Category Archives: Espresso Tea Coffee and Equipment

Aerocinno Plus Nespresso Frother

Aerocinno Plus Nespresso Frother

The Aerocinno Plus by Nespresso is a fantastic Nespresso frother for espresso based drinks with an easy to clean pitcher that has two simple to replace frother whisks.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4.5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4.5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4.5/5

Nespresso Frother Aerocinno Plus

The Aerocinno Plus Nespresso Frother is a great frother for heating and frothing milk or simply frothing without heat for espresso based and other drinks. The Aerocinno Plus makes a great companion to the Nespresso single serve espresso machines available from Nespresso.

Nespresso Frother Aerocinno Plus Whats in the Box

The Aerocinno Plus is a handy milk frother that works well and is easy to clean that has two discs for both frothing and for stirring milk. The Nespresso Frother uses a base with the electric cord attached and a connector for the removable pitcher that plugs into the base.

The pitcher has the bottom connections for plugging into the base and the inside of the pitcher has the level indicators for milk and the post for the discs. The discs sit on top of the post and are held in place by magnets on the motor top that also spin the discs.

The Aerocinno Plus uses a magnet system to suspend the frothing and heating discs above the top shaft of the motor inside the pitcher so the discs actually do not touch the pitcher at all. The discs spin without making contact and so no need for bearings or other components that would wear out internally for a longer lifespan of the frother.

Inside the Aerocinno Plus Nespresso Frother

The inside of the pitcher is nonstick to make cleanup easier with the motor parts inside the pitcher under the seamless interior of the pitcher. The pitcher does have the motor and heating element inside so dishwashing is out but a simple rinse and occasional wash in the sink with soapy water works well.

While you can get the bottom of the pitcher wet I would avoid keeping it underwater and simply wash then rinse the pitcher without leaving it soaking. I have been using a foam brush to wash out my Aerocinno Plus after use for making my lattes and cappuccinos.

The Aerocinno Plus Nespresso Frother is an easy to use frother and with the easy to remove froth and stirring discs its easy to make espresso based drinks. The pitcher simply sets on the base and is easy to remove for quick pouring and cleanup as well as filling at the fridge.

Cappuccino w/ Aeroccino Plus Nespresso Frother

You can use the simple front button to make heated milk with the stirring disc or you can press the button for a few seconds and wait for it to turn blue to just froth the milk without heating it. The red or blue indicator around the front button is easy to use to get the frothed and heated or simply frothed milk for your drinks.

You can use the frothed milk for espresso based drinks and other drinks like smoothies and hot chocolate but steamers are a favorite that has become popular in coffee shops. Steamers are simply steamed milk with flavored syrup like Torani’s for a different hot drink without the caffeine fix for something just a bit different.

The Aerocinno Plus works extremely well and only takes about a minute to heat and froth or simply froth without heating so it works very quickly. I highly recommend the Aerocinno Plus frother for a fantastic frother available as a set with many recent Nespresso machines or by itself.

Aeroccino Plus @ Nespresso

Nespresso U Single Serve Espresso Machine

Nespresso U

Nespresso has been making espresso easily and simply for more than 15 years with their signature aluminum capsules that feature a wide variety of blends for espresso and larger espresso’s called lungo.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Nespresso U

Nespresso is a brand of Nestle that manufactures both the Nespresso machines and the line of capsules for those machines with three specific types and limited editions. Nespresso machines are single serve espresso machine that uses a drop in aluminum capsule that is filled with a specific amount of ground espresso coffee for quick and easy use.

The Nespresso U is a fully automatic machine that has an automated system internally that moves the capsule into place and then after the shot is pulled it dispenses the capsule into a holding tray for later disposal. The Nespresso U comes with a small footprint and a unique tank design that swivels to the right, left or rear of the machine to make it adjustable for a variety of spaces.

The Nespresso U has a quick heating thermoblock element for preheating and uses 19 bars of pressure for perfect espresso every time. The Nespresso U comes as a set with the Aerocinno+ frother or with the machine alone for about $172 for the machine and $250 for the set with the frother.

Nespresso U Whats in the Box

The Nespresso U takes less than minute to warm up and from cold to hot fresh espresso ready to enjoy less than two minutes for a small, medium or long shot. The Nespresso U makes a small shot at about .85 ounces or a medium shot at about 1.35 ounces and a long shot or Lungo at about 3.72 ounces.

The capsules come in three main categories with a smaller Pure Origin line, their main espresso range and a Lungo range with a limited edition introduced twice a year. The espresso range of capsules has from mild to strong intensity with a few decaf offerings but the main espresso capsules are a great variety.

The Nespresso U has the best variety of coffees available currently and does make an excellent cup of espresso whether you like a bold intense shot or mild and flavorful. The Nespresso U works simply by dropping the capsule in the top slot and closing the slider door, you can set the cup size using the top buttons.

The three top buttons are soft touch and indicators to show which one the machine is set to and can be pressed at any time during the preheating or first part of dispensing to change the cup size. The three sizes make a good range for small or ristretto, a normal espresso shot and a long shot or Lungo which is a current favorite of mine.

The sizes make the best variety for shots and espresso based drinks for use with a frothed or steamed milk while the Lungo or long shot makes a great coffee. The longer shot for Lungo adds a variety and taste that is unique and a welcome change to straight espresso shots and one I was unaware of until reviewing the Nespresso U.

