3 Reasons to buy a Breville Espresso Machine

1) Sturdy, well-made design. Brevill has put an enormous amount of thought into the design of each and every espresso machine – and it shows. Consider the fact that almost all Breville espresso machines are made with a stainless-steel housing, unlike cheaper brands that use the same tired, black plastic housing and trim. Breville espresso makers are able to stand up to years of residential use. Click here for an example of a well-made espresso machine by Breville.

2) Attractive design. Not only are Breville espresso machines sturdy and well-made, they are also very attractive. Just imagine that new stainless-steel Breville espresso machine waiting to delight you in the morning with a hot and delicious cup of espresso. No need to wait in line at the local coffee store with all the other hurried workers, you will enjoy both the taste of your cup of espresso and the looks of your Breville espresso machine.

3) A generous return and exchange policy. Breville offers arguably the best policy for returns and exchanges of any other espresso machine manufacturer. In the unlikely event that you will need to return your espresso machine, you can expect excellent customer service. On many ocassions, Breville has immediately exchanged the problem machine for another one, only requiring that the customer pay shipping charges.

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3 Factors to Help You Compare Espresso Machines

You want to drink italian espresso from the comfort of your own home without having to wait in line, but how do you choose which machine to buy? While this site deals with espresso machines by Breville, which I found to be well-made and affordable, these factors can help you review almost any espresso machine to see if it fits your needs and expectations.

 Breville Ikon Espresso Machine1.What is your level of experience? Are you a sophisticated barista that enjoys roasting your own espresso beans and experimenting with different espresso blend variations? Then even the best entry-level espresso machine, like the Breville Ikon, may not suit your needs or meet your expectations. Try to ask yourself if you are a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced barista. This will help you as you compare espresso machines.



Breville Barista Espresso Machine2. How often will you use your espresso machine? Entry level espresso machines, like those that sell for less than $499 are best suited for someone that will brew espresso ocassionaly to several times per week. For anyone thinking of brewing espresso several times per day, I would strongly recommend a commercial-type espresso machine such as the Breville Barista Express. As you compare espresso machines, try to think of how often you will want a shot of espresso, and how often you will serve espresso to guests.


3. Carefully consider user reviews of the espresso machines you are interested in. There is no substitute for direct experience with a particular brand or machine. One of the reasons I am impressed with the Breville Barista Express, is due to its very high reviews and positive feedback. No matter what espresso machine you compare, be prepared to study the espresso machine rating and review consumer feedback. Did you know for instance, that many consumers found the type of espresso machine filter to be an important part of the decision?


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5 Ways to Keep your Espresso Beans Fresh

In order to fully enjoy your italian espresso, you need to make sure that you are using fresh espresso beans. No matter what flavor of espresso beans you like, they will not taste good if the beans are old and stale. So keep the following tips in mind and you are well on your way to enjoying your next shot of espresso.

1. Store your espresso beans in a sealed, air-tight container such as a mason jar or a strong zip lock bag. You might want to consider the Friis Coffee Vault made from stainless steel.

Friis Coffee Vault

2. Grind only what you need for the day. With a reliable home coffee grinder, such as the Breville Conical Burr Grinder, you can grind just the right portion of your espresso coffee.

3. Keep your espresso beans away from water. Coffee beans will absorb even the slightest amount of condensation.

4. Keep your espresso beans away from sunlight and warmth. It is best to store your espresso coffee in a dry and cool place.

5. Do not reuse the coffee bag that your espresso beans or coffee beans came in because these bags often come with a small hole that is used for venting CO2 gas that is the naturally-occurring result of roasted beans. If you were to use this type of bag for storage of your beans, you will rapidly lose flavor as the natural aromas seep out of the opening in the shipping bag.

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Cowgirls Espresso

I was doing some research recently on coffee and espresso stands throughout the US and I came across a group of espresso stands called Cowgirls Espresso based in Everett, WA. The name piqued my interest because I wondered what do cowgirls and espresso have to do with each other? Failing to see the connection, I dug deeper and came across a whole new espresso experience.

Cowgirls espresso stands are staffed by baristas sporting bikinis and a smile. (What do they wear in the winter?) The Cowgirls business model illustrates the need to stand out from your competition. All Cowgirls espresso stands are painted with black cow spots and are therefore noticeable from quite a distance.

Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine

The Cowgirls Espresso stands are not without controversy, though as many residents have complained about the immodesty and shameless capitalization on sex appeal to promote the Cowgirls espresso stands. What no one has complained about, however, is the taste of Cowgirls espresso.

If you can’t make it to a Cowgirls espresso stand, no problem. Get a Breville espresso machine and make your own italian espresso at home. See our post on how to make espresso.



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7 Reasons You Need an Espresso Machine

If you are like me, then you are crazy about espresso. I just can’t get enough of this energy enhancing, delicious tasting, life improving drink. But I do draw the line at poor quality espresso. So how do you get great quality espresso? You make it yourself, with a quality espresso machine that suits your needs. Here is why you need a good espresso machine, like the Breville Ikon or the Breville Barista Express:

1. You won’t have to keep dropping $2-3 every time you go to the coffee shop. Let’s face it, nurturing your habit is expensive. If you get two drinks at a coffee shop, five days a week, that = $1,300 per year. You could easily afford a home espresso machine such as one of the many espresso machines for less than $499 for much less than the cost of running in to your local coffee shop every time you want a shot of espresso.

