.
  • Upgrading to a machine with dual heating elements, or Rapid Steam, lets you switch between brewing and steaming without wait time.
  • Super automatic machines with a water filtration system make it even easier to get high quality espresso while keeping your machine in great shape.
  • If automatic brewing isn't enough, some machines even have an automatic cleaning cycle.
  • Many super automatics feature a bypass doser so you can brew a different type of coffee without emptying your bean hopper.
  • A built-in cup warmer compliments most super automatic machines, eliminating any need to manually preheat your cups before brewing.
  • Machines with programmable brewing features can be programmed to remember several different volume presets, so you'll always have just the right amount of espresso.
  • Adjustable dosing gives you even more flexibility by regulating the amount of ground coffee used in a single brewing cycle, and allowing you to fine-tune the strength of your coffee.
  • Some super automatic machines even feature adjustable temperature control so you can modify your water temperature to suit your needs.
  • When you buy a machine with an auto frothing attachment to eliminate manual frothing, you can fully take advantage of the true value of a super automatic machine.
What does it all mean?

Super automatic machines are designed to take the effort out of espresso making, and owning a machine with added features can make the process even easier. If you like the idea of a one-stop espresso shop in your very own kitchen, there simply is no substitute for a super automatic espresso machine.
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Advanced Features of Super Automatics

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:12 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machine Guides

Many of our customers ask us why there is such a price difference between different super automatic espresso machines. After all, they all do the same thing – grind whole beans, tamp the grounds, and brew at the touch of a button. So why all the variety? Well, the short answer is features. Some super automatic machines come equipped with other features that increase the amount of control you have over the brewing process and the final product. These features are not found on every machine, and generally, the more of these “optional” features a machine has, the more expensive it is. The key in keeping within your budget is to decide which of these features is necessity versus something that would be “nice to have”. And to help you make your decision, here are some detailed descriptions of the most common “extra” features that you’ll find on super autos.

Adjusting The Amount of Ground Coffee For Each Cup

Several of the super automatics we sell have the ability to adjust the amount of ground coffee that will be dispensed into the brew group from the grinder. Depending on the manufacturer and model of your machine, you may set the coffee dosage at anywhere between 5 and 16 grams of coffee per brewing cycle. Since the average dose of ground coffee to make a shot of espresso is 7 grams, being able to adjust the dosage allows you to make a stronger or weaker espresso (or cup of coffee) without changing the amount of water. When you push the coffee brew button the grinder will automatically begin grinding the amount of grams you have specified, and then places the ground coffee into the brew group before brewing begins.

A Bypass Doser For Use With Pre-ground Coffee

A bypass doser is a small chute on top of a super automatic that accepts pre-ground coffee. This allows you to use any type of coffee you’d like, regardless of the type of beans that are in the bean hopper. If you have a “favorite” type of bean that you always keep in the hopper, you can use a different blend, flavor, or decaf pre-ground coffee in the bypass doser for something different. And after brewing the pre-ground coffee, the machine will reset itself to use the beans in the machine.

Digital Displays

To let you know when to perform various maintenance functions, as well as when to fill the water reservoir and bean hopper, super automatic machines will have one of three systems: indicator lights, digital displays, or touch screens. The indicator lights sometimes have shared meanings, so a digital display or touch screen make things extremely simple – they clearly display a message telling you exactly what needs to be done. Most machines that feature a digital display will give you the option of programming or monitoring the following parameters:

  • Adjust the brewing of the espresso and coffee temperature from medium to maximum.
  • Choose the language for the display.
  • See the total number of coffees brewed by the machine.
  • Turn the pre-brewing (pre-infusion) cycle on or off.
  • Adjust the volume brewed by each brewing button.
  • Program the machine for the water hardness in your area.
  • General warnings like Empty Dump Box, Fill Water, Fill Beans, and messages that let you know if components are out of place like the drip tray or dump box.
  • Provide status messages like Energy Saving, Warming Up, Brewing, Steam, Hot Water, Rinsing, Programming and more!

Coffee Cup Storage and Warming Feature

Espresso is brewed in very small amounts, which makes it very susceptible to the cooling affects of the ambient air. By dispensing the espresso into pre-warmed cups, precious heat is preserved. That’s why many super automatic models have a place on top of the machine where you can store cups to keep them warm. This cup warmer is most commonly heated by residual heat from the machine’s boiler, but some models do have an independent heating unit for this purpose.

