Make Coffee You Love!

  • Video Roundup 6/8/2018

    Hey coffee lovers!

    It's Friday, which means another video roundup! This week Heather and John joined Gail on our YouTube channel to explore a range of awesome coffee topics!

    First Gail showed us some great products perfect for your next trip to the great outdoors!

    Next, Gail ran us through some of the differences between the Breville Barista Touch and the DeLonghi Magnifica!

    Then we've got John, giving us some great tips for milk steaming!

    Finally, we closed the week out with a great Summertime drink with Heather!

    Join us next week for more videos!

     

  • Coffee History: The Origin of Coffee!

    The Birth of Our Favorite Beverage!

    Rolling hills in Ethiopia

    Coffee has a long and winding history. It's a drink that has been popular all over the world, brewed a variety of ways over time. For our first Coffee History segment we thought we'd dig into where it all began!

    There's some debate as to where coffee was first consumed, but the most likely answer is Ethiopia. There are legends of mystics observing the vitality of birds that fed on coffee cherries, then tasting the fruit and feeling it themselves. The disciple Omar, of Sheik Abou'l Hasan Schadheli, is said to have attempted roasting coffee beans to consume them without the bitterness of the cherry. When the bean became hard he boiled it, ultimately finding the brown liquid this created to be satisfying. All of this would have taken place in the 13th century CE.

    The first record of coffee beans actually being harvested comes from the same region in the middle of the 15th century. Beans were exported from Ethiopia to Yemen, which was the first example of real knowledge of the coffee plant. These beans were then cultivated in Yemen. This shows that not only was knowledge of coffee harvesting present in Ethiopia, but the skills to cultivate them were transferrable.

    Spread of the Beverage

    By 1554 coffee had spread across the Middle East, and was often used in religious practices. The beverage was strongly associated with Sufism, being particularly popular in cities like Cairo, Aleppo, and Istanbul, where cafes became commonplace.

    Pyramids in Egypt

    But all of this popularity also led to scrutiny. In 1511, coffee was forbidden by conservative, orthodox imams. This was because it was against scripture as interpreted to consume stimulating substances. Eventually, in 1524, this ban was overturned by fatwa. Later bans were instituted in Egypt and Ethiopia as late as the 17th century. Coffee remained a controversial drink throughout the time period.

    Coffee also spread throughout Europe during this period as well. By the 17th century, coffee houses in England became key to the Enlightenment, and coffee was being moved around the world by the East India company. As expected, the drink continued to spread across the globe. Though for hundreds of years it remained a luxury in many areas due to the particular climate requirements of the plant.

    We'll be back soon with more tales of coffee's past!

     

  • New Product Spotlight: Eureka Drogheria

    We're very excited to add the Drogheria MCD4 to a stellar lineup of Eureka grinders!

    The Drogheria MCD4 is a brand new bulk grinder designed specifically for commercial settings. The grinder has a host of features that make it into a great machine to add to your cafe space.

    The grind adjust dial is big and easy to use, with a label that makes finding the right setting easy, even if you're not an every day barista. The knob, like the rest of the grinder, feels sturdy too.

    The hopper is a whopping 5 Lbs, allowing you to grind entire bags of beans at a time. The footprint of this machine is also easy to vouch for, fitting even tight cafe counters.

    Finally, the bag clip is strong and simple, and the grinder's two position switch makes it easy to use.

    The insides

    Looks and usability are great, but it's what's on the inside that really counts, and the Drogheria delivers here as well. The 75mm burrs can handle the bulk that the hopper delivers, and are capable of grinding for almost any brew method. The motor is big and reliable as well, and doesn't affect the temperature of the beans for most settings.

    All of this combines with extremely durable and reliable parts. This is a meaty grinder that really delivers on dependability along with the aforementioned aesthetics and usability. If we have any caveats to offer, it's that this machine does heat up more on the settings needed for Turkish coffee. We recommended grinding under 8 oz. when using this setting. Otherwise, it's a great device.

    Also worth noting, we're introducing the KRE from Eureka this week as well, which serves a very different purpose. Look forward to more info on that machine soon and check out the Drogheria here!

