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  • Pressurized Vs. Unpressurized - What's the Difference?

    A classic question for new espresso machine customers is what's the difference between an unpressurized and pressurized portafilter basket. The answer is actually pretty simple, but to understand the whole story we need to start with the basics. First of all, the portafilter is what holds the coffee when brewing espresso. It's what you grind, distribute, and tamp in. Water is then pushed through the "puck" of coffee contained in the portafilter to brew the espresso. With all of this in mind, we know that we need pressure to make this happen. That pressure is created when the pumped water meets the finely ground coffee. All of this is why espresso requires very fine coffee, so that there is the perfect amount of resistance as water is pressed through.

    The basket is the insert that holds the coffee in the portafilter. Removed from the portafilter, it looks like a metal cup with holes in the bottom. These holes are what ultimately lets the brewed coffee through into your cup. So where does the pressurized vs. unpressurized terminology come in?

    The basics

    Unpressurized baskets are what you find in higher end machines, and always how professional espresso is brewed. These are baskets that function entirely as mentioned above. In an unpressurized basket, nearly all of the resistance is created by the coffee, not by the basket. When everything is dialed in, this creates the best result, because you're making the coffee and the pump do all the work.

    Pressurized baskets are a little bit different. These baskets use one of a few different methods to artificially add resistance. In some cases, a small chamber with offset holes acts as that resistance. Others designs use a smaller set of holes centered in the middle of the basket to slow extraction. In any case, the result is artificial resistance that slows down the brewing process, giving more time for the coffee to extract.

    So why would you want one over the other?

    As noted above, unpressurized portafilters naturally provide the best extraction, creating the best espresso. With that said, this also takes a very fine grind that is carefully dialed in. This means that you have to spend time on getting everything just right, and have an espresso specific grinder. Unpressurized baskets create less perfect espresso, but are less finicky and can handle a coarser grind. It's up to you to determine where the sweet spot is for you!

  • Video Roundup: 8/16/2019

    It's that time once again!

    Time for another video roundup! We've been cooking up some great stuff this week and can't wait to share.

    First up, Gail took a look at the new Eureka Crono brew grinder:

    Next up, Allie, Nicole, and Clementine tried out or August Roast of the Month!

    Then, Gail gave us a wonderful new 2019 review of the legendary Rocket Appartamento:

    And, as always, last but far from least, Clementine Made A Honey Cappuccino!

    That's all for now, see you soon!

     

  • Roast of the Month: TOCA Pink Moon

    This month's roast of the month comes to us from the lovely TOCA coffee roasters!

    Pink Moon is a lovely blend of flavors that combines floral and fruit notes with a twist of citrus at the end. A spring roast, TOCA suggests that the floral and fruity notes inspire renewal and invigoration, and we can't help but agree! Pink Moon features Ethiopian and Guatemalan beans, two origins known for unique and recognizable flavor profiles. While the washed processing of these two coffees keeps stronger berry notes in check, there's loads here to savor. For starters, there's the more floral notes, which TOCA lists as black tea. We taste this as a nice overtone that runs through the whole sip, never quite fading. Instead, tropical fruit and citrus notes layer in on top of the tea flavors. The result is a great balance of sweet, floral, and bitter.

    Often when we say balance, we mean that the flavors of a roast sort of mix together to balance each other out. While this doesn't mean the flavors are lost in the mix, Pink Moon is an especially great example of balance actually making each flavor easier to pick out. This means that Pink Moon provides a set of noticeable, tasty notes without washing out any of the complexity. This is a great roast to try as a pourover first to get an understanding of everything at play flavor wise. From there we recommend sticking to drip and press brewing, though with just the right finesse this could also be a great espresso.

    Grab a bag today!

  • Video Roundup - 8/9/2019

    Welcome one and all to another video roundup!

     

    This week has been fun, tasty, and full of content!

    First up, Clementine, Allie, and I tasted some delicious Methodical coffee.

    Next, Gail checked out the new Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato Timer Eveoluzione R (what a mouthful)!

    And last but certainly not least, yet another sweet Coffee Collaboration with Clementine.

