Monthly Archives: April 2014
All of you techies out there are sure to fall in love with the new Jura Impressa Z9. The Swiss brand is known creating top-of-the-line machines; this one lives up to its name with an impressive lineup of features and functions. At least it impressed us anyway!
This latest addition to Jura’s army of superautomatic robots has lots programmability that enables you to speed up and simplify your morning coffee routine. The auto-on option allows you to set the machine to turn on at a certain time so it will be all warmed up and ready to go as soon as you’re out of bed. Likewise, the six preprogrammed drink options allow you to make your favorite drink with just the touch of a button. You can even customize the default settings for these drinks so they are brewed with the exact volume, temperature, coffee strength and amount of milk you prefer.
Maintaining the Impressa Z9 is also a breeze. Both descaling and rinsing are programmed into the Z9, so you can easily clean your machine whenever you desire. If you’re not sure when to clean your espresso machine, the Z9 still has you covered, as it will keep track of the number of shots you have made and notify you when it is due for cleaning. Be forewarned that the Z9 will not let you slack on cleaning, since it will not let you brew shots until you clean it or replace your filter. While this may sound a little high maintenance, the upside is this process ensures your espresso machine stays in good working order. In fact, we have found that most Jura’s rarely need to go in for service as a result.
Finally, not unlike your iPhone, the Jura Impressa Z9 has a sleek and sophisticated case and you can change the background and color scheme on the machine’s touch screen. Ultimately, this espresso maker is a great option if you like the machine to do a lot of the work for you. Perhaps you are new to coffee, have never pulled shots using portafilter or just like the convenience of having your coffee made for you. To see more of the Jura Impressa Z9’s functionality, check out Gail and Brendan as they put the machine through its paces.
Crew Review: Jura Impressa Z9
Even though Seattle actually isn’t the rainiest city in the country, we have gotten stuck with the moniker. As such, it’s no surprise that we quickly fell in love with the rain shower look and sound of the Krups Moka Brew coffee maker. For those not as fond of rain as we are this might sound weird, but it does actually look pretty cool as coffee drips down from the top of the machine as it brews.
At first glance, you might wonder what exactly the Krups Moka Brew is. Is it a moka pot or a drip coffee maker? Well, the answer is both – or somewhere in between. The Moka brew is similar to brewing with an Italian style stovetop coffee maker, like a Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker, but the Moka Brew is all-electric so you don’t need to heat it up on the stove. Since the Moka Brew shares traits from both drip and moka pot brew methods, we used a grind that was a little finer than drip but not as fine as espresso. When dosing the machine, we used about one scoop per cup of coffee and have found that it is important to spread the coffee around to make sure you get an even dispersion.
The coffee maker works by heating up the water in the base of the machine, which then forces steam into the frame of the machine, into the coffee and down into the carafe. Besides being easy to use, the Krups Moka Brew is pretty fast. It only takes about eight minutes to brew a full pot of coffee, which makes eight cups. In addition to the quick brewing time, we also liked that the machine didn’t take up much counter space and was even light enough for us to easily move it around. This makes storing the Moka Brew in your cupboard or under your counter an option as well if you don’t want to keep it out on your counter.
To learn more about the machine and see what the brewing process looks like, watch was Kris brews us up a pot of coffee.
Crew Review: Krups Moka Brew
When it comes to the oldest teahouses, the historical Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House probably has most other locations in the greater Seattle area beat. Built in 1910, the Panama Hotel is over 100 years old. However, the Panama Hotel wasn’t always a tea and coffee house, that particular feature was only added on in the past 15 years, around 1999. As the building’s name states, it was originally a hotel.
According to the historical information found on the website for the Panama Hotel, it was originally built by Sabro Ozasa, a Japanese Architect and graduate of the University of Washington. The hotel was built as a “workingman’s” hotel and has served as a home for generations of Japanese immigrants, fisherman and international travelers. One of the most notable features of the Panama Hotel is the bathhouse found in the basement that was a huge part of the Japanese community before World War II. In fact, it was this bathhouse that attracted many of the hotel’s visitors in the early 1990s, as it was a place to relax after work with their friends. Interestingly, the bathhouse is now the only remaining Japanese bathhouse left intact in the United States, which you can arrange to tour when you visit the Panama Hotel or Tea and Coffee House.
