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  • Coffee Grinder Basics - A Refresher

    It’s a new year and you may have gotten some new coffee gear over the holidays to go with it! One thing we often hear from new coffee drinkers is that they didn’t know they’d need a new grinder. That’s why we want to run through some quick grinder basics today to help you understand your new grinder or why you might need one! Let’s get started.

    Why Do I Need a Burr Grinder?

    Your first question might be why you even need a dedicated coffee grinder in the first place. Maybe you’ve got a spice or blade grinder and you’re wondering why that won’t work for coffee too. The answer is simple: consistency. To get the proper extraction, no matter your brew method, you’ll need consistent grounds. This allows the hot water to bond with the coffee correctly, and produce the flavor you’re looking for. What level of grind you need is dependent on your brew method, but consistency is key for every method.

    Blade grinders have a tendency to chop up beans into uneven chunks. This is a problem because it means you won’t have a consistent grind across your output. Burrs are metal plates that interlock either in a conical shape or as flat plates. They are engineered specifically to spin in such a way that their surface evenly grinds down coffee beans consistently and evenly. You’ll want a grinder specifically for coffee because the oils in coffee could taint your spices, and vice versa! 

    Are All Grinders Created Equal?

    If you’ve looked at the price range on coffee grinders you probably already know the answer to this question. A great coffee grinder can cost anywhere from under $100 all the way up to thousands of dollars. So what’s with the spread? Well, there are tons and tons of different factors that determine the cost of a coffee grinder, but let’s start with brew vs. espresso grinding. 

    One thing you may have noticed is that espresso grinders tend to cost more than “brew” grinders (grinders for slow brew coffee methods like pour over and drip). This is partly because the precision burrs needed to produce the ultra-fine powdery consistency needed for espresso cost more to engineer. It really is the case that you need that precision grind for high-end espresso, and your shots will not come out correct if you try to use a $100 burr grinder.

    With that said, that $100 burr grinder will likely be even better at producing a consistent pour over grind than the more expensive espresso grinder. This is because higher end espresso grinders don’t often have the consistency down at coarser grind levels. All of this is important to keep in mind when considering what kind of grinder to get.

    Then there’s features. A Solis Scala is a great place to start with brew grinding, as it features a simple timer and great performance for slow brew coffee. On the other hand, the Eureka Mignon Brew Pro features a touch screen interface, slick black design, and precision grind adjust. In this case, both grinders can provide some great grounds for drip brewing, but the Brew Pro absolutely gives you what you pay for. A similar dichotomy exists between a grinder like the Eureka Mignon Notte and the Rocket Espresso Fausto Touch. Both offer great performance for espresso grinding, but one pairs a higher price with more advanced features and design.

    More features like weighted dosing, lighted grind chutes, deeper programming, etc. can add more functionality, but the price of the product will rise in turn.

    How Should I Maintain My Grinder?

    So you have your new Baratza Encore (or other grinder) and you want to make sure you keep it in great shape, so what’s next? 

    First of all, you’ll want to wipe down your hopper with a dry cloth between filling, and do the same for your catch bin if using one. It doesn’t hurt to wash these each with dish soap and warm water every few fillings or so as well.

    Another tool for keeping your grinder clean is Urnex’ Grindz. Grindz is a cleaner you run through your grinder every month or two to clean out the grind chamber, burrs, and chute. We absolutely recommend it for keeping yours in top condition! As always though, the most important thing with maintaining any coffee equipment is to follow the guidelines in the manual. In some cases, manufacturers do recommend disassembling and hand cleaning parts of the inside of the grinder, but you should be sure to follow your manual for guidance on that. 

    We hope this helps you get started with your grinder!

  • Tasting Notes and Coffee Flavor

    If you just started your specialty coffee journey with some new gear you might have a few questions. One common one we get is whether coffee includes additives based on the flavors mentioned on the bag. Let’s take a look at flavor notes!

    Are there Additives?

    The simple answer is: no. Except in very rare, clear circumstances, when you buy a bag of specially roasted coffee there are no flavor additives whatsoever. The tasting notes on the bag are there as a representation of what the roaster tastes from the coffee.

