Coffee

What more can we say about our favorite beverage? It turns out, plenty! This category contains a world of writing about the coffee we love.
  • Video Roundup: 5/29/20

    Hey coffee fans!

    This week we've got at home discussions, recipes, and a good old crew comparison for you. Let's take a look!

    First up, Allie and I sat down to chat about brew methods:

    Next, we've got a tasty looking recipe from Ariel!

    And finally, Allie did a comparison of the new Eureka Mignon Notte and the classic Rancilio Rocky.

    That's all for now! We'll be back with more videos next week.

  • Whole Beans Vs. Pods

    You’ve heard us talk about how much we love superautomatic espresso machines. We’ve discussed the convenience, simplicity, and ease of maintenance that comes with these machines extensively. But you may think, “pod based machines offer all of this, right?” While technically true, there are lots of reasons to go for a superauto over pod based options, and we’re here to share them!

    Waste

    One of the biggest selling points of a whole bean brewing superautomatic is its lack of waste. Pod waste is an immense problem with pod based solutions. Whole bean coffee comes in simple paper packaging that is usually fully recyclable. What’s more, it’s recyclable without an expenditure of lots of energy.

    While some pods do tout compostability, they generally require high pressure industrial equipment to do so. In some cases, this still causes an environmental impact, and many users may not have access to composting options like this. While there are reusable pods available, you then must provide correctly ground coffee, which largely defeats the purpose in the first place. With their built-in grinders and ability to handle most whole beans, superautos definitely have a smaller waste footprint.

    Cost and Variety

    Another problem with pod based machines is only having access to what you can get in the pods. Blank, reusable pods exist, but then require more work to use. With standard pods, you get a limited set of options for what coffee you can use. Beyond that, pods are often more expensive than whole bean coffee. Using them for your daily cup can become quite pricey compared to a whole bean option.

    Superautos don’t encounter this issue. While we recommend avoiding oilier beans, otherwise the world of coffee is open to you. With thousands of roasts to choose from across a range of prices, variety is definitely better with a superauto.

    Flavor and Performance

    While this is the most widely varying element of the equation, you’ll generally always get better coffee from the freshly ground beans a superauto like a Philips or Miele uses. Pod based coffee can sit on a shelf for long periods and lacks that “freshly roasted, freshly ground” aspect that whole bean coffee has.

    While quality among superautos varies just like it does with pod based machines, in general, you’re going to like the coffee you get from your new superautomatic espresso machine more than a pod. Combined with all of the other elements we’ve mentioned, it’s clear why we encourage you to ditch your pods and go whole bean!

  • Roast of the Month: Kickapoo Spring Blend

    It’s that time once again for Seattle Coffee Gear’s Roast of the Month! This month we’re celebrating Kickapoo’s annual Spring Blend. We love this year’s offering on this always solid coffee and we think you will too. Join us as we give it a look!

    Origins and Producers

    This year’s Spring Blend features coffees from two of Kickapoo’s newest suppliers, one from Progresso, Peru, and one from Inza Valley Colombia. The Pillimue group is an independent farmer collective in Inza Valley, Colombia. This group focuses on traditional coffee development made difficult in other regions of the country due to the La Roya leaf fungus. Inza Valley has largely been safe from the fungus, and the Pillimue group has taken this advantage and ran with it to produce traditional Colombian coffee at a high level of quality.

    The Padilla family is a farming family in Progreso, Peru. Located in the Northern part of the country in the Andes, the conditions there are perfect for coffee production. This hard working family expertly tend this land and practice Minga, which means roughly “today for me, tomorrow for you.” Their quality coffee indicates what a positive impact this philosophy has on the practice.

    Brewing and Flavor Profile

    Spring blend features an approachable flavor profile that Kickapoo refers to as “layered and confectionary.” These are good descriptors, expanded upon through notes of milk chocolate, nougat, and cherry. These notes combine for a classic coffee flavor that is just rich enough for fans of something sweet without alienating someone who prefers a lighter roast. This is the perfect kind of coffee to hand to someone who is used to grocery store brands and chain coffee shops. It really gets across how good a classic cup can be.

    For brewing, we recommend starting with a good old fashioned drip brewer. Running this coffee through a Bonavita or Precision Brewer results in a delicious, classic morning cup of coffee. For a sweeter cup, try an espresso with some milk in a latte or macchiato. Finally, to get at that cherry note the best way to brew is a pour over. One of the reasons we like this blend so much is just how easily it works across these brew methods. This is exemplified by the roast’s flavor in a superauto or press along with the above mentioned brewers. Get a taste of this delicious seasonal roast now before we roll over into the Summer

     

  • What Makes the Perfect Coffee Cup?

    One aspect of coffee making that we don’t talk about much is what you use to drink it. You’ve probably tried many coffee cups in your lifetime, but how much do you think about them? It turns out, there’s a lot that goes into designing the perfect cup for drinking coffee and tea from. Here are some thoughts on several aspects of coffee cup design from us here at SCG!

