Make Coffee You Love!

  • Choosing a Superuatomatic

    You've probably seen us talk about superauto vs. semi-auto espresso machines. Some of you might even wonder what the difference is at all! This week we're diving into what makes superautomatic espresso machines tick and what to look for when purchasing.

    What's a Superauto?

    A superautomatic espresso machine simplifies the process of brewing espresso. other espresso machines require you to grind, tamp, and pull shots of espresso manually. While many enjoy the process of dialing in a new roast and tweaking it's flavor, you may not. With a superauto you can get a solid espresso or milk drink in the morning without the time sink of a standard machine. You do sacrifice something on drink quality, however. Semi-auto machines (and manual pump driven machines) give you finer control over strength and quality. For most though, superautos are a great alternative without the hassle of a complicated manual process.

    So what is actually in a superauto? Most of these machines feature a bean hopper, grinder, brew unit, and milk steaming system. Beans go in the hopper, which feed to a grinder that automatically grinds coffee for espresso. This coffee is pressurized automatically in the brew unit and a shot is pulled. All of this happens at the touch of a button. Additionally, with another press or two you can have milk steamed for your latte or cappuccino as well!

    How Do I Choose?

    Choosing the right superauto for your kitchen can be daunting, but we're here to help. One of the biggest deciding factors for you will likely be price. superautos can be expensive, but you don't have to break the bank to get the right machine. Let's break down the things that are most important when picking out a superauto:

    Shot Quality

    Shot quality is an extremely important factor when purchasing a superauto. After all, you bought the machine to make coffee, so it had better be good! It's hard to gauge shot quality from the box, but generally user reviews and professional critiques can help you to get an idea of shot quality. It's worth noting that we avoid carrying any machines that we think pull downright poor shots, regardless of the price.

    Milk System

    Nearly as important as a good shot is decent milk quality. This may not be a consideration for you if you don't have interest in milk drinks, but it will be important to most. There are two main types of milk systems in superautos, carafes and tubes. With a tube system, you'll drop the end of a tube into a pitcher of milk. The machine will then pull the milk into the steaming unit and dispense steamed milk into your drink. The other option is a carafe system, which includes a carafe that you can store in the refrigerator that connects to the machine. Both systems can work great, and really come down to preference.

    In addition to the format of the milk system, quality is also a consideration. Perhaps the biggest weakness of superautos is how difficult it is to get quality steamed milk from an automatic system. While they are getting close, nothing beats a hand steamed pitcher of milk. this is another area where a look at the product page may not be of help, but you will want to look into others' opinions of milk quality when selecting a machine.

    Temperature

    Both for shots and milk, temperature is worth calling out. While many superautos can produce decent milk texture and shot quality, temperature is an area that many of these machines struggle with. It's hard to know exact measurements from product specs, but it's an important question to ask a sales person or look for in user reviews.

    Controls

    Superautos feature a range of controls. Some machines feature physical buttons with indicator lights and knobs. Others have vibrant touch screen interfaces that guide you through selecting your beverage. This is one of the areas where you can save some money if you're willing to compromise. In many cases, a touchscreen interface will increase the cost by quite a lot. For many, though, this ease of use will be worth the extra investment. You'll want to consider this after narrowing your focus based on shot/milk quality.

    Odds and Ends

    There are other bells and whistles to consider when looking at superautos as well. Recovery time, or the time between shots, could be a consideration if you serve a full house. cleaning options, tank type, and hopper/tank size are a consideration as well. Larger tanks mean less refills but can also be harder to remove or add cost. Many of these options come down to preference. Finally, proper cleaning and maintenance are important as well, so look into how that is done before making a final decision!

     

  • Roast of the Month: Olympia Kenya Kiandu

    Kenya Kiandu

    This month's roast of the month comes to us from the folks at Olympia Coffee Roasting! Kenya Kiandu is an intensely delicious single origin. While this is a washed process, it features strong flavor notes that you might normally associate with a natural. This is in part because of the unique washing process, wherein coffee is allowed to ferment for a day between cherry removal and washing. The result is a delicious explosion of berry, floral, and rich notes. You'll be able to pick out the strawberry and caramel notes even without a refined palate. On top of this, strong floral aromatics will delight your tastebuds as well as your nostrils!

    We love Kenya Kaindu in a variety of filter methods, but as usual we recommend a pourover to get the most complex notes. Get this delicious roast while you can!

  • Coffee History: Colombia!

    Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world. It's no surprise then that the nation has a rich history with coffee. Join us as we explore the introduction and development of the coffee industry in this wonderful country!

    landscape photo of seashore at sunset

    European Influence

    Coffee isn't native to Colombia. The plant was originally brought over by missionaries from Europe in the 16th century. This led to backlash initially. Most natives resisted the encouragement to grow the bean because of how long it takes for coffee plants to produce their first crops. Because of the 5 year wait, many farmers questioned how they would make a living while their plants matured.

    Eventually, priests were able to convince farmers to grow coffee instead of traditional penance. Before long, coffee was thriving domestically. Between colonist love for the beverage and popularity among natives, coffee had been cemented as a cornerstone of Colombia's agricultural landscape.

    From Domestic Treat to Global Trade

    As the world's economy inched towards globalization, Colombia began to trade coffee with it's neighbors. In 1835 Colombia began exporting coffee to the United States. At this point Colombia was exporting 2500 bags of beans to the U.S. 50 years later, that grew to nearly 200,000. Since then, Colombia's coffee exports have topped 10,000,000. This put Colombia squarely in second place in terms of coffee production in the world.

    While Vietnam is now the number 2 producer, Colombia remains squarely in third. Part of Colombia's success is due to marketing in the late 1950s that included the character of Juan Valdez. This character, appearing with his donkey, created a strong association with certain brands and Colombian coffee. This brand association persisted through the 20th century and solidified Colombia as an exporter of quality coffee.

    person holding beans in dark room

    Characteristics of Colombian Coffee

    Colombian coffee is grown at high altitudes. It often shares farmland with rubber and banana trees. This combination of factors, plus the volcanic activity in the nation, creates excellent soil for coffee plants. The coffee grown in Central Colombia tends to be balanced and rich with a heavy body. This crop tends to be great for medium and medium-dark roasts. By contrast, coffee grown in the Eastern region of Bogota is usually less acidic, but heavier and richer. This tends to create full, rich dark roasts.

    With all of this in mind, Colombian coffee works great in a variety of contexts. The complexity and richness leads to unique and interesting single origins. On the other hand, the versatility and base level of quality in Colombian coffee makes it perfectly suited for blends as well.

    We hope this spotlight on Colombia has added some context to your favorite cup of joe! Join us next time for more coffee history!

     

  • Milk Drinks Galore!

    Last week we looked at a few different brew methods that might fit your tastes. This week we're following up with a few ways to enjoy one of our favorite methods, espresso! Plenty of people around the world love to drink espresso straight (and we do too), but it also makes a great pair with milk! Whether you're a whole milk drinker or prefer substitutes like soy and almond milk, espresso makes a great companion. The rich, chocolatey flavor notes of a good shot of espresso really shine with the creamy consistency of a milk beverage. So let's take a look at a few options!

    Latte

    The latte is one of the most iconic and classic milk drinks you can order. starting with a shot of espresso, a latte is simply steamed milk poured over the shot, with a little bit of foam on top! Latte's can be made with a variety of syrups and additives for a truly customizable, tasty treat. Many baristas will even create some latte art using the foam! Can also be enjoyed iced for a tasty Summer treat.

    The Cappuccino

    Cappuccinos are similar to lattes, but with more foam. Steaming milk for a cappuccino involves incorporating more air into the milk, thus making the beverage foamier overall. You may be surprised when you pick up a cappuccino from your local coffee shop if you're used to ordering them at a chain. A proper cappuccino will be much drier than a latte. As such, the cup will be much, much lighter in weight!

    Caffé Macchiato

    Your daily trips to chain coffee shops may have given you a false impression of what these little drinks really are. While some coffee shops simply call flavored lattes macchiatos, in reality, the real drink is a little different. A macchiato is a double shot of espresso topped with a dollop of foam. This tasty drink gets its name from the Italian word for "marked" or "stained." Caffé Macchiato literally translates to stained coffee. 

    Flat White

    A flat white is a similar drink to a latte. The main difference is the amount of microfoam and milk, which is lower than in a latte. This higher coffee to milk ratio leads to a richer, more espresso driven flavor. Instead of the espresso acting as a syrup for the milk, the milk just compliments the espresso flavor. Not as well suited for flavored syrups as a latte, this is a great beverage for espresso lovers wanting just a little extra creaminess.

    That should be enough to get you started ordering like a pro at your local roaster!

     

  • Video Roundup: 8/24/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for another roundup of exciting video content from our YouTube!

    First, John gave us a look at the Rocket R9!

    Next, Gail gave us a crew review of the new Eureka Slienzio!