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

2. You will get a fresher and better tasting drink. While many do, not every coffee shop grinds the espresso just prior to pulling the shot. But if you have your own home espresso machine, than you will control the quality. An espresso machine like the Breville Barista Express actually comes equipped with a built in grinder so you can always enjoy a freshly brewed espresso.



3. There are times when you need your espresso NOW! Who wants to run down to the local chain coffee shop and wait in line for your espresso when you could be having it at home while you are getting ready in the morning?

4. You can’t get a “crema” without an espresso machine. Those stove top units just do not have enough pressure to produce the crema than results from forcing the hot water through the grounds. It just isn’t espresso if you do not have the crema.

5. There are few kitchen appliances that look as cool as an attractive espresso machine perched on your countertop. Would you rather have a nice looking espresso machine such as the Breville Café Roma for less than $250 sitting in your kitchen for guests to see, or a bunch of leftover paper coffee cups from your local coffee shop?

6. Few things say “I love you” like making your spouse a cappuccino before they head off to work. Contrast that with “Here’s $6, go buy an espresso and bring me one back too”.

7. Finally, your kids, or grandkids, will actually think you’re cool. Don’t tell me that they won’t get a thrill out of hearing the whoosh while an espresso is being made or watch in amazement as the milk for a macchiato is frothed.

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4 Keys to Quality Espresso

There are four primary factors that will determine the quality and taste of any espresso. No matter what espresso machine you choose to use, there is no ignoring these important keys if you want to truly enjoy your espresso experience.

1.   Grind of the coffee. This refers to the coarseness or fineness of the coffee grind. If you are going to truly become a home barista, a quality grinder is an absolute must. One whiff of the delicious aroma from the freshly ground beans and you will forget all your worries. The texture of properly ground espresso will be coarser than powder, but finer than sand.  

2.   The Blend that you choose to use. Needless to say, there are a wide variety of blends available to the curious home barista. My personal preference is for a darker blend that evokes smokiness and earthy flavors. The best idea is to experiment with different blends to find one that you really like. I think a good first blend to try for an authentic espresso is Lavazza’s Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean Coffee.

3.   The Machine. In order to make a quality cup of espresso, you need a quality machine. Fortunately there are many to choose from. I prefer Breville espresso machines due to their quality reputation, their great looking design and their affordability. When choosing an espresso machine, you will need to consider important facors such as: price, pressure rating, filter types and optional features. To see how much espresso machines can differ, check out my comparison between the Breville Ikon and the Breville Barista Express.

Barista Guidebook4.   The Skill of the barista. Just as with any other activity, making espressos will only get better with practice. But can you think of anything else more pleasant to do than hone your skill making this most delicious and stimulating beverage? If you are serious about becoming a skilled barista, check out this professional guide to espresso and coffee.



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What is Espresso?

Espresso is the delicious beverage made by forcing very hot water through finely ground coffee under high pressure. Espresso has a much stronger taste than coffee and its texture is thicker due to the greater quantity of solids suspended in the drink. I find Espresso to be particularly delicious due to the “crema” that is formed when the espresso is made. The “crema” is the foam that sits on top of the liquid and invites you to enjoy this stimulating drink.

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How to make Espresso

Lavazza Espresso Whole Bean CoffeeSTEP 1: Select an Espresso blend of coffee. My personal favorite is Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean coffee by Lavazza. This is a premium blend of 80% sweet arabica beans with 20% robusta beans. This blend makes a very rich and flavorful espresso.

 STEP 2: Grind the espresso beans. While you can purchase ground espresso blend coffee, it is highly recommended to grind your own espresso blend to achieve the most freshness and of course the best taste. You could use a stand-alone coffee grinder such as the Breville conical burr grinder (my favorite). Or you could choose an Espresso Machine with a built-in grinder such as the Breville Barista Express BES860XL machine with grinder.

Breville Barista Express with Grinder Espresso MachineSTEP 3: Select the appropriate dose (one shot, two shots, etc.) and distribute this amount evenly into the filter. Use your curled pinky finger to even out the grounds inside of the filter for the best result.

 STEP 4: Tamp the grounds by holding the filter with one hand and using your tamping tool with the other hand to press firmly down on the grounds with about 5 lbs. of pressure. Some grounds will cling to the side of the filter, so you must lightly tap the filter on a solid surface to knock these down. Then use your tamper again and press firmly upon the grounds with about 30 lbs. of pressure. Be sure to tamp evenly, otherwise you will have an unevenly compressed pellet of grounds and the water will seek the path of least resistence and not fully absorb the full flavor of the beans.

STEP 5: Be sure to select the approriate water temperature (198 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit).

STEP 6: Choose your pressure settings, this will normally be between 9-10 atm. Pressure is critical to the formation of the “crema”.

STEP 7: Extract, or in espresso terminology, “pull” your shot. This should take between 20 and 30 seconds. You should not be able to notice any lightening in the color of the espresso liquid while it is being extracted.


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