Monthly Archives: June 2014
The grand opening of our Portland store this past weekend was a great success! We had a great turn out and had a wonderful time meeting all of you. Thank you so much for your support. Besides getting a chance to meet everyone, one of our favorite parts of the weekend was the coffee! We had a couple of our local roasters brewing on our store during the event and we got to try out some coffee from a few of the other local roasters we carry as well.
For instance, while we were visiting with Water Avenue Coffee, one of their baristas, Joshua, was kind enough to demonstrate to us how they brew coffee on a Chemex. This was a real treat for us, since we really like brewing on the Chemex. We’ve found that it creates a really smooth and tasty brew. Not only did we enjoy the coffee, but it is also fun for us to see how different roasters brew since they each have their own unique method. Watch Joshua in action to learn Water Avenue’s approach to making coffee on a Chemex.
How to Brew Single Serve Chemex Coffee Water Avenue Coffee Style:
For this brew, we used Water Avenue Coffee’s El Salvador El Manzano roast, which is a Red Bourbon, pulped natural from El Salvador that was ground just finer than drip coffee.
- Pre-wet your filter paper, with some of the 192-degree water you heated for your brew.
- Pour 31g of coffee into filter. Settle the grounds.
- Bloom coffee for about 25 seconds by pouring in 40g of water (about 10% of the water). Make sure to use a swirling motion, inside out, while pouring. This helps ensure that all grounds are saturated so the water disperses better when you do the continuous pour.
- Continuously pour 410g (450g total by weight) of water in a tight circular motion over a period of one minute. When you do the pour, pour the water in a steady stream and move in concentric circles. This is important so as to disperse the turbulence of the water and not break up the grounds, which leads to over extraction.
- During this pour aim to get through all 450 grams of water and finish the pour at about 1 minute and 20 seconds.
- Let the coffee extract for another minute and half (3 minutes total), give or take about 10 sec, depending of the density of the coffee and the quality of the pour.
- Tip: At the end of the extraction you should have a wall of coffee around the edge your filter, which means you poured correctly. The turbulence of the water was dispersed during the pour, meaning the water didn’t hit the side of the Chemex and wash all the grounds down, which is what you want to see. You don’t want to see the bare sides of the Chemex, as that means too much coffee has gone down to the bottom.
- After your coffee has finished extracting, throw away your filter, pour coffee into a preheated cup, and enjoy.
Java Talk: Water Avenue Chemex Demo
All of our hard work and planning have paid off, and our Portland location is now open! If you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, please do. Might we suggest that you stop by to take part in our Grand Opening celebration tomorrow, and enjoy some free treats and as much coffee as you can drink!
We are excited to be a part of the “Rose City” and have been soaking in the amazing coffee culture and community. “What, I thought Seattle and Portland were rivals?” some people may exclaim. The truth is, just like most siblings, Seattle and Portland may give each other a hard time every now and then, but we do actually love our sister city. While both cities are gems of the Pacific Northwest for different reasons, they do have one thing in common – the love of great coffee. What makes this shared love more interesting is that each city has developed its own unique culture around the brew.
Since we’ve been down in Portland, we’ve had the opportunity to explore this culture a bit more in depth. We were fortunate enough to get to chat with some of the local roasters we are featuring in our SCG Portland store. We recently sat down with Matt Milletto, one of the co-owners at Water Avenue Coffee, to talk shop at the company’s retail and roasting facility in Portland’s Southeast Industrial district. Here is where Water Avenue produces all of the coffee that they sell to their wholesale accounts, and the space also features a coffee bar that acts as a showcase for their coffees. The coffee factory certainly has been making a name for itself since it’s inception four years ago, and has been repeatedly been named one of the best places for coffee in town.
According to Water Avenue’s owners (Bruce Milletto, Matt Milletto and Brandon Smyth), they got the idea to open a coffee shop when they were browsing vintage roasters online. They ultimately purchased a 1974 Samiac roaster and began building a business from there. Matt explained that the name “Water Avenue” is a toast to street they are located on, since the area has been such a success for them. In fact, the neighborhood has rapidly grown around them, and Matt states that their business has been doing three times what they forecasted in their initial projections. Matt believes this success can be largely attributed to the fact that Portland has an outstanding community that has enabled the city to truly become a destination for specialty coffee. Check out the video to hear more about Water Avenue Coffee’s history and Matt’s thoughts on the culture of the town we are proud to now call our home.
