Make Coffee You Love!

  • Video Roundup: 12/06/2019

    Ho ho ho coffee fans!

    We've had some off and on weeks this holiday season because of all of the shopping! This week we did want to round up our week of video content for you, so let's take a look!

    First up, Gail took a look at the Philips Carina and Philips 3200!

    Next, we got a commercial crew review of the Bunn MHG from John:

    And finally, we're sad to see her go. It's Clementine's final coffee collaboration. :(

    We wish Clementine all of the best for her future endeavors!

    We'll be here next week to dish out some more coffee videos...

    P.S., Stay tuned to the channel later tonight for a special holiday treat!

  • Breville Barista Express Vs. Barista Pro

    If you've followed Breville's espresso machine output you're definitely familiar with the Barista Express. This legendary machine is so many home barista's first machine due to its built in grinder. We love the simplicity of this machine and how it helps you learn the basics of crafting espresso. It also lets you use unpressurized portafilters, so you can learn and grow with the machine. This year Breville introduced the Barista Pro. This machine is very similar to the Express, but offers some extra bells and whistles. We wanted to dive into the differences between the machines to help you make a decision for your first purchase, or upgrade

    External Design and Features

    First, the basics: Both of these machines feature a built in burr grinder perfect for producing grounds specifically for them. They also share a case form factor, with the Pro offering slightly sleeker lines but generally the same shape. Both machines have a dedicated hot water spout for crafting Americanos. That said, the Pro's spout is angled slightly to fire directly into you cup so you can pull the water without moving it.

    The biggest difference between the two machines is the digital vs. analog displays. The Express has several buttons for different functions and an analogue pressure gauge in the middle of its interface. By comparison, the Pro has a bright, backlit digital display with smaller buttons. Some users do prefer having the analogue steam gauge, but we don't feel it ultimately adds all that much. The best way to dial in a shot is to focus on the time it takes to pull, rather than watching a steam gauge. That screen on the Pro also gives you deep control over brewing without cluttering the face with buttons.

    Internals and Performance

    The visual/interface differences between these machines is the most noticeable thing from afar. However, it's the performance that really sets the Pro apart. The Barista Express features Breville's Thermocoil water heating. Water is pulled through a heated coil to reach the perfect brewing temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its allows the machine to heat fairly quickly, but you'll still want to turn it on and give it a minute or two to warm up.

    The Pro, on the other hand, uses Breville's newer thermojet heating. This allows you to pull shots within 20 seconds of flipping the machine on, it also means lightning fast warm up time for steaming. That also means almost non-existent downtime between drinks. The design principals between the two heating elements are similar, but the Pro's heating is just... better.

    Conclusion

    Both of these machines offer fantastic introductions to home espresso. It's why the Pro is offered alongside the Express rather than as a replacement. Which one makes sense for your first machine depends on your preference in their appearance, and whether you value the faster drinks of the Pro or the analogue gauge of the Express. If you already own an express and want a little more performance without advancing to an even higher end machine, the Pro is a fantastic upgrade. You can check them both out on our Breville brand page.

  • 2019 Holiday Roasts Guide - Part 1

    It's that time of year for Winter cheer! We're celebrating the season with a look at all of our Holiday blends from a great collection of roasters. Here's part 1!

    Brandywine Coffee Roasters - Small Wonder

    Small Wonder is a Fall treat from one of our favorite roasting partners, Brandywine Coffee Roasters! We love this little bag of cozy Fall flavors like caramel, honeycrisp apples, pecan, and cider. Featuring natural processed coffee, this is a sweet roast that doesn't overwhelm like some naturals. We think this roast is an excellent example of the "true medium," and we think your friends and family will love it. What's more, this roast is great in a variety of brew methods, so try it in your superauto, drip brewer, semi-auto machine, press, or however you like to brew! You can grab a bag of Small Wonder here.