Water Filtration Systems

A great cup of coffee starts with clean water, free of impurities and additives such as chlorine - the taste of which can be amplified by the brewing process. Manufacturers like Capresso, Jura, and Krups now provide water filtration systems built into their machines. These filters remove chlorine, lead, aluminum, and copper for a better tasting coffee. A special organic additive removes almost all carbon and eliminates the need to decalcify altogether. The system was specifically designed for use in super automatic coffee centers. Made from purely organic materials with no chemical additives, there is no danger of substances harming you or your machine.

The primary reason to use a water filter is improve taste and to eliminate the need to perform periodic descaling required by other espresso machines. Use of the filter is optional, but we recommend it.

2 Heating Elements

Super automatics with one heating element require a wait time between brewing and frothing. This wait time is used to heat the boiler from brewing temperature to steaming temperature, and can take up to about a minute, depending on the machine. However, having two heating elements eliminates this wait time and lets you move right from brewing to frothing to enjoying your tasty coffee drink. This is a great feature if you’ll frequently be making multiple drinks in a row and will noticeably decrease the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.

Convenient Automatic Milk Frothing Systems

If your budget allows you might consider machines that feature an automatic milk frothing system that makes foaming milk for cappuccinos and lattes a snap. These systems eliminate the need to steam milk the traditional way, so there’s no need to master the technique of frothing milk with a steam wand. Simply attach the auto-frother to a container of milk and when you activate the steam option on the machine, it sucks milk out of the container, froths it, and drops it right into your cup. No mess, no waste!

But They All Sound Like Good Features…

For a complete list of which machines have which features, you can compare any of our super autos side-by-side by clicking on the “Compare All Super Automatics” link on the left navigation column. It’s always tough deciding between what you want and need, but hopefully this will help to clear it up a little bit for you. Also, keep in mind that our sales representatives are also available to give you any further information you need to help you with your decision. Good luck, and happy coffee!
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Super Automatic Buying Guide

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machine Guides

Unlike semi automatic and manual espresso machines that require you to put ground coffee in the portafilter and attach it to the machine in order to brew, a super automatic only requires that you supply the coffee beans – the machine handles the rest. At the touch of a button, the machine performs the entire process of making the espresso from coffee bean to cup. The processes of grinding the coffee, filling the brewing chamber (instead of the portafilter), and tamping the grounds are automatic. And once the machine has finished making the espresso, it dumps the used grounds into an onboard waste box for later disposal. No mess, no fuss – just good espresso.

But super automatics are still like other espresso machines in that you can make all of your favorite coffee house drinks like cappuccino, lattes, mochas and more. Super automatic espresso machines come with either some type of steam wand or an automatic milk frothing system, both of which allow you to steam and froth milk to create these specialty coffee drinks. In addition to all of the “standard” espresso based drinks, super automatics are very popular for making café crème, which is a delicious cup of coffee brewed in the same manner that espresso is, but isn’t as strong. Most folks who sample café crème coffee usually retire the ole drip coffee maker instantaneously.

The unique flexibility of super automatics is what makes this all possible. There are many options and features available on these machines that will have you looking like a pro in minutes. And depending on which model you choose, you will have varying capacity to program options that control coffee strength, quantity, and temperature among other things. Because of the multiple options available, super automatics can range in price from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. But before you learn about the “upgrade” features that cause these price differences (a detailed description of which can be found in our article “Advanced Features of Super Autos”), it’s important that you fully understand which features found on super automatics are standard and the different forms they may take.

Basic Components of a Super Automatic Espresso & Coffee Center

A super automatic machine has all of the same basic components that semi and automatic espresso machines have like an electric water pump, boiler, water reservoir, switches and dials, and a steam wand. What makes super automatics different is that they have an automated internal brewing system and a high-quality burr coffee grinder built right in. all of these components come together with the help of an onboard computer to quickly and effortlessly produce perfect and consistent espresso without the mess and guesswork that one might experience with either a semi or automatic espresso machine. Like other espresso machines, they will need to be cleaned and maintained to ensure proper function for long life.

Internal Brew Group

The significant and amazing component of a super automatic is the automated brew system commonly known as the “brew group.” This device acts as the “heart” of the super automatic espresso machine, accepting freshly ground coffee from the built-in coffee grinder. It tamps the coffee perfectly, pre-soaks the grounds with a special “pre-infusion” step (described below), brews the coffee, and then dumps the used coffee grounds into the internal dump box. Once the brewing cycle has been completed, it resets itself for the next cup of coffee.

Removable Versus Non-removable Brew Groups
The super automatic machines manufactured by Gaggia, Saeco, and Solis have a brew group that is removable. To access the brew group, you simply open the service door, push a release lever, and simply slide it out. It weighs about 2.5 pounds and it’s made of tough plastic. As part of routine maintenance, you will want to remove and rinse the brew group when possible because coffee residue and coffee grounds tend to collect on the filter screens and other components. Maintenance is a cinch and should only be required once a week or less depending on usage.