    The exception to this rule is rare, but very occasionally, you’ll find coffee with chicory or chocolate added. This comes from an old tradition of using limited additives to get more out of less coffee. Today, the very occasional use of additives like this is for taste. When this is the case, the coffee will very clearly state that there’s an additive. At the time of this article, We offer one coffee with chicory - Coast Roast’s New Orleans Blend - and it is clearly marked as such. We do not carry any other coffees with additives.

    One important fact to note is that we don’t carry any coffees with tobacco or alcohol as an additive, and it is in no way a practice to add tobacco to coffee. There are coffee varietals like “Pink Bourbon” that can be confusing, but this is just a name for the varietal of plant, not an indication of any added alcohol. This is true of tasting notes as well.

    Why Can’t I Taste the Notes?

    Coffee notes are very subjective. Typically, notes are determined through tasting sessions with roaster staff. Using a method of immersion brewing, roasters taste the coffee in a method that brings out the coffee flavor the most. With that in mind, what tastes like raspberry to one palate may taste like chocolate to another. This makes it difficult to really nail down tasting notes.

    On top of this, brew method is key to getting flavors out of coffee. Pour over tends to bring out notes close to what’s on the bag, but not always. Some roasts taste the most like what you read via espresso or press brewing as well. Generally we try to recommend brew methods on the coffee’s page, but it’s important to know that it really does change the flavor of the coffee.

    How Should I Pick Out Coffee?

    While tasting notes are a fun and interesting way to select coffee, what we really recommend is sampling coffees from several different regions and roasters. Roasters all have unique styles for how their coffee is roasted, and regions have different flavor profiles as well. By sampling different regions and roasters you’ll come to appreciate your own palate. From there, all you can do is keep on tasting.

    There’s nothing wrong with finding a coffee blend you like and sticking with it. With that said, if you view coffee as a journey and a hobby, developing your palate is a fun way to get more out of our favorite bean!

    Check out our coffee selection, and our recently launched gift subscription options!



  • Carina Drink Guide

    Are you the happy owner of a new Philips 1220 Carina? Maybe you’re considering picking one of these machines up? Either way, the Carina can do more than just make the drinks you see on the buttons. With just a little extra effort your new superautomatic is practically a cafe on your countertop. Let’s take a look at a few drink basics and ideas for the Carina!

    The Basics

    The Carina features 4 main menu buttons for making drinks. Let’s quickly run through them just to make sure you understand what you’re getting with each button press!


    A classic single or double shot of espresso This is one of the basic building blocks of many of the drinks you can make with the Carina.


    The “coffee” from superautomatics like the Carina differs a bit from a standard drip brew. Because these machines don’t have the room inside to fit a drip brewer, what you’re getting here is a “lungo” or “long shot.” Water is still being pushed through a puck of ground coffee like an espresso, but it uses more water to dilute the shot. The result is something closer to drip coffee, but still quite distinct.

    Hot Water

    The hot water dispenser on your Carina can be used for tea or to make an Americano. Americanos differ from the coffee option mentioned above. For the coffee button, more water is pushed through the espresso. With an Americano you are adding hot water to a shot after the shot has been pulled.


    This button activates the steam wand. With the Panarello wand you can steam milk for lattes and cappuccinos. For a cappuccino, run the steam wand closer to the surface of the milk to incorporate more air into the milk. This creates the dry foam you want for this drink. For a latte, focus on generating a smaller amount of foam and heating up the milk from deeper in after you create that initial layer of foam.

    More Drink Ideas

    So we’ve gone over the ways to make an espresso shot, long coffee, americano, and basic latte or cappuccino. Let’s look at what that opens up!

    Alternative Milks

    Are you a fan of a soy capp? Maybe an oat milk latte? While alternative milks are tricky in a Carina, you can use them to make tasty drinks. If you have some leftover eggnog you could even try your hand at the eggnog latte! Just be careful, as that can be quite the mess. For advanced users - you can get some extra control out of the panarello wand by removing the outer sleeve and using the rubber tip.


    The biggest tool in the home barista’s arsenal is keeping some tasty syrups on hand. Want that vanilla latte, mocha, or hazelnut capp? With a few pumps of your syrup flavors before you brew your espresso you’ll be in business. The fun part about selecting your own syrups is getting to keep extra unique flavors on hand too, so keep an eye out for all kinds of fruity, floral additions they might not have at the drive-through. 


