After 6 years, I finally had to make a repair to my Bezzera BZ10. The head gasket needed to be replaced. The repair was very simple, taking only 15 minutes. But, I figured this would also be a great time to talk about my experience with the machine after owning it for 6 years.
Here’s how I roast my favorite espresso blend using a Behmor 1600+
The Staresso Espresso Maker is a very compact portable “espresso” maker. It makes a surprisingly good shot provided you have your grind and coffee dialed.
It can use Nespresso pods, but there is no substitute for fresh roasted and ground coffee. Here’s a video review and the device in action.
The Short Version
The Staresso is surprisingly good and easy to use for a $60 gadget. However, I have a feeling my results have a lot to do with my accumulated knowledge of coffee and the coffee I used. But, again, for $60, the compact size of the Staresso Espresso maker is pretty hard to beat if you are on the go and want decent coffee.
The Long Version
This is not a true espresso maker. There’s no way that it is generating 9bar of pressure. But, as many people are finding, you can make espresso with far less than 9bar. So, the Staresso is going to be very sensitive to grind size. You will need to play with your grinder quite a bit to dial this in perfectly.
The Staresso is really pretty simple to use. The parts all come apart and re-assemble very easily. Filling the brew head can be a little messy however because it’s small. They recommend 7-10gr of coffee (you aren’t pulling a typical 3rd wave 18-20gr double with this device). In my testing, I found it hard to cleanly get more than 7gr in the little cylinder. I got up to 9gr in there by being very careful.
Once loaded, a quick “tamp” with the back of the included scoop, and you just screw everything together. Add water and start to pump. I have not yet experimented with this, but the pumping builds pressure in such a manner that a pre-infusion style shot is very possible…and will likely produce a very nice result.
The shot itself is as you might expect…decent, but lacking depth and body. You can see in the video above the crema produced is substantial (aided by the valve in the brew head), but since the pressure and heat retention are lacking, the body of the shot suffers. However, there was a surprising clarity to the shot and I was still able to taste the fruit in my blend.
If you are an espresso enthusiast and want to take control of your destiny while traveling, the Staresso is compact, produces a decent shot, and at $60 is hard to pass up.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. But, this is worth the time. I’ve read about VST Precision Filter Baskets before and finally decided to see what this was all about. I just picked up the 18gr VST STD Ridged filter basket and the difference it makes is crazy.
You can read all about the fancy holes and quality control elements of the VST Precision Filter Baskets on their site. But, the main take away is that it’s not just a marketing gimmic. The design of the VST baskets is superior to most stock filter baskets and the result is sweeter, better tasting espresso. The main thing I notice instantly is that the side walls of the basket are not really tapered at all (like my stock Bezzera or Gaggia baskets). There is a small curve near the bottom, but mostly, they look nearly straight by comparison. This means that the coffee puck is a uniform depth all the way around. This matters because even before you get to the precision holes at the bottom, the coffee is uniform leading to even saturation.
Now, this design also has the side effect of showing even the slightest error in your distribution and tamping technique. So, be prepared to reset what you think you know how to do a little. Also, I had to actually adjust my grind finer to deal get the same timing with my standard 18.5gr dose.
The result in the cup is a sweeter, more complex espresso. Same beans, same grinder, same machine…just changing the filter basket made the espresso taste significantly better. If you are serious about your espresso, it’s well worth the $30 for the VST basket.
FOOTNOTE: For most home machines, you probably want the STD Ridged model. This “ridge” is a small bump on the outside that catches the “spring” in the portafilter and locks the basket in. The “ridgeless” models don’t lock like that…they rely on simple friction fit. If you DO NOT have a bottomless portafilter, you might need to get one if you get the 18gr or larger basket. They have the dimensions on their site so you can measure your gear for compatibility.
Weiss, Stockfleth, Finger Strike…aliens? After dosing, espresso distribution in the portafilter is the biggest thing that affects your shot. So, what’s the best way to do it? Let’s test some methods and find out.
Looking for a quick grinder comparison? Here’s all three grinders I compared using the Gaggia Classic.
So far, we’ve had a budget grinder (Capresso Infinty), and a good grinder (Macap M2M). What about something in between? Here we have the Baratza Preciso. This is a workhorse of a grinder that is easy to maintain, and I’ve had this one now for close to 4 years.
You really can’t go wrong with this grinder in your home set up. Paired with the Gaggia Classic, you will be very happy with your home espresso.
The Behmor 1600 Plus is one of the most popular home roasting solutions out there because it can roast a pound of coffee and only costs $369. I personally roast 1/2lb batches because I find that to be the sweet spot of the Behmor 1600 Plus. I like my roasts to not go longer than 14 minutes.
Here’s a video I did showing a roast profile I like for beans destined for cold brew.
I did a video with the Gaggia Classic and a budget grinder to prove you could get a really nice shot with a setup that you could get out the door with at about $500.
So, now, here’s the reason you always hear people talk about the grinder, grinder grinder, when giving advice on making better espresso at home. Here’s a shot with the Gaggia Classic and a good grinder, the Macap M2M. This setup is closer to $1000 out the door new (machine and grinder).
Note that I did use a slightly different technique here and different beans, but that really made little difference to the overall outcome. In the budget shot, I used a single origin, natural process Sumatra bean…which produces great crema. In this shot I used a blend, but plain and simple, the better grinder yields a better shot.