Espresso Shot with Nespresso

Nespresso has a great variety of espresso in their capsule system but you do have to buy capsules from Nespresso directly or from their stores with a few exceptions. Nespresso capsules cost about 74 cents per capsule when ordered directly through the Nespresso Club while Amazon and other stores are a bit more expensive.

I did find a few brands of capsules from other companies, usually from Italy, that are even more expensive but I did not try any of them because of the cost. The Nespresso Club does have a minimum order of fifty capsules which I did order from and it cost $37 to ship to my house in Minnesota that arrived in two days.

Nespresso ships quickly using their distribution centers across North America so even not having capsules available in local stores except for select ones in certain states you still can get your espresso capsules quickly. Espresso from the Nespresso U is fantastic and a really easy way to get a great cup of espresso whether you like the bold intense of a dark roast or the mild flavors others offer.

The Nespresso U is now my favorite machine and a fantastic way to get espresso for my daily coffee fix that I have been enjoying a lot. The Nespresso U is automatic with just having to drop the capsules in the machine and close the door while the machine does all the work internally to pull your shot and drop the capsule into the tray.

Nespresso Lungo

The tray holds about twelve capsules and does have a three part system that has the lower drip tray, the used capsule holder and the external rounded drip tray. The machine does drip internally so they did need an internal drip tray for the water that does leak out around the capsule during or after the shot is extracted.

This has been the only downside I could find to the machine and using it but even then I have not been disappointed with it in the least. If you are unsure of which capsule flavors you enjoy the most you can buy the Welcome sampler pack from Nespresso which comes with 200 capsules and costs about $123.

Using the sample pack that came with the machine you can start to figure out which is a favorite but you can also buy a Discovery box with a variety in a nice wooden box. The Nespresso Club is the most efficient and inexpensive way to buy capsules and one that I will be using for my purchases.

The Nespresso U makes a fantastic cup of espresso with great crema and a robust flavorful cup with the great variety of capsules. I have really enjoyed Lungo espresso recently with the flavor of espresso but more of a coffee experience for something that has been new to me.

Nespresso Set with Aerocinno Plus

The Nespresso U really is a great machine and well worth purchasing for an easy way to make espresso without having to know anything about espresso other than how to enjoy it. As an example of the Nespresso system and ease of use many Michelin star restaurants are now using them to serve great espresso to guests without having to pay a barista.

I highly recommend the Nespresso U for an easy way to brew espresso at home or the office without the fuss and mess of a conventional espresso machine.

Nespresso website

Nespresso U @ Amazon

Outpresso Recycling Device

Outpresso Recycling Device

The Outpresso is a unique recycling device for the Nespresso capsules that are made from aluminum but can also be used for the newer Bialetti capsules.

outpressosml

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Total: 5/5

Nespresso has been a big hit with espresso drinkers and the system has a big following in the United States but in Europe it is a huge single serve espresso solution. Currently Europe has recycling centers for Nespresso capsules where you simply drop off your used capsules and they do all the dirty work of cutting them open and washing out the grounds.

Some stores like Sur La Table also offer recycling which is handy and they will even give you a free coffee for your trouble but what about those that don’t live near these types of stores. Whether you are trying to get a little cash back from your investment in fine espresso and coffee or just want to do the ecofriendly thing recycling your Nespresso capsules using the Outpresso can help.

Outpresso Recycling Device

The Outpresso works simply by placing a capsule in the groove of the bottom piece with the foil top of the capsule toward the opening in the bottom. Using your hand you push down hard onto the capsule with the dimpled top piece to push the grounds out of the capsule into the reservoir bottom.

Once the grounds are pushed out and the capsule has been flattened down some you remove the capsule and dump the grounds out into a container or garbage receptacle. The Nespresso capsules are pretty flat at this point but you can also flatten them down some more once they have been rinsed out.

You can also open up the Bialetti capsules that do not fit as neatly on the Outpresso but it does work well to remove the grounds and break open the capsule. The Bialetti capsules have a plastic or aluminum filter and a paper filter inside so you need to dig them out.

Rinsing out the grounds is pretty easy and once you have most of the grounds out you can take the capsules in for recycling at your nearest recycling or scrap metal center. Currently aluminum goes for about 60 cents per pound depending on where you are at so you can get a few dollars if you’re an avid coffee and or espresso drinker.

I have been using both the Nespresso and the Bialetti single serve espresso machines and while I like the Nespresso a bit better both are excellent machines. The capsules however can be a pain as they are almost pure aluminum once you get the coffee grounds out and recycling them may be a bit of a problem.

Recycling with Outpresso

Finding a place that would take them is the biggest choir as many aluminum recyclers only take cans because that is what most people recycle and they are easier to deal with. I recently made a quick trip to a local recycling center and the attendant told me he would not mind if a few got in with bags of aluminum cans but if someone came in with bags of the empty capsules he would turn them away.

Recycling centers that deal with aluminum cans, plastic bottles and other household materials may not be set up to recycle capsules form Nespresso machines but scrap metal centers may be. Scrap metal centers may be more open to recycling your empty capsules so finding one of them may be a better option but you should collect a few months’ worth so you have something worth taking in.