    A sprinkle of cinnamon, chocolate, or other topping can add a little flair and extra flavor to your latte or cappuccino. These extra flavorings look nice, but can taste great too!

    Putting It All Together

    When you realize all of the combinations available to you, that simple 4 button interface becomes a lot more expansive. With the right ingredients, you can make your own double vanilla eggnog latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon from the comfort of your home!


  • New Machine Maintenance Tips

    Did you receive or purchase some sweet new coffee gear over the holidays? One key to keeping it in top shape is to keep it well maintained! Today we’re looking at a few common bits of maintenance you should perform on your new coffee equipment. For the most accurate info on maintaining your new gear, refer to the owner’s manual!

    Grinder Maintenance

    Your grinder should be cleaned once every week or two (depending on use) with Grindz cleaner if it’s used daily. For less frequently used grinders, once a month should be fine. We also recommend wiping down or washing your hopper with dish soap in between refills if you leave coffee in the hopper.

    Every 3-6 months you should open up your grinder to clean the burrs, though on some grinders this doesn’t require removing the full burr set. It’s also important to regularly clean catch bins for brew grinders!

    Pour Over Equipment

    Descaling your kettles and carafes is worth doing one to two times per year. It’s also important to keep your scale clean! Drippers and carafes should also be cleaned regularly with dish detergent and warm water to remove coffee oils.

    Drip Brewers

    You should descale and clean your drip brewer every 3-6 months to keep your coffee fresh. This can be done with a vinegar solution or a product like Cleancaf. You should also clean your carafe regularly with similar cleaning products a little more regularly than you clean the entire brewer. Finally, make sure you rinse, wash, and dry your filter basket with regularity to avoid molding!

    Semi-Automatic Espresso

    Semi-automatic espresso machines should be backflushed anywhere from weekly to monthly depending on use. You can use a product like Cafiza to backflush, and you should follow your user’s manual for guidance on frequency.

    Semi-automatics also need to be descaled once every year or so, again, your user’s manual will help you decide when. The important thing to note is that some machines, such as those with E61 groupheads, should only be descaled by a professional. For this reason it’s important to closely follow guidelines from the manufacturer when descaling.

    Superautomatic Espresso

    Sueprautomatic machines have pretty well outlined cleaning guidelines which differ from machine to machine. Most superautos even tell you when they need cleaning and descaling on their interfaces. Many also have proprietary cleaning products that are the best fit for their processes. Finally, if your machine uses a water filter, it’s important to follow your manual’s guidelines on when to change it and what to replace it with.

    One extra thing you can do for your superauto is use SuperGrindz every month or two to keep the grinder clean. This can help reduce coffee oil buildup and prolong the life of your machine.

    We hope these quick tips will help you yo keep your new gear in tip top shape!

  • Brew Ratios

    Most at-home coffee enthusiasts know that the gold standard brew ratio for a pot of coffee is 1:16 coffee to water. This means that if you use 10 grams of ground coffee you’ll want to use 160 grams of hot water for brewing. The reason for this has to do with extraction. Coffee to water ratio is one of the three key ingredients for brewing great coffee. The others, of course, are water temperature and grind size.

    With all of that in mind, are there times that you might want to stray from that 1:16 ratio? 

    Alternative Brew Ratios

    For drip and pour over coffee, 1:16 will create the gold standard cup of coffee that really exemplifies the roast that you’re using. It’ll be the best way to tease out the flavor notes on the bag and generally offers the flavor agreed upon as ideal. That said, everyone’s tastes are different. If you brew up a new bag and find that it tastes too strong, you can try a 1:17 ratio. This will “water down” the coffee, but it may create a flavor more conducive to your taste buds. 

    The reverse of this is true too. If you like your new roast but wish it were just a stronger flavor, by brewing at a 1:15 ratio you’ll find a stronger flavor. The issue is what flavors this will tend to bring out. A weaker ratio may water down some of the more delicate, gentle notes that make a coffee unique. By contrast, brewing a roast stronger may not intensify your favorite notes.