Meet the Roaster: Water Avenue Coffee
Can you believe we’ve almost reached the end of June already? What is even more exciting is that the Grand Opening of our SCG Portland store is just three short days away! The Grand Opening festivities will begin at 10:00 a.m. so make sure to arrive early and join us for day filled with delicious coffee tastings, raffle drawings and other goodies.
Free Gift Bags
The first 30 customers in the door will get a free gift bag packed with all kinds of sweet stuff:
- Shot Glass
- A candy bar (loaded with coffee beans, of course!)
- And more!
Free Gift with Purchase (while supplies last)
Something has to be a surprise, right? Let’s just say this: You’ll be sporting your love of coffee!
Tastings and Demos
In addition to our slew of giveaways, we’ll also be treating your taste buds. Local roasters like Ristretto and Sterling will be hosting coffee tastings through out the day. Likewise, Bonavita and Krups will be stopping by to teach you how to brew up the perfect cup of coffee or espresso on their gear. It wouldn’t be summer without some frosty treats to help you cool down, so we’ll also be mixing up some sweet snacks on our Breville ice cream maker.
If you’re in the area this Saturday, we’d love for you to stop by and help us celebrate the opening of our third retail store. You can find us at: 26 NW 23rd PL, Portland, OR 97210.
Just when you thought brewing your morning cup of Joe or espresso on a fully automatic espresso maker couldn’t get easy easier, Nespresso has created a new machine that further simplifies the process. Not only is the Nespresso VertuoLine capable of brewing espresso and coffee, but it also has been designed to do the thinking for you when it comes to making your preferred beverage.
How this possible? The machine is programmed to read the bar code that is printed around the rim of each capsule and determine the pressure (it still does nine bars of pressure on espresso), water volume, temperature and rotational speed it should use to brew each blend. If you’re wondering what rotational speed has to do with making coffee, Nespresso has developed a new technology that actually spins the coffee capsule while it is brewing. Water is then injected into the capsule while it spins, which likely allows the grounds to get better saturated. Some people may miss having the ability to program their machine themselves, but Nepresso believes you won’t ever need to as they have done a lot of testing to ensure their brewing parameters are just right.
One downside of the Nespresso VirtuoLine is that the old Nespresso capsules won’t work with it, since they aren’t designed for the VirtuoLine system. Thus, if you are upgrading from one of the previous Nespresso machines, make sure to use all of your old capsules before retiring your old machine. However, your new Nespresso VertuoLine does come with a sample box of capsules (or “Grand Crus” as Nespresso calls them), so you can sample the four espresso and eight coffee blends to determine which ones you like the best.
Overall, we really liked this upgrade to the Nespresso line. This compact machine brews a very hot and smooth cup, with a lot of crema. There is even a surprisingly large amount of crema on the coffee option; you may want to stir it in to the rest of the coffee in order to combine the flavors. Likewise, since the VertuoLine is so easy to use, it is a great option for people who want no muss and no fuss when creating their brew. The machine is also great for people who only want to brew one cup at a time or for households where everyone wants something different. To see how the new brewing process works, watch as Gail and Dori give the coffee and espresso a whirl on the VertuoLine.
Crew Review: Nespresso VertuoLine
If you’re lucky, you have a summer filled with fun adventures ahead of you. However, you maybe wondering what you are going to do without your favorite coffee or tea while you are away from home. Even if you don’t have a vacation planned, you may wish that you could take your coffee or tea with you on your ride to work. If you fall into either of these two categories, we have a variety of Planetary Design French presses that you can grab and take with you when you are on the go.
One option is the Table Top Coffee Press. This French press is available in a couple of sizes to ensure you have enough coffee for everybody. Although this press was originally designed for indoor use, it is incredibly durable and is perfect for camping and outdoor entertaining. Likewise, since the press is double walled and vacuum-insulated, it will keep your coffee warm for hours even if it is a little chilly outside.
The other Planetary Design French Press we carry is the Double Shot Travel Mug and Press. This French press is great for camping and back packing as well, and there are a couple of features we particularly enjoy. The first is that the travel mug comes with two lids, one lid that has a built in press mechanism and one lid that is a regular sippy top, so you can switch them out depending on which one you want. The second feature we like is the hidden compartment, which is found beneath the bottom of the cup, that allows you can store extra coffee or tea for later use.
While both of these French presses have great filtration systems, the Table Top Coffee Press even has two filters, we suggest that you use coarsely ground coffee with this French press. If you grind your bean to the finer side, you still may end up eating your coffee. To discover how to operate all of the Planetary Design French presses, watch as Dori walks us through their benefits.