The Panama Hotel itself is still in existence, and unlike the bathhouse, the hotel rooms are still serviceable, so you can stay in one the next time you visit. However, while the Panama Hotel has interesting background, part of the building’s history is bittersweet. Just 31 years into the hotel’s lifespan, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, sending thousands of people of Japanese decent to internment camps in 1942. These families were only allowed to bring what they could carry with them to these camps, so a lot was left behind. However, many people also turned to friends they knew that had a lot of space, and asked if they could store their belongings with them. This is how the former owner of the Panama Hotel, Takashi Hori and his family, came to have the possessions from a number of Japanese families stored in his basement. Sadly, many of the belongings were never claimed after the war ended in 1945.
As a result, many of these belongings now decorate the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House, providing a look back at the first couple of decades in the 1900s. In keeping with the historical feel of the hotel, the cafe has an old and unique design. There is a lot of exposed wood and brick, black and white pictures of Japantown prior to WWII cover the walls and there is even a window in the floor that allows you to look into the basement where the possessions were stored.
Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to talk to the current owner of the Panama Hotel, Jan Johnson, to find out how she came to own the hotel or what inspired her to add a tea house to the building. However, I did take advantage of the opportunity to sample their tea. I stuck with my usual white tea for this review, and tried one called Peach Blossom. My tea arrived in a glass mug with a net-like infuser full of nearly whole tea leaves. I immediately fell in love with the smell wafting from the cup; it smelled very sweet, like peach nectar or juice - perfect for spring! After the tea had steeped for about three to four minutes, I decided to go ahead and try it out. The flavor was very light, I tasted mostly peach (much like the smell) but the tea had a few floral notes as well. This tea is definitely one of the best ones I have tasted by far, and will definitely have to return for another cup in the future.
I couldn’t let my tea go unaccompanied, so I sampled the Panini Panama. This Panini is made with cheese, tomatoes, artichokes, roasted red peppers, olive tapenade and seasoned with basil and other spices. Just the smell alone made my mouth start to water all over again. Of course, it was excellent, and tasted like a veggie pizza but in sandwich form. Besides tea and Paninis, the shop serves pastries and traditional Japanese desserts like mochi and manju. If you come between 6-8 pm you can also get a tea based cocktail. While the focus of the café is primarily on tea, the café also serves Lavazza coffee and espresso based drinks for all you coffee lovers out there.
Perhaps it is the old-timey feel of this café, but time simply seems to slow down at the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House. The slower pace and laid back atmosphere makes this a great place to relax and soak in some Seattle history. The latter of which makes this café a nice spot to take visitors, since it is one of the few places in the area where you can get a history lesson along with your cup of tea.
It’s time for another grinder matchup! In this two part series with Brendan and Gail, we got the Baratza Forte AP and the Mazzer Mini Type A together in a room and had them duke it out. This was somewhat of an easy comparison, since while these two electronically controlled grinders are similar in price; they are very different in functionality.
In the first corner is the Baratza Forte AP, which is a 54-millimeter flat ceramic burr grinder, with a removable hopper (you can also increase the size of the hopper by purchasing an extender), burr removal tool and portaholder. One of the features we love is that you have the ability to measure your dose by weight (when the grounds bin is in place) or by time (when the portaholder is in). In addition, there is an amazing range of settings on the Forte AP, as you can make both macro and micro adjustments to your grind. We tried out the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings and were impressed with how fine and coarse the Forte could actually go. This well-rounded grinder is less commercial than the Mazzer Mini, and is a great option for home users who are looking to brew different types of coffee, from espresso to drip, at any given time. We have also seen the Forte used at pour over bars, as the option to dose your coffee by weight makes it a perfect fit.
In the other corner is the Mazzer Mini Type A. With 64-millimeter flat steel burrs, the burrs on the Mazzer are slightly larger than those on the Forte AP. However, like Forte, the Mini Type A comes with a removable bean hopper that you can get in a variety of sizes (short, medium or tall). On the Mazzer, your dosage is always monitored by time, which you program, and there is a stop on the grind adjustments, so you can only take it down so far. However, with the Mini Type A it’s likely you wouldn’t be changing your grind setting very much, and when you did, you would probably be adjusting them in small increments so this isn’t a deal breaker. We tried playing with the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings on this grinder as well, and found that the finest and midrange grinds were pretty similar to those on the Forte AP, but slightly more consistent. The coarsest grind wasn’t as good as the Forte’s, but again a bit smoother. The consistency of the Mazzer Mini Type A make it ideal for commercial setting dealing mostly with espresso, which is what it was designed for, a even a high end home use.
