Category Archives: Espresso Tea Coffee and Equipment

Capresso froth PRO Milk Frother

Capresso froth PRO Milk Frother

The Capresso froth PRO automatic milk frother is a unique milk frother and heater to create your home brewed beverages with hot, warm and cold frothed milk.

Ease of Use/Performance: 24/25
Convenience/Storage 24/25
Appearance/Design 24/25
How much I enjoy 25/25

Total: 97/100

Capresso froth PRO Milk Frother

The Capresso froth PRO milk frother is a semi automatic appliance that produces frothed milk either hot or cold in a small metal pitcher. The froth PRO is an easy way to create espresso based drinks, hot chocolates and much more with frothed milk as one ingredient.

The froth PRO comes with the base unit, the metal pitcher and three heating/frothing discs along with the instructions. The Capresso froth PRO uses three settings for your frothed milk; froth, froth with low heat and froth with high heat.

The frother has the three lighted buttons on the front with a snow flake on one, a cup with three lines rising out of it for high and the low heat has two lines rising out of a cup. Once you choose your frothing blade for either frothing or just heating you snap it into place in the bottom of the frothing pitcher and set the pitcher on the base.

Whats in the Box Capresso froth PRO Milk Frother

The froth PRO comes with two frothing discs and one heating disc, the two frothing discs are the same so you get a spare with your frother. The plastic discs are easy to insert or remove and store in the bottom of the base for easy access when not in use.

The base uses a magnet to spin the frothing blade so there are no gears or sprockets connecting the pitcher to the base like blenders use. The frother will spin the blade and either froth or heat while frothing the milk with the spoked frothing blade.

The smooth blade without spokes will spin but only heat the milk without any frothing action for drinks that you want with just heated milk. The frother works by heating the area of the base where the bottom of the pitcher is and there are two small push button switches there for safety.

Pitcher and Base

The froth PRO will not heat up or turn on when the pitcher is not in place so you need not worry about a fire hazard when the pitcher is removed. The pitcher fits neatly on the base and has a recessed area that the pitcher sits in so you cannot knock the pitcher over by accident.

To warm milk you simply add milk between the minimum and maximum lines and press either the low or high heat button using the heat disc. To froth milk you simply use a froth disc and push any of the buttons to froth with or without heat.

The lid of the pitcher is clear so you can keep an eye on your milk frothing and is also easy to clean up, both the pitcher and lid are dishwasher safe in the top rack. If the base gets dirty from spills you can lightly scrub it with a moistened rag and some baking soda which takes off stains form the brushed aluminum of the heating area.

Making a Cappuccino

Cleanup is easy with the nonstick surface of the pitcher and the plastic discs that cleanup simply by rinsing and wiping out if any milk residue has stuck to any parts. I usually rinse out the pitcher with hot water and use a foam brush to wipe out any milk residue.

The Capresso froth Pro is a simple but effective way to easily warm and froth milk for coffee based drinks like cappuccino and lattes. You can also create drinks like chocolate milk from frothed milk and chocolate syrup or even with straight cocoa powder and your choice of sweeteners.

Capresso offers a wide selection of recipes for hot and cold drinks that are a great way to experiment with the froth PRO for some additional fun. Entertaining is simple using the froth PRO, I find the timing between frothing my milk and setting up and pulling a shot of espresso works well.

Making an Italian Soda

When making espresso based drinks using the  Capresso froth PRO I pour and start the frother and then setup and pull my espresso shot. If all goes well I have pulled the shot and started to clean up the espresso machine and washing out the porta filter when the frother stops with my hot frothed milk.

I have had absolutely no problem at all with the froth PRO, it has quietly and diligently been frothing milk since I received it. Cleaning the base is the only word of caution I have along with not placing the pitcher back on the base after washing it, the base heats up where the pitcher sits.

When you put any water or spill milk on the base it will sizzle and any liquid getting in and around the buttons may cause damage to the frother. I keep a silicone hot pad on my counter to set the hot pitcher on after pouring my drink and use it to let the pitcher dry after washing.

The Capresso froth PRO costs about $60 which may seem a bit expensive, this would be the only downside to the product I could find, it is a bit expensive. I highly recommend the Capresso froth PRO for a fantastic milk frother, when you consider the cost of a good grinder and espresso machine this is not that much more for a frother that will heat and froth at the same time.

Capresso Website

My Keurig Mini PLUS Brewer

My Keurig MINI PLUS Brewer

The My Keurig K-Cup MINI PLUS brewer is a convenient single cup brewing system that uses the now common K-Cups in a wide variety of flavors and brands for a single beverage of your choice.