I had about 40 Bialetti and 70 Nespresso capsules and after punching out the grounds and pulling the small plastic and paper filters out of them I only had 6 ounces of aluminum. This is not really enough to take in and even with another months’ worth it would be pretty meager pickings for the money so recycling Nespresso capsules and Bialetti for that matter is not going to earn you a lot of money.

You can however do it for the environment and help keep wasteful garbage out of the landfill if that is more of a concern. Personally I will probably just collect them until I have enough to warrant a trip to the scrap metal center and turn them in all at once.

Recycling is a controversial topic and even if we take out any of the small cost we can get back it does make sense to recycle aluminum as it does take much less energy to process recycled aluminum. Aluminum is simply melted down to recycle it and the benefits of reusing aluminum is one of the materials for recycling that is not in doubt.

Outpresso w/ Bialetti Capsules

It does pay to recycle aluminum even if it does not pay the consumer who brings the aluminum in so recycling those Nespresso and even Bialetti capsules does make sense. The Outpresso makes it easy for individuals to recycle those capsules and it does not take much effort or time to recycle.

I cleaned out the hundred or so capsules in less than fifteen minutes even with rinsing them out and it only takes a side trip while you’re out to take them to a recycling or scrap metal center. The Outpresso works well and hopefully the company will make a model that works for the Bialetti capsules as well as they did show interest in this new capsule espresso machine.

I highly recommend the Outpresso to easily remove grounds from your Nespresso capsules for easy recycling whether you want a few dollars back every few months or just want to do the ecofriendly thing.

Outpresso Website

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe d Italia Single Cup Espresso Machine

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe d Italia Single Cup Espresso Machine

The Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia Espresso System is a new single serve capsule espresso machine that serves up authentic espresso that tastes great but variety is lacking.

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia Espresso System

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5
Total: 4/5

 

The Bialetti I Caffe dItalia Espresso System is a great espresso machine that makes espresso from capsules that are unique to Bialetti. The Bialetti Mini Express espresso machine comes with the compact pump designed system with a side water tank and pullout tray that collects the empty capsules and drips.

The machine from a retailer will comes with a small variety pack of 10 capsules with the new machine but this may not be enough to see which on you like. The capsules and espresso machine are starting to be available at websites such as Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond as well as the Bialetti shopping website but not in local stores as yet.

Parts of the Bialetti Mini Express

The Bialetti Mini Express System uses a 20 bar pump to push the water through the capsules but the machine is a mechanical ejection with the top handle that moves the capsule into position when you close it. When you open it again to put the next capsule in the current capsule falls into the tray which is also an empty capsule container.

The Bialetti I Caffe dItalia has a rear power switch that turns the heater on and the front push button switch starts and stops brewing. When you have placed a capsule in the top capsule spot and have heated the machine you simply place a cup on the tray and push the small espresso cup indicator to start the brewing and again to stop the extraction.

I would consider the Bialetti Mini Express single serve espresso machine a manual one because you have to manually insert and eject the capsules as well as manually start and stop the brewing process. To clean the machine you can add some scale remover to the tank and run this through the machine then rinse out well with the same brewing process without a capsule installed.

The capsule system works well and it’s very easy to put capsules into as well as ejecting them into the tray and the system is quick with only a minute or two to go from off to heated and steamy cup of espresso. The espresso is great with a very good amount of crema and flavor for all the varieties they have available but the choice of only 5 capsules is a bit limiting.

Capsule Lever and Capsule Bialetti Mini Express

The decaf or Italian Deca is a medium roast while the other four available capsules are a light roast called Milano, mild roast called Venezia, medium roast called Roma and a dark roast called Napoli. I prefer the Roma as the dark roast is a bit too bitter for me but the light roasts are also very good but more variety would be nice.

The variety is a bit of a disappointment and I am hoping that Bialetti will come out with more of a variety like Nespresso has as well as a possibility for refillable capsules. The capsules for the Bialetti I Caffe dItalia are available from Bialetti and Bed Bath & Beyond for 75 cents and 62 cents per capsule respectively.

This is a pretty good price per cup of espresso when you compare it to the other espresso machines that use capsules like Nespresso which I have found cost at least 75 cents per capsule. Comparing to the Nespresso for taste is also not very fair when you consider that Nespresso has a couple dozen flavors of capsules while Bialetti only has five currently.

The Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia is a great machine and as easy to use as the current Nespresso manual machine and costs about the same for the machine which is $150. The capsules are where you save money and the Bialetti espresso machine can make a better machine for the home with a savings of at least 10 cents per espresso capsule.

Brewing an Espresso Bialetti Mini Express

While 10 cents may not seem like much over time it could change your mind when comparing the cost for 30 cents per day for three espressos a day means saving about $100 a year. This can be a significant savings if you have frequent espressos and the Bialetti machine does a great job of giving you one after the other of great tasting espresso.

I had no problems taking the machine to a hotel during a conference and using this for a few days and brewing eight shots in a row before checking out of my hotel room. I wanted to have a few shots of espresso for the trip home and ran eight espressos one after the other to put into a small thermos and had no problems.

The Bialetti Mini Express single serve espresso machine does work well and the only thing holding me back from making a top rating is the lack of variety for capsules which I hope Bialetti will solve soon. I highly recommend the Bialetti I Caffe dItalia as a great single serve espresso machine but you are limited to the current five capsule choices at the time of this review.

