Monthly Archives: July 2018

  • All About Espresso: Part 2

    Hey coffee fans! Welcome to part two of our series on espresso brewing. In part one we went over what goes into the perfect espresso roast, and the basics on what espresso is and why it works.

    There's a number of different accoutrements that contribute to brewing great espresso beyond a grinder and a machine. We'll outline them here!

    Tampers

    Tampers are perhaps the most important piece of gear outside of your machine and your grinder. After grinding and distributing the coffee in the portafilter, the next step is the tamp! To tamp, use your tamper (pictured here) to apply approximately 30 lbs. of pressure to the coffee. This compresses the ground coffee into the puck that the espresso machine presses water through.

     

    Another consideration for tamping is purchasing a tamping mat (pictured with the tamper). A mat can help protect your countertop as you tamp the puck. This can avoid nicks and scratches on a counter.

    Scales

    You may not think of it, but a scale is a key piece of the espresso maker's arsenal. By precisely weighing dose (the amount of coffee in the portafilter) and output (the weight of the liquid coming out of the machine) you can effectively dial in an espresso machine. It's worth making sure that you get a scale that is waterproof and compact so that it can sit under your shot glass as you pull the shot. This can be a tall, expensive order, but make sure you're at least able to weigh the coffee going in, even if you can't weigh the shot coming out.

    Odds and Ends

    There are a number of other odds and ends to consider in your espresso setup. Distributors are tools that help you level the coffee in the portafilter. This is important because uneven distribution can lead to your shots pulling unevenly as well. You want to make sure that water is evenly saturating the puck as you pull that shot, and distributors make that easier.

    Another tool that helps more with clean up than brewing is a knock box. A knock box is a container with a foam covered bar in the middle. You can use the box to "knock" the portafilter on the bar and clean out the puck. After knocking the puck out you'll just need to do a quick wipe down of the portafilter and cleanup is complete! Once the knock box fills up you can simply empty it into your garbage or compost bin.

    What's next?

    Join us next week where we'll walk through dialing in a shot, from start to finish!

  • Video Roundup: 7/27/2018

    Happy Friday!

    Time for another video round up featuring some awesome clips from Gail and John!

    First, feast your eyes on the Jura S8 in this crew review with Gail!

    Next, we joined John for some portafilter tips!

    Finally, something... Silent? This way comes, in an exciting sneak peak of some fantastic new grinders!

    Enjoy! And make some coffee you love this weekend for us!

  • Community Q&A: July 2018

    Welcome to the first Community Q&A at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    Here we'll feature questions sent to us at questions@seattlecoffeegear.com, the best question will receive a $10 SCG gift card!

    This month's Community Q&A question comes to us from Sam!

    the Barista Express™

    Sam asks:

    I bought a lovely Breville Barista Express and every now & again the basket will get stuck when removing the portafilter.  Any Ideas Why?  Great machine, still dialing in my shots.

    The Answer:

    This could be one of a few things! For starters, you'll want to check your grind consistency and texture. A very fine grind can lead to the puck developing an adhesive, cement like texture after pulling your shot. This, combined with the 3 way solenoid in the Barista Express' sucks air through the brew head (as its designed to) can lead to pucks getting stuck! A particularly sticky puck could even take a basket with it!

    To remedy this, you could try a coarser grind.

    The other potential issue is temperature. If you're leaving your portafilter in the brew group (as many do) and leaving the machine on for long periods of time, the expansion of the metal from the heat could be causing the basket to get stuck.

    A fix for this would be to try leaving the machine off, or the portafilter out of the brew head, and see if you're still running into issue when you power it on to pull a shot.

    There is, of course, the possibility that the issue lies in a warped basket too! Though Breville makes very consistent products!

    Sam's excellent question this month won him a $10 Seattle Coffee Gear gift card, so what are you waiting for? Send us your coffee questions now for a chance to have your question answered here, and a gift card from Seattle Coffee Gear!

  • Recipe Spotlight: Fat Americano

    This week we're diving into a quirky drink popularized in Seoul, South Korea, the Fat Americano!

    The Fat Americano is simple to make. First, you'll need a double shot of espresso, brewed over ice. Next, add the espresso to an iced glass of your favorite cola!

    This drink combines the sweetness of an ice cold cola with the chocolatey complexity of espresso. It won't be to everyone's taste, but it's also a great way to kick the caffeine content of your cola up too.

    If you want to add even more sweet decadence to this drink, consider adding a small amount of sweetened condensed milk! This will really round out the flavor profile and make for a cool, tasty treat!