    Heat Retention

    One of the objectively necessary parts of a great coffee cup is heat retention. If the mug doesn’t help insulate your drink, then it’s an easy pass! There’s lots that goes into heat retention, material is key, but so is shape and design. Double-walled mugs often retain heat better than single walled, as they provide a layer of insulation. Ceramic and glass retain heat better than plastic as well. Finally, a mug with a wider body than mouth will help keep your coffee a bit hotter too!

    Handling

    If your coffee cup is hard to hold, that’s another easy way to tell something is amiss. It’s important to be able to grip the mug without burning your hand. Some mugs solve this problem by including insulated material around the mug. This can solve the problem, but often a good old fashioned handle is the easiest solution. From there it’s down to individual ergonomics for each person. Your hand size and shape are the only things that can determining if a mug will be pleasant for you to hold!

    Size, Shape, and Design

    These three elements are also key. You want a mug large enough to hold the amount of coffee you’ll drink in a sitting. At the same time, a mug that’s TOO big can be heavy, awkward, or hard to drink through before the coffee gets cold. Shape is important too, how will it fit in your cupboard? Will you be using it with cupholders? Is the rim of the mug too thick or thin for your mouth? Then there’s the heat retention and handling concerns outlined above. Finally, the shape of the curves on the inside of the mug can have an impact on your enjoyment as well. Some mugs have more square angles on the inside that trap liquid.

    Appearance

    For some, this is the most important aspect of any drinkware! If you don’t like the way a mug looks, it may not be a fit for your collection. This brings us to the most important point of all: Preference! You should use the drinkware you love, even if it doesn’t quite fit with the criteria we’ve laid out here.

     

    We do hope that we’ve given you a little bit more to think about the next time you’re shopping for a new mug!

  • Video Roundup 4/20/20

    Hey Coffee Lovers!

    We've got some VERY exciting videos for you this week, and for the time being we'll be coming to you on Mondays! Moving our video roundup day is temporary, but we wanted to help you start your week with some fresh coffee tips.

    So without further adieu...

    Gail gave us a look at her brewing setup from her RV!

    Then Allie showed us her process for dialing in Olympia's Big Truck Espresso:

    Next we've got a look at the brand new Rocket Espresso Appartamento Nera!

    Then Allie and I sat down to for a video chat to talk about our delicious Roast of the Month:

    And we're VERY excited to share a limited return of Good Morning Gail!

    That's all we have for you this week, we'll be back with more next Monday!

  • Roast of the Month: Victrola Burundi Mpanga

    It’s a tale of twin processes this month for SCG’s Roast of the Month! We’re excited to share Victrola’s Burundi Mpanga single origins. One of these roasts is a washed process, and the other is a honey process. We hope our customers will give each one a try to better understand how process effects flavor!

    Both of these coffees are from the same producer from Nyangwe Hill’s prestigious coffee farms. From there, the coffee is processed differently, allowing the end customer to experience the different flavor profiles the processes impart. To best evaluate them side by side, we recommend brewing as a pour over. From there though, let your imagination run wild! There’s so much joy to be had in exploring the ways to get the most out of each coffee.

    Mpanga Washed

    Washed process coffee is fully cleaned of the cherry before drying and shipping. This means no trace of the cherry is allowed to ferment and impart flavors after harvesting. 

    For this roast, the result is mild, sweet flavors that are clean and balanced. Expect notes of soft fruit, brown sugar, and raisin. We find this one to be delicious and easy to drink, as well as versatile. While we recommend trying them side by side as pour overs, this roast works particularly well as a drip or press brew too.

    Mpanga Honey

    For a quick refresher on honey process coffee: A honey process splits the difference between washing all of the mucilage off of the bean and allowing the whole cherry to ferment on the bean like in a natural. Honey process coffee is hulled, but the mucilage isn’t fully washed off, allowing for a honey like wrap to develop on the bean. 

    In practice, this gives this roast more unique and striking notes than its counterpart. Victrola lists notes of Maple syrup, cherry cola, and graham cracker. You’ll get plenty of sweetness that hits different parts of the palate differently, and a bright acidity that pulls the notes together. A great pour over, this roast also results in a sweet and delicious espresso!

    Again, we can’t recommend trying both of these roast side by side enough!

     

  • Video Roundup 4/3/20

    Hey out there!

    It's a weird time right now, with many of us working from home we decided to do some special content. All of your favorites from SCG will be checking in from home, but this week we've got a mix!

    First up, I (Pat) ran through my at home brewing set up, and how I brew each morning!

    Next, Allie gave us her own tour of her setup.

    Finally, we've got a look at the Brewista Cold Pro Jr. with Ariel.

    That's all for now, join us next week for more home coffee content!

  • Roast of the Month: Tony's Ethiopia Banko Dhadhato

    This month we're celebrating a delicious roast from Tony's Coffee - Ethiopia Banko Dhadhato!

     

    This roast is bursting with loads of berry flavor that you have to taste to believe. There is so much huckleberry in a cup of this coffee that it's hard to believe it's not flavored! Banko Dhadhato comes to us from Yirgacheffe region, a location known for some of the most flavorful coffee in the world. Even by those standards, this roast surprised us. The beans are Heriloom varietal, which is a high quality bean, but still on it's face would not suggest such a complex set of notes. Between these factors and the natural process used for these beans, something magical was definitely the result.