I Caffe dItalia @ Bialetti

I Caffe dItalia @ Amazon

I Caffe dItalia Capsules @ Bed Bath & Beyond

I Caffe dItalia @ Cerini Coffee & Gifts

Capresso Coffee a la Carte Coffee and Tea Maker

Capresso Coffee a la Carte Coffee Maker and Tea Maker

The Capresso Coffee a la Carte is a handy cup or carafe coffee maker and tea maker that includes a quick heat and pump brew system that makes great coffee and tea by the cup of carafe.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Capresso Coffee a la Carte

The Capresso Coffee a la Cart Cup-to-Carafe Coffee and Tea Maker is a fantastic coffee maker and tea maker that includes the quick heat and pump system for faster brewing. The Capresso a la Carte comes with the coffee maker, removable water reservoir,  brewing unit, glass carafe, two filter assemblies, drip tray and a scoop along with the instructions.

Whats in the Box Coffee a la Carte

The Capresso Coffee a la Carte has a unique filter assembly that is different for tea and coffee with the pull out brewing unit that has the filters snap into the bottom. The brewing unit has a rubber sealed tube that passes the water through the unit and into the brewing filter then down into the glass carafe or the cup.

The brewing unit has a shower head that pushes upward with spring pressure so that the shower head can be used to tamp down coffee grounds. The coffee filter has no tabs inside that allow the shower head to push the coffee grounds for tamping them while the tea filter does not tamp the leaves.

The tea filter will push the water dispenser upward so the tea leaves or whatever you’re using for tea is not tamped down for better brewing of tea. The brewing unit has two clips that attach the filters to the brewing unit so you have two distinct brewing methods depending on the filter attached.

a la Carte for Carafe

The glass carafe fits into the coffee maker with a switch to make sure the brewer does not brew without either the carafe or the drip tray in place. The drip tray allows you to place cups under the brewing unit but taller mugs will not fit very well, you can remove the stainless steel plate for some extra room.

Using a varied amount of coffee grounds or tea leaves you can change the strength of your brew which is pretty much the same for any drip coffee makers but the tamping and quick brew makes a difference. The Coffee a la Carte uses a fast heating system and the pump passes water through the brewing unit quickly for coffee and tea.

The Capresso Coffee a la Carte makes some great coffee and tea and with the tea making ability really makes this brewing unit a fantastic deal. The filters, carafe and drip tray are all dishwasher safe for easy cleanup but the brewer unit should be cleaned up in the sink.

The brewing unit is easy to rinse off and can be scrubbed but should not be washed in the dishwasher due to the internal workings of the unit. The removable water reservoir holds up to 52 ounces of water but removes from the coffee maker for easy filling.Brewing a Cup Capresso Coffee Maker

I have been using the Coffee a la Carte for my daily fix and it works great for all the uses and ways to make both coffee and tea. The Coffee a la Carte makes great coffee and can even make really strong coffee that makes a serviceable replacement for espresso in drinks like latte’s and cappuccinos.

The fantastic feature of being able to brew both coffee and tea for both cups and a full carafe means you can brew teas for those pitchers of refreshing iced tea. In the summer I drink more iced drinks such as iced tea and with the Capresso Coffee a la Carte I can easily make pitchers of tea and coffee with the same machine.

The handy feature of being able to make tea without using tea bags in a coffee machine really means this machine a dual purpose one for all kinds of tea varieties. I can use all sorts of loose leaf teas which I much prefer over bags with the Coffee a la Carte as well as good coffee which is the best feature.

Brewing a Pot in the Capresso Coffee Maker

The Capresso Coffee a la Carte makes great coffee and tea for a machine that really is a fantastic appliance for both coffee and tea. Whether you’re a coffee or tea fanatic I highly recommend the Capresso Coffee a la Carte Coffee and Tea Maker for the best of both worlds in one machine.

Coffee a la Carte @ Capresso

Coffee a la Carte @ Amazon

Mr Coffee Cafe Latte

Mr Coffee Cafe Latte

The Mr Coffee Cafe Latte makes great tasting latte’s with an easy all in one machine that brews strong coffee and whips the milk to a froth as the coffee is drip brewing into the pitcher.

Mr Coffee Cafe Latte

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4/5

The Mr Coffee Cafe Latte does a great job of making a quick latte using regular milk and coffee in one machine that is easy to use and clean. The Cafe Latte has a coffee brewing system that drips into the pitcher which has a frother motor and attachment built in.

The Mr Coffee Cafe Latte comes with the machine that includes the pitcher, pitcher lid, basket and instructions along with a couple of 4 cup coffee filters. The Cafe Latte makes a great latte or you can make other hot drinks like hot chocolate with the pitcher in the froth & heat mode.

Whats in the Box Cafe Latte

The Cafe Latte maker has the pitcher which includes a heating element in the base of the glass pitcher along with the frother pitcher lid that has a motor in the lid assembly. The brewing area has a small brew basket that holds the 4 cup paper filter but you can also use a metal mesh filter basket which is sold separately.