    Ratios for Different Brew Methods

    While all of the above applies to drip, pour over, and press brewing, espresso is a different world entirely. There’s certainly a lot of ways to express a brewer’s touch on pour over coffee, but espresso offers another level of experimentation. Generally, you’ll want to start with a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water for espresso. With that said, the variability of espresso flavors by slightly modifying parameters is quite pronounced. 

    The goal with espresso shots is to brew something smooth without any bitterness or sour notes. To do this, you have to careful balance grind level, shot time, and ratios. Many easy to dial in blends will work best at that 1:2 ratio with a 20-30 second shot time. The variable will be your grind size, which you’ll adjust to hit those parameters. But then there’s the trickier single origins.

    While that 1:2 ratio and 20-30 second pull time is a good baseline, we try coffees better suited to experimentation all the time. These usually come in the form of single origins. In some cases, a longer pull will draw out some of the sneakier flavor notes in a single origin. On the flip side, using more coffee and less water can drastically alter the profile of the shot.

    The important thing when experimenting with espresso is to make very small adjustments. Jumping to a 1:1 ratio will have a pretty significant impact on shot flavor. This may result in a better shot, or one especially suited to combining with milk. That said, we usually recommend experimenting with pull time and grind size before adjusting ratios. This is partly because there’s a limit to the amount of coffee you can make work in a portafilter on both sides of the equation. 


    Hopefully this look at brew ratios has given you some ideas for where you’d like to take your next espresso shot or pour over!

  • Coffee Acidity

    Ah acid, it’s a constant topic of conversation for some coffee drinkers, and we can understand why. The acidic flavors in coffee are one of the reasons people love this drink so much. From bright citrus and fruity flavors to sparkling notes that dance across your palate, those acidic flavors are enticing for a lot of coffee fans. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who have to avoid acid for health or taste reasons. The issue is that sometimes the flavors we associate with acids and the actual acid content in a cup of coffee do not correlate at all. So what’s the deal?

    The Chemisty

    Acid content in a cup of coffee plays into flavor extensively. In fact, it’s a careful balance. Too much acid leads to sour tasting coffee. If the acid content is too low, the coffee will have a flat, uninteresting taste. Striking that balance is key. The first thing to understand here is that there are multiple kinds of acids at play. Malic, citric, and tartaric acid (along with some other acid compounds) all add unique flavor to the roast. There are also chlorogenic acids, which break down into quinic and caffeic acids. These acids come out during the roasting process, and cause bitterness and a sour flavor. This is why darker roasts tend to be more bitter.

    This means that your first step is in determining what acids you want to avoid. From there, you can make informed judgements about acid content based on factors of the coffee’s production.

    Origin, Variety, Process

    As you (hopefully) know, coffee is a plant! This means that its nutritional content largely comes from the contents of the soil it draws nutrients from. This means that origin plays into coffee acidity very much. Different origins have soil with different acid contents, so if you know that Colombian coffees tend to be grown in soil with higher citric acid contents, you can assume a Colombian coffee will contain more citric acid than an Ethipiopian coffee. 

    Then there’s variety/species. Arabica coffees tend to be lower in acidity than Robustas, for example. From there different varieties will have their own differences in acidity. Climate and elevation can also play into the equation, with cooler climate coffees tending to be higher in acid content due to their slower development.

    FInally, there’s processing. 

    Washed processing, for example, leads to more acidic flavors. This is because the pulp of the cherry is washed from the bean, so those fruity compounds don’t dry into the bean. This is why washed coffees tend to taste a bit more sparkly and balanced without that sweetness to overpower the acid. This is not a change in the overall acid content however, just perceived acidity. 


    You can also affect acidity with your brew method. Since coffee extraction is the chemical process of water bonding with molecules in the coffee grounds, it plays a big role in determining overall acidity in your cup. How does this translate to your recipe? 

    To get a lower acid cup, you’ll want a finer grind time, longer brew time, and lower water temps (but still in the 195-205 fahrenheit range). This lengthier extraction time will allow acids to release during brewing, leading to a less acidic cup. For more of that sparkling acidity, simply reverse those parameters.

    In the end though, there’s no way to completely eliminate acids from coffee. The best you can do is make informed guesses as to acid content. 


