Make Coffee You Love!

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 3

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

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

     

    Hoppers of All Sizes!

     

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

    Let's start with hoppers

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

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

     

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

     

    Dosers Galore!

     

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

     

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

     

    Pictureed here is the Mazzer Mini E Type A!

     

     

    Scales, Timers, and Screens, Oh My!

     

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

     

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

    Where to Begin?

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

     

     

  • Video Roundup - 7/13/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for another video roundup!

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

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

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

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

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: The French Café

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

    Distinct Places, Distinct Tastes

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

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

    The Parisian Experience

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

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

    A Piece of History

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

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

     

  • Recipe Spotlight: Coffee Madeira Cake!

    Hey coffee lovers!

    It's time for another recipe spotlight! We've decided to celebrate England's stellar world cup performance this week with a Coffee Madeira Cake! (It's British!)

    Ingredients:

    • 2 sticks unsalted butter
    • 1 cup baker's sugar
    • 4 tablespoons instant freeze-dried coffee
    • 4 medium eggs
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking power

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 325
    2. Line 10-inch baking pan with parchment paper
    3. Mix flour and baking powder
    4. dissolve instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of hot water
    5. Combine butter, sugar, and coffee and cream until light and fluffy using a hand mixer
    6. Add eggs two at a time, mix until incorporated
    7. Fold in flour/baking soda mixture
    8. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean
    9. Allow time to cool before removing the cake from the tin
    10. Consider serving with whipped cream and strawberries

    We hope you enjoy!

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 2

    Last week we talked about the basics of burrs and grinders. You can find that post here!

    This week it's all about control and motors. Let's jump in!

    Control

    Grind control is another extremely important aspect of choosing a grinder. When we talk about "control" we mean opening and closing the burrs of the grinder to achieve a finer or coarser grind. Finer grounds are used for espresso and Turkish coffee. Coarser grinds are typically used for drip and press brew methods.

    There are two different control methods most commonly found on coffee grinders: stepped and stepless. Stepped grinders tend to "click" into place at set intervals. This is very useful if you need to switch between drip and press grind levels. On the other hand, stepless grinders don't feature this clicking between settings. Instead, they smoothly adjust from setting to setting. While this can make switching back and forth a pain, it helps for dialing in the perfect expresso grind immensely.

    But what does this mean for you? You should look for a control type that fits your needs. Stepless is great for espresso fans, while stepped grinders are better if you switch between drip and press methods a lot.

    Motors

    Also of great importance is the motor in your grinder! This can be a hard thing to gauge without trying a grinder for yourself, but it's a key part of the machine. The motor spins the burrs in the grinder, which, of course, grinds the beans. The biggest concern when considering motors is reliability. It's easy to replace burrs, and controls very rarely fail, but a bad motor can be costly to fix.

    Motor quality can be hard to judge, but generally you can feel it when the grinder kicks on. Motors will sound consistent and strong if they are of good quality. You should also notice some torque when it comes on as well.

    The other aspects of a motor are volume, speed, and consistency. Noise reduction can be achieved with baffling and other techniques, but speed and consistency are all in the motor! You'll want a motor that works fast, but stays consistent with it's grinding. This is fairly easy to achieve with home grinders, but often techniques like gear reduction will be used to manage speed and consistency on commercial machines.

    What's next?

    Next week we'll dive even deeper and discuss all of the odds and ends that put grinders over the top. Join us then, and remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Video Roundup: 7/6/2018

    Hey coffee lovers!

    We're here for another video roundup!

    First up, Gail gave us a great Crew Review of both models of the Saeco Incanto!

    Next, we joined John for a Commercial Crew Review of the Baratza Forte BG:

    Finally, we welcomed the weekend with a White Russian cocktail with Heather!

    Enjoy your weekend, and remember to make coffee you love!

  • Gear of the Month: Eureka KRE Espresso Grinder

    For this year's Gear of the Month we're featuring the Eureka KRE. This mammoth grinder has been our primary source for espresso grinding for the last month, and we love it! But at this price we needed to be impressed. This is an expensive machine designed for demanding commercial environments, but in that environment it excels.

    Overview

    The Eureka KRE features large, 68mm conical burrs, stepless adjustment, bottom burr adjust, and timed dosing controlled by a bright, easy to use interface.

    It's an expensive grinder, with much of the cost being driven by the large burrs and powerful, gear-reduction motor. In general, the KRE offers stable grinding and is quick despite its gear-reduced low RPMs. It is also extremely consistent, requiring limited adjustment after dialing in.

    Burrs and Motor

    The 68mm conical burrs are the real stars of this grinder. It's rare to see a large format conical grinder come out, and this one is already at the top of the grinding game. These burrs feed beans extremely well, and we haven't experienced any jams after thousands of shots.

    These burrs also adjust at the bottom burr, below the motor. This is a great feature when it comes to cleaning the KRE. Because of the way the motor and burrs are assembled, you can open the grinder up for cleaning and maintenance without modifying the grind setting. This means you won't need to re-dial the grinder, which means less wasted coffee, and less time spent doing maintenance.

    Speaking of the motor, the KRE's high powered motor really kicks when you fire it up. This is a good sign, as it indicates a high quality motor. This grinder features gear reduction to lower the RPMs as well. This means that it takes full advantage of a powerful motor, while still providing consistent grinding without clogging. What's more, even with gear reduction this is still an incredibly quick grinder.

    Odds and Ends

    Everything else about the KRE is just as dreamy as the motor, burrs, and adjustment. This grinder features a sturdy portafilter holder, a clicky grind trigger that feels just resistant enough, and timed dosing controlled with a bright, vibrant screen.