To make a latte you put three or four tablespoons of ground coffee in the basket for a single latte or six to eight for two lattes and fill the water reservoir with the appropriate amount of water. The reservoir has a white bar with indicators for water level while the pitcher has marks on it for indications for milk or water level.

Fill the pitcher with 2% milk and any other ingredients you like such as sugar or syrup, twist the top on the pitcher which locks into place. Place the pitcher on the base and ensure the latte/froth only switch is in the latte position to brew the coffee as well as froth the milk.

Working Parts of Cafe Latte

The brewer takes about three and a half minutes to brew the coffee and to froth and heat the milk which is pretty quick for a great tasting latte. The brewing does not make real espresso but strong coffee which works well for a simple machine but this does not make a true latte that uses espresso.

You can make hot chocolate or other hot drinks like instant chai tea or instant cappuccino using water or milk and a powdered mix. The frother has the wire whisk type frothing end and mixes well while the heating element in the base of the pitcher heats the milk or water to make a great hot drink.

I have made several different kinds of hot chocolate and hot drinks with great tasting results that is also easy to clean up. The pitcher and the lid need to be hand washed in the sink but with a little soap and water along with a foam bottle brush you can quickly wash out the pitcher and lid.

Making Hot Chocolate

The Mr Coffee Cafe Latte makes a great latte even if it is not a true latte made from espresso or real steamed milk but you can also try other drinks. The recipe guide that comes with the maker contains several recipes ideas for lattes and even some lattes made with teas.

The Mr Coffee Café Latte works well and with its simple to use and easy cleanup I find I really like using it for great drinks whether a nightly treat or a morning pick me up. I highly recommend the Mr Coffee Cafe Latte for an easy to use and simple machine for lattes and other hot drinks that costs about $80.

Cafe Latte @ Mr Coffee

Cafe Latte @ Amazon

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Espresso Maker Review

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Espresso Maker

The Handpresso Wild Hybrid makes a decent espresso and with the Outdoor Set Hybrid you have just about everything you need to make espresso in one handy case on the road or outdoors.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 3/5
Recommendation: 4/5

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid

I love espresso but don’t have the money or a good enough website to get the more expensive machines that coffee centric websites get for reviewing. I love checking out those oddities in every product area and the Handpresso Wild Hybrid does qualify as one of those non main stream espresso makers.

The Handpresso Wild Hybrid is the latest hand pump espresso maker where you only need a way to heat up water to get espresso wherever you happen to be. The Outdoor Set Hybrid does come with a way to store that hot water in a convenient thermos so you’re all set to hit the road and enjoy a fresh espresso.

The Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid contains the Handpresso Wild Hybrid, the single-hand thermos-flask, four unbreakable cups, a small napkin and the instructions for the Handpresso Wild Hybrid. I also received an extra rubber gasket for the Handpresso Wild Hybrid but I am not sure if this is in every package as it does not state this on the website at handpresso.com.

Parts of the Handpresso Wild Hybrid

The Outdoor Set Hybrid is very handy and would makes a great set to take on camping and other outdoor trips as well as hotel use or on the road for business trips. The Handpresso Wild Hybrid is the heart of the set and makes some pretty decent espresso for the hand pump espresso maker that it is.

I have made “espresso” in Moka pots and using the Aeropress but would not really categorize their results as real espresso as it does not have the same flavors and richness that pressure extracting gives. Real espresso needs pressure and heat to process the coffee beans or the flavor is just not there so the Handpresso does have at least what it takes to be considered espresso.

The Handpresso hybrid works by adding hot water to the cup and uses either an espresso pod or ground espresso in a basket to extract the shot of espresso. You do need to use very hot water and preheating the Handpresso bowl and cap does help to make better espresso as well as using fresh espresso that is also freshly ground.

The body of the Handpresso Wild Hybrid uses a hand pump to pump to get 16 bars of pressure and the push button on the side of the filter basket releases the air through the filter. To use the Handpresso Wild Hybrid for either fresh ground espresso they have a small basket while the E.S.E. pod uses the adapter that holds the E.S.E. pod above the water.

Handpresso Indicators

The Wild Hybrid does a great job of extracting a decent shot of espresso but it does lack the crema that indicates at least some of the CO2 necessary in its formation. CO2 is important to forming crema and getting the oils out of the grounds as it passes through but it does not indicate good flavor, only that gasses have been trapped.

The taste we get from espresso grounds come from the oils and the soluble liquids that have passed through the grounds and not the gasses trapped in the liquid as it drops into the cup. I have had good shots of espresso from a relatively cheap machine and some great shots from slightly more expensive ones.

I have also sampled coffee shops for shots of espresso straight from the machine to make sure I knew what I was missing at home in my search for inexpensive home espresso and reviewing the machines I was getting. I can say that the Handpresso Wild Hybrid does make a good enough shot and is worth your money as a portable espresso machine.

The Outdoor Set does give you everything you need for on the go espresso in a handy and very stylish case but the thermos does not keep the water hot enough for very long. At home I used water just below boiling and did rinse out the bowl and cap of the Handpresso to preheat it but using the thermos it does not stay hot enough to preheat the bowl and have hot enough water for great espresso.