  • 5 Things to Know Before Opening a Coffee Business

    Taking a passion for coffee beyond your kitchen and into a professional setting can be challenging, but also deeply rewarding. There’s a world of choices, problems, and concepts to confront before you start shopping for coffee equipment. At Seattle Coffee Gear, we’ve made it our mission to help you every step of the way. With that in mind, here are some key things to think about before you open your commercial coffee business. 

    Your coffee identity

    The first thing you should think about when planning your business is what your coffee identity is going to be. This may seem like a simple choice, but how you define your coffee service determines so much of your business plan. Things like floorplan, water needs, electrical requirements, barflow, workflow, and ultimately equipment choices will be impacted by these concepts. Here are some examples of specific kinds of coffee businesses:

    The Coffee Shop

    Coffee is your bread and butter. From carefully crafted pourover to incredible espresso shots, your focus is on coffee. You have a carefully trained staff that knows the ins and outs of coffee service and how to provide your customers with a memorable experience . Your espresso machine is on your front counter, so that baristas can look toward the customer as they prepare their drink. You have a close relationship with your roasting partner or partners and select coffee roasts based on quality and taste. You or someone on your management team understands how to properly cup coffees and identify “good” vs. “bad” tasting coffee. New employees are trained rigorously on bar process and coffee knowledge, and are hired based on their barista experience. You may offer some food items such as pastries from local bakeries and supporting drink/food options, but your menu revolves around your coffee service.

    The bar/bakery/restaurant

    Coffee is not your central product. You care about being able to offer fresh brewed drip and espresso based drinks, but maybe your espresso machine is on the back bar, or somewhat out of sight. You focus primarily on food/service/other drinks and offer coffee as a supporting item. Perhaps Your coffee purchasing is based on price and availability over specific flavors. Ideally you have someone on staff that manages your coffee service and has barista experience, but you don’t necessarily focus as much on coffee when training new employees as a coffee shop would.

    The Coffee Cart/Truck

    Your business is small and mobile. You work events and busy street corners or lots. The biggest challenge you face is cramming a full coffee service into a small amount of space. You’ll need to think about this alongside all of the normal questions that come along with opening a coffee shop. This will lead to important questions and choices that you’ll want to answer from the unique position of a small amount of floorspace.

    The Office Kitchen

    You provide coffee to those working in an office, but want to find a more efficient, satisfying, and sustainable solution than a single cup brewer. You have a wide range of tastes among staff that you want to affordably satisfy, without spending much time on training. You need a machine that can potentially brew many drinks per hour to keep up with the demands of your staff.

    Putting it all together

    Your business will most likely have unique needs that these examples don’t cover, but generally this should give you a starting point for this thought process. Consider these concepts and work on completing the Coffee Identity Worksheet to get an idea of what your coffee service will look like on opening day.

    Build a Business Plan

    Having an idea of how your coffee service will look is a great start, but you’ll need to expand that visioning document into a full scale business plan. Understanding how to write a business plan is a complex subject that is covered in entire classes, but a basic business plan should include the following:

    Executive Summary

    Your plan should include a brief summary of what your business is, including where it is, who your customer will be, what your focus is, and give an overview of your business.

    Company Description

    You’ll want to provide detailed information about who you and your existing partners are, your location, who your customers are, and what your competitive advantages will be. This is like an expanded executive summary.

    Market research

    This section should outline the reasons for why you will be successful. You want to outline your competition, your market, and why your business will perform well given those factors. 

    Organizational Info

    This section will outline how your company will be structured from an organizational standpoint. How will you be structured legally? There are methods like an LLC, sole proprietorship, or private corporation to consider. Who will be responsible for different aspects of running the business? Certain aspects of your business may be handled internally or contracted out, such as hiring an agency to help you find employees. Another extremely important question is how will your business be funded? Bank loans? Personal finances? Private investors? All of this should be covered in your organizational info section.

    Product Lines and Services

    This section will outline your specific products and services. For a coffee shop, this would be where you will define your coffee offering. The section should be specific, but you don’t necessarily need to build a menu in your initial business plan. Things like what kinds of coffee will be offered, what sorts of food options will be available, what, if any, retail services (selling bags of coffee, etc.) will be offered.

    Marketing Plans

    This section will explain what sorts of marketing you have planned for the business. How will you raise awareness of your business and brand? Will you be working with external marketing firms? What kind of “voice” do you plan to have in your marketing? The internet & social media really open the options for modern day marketing. 