Ease of Use/Performance: 24/25
Convenience/Storage 24/25
Appearance/Design 24/25
How much I enjoy 22/25

Total: 94/100

My Keurig B31 MINI PLUS Brewer

I recently went on a small trip, just a weekend conference where my wife spent the days in meetings for 4-H and I spent the time in the hotel room, watching TV or reading. We spent a few days getting ready and came across some great deals on the K-Cups that the Keurig machines use, a wooden box full of those plastic cups for $9 each.

I also purchased a couple of boxes of dark hot chocolate at Wal-Mart on sale and a few other boxes of other flavors both mixed and my favorite dark coffee blends for the trip. We had plenty of coffee and other drinks to use on our trip and for a few weeks after but the fun of it was we took my Keurig MINI PLUS with us.

We had the Keurig machine on the table in the hotel room replacing the cheap hotel coffee machine and brought our favorite thermos cups and a wide variety of K-Cups. We brought some flavored creamers but one slip up on my part almost marred a fun weekend enjoying our favorite hot drinks.

I forgot to check the machine before we left, the My K-Cup filter was in the machine instead of the K-Cup holder that comes with the machine when you buy it. My Keurig B31 MINI PLUS machine works like most of them do, water goes into a warming tank and when it heats up to the set temperature it runs through the K-Cup.

Whats in the Box My Keurig

The K-Cup is a plastic cup with a foil lid that has either a felt filter in the bottom for coffee and teas or simply the powder for chai and hot cocoa. The hot water is forced through a tube at the top that also punctures the foil seal and runs through the grounds, leaves or powder and into your cup below.

My Keurig B31 MINI PLUS is a small version of the larger models and brews a single cup like the others but does not hold water in a tank other than for the one cup. To brew a cup you open the back lid and pour water into the reservoir and use the three level guides for your desired amount.

You can also simply use the cup your drinking from for a gauge of how much water to pour in as this is only how much will brew. The machine does not hold any water and as soon as it heats up, about two minutes, it will run through the K-Cup and into your cup below.

There is a removable tray to hold drips and to allow a place for extra water to run to if you pour too much into the reservoir. If the drip tray is not there, you can remove it for taller cups, the extra water will run into the bottom of the machine and onto your counter.

Reservoir Detail My Keurig

This won’t happen as long as you don’t put more than 10 ounces of water in the reservoir and once you add the water you then add your K-Cup. The water stays in the reservoir until you open the K-Cup housing using the handle and the water will pour into the heater tank inside.

The machine has two buttons, one for power and the other to brew but you have to cycle the machine, open and close the brewer holder, to get the brew button ready. To brew using my Keurig it really does not take all that much, about the same time to explain it as to do it.

Pour a cup of water into the reservoir, turn on the machine and place your K-Cup into the holder then press the brew button and wait two minutes for the hot beverage of your choice. K-Cups come in popular brands and flavors of beverages from Starbucks and Caribou Coffee to several teas and cocoa based drinks.

You can even get things like iced tea mixes that you brew and pour over ice, but I found just using a regular tea and pouring it over iced with a bit of sugar works just as well. I really enjoy several of the teas like peach and sweet raspberry black teas over ice with a couple spoons of sugar.

Reservoir & K-Cup Holder My Keurig

I also enjoy using the My K-Cup filter holder and small filter basket to use my own fresh ground coffees to make a real treat for fresh ground coffee drinks. I have several coffee machines from the somewhat expensive espresso maker which costs $350 to the inexpensive table top Aeropress that costs about $35.

The single most useful and versatile hot beverage device I own are the Keurig machines and the single serving smaller version just makes sense for a smaller home. My Keurig MINI PLUS B31 is the perfect size for an apartment, home office or office to make a single cup of coffee or tea how you want it.

The variety of teas and coffee will ensure you never get bored and the K-Cups direct from local stores costs about the same as ordering them. Of course you can find them on sale here and there or if you find one you really enjoy you can order them on a subscription through Amazon.

 

K-Cups cost about 50 to 60 cents each while a regular cup of coffee from grounds will cost down near 20 cents depending on the price of coffee and what brand you use. I have found that Target and Wal-Mart have several different brands of K-Cups for the regular price of $10 for a box of 18 K-Cups and you can find more flavors at stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond and other kitchen and cooks supply stores.