  • All About Espresso: Part 1

    Greetings coffee fans!

    This week kicks off a set of educational posts about a subject very near and dear to any barista's heart: Espresso! We'll be covering what makes espresso different, why some roasts are better for espresso than others, how to brew it, and a whole lot more in this series. So let's get started!

    The Basics

    So what is espresso? Espresso is a coffee brewing method that creates concentrated shots instead of a mug of drip or press brew. Espresso is brewed by quickly pushing water through fine ground coffee using specialized equipment like espresso machines and portafilters. This is in contrast to drip brewed coffee, where water simply follows gravity through a filter at its own pace. It differs from press brewed coffee because in that case coffee is extracted through slower immersion in the water.

    So why do people love espresso so much? For one, it's got concentrated caffeine that can be consumed quicker and easier than coffee, but that's just a perk. The biggest difference in espresso is flavor. Espresso tends to have dark, chocolatey, sweet notes that are stronger than drip brewed coffee. This also makes espresso the perfect pair for milk based coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. For a lot of coffee drinkers, espresso is the only way to go!

    The Roasts With the Most

    The first step in brewing espresso, like with any kind of coffee, is picking a roast. While you can brew any coffee as an espresso, the easiest to work with are darker blends. Medium-light blends and single origins can create delicious espresso as well, but because of the brew method, you're going to get a roast's darker, sweeter notes, so more delicate floral roasts may not work as well.

    To really get you started easily, many roasters offer blends specifically designed for espresso, such as Intelligentsia's Black Cat or Olympia's Sweetheart.

    What's Next?

    Once you've selected a roast, you'll need to grind and prepare your espresso for brewing, then the magic happens. We'll get into those topics next week, but we want to give you an idea of what you might need (aside from coffee) to get started with espresso.

    For one, you'll need a machine. There are a lot of factors that go into selecting an espresso machine, so be prepared for some homework. We'll talk more about different espresso machines in the future, so stay tuned!

    You'll also need a good grinder. It's important to get a grinder that is recommended for espresso, as it requires a much finer grind than drip or press brewing. Check out our feature on grinders here for loads of info on grinders.

    Finally, you'll need odds and ends like a tamper, knock box, tamping mat, and portafilter. Some of these items will come with your espresso machine, and some are optional. We'll get into what each piece of gear does as we dive deeper into the brewing process in the coming weeks.

    Hopefully you're as excited as we are about diving into more espresso!

  • Video Roundup: 7/20/2018

    Happy Friday friends!

    Friday can only mean one thing, time to review SCG's week in video!

    First, John's back for another milk steaming tutorial!

    Next, Gail gave us a taste of Third Wave Water!

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

  • Roast of the month: Elm Coffee Roasters—Ethiopia Worka Sakaro

    Delicate and Delightful

    This month's Roast of the Month is Elm Coffee Roasting's fantastic Ethiopia Worka Sakaro!

    An extremely delicate roast, this single origin offers an incredible combination of flavors that
    are exciting and interesting every time you brew. Upon opening a bag of Ethiopia Worka Sakaro you'll be met with aromas of vanilla, smooth coffee, and flowers. It's inviting and delicious even before and during brewing.

    The intensity of the floral and vanilla notes in this roast are striking for a washed coffee. An incredibly bright and delicate mix of flavors comes together across the palate to delight. The vanilla is smooth and direct, with floral notes hitting around the edges of the palate. All of this combines with a rich coffee flavor that is strong for a light roast. Because of this, Ethiopia Worka Sakaro is a great every day roast.

    While we love the flavors and aromas of this roast, like many other delicate and floral coffees we do strongly recommend brewing it as a pourover. We also recommend you pick up a couple of bags of this one! Since this roast is a single origin, it likely won't last forever!

    Grab a bag of Elm's Ethiopia Worka Sakaro here today!

     

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 3

    Welcome to the third part in our educational series on grinders! So far we've discussed burrs, motors, control settings, and more.

    This week we're closing out our Grinder focus with some talk about the odds and ends of various grinders.

     

    Hoppers of All Sizes!

     

    There's no doubt that the stuff we've covered already (burrs, motors, control, etc.) are what really matter when it comes to selecting a grinder. With that said, different options do offer a range of other add-ons that can sweeten the deal.

    Let's start with hoppers

    The Eureka Drogheria (pictured here) is an example of a commercial grinder with a huge hopper. Hopper size is mostly important for commercial settings like cafés, but if you are the kind of consumer that drinks one kind of coffee all the time, being able to dump whole bags of beans in can be a nice feature.