    Counter Culture Coffee - Iridescent

    Counter Culture's Iridescent leans into the "gift" aspect of the holidays. Its cheery packaging and bright colors look great with a bow, and it has great taste to boot! This coffee hits you with that classic chocolate note that you know and love. This is a key component of a lot of holiday roasts. Leaning into that classic coffee taste is a good start to a roast that's perfect for serving a crowd! The berry notes that add into this coffee are a perfect addition to the chocolate flavors, providing a deep, rich cup of coffee that will satisfy the most discerning coffee drinkers in a variety of brew methods. Perfect for a gift, pick up some Iridescent here today!

     

    Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters - Holiday Blend

    Warm and full, Batdorf's 2019 Holiday Blend is another great offer from this long time SCG favorite. Featuring charming artwork that always brings a smile to our faces, this one offers just a hint of bitterness with its dark chocolate notes. Add in softer sweet flavors of dried fruit, and a dash of nutmeg and you've got an excellent holiday roast that will bring out holiday cheer in anyone who takes a sip! We love this roast as an espresso, but it can make for a great drip brew or pour over as well. Perfect for fans of coffee that's just bitter enough, you can purchase a bag of this blend right here!

     

    Victrola Coffee Roasters - Holiday Blend

    Featuring a beautiful bag depicting a cozy, snow cabin nestled in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, Victrola's Holiday Blend is a great mix of classic holiday notes and a little something extra. Cocoa, baking spice, and orange provide an interesting blend of flavors with a custard note that is subtle but quite interesting. A delicious blend of washed and natural beans, this is a roast that's great to try out in a few different brew methods if you have the equipment. We ultimately enjoyed it the most as a pour over, but suspect that others will love it as an espresso or press brew too. Pick one of these bags up over here!

     

    Olympia Coffee Roasting - Holiday Blend

    It should come as no surprise that one of the most traditionally delicious holiday blends we've received comes from such a traditionally brilliant roaster like Olympia. This is a classic set of Wintery notes: Chocolate, clove, and blueberry. The mix of washed and natural processed beans allows plenty of sweetness to shine through that ultra classic coffee flavor. We love this roast for its traditional vibes and also enjoy the way Olympia consistently nails those subtle notes of blueberry. Brew this one up as a pour over to get every bit of flavor from it, then try it as an espresso! Buy a bag here!

     

    That's all for now, join us next week for more holiday blends from 2019!

  • SCG Holiday 2019 Deals Guide

    It's the holiday season and Seattle Coffee Gear is here with some great deals for you!

    Rather than make you hunt through old blog posts and videos to get info about each of our exclusive deals, we've assembled this guide. It should give you an idea of why we're excited about each of the things we're putting on sale! You can find all of these deals and more right over here. Let's dive in!

    Philips Carina

    The Philips Carina is our exclusive machine from Philips' new line of superautomatics. It's a great machine that offers incredible value between its coffee and milk quality. We love the fact that the panarello steam wand gives you control over the temperature and texture of your milk. With Philips' delicious espresso and coffee brewing, it all gives you a really delicious package even at its regular price. We're knocking off $150, bringing the price down to $349.99 this holiday!

    Eurekea Mignon Filtro Grinder

    This year Eureka put out an excellent line of brew grinders with the form factor of their Mignon line. While they released a few of them, the Filtro offers the most simple, go to option to get just the grind you want. This grinder features simple push-button operation and a stepless grind adjust. This grind adjustment is the sort of thing you'd typically find on more expensive espresso grinders. It allows you to get the exact grind you need for your coffee, rather than clicking through preset grind levels. The Filtro is one of the best brew grinders you can get, and we've got it for just $199 this holiday!

    Rocket Espresso Pro Upgrade Kit + No Tax

    Rocket Espresso is one of our favorite semi-auto machine producers. These classic Italian espresso machines are built to last and perform incredible well. What's more, with a range of price options we are sure there's a Rocket Espresso machine for every "prosumer" user out there. This year we've brewed up a special upgrade kit for purchasers of a Rocket Espresso machine. This kit includes a bottomless portafilter, tamper, milk pitcher, and gasket upgrade. With all of this you'll just need to add ground coffee, milk, and water to get some exquisite home espresso. We're also paying your sales tax on these machines!