MINI PLUS & K-Cups My KeurigMy Keurig B31 MINI PLUS costs about $100 which may seem like a lot but for the individual serving size and being able to brew the cup of beverage you want at a time this is a nice price. You can also use the Keurig MINI PLUS for hot water for things like cup A Soup and other foods like instant oatmeal.

I highly recommend the Keurig B31 MINI PLUS for that perfect pint sized single serve coffee and hot beverage machine that works great for the home office or just about anywhere.

Keurig Website

Francis Francis Y1 IperEspresso Machine

Francis Francis Y1 by Illy

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 is a capsule exclusive espresso machine that uses the Illy iperEspresso capsules to make really quick espresso drinks with the compact and handy machine.

Ease of Use/Performance: 25/25
Convenience/Storage 25/25
Appearance/Design 20/25
How much I enjoy 24/25

Total: 94/100

Francis Francis Y1 IperEspresso Machine from Illy

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 iperEspresso Machine is a new capsule espresso machine that easily makes espresso’s in a very short time without hassle. The Y1 machine only takes a minute to warm up and you simply put a capsule into the capsule compartment and use the lever to lock down the top compartment then press the brew button.

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 which costs about $175 uses iperEspresso capsules made exclusively by Illy and only these capsules to brew a single espresso. The Y1 comes with the machine itself but you will have to order some espresso capsules to get you started as they are not included with the machine.

Since this machine uses capsules and does not use any kind of grounds you do not need anything but the machine, it does have two pull out pieces in the water tank and empty capsule drawer. The machine is easy to understand and use, simply plug it in, fill the water tank and run some water through it to clean it out.

Once you want to start your first cup of espresso simply place a capsule in the compartment using the pull up handle and push it closed. You have to make sure you catch the handles hooks into the base of the unit on the tower when closing but this is really the only tricky part.

Turn the machine on and once the white light around the button comes on the unit is ready to use, push the stainless steel button and the water will start to flow through the capsule into your cup. The machine is used expressly for smaller cups but it does have a little extra room when you remove the steel platform for your cup.

Francis Francis Y1 Whats in the Box

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 goes through a two step process when brewing with the water going through the grounds in the capsule then the brew getting aerated in the bottom of the capsule. The Y1 is easy to cleanup as the coffee never touches the machine parts, water goes through a small needle like piece in the top and then the capsule only.

I have noticed it does get a little coffee on the back of the tower above your cup tray but this is easily wiped off but also the capsule drawer needs rinsing out. When you’re done with the brewing simply cycle the handle to have the machine pickup and deposit the capsule into the drawer.

This also puts a little brewed espresso in the drawer that spills from the capsules when they go tumbling into the drawer. You should clean out this drawer every few days if you put capsules into it as the dripped coffee can start to mold if you leave it in for a week or more.

The etched glass top has plenty of room to place cups, not included, for warming on the decorated top which makes the Francis Francis Y1 look very distinguished. The machine is about 9.5 by 9.5 inches square so has a smaller space for your countertop and is shorter than most espresso machines.Francis Francis Y1 Machine Inserting Capsule

Using the machine is simple but this is only used with the capsules from Illy so you need to continue purchasing them either on the internet or at local stores. My unit came with two cans, 21 capsules each, but you can purchase a variety of capsules at about $20 to $30 per can of 21.

I did not find any at my local stores but Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as other stores do carry them so you may find them locally depending on the store near you. Illy also offers a bargain with a recurring coffee capsule delivery for three cans of capsules and you get the machine for $125.

The recurring delivery is three cans a month of any variety at their price so you can always have capsules for your coffee available at home. The capsules are pretty good to use and the espresso you get is very good but not as good as from a regular espresso machine.

The machine may not be quite as good as regular espresso from a more conventional machine but it does make a really quick cup of coffee or espresso which is what it excels at. You can make one or even two espresso shots in about three minutes without any fuss with cleanup that does taste good, but the lack of crema is noticeable.

Francis Francis Y1 Parts

I find this machine is perfect if you need a quick shot or two of espresso for on the go drinks as you get ready to face the day. The Francis Francis Y1 makes an excellent machine for an office as well as home use if you need quick coffee or espresso while you’re heading out the door.

I used this more often when going on a trip or out for some errands in the morning and wanted to make a quick drink before tackling the day. The Illy Francis Francis Y1 makes an excellent espresso machine for on the go use for a really quick espresso for your espresso based drinks.