    It is worth mentioned that in many cases you can swap out or replace hoppers down the road. This isn't always the case though, so it's best to find out ahead of time if your grinder choice has the ability to change hoppers before you buy.

     

    If you plan to brew with lots of different roasts for different methods, hopper size may not be an issue for you at all!

     

    Dosers Galore!

     

    Some grinders grind directly into a portafilter or container for quick brewing. Often these grinders will have some sort of control method controlled by a scale or timer to stop grinding. The other option for controlling flow of coffee out of a grinder is doser.

     

    Grinders with dosers feature a chamber on the front that the grounds go into after grinding. From there, you can use a lever to feed grounds into a portafilter or container. It's a great way to control the dose of your coffee and cut down on mess and waste. This type of grounder is particularly useful for espresso, as you'll usually be dosing into a portafilter. You definitely would not need to worry about shopping for dosers if you intend to brew press or drip coffee!

     

    Pictureed here is the Mazzer Mini E Type A!

     

     

    Scales, Timers, and Screens, Oh My!

     

    There's a lot of other odds and ends out there on grinders. The Eureka KRE uses a vibrant, bright display to walk you through options like single or double shots, and uses a timer to grind individual shots. You can set the grind time for single and double shots, then trigger a shot with the click of a trigger!

     

    The Baratza Sette Wi (pictured) offers Acaia scale technology to grind by weight instead of time. This gives your very precise grinding with just a little bit of extra set up time. It also features a screen that provides feedback and details about your grind settings.

    Where to Begin?

    We've discussed all of the basics that you should know before you set out on your grinder shopping adventure. So what's next?

    First, you should determine exactly what kind of coffee you want to make. Are you planning on making drip or press? Pourover? Espresso? This decision will help you avoid wasting time and money on a grinder you'll just replace, and will give you a starting point.

    From there it's all about research. Using the info in this guide, look at things like burr type and size, motor speed, control type, hopper size, dosing control, etc. to really guarantee a great purchase. Now go forth and grind!

    P.S. For some starting points, the Baratza Encore is a great drip and press grinder to start out with and the Breville Dose Control Pro offers a good starting point for espresso!

     

     

     

     

     

  • Video Roundup - 7/13/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for another video roundup!

    First, we joined Gail for a look at preinfusion and why it matters:

    Next, we got the low down on tamping from John:

    Finally, we joined Gail for a Crew Review of the Nuova Simonelli G60!

    Have a great weekend, and remember to make coffee you love!

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: The French Café

    Hey there, and welcome to another entry in our Coffee Culture Around the World series!

    Distinct Places, Distinct Tastes

    One of the most distinctive parts of a place's coffee culture is its cafés. In many places, the gathering place the people visit to drink coffee shapes the way it is consumed regardless of venue. This week, we're going to take a look at how Café culture has evolved in one of the most coffee centric countries on Earth, France!

    French Café's differ depending on where you go in the country. France breaks its regions into 5, based on climate and culture. As such, visiting a café in Paris (Central France) is very different than visiting a café in Cannes (Southern France). One thing does unite these regions however, and that is a love of coffee. We'll focus on the quintessential Parisian café experience for this piece, but we'll definitely be revisiting this diverse country in later entries!

    The Parisian Experience

    As in any major city, life in Paris can move fast. In France, however, food and drink are of paramount importance. It's a standard Parisian pastime to sit outside of a café and people watch for hours. In the past, café coffee was frequently mixed with chicory, as it was easier to grow and maintain. Nowadays, chicory is an acquired taste, but the culture persists.

    Nearly as important to the experience as the coffee is a pastry to go with it. It is rare to stop at a café and not have a croissant or other pastry with your cup of coffee. But there's more than food and drink to be had at a Parisian café. These places are hubs of activity for their neighborhoods. Café serve as meeting places and conversation centers for people. They also serve as culinary centers, usually offering a full menu alongside coffee and pastries. Finally, sitting outdoors in a Parisian Café is a must, for it offers a view of the world.

    A Piece of History

    The oldest Café in Paris is Café Procope in rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. Le Procope opened in 1686, and is still in operation today. It was one of the first businesses to align with revolutionaries, and was a regular hangout of folks like Voltaire, Ben Franklin, and John Paul Jones. Post revolution it became a meeting place for intellectuals from all over the world. It still serves high class food and drink to this day!

    As you can see, Parisian café culture has meant a lot to the city over its history. From people watching to revolutions, the French café is about far more than coffee!

     

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