    Izzo Espresso

    Izzo espresso machines also represent some of out very favorite Italian machine offerings. Our Izzo Pro models upgrade the standard machines to stainless steel boilers. This means you'll get a lifetime of espresso from one of these wonderful machines. We're excited to offer Izzo machines for $200 off. This is an especially great deal considering how rarely Izzos go on sale!

    Miele CM5500

    The Miele CM5500 is our stylish exclusive from Miele. Featuring the compact, but powerful design of the 5300 plus extra programmable user profiles and a hot water spout, this machine is already a great value. We're doing even more though, and taking $200 off! This makes this fantastic machine that already punches well above its price point just $1,099. Get this deal while it lasts!

    Breville Precision Brewer Tribute Edition

    Our SCG exclusive Breville Precision Brewer is also on sale, available for just $239.95. We love the original Precision Brewer, and this exclusive includes a pour over adapter that lets you mount your favorite dripper above the carafe. With this addition, the Precision Brewer becomes your one stop shop for drip brews, cold brew, iced coffee AND pour over. It's the best deal in drip brewers right now if you're looking for a gift or an upgrade!

    Crossland CC1 V2 Espresso Machine

    A dream machine for hobbyists, the Crossland CC1 is a standby for us. Perfect for tinkering and tweaking your recipes, this machine was already one of our favorites in its price bracket. With excellent support from Crossland and great performance on par with more expensive machines, this deal just makes the CC1 all the sweeter. Get this stalwart machine for $150 off this holiday only at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    SCG Pour Over Starter Set

    Getting into pour over brewing can seem like a chore. you need a dripper, grinder, filters, a kettle, a scale, not to mention coffee and your mug! This holiday we're handling most of the above with our $99 pour over kit. This kit includes a Hario Skerton hand grinder, V60 dripper, filters, a Brewista Smart Brew Coffee Scale, and a Bonavita Electric Gooseneck Kettle. With all of this, you'll just need to add some cups and coffee and you'll be ready to get into the wide world of pour over!

    And for those two things, check out our CREMA15 and STOCKINGS coupon codes! The former saves you 15% on all LavAzza coffee, and the later knocks 10% off accessories like mugs, scales, and more!

    We hope our SCG deals will help you give the perfect gift or upgrade your own coffee game. All of these deals are limited time, so get them as soon as you can!

  • Miele CM5000 Series Review

    The Miele 5000 series seeks to pack the power and programmability of the 6000 series into a lower price point and smaller footprint. Does it succeed? Today we're taking a look at this interesting machine in a crew review!

    Appearance and Usability

    The Miele 5300 (and SCG Exclusive 5500) take the design aesthetic of the 6000 series as a guide. This means that the Miele "coffee box" look is present here as well. As part of the switch to the smaller case style, the 5300 and 5500 have dispensers on the outside of the case. These machine are also missing the light that is present on the 6000 machines. It's definitely a trade-off, and some will prefer the aesthetics of the 6000s. We like the way the 5000s look, and are especially enamored with our SCG exclusive. The color on the 5500 is really gorgeous and sets itself apart from the rest of the line.

    Usability on both machines is solid, with a similar interface to the 6000 series. Again the 5500 shines here, with its hot water spout and profiles for custom drinks. The case designs are good, though some with low cabinets may find accessing the water and bean hopper frustrating. The machines' compact size also results in smaller hoppers and tanks. We found this to be a worthwhile tradeoff though for anyone needing that smaller size. Cleaning and maintenance of these machines is as simple and menu driven as on its older siblings. All of this makes the 5000 series very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. If you can, snag a 5500!

    Performance

    Performance wise, Mieles make great coffee. Heatup time is quick and the brews are good and strong. As we always say, you'll always get better coffee from a highly trained barista on a superauto. That aside, Mieles produce shots on par with machines from Jura and Philips-Saeco, the other two leaders on the market. The 5000 series machines are also great because they're giving you the same coffee that you'd get out of a 6000. That's not always true of the "compact" versions of larger machines, and deserves a callout.

