Monthly Archives: May 2018

  • Roast of the Month: Olympia Coffee Roasting—Burundi Gitwe Honey

    This month's roast of the month is a stellar single origin from Olympia Coffee Roasting.

    We were immediately taken by this Burundi. Coffees from the region can be very hit or miss. Natural process Burundis tend to taste extremely strong, to some presenting sour, stale notes. While we definitely didn't find that to be the case with Olympia's Gitwe Natural, we love the Honey processed version even more.

    A Study in Processing

    Honey processing is a middle ground between washed and natural processing.  Washed processing involves removing all of the fruit from the plant, then cleaning the beans with water. This gives you the purest taste of the beans themselves, without any fruit adding to the flavor. By contrast, a natural process means leaving fruit on the beans through processing, causing the beans to absorb some of that flavor. In a honey process, fruit is partially removed, and the remaining plant is left to sun dry. This processing results in a flavor somewhere between a natural and wash processed coffee. You still get the fruity flavor, which manifests in the cherry and pomegranate notes of this roast, but without the bite of a natural. This allows the richness (represented here by notes of rum) of the beans to come through without being dashed by heavy sweetness.

    Order While You Can!

    The only downside to this roast is how limited it is! As with any single origin, when it's gone, it's gone, and Olympia has already completed roasting for this one. Grab a bag here! It's worth noting too that while we did love the honey process version, all of Olympia's Burundis this season satisfy. If you can't (or even if you can!) get ahold of a back of Gitwe Honey, be sure to check out the natural and washed versions as well.

    Check back with us next month for more roasts of the month!

  • Recipe Spotlight: Cold Brew

    Summer can only mean one thing! Cold brew!

    We thought you might enjoy a couple of interesting cold brew recipes to beat the Summer heat with!

    Vanilla Almond Swirl

    What you'll need:

    • 3oz Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
    • Almond Milk
    • 2-3 Drops of Vanilla Extract
    • Pinch of Cinnamon
    • Ice

    First add almond milk to taste, being careful not to overpower your coffee! From there, simply drop in the vanilla and stir, then either stir it in, or sprinkle your cinnamon on top! This should create a creamy, slightly spicey twist on your normal cold brew!

    Honey Coffee Blender

    What you'll need

    • 3oz Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
    • 3/4 Cup Frozen Yogurt (We Recommend Classic Flavor, Nonfat)
    • 1/2 Cup of Ice Cubes
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp Honey

    Throw everything into a blender, then blend until you get a smooth, creamy consistency! Blend a few extra servings for an interesting, tasty dessert for your Summer barbecue!

    What's your method of choice for enjoying a cold brew this Summer?

     

  • Video Roundup 5/25/2018

    Hey everyone!

    In case you missed it, Gail gave us some great tips this week. First, be sure to check out her video on dialing in a superautomatic:

    Next, we took a look at the new Baratza Sette 270Wi!

    Finally, Gail walked us through the differences between Breville's YouBrew and Grind Control machines:

    Thanks for watching, and as always, remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: Coffee and Beer!

    Coffee Culture Around the World is our series on the ways coffee impacts people and industries all over the planet!

    Similar vision, similar audience

    Coffee and beer have a lot more in common than you might think, even without the growing popularity of coffee notes in craft beer. Similar to micro-roasters, craft brewers are constantly taking on massive, global brewers that dwarf them in market share and production. Also like roasting, people are incredibly passionate about the beer they drink and the people that produce it. Additionally, while brewing and roasting may differ greatly in process, brewers and roasters share another commonality: Distance from farmers. It's rare that a brewer has access to the hop farmers that provide the basic ingredients to their products. Roasters have a similar difficulty, being unable to see beans from planting through processing. Finally, stouts and porters tend to have notes of coffee in them even without the addition of grounds. This is due to the longer roasting time of the grains present in beer.

    It makes sense then, that craft breweries and micro roasters might be able to work together so easily.

    Combining bean and brew

    The first consideration a brewer must make when setting out to make a coffee beer is selecting a roast. While single origins may be delicious, typically brewers need something produceable on a larger scale. On top of this, variations in the flavor of the roast can impact the balancing act of notes in the beer, so consistency is key. This is why brewers tend to go for roasts that are produced in larger quantity, and that are available year-round. Since the coffee is going direct from bag to brew, they will usually purchase it ground as well.

    To add coffee to beer most brewers use a cold brewing method. Often, water is combined with the coffee in a traditional cold brew to extract the flavor from the grounds. In other cases, grounds are added directly to the beer early in the brewing process, then cold-pressed out. Occasionally, whole beans are even used instead of grounds. These infusion methods change the intensity and aroma of the beer considerably, so brewers tend to tweak methods of adding grounds extensively before settling. On top of this, every roaster has to adapt to changing economic conditions of their suppliers, so roasts tend to change over time as well. This leads to constant tweaking in the brew, making coffee based beers one of the most complex to keep consistent.