    Funding Request

    Unless you are self-funding your business, you’ll need a section with a clear request for funding. This may be directed at a bank for a loan, at private investors, or potentially other creditors. You’ll want to outline how much money you will need and how that money will be spent here.

    Financial Projections

    This section provides details on your financial projections. This is where your market research combines with your budgeting to give an idea of when you’ll be profitable and when investors will begin to see returns.

    Appendix, conclusion

    This is where your citations, appendix, and closing information will be included.


    Completing Your Plan

    As you can see, building a business plan is an extensive, exhausting project, but it’s an extremely important step to complete. While the above information should help you to get started, you’ll also want to seek more in depth resources for building business plans. There are hundreds of books and sites that can help just by searching “how to build a business plan” in your favorite search engine. You will quickly find there are many resources available to help you with this process, but try not to be overwhelmed and focus on getting started!

    Know Your Location and Market

    Understanding who you’ll be serving and where you’ll be physically located is incredibly important, and factors in to building your business plan as well. Your location’s floorplan will dictate things like access to electricity and water, both extremely important factors in running a coffee service. Floor plan and layout will also dictate things like line flow, behind counter workflow, and aesthetic. It’s important to keep all of these things in mind while choosing a location. 

    Knowing where you are located matters as well. Having a clear picture of how people will see and access your business is key. What sorts of businesses exist around you? Do they complement or compete with your business?. Will you have parking available or is your customer arriving on foot? Is there a nice view or just a busy boulevard or back alley outside the window? Is your location cost and forecasted revenue in line? Asking these and similar questions upfront can be the make or break with a coffee business.

    Where you are physically will also determine what sorts of rules and regulations you’ll need to follow. Health guidelines and certifications can prohibit you from opening, so understanding your local rules and regs is important before you build your business plan. State and City regulations are not all created equal. Do your homework and don’t make assumptions here. Your state and city government websites are a great place to find more information about specific health code regulations.

    Finally, understanding who your customer is imperative. University students may want a place to study and sit for long periods of time. They may be open to waiting for a great beverage, but may also be very price conscious. On the other hand, a busy, suit clad business person may care far more about a quick caffeine fix than a beautiful piece of latte art. Identifying customer groups is more complex than it might seem. For as much as the example above may hold true, simply stereotyping groups won’t help you understand your customer. It’s important to see your business from the perspective of members of the local community. Working with informal focus groups of friends and volunteers, observing how locals utilize the services of other businesses, and observing trends in data obtained from sources like local chambers of commerce can all help with this.

    Selecting Your Equipment

    This is our favorite part, and for many, the most exciting. It should also be one of the last parts of your planning process. Once you have worked through your location, customer, and market, many of your equipment choices will have been made for you. We can help with dialing in those decisions. 

    Having a budget is extremely important at this point as well. Once we know what kind of business you’re starting, what your location looks like, who your customer is, and what your budget is, we can assist you with making decisions about your equipment. It is important to keep in mind that espresso machines in particular can be a large expense, so you’ll want to expect to invest in them appropriately if coffee service is a central part of your business plan. Think of your espresso machine as the heart of your coffee business. You can’t have a coffee shop without one. Don’t skimp and cut costs on this central piece of equipment. Then from the espresso machine build out the rest of your coffee equipment set to compliment it and provide the desired level of service and offerings for your unique coffee business.

    One easy trap to fall into is leasing or using loaned equipment from a roaster or other supplier. While this may seem like a convenient way to get started, it can lock you into limited menu choices and service options. Not to mention tying your success to that of another business entity. We recommend working to have your own equipment so that you can control your coffee service and menu completely from day one.

    Another mistake that some new coffee shop owners make is thinking that a home machine will work in a commercial environment. Machines must be certified for commercial use in most markets. Home machines are generally not certified. An NSF rating is usually required, at a minimum. From a practical standpoint, home machines are not build to handle the volume of any business that offers coffee. Most home machines are built to handle making 3-4 drinks in an hour and cannot withstand the constant use of even the slowest commercial environment.

