Monthly Archives: August 2010
As we have been tracking over the past couple of years, global warming has been impacting coffee growing regions around the world -- from excessive rains leading to flooding to increased temperatures minimizing the available coffee-friendly agricultural regions.
The Guardian now has another update for us: The temperatures are warming enough that they are inviting a lovely little pest, the coffee berry borer, to live in higher and higher altitudes. This little beetle wants the same thing we do -- coffee, delicious coffee! -- but couldn't hang with the coffee crops all that often because they preferred a cooler clime than the beetle's 68F degrees. Warming kicked up temps in parts of Ethiopia's mountainous growing region to this level in around 1984 and scientists have been tracking the borer's population expansion ever since -- it's now present in every coffee growing region except Hawaii, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
Coffee's commodity price has been slowly increasing as a result of environmental and economic pressures and is at its highest this year. With an estimated $500m damage sourced to the coffee berry borer crew, it will only serve to increase the cost even more.
As we wrote about in March, Nespresso's historically proprietary capsules were slated for competition this summer -- and it's about to get real. Both Sara Lee's L'Or capsules and the Ethical Coffee Company's biodegradable capsules have hit the market and Nestle has begun an avid defense of their ~1700 patents on how the espresso is produced on their machines.
With lawsuits in the works and police raids of manufacturing facilities in France, it's clear that Nestle's Nespresso business model is designed around a lack of competition. Since we're ardent supporters of competition and believe it to be in the best interest of the customer, it's hard for us to empathize with Nestle's position on this one.
As with the machines themselves, there seems to be different target markets for each of the competitive capsules being produced and that kind of diversity will only serve to increase the reach, accessibility and attractiveness of the equipment itself. If you have people concerned about the environmental impact of the capsules, they can purchase the equipment and go with Ethical Coffee Company's capsule approach; similarly, if someone is more budget conscious and willing to take a bit of a reduction in quality, it sounds like the L'Or capsules are cheaper but maybe not quite as tasty as the original. In both cases, Nestle should see the competing products as another marketing arm that feeds into their machine sales. Obviously, their model is designed around lower cost machines that are supported economically by capsule purchases over the life of the equipment, but the biggest complaint and 'no' factor we see on the retail side is this lack of easily accessible capsules.
On the US front, Green Mountain and Lavazza are in final negotiations to team up and take another stab at Lavazza's capsule-based espresso in this market, so the competition will be equipment based, as well, within the next few years. In our opinion, both pressures will result in better options for the customer at the end of the day, so we're all for it.
We're trying to hold onto summer with our bare teeth, but the weather is not cooperating. The iced drinks have been front and center for awhile, so here's a warm concoction for you to enjoy if chillier weather is nipping at your toes.
- 1 oz. Monin White Chocolate Sauce
- 3/4 oz. Monin Blueberry Syrup
- 2 shots of espresso
- Steamed milk to taste
Mix sauce, syrup and espresso in a cup; stir while filling with steamed milk. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh blueberries if you have 'em.
Got a spare $13k lying around that you're just not sure what to do with? Of course you do! And the obvious expenditure is on a commercial-class superautomatic like the Rancilio Egro ONE.
OK, maybe it's not up your alley for a home machine, but this fully programmable superautomatic would be right at home in a convenience store -- you can program specific drinks and set it up to take payment -- or a high capacity restaurant, cafe or drive-through espresso stand that requires extreme efficiency.
Watch Gail go through all the features and make us a few different drinks on this super fancy little number.
We recently got our little paws on the very popular programmable One-Touch Tea Maker by Breville. Featuring presets for type of tea (black, green, Oolong, herbal, etc.) and then a correlated variable steeping time that determines brew strength, the One-Touch Tea Maker also lets you customize for your preferences and program it for auto-on functionality. Yes, that means you can finally realize your dream of waking up to that fresh pot o' tea in the morning.
Watch Gail run through features, functionality and then brew up a pot of Dammann loose leaf tea.
Saeco's Odea Go and Giro superautomatic espresso machines are a little bit on the tenderhearted side: They have sensitive sensors that are sometimes difficult to interpret.
We commonly receive calls from customers who are being prompted to empty the waste drawer (dregs box and water tray located with the brew group on the right side of the machine) more often than they deem necessary. There are two sensor lights that can indicate this needs to happen:
This light specifically indicates that the dregs drawer needs to be emptied This light indicates any number of issues are present and is not specific -- you may need to add beans, add water or empty the dregs drawer
The dregs box that catches used pucks doesn't use a sensor that measures the volume, rather, it's based on cup count -- around every 10 shots it will indicate that the dregs box needs to be emptied. The waste water area under the brew group, however, is pressure sensitive and will indicate it needs to be emptied once a specific weight has been reached.
If you see the warning light and empty only the dregs box and not the waste water drawer as well, it will reset the dregs box shot count but then indicate (likely shortly thereafter) that the drawer needs to be emptied again because the waste water has reached capacity. And vice versa. Another cause for the frequency may be that the dregs box was removed, emptied and placed back into the machine too quickly or when the machine was off, so that the shot count was not reset.
You can easily keep these overactive lights at bay by thoroughly cleaning the dregs drawer -- both the box and the waste water area -- each time it indicates it needs to be emptied. Also, making sure you do this when the machine is on is very important. Finally, expect that it's going to happen about every 10 shots or so -- and if you're drinking 4 - 6 shots a day, you won't be able to let those little pucks hang out in the dregs drawer longer than a couple of days.
If you've misplaced your user manual and want to refresh your memory on how your Odea functions, here are PDF versions of the Giro and Go.
After years of schleppin' java to the rumpled masses, the founders of Cafelat decided it was time to throw their tamper in the proverbial ring. Their line of professional-grade tools feature well-honed functionality set off by a sleek, classic design that seasoned baristas and home enthusiasts alike will dig.
We now carry them at Seattle Coffee Gear, offering a few different styles of tampers, knock boxes and frothing pitchers -- but what we really love is the corner tamping mat (so stable!) and the tamping stand (an even tamp, finally!). Plus, their high quality construction and elegant lines also give your espresso setup the look of a seasoned pro, even if you're just starting to get the hang of it. ;)
It's hot! It's sultry! It's so deliciously summery here in the Pacific Northwest, we need something icy sweet to help us cool off. But you know we always have to have a little bit o' spice with our sweetness, right?
Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into serving glass and garnish with caramel sauce and cinnamon-dusted apple slice.
The most frequent repair issue we see on Ascaso Dream machines (both the older version and the new UP) is a burned out boiler. These machines are single boilers without an automatic boiler refill, so folks often burn out the boiler because they don't pull enough fresh water into the boiler before trying to steam or brew.
Watch Gail as she walks us through refilling the boiler and temperature surfing on the Dream UP.
Another Rancilio-related FAQ is about the Rocky grinder. Over the last six months or so, we've seen an increase in customers contacting us with issues around the Rocky's ability to effectively grind oilier dark-roasted beans. Gail talks to us about the issue and her theory about what's going on.
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