     

    That's all for this week, we hope to see you back next week for more coffee content!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. Shop - Installation and Setup

    It's been a while since we checked in with our friends from Piecewise Coffee Co., and they've been busy! Piecewise just had its grand opening, so we're excited to hear more from Stanton and Lindsey soon. For now, we got some insight into their installation and set up process!

    What’s the biggest task in getting machines set up and ready to run?

    That would definitely be ensuring the utility hooks up were correct. We worked with our electrician, plumber and installation company (VP Coffee in our instance) to have all the connections meeting the manufacture specifications. Now that all the utility lines are in, we will probably never think about them again, but it sure was an effort making sure they were good to go at the start.

    What kind of testing do you do regarding the setup of machines to ensure smooth operating?

    The installation company did all the testing for us for the initial install. They used calibrated weights, scales and volumetric containers to calibrate the espresso machine. Once the initial setup was completed, we pulled our first shot of espresso and started the dialing in process. It took a day or so to get a consistent quality shot to pull, but we continually tweaked settings for just over a week to get something we were really proud of! 

    Did any of your logistic plans change based on seeing the final setup?

    For the coffee gear, not really. We were really fortunate to work closely with SCG on the machine layout, thinking about the impact to workflow with the layout of piece of equipment. The end product has proven to be well thought out and meet the needs of our coffee shop. 

    Other than coffee, refrigeration is one of the only things we have seen a need for outside of what we originally planned. However, we created our under-counter space to have extra wiggle room so the space was there to be flexible. As we learn the ropes of operating, we plan to take advantage of this area. If we had to redo everything, having an increase counter height would make the under-counter area even more flexible for equipment on casters. 

    What kind of maintenance schedules do you have planned? How does maintaining an espresso machine differ from maintaining a traditional drip grinder form a practical perspective?

    The plan is to maintain regular quarterly services, as recommended by our installation company. We couldn't afford to have either the espresso machine or the batch brewer go out of service. Having this regular schedule gives us more confidence both pieces of equipment will function well over the long haul. 

    We also make sure to perform daily maintenance on the equipment. The daily cleaning procedures keep us familiar, aware and consistent in how to maintain our gear. 

    Can you talk a little bit about challenges associate with water/electricity?

    As far as the operation of equipment goes, we haven't had any issues with water impacting equipment. The electricity has been a little of a struggle. Due to building codes, a GFI outlet had to be installed on the batch brewer and bulk bean grinder outlet. This electrical circuit also happens to be on the same circuit as our small countertop oven. If the oven is running in tandem with the brewer it can trip the GFI. Super frustrating! Our electrician is working with us to plan a work around while still maintaining building codes. 

    Did you work with a technician to get things set up? If so, did they handle everything?

    Yes, our technician was from a local shop and was a certified La Marzocco tech. This was important for us since the espresso machine was purchased new and would need a proper installation to maintain the initial factory warranty. Our tech was very helpful in showing each step of the installation and providing some troubleshooting steps for common issues.

    What kind of support do you have now for long-term maintenance of your equipment?

    Our long-term maintenance will continue with the initial installation company. They also provide emergency support if the equipment decides to stop working all of a sudden. 

    What was the most exciting machine to fire up and use for the first time?

    By far it was the espresso machine! It's still a joy to come in each morning and run it through its paces for the day; however, seeing all the effort culminate with the installation was amazing. It was the icing on the cake after a lengthy build out process.

    What sort of training do you have planned for operating the machines?

    This is something we're still building. Our coffee quality manager has extensive coffee experience and has trained each barista first in distinguishing a quality espresso shot from a poor shot. From there he demonstrates how adjustments to the grinders, espresso machine and tamping can swing taste along the quality spectrum. Consistency among our baristas is most important. Long term plans include SCA training to ensure our baristas are getting the best training possible. 

    What’s the first drink you made on your new espresso machine?

    I think we just drank straight espresso shots for the first few days! 

    What other steps have to happen after setting up equipment in order to open?

    Getting a solid workflow on bar was pretty important, as was integrating our full menu into the rotation. We've been fortunate to have an extended soft opening to bring it all together slowly. The inventory process was also a huge learning curve. Find the balance between being comfortable with the stock of items on hand, having enough space, and maintaining product quality is still something we are learning.