    Installation and Maintenance

    Installing and maintaining your equipment properly is an important thing to consider before you’ve even purchased it. You will want to develop a comprehensive service plan before installing your machine, as well as have an experienced technician perform or assist with the install. Mistakes in installation and negating maintenance can jeopardize machines worth thousands of dollars and cause your business loss of revenue due to equipment down time. As part of our sales process, we set you up with vetted local technicians to install your new equipment and and help you plan for maintaining your investment. When you purchase equipment from Seattle Coffee Gear you will have access to support from seasoned professionals to help guide you through this sometimes confusing process. 

    Putting it all together

    This concludes a very high level look at some basic things to consider when starting your coffee business. If you’re working through our comprehensive planning workbook, go ahead and complete worksheet 1. We have yet to cover more in depth topics like staffing, brew methods in detail, finding financing, and so much more, but this article should give you some concepts to consider as you begin to plan your new coffee business. Let us help you make coffee you love, not just for yourself, but for all your future customers. 

  • Selecting a Commercial Grinder

    Your espresso machine may be the cornerstone that your coffee program is built on, but it’s not much use without a grinder. In a commercial setting, pre-ground coffee just won’t cut it. You should be giving just as much consideration to your choice of grinder as you would with your espresso machine. Just like an espresso machine, your espresso grinder needs to be selected to match the expected volume of the application. With that said, here are a few things to look out for as you begin your search for the perfect companion to your espresso machine. For a deeper look at what makes grinders tick, and how to pick one out, be sure to sign up for a free consultation and for access to our entire suite of commercial guides and worksheets.

    Burrs: Size, Type, and Material

    Burr size, type, and material are extremely important aspects to selecting the right grinder. To ensure that you’ll be able to grind for espresso consistently, quickly, and at high volumes, you’ll want a grinder with a larger set of burrs. Sizes of 70mm or more are common in coffee shop grinders. Aside from size, the type of burrs matter too. Conical burrs are good for limiting heat and controlling things like noise and energy use. On the flipside, flat burrs can retain less grounds and lead to better flavor, but can overheat when met with high volume usage. Finally, materials like hardened steel are strong, but prone to wear. Coatings like titanium are becoming more popular, and can help mitigate issues like wear and tear, with, of course, an increased cost.

    Size, Footprint, and Power

    Also worth considering is the size of your grinder. While you’ll want to make sure your shop can accommodate a serious commercial device, you also need to make sure it fits into your workflow and counter-space. Will it fit nicely next to your espresso machine? How difficult will its placement make it to refill? Will your circuit be able to handle the power draw that it’ll need alongside your espresso machine? All of these elements are important to selecting an espresso grinder.

    Primary and Secondary Grinders?

    Another thing to consider is whether you want a single grinder to handle espresso and drip coffee, or if you’re going to have multiple grinders for different needs. Different espressos, especially single origins, have to be carefully dialed in depending on the grinder and espresso machine. This can make switching to other grind settings and back tedious and slow. For this reason, you’ll want to consider multiple grinders for different purposes, and possibly even for different coffees depending on what sort of variety you plan to carry.

    There are even more things to consider when selecting a grinder, such as motor strength, noise levels, retention, and heat. Some of these elements are dependent on things touched on here, but for an even more in depth look at selecting a grinder for your business, sign up for a free consultation from SCG today. You’ll get access to our consultants as well as a host of articles and worksheets that can help you in all aspects of planning and opening your coffee shop.

  • Pour Over Workflow

    Hey coffee fans!

    We’ve talked about organization and utilizing your brewing space in the past. Today we want to touch on some specifics about optimizing your pour over workflow for that kind of brewing. Coming up with a solid workflow saves time and can make the brewing process more enjoyable. As we work from home, it’s really easy to see the benefits of a larger space, but either way, there’s tips you can use to improve your workflow wherever no matter how much room you have to work with. We’re going to go through a good workflow step-by-step. We’re assuming you just want to make a good pour over in the morning, so this article is omitting some hobbyist concepts like flow rate control and sifting fines.


    One way to speed up your pour over process is to get your water going first. We recommend using an electric kettle with precise temperature adjustment and setting it up right next to your scale and grinder. Ideally, it’ll also be near a source of water. You’ll want to use filtered water for the best taste, so keeping a dedicated pitcher at your station is a help if you have the space. Start your brewing process by filling your kettle and setting the temperature. Then, while it heats, you can prep your coffee.