So which grinder won this round? Check out our videos to find out and to hear Brendan and Gail’s thoughts as they play around with each grinder.
Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part One
Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part Two
We recently had the pleasure of hosting Mike Smith from the Redmond, WA based roaster Caffe Lusso. The brand was started in 1999, when roastmaster Philip Meech realized how easy it was to find a bad cup of coffee even here in Seattle, the most caffeinated city in America. As a result, Philip set out on mission to improve coffee experience in the Northwest, and to create the best cup of coffee possible from available green resources.
While Mike was in the store, he demoed his approach for brewing on the Chemex. Some people think the Chemex is just one of the hip new way to brew coffee, but it was actually invented in 1941, meaning it has been around for over 70 years! What we like the most about this brew method is that it looks like part science experiment (as you probably know by now we love science!) and also brews great coffee. It’s also a fun way to brew coffee at home, since it brings out some of the more nuanced flavors of the coffee, especially if you’re dealing with a single origin or something more unique to your coffee program. Not to mention the design of the Chemex looks really nice and is sure to impress any guests you serve.
How to Brew Chemex Coffee Caffe Lusso Style:
- Place a Chemex filter (which is basically a four-sided filter) inside the top of the Chemex, with three sides against the spout – this allows for air to pass through both in the brewing process and through out the entire brewing method.
- Before brewing, pass water that has been heated to 200 degrees over the filter in the Chemex. This pre-infusion process will get rid of any paper taste or feel from the filter and temper the glass vessel, which will help keep your coffee from getting cold.
- Once you have pre-infused your Chemex, make sure to pour out any excess water that has collected in the bottom of the carafe.
- Now, you can load your coffee into your filter. For this brew we used Caffe Lusso’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. For this roast we used the grind setting in between the notch for a flat bottom and paper cone.
- The next step is the desire amount of coffee you want into the filter. When dosing your coffee, it is always best to use a scale. You’re often supplied with tablespoons and things like for measuring out your coffee, but they are not an exact science, so it is better to us weight if you want to be consistent.
- For this brew, we scooped 44 grams of coffee into our filter, making sure to scoop a little divot out of the center, so it can capture some of the water.
- Then, pour a little water into the divot you just made in the coffee, and allow it to sit for a few seconds to serve as a pre-soak. At this point you won’t see a whole lot of coffee dripping into the carafe, but there might be a little bit.
- The next part of the process is where the actual brewing of the coffee occurs. This step takes about 3-4 minutes, so Mike recommends that you set a timer and start it to make sure you are no track with the time.
- Once you’ve started your timer, slowly pour in 700 milliliters of water. Use a circular motion that goes counter clockwise, starting from the outside of the filter and moving in.
- Since your scale was set to 44 grams when you added the coffee, you will when you have put in 700 milliliters of water when the scale reads 744. (The density of water of is equal to 1 g/mL, with the mass of 1 mL = 1 g).
- After a minute or so you’ll notice that the coffee will start dripping through the neck into the base of the carafe. Once you get to the three and a half minute range, most of the water will have passed through the grounds, and you’re brewed coffee will be in the base of the carafe. However, you can continue the brew for up to four minutes if you so desire.
- Once you’ve reached the four minute mark, you’re brew is done. Remove the filter and pour yourself a cup of coffee.
Caffe Lusso is doing a couple more events with us at our Bellevue store in May. Their farmer Sergio from Brazil will be here to discuss their farming technique on May 3rd and they will be doing a traditional cupping on May 10th where you can sample a variety of roasts. So if you’re in the area make sure to stop by, get to know the folks at Caffe Lusso and taste their delicious coffee.
Java Talk: Caffé Lusso Chemex Demonstration
Whether you’ve decked out your café with the latest and greatest espresso machines or are just starting to put together your shopping list of equipment, one of the most important things you’ll need is a commercial grinder. However, even though having a good grinder is a crucial aspect of your shop (in fact, some people would say it is even more important than your espresso machine) it can be hard to figure out exactly which one you should choose. For instance, what type and how big of a grinder do you need? Or what is the difference between all the various burr-set sizes, burr shapes and dosers anyway?
When deciding upon a grinder, the first step is to think about the type of shop you have and then calculate how many drinks you are expecting to serve per day. Based on our caffeinated mathematics for stores here in Seattle, a donut or bagel shop serves about 20-50 drinks, a coffee shop will serve around 200+ drinks and restaurant or a bar can expect to serve 10-50 espresso beverages a day. Of course these numbers can fluctuate depending on how big your store is, where it is located, etc.
