Group head brush battle: Rattleware vs. Pallo

Anyone who owns an espresso machine knows (or ultimately finds out) that it’s important to clean it regularly. I’m not a pro barista by any means, but I now have two different brushes designed to keep my Gaggia Classic’s group head free of gunk. I thought it might be useful to some if I compared the two, namely Rattleware's Zig Zag and Pallo's Coffeetool.

To begin with, here’s a pic. If you want more words than this is worth, read on.

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As you can see, both incorporate a bent-handle design, which prevents hot water from finding its way to your fingers. Score!

Rattleware Zig Zag brush (on the left above):

Let's start with the pros: this brush (a) works well and (b) has a slightly narrower brush head than the Pallo Coffeetool, which allows me to clean inside the groove in my machine's group head with less bristle smooshing (for lack of a better term). However, there are some cons as well. First, the brush has white bristles, which stain easily, and the brush heads are not replaceable. Second, the Coffeetool has more functionality, e.g. a detergent scoop and a steam wand hole unclogger. I bought the Zig Zag brush as a filler on a recent order (needed to reach the $75 threshold to use a coupon); I wouldn't buy it again. It's the first Rattleware product I've been less than fully impressed with. [Aside: their tampers and pitchers are great!] Pricewise, this was $12.45 shipped from ROASTe when last in stock ($6.50 before shipping).

Pallo Coffeetool (on the right above):

For the reasons mentioned above, this brush is the clear winner, the one I reach for. Despite its length, it’s thinner and lighter (26.2 grams vs. the Zig Zag’s 39.8 grams) and, thus, feels less clumsy in the hand. Since the Coffeetool does it all, more or less, it’s also more satisfying to own for those who (like me) enjoy well-designed coffee-related gear. I bought mine from OrphanEspresso for $10.78 shipped ($8.50 before shipping). In the future, perhaps ROASTe will consider offering it.

Is there a better option for group head cleaning than Pallo’s out there? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Let's keep it real, and clean, and real clean, ROASTe peeps. On to the next gear battle...

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