    The dosing timer can be set for double or single shots, which allows one grind with the click of the trigger for either need. With a 2.2 lb hopper you will be able to handle a bag or so of coffee at a time as well.

    The Verdict

    It all ties together to make a great piece of technology that is as reliable as it is efficient. We did find that it has more retention issues than we were hoping, which is a negative, but with everything else this grinder has going on it's hardly a deal breaker. The biggest concern with this model is, of course, the price. But the grinder you choose for your café or restaurant should be one of the most important purchases you make, and the Eureka KRE justifies its price tag in numerous ways.

    Check it out here for yourself, and remember to make coffee you love!

  • Coffee History: A Revolutionary Beverage

    It's the 4th of July, which means fireworks, grilling, and for us, coffee!

    Coffee was an extremely important beverage during the American Revolutions. We decided it would be a great focus for this month's Coffee History! Read on to see how coffee fueled a revolution!

    The Boston Tea Party

    Tea was a huge part of colonial life, just as it was back in England. Many colonists drank tea as a source of caffeine, which was sought after during hard work days. In an effort to trick the colonies into agreeing to parliament's right of taxation (as well as help the flagging East India Company) the Parliament of Great Britain passed the Tea Act in 1773. This act gave the British East India Company exclusive rights to ship tea to the colonies. Further, the goal was that this would force colonists to purchase tea on which Townshen Act duties were paid. By paying these duties, it served as implicit agreement to further taxation from parliament.

    Understandably, this didn't sit well with colonists. On December 16th, 1773, a group calling themselves the "Sons of Liberty" led by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Molineux took action. The group boarded a ship from the East India Company and dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor. This act led to the tensions that ultimately ignited the American Revolution years later.

    A Coffee Fueled Revolution!

    While tea did continue to exist in the colonies after the Boston Tea Party, it became symbolic of the crown's oppression. In light of this, many colonists switched to drinking coffee. The primary struggle in drinking coffee was grinding the beans, as hand grinding was a long and arduous process.

    Luckily for revolutionaries, where there's demand, there's supply. Coffee houses sprung up all over the colonies. These coffee houses became headquarters of revolutionary activity, often playing host to secret (and no so secret) meetings of founding fathers. Most notable of these locations was the Green Dragon Tavern. This public house served as the "headquarters of the revolution" and served coffee alongside beer.

    Considering all of this, it's easy to see how coffee became such an important aspect of American life. It still is to this day!

     

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 1

    One of the most essential parts of the coffee brewing process is grinding your coffee beans. Whether you're brewing in a press, pourover, drip brewer, or (especially) pulling espresso shots, having a reliable grinder is extremely important. That said, it's not easy to shop for a grinder, there's a lot that goes into selecting the right one for your kitchen. But we're here to help! We'll be taking a look at what makes these machines tick, and what you should look out for when purchasing. Let's get grinding!

    Why Bother?

    At a basic level, grinders are just motorized devices for making your whole coffee beans fit for brewing. So why not just buy whole bean? Why not grind them at the store? These are great questions.

    Beans are at their most flavorful just after grinding, so ideally you'll brew with them within a few hours of having ground them. pre-ground coffee offers less in terms of flavor notes, and generally just produces a standard "coffee" flavor, with strength dependent on dose and roast level. To get at the real flavor notes of specialty coffee, you'll want to grind it fresh.

    On top of that, different brew methods require difference grind levels. For pourover coffee, as an example, you typically want a consistency closer to rock salt. By contrast, espresso requires a much finer grind, one that isn't even possible with most coffee grinders.

    Blades Vs. Burrs

    So you're ready to buy a grinder, but why not just grab a $20 blade grinder at the grocery store? It turns out, for a number of reasons. Blade grinders are simply a pair of blades that spin at high speeds and slice beans to pieces. They are extremely inconsistent, and offer no control over grind level. On top of all that, they have to be replaced frequently as the blades dull.

    Burr grinders, on the other hand, provide a great degree of control and consistency. They also tend to last far longer than blade grinders, and can be maintained for years and years with proper cleaning and part replacement.

    But what is a burr?

    Burr Science

    Burr grinders use two plates to grind beans. These plates can be made of a variety of materials, but the most common are steel and ceramic. In the case of most home grinders, the plates will be flat, and sit on top of each other. Some higher end commercial grinders use conical burrs, with a cone shaped burr fitting inside of a funnel shaped burr.

    In any case, the burrs will have bumps and nobs that work to grind the beans as they are fed in from a hopper. Typically, a knob can be used to control how far apart the burrs are, thus controlling how fine the grounds are after grinding.

    Material Matters

    Arguably the most important aspect when purchasing a home grinder is the material and control method for the burrs. We'll discuss control and why it matters next week, but of these two aspects, burr material is the more relevant here.

    As noted above, burrs are typically made out of hardened steel or ceramic. There are some very high end coatings, but what you will see in 95% of home grinders (and even commercial) will be steel or ceramic, and each has its pros and cons.

    Steel burrs are strong and efficient, but they also tend to dull over time. Because of the nature of burrs, re-sharpening can be a challenge, so after several years the burrs may need to be replaced.

    Ceramic burrs generally solve the problem of dulling, and offer highly consistent grinding. They are, of course, more likely to shattering if a bad bean or other debris gets caught within the grinder.

    Both materials, however, are completely viable and should last years.

    Join us next week as we dive into the specifics of grind control and motors!

  • Video Roundup—6/29/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time again to take a look at the videos we put out this week!

    First, Gail reviewed the Breville Glass Precision Brewer!

    Next, John gave us a review of the Eureka Club E Espresso Grinder:

    Finally, John took a look at the Eureka Club Doser Espresso Grinder:

    Let us know what you think! And have a great weekend!

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