     The perfect pair

    As you can see, a lot more goes into brewing a great coffee beer than dumping some mass produced grounds into the tank. Brewers and roasters work closely to combine their products, and the results are even more tasty and complex than each beverage on their own.

     

  • New Product Spotlight: Baratza Sette 270Wi

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi offers a few great improvements of the 270W. The old model was the first grinder to feature Acaia technology in the grinder itself. If you've never heard of Acaia, they make excellent scales specifically for weighing coffee. This means that you can save tablespace by combining grinder and scale, a great option for those working with smaller kitchens. Because the grinder is adjustable you can also grind into a plastic container (included in the box) instead of a portafilter. This flexibility makes the Wi a solid choice for grinding for pourover as well. The Wi operates on the high quality conical steel burrs you'd expect from a high end grinder.

    Intelligent Technology

    The original 270W featured two circuit boards, one that measured weight and one that controlled grinding. This led to a slight delay in start and stop time for grinding. The 270Wi combines these two processes in one circuit board, resulting in much more accurate grinds to the weigh you set.

    The Wi also learns as you grind. If you set grind weight at 22 grams and the grinder under grinds to 21.4 grams, it'll compensate on the next grind. If it then over grinds it'll compensate back. While this process can take a few grinds to dial in, eventually it'll nail your target weight every time.

    Improved Usability

    The other addition to the Wi is the pulse feature. This allows you to pulse a little extra coffee into your container or portafilter. You could also, in theory, pulse an entire grind if you want to circumvent the automatic grinding.

    Additionally, you can stop and restart automatic grinding without fear of the grinder restarting the grind process and over grinding.

    Finally, slight modifications to grind speed has resulted in a minor noise reduction over the W as well.

    Our early tests with the 270Wi have been quite promising. You can check out what our resident expert Gail has to say about the Wi in our crew review below, and order one for yourself here!

     

  • From Planting to Process, The Life of a Coffee Bean - Part 1

    Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we're passionate about sharing the knowledge we've gained about our favorite subject: Coffee! From how beans are grown to brewing the perfect espresso, and so much more, Join us Mondays to learn!

    Coffee goes through quite the life before it makes it to your pantry. We think learning about how the bean makes it from farm to roaster is just as important as whether you brew a pourover or press. That's why we've decided to dive into the farming and processing of coffee beans for this two part series!

    Choosing a bean

    Obviously the first step in producing coffee is picking the type of plant you want to grow. There are actually over 2 dozen species, but only a few of them produce beans fit for roasting.

    The first, and most common, is Coffea Arabica, usually shortened to "Arabica." You've probably heard of Arabica coffee plants, because they make up almost all of the roasts you'd buy from us or other specialty coffee retailers.  Arabica plants need a temperature range of 64-70 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive. For this reason, they're typically grown in tropical climates at higher elevations. This need for steeper farmland makes mechanical farming virtually impossible, so most Arabica coffee is hand picked. Arabica coffee plants are also more susceptible to pests than the Robusta plants we'll discuss next. For these reasons, while more common, Arabica beans tend to be more expensive.

    By contrast, Coffea canephora, or Robusta coffee plants, are heartier and cheaper to produce than Arabica. These plants thrive in a wider temperature band and handle pests better than their more fragile counterparts. Frequently used in instant coffee, Robusta beans tend to be higher in caffeine and harsher tasting.

    Finally, Coffea liberica Bull. ex Hiern, otherwise known as Liberian coffee, is the only other coffee plant species grown for commercial sale. This plant is grown in Malaysia, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire, and makes up less than 5% of the coffee market. Liberian Coffee is heartier than Arabica and tends to have a flavor profile more reminiscent of Robusta beans. This coffee species can be a good fit for blends.

    Where to grow?

    As you're probably already aware, coffee is grown all over the world. As noted above, tropical and sub tropical climates with large elevation changes make for the best places to grow coffee. Because of this, it makes sense that roughly a third of the world's coffee is produced in Brazil. With that said, dozens of other countries from around the world produce coffee. Places like Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Honduras produce hundreds of thousands of metric tons of coffee per year. On the flip side, though countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi produce less, they can be highly sought after for variations in taste.

    We'll dive into a more complex look at each region's crops and their characteristics in later posts. For now though, just know that everything from soil, to sunlight, to elevation, and more goes into making each crop unique. This variety is great for the budding coffee enthusiast, because it gives you a huge range of beans to try. It also gives you a great checklist of things to look out for when buying coffee.