Handpresso Espresso and Bialetti Mokona

The thermos is a great addition and without any other options out in the woods or on the road where coffee shops are just not to be found the thermos along with the Handpresso does work well. Checking out other people’s opinions about the Handpresso Wild Hybrid I did come across several video reviews but the overwhelming opinion about the quality of the espresso shot can be summed up in a quote. “It’s like really strong coffee”

I just think that the Handpresso Wild Hybrid misses the mark for great espresso even after using the device through two boxes of Lavazza and Illy E.S.E. pods and at least the same amount of shots from ground espresso. I was just not that impressed with the shots of espresso from the Wild Hybrid and felt for the price you should be getting a bit better shots.

The Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid does make it convenient to make espresso when you’re outdoors or without the convenience of a better machine which does give me pause in my recommendation. In the end the Handpresso does make a good enough espresso and if you need a handy all in one kit for making espresso on the go or outdoors the Handpresso Outdoor Kit Hybrid is worth a look.

Handpresso Wild Hybrid @ Handpresso

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Website

Seattle Coffee Gear

Primula Coffee Brew Buddy & Tea Bag Buddy

Primula Coffee Brew Buddy & Tea Bag Buddy

The Primula Coffee Brew Buddy and Tea Bag Buddy are handy single serve devices to make brewing coffee and tea easy and neat with a low price tag as well.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

Coffee Tea Primula Coffee Brew Buddy & Tea Bag Buddy

Primula sells coffee presses, tea sets, tea pots and a variety of flowering teas and continues to come up with new products in the tea and coffee ware area. A couple new items from Primula include the Coffee Brew Buddy and Tea Bag Buddy for a simple way to brew a single cup of coffee or tea and handle tea bags.

The Coffee Brew Buddy is a fine mesh filter with a plastic heat resistant funnel shaped rim for brewing coffee that also works for loose leaf tea. The Coffee Brew Buddy has a large plastic rim that is funnel shaped to allow easy pouring of hot liquids into any cup or mug and the fine mesh filter holds your coffee grounds and tea.

The Brew Buddy folds mostly flat and a simple plastic storage bag will hold the brew buddy conveniently in a purse, briefcase or pocket of a suitcase for convenient storage and use at work, school or home. The Coffee Brew Buddy is portable and convenient with its fold flat shape so using it at the office or on the road away from home and the convenience of a kitchen.

Primula Coffee Brew Buddy

The Brew Buddy works as a simple filter and you can use the it for both coffee and tea as the mesh bag hangs about two and a half inches from the rim into a cup or mug. The mesh filter is held securely in the rim of the Brew Buddy and is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup but simply rinsing well works just as easily.

 

I have made coffee and tea with the Coffee Brew Buddy and found it handy for use as a tea brewer for loose leaf teas and especially those finer ones like real chamomile. The fine parts of chamomile buds do not go through the fine mesh bag of the Coffee Brew Buddy and this makes it great as a tea brewer.

The Coffee Brew Buddy does an excellent job as a single serve coffee brewer and would work really well outdoors or at a hotel when you want your own coffee instead of that hotel brewed stuff. A simple trick would be to grind or take along your favorite coffee in one plastic bag and the Coffee Brew Buddy in another for quick use and easy storage.

Primula Tea Bag Buddy

The Tea Bag Buddy can also be used when making tea to keep your counter or work area clean and as a cover for your cup while brewing. The Tea Bag Buddy is a silicone holder that has a finger indent for grabbing the string of tea bags and a slot for the string so that the silicone Tea Bag Buddy holds your tea bag while it sits on your cup.

 

When the tea is ready you simply pick up the Tea Bag Buddy and put the bag in the indent on the underside and set it on the counter or toss the bag in the garbage. You can handle hot tea bags without fear of scorched fingers and without the mess for quick and easy handling of tea bags.

Brewing with Tea Bag Buddy

The silicone keeps your fingers from getting scorched or burned and also makes for a clean counter when preparing your tea. You can also use the Tea Bag Buddy to hold you Coffee Brew Buddy when making coffee to keep your counter clean as the indent does have enough room for drips even from the coffee grounds used for a regular cup of coffee.

Tea Bag Buddy for Pitcher

You can also use the Tea Bag Buddy to make pitchers of tea using larger pitcher sized tea bags or numerous regular sized ones to hold the tea bags while they are steeping. I have even used the Tea Bag Buddy to grab string less tea bags that are floating in my tea after brewing as the cupped end does make it easy to grab with.

The Coffee Brew Buddy and the Tea Bag Buddy both cost about $6 and is available at Primula, Amazon and other sites as well as stores like Target in sets.

 

Coffee Brew Buddy

Tea Bag Buddy

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker

Imusa Bistro Espresso Maker

The Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Maker is an affordable espresso machine for all those great espresso based drinks with the included frother that adds that perfect touch to a finished cappuccino or macchiato.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4.5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4.5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4.5/5

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Maker

There are a broad range of espresso machines out there and the cost is also widely varying from under a hundred dollars to well over ten thousand for those fully automatic ones you see in the coffee shops. Being a home barista and creating those fancy espresso based drinks does not have to start off expensive and you can easily work toward those more expensive appliances while enjoying your own espresso drinks.

At the lower end of the cost scale we have the Imusa Bistro 4 cup Espresso Maker that is a great 4 cup machine that both makes espresso and has the additional frother for the frothed milk and steaming. Lattes, cappuccino’s, machiattos and other drinks based on espresso are all at your hands with the Bistro Espresso Maker with a simple to use system that has the internal tank heating system.