Quick Review: Planetary Design French Presses
In our technologically advanced lives, where nearly everything can be done in an instant, the desire for a fully automatic espresso machines is continuing to grow. Luckily, we have brands like Krups who are “dedicated to precision and technical perfection” to continue to create fancy little superautos for us. We recently got our paws on the newest machine to hit the U.S. market, the Krups Falcon EA84, and decided to give it a whirl.
With such an impressive name, we were a little disappointed that the Krups Falcon didn’t fly around our kitchen when we unpacked it. In all seriousness though, this machine does have some pretty impressive features. Instead of having pre-set drink options, the EA84 allows you to tailor your drinks to your specifications on the fly. For instance, you can choose the number of shots you want, the strength of the coffee (aroma) and the volume of water used to make the drink. Besides being smart enough to create the perfect drink, this machine also keeps track of how many drinks you’ve brewed and how many coffee pucks are in the dregs box. This allows the Falcon to remind you when it is time to clean the machine, descale, empty the dregs box and change the filter.
Another aspect we like about this machine is the super cappuccino, which is a milk frother and hose that you can attach to the steam wand to create rich and steamy microfoam. In fact, for automatic steamer, the super cappuccino gets surprisingly hot. In addition, there is even a handy container built into the corner of the machine’s drip tray where you can store this device when it is not in use. Ultimately, the Krups Falcon has a lot of programmability, making it a good option for someone who likes to try new things, and not get in a routine of having the same shot every day. To learn more about the Falcon, watch as Gail, Brendan and Scooter examine its functions.
Crew Review: Krups Falcon
Want to flavor your coffee, with cream, sugar and more coffee? Well, we have just the thing, with a bit of a sweet twist. What is this magical potion? Espresso sugar cubes! These sugar cubes are similar to the popular drink “shot in the dark,” which is a shot of espresso poured into a cup of coffee. If this blend of coffee, sugar and espresso doesn’t wake you up and get you’re heart racing in the morning, we don’t know what will!
These caffeinated sugar cubes are surprisingly easy to make. All you need is white sugar, brewed espresso and a few cooking utensils. If you want to get fancy, you can try experimenting with cookie cutters or ice cube molds to create different shapes like hearts, stars or seasonal patterns. If you really want to step up your game you can also try flavoring the cubes with something besides espresso, such as Monin syrups. For instance, we think Toasted Almond Mocha sounds pretty tasty, and that Rose flavored sugar cubes would even pair well with tea. In other words, don’t be surprised if you find us back in the kitchen playing around with sugar in the not so distant future. In the meantime, watch Brandi and Kaylie get their buzz on as they mix up these espresso sugar cubes.
Brewin' with Brandi: Espresso Sugar Cubes
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 tablespoons brewed espresso
- Measure out the white sugar and brewed espresso into a large mixing bowl.
- Stir the ingredients together until everything is moistened and combined. The mixture should have the texture of wet sand.
- Pour mixture onto a large rectangle baking dish or baking sheet, and smooth out the mixture with a spatula. You’ll want the mixture to be about ½ inch high, otherwise you will have giant sugar cubes.
- When you have achieved your desired thickness, cut the sugar mixture into small squares to form cubes.
- Let the cubes air-dry, uncovered for 12-24 hours.
Here at SCG, we discuss the importance of taking care of various espresso machines and coffee accessories quite a bit. So, imagine our surprise when it came to our attention that we had yet to cover cleaning and maintaining a drip coffee maker. Although we use these machines every day, it seems that they are so easy to use that we tend to forget that they need maintenance too. Once we realized we were remiss in our ways, we set out to remedy the situation as soon as possible. We took stock of our machines, and realized that the much-loved Technivorm Moccamaster in our break room was overdue for a cleaning. Thus, we temporarily borrowed this little dude to return it to its shinning glory.
The first step in maintaining your drip coffee maker is making sure to descale from time to time. Technivorm recommends using Urnex’s Dezcal Coffee/Espresso Machine Descaler, so we used it for our descaling process, but it is a good idea to check with the manufacture of your particular machine to see what they suggest. To descale, simply mix the descaler with hot water and fill up the water tank with the mixture. When you turn the machine on, the mixture will be pulled through the water path of the machine and clear put any scale that has built up. Once you have finished descaling, make sure to run two cycles of just plain water through your machine to rinse out all of the descaling solution.
