BOSCH Benvenuto B30
With the introduction of their Porsche Coffee Maker last year, Bosch made a notable entry into the coffee world by providing a perfect combination of exemplary performance and unmatched style. Their second go around with coffee machinery has resulted in the release of the Bosch Benvenuto B30: a super automatic espresso machine that boasts the same pairing of superior function and suave design, but focuses its attention on the specialty coffee end of the spectrum rather than drip coffee. As if foreseeing the ad campaign that would accompany the release of the machine, the B30 was sincerely "Invented for Life," not only containing a host of features that make it practical and easy to use, but also sporting a sleek and simple look that won’t have any trouble fitting into the "average" American kitchen. With sensibility and usability at the forefront of its design, it’s safe to say that the Benvenuto B30 is going to make a splash of its own.
One of the key ingredients to a top-quality espresso machine is the ability for a first time user to walk up to the machine and extract a flawless espresso without issue. The Benvenuto B30 accomplishes this goal with no problem at all. The biggest factor in its ease of use is the red-illuminated LED display that sits front and center on this espresso maker. This message center lets you know what "mode" the machine is in (brewing, steaming, or hot water dispensing), if it needs more coffee beans or water, and alerts you to any maintenance issues that need to be resolved.
When the B30 is ready to brew, the display will simply read "Coffee". Then you’ll need to adjust your focus to the 2 control knobs that sit on the left front of the machine. The top one allows you to choose the amount of coffee you’ll be brewing from 1oz to 12oz. The selections for 1 small cup, 2 small cups, 1 large cup, and 2 large cups are clearly marked so that you can easily tell which direction to turn the knob to get exactly what you want. Directly below this knob is the strength selection knob, which you use to customize the strength of your brew by turning it to 1 of the 6 settings: very mild, mild, normal, normal plus, strong, and very strong. Again, clear markings around the knob specifically indicate which direction to turn the knob to get the strength you desire. As you make your strength and liquid volume selections, the LED display shows what you’ve chosen and when you’re all set, just press the café button (the button right above the liquid volume selection knob) to brew. Once this button is pressed, the Benvenuto B30 grinds whole beans held in the 8oz hopper, tamps them, brews the coffee, and dispenses your delectable drink from the dual spout dispenser on the front of the machine.
Now, let’s backtrack a little bit to the actual brewing process and what goes into it. First off, the B30 has the great ability to brew using between 7 and 14 grams of coffee per brewing cycle based on the strength you selected before the brewing process. This allows you to brew a true double shot with this espresso coffee maker - a feature that is by no means found in the majority of super automatics. You can further adjust the flavor of your coffee using the grind setting dial that sits in the bean hopper. The general rule of thumb regarding the grind setting is that the more liquid you’re brewing with, the coarser your grind should be. This adjustment is how you achieve drinks like the famous café crema - 6 to 8oz of water, pressure brewed through a more coarsely ground coffee.
Another notable feature in the Benvenuto’s brewing process is AromaSwirl technology. This is basically a form of preinfusion, but it differs from "standard" preinfusion in that the grounds are steeped in water prior to being tamped, rather than after. This allows for not only for a more even extraction, but also for the strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee to fill your kitchen before a drop even exits the machine.
Frothing for Beginners
Just as simple as going through the brewing process is topping off your espresso with hot water or steamed/frothed milk. Since you’ve just finished brewing, chances are you’re still in the B30’s brewing mode - if you remember, that’s the one that causes "Coffee" to show on the display. To change to hot water or steam mode, you’ll just need to turn the function selection knob (on the front right of the machine) to the correct position. Turn it left for hot water and a "Water On" message pops up. Turn it to the right for steam, and after the "Unit Heating" message briefly appears, you’ll see "Steam On" on the display. No matter if you’re choosing hot water or steam, it’s important to have your cup or frothing pitcher under the steam wand prior to turning the function selection knob. Turning the knob opens the steam valve, which in turn allows the machine to release hot water immediately or steam after just a few second wait, thanks to the B30’s dual stainless steel-lined boilers.
Advanced Frothing & Steaming
The physical act of frothing or steaming is made easy by the Benvenuto’s dual position frother. If you slide the frothing sleeve to the down position, air is sucked into the wand as it dispenses steam and is injected into your milk, helping to create mountainous froth with ease. On the other hand, sliding the frothing sleeve to the up position blocks air from getting in, allowing you to simply steam - or heat - your milk.
Introduction to Advanced Features
Enhancing the operation of the B30 is a range of menu options that can be easily accessed and programmed using the LED display and the set of 4 buttons that sit directly below it. Pressing the P button allows you access a list of menu options, which you can scroll through by using the ß and à buttons. From here, you can choose between 8 display languages, select between 3 temperature options (normal, high and maximum), set the B30’s internal clock, program auto on and auto shut-off times, indicate the hardness of the water you’ll be using in the machine (determined by using the included water hardness test strip), and activate the built-in Claris water filtration system. After programming your options, simply press the exit button and your B30 will return to its normal functions.
Theories of Cleaning and Maintenance
As we touched on earlier, the LED display plays an intricate role in the every day use and maintenance of this Bosch espresso machine. Every time you need to do something to or with this machine, it lays it all out for you. But the B30’s practical design is also an advantage in these situations. For example, if the 64oz reservoir runs dry, an "Add Water" message will appear on the LED display, alerting you to refill. Instead of needing to fill a pitcher and pour water into the reservoir, you can simply remove the reservoir from the left side of the machine and put it under the faucet for refilling. The display will also tell you when to refill your bean hopper, when to empty the internal dump box that catches all of your spent grounds, when to run routine cleaning and descaling cycles, and when to change the Claris water filter.
Further examples of the B30’s no-brainer functionality are the front-mounted Clean and Calc (descale) buttons. When the machine indicates that it needs to be cleaned or descaled, just add the appropriate cleaning product, press the button, and the machine does everything itself. It is important to note that in order for the machine to properly calculate when a descaling cycle should be run, you need to use the included water hardness test strip and program its results into the B30. You can opt to use the Claris water filtration system instead of programming the machine for your area’s water hardness, but this feature also needs to be activated in the programming menu options. The Claris filter will eliminate all the chemicals and deposits that are normally present in water, not only keeping the internals of your machine healthy, but also improving the flavor of your coffee. Once this option has been activated in the menu, you will not receive any descaling messages, but rather messages indicating that the filter needs to be changed. However, you should keep in mind that Bosch still recommends descaling the B30 once or twice a year even if you are using the water filtration system.
After taking a deeper look at the Bosch Benvenuto B30, it becomes apparent that there isn’t a whole lot about the machine that you can’t figure out just by looking at it. It features a distinct combination of clearly marked controls, an easily visible message center, and high-quality internal components that don’t take a graduate level education to grasp. That intuitive simplicity coupled with its understated appearance make the B30 an obvious choice for freshmen and alumni of the espresso university alike.