    Join us next time, where we'll take a look at the variety of ways to process coffee after it's harvested!

    Thanks for reading, and as always, remember to make coffee you love!

     

     

     

  • Gear of the Month: Fellow Stagg EKG+

     

    Welcome to Gear of the month, our monthly series on coffee hardware. These are pieces of coffee tech that we really love, that we've used a lot in the past month. While not always new, they’re great, and we want to show them to you!

    This month’s gear of the month is the Stagg EKG+, from Fellow.

    The EKG+ is the new update to the existing EKG, and it may never leave our pourover counter. Winner of the 2018 Red Dot Design Award, The Stagg EKG+ is a phenomenal new electric kettle from Fellow. It offers an iOS app, Acaia integration, and frankly stunning ergonomics and aesthetics. Overall this kettle is about as loaded with features as is possible for a simple piece of hardware. Though for $200, it better be.

    Look and feel

    Before we dive into the connected features of this device, is it good at it’s most important function?

    Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Definitely yes.

    The design of the Stagg EKG+ is about more than just looks. You may scoff at the idea of a nuanced kettle, but we think this one may change your mind. The EKG+’s design ergonomically distributes weight where you want it, and the handles makes flow control from the spout very easy. Even the shakiest of hands should be able to get the perfect pour rate out of this kettle, whether it’s full or nearly empty. 

    Fellow Stagg EKG+ App

     

    Beyond solid control, it just feels great in your hand. If we have any complaints about the build at all we would say that the lid could be a touch easier to remove. That said, it’s not something we'd knock the kettle for in the end, and it's comparable to other models.

    Maybe even more impressive than the usability of the EKG+ is how elegantly Fellow managed to pair ergonomics with aesthetics. This kettle is a thing of beauty, in fact, we feel like we need an entire kitchen renovation to do it justice. The Bold lines of the pot married to a striking handle design and satisfying curve to the spout leave a serious impression. That’s saying something for a piece of hardware that is normally quite utilitarian.

     

    Connectivity Covered

    But the aesthetics and feel of the EKG+ are virtually identical to it’s older brother, the EKG. Minor differences in texture and coloring are present, but that alone wouldn’t be enough for us to be excited about a $200 kettle. The plus adds connected features that really make it worth the extra price if you don’t already own an EKG. The first of these features is the Fellow EKG+ App, which allows you to set temp and control on/off functions remotely. The app also tells you if the kettle is off of the base. This is a basic but awesome feature for those prone to misplacing gear (like we can be sometimes). It’s simple, but we enjoyed being able to control and monitor temperature from our desks. The downside is that this app is only currently available on iOS, and there's no timeline on and Android release.

     

     

    Even more exciting is the way that the EKG+ integrates with Acaia’s Brewbar app.

    We’ll do a more in depth feature on Brewbar down the road, but if you’re already using it, the EKG+’s integration might be the most exciting thing about it. Brewbar allows you to save every single parameter that goes into your pourover recipes. Things like temp, grind, weight, and flow rate. The app can store your temp data and set those parameters on the kettle with a touch of a button. It’s a very useful feature if you brew a lot of pourover, because it easily automates a prep step. Again, the rub here is that the app is only available on iPad. We're not aware of any plans for it to hit other devices.

    Acaia Brewbar App

    The Verdict

    At the end of the day, we feel the tweaks to the EKG+’s appearance and added connected features justify the increase in price. With that said, $200 is a lot for a kettle, and existing EKG owners may find the upgrade cost to be a tough pill to swallow. If Brewbar is intriguing to you and you’re already working with Acaia products, we think it’s a much easier sell.

    If you're interested in purchasing the EKG+, check it out here!

    Thanks, and remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Hello Out There!

    If you’ve been following us for a bit, you may have noticed that our schedule of meaningful blog content has been a little lite as of late. We know! And we’re sorry!
    We’re really proud of the content we’ve brought you in the past, but we know there’s areas we can improve, and a big one of those areas is the volume of content that we bring you. We’re really excited to tackle that, starting today!
    We have tons or awesome features, reviews, sneak peaks, interviews, and more coming your way starting this week, and we can’t wait to share it all with you.
    We invite you to keep your browser tuned to seattlecoffeegear.com/blog to join us for the ride, here’s a taste of what’s in store:
    —Loads of educational content
    —Spotlights on new products and recipes
    —Looks back at the history of coffee
    —What coffee means to people around the world
    —Profiles and interviews with our great range of hardware and roaster partners
    —Community Q&A sessions where we get to talk to you
    Thanks, and remember, make coffee you love!

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