After you have descaled your drip coffee maker and rinsed it free of solution, the third, and final, step in this maintenance process is to give your machine a good cleaning. To do so, soak all parts of the machine that come into contact with coffee residue in Cafiza. Generally speaking, these pieces are the coffee pot, coffee pot lid, brew basket lid, water tank lid, spray arm and brew basket. Let all of this gear soak for about 5-10 minutes, then give it a rinse and wipe it down. You also may want to dip a rag into your Cafiza solution and give the outside of the water tank, heating plate, stand, etc. a good wipe down to get your coffee maker extra clean.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while descaling a drip is easy, it doesn’t mean should do it all the time. Generally most manufactures will have a recommendations for often you should descale, so it’s a good idea to consult your manual or local service center for advice before you start the descaling. To learn more about how to clean and maintain your drip coffee maker at home, watch Brendan take us through the process in this video.
Tech Tips: Cleaning and Maintenance for Your Drip Coffee Maker
What’s better than opening one new store this summer? Opening two! In continuation with our plan to take over the world, we are proud to announce that we will be opening a SCG Store in Westlake Center. The store will be our third location in the greater Seattle area and the fourth retail location we’ve opened overall.
The store will be open for business on July 15th, and we will be having a special grand opening celebration on July 19th. In addition to being located in the heart of downtown Seattle, one of our favorite things about this location is all of the windows. The store has a bank of windows that look out onto the mall and there are also several windows that face onto 5th Avenue, allowing you to find us easily from every direction.
As you might have guessed, Gail and Jim (and Scooter!) are once again busily working away in our shop. Yep, they have this build on top of the one they have already been working on for Portland; and you thought you had a jam-packed summer. As busy as we may sound, we are really excited about our grand openings, as they will make for an excellent summer. We also looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces in our stores, and hopefully some old ones too!
We recently made a trip down to the SCG Westlake store to pick out paint colors and determine what kind of fixtures we would like to install. Check out the video below to catch a sneak peek of the space.
SCG Westlake Store Update #1
Recently, the Seahawks have been a pretty deal around these parts. They did win the Super Bowl after all. Not ones to fall behind on a trend, we decided to celebrate their success by creating our own yummy treat – the Seahawk burger!
What makes this burger special? It has espresso in it! What, you thought we’d make something that didn’t involve coffee? Besides espresso, this burger contains the usual ingredients you would expect to find. To keep this recipe local, we did try to use Washington or Seattle-based produce, coffee and wine. Think Beecher’s cheese, Chateau Ste. Michelle wine and locally roasted espresso. We think this burger might also pair really well with a beer from one of our many craft breweries, such as Redhook or Pyramid. However, if you don’t live in the area, feel free to substitute in your own local brands.
While some naysayers, or fans of rival teams, may try to argue that football season is over, nothing says summer like grilling burgers on the barbeque. If it happens to be raining, you can always cook the burgers in a skillet. Plus, these burgers are a great way to help tide yourself over until football season starts up again.
Hungry? Check out our video to learn how to make these giant (and tasty!) Seahawk burgers with Brandi and Kaylie. You may even catch a glimpse of a surprise guest.
Brewin' with Brandi: Seahawk Burger
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 sliced sweet onion (such as a Walla Walla)
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- salt and black pepper to taste
- ½ cup Washington state red wine (Merlot or Syrah)
- ½ shot brewed espresso (such as Zoka’s Espresso Paladino Blend)
- 4 (6 oz.) grass-fed ground beef patties
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 cup arugula (you will need a ¼ cup for each burger)
- 12 slices of Colby Jack Cheese (use 3-4 slices for each burger)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha sauce
- ½ shot brewed espresso
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions and mushrooms in the oil until the onions start to caramelize and mushrooms soften, or about 5-10 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to the skillet to season the vegetable mixture. When the mixture has cooked down, add the red wine and ½ shot of brewed espresso (reserving the other ½ for later).
- Cook the vegetable mixture for five more minutes until most of the wine and espresso burn off. This will give the mushrooms and onions a really nice flavor.
- In the meantime, cook four hamburger patties to taste and begin preparing the Seattle aioli.
- To make the aioli, combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and other ½ of the espresso shot together in a medium sized bowl. Wisk until smooth.
- Spread aioli on each hamburger bun.
- When the burgers are done grilling, top each patty with 3-4 slices of Colby jack cheese, mushroom and onion mixture and arugula lettuce.
- Makes four large burgers – enjoy!
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