    Finally, we had the pleasure of visiting Elm Coffee Roasters in the heart of Pioneer Square, Seattle to ask their founder, Brendan Mullaly, some questions!

    Thanks for watching!

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: China

    You might think that Chinese consumers would only ever want tea. The country is known for producing and consuming this herbal beverage, but coffee is growing in popularity as well. Join us as we take a look at China's burgeoning coffee culture in another installment of Coffee Culture Around the World!

    The Land of Tea

    As mentioned above, the main source of caffeine for most in China is tea. This makes sense, tea is produced en masse in China, and it's very affordable. In many cases, imported coffee is very expensive, and China's roasting industry is practically non-existent. Instead of specialty coffee like you might be used to, most Chinese consumers drink instant. This means that our favorite brewed beverage isn't really consumed to enjoy, so much as for the caffeine. Perhaps most interestingly, China does actually produce a fair amount of green coffee.

    Almost all of the coffee grown in China is arabica. This green coffee is usually shipped to roasters in Germany, because its quality isn't high enough to go to craft roasters. It's also too high quality to be consumed locally, which has hurt coffee's prominence in the country. Just over the border is Vietnam, which produces most of the instant coffee that the Chinese people drink. This coffee is usually made with robusta beans, which are most prevalent in Vietnam. This has led to coffee's aforementioned status as a utilitarian drink.

    Western Influence

    China's interest in coffee has grown considerably over the last couple of decades. As major coffee brands continue to seek entry into this massive market, young people in China are also voting with their wallets. Many millennials see coffee and other Western products as a status symbol. Drinking coffee may be more expensive than tea, but it's also a symbol of one's position. This increase in demand has led to a more active roaster scene in the country as well. Instead of just enjoying instant coffee at home, young people in China are seeking coffee shops and cafés to try out new roasts.

    In this way, large, corporate coffee producers are actually driving a smaller, more innovative roasting scene. This tracks with the arc of coffee popularity in neighboring Japan as well. It's an exciting new frontier for coffee that will hopefully breed innovation in the West as well!

    Thanks for joining us for this look into coffee culture in yet another interesting locale. Remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • So Many Brews, So Little Time

    Hey Coffee Fans!

    We thought we'd stop for a moment this week and get back to basics. Learning to craft the perfect pourover or espresso is great, but is it right for you? Our goal at Seattle Coffee Gear is to help you make coffee you love! With that in mind, we wanted to provide an overview of what several different brew methods are actually like.

    Drip Brew

    Drip brewed coffee is a true classic. The combination of convenience and ability to brew large quantities at once makes this the most popular brew method in the world for a reason. The thing most people don't realize though is that more goes into drip brewing than meets the eye. Proper extraction requires proper water temp and distribution through the grounds. Cheap drip brewers tend to overheat above the recommended 195f to 205f that is recommended for coffee. On top of that, these brewers will often drip water right into the middle of the filter. This means that water isn't saturating all of the coffee, which leads to a scorched, thinner cup.

    When buying a brewer, consider one that offers temperature control or brews in the 195-205f range. You'll also want to consider a brewer that has an auto shut off warming plate that won't scorch your coffee in the carafe (or, if you don't mind stainless steel, go with that material for your carafe). Finally, a spray arm that evenly distributes water in the grounds is important.

    Drip brewed coffee tends to be the most basic taste. You lose some of the complexity of more delicate roasts, while maintaining the bitterness and acidity pourover gets around. This can be mitigated with pre-infusion, which blooms the coffee (saturating with water to release acid), something many nicer drip brewers offer. Despite some negatives in the taste department, drip brewed coffee is the standard that most coffee drinkers learn about first.

    Pourover

    Pourover is the same principle as drip brewed coffee, but with a bit of a lighter touch. This brew method involves brewing coffee by manually pouring water over the grounds through a filter. The nice thing about this is that you can directly control everything about the brew process. Pourover begins with a bloom, where you pour a small amount of water into the grounds to saturate them and release acid. This is followed by your first draw. In this stage, you'll pour the water in a motion spiraling out from the center, so that you can evenly saturate the grounds with water. After a first draw, you'll wait and perform another draw, this time rotating inward, to catch grounds on the sides of the filter.

    The result is delicate, delicious coffee that gets rid of the bitterness and scorched taste of cheaper drip brewers. The downside though, is that pourover is a time consuming process that takes practice. You'll want to measure your grind, the ratio of coffee to water, and things like kettle temp and flow rate as you go. It's a complex brew method that may not be worth the better taste at 6:00 in the morning.