     

     

     

     

     

  • From Planting to Process, the Life of a Coffee Bean—Part 2

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

    Welcome to part 2 of our series on farming and processing!

    Last time we covered the basics of coffee farming. This week we're ready to talk processing! there's a lot to learn about processing, so we'll focus on the basics today and feature even more in depth looks at each method in later articles!

    After beans are harvested, they're sent to processing stations not far from where they are farmed. Processing techniques vary, but the general purpose is to remove the shell and ferment the beans to ready them for roasting!

    Washed Processing

    The first, and most common method of processing is washed/wet. First, the coffee cherries are added to a large tank of water. This allows the processors to separate good cherries from bad, as the bad fruit will sink while the good ones will float on top. After this, most of the cherries are removed from the bean inside through methods like pressing and filtration. After this process, usually some pulp remains on the bean. This remaining pulp is removed by fermenting the beans, and then washing them thoroughly with a large amount of water.

    Following this washing, the beans are dried in the sun or with machines. By the time they are dry, their parchment skin becomes very dry and crumbles off easily. At this point, machines are used to hull the dry parchment off, and the beans are ready to be sent to roasters.

    Washed processing is popular because it provides the purest coffee flavor. Most coffee you purchase is washed. This processing method does require large amounts of water and equipment, which can make it wasteful specifically in areas already affected by a lack of water.

    Natural Processing

    Also known as dry processing, naturals are most common in Brazil, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Paraguay. Natural processing is simpler and less machine driven than a wet process, but it also creates a very strong tasting bean that many find too overwhelming.

    First, cherries as sorted by hand, often using a sieve. This sorting process removes overripe or damaged cherries, as well as dirt, twigs, and leaves that may have stuck to cherries during harvesting. The cherries are then laid out in the sun, sometimes for up to 4 weeks. This drying process is occasionally machine assisted as well. In any case, getting the right dry time is the most important part to natural processing. The cherries are closely monitored, and frequently raked to prevent mildewing and promote even drying.

    Finally, the dried cherries are sent to a mill, where the dried cherry and other outer layers are removed in one step by a hulling machine. The beans are then bagged and ready for transfer to roasters.

    Honey Process

    Honey processing provides a middle-ground in taste between the balance of a washed bean and the sometimes overwhelming fruitiness of a natural bean. The name comes from a sticky layer of mucilage left on the bean after pulping.

    First, only the ripest beans are used for honey processing. These beans are pulped so that their outer layer of skin is removed, leaving the bean and the mucilage layer mentioned above. At this point, the beans are dried in a similar manner to natural process beans. Though while similar, the dry time is even more delicate here than with natural beans.

    The coffee is carefully monitored and raked frequently for about a day to reach the desired moisture level. At this point the beans are then raked only once a day, and left to dry for another week or so. This is an arduous process that requires precise measurement by hand. After the drying is complete, the beans are milled similarly to the way natural process coffee is milled.

    What's next?

    From there, all of these beans are sold to your favorite roasters! These roasters then work their magic on the coffee, and it's ready for you to enjoy. We'll talk more about roasting more in future segments!

    Thanks so much for joining us for this series, and remember to make coffee you love!

     

     

  • Video Roundup 6/1/2018

    Happy Friday!

    We had a few great videos going up this week, and wanted to share them if you hadn't had the chance to check them out yet!

    First, we have our Crew Review of the Jura J6!

    Next up, Gail took a look at what you can expect from budget pourover gear compared to fancier equipment!

    Finally, we took a look at the new Airscape Ceramic Canisters from Planetary Designs for a Crew Review!

    Be sure to swing by next week for more great video content!

     

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

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

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

    A Study in Processing

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

    Order While You Can!

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

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

  • Recipe Spotlight: Cold Brew

    Summer can only mean one thing! Cold brew!

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

    Vanilla Almond Swirl

    What you'll need:

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

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

    Honey Coffee Blender

    What you'll need

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

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

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

     

  • Video Roundup 5/25/2018

    Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

     

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: Coffee and Beer!

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

    Similar vision, similar audience

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

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

    Combining bean and brew

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

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

     The perfect pair

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

     

  • New Product Spotlight: Baratza Sette 270Wi

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

    Intelligent Technology

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

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

    Improved Usability

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

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

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

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

     

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