Bodum Granos Espresso Machine

Ever since its first appearance at the 2004 SCAA show in Atlanta, the Bodum Granos has been causing a buzz. The way this machine looks, it was nearly impossible to walk by the Bodum booth without stopping to check it out. From its bubble-enclosed cup warmer to its bottled water reservoir adapter, this is truly an espresso machine to remember.

The Look- Housed entirely in polished stainless steel, the Bodum Granos reflects off its own curves from every direction. Sprouting from the base of the Granos is a leaning support that leads to the control center of the machine. The brew group, control panel, and steaming functions are all held in this stainless steel semi-circle. Capped with a cup warmer and clear, bubble-like lid, the control center forms an egg shaped "head" that seems to be leaning forward and encouraging you to brew. Instead of being directly connected to the central unit, the 58 oz reservoir is a stately column that sits on the right side of the machine. Unique to the Granos is the ability to replace this reservoir with your own bottled water, using the included bottle adapter. Simply insert the adapter into the mouth of the bottle, and it can be directly connected to the reservoir’s base. To ensure stability for either water container, a cylindrical stainless steel tripod encircles this area. The central unit’s neck, the base, and tripod of the reservoir then meld together in a pool of stainless steel that features a raised, basin-like drip tray that is easily removable for emptying.

The Brew-The Granos is an automatic espresso machine, sporting 7 illuminating buttons on its slim control panel. Laid out in two columns, six smaller buttons that include the brewing, hot water, and steaming controls lead to the larger power button below them. Turning on the machine results in all of the buttons flashing 3 times simultaneously, with only the power button blinking red for the remainder of the heat up process. When brewing temperature has been achieved, all of the buttons will remain steadily illuminated. You’re then ready to brew using the Granos’ chrome plated brass pressurized portafilter. The portafilter comes ready to brew with three filter baskets: a pod basket, which allows the Granos to accommodate ESE pods, and single and double shot filter baskets for use with ground coffee. The pressurized style portafilter makes it much easier to use pre-ground espresso, however, freshly ground coffee will produce the most flavorful results. After adding the coffee to the portafilter, you can lightly tamp it down using the provided coffee scoop/tamper, which – and how cute is this – stamps the Bodum name across your ground coffee. Of course, if you are using a pod, you will not need to tamp it down. Then, simply attach the portafilter to the machine and press one of the three brewing buttons to brew your espresso.

Providing maximum flexibility, the Bodum Granos is complete with two programmable brewing buttons and one manual brewing button. When you press the manual brewing button, the brewing process will continue until you press it again and stops water from flowing through the portafilter. On the other hand, the programmable brewing buttons are preset to allow a certain amount of water through the grounds, and will stop the flow of water after that amount has been dispensed. From the factory, the one-cup button is set to dispense a single shot, and the two-cup button will brew a double shot. To reprogram these buttons, you need to press the programming button, which is depicted with a solid square, before brewing. Then just press either the one or two cup button (whichever you want to program) and when the amount of liquid you desire has been released, press it again to set that volume to the machine’s "memory." Every subsequent time you press that button it will dispense the amount of liquid you programmed. Once brewing is finished, excess water and pressure are diverted to the drip tray through the use of a 3-way solenoid valve. This feature, which has only been added to a few machines in its class, is one more thing that sets the Bodum Granos apart from its competitors.

The Froth- While the machine is at brew temperature, you can easily add hot water to your espresso for a great Americano. Once your cup is in place, all you need to do is press the hot water button, which is labeled with an image of water droplets, and open the steam valve by turning the steam knob counter-clockwise. When you have the amount you need, close the steam knob and press the hot water button again to return the machine to brewing mode.

Releasing steam to froth or steam your milk is simple too. Once you’ve pressed the steam button, it will illuminate green, and the power button will blink red to indicate that the machine is heating to steam temperature. The power button will stop blinking and remain steadily illuminated when the Granos is properly heated. Making sure your frothing pitcher is in place, simply open the steam valve to release steam. To make frothing easy, Bodum has also included a rubber frothing attachment that helps to aerate the milk. This eliminates the need to "work" the milk like you need to with a traditional steam wand. The Granos’ 3 oz aluminum boiler may seem a little small to generate large quantities of steam pressure, but doesn’t pose a problem. It is very similar in size to Gaggia semi-automatics and will produce comparable results.

When you’re done frothing and have closed the steam wand, you will need to press the steaming button again to return the machine to brewing temperature. While the machine is cooling, the power button blinks green. This is slightly counter-intuitive, but is easy enough to get used to, as it is the only time this button turns fully green.

The Maintenance- Maintaining the Bodum Granos requires the same procedures as other small home espresso machines. After every brewing session, you will need to empty the spent grounds or pod from the portafilter and rinse it thoroughly. This not only keeps the coffee from getting "baked" onto the portafilter and shower screen, but will also keep your espresso tasting great time after time. The steam wand and frothing adapter will also need to be cleaned after every use for the same reason. On a fairly regular basis (whenever it’s full), the drip try will need to be emptied. The unique design of the drip tray makes this very easy, because you don’t need to twist, turn, or slide it out from under anything to remove it. It lifts off of the base easily, so you can empty it without having to worry about spilling. Bodum also recommends that the Granos be descaled every 2 to 3 months using a commercial descaler like Urnex Cleancaf. This will keep your espresso tasting great, and your machine in tip-top shape for years to come.

The Granos has made a name for itself simply with its looks, but it’s obvious that Bodum was concerned about the inside of the machine as well. With its 3-way solenoid valve and programmable brewing buttons, the machine lives up to the media buzz and promises to deliver your espresso in style.

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