    Press

    Press brewed coffee is strong and thick. To brew in a press, you'll add coarse grounds and hot water, then stir vigorously and leave to brew for 10 minutes or so. After waiting, you'll plunge the press, forcing the water through the grounds and simultaneously separating them. The result is a strong, well saturated coffee that misses all of the delicate notes in flavor of offering rich chocolatey coffee taste. Best used on darker roasts, press brewed coffee definitely is a different experience than filtered brewing.

    Espresso

    The most complex, expensive way to prepare coffee. Espresso brewing involves pressurized water being pressed through a puck of finely ground coffee. This brew method creates incredibly rich, creamy, and sweet flavors, which is why it goes so well with steamed milk. Some may find espresso to be too strong, it's also far more caffeinated than other brew methods due to the concentrated extraction.

    Those things come down to taste, where the biggest hurdle for brewing espresso is cost and learning curve. Even on the low end, a proper espresso setup costs hundreds of dollars. You'll need a good burr grinder to be able to grind fine enough for espresso, as well as a specialized machine. On top of that, learning how to properly dial in a shot takes time and patience (though we do provide plenty of guides and resources for it).

    With these concepts in mind, it's important to know that there are even more ways to brew out there, these are just the most common. We'll talk more about some more adventurous methods, like Turkish, in the future!

  • Video Roundup: 8/17/2018

    Welcome to another Video Roundup!

    This week we've got two awesome crew reviews with Gail!

    First, we took a look at the Eureka Atom 65:

    Next, Gail walked us through the brand new Eureka Specialita!

    Thanks for watching, and have a great weekend!

  • Gear of the Month: Eureka Mignon Perfetto Espresso Grinder

    Eureka!

    This month marks our release of several new Eureka grinders. The burly Atom 65 is more than a contender for the Gear of the Month crown, but given its price point we decided to feature one of the new Mignon grinders instead! These new Mignons come in three flavors. The least expensive of the trio is the Silenzio, which is a no frills, 50 mm burr grinder that runs silent but requires manual dosing. On the high end is the Specialita, which has all of the features of the Silenzio, plus timed dosing and a set of 55mm burrs. Both of these grinders are excellent options, but we decided to focus on the middle brother of the three, the Perfetto!

    The Perfetto strikes a nice balance between the Silenzio and the Specialita. It has the baffled internals for a whisper quiet grind, as well as the timed dosing and touch screen. The only thing that separates it from the Specialita is the burrs, with the Perfetto having the smaller, 50mm burrs. We still think it strikes a great balance between the two machines, and we think you will too! Let's dive in a little deeper.

    Features

    The first and most noticeable feature is how quiet this grinder is. Like the other new Mignons, the Perfetto is quiet enough to use at 4AM without waking the kids or the neighbors. It really is impressive how quiet these things get while still offering fast, consistent, and powerful grinding.

    On the usability front, the Perfetto offers timed dosing controlled by a vibrant and beautiful touch screen. While the interface is very simple, it's a huge step up from the manual control of the Silenzio and other non timed grinders. With a little but of time spent dialing in you'll be able to grind without needing to weigh your dose thanks to this timing. This cuts down on time spent prepping your shot, which is always a plus. It is worth noting that this touch screen is resistive, which means that pressure on the screen is what works the buttons. This can feel a little tacky in the age of capacitive touch phone screens, and you have to be careful not to press too hard. We didn't feel this detracted from how useful and striking the screen is.

    The other major usability feature is the EZ dial. This stepless dial has a guide on it that will help you find the starting point for your brew. While you'll still want to take time to dial in espresso shots, this dial will at least help you find where to start, and gives you a good guide for brewing drip or press. We did find that getting down into the Turkish level was really the sweet spot for espresso, so your mileage may vary.

    Conclusion

    Aside from usability features, this grinder features the solid construction and excellent burrs that you'd expect from a Eureka grinder. While a little smaller than it's big brother, these burrs still do a great job grinding your coffee quickly and consistently. The footprint and durability of the Perfetto is also excellent, we don't expect to hear of many problems with this workhorse.

    Ultimately, the Mignon Perfetto is an excellent exercise in combining simplicity, usability, and durability. Get yours here today!

  • Roaster Spotlight: Elm Coffee Roasters — Part 2

    As we teased last week, we recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brendan Mullally, founder of Elm Coffee Roasters, to chat about coffee, roasting, and running a business. We already provided a rundown of Elm last week, so without further adieu, check it out!

    What led you to roasting?