The Bistro Espresso Maker comes with the machine itself, a glass carafe with lid, filter basket, porta filter and instruction manual. Imusa also sent me the 4 cup porcelain espresso set called Peace with chrome rack which makes a nice accompaniment to the espresso machine.

Whats in the Box Imusa Bistro Espresso Maker

Imusa has a wide variety of espresso cup and saucer sets with racks and at the affordable price of the espresso machine getting a set of cups and saucers will not be all that hard on your wallet. The 8 piece porcelain set has the 4 cups and saucers with a chrome rack that holds all the set to keep things organized on your counter or in your cupboard.

The Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Machine is easy to use with the tank for water accessible from the top under a plastic cover to keep things neat looking when not in use and the screw top makes for a secure pressure tank during use. To make espresso you simply fill the tank with water and fill the filter basket of the porta filter with your choice of espresso then twist the porta filter on the machine.

The handle on the side for making espresso or steaming is easy to use as well and simply turning the handle to the espresso marking starts the pressure and heating. Once the machine has brewed about 2 cups of espresso you can turn the handle to the steam setting to froth or steam milk for those espresso based.

Fresh Cappuccino

I found the machine was easy to use and having the correct grind is an all important step to brewing good espresso but getting practice with the machine is also helpful. Once you have the process down you can experiment with various drinks like lattes and cappuccinos’ but the espresso itself is very good.

I also received a 10 ounce Café La Llave pre ground espresso from Don Francisco’s Coffee Trader’s which made a fine choice for this review. If you just want to try some espresso and keep the starting costs down you can buy ground espresso such as Café La Llave for a try at the world of espresso and see how easy it is to make.

I had no problems using the machine and for the cost it does make very good espresso but this is only a basic machine for the price of about $40. I did find that you really need to be careful with going to 4 cups of espresso as toward the end of the 4 cups you can get bitter tasting coffee because of the scalding of the espresso grounds.

Cafe La Llave Espresso

The more time you are pulling a shot of espresso the more bitter it can be and to try and go for 4 shots of espresso can be trying your luck a bit. The balance between good espresso trying to make the four shots the machine is capable of can be a bit of a balancing act but I found the machine is fast enough to just worry about making two at a time.

I do think this type of machine with more shots than a more expensive espresso machine does work well enough and is well worth a look for someone looking to break into espresso making. A good grinder is also essential but using a ground espresso like the Café La Llave can also work well for a starter as well as buying espresso ground at a local coffee shop that sells and grinds espresso beans.

Imusa 8 Piece Porcelain Espresso Set

I highly recommend the Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Machine for anyone wanting to try their hand at espresso and to start their own home barista. After finding how easy it is you can slowly work your way up to better espresso starting with a good grinder then maybe a better espresso machine.

Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker @ Imusa

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker @ Target

Bialetti Mokona Espresso Machine

The Bialetti Mokona Espresso Machine for ESE Pods and fresh Ground Espresso

Espresso Machine Bialetti Mokona

The Bialetti Mokona Espresso Machine is a great espresso machine that makes espresso using capsules or traditional ground beans and has a unique look to complement any coffee lovers kitchen.

Ease of Use/Performance: 21/25

Convenience/Storage 20/25
Appearance/Design 25/25
How much I enjoy 23/25

Total: 89/100

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The Bialetti Mokona is a great espresso machine with a unique design that sets it apart from other espresso machines but is not to be confused with a lesser quality product. The Bialetti Mokona makes great espresso, cappuccino and other espresso based drinks with either pods, Bialetti capsules or your more common ground beans.

I have reviewed several coffee and espresso makers and have always wanted to try out some of the more expensive and traditional espresso makers. A “true” espresso maker uses pressure to force hot water through the coffee beans to create a thick coffee with a good thick foam or crema.

The more inexpensive machines use just the hot water turned into steam to force water through the grind to try and recreate the shots of more authentic espresso. This method works well but does not taste as good as a more authentic shot of espresso that comes from a machine that uses a pump to force the water through the grounds.

With a more expensive machine you will have better parts using stainless steel, water temperature consistency with internal  thermometers and a good pump with 15 bars of pressure. An additional feature of good espresso machines is the steam that allows you to steam and froth your milk or just put hot water into a cup for other uses like tea.

The Bialetti Mokona has all the things you could want for a true authentic espresso machine from the 15 bars of pressure the pump puts out to the stainless steel filter holder. The filter holder and other parts that come into contact with the hot water are stainless steel for rust proof durability while other parts are plastic.

The pump creates a good force to pump the hot water through the filter and the steam wand allows you to froth milk and get that steamy froth for your espresso drinks. The frother has a stainless steel tube to the rubber and plastic tip that is submerged into your milk.

The top part of the frother is rubber that slips onto the steel tube and allows the plastic end to fit onto the rubber parts and stay on while frothing. The frother works well and creates good froth in your milk and has good stirring action in your pitcher or cup.

I had no problems making steamed milk and frothed milk for drinks and of course you can use the steam tube to deliver hot water as well. The Bialetti Mokona is probably the most controversial espresso machine I could find on the internet but only because of its looks or design.