Once you have determined how many people you will be serving, you can start thinking about what type of grinder to pair with your espresso machine. If you have a smaller sized bakery or donut shop with a one-group machine like a Rancilio Epoca, you’ll get something like the Mazzer Mini, which is a 58mm burr-set grinder that is perfect for doing 20-50 drinks a day. If you have a slightly higher volume store, such as a small to medium sized coffee shop that makes about 120-200 drinks a day you will need to move to a bigger grinder. Generally, if you are making this number of drinks you will have a two-group espresso machine such as the Rancilio Classe 7 or Nuova Simonelli Appia, so you will want to pair it with a 64-65mm grinder like the Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith or the Mazzer Super Jolly.
What is the advantage of having bigger burrs? You won’t have to wait as long to get a shot. With a smaller burr-set like 58mm, it will take you about 8-10 seconds to get a double shot of espresso, while with a 64-65mm burr-set it will take only 6 seconds. Thus, if you have a small volume café, it is ok to go with smaller burrs since you won’t experience as much of a time crunch. However, you cannot use a smaller grinder at shop at that is doing 150 drinks a day, as it will slow you down too much.
Does your shop fall somewhere in the middle? You can try getting a commercial grinder equipped with a doser. This allows you to make multiple drinks at once by grinding for them and then fill up the portafilter back to back. Another good rule to keep in mind is that 75 drinks a day is the limit for a smaller 58mm burr-set grinder, and 200 drinks a day is maximum for a mid-size 64-65mm burr set grinder. Finally, if you are making more like 300 drinks day rather than 200, you will need to get a large grinder to get your doses out even faster. For these grinders, you will be looking at something like the Mazzer Major, a 83mm burr-set (which is the biggest flat burr grinders get) grinder or even moving to a conical grinder such as the Compak K10.
Still have questions? Check out this video as Brandon and Kaylie describe picking out a commercial grinder in more detail.
Commercial Tips: Choosing a Commercial Grinder
We aim to please, so since several of you have asked for a video on the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 we went ahead and filmed one. After all, the Magnifica is one of our most reliable espresso machines as it as has been on both our shelves and on customer’s counters for years. In fact, we know of one customer who has had their machine for at least seven years! And why wouldn’t you want this little superauto residing on your counter? It’s compact design and built-in grinder means it won’t take much space. In addition, you can access the water tank and all of the controls from the front, so you don’t have to worry about moving your machine around to get to what you need.
Oftentimes superautomatic espresso machines come with so many bells and whistles it can be confusing to figure out how to use all of the options. Not so with the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300. What you see is what you get, and what you get with this machine is a really great deal. The Magnifica is one of the few superautos under $1,000 with a bypass doser. If you’re not familiar with bypass dosers, they are a nice feature to have since they allow you to brew with pre-ground beans as well as the whole beans in the grinder on your machine. Thus, if you want to try a different roast or switch to decafe coffee in the evenings you can do so without emptying the bean hopper on your machine.
Best of all, our customers report that they experience very few breakdowns on the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300, making them one of the least returned machines we sell. Treat your machine well, descale often and you too can you have this little robot on your counter for years to come! To see this machine’s functionality in action, check out Brendan and Gail as they make one of her famous wet cappuccinos.
Crew Review: DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300
One of the things we love the most about Rocket Espresso Machines is their beautiful and shiny stainless exterior. This casing is actually handcrafted in Italy, which makes each machine even more unique. However, a little known feature about these cases is that you can actually take them off fairly easily.
Why would you want to do such a thing? Even if your local delivery company takes every precaution into consideration when transporting your machine accidents do happen and sometimes a case gets damaged. As a side note, if you ever have to ship your machine for any reason, make sure to check out the handy shipping guide we’ve created to help ensure your machine stays in good shape while traveling. Anyhow, if you do find yourself with a damaged case you may want to order a new one to replace it with and you will need to know how to remove the old one. Or, if you’re really tech savvy, sometime you may want to work on the internals of your machine and will have to take the side panels off to access it.
Removing the side panels varies slightly for the different versions of each machine, but there are some aspects that are the same no matter what machine you have. The tools you need are a screwdriver, 7-millimeter wrench, socket set and an extension bit. Before you start to take off the side panels it is important that you make sure the machine is powered off and cold, and that you remove all of the accessories such as the lid, water tank, drip tray and portafilter.