    On the milk front, the 5000 series also offers the quality that the larger machines do. While we couldn't quite get latte art out of one of these machines, a truly experienced barista may be able to bridge that gap. The milk is also steamed quite fast, though your mileage may very with certain alternative milks.

    The number of drink options available is great across the board, and there's a notable difference here where it counts. For example, lattes and cappuccinos are more varied here than on some superautos, where just the volume of milk vs. coffee changes rather than milk texture. The Miele's "coffee" button is also better than on a lot of machines. Because superautos brew espresso and not drip coffee, you're never quite getting that with the coffee button on a machine like this. Instead, you're getting a lungo pulled shot. That means a shot that has extra water poured through it. It's kind of like an Americano but with water pulled through the coffee instead of added after brewing. With Miele's carafe mode, you can actually brew a whole pot of this drip-like brew. Other machines can brew single cups, but something about the ratios on Mieles make it a little closer to drip brewing.

    Conclusion

    If you have the budget and counter space, the 6000 Mieles are still a really great option. With that said, we think the 5000 line is here to stay, and they're fantastic machines if you need something more compact or affordable. Check out the 5500 here and the 5300 here!

  • Gail's Picks: Best Drip Brewers of 2019

    Welcome to another edition of Gail's Picks for 2019! Today it's all about drip brewers, and we have three fantastic coffee machines to share with you. Drip brewers are really a standby for any coffee lover, and finding the perfect one can be a challenge. That's why we're showing off a few, with specific brewers working best for specific coffee drinkers. Without further adieu, let's get started!

    Bonavita Connoisseur

    The Bonavita Connoisseur is the perfect brewer to get for that budding coffee fan in your life. It also makes an excellent secondary brewer if you primarily drink another form of coffee like espresso or press. This is an affordable machine that has no frills, but doesn't need them. For under $200 you're getting rock solid temperature stability, arguably the most important part of a drip brewer. That means that while you can't control the temperature of the water, it is solidly in the 198-202 degree range for proper extraction. It'll brew your coffee perfectly without scorching it and creating that icky flavor that cheaper drip brewers create. This is why we think it's perfect for new coffee drinkers. In a lot of cases people think that burned tasting coffee is just the way coffee tastes. The Connoisseur can show them a better way!

    This brewer also has a great pre-wetting feature that blooms the coffee in a manner that you'd get from pour over. Overall it creates a really tasty pot of drip without complications, and that's why we think it's one of the best drip brewers of 2019!

    Technivorm Moccamaster

    The Technivorm Moccamaster is a classic machine that will last many years if properly maintained. While this brewer lacks programmability, it makes up for it in sheer reliability, performance, and style. Featuring Technivorm's signature industrial design, the temperature stability here is exceptional. There's something about Technivorm brewed coffee that's just different than what you get out of other brewers. It's bold, flavorful, and complex, and that's all thanks to the design of the heating element and spray head. Again, this machine is also built like a tank. We've seen Technivorms last decades if properly maintained and cleaned. This glass carafe version also features an auto-shut off warming plate that won't burn the coffee after it has been brewed.

    What's more, these machines com in a variety of different colors! This makes it the perfect option for the style conscious kitchen. You'll be able to match your machine to the color scheme of the rest of your equipment.

    Breville Precision Brewer

    Finally, we have the Precision Brewer. This machine combines the incredible performance of the above mentioned machines with a suite of customization options. From pour over, to cold brew, to iced coffee, and more, the Precision Brewer lives up to its name. You'll be able to control every aspect of the brewing process with this machine, making it one of the smartest drip brewers available. For times when you're not looking for all of that functionality, you can just brew with the pre-programmed SCAA-rated Gold Cup setting. This will brew coffee that adheres to standards set by the specialty coffee association for properly tasting and evaluating minute details in the coffee. When you do want to get more hands on, you can play with the different settings to get the perfect flavor profile from different kinds of coffees. Pretty much the pinnacle of drip brewing tech, we love this machine!

    The SCG exclusive Tribute Edition also includes a pour over adapter. This allows you to use a pour over dripper and the built in settings to brew incredible automatic pour over.