    That's not to take any credit away from Tony's, of course. One pitfall when roasting a natural coffee is working out that sort of "funky" taste. Some naturals come off as tasting less of berry, and more as funky and off. This can be because of over or under roasting, but that's not a problem with Banko Dhadhato. Instead, you're left with a delicious brew that brings to mind beverages like a sweet berry tea. it's also more drinkable than most naturals in terms of intensity. Where you might normally get strong, overpowering cherry flavors, instead Banko Dhadhato is quite drinkable.

    Which leads us to brew method. This is a roast, like many we select for Roast of the Month, that we just adore as a pour over. By brewing it this way you'll be able to tease out some of the more complex, bright elements of the berry flavor. As a drip brew it comes out a little bit more flat, but is still enjoyable. This is one of those roasts that will be tough to dial in for espresso, but for expert brewers out there, it could provide an exquisite ristretto or latte.

    We hope you love it as much as we do, try this wonderful coffee for yourself before it leaves our shelves!

  • Roast of the Month: Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa

    After a holiday break, it's time once again for Seattle Coffee Gear's Roast of the Month!

    This month we're featuring the delicious Ethiopia Nano Challa from Methodical roasting. This roast starts with fantastic coffee from an ever consistent producer.

    Exploring Nano Challa

    The Nano Challa cooperative was founded in 2004. After over 15 years this group has grown to a whopping 350 farmers. The farmers here grow world renowned coffee in the shade of the local forest. When it comes time for processing, the coffee is similarly dried in the shade. Drying coffee in this way does take longer than sun-drying, but also leads to more developed flavors. By the time it makes it to roasters around the world, this coffee has been lovingly grown, sorted, dried, and washed to perfection.

    Methodical's take on this coffee is absolutely exquisite. The roaster only lists two simple tasting notes, but there really is so much going on in the cup. The tangerine and sweet lemon notes on the bag get to the citrusy, bright acidity of this coffee. This flavor profile mixes with more common Ethiopian notes like berry and chocolate that we expect from coffees like this.

    What's even more impressive is that this coffee features a really smooth, balanced body too. This isn't a super light, flavor chasing type roast that requires a super refined palate. This is simply a good, drinkable coffee perfect for a wide range of tastes.

    Brew Methods

    Of course, as you might expect, we recommend a pour over for this coffee. This is a brew method that will really give you the richest flavor profile without being too strong. It's the best way to understand this coffee. With that said, this one will work well as a press and drip brew if you generally prefer those methods.

    Check out Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa today right here.

  • Keep Your Coffee Hot This Winter

    Winter is well and truly here, and we thought it'd be a good time to talk about heat. Hot, clean water is possible the most important part of the brewing process after getting good, fresh ground coffee. It's no wonder then that heat is often the sticking point for a lot of coffee drinkers! We often hear about how coffee out of superautos isn't hot enough, or how warming plates won't stay on long enough. We figured now would be a great time to talk about some ways to keep your coffee hot, and help set expectations.

    Drip Brewing

    One of the biggest questions with brewing drip coffee is whether glass or stainless carafes are better for heat. The truth is, they just work differently. Stainless steel carafes insulate your coffee to keep it warm vs. being heated by a plate underneath for a glass carafe. Either way, your coffee won't stay hot for more than an hour or two. You can help this by running hot water into the carafe to heat it prior to brewing. This will heat the carafe so that the coffee doesn't bleed as much temperature into it during brewing. Either way, you should expect to need to brew more coffee after an hour or two. If you find it hard to drink a whole pot in that time, just consider brewing less coffee!

    If you're trying to serve coffee for a group at an office or event, consider a batch brewer. Nothing keeps drip coffee hot for hours and hours like an airpot!

    Pour Over

    For pour over, there's a trick that will really help you with heat retention, and that's leaving your dripper and filter over your server. By only removing these for pouring the coffee, your server will retain more heat. This means you can brew a couple of cups worth and it'll stay warm. Other tips include pre-heating the server by pouring hot water into it, pre-heating your cup the same way, and transferring the coffee to an insulated thermos right after brewing.

    Espresso

    A big one for espresso is keeping your portafilter hot. Special brew groups like E-61s will do this automatically. In any case though, you should keep your portafilter in the machine at all times to aid with this heat. If you have a machine that doesn't heat the portafilter, run a shot's worth of water through it before pulling your espresso. This will heat the portafilter and help with even extraction and heat during brewing. Keeping your cup warm helps here too.

    For superautos, heat is just an issue that comes with the territory. These are machines with lots of moving parts packed into tight spaces. Unfortunately, their need to flash heat water quickly to maintain convenience means they just don't always produce drinks as hot as you'd like. Our best recommendation for superautos is to try steaming your milk prior to brewing, as this heats the water more and generally increases the temperature to the machine. We also recommend consuming your drink shortly after brewing to enjoy it at its hottest! If you still find that your superauto isn't as hot as you'd like, it might be time to consider switching it up to a semi-auto.

    That's all for now, we hope you enjoy some (hot) coffee you love this Winter!

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