Francis Francis Y1 @ Illy

Baratza Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder

Baratza Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder

The Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder from Baratza is a great coffee grinder for that professional barista machine that brings your coffee enjoyment to the next level.

Ease of Use/Performance: 23/25
Convenience/Storage 24/25
Appearance/Design 20/25
How much I enjoy 22/25

Total: 89/100

Baratza Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder

The Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder brings your coffee and espresso to a new level of enjoyment with this professional quality machine that costs about $170 new or $100 refurbished from Barista. The Maestro Plus is not the same model as previously sold because the company received several complaints about a particular plastic part and redesigned the part to increase strength.

The Baratza Maestro Plus Coffee Grinder has upgraded parts after the company received several complaints so they fixed the problem. I am reviewing the newer machine and have had great results with beans purchased from a local coffee shop that roasts their own called Dunn Bros Coffee and store bought whole beans.

I usually buy store bought whole beans like the Wal-Mart brand or a variety of others that are on sale for my daily caffeine fix and occasionally and especially for a review I get the good stuff. I found a local place named Dunn Bros Coffee that roasts their beans in store so you get the freshest roast beans you could possibly buy at a good price.

Aside from getting the good fresh roast beans from a local store I also do the dreaded and largest mistake a coffee aficionado can do, I buy store bought bags of roast coffee. I can’t afford the good stuff all the time so I buy the lesser expensive more affordable and actually decent whole bean coffees at Wal-Mart and other local stores.

I usually use my most current coffee maker for my morning cup of coffee or espresso and recently have been using a Moka pot and a French press coffee maker until the French press broke. The Moka pot works well and my DeLonghi Pump Espresso Maker makes passable espresso but my AeroPress makes great coffee so I have plenty of different ways of using the grinder.

The Maestro Plus is a conical burr grinder that uses stainless steel conical burrs to evenly crush and grind whole coffee beans with a slow gear reduction system. The Maestro Plus has a nice solid body with a metal base and plastic outer body with plastic bean hopper and ground bins.

The reduction means a slower grind for the conical burrs and less static and heat buildup while grinding which means all the problems of cheaper grinders are not here. The Maestro Plus has a good quality motor that does not groan or slow down from grinding and the burr grinder does great at any type of whole bean coffee.

I have tried a whole variety of both the store bought beans from dark French and espresso roast to lighter roasts and even a flavored roast coffee or two. Using the dark roast espresso and several other fresh roasts I have tried have worked very well in the Maestro Plus coffee grinder with good even grind and no problems with clogging or clumping.

Without making the next economic step upward toward an even more expensive grinder or a much more expensive espresso maker the Maestro Plus is about the best you’re going to get for the price. The Maestro Plus coffee grinder does a great job of grinding all types of beans from dark to light roasts and those oily flavored coffees work just as well.

I had no problems using the Maestro Plus grinder for the couple of months I have had it and I found it worked very well on a daily basis. The grinder puts out consistent particles of the same size and without dust for a great grind that works well for both regular drip and other types of coffee.

The Maestro Plus has the timer knob on the side as well as a push button grind on the front when you want to hold an espresso portafilter under the grounds chute. Just place the espresso portafilter under the chute but not tight against the top and push the front button to grind directly into an espresso filter.

The grounds bin can hold about a pound of ground coffee and is nice for daily use for grinding beans for both French Press and Moka pots or the regular drip coffee maker. I found the adjustment settings on the coffee grinder using the top bean container adjustment worked well for quick and easy adjustment of the grind.

The lowest setting grinds fine enough for the more inexpensive espresso makers like my DeLonghi pump or a Moka Pot to make good espresso. The adjustment can give you large grinds for those French presses or the regular drip coffee makers without any problems with dust.

The grinder is made with the slower gear reduction for a better grind that does not have static build up anywhere due to several of the design features. The body and motor are a metal design and the plastic is chosen to help eliminate static during the grinding.

The grounds come out the chute evenly and do not clump up or stick to the sides of the plastic grounds bin and I had no problems pouring or scooping grounds into filters or the Moka pot. The Maestro Plus has no problems with static or the previous problem of smaller plastic tabs that some have noted on reviews.

I found the Maestro Plus to be an excellent grinder for both smaller espresso grinds and larger drip or press pot grinds and the AeroPress also made great coffee using the coffee grinder. I had no problems and enjoyed trying the Maestro Plus grinder to make great tasting coffee and espresso drinks.

I highly recommend the Maestro Plus Grinder from Baratza for an excellent grinder that works well for grinding both espresso and larger ground coffee.

Baratza Website