    Conclusion

    That brings us to a close on another set of top threes! With that, we're done with Gail's Picks for 2019! We hope we've helped you make some tough decisions about what to pick up to step up your coffee game this holiday season.

  • Video Roundup: 11/22/2019

    Holidays are right around the corner and we're in high gear!

    If you haven't seen Gail's awesome picks videos, make sure you check those out. Today we'll take a look at all of the other stuff we've got going on over on YouTube.

    First up, it's John with a review of a commercial grinder:

    Next, Allie, Nicole and I tasted some amazing Smith Teas:

    Finally, Clementine tried a tasty chilled treat on this week's Coffee Collaboration!

    That's all for this week! We'll be back next week with more videos to share!

  • Gail's Picks: Best High-End Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2019

    Welcome back to our Gail's Picks series for 2019!

    Today it's time to take a look at our picks for the best high-end superuatomatic espresso machines in 2019. These machines have so much programmability and tech in them that it's almost like having a personal barista. But what sets these three apart from other expensive superautos? Read on to find out!

    Miele CM6350

    The Miele CM6350 is a powerful brewer that offers a pipe based system that connects to a carafe for milk steaming, and four customizable profiles. This machine set a standard for high-end superautos and still is one of the best you can buy. The menus can take some getting used to, but there's no denying the quality of coffee and milk that comes out of a miele superauto. Add to that a hot water spout, large hopper, and a removable reservoir and you've got a compelling option at its price point. Those four profiles allow you to set elements of drink creation for multiple users, so that the whole family can dial in their perfect latte.

    Miele is also the only superauto maker to offer carafe based coffee brewing. While the "coffee" from a Miele isn't truly drip coffee, it's about as close as you can get from this style of machine. With carafe brewing, you can brew a whole pot of this lungo pulled espresso at once to serve multiple guests. It all combines to make the CM6350 one of the best machines you can buy for families.

    Saeco Xelsis

    Last year the Xelsis got a major re-launch and totally blew us away. We declared it one of the best machines of 2018, and it maintains that this year. The new Xelsis redefines programmability, user interface, and milk quality for superautos. The touchscreen on the face of the machine gives you full control over multiple pages of drink parameters. Things like volume and strength are standard, but being able to adjust temperature, milk foam, and specific ingredient volumes is a great addition. All of it is extremely easy to understand and read as well. This extends to the AquaClean filtration and HygieSteam system as well. Both of these components are easy to understand and manage, and make maintenance of the machine a breeze.

    The front access water tank, general look and feel of the machine, and sturdy construction drive home the premium nature of this machine. Then there's the milk quality. Xelsis' HygieSteam system really nails one of the hardest aspects of drink creation. Professional baristas spend hours learning techniques to get just the right amount of foam for lattes and cappuccinos. The Xelsis still can't quite match a real, human pro, but it gets as close as we've seen. All of that makes it one of the best superautos you can get!

    Jura Z8

    Reaching for the highest of the high end machines, the Jura Z8 is like an espresso supercomputer. Its massive 4.3-inch touchscreen delivers a glorious user experience that offers programmability and simple one touch recipes. 21 of these recipes are built in, and brewing them is as easy as can be. Adjustable milk temperature and texture provide an exquisite set of options for lattes and cappuccinos as well, really living up to that "cafe in your kitchen" concept. Plus, this machine makes some of the best espresso available in the superauto category. This is achieved with Jura's exclusive P.E.P. brewing system, which teases out more of the depth in the brew method that you can normally only get by manually pulling shots.

    On top of being one of the best in the business in terms of drink quality, the Z8 offers looks and easy maintenance as well. CLEARYL smart filtration keeps you informed on when you need to change the filter and clean the machine. On the case side, thick plating and solid construction provide a visually appealing and high quality feel to the machine. While this is one of the more expensive machines on the market, it justifies this with its high performance.

    Conclusion

    And there you have it, our three favorites in the high-end market for superautos. We love these machines, and feel they represent some of the best options available for your kitchen. We're pretty sure you'll love them too. We're not done yet though, check back for more of Gail's Picks in the next week!