    Are you satisfied with your equipment choices?

    Overall most definitely. The only change we would make would be a dual unit batch brewer. Having the single unit limits some of our catering options.

    Do you feel that things worked out in terms of plans versus reality?

    Time will tell, but overall things have worked fairly closely with our plans. We know there's still a long way to go before calling our coffee shop a success, but it's been a pleasure operating the shop and having most of the big picture items meet expectations from the planning stages. 

     

    We'll be back soon with more from the Piecewise Coffee Co. crew!

  • Rocket Espresso Timers

    Rocket Espresso has long been one of the most reliable, fully featured, and consistent manufacturers of espresso machines that we carry here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We love their whole range, from the classic Appartamento up through their range of home machines. We also dig their commercial machines, which are some of the finest pieces of espresso engineering that money can buy. Naturally, we're pretty excited about some new machines that made their way into our warehouse this week: Rocket home machines with timers!


    Perfect Timing

    These machines offer the same quality internals and and gorgeous stylings of Rocket's full home line of machines. What they add is a discreet, simple timer that helps you get the very most out of your shots! Any espresso enthusiast knows that timing your shots is key to brewing the very best espresso, and these machines do just that!

    These timers don't impact the classic look of the machines either. A small circle above the on/off switch contains these clean digital readouts, and they work with a flip of the brew lever. This means that for every shot you can get a simple readout of how long they take to pull with no extra equipment.

    These timers are now available on both the standard and Type R versions of the Giotto and Mozzafiato. Check out these new timer versions of these legendary machines today!

  • Introducing: Methodical Roasting

    It's time again to welcome another wonderful roaster to our lineup of roasters!

     

    Methodical Process, Methodical Coffee

    Methodical Coffee comes to us all the way from Greenville, SC. This is a roaster built on all of the pillars of the greats. That means ethically sourced green coffee, meticulous roasting, and an eye for supporting their customer. We love what Methodical has to offer both in terms of single origins and blends. Of special note is this roaster's beautiful bag art. While the bag means nothing compared to what's inside, like perfume, pretty packaging always catches our eye. Adorned with flower sketches and gorgeous labeling and typefacing, this is the kind of bag you keep on the countertop as decor as you drink through its contents. But enough about the bags, what about the coffee? Let's take a look at each of Methodical's three blends.

    Blue Boy

    Blue Boy is a blend of 70% Guatemalan and 30% Colombian beans roasted to perfection as a classic medium-light roast. The pronounced chocolate and sugar notes blend deliciously with milk for a tasty latte. We also love Blue Boy as a drip or pourover, as it offers mild, but satisfying flavors all around.

    Belly Warmer

    Belly Warmer is a fun one because it's the rare dark roast for us. While not as dark as what some would prefer, this is a tasty diner style coffee that offers the right kind of bitterness and strength. Along with heavier notes of dark chocolate, we get some earthier tones that suggest this would be a wonderful coffee after a late night or for an early morning hiking or camping. Belly Warmer features a 50-50 mix of Costa Rican and Guatemalan beans.

    Play Nice

    Play Nice was roasted with its name in mind. The idea here was to create a coffee that would work great for a wide range of drinkers. Great as a drip brew, espresso shot, or in a latte, this blend reflects the very best of what makes coffee coffee. We enjoyed this roast a variety of ways as advertised, and we think you will too. This one offers 70% Colombian and 30% natural process Ethiopian beans for a unique, but familiar set of delicious tasting notes.

    So there you have it! Methodical is a great roaster with a range of coffees for a range of drinkers. Check them out today at Seattle Coffee Gear!

  • Video Roundup: 7/12/2019

    Welcome to another video roundup! This week we've got a Coffee Collab, tasting, and more. Let's dive in!

    First up, we did a tasting of this month's Roast of the Month!

    Next up, John gave us a Crew Review of the commercial Eureka KRE Espresso Grinder!

    And finally, Clementine tried mixing coffee with orange juice. Don't knock it til' you've tried it!

    That's all for now, join us next week for more!