The super automatic machines manufactured by Jura and Capresso contain non-removable brew groups. Instead of allowing you to physically remove the group for cleaning, you have to rely on an automated cleaning cycle programmed into the computer on board. The system works very well and it is more convenient than removing the brew group and rinsing it, however you do lose the ability to remove and “inspect” this key component. To clean the group, you simply drop in a cleaning tablet with special detergents that clean and remove coffee residue from the filter screens. The process is quick and clean.

Coffee Grinder

The machine is equipped with a coffee grinder that is fed by whole coffee beans held in the machine’s bean hopper. All super automatic machines use conical burr grinders that are ideal for use in these machines because of their long life span and reliability. The high quality conical burrs feature tempered steel cutting surfaces that deliver the perfect grind for producing a superior espresso. The grinder’s fineness level is adjustable, allowing for easy switching between grinding required for espresso (finer grind) and café crème (coarser grind). The grinder is activated when you press the brew button, and once the proper amount has been ground, it will automatically stop grinding.

Adjustable Liquid Volume

When we’re speaking about “liquid volume”, we’re referring to the amount of coffee that the machine will dispense into your cup when you press the coffee brew button. All super automatics have the ability to adjust or program the amount of water that will be infused through the coffee grounds each time the brew button is pressed. Some machines use a dial selector, but others feature a series of programmable liquid volume buttons. This is one of the features that truly allows you to customize your coffee drink, be it a shot of espresso or a big cup of café crème.

Pre-infusion System Ensures Better Flavor

A pre-infusion cycle moistens and conditions the ground coffee, which maximizes flavor extraction to increase the thick crema on your espresso. This is usually accomplished by infusing (or presoaking) the fresh coffee grounds with a dash of hot water for 2 seconds. Thereafter it completes the brewing process by infusing the remainder of the predetermined water through the coffee grounds. The result is a superior cup of espresso or coffee.

Steam and Hot Water Dispensing

Steaming Capability
Like all other espresso machines, super automatics come equipped with an attachment to froth and/or steam milk, the most common of which is a steam wand. A steam wand is the visible, external pipe found on espresso machines through which steam is released from the machine’s boiler. These wands are also used to dispense hot water. To dispense steam or hot water from the machine, you will need to turn the steam knob, which opens and closes the steam valve inside the machine. The steam wands on super automatic machines usually have some sort of frothing aid, like the Saeco Pannarello Wand or Jura Capresso Dual Position Frother, which make frothing a very easy task that requires little skill.

As if that was not enough, some of the higher-end machines have built-in automatic milk frothing systems. At the push of a button these machines siphon milk from a milk carton (or a milk container that may be provided with the machine), combine the milk with hot steam, and then dispense the hot, frothed milk right into your cup. All you have to do then is add your espresso and you are done.

Instant Hot Water Dispensing
As long as the machine is at brewing temperature, hot water can be instantly dispensed from the steam wand either by turning the steam wand or by pressing a button, depending on what model you choose. This is a nice feature for teas, hot chocolate, or other beverages that need hot water. Many users make a shot of espresso and then add hot water from the steam wand to make a popular “americano” espresso drink.

Lots of Removable and Washable Parts

All super automatics give you the ability to remove various components for easy maintenance. The most common removable parts are the dump box that holds the used coffee grinds, the dip pan that collects spilled water and waste water from the machine, the cup tray where the cups sit while coffee is being dispensed, and the water tank, which simply lifts off any of the models for refilling or cleaning. Other parts such as milk frothing tips, automatic milk frothers, and the brew group (found on Gaggia, Saeco, and Solis brands) can be removed for maintenance as well.

Is a Super Automatic Really for Me?

After learning about what a super automatic really does, most folks ask us if a super automatic espresso machine can make espresso as well as a “conventional” espresso machine. The answer is yes and no. If you are not accustomed to or willing to perfect the process of making espresso using a conventional espresso machine, then a super automatic is a good choice because they make very good espresso with little or no effort. However, if you are willing to spend the money on a good espresso machine and a good coffee grinder, and you are willing to practice the art of espresso brewing, you should achieve a better shot as compared to a super automatic.

In making a decision between a conventional espresso machine and a super automatic you have to decide how much work you want to do to get a cup of espresso. A super automatic can brew espresso or a cup of café crème in 30 seconds and clean up after itself. It will make the same cup of brew consistently time after time and the maintenance is just as easy, if not easier. On the other hand, a conventional machine requires you to grind the coffee yourself or buy pre-ground coffee or pods. You have to deal with putting the coffee into the portafilter then cleaning it after the shot is done. It takes longer and it’s less convenient. It boils down to whether you prefer the ritual of brewing espresso the “old fashioned way” or if you want the convenience and consistency provided by a computer inside your coffee machine.