     

  • Gail's Picks: Best High End Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2019

    Welcome back to Gail's picks for the best machines of 2019!

    Today we're taking a look at the very best higher end semi-automatics on the market, starting with the Rocket Espresso R58.

    Rocket Espresso R58

    The Rocket Espresso R58 is a hand built, perfectly tuned machine. Practically a cafe for your countertop, this machine uses commercial grade components alongside Rocket Espresso's signature style, and it really wows. Every machine this manufacturer produces is powerful, but the R58 takes it to another level. The steel frame houses two boilers. The steam boiler clocks in at 1.7 liters, with the brew boiler is about half a liter. Having both of these boilers allows you to easily steam and brew at the same time. Having this ability puts your drink output on the level with your local cafe. The R58 also features tactile controls and an easy to use PID controller interface to give you loads of power without tons of work.

    Beyond all of these major features, the R58 is plumbable and offers some of the best pre-infusion available. A working piston and a static chamber combine to perfect infuse water into the grounds before brewing. This creates an incomparable shot of espresso. Even better, you can plumb this machine for maximum ease of use, perfect for the serious home coffee enthusiast.

    La Marzocco Linea Mini

    The Linea is one of La Marzocco's, and espresso in general's, absolute classic machines. Powering cafe's for decades, its a machine that offers legendary performance without putting anything between you and the brewing process. The Linea Mini is the home version of this machine, and its historic heritage is apparent in every part of its design. Simple, industrial design elements house elements like PID-controlled dual boilers, La Marzocco's signature saturated group, and the iconic brew paddle. This is a serious brewer that will last many years, can be plumbed for maximum convenience, and is fun to use. That brew paddle mentioned above allows you to initiate brew cycles confidently, and 1 second pre-infusion will ensure quality shots again and again.

    In fact, this machine is even NSF certified. That means you could use it to brew espresso in a small cafe or coffee cart. While we'll always direct commercial customers to machines specifically designed for cafes, it speaks to the Linea Mini's reputation. Commercial grade steaming and that saturated group head help that rep, creating consistent temperatures for crafting the perfect latte or cappuccino. We loved this machine, and it even comes in several colors!

    Rocket Espresso R Nine One

    At the highest of the high end, we couldn't help but squeeze the R Nine One onto our list. This machine is practically a spaceship that brew coffee, and it's evident as soon as you lay eye on it. Eschewing Rocket Espresso's more standard Italian design tropes, the R Nine One is really a next level machine. Like the other machines on our list, this one features two boilers, one for steaming, and one for brewing. This gives you consistent power to prepare milk and espresso at once. That's standard on prosumer machines like this though, what really makes this machine different is its programmability. The R Nine One's screen provides helpful feedback, and allows for some wild programming options. Pressure profiling is the concept of applying difference degrees of pressure with the pump through pulling the shot. Difference pressure profiles can create small differences in flavor. In the case of the R Nine One, this is something you can control.

    This means that you can use the R Nine One to recreate the brewing process of dozens of different brewers. This is done by mimicking the way they apply pressure to the grounds. You can, of course, also just use this technology to dial in your favorite profile for your beans. This system is in addition to all of the other bells and whistles you'd expect. That means a stainless steel frame and case, a saturated E-61 group, Pid controller, and plumbability. You really can't go wrong with this machine. That's why it's on our list of favorite high-end semi-autos for 2019!

    Conclusion

    Semi-autos aren't the end of the story! We'll be back with more of Gail's favorites, including best high-end superautos, very soon!

  • Video Roundup: 11/15/2019

    Happy Friday Coffee Fans!

    We've had a load of fun filming this week and have a few videos to share. Make sure you check out Gail's Picks for 2019, which we've been sharing in separate posts here on the blog! Today we're going to dig in to our regularly scheduled content.

    Fist up, we got a look at the La Marzocco Swift Espresso Grinder from John.

    Next, Clementine brewed up some apple cider coffee!

    Last but not least, Allie, Nicole and I had a taste of our newest roast, Onyx Coffee Lab:

    That's all for this week! Join us next week for more fun video content!

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