    I worked in coffee for about ten years before I started Elm, and I had no roasting experience! It was all front house management, training, all that kind of stuff. As to why, honestly it was just the flexibility in choosing what we want to serve. I did a lot of multi-roaster shops while I was managing, and it was never consistently what I wanted from coffee. The ability to determine what we serve was a huge part of it, ethical sourcing was a huge part of it, paying good prices was a huge part of it. I've worked in coffee since I was about 14 in Seattle, then Santa Fe, then New York. I had no roasting experience when I decided to open up a roaster! I hired someone to help.

    You talked a little about ethical sourcing, that’s important to us when determining roasting partners. Do you have a core philosophy surrounding this?

    I wouldn’t say it’s a philosophy, but more of a practical approach, which is work with importers I know are paying good prices, not just to the producers but to the pickers as well. There’s only a few, I would say. You know, asking for the information on the prices the pay to the producer, not everyone will do that, but some will. Some will give it to you in a price that doesn’t make sense, so being able to ask them to make that make sense to you is important.

    Would you say that getting into roasting shifted your view of the countries you source from, or the other way around, that you chose those countries based on your understanding of them?

    I would say the former. When I was just buying roasted coffee I, for one thing I don’t think my palate was as developed. After we started roasting coffee, if anything for logistics, we’ve narrowed our focus to Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Honduras, simply because if there’s more transparency in those places the price to quality ratio is a lot higher.

    I ask because it’s interesting how the politics of different regions affect the ability to purchase from them. When we write about regions, the instinct could be to avoid conversations on transparency and politics, but it’s also kind of impossible.

    I agree, and transparency is not something that just happens. Even though we try to do that, sometimes it’s not successful. That has a lot to do with politics.

    Everything else aside, when you look at quality of beans, what do you look for?

    First is nothing wrong with it. That’s the thing I learned first. 99.8% of coffees you can cut out immediately because they're agey, or fermenty, all sorts of things can go wrong with coffee. After that, something that’s a little more fruit forward with interesting characteristics. Sweet, clean, then we roast it to highlight the fruit. We’re pretty light, but I wouldn’t say we’re on the super light end of the spectrum. We try to have acidity and balance. That was the weirdest thing, picking coffee that’s clean was the weirdest and hardest part.

    What do you think was hardest when it comes to the business or art of roasting coffee?

    I would say from the business side, just getting started. I had no business experience. I wrote a business plan and showed it to a friend who who’s an entrepreneur and he said it was terrible, so I had to tear it up and write another 60 page plan. I learned how to make projections, all that stuff. I asked 15 different institutions for financing, it just took a long time. It took 2 years to open.

    On the roasting side, learning to cup well took a while. Especially sample roasts. I thought I had a pretty good palate when I was doing barista training, but, mine’s not even that great, our roaster John has a great palate. It’s just something you have to keep doing constantly.

    The last part was people management, that was hard to learn.

    What do you think the biggest ongoing challenge is?

    Well distinguishing yourself. There’s a lot of roasters these days. Roasting well, light roasting coffee is very hard. The window is extremely small, if it’s too light its sour and vegetal. We don’t particularly like roasty flavors in our coffee, so we don’t like to go that far. If anything we’ll edge a little more roasty if we can’t find that sweet spot.

    But otherwise, inventory control is hard, can’t buy too much, can’t buy too little. If we buy too little, prices go up, if we buy too much it gets agey.

    Was your initial setup similar to what you have now?

    This is what we had when we started! I hired my friend to help start the roasting program. He helped set up everything, taught me how to roast, everything.

    Do you have a favorite roast that you’ve done?

    That’s hard to say. I would say now, maybe just because we have it, I would say the Ethiopia Worka Sakaro is probably the nicest Ethiopian coffee we’ve bought in a long time. It’s extremely good. It’s really floral and fruity but not too bright, a big body.

    What would be your biggest piece of advice for amateur roasters looking to go pro?

    Man, hmm, know your market. Who you’re selling to. Don’t roast too light, don’t underdevelop the coffee. Have fun. It’s going to be really hard, but have fun. Harder than you think it’ll be, times 1000, but have fun. Don’t forget why you started in the first place.

Items 91 to 100 of 1961 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. ...
  3. 8
  4. 9
  5. 10
  6. 11
  7. 12
  8. ...
  9. 197
Subscribe

Finally, something for that inbox

Join our email list and be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products.

close

Join our email list

GET 10% OFF ONE ITEM*

Be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products - starting today!

 

JOIN
*Some exclusions apply. See email coupon for more details.