The Bialetti Mokona looks like a Moka pot but is actually a large pump espresso maker complete with the steam wand on the side and two types of filter holders. The Bialetti Mokona comes with the Mokona espresso maker that uses two filter holders, three stainless steel filters, a removable water tank with lid and easy fill lid, tamper/scoop and instructions.

The Bialetti Mokona has a plastic removable tray with a stainless steel grill to catch drippings while using the machine for those smaller espresso cups. The collection tray with the grill can come out when you want to drip your espresso directly into a larger cup that is the more traditional coffee cup size or a cappuccino mug.

To put the Bialetti Mokona into use the first time really only takes a minute or two, put the tank on the top and fill with water or fill it before inserting on the middle steam control knob. The tank is an eight sided shape like a Moka pot top and has the center hole for the middle stem of the machine with the steam control knob on top.

The tank has a rubber valve that allows water to flow into the machine when put in place but closes for filling at your sink. You can also leave the tank on the machine and fill by taking off the full tank top or the smaller tank lid which is the quickest way to fill it if the top of the machine is readily available.

Getting the machine primed is simple by turning it on and following the instructions like most espresso machines do with turning on the pump and opening the steam valve. To make coffee or espresso you tamp your ground coffee in either the single or double dose filters, already in the holder, and put the filter holder on the machine.

Turn the machine on and allow it to warm the water and filter with the grounds in it and then run water through the filter and grounds into your cup when the little yellow light comes on. The machine works easily and you can make a great shot of espresso in under five minutes from grind and tamp to a quick wipe up of the machine when you’re done.

You can use the plain filter holder and either the single or double dose filter to make a single shot or double shot of espresso. You can also use the smaller filter holder with the dent pattern inside with those paper pods or you can use the filter holder designed especially for the plastic capsules Bialetti sells.

The cost is a major factor for the convenience of using either the Bialetti capsules or pods as they are more expensive than grinding your own coffee. I calculated the cost of the average Bialetti capsule available on the internet because there are none for sale in my local area at stores.

The cost savings of using your own ground beans is about 50 cents per shot of espresso as the coffee beans near me at a local roaster called Dunn Brothers is $12 per pound. This means per shot you can get your own espresso drinks starting at about 20 cents while the capsules cost about 70 cents each so the cost is one factor you should consider.

The really nice thing about the Bialetti Mokona is the fact you have the two sizes of filters for your own ground beans as well as the pod filter and the capsule filter holder. This means if you want to mix and match the convenience of pods or capsules with the everyday use of your own ground beans for the cost savings you can.

Cost is one factor for most people but convenience is another, clean up for using your own ground coffee means pulling the filter holder out and cleaning out the used grounds then rinsing. Usually I scoop out the grounds with a spoon as I do not yet have a knock box and rinse out the holder and the filter after separating them and quickly wipe off the drip tray and counter.

With a capsule or pod all you have to do is knock out the capsule or pod with having to scoop or knock out and you don’t have to bother spending much time at all with rinsing. The capsules also mean no grinding or having to measure out the coffee so it takes less time as well as less of a hassle using the pods or capsules.

There have been several times when having and using pods or capsules from any one of the machines I am currently reviewing is nice as I am in a hurry out the door in the morning. Just popping a pod or capsule in the machine and allowing it to warm as I get my travel cup ready and then just brew into a measuring cup then into my thermal travel cup can be very convenient.

Cleanup with a pod or capsule is cut way down as you just quickly rinse the holder and then shut everything off and your ready to hit the road. I find that capsules and pods are handy to have around for those days when you’re going on a trip but still want a fresh brewed espresso shot in a drink like a cappuccino.

Making shots of espresso does not take that much more time than the capsules and does taste much better with a better crema foam. Comparing the crema from the capsules is just like comparing the espresso shots from a steam machine and this much better pump machine, it gets better as you get more authentic.

Using regular beans from a local roaster, Dunn Brothers, I can make a shot of espresso that easily compares favorably to the same companies espresso drinks. I can make a very good shot of espresso and with a great grinder can create a shot of espresso with good crema that tastes just as good as barista purchased drinks.

Using some skim milk, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon and a few other ingredients I have been experimenting and making my own drinks like cappuccinos that are delicious. Instead of paying three dollars and more for these same drinks I can make them at home whenever I want to for a satisfying and delicious espresso based beverage.

The Bialetti Mokona makes a great espresso, much better than previous espresso makers I have reviewed and makes great shots with good crema. I am very impressed with the Bialetti Mokona and despite the looks it is a great espresso maker that is easy to use.

On the internet I found plenty of people concerned and wondering about the design and not wondering about the companies previous quality merchandise and if it carries over with this model. Bialetti is a well known company that makes very good to great espresso machines and other coffee merchandise.

The Bialetti Mokona is a great espresso maker, one that is easy to use and simple to clean up after but may it not be the design for everyone. Its unusual style may make it look odd and people may not take it seriously enough but I can tell you it makes very good espresso and is well worth a try.

I have had the Bialetti Mokona for a couple of months and have not had any problems at all with the machine and all its parts, it literally has been a great machine to use and clean up after. I highly recommend the Bialetti Mokona as a great espresso machine that can be the centerpiece of a great home barista.

Espresso Machine by Bialetti

Bialetti Website

Bialetti Mokona @ Amazon