We like and recommend any of the super automatics we sell. All of our machines have very good reliability records as long as the customer takes care of the machine per the manufacturer’s instructions. They are easy to use and the learning curve is small. So if convenience and great coffee are what you’re looking for, a super automatic is your key to coffee bliss.
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Gaggia Classic

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machines, Product Profiles

Get to Know the Gaggia Classic: Sleek style and heavy-duty construction make the Gaggia Classic an effortless addition to any kitchen. But don't let its unassuming exterior fool you – inside this Gaggia espresso machine are the same high-quality components you'd find in the commercial espresso coffee makers at any coffee bar.

Gaggia Classic – Quick Look

Portafilter Size: 58mm

Boiler Type: Standard

Ground Coffee Capable?: Yes

Boiler Capacity: 3.5 oz

Pod Capable?: Yes

Frothing Aid?: Yes – Turbofrother

Capsule Capable?: No

Solenoid Valve?: Yes

Gaggia Classic - Buy Now

Best Thing about this machine: The Gaggia Classic's 58mm commercial-style portafilter allows you to brew espresso that's as good – if not better – than what you get at the coffeehouse and does it in a footprint that will only take up a small corner of your kitchen counter.

Honorable Mention: This espresso machine's stainless steel housing ensures durability and looks great too.

Best Suited For: A 3.5 oz boiler combined with a temperature-stable, chrome-plated brass portafilter and brew group make the Classic well suited for people who are looking to brew the best straight shots of espresso. Newbies to the machine will have a bit of a learning curve (see the Espresso Rule of Thumb), but once you've got brewing down, using this espresso machine is a breeze. To make things even easier, Gaggia has built the Classic with a Turbofrother frothing wand that takes all of the guesswork out of frothing milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

Look and Feel: The Gaggia Classic is housed in heavy-duty stainless steel, but with its brushed finish and elegant Italian lines, this espresso machine is far from utilitarian. In addition, its chrome-plated brass portafilter is one of the heaviest in its class – just another way to let you know this machine is built to last.

Most Compatible Grinders: Gaggia MDF, Rancilio Rocky

Great Coffee Pairing: Lavazza Gold Selection, Illy Medium Roast Espresso

One word that describes this machine: Proficient

Want to learn more? Visit the Gaggia Classic's product detail page for an in depth look at this machine's features.

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Rancilio Silvia

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 28, 2011 at 8:40 AM
Related Categories: Espresso Machines, Product Profiles

Get to Know the Rancilio Silvia: Guaranteed to turn heads with its utilitarian looks, the Rancilio Silva is sure to please any coffee aficionado accustomed to paramount quality in the luxury of their own home. The Rancilio Silvia features commercial quality components like a three-way solenoid valve, heat exchanger boiler, and commercial style portafilter.

Rancilio Silvia – Quick Look

Portafilter Size: 58mm

Boiler Type: Standard

Ground Coffee Capable?: Yes

Boiler Capacity: 12 oz

Pod Capable?: Yes (with Kit)

Frothing Aid?: No

Capsule Capable?: No

Solenoid Valve?: Yes

Rancilio Silvia - Buy Now

Best Thing about this machine: The Rancilio Silvia features a 12 oz brass boiler - the largest in its class. This boiler allows you to brew with little or no downtime and still having plenty of power for steaming and frothing!

Honorable Mention: The Rancilio Silvia features a commercial quality three-way solenoid valve, which relieves the machine of water pressure and allows you to brew again almost immediately. This valve also removes water from the coffee puck – making it easier to empty the portafilter.

Best Suited For: Those looking for the perfect combination of quality and performance. The Silvia, while stylish enough to compliment any kitchen décor, features a brass boiler that provides excellent steam pressure allowing you to brew an endless number of cappuccinos and lattes.

Look and Feel: Giving you the look and feel of a commercial quality machine was the intention of Rancilio designers. The heavy chrome plated brass portafilter is excellent for heat stability as well as longevity, while the oversized boiler provides plenty of power for brewing and steaming.

Most Compatible Grinders: Rancilio Rocky, Rancilio Doserless Rocky

Great Coffee Pairing: Lavazza Grand Espresso, Cafe La Semeuse Espresso, Illy Medium Roast Espresso

One word that describes this machine: Powerhouse

Want to learn more? Visit the Rancilio Silvia's product detail page for an in depth look at this machine's features.

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Introduction: Gaggia for Illy

Posted on 11/29/11 by  Aabree Coffee
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