When it comes to locating and removing and loosening the screws and bolts is where things start to change per machine. Once you have located and removed or loosed the screws on the top of your machine, the first part of the process will be to remove the cup warmer, water tank and then remove the diffuser plate. The next step is to locate the bolts on the sides, bottom and/or back of the machines and loosen them to remove the side panels. On Cellini V1, you can take the entire case off at once by standing at the back of the machine, grabbing the front casing (you will have to pull to two sides apart a bit to get around the internals of the machine) and then pulling it back toward you. On the Giotto, you can remove each side panel one at a time, for whichever side of the machine you need access to.
To see specific instructions for the Rocket Cellini and Rocket Giotto, watch as our repair tech Jeremiah takes the side panels off both machines. If you’re still not sure about taking the case off your Rocket Espresso machine yourself, we’re always here to help! Just let us know any questions you may have.
SCG Tech Tips: Removing Side Panels on Rocket Espresso Machines
In case you haven’t noticed, Brandi loves blending up different foods; and sampling the results of course! In her past recipes she has thrown a piece of cake and even a donut in a blender. This time around she blended up two candy bars (combined with a few other goodies). This leads to the question, will it blend?! There’s nothing worse than a lumpy milkshake, so we used our trusty Vitamix 300 to mix up this recipe. In our opinion, the Vitamix works just as well (if not better) than other blenders on the market. In fact, our milkshake turned out just how we like it - rich, smooth and creamy.
However, we didn’t use just any ordinary chocolate bars when making our milkshake, we used the Kona Bar. What makes these chocolate bars special is that they are made with Kona coffee beans, to provide you with a little extra perk and a little extra crunch. We used Raspberry Kona Bars in our recipe, because who doesn’t love chocolate, raspberry, coffee and ice cream? However, these bars come in other tasty tropical flavors like coconut, macadamia, vanilla, passion fruit and hibiscus, which we imagine would be equally good if you decided to substitute them in. We just started selling these bars at our retail locations, so if you live near one of our stores, make sure to come try them out.
To learn how to make this delicious coffee flavored shake, watch Brandi and Kaylie try it out in this video.
Brewin' with Brandi: Kona Bar Milkshake
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 Kona Bars (we used a raspberry flavored bar, but feel free to substitute one of their other tasty flavors)
- 4 cups of vanilla ice cream
- 1 cup of hot fudge
- Whipped cream (for topping)
- Chop up the Kona Bars into medium-sized pieces
- Combine the milk and ice cream in a blender
- Add ¾ of the chopped Kona Bars to the milk/ice cream
- Blend until smooth
- Heat the fudge and drizzle it on the bottom of the cups
- Pour milkshake on top if the fudge
- Top milkshake with whipped cream and the remaining chopped Kona Bar pieces.
Spring has long been a time of renewal and new beginnings, and that certainly seems to be the case for many of our grinders and espresso machines. A number of our favorite brands have taken your feedback on their products to heart and updated their machines accordingly, and Saeco now joins their ranks. Recently, the Saeco Xelsis Evo was released as an update to the existing Xelsis One Touch Espresso Machine.
The main difference you’ll see on the new Saeco Xelsis Evo is the updated milk carafe. Many of our customers found that on the previous Xelsis One Touch their milk wasn’t getting hot enough, which is problem that we often see on superautomatic machines. Saeco listened to this feedback and updated the hose that runs from the milk carafe to the espresso machine (it is now smaller), the lid on the milk carafe and even the milk frothing software in order to develop a machine that produces much hotter milk. The other nice thing about the Xelsis Evo is that the machine auto rinses whenever you turn it off, on or make a milk-based drink. This feature is almost as good as having your own personal maid, since it will help keep your milk carafe really clean. However, this is not an excuse to skimp on your machine’s maintenance, which is still really important if you want to keep your espresso maker in good running order.
Another thing we like about the Saeco Xelsis Evo is that it is a very sophisticated superautomatic with lots of programmability. You can create up to six different user profiles and save nine customized drink options for each profile. A few of the features you are able to adjust are the aroma (or the dosage of your coffee), the volume of the shot and if you’re making a milk-based beverage, the amount of milk you want as well. With so many options that allow you to create the perfect cup of coffee for everyone, the Saeco Xelsis Evo is ideal for a large household, or even a small office, with lots of different users. If you don’t have a large family, don’t be surprised if a lot of your friends start coming over for visits!
To learn how to take advantage of all the options on this machine, watch Gail and Brendan as they try a few of them out and make a cappuccino.
Crew Review: Saeco Xelsis Evo
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