  • All New Brew Grinders From Eureka!

    Eureka has long been a producer of exceptional espresso grinders. For years we've enjoyed consistent, simple grinding for home and commercial espresso. One thing we always say is that drip and espresso grinders are two different animals. While many espresso grinders are capable of grinding for drip, they're not ideal. Separating these processes is convenient, but it can also be hard to to get your espresso setting back after swapping to drip. For more information on why we think budgeting for a separate drip grinder is a good call, check out this article! Without further adieu, let's dive into these two new grinders.

    The Filtro is a simple grinder with a lot of quality and consistency. It uses the stepless grind adjust, found on Eurekas espresso grinders. While stepless adjust isn't necessarily needed for drip brewing, and it is a little tricky to get the hang of at first, it also offers rock solid consistency. Powerful 50 mm flat steel burrs deliver the fluffy grounds you'd expect from Eureka grinders, but for drip instead of espresso. This grinder also grinds at consistencies perfect for pourover as well.

    The Filtro uses a simple push-button system for operation. While this isn't as convenient as timer based systems, it does mean that its easy to control. Simply hold the button down until you get the volume you want. What's nice here is that the Filtro does grind quickly, so you won't be holding that button for long. What really seals the deal on why we like this grinder so much is its price point. This is a truly affordable grinder from one of the biggest, most reliable names in the business. If you want something with a little extra under the hood, check out the Brew Pro!

    The first thing you'll notice about the Brew Pro is its touch screen, shared with its Mignon cousins. While this is still a drip grinder, its one with enhanced controls. Using the Brew Pro's screen you can set timed grinding to push and forget while you prepare your brew method. Speaking of controls, this grinder also uses a single rotation dial for its stepless adjust. This means that you won't have to spin it multiple times to find the fully closed and open positions. The Brew Pro also features upgraded 55mm burrs for more power, speed, and consistency. A truly premium brew grinder that offers just about the best you can get for non espresso brewing.

    This is a more expensive brew grinder than what you might be used to seeing. This may be the case, but between the Brew Pro's upgraded burrs, powerful motor, easy to use interface, and single rotation stepless adjust, we think it justifies its price point.

    Both of these grinders offer great options for anyone looking for a highly reliable, efficient grinder. We hope you love them as much as we do!

     

     

  • Coffee Extraction In Non-Espresso Brewing

    We talk a lot about sour vs. bitter shots in terms of espresso, but extraction matters for other brew methods too! Drip, pourover, press, espresso, cold brew, and more are all just different ways to get molecules to bond. We thought we'd talk a bit about extraction in pourover and drip coffee too!

    Sour Vs. Bitter

    You may already know that espresso shots can turn out bitter our sour. This is usually because your grind is too course or fine. A bitter shot is due to under-extraction and a sour shot is the opposite. What's happening here is that the bitter shot is being run through grounds that are too course. This means the water comes through the coffee grounds without getting a chance to properly bond with the coffee molecules. Sour shots are the opposite. In this case, the grind is too fine, making it harder for water to pass through and over extracting the coffee. Both of these things can happen in other brew methods as well!

    While its true that drip and pourover coffee are less demanding in terms of grounds, they still matter. What you're looking for here is consistency as much as fine-ness, because these brewing methods just work differently than espresso. In the case of espresso, water is being pumped through the puck of grounds. This means that finer grounds are needed to "stop" the water. In the case of drip and pourover, gravity is the thing pulling the water through. That means that much coarser grounds will work. That said, consistent grounds are important to ensure even extracation. So how do you correct for sour and bitter shots?

    Grind and Flow Rate

    The first thing to do is check your grind. Much like with espresso, if you're getting sour pourovers, consider making your grind a bit coarser. Do the opposite for bitter pots. Another thing you can seek to modify is your pour rate, and your amounts per pour. While the difference here should be minuscule, using a Gooseneck kettle will keep you from pouring too fast. In terms of amount, more water in your filter can lead to a faster flow rate through the coffee. Using less water per pour if your coffee is bitter and a bit more if its sour may not fix the problem, but it's a thing to try.

    Again though, grind courseness and consistency is almost always the most important thing!

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