Machine reviews

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Sunbeam’s new EM7000

You’ll not find too much information about the EM7000 on the internet as yet, perhaps a little on the coffee forums, but certainly no other formal reviews or pictures of the insides of this machine.

We are pleased to bring you a review by one of our senior forum members, Mark Watts, where he gives us his insight into Sunbeam’s new EM7000.

My first impression is that the people at Sunbeam have got together around a table and looked at what worked for others, and where some long overdue upgrades could be made, with a focus on retaining/growing their niche in the home coffee machine market.  As a result, the essence of a well-engineered machine can be found, and at a price that shouldn’t put the budget at risk. The finish/quality of this machine has come a long way.

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Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Domestic Grinder Review

So you love great espresso?

We do too – that’s the whole reason for Crema Magazine’s existence. So is it all about spending $2,000 + on a fancy espresso machine? Well it may be, but before you go shelling out all that money on a fancy espresso machine, think about your grinder. In fact, one of Australia’s leading espresso authorities maintains that you should spend almost as much on a grinder as you do on your espresso machine – it’s that important.

Why is this most important piece of equipment so often overlooked and its importance underestimated? Well, it’s just not sexy, is it!

 

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Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

History of the Espresso Machine – Part I

Confusion and error still plague the history of the espresso machine and its inventors. Coffee expert Ian Bersten has gone further than anyone else in getting to the true story in his book ‘Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks’.
We publish the first of a three part piece comprising edited extracts from the chapter entitled: ‘The Espresso Coffee Machine Revolution’.
From the first days of brewing coffee, inventors were confronted with the interplay of grind size, water temperature and brewing time, the interaction of which they never fully understood. These critical factors had to be just right for a complete extraction of the coffee flavour.

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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

ECA (Anfim) KS

eca-anfim_ks_smallThe KS is ECA’s doserless offering and again is well-targeted to the home espresso market. It is slim, weighs only 5kg and stands at 38cm high, making it easily assimilated into the kitchen setting. It houses tempered stainless steel flat burr grinding blades and has a similar stepped adjustment to the Best, with somewhat large increments, although again we experienced no problem in setting the grinder to an accurate grind for espresso.

 While a little noisier than its counterpart and not quite as fast, the dispensing chute was very tidy, ensuring a minimum of mess/waste. Targeted a little more towards the mid-range of the domestic grinder market, the KS performed well and certainly had the power and finesse to grind finely enough to service a high-end domestic espresso machine without any hesitation.

 Our reviewers were impressed by the capacity of this unit to do the job with a minimum of fuss. Even though it’s nudging into the light-weight category, it kept its cool at a maximum grinder blade temp reading of 31°C through pretty rigorous testing. The consistency of grind showed in the resulting shots of espresso being very good with a clean flavour profile.

 VERDICT: a well-performing and stylish domestic unit. Recommended for the home espresso enthusiast for moderate volume.

Height: 38cm
Flat Burr (tempered steel)
Stepped, doserless
Speed of operation: 27.4gm in 30 sec
Temp of grinder blades at end of test: 31°C

 RRP: $599.00 (incl GST) 



Monday, January 19th, 2009

Grinder Review – Wega Mini Instant 5.8

wega_grinder_web-readyWe continue to showcase our line up of high-end grinders reviewed late last year and featured in the latest issue of Crema Magazine. Whether you are starting out or planning to up-grade, this review is designed to highlight the features and functions that you should be taking into consideration. 

This unit from Wega is a ‘re-branded’ Compak K3 Touch so this grinder comes from an impressive heritage of commercial grinders.
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Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Grinder Review – The ECA (Anfim) Best

anfim_bestECA (Anfim) ‘Best
RRP: Silver – $699.00 Chrome – $769.00 (incl GST)

 

This unit has the look and build quality of a commercial grinder but with significantly smaller dimensions, which lends itself to the domestic kitchen setting. With its polished alloy exterior and weighing only 8kg, it’s slim and stylish with pretty much all the benefits of a larger, heavier commercial unit. Standing at 38cm tall, it has 500gm bean hopper with a hopper-stopper. It has tempered steel flat burr blades, a dosing chamber and utilises a stepped grind adjustment mechanism.

 

The Best performed very well and our reviewers were particularly impressed with the speed of operation, even when lined up against the bigger semi-commercial grinders. It showed an excellent consistency of grind and dose. The resulting espressos were excellent, with a consistent flavour profile.

 

There were a couple of minor niggles which were picked up by the reviewers, the main one being that the increments on the stepping collar were quite big – therefore not allowing for ultra fine adjustments to the grind setting, but in practice, this did not present a problem in setting an accurate grind for espresso. The only other main issue was that the tamping disc on the front of the unit gets in the way – in fact, it is often unscrewed and left off by operators ‘in-the-know’!

 

The build quality and performance make it an excellent grinder to compliment a high-end home espresso machine while its smaller dimensions make it a stylish and reliable grinder for the home espresso setting.

 

VERDICT: High performance unit for the serious ‘prosumer’. Recommended for the home espresso enthusiast who needs a grinder to handle a moderate to high volume. Also suitable for low volume commercial use (ie: back-up/decaf grinder).

 

Height: 38cm

Flat Burr (tempered steel), Stepped, Dosing Chamber

Consistency of Dose: Max variation range of 0.1gm (average dose was 5.0gm)

Speed of operation: 39.2gm in 30 sec
Temp of grinder blades at end of test: 31°C

 

For more information on this review and to read about other grinders click here. 



Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Top Level Espresso Machines for the Barista and Serious ‘Prosumer’

The ultimate, especially for the aficionado, is the high-quality manual machine. Typically built from the highest quality components (eg copper boiler) they are the closest many of us will get to the commercial machine we see in our favourite café. Why? Because they have the oomph to pump water through coffee beans ground finely enough to make a truly great espresso. But remember these machines must be warmed up properly to make the most of their high quality componentry – you can’t just flick the switch to make a quick coffee before you rush out the door to work. By the way, once you’ve browsed through this list of great machines, don’t forget to check out the couple of extra important notes in the paragraphs below!

THE MACHINES

Unico Splendor

The Splendor features an E61 type group with lever action. It has a 1.3 litre copper boiler and a 3 litre water reservoir but can also be connected to mains supply. The Splendor has a 90 degree swiveling, commercial size steam arm with a 2 hole angled steam tip, which gives excellent steaming control. Both the body and chassis are stainless steel and build quality and standard of finish are excellent. With its 50′s/early 60′s retro styling (with coloured plexiglass side panels) this is a beautiful machine. RRP: $2,550.00. For more information call Cosmorex Coffee Tel: (02) 6280 7511.

 

 

Vibiemme

The Domobar Super from Vibiemme is a stunning prestige machine. Vibiemme was founded over 25 years ago by Carlo Earnesto Valente, the founder of Faema and the E61 group head. With these exceptional credentials, the Domobar Super offers excellent heat characteristics resulting in superb coffee with every pour and the superior boiler capacity enables the high volume of steam required for optimum texturising of milk for detailed latte art. Available in gloss black or stainless steel finish. RRP from $2,399 for the Domobar Super and from $2,999 for the Domobar Super Electronica. For more information call ECA on 1300 326 326 or visit www.espressocompany.com.au.

 

 

ECM Giotto Premium

Featuring professional quality components, this is a beautiful unit. Thermal stability is the key to making an excellent espresso, and the Giotto has a nickel-plated copper boiler giving excellent heat retention and stable heat transfer to the heat exchanger. The Giotto produces an excellent crema with great steaming ability, and would be a credit to any barista’s kitchen. RRP $2,550. For more information call ECA on 1300 326 326 or visit www.espressocompany.com.au.

 

 

 

Diamond Italia

Manufactured in Milan, the ‘Italia’ is certainly stunning with it’s retro styling. It has a full stainless steel chassis but with chromed, heat resistant plastic side panels. It features a 1.8ltr copper boiler, anti-burn steam wand, professional E61 group head and removable 3ltr water tank and drip tray. RRP: $2,400.00. For more information call Diamond Services on 1300 302 522 or visit www.myitalia.com.au.

 

 

Isomac Mondiale

Based in Milan, the Isomac is another well-established line of semi-commercial units. With its complete stainless steel construction, 2 litre tank and a 2.2 litre boiler, it is designed to deliver the perfect espresso every time. The funky Mondiale is the latest in a line of excellent domestic machines with an impeccable pedigree. RRP: $2,650.00.

 

 

 

 

Expobar Barista Minore

Also known as the ‘Brewtus’ this machine has been extremely popular in the United States.  Made in Spain, the Barista Minore uses the ever-popular E61 group-head and has a dual boiler system (both with auto refill) with powerful heating elements. It’s a simple-enough looking machine, but it’s the double boilers which stand out. Along with digital temperature control of the coffee group, they give excellent temperature stability.  Combined with a slightly lower entry-price, this makes the Expobar a machine that’s definitely worth looking at. RRP: $2,300.00.

 

 

 

La Marzocco GS/3

Following on the famous La Marzocco name for commercial espresso machines, comes the single group GS/3. This quasi manual/automatic machine, combines the power of a commercial machine with the ease of multi-function touch-pad controls and is certainly a beautiful looking piece of equipment. However, it is a step up in price, retailing for around $7,000 putting it out of the league for many ‘prosumers’ – and most would say it is simply not necessary to pay that much. For more information contact Espresso Equipment Specialists Australia Pty Ltd.

IMPORTANT NOTES

Remember, for machines at this level you’re going to have to buy a grinder as well – a good one will set you back at least $500 – but the reason these machines make such great quality espresso is that they allow you to grind the coffee finely enough to get the most out of the freshly ground espresso – to extract the oils and aromatics to the fullest degree. It does take time and some degree of expertise to get the best out of them, although, the end result is worth it.

Freshness is a key pre-requisite for great coffee. It’s when you actually grind your own beans and make the coffee immediately afterwards, that you get the best of the tastes and aromas that a well-roasted bean can reveal. When it comes to beans, generally a week, to a maximum of 10 days is seen as their shelf life, once roasted. Most roasters recommend keeping your coffee beans in a sealed pack, in a cool environment.

Note: This listing is by no means complete, there are many more machines on the market and we will be amending these reviews and adding new ones as information comes to hand. Prices are indicative only, there may be price variations between distributors.



Monday, June 30th, 2008

Atomic Style & Distinction

Atomic Coffee MakerThere is no doubt that the Atomic carries a cachet like no other coffee machine. We look at the history, the style and, most importantly, how to make the best coffee possible. (more…)



Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Entry Level Espresso Machine Review (Machines under $1,000)

First things first – a domestic espresso machine is not for everybody… they do require a certain level of patience to get the best out of their operation (these days, fairly minimal), and you do need to remember to clean their insides reasonably frequently – more on this later.

It’s also important to point out right at the beginning, that no matter how much money you spend on an espresso machine, it’s absolutely crucial to have fresh coffee and if you’re using beans (rather than supermarket pre-ground coffee) a good quality grinder is essential.

Now that we’ve got a couple of the important basics out of the way, the good news is that the choices available in the low-mid point range for domestic espresso machines are better than ever. The market has been going gangbusters for the last few years and as competition increases, so naturally, price points have dropped.  (more…)