    Choosing and Weighing Coffee

    If you like to keep multiple coffee options around, we recommend using a dedicated container for each roast. Something like an Airscape will keep your coffee fresher for longer, so you will have more time to drink multiple roasts at a time. If you’re a single roast person, we still recommend keeping your coffee in the bag rather than in the hopper. This is because it is easier to dose for pour over if you weigh your coffee as whole beans rather than try to get a timed grinder to spit out a consistent dose. 

    We like to use the lid of our grinder hoppers to weigh coffee. Placing the lid on the scale and then pouring out the proper amount of beans, plus half a gram or so extra to account for retention as needed. From there, you can just turn on the grinder until it fully grinds everything, then dump all of the grounds into your filter.

    Filter and Dripper

    Whether you’re brewing into a carafe or a mug, your next step is to wet your filter and place it in the dripper. If you have a place to dump your water (like a sink), you can use a bit of the water that should be heating in your kettle to do this. Ideally, you’ll want to heat your carafe or mug too, so a little bit of water through the filter and into the vessel can help make that happen. Assuming you have everything set, you should now have your wetted filter, heated mug or carafe, ground coffee, and hot water. When you get this all down you can have everything ready right as your water comes up to temp.

    The Pour

    For the pour itself, you’ll eventually find the perfect bloom amounts, times, and pour amounts to dial in your favorite flavor. We generally find that you get the best flavor with ascending volumes over three pours. Meaning your first pour (bloom) will be the smallest, with your third pour being the longest. If you want to brew at peak efficiency and quality, using a scale with a built in timer is a huge boon. This is because you can get just the right bloom time. In most cases, you can also count off the bloom if you don’t have a scale like this handy. Either way, you should now have a delicious cup of coffee!


    Cleanup is pretty simple, just wipe down your area and toss your filter. If you have the option, putting a dedicated small waste bin near your pour over setup can make this easier. In any case, after a quick cleanup you’ll be ready to brew for the next day! We do recommend washing your dripper regularly as well as descaling your kettle every 3-6 months, depending on use. It just keeps everything as fresh and clean as possible. You can use coffee pot cleaners and descalers for best results.

  • A Note on Tasting Notes

    Tasting notes can be a confusing thing. When you look at a bag of coffee and see that it lists things like chocolate, raspberries, and brown sugar, it’s easy to interpret that as actual added flavors or ingredients. This isn’t actually the case! Tasting notes are actually note added flavors, but to understand why they list what they do, you’ll have to get into the head of a roaster.

    Full of Flavors

    Coffee is a lot like wine in that it is full of different flavors. Every aspect of coffee production imparts some kind of flavor. The type of coffee plant, the soil, the elevation, the humidity and light amount, processing, roasting… All of it! It’s really why coffee is so exciting in the first place. There’s just so much that goes into every single cup. For roasters, explaining what coffee might be right for the right drinker can be tough. That’s why tasting notes exist.

    After roasting a batch, roasters will do what’s called “cupping.” Coffee cupping is a type of tasting where you use immersion brewing to allow coffee to steep right in the vessel it will be served from, similar to brewing tea. Then, tasters use special spoons to taste spoonfuls of the coffee.The tasters will then take notes on the kinds of flavors they get from the coffee. Again, this isn’t actual, added flavor, but an interpretation of what the coffee tastes like when brewed at its strongest. These notes form the basis of what ends up on the bag, though they may try the coffee in other brew methods before finalizing the notes.

    A Dash of Excitement

    One key element of tasting coffee is building a realistic profile of what the flavor of the coffee is like through the tasting notes. On the other hand, you can pull out flavors like chocolate and berries from lots of coffees. To help differentiate, often roasters will really dig to try to find the hint of flavor that makes a coffee unique. To an unrefined palate, two coffees might taste the same. Someone well versed in coffee tasting may find unique little elements to show how they differ.

    What this means is that you may need some practice before tasting some more interesting and subtle notes. That’s OK! The important thing is to keep trying, and keep developing that palate. The best way to understand flavor profiles of most coffees is as a pour over. So if you’re really interested in understanding the intricacies of different flavors of coffee, putting together a pour over setup is a good first step!

    Hopefully this sheds some light on those tasty coffee notes!

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