Make Coffee You Love!

  • Video Roundup: 4/27/2020

    Happy Monday Coffee Lovers!

    We've got another video roundup for you today featuring a load of quality coffee content. Let's dig right in!

    First up, our daring CEO Mike made his YouTube debut to share how he brews a delicious cup of decaf from home:

    Next, Allie gave us a look at how the Ratio Six stacks up against a Technivorm:

    Then I gave some thoughts on some of our newest coffees in a Coffee Roundup!

    Then, of course, you know her, you love her, it's Gail's second Good Morning Gail for 2020!

    And finally, we've got some coffee infused cocktail production with Ariel:

    We hope you've enjoyed this week's videos! We'll be back soon with more incredible coffee content!

  • Coffee Culture: Spain

    The history of coffee is closely tied to the movement of people and goods around Europe. Given this, it should come as no surprise that Spain has an incredible rich history and culture surrounding our favorite drink. Join us as we take a look at some of the ways coffee affects culture in Spain!

    A Coffee With Every Meal

    Most coffee served in Spain is grown in countries like Angola and Mozambique. The Spanish tend to prefer darker, full flavored roasts, not dissimilar to Italian and French roasting. Coffee is, as you might have guessed, a major part of daily life in Spain. Many Spaniards start their day with a cafe con leche, a drink consisting of a 1:1 ratio of coffee and scalded milk. Spanish coffee drinkers will often have multiple cups of coffee at different times throughout the day. Other popular styles include a small, very dark espresso called a cafe solo. 

    The Spanish Coffee that you might be familiar with could be a Cafe Carajillo. This coffee drink involved a small, dark espresso mixed with hard spirits like brandy or whiskey. Mixing alcohol and coffee is a standard practice in Spain, even in the mornings.

    Spanish Coffee Shops

    Coffee houses in Spain are often slightly more formal than we’re used to in the U.S. While not always true, many cafes have beautiful flooring and architecture, with patrons dressed up to match. All of this plus a slightly reserved atmosphere may be a culture shock for Americans visiting traditional coffee houses in Spain. 

    But formal coffee isn’t always the way. Jovial Spanish meal times are almost always accompanied by fresh coffee. In this way, enjoying this great, truly global beverage is a joyous experience, often accompanied by delicious food, family, and friends. Not so different from the rest of the world!

     

  • Why Isn't Every Coffee Superauto Recommended?

    If you’ve tuned in for some of our videos or checked out our blogs on superautos you may have noticed something. We talk a lot about how we don’t recommend oily beans for superautos. One question we get a lot is, why? Why can’t you enjoy an oily French Roast in your new Carina or Miele? The answer can be described pretty simply, but we wanted to give a detailed explanation to help you get the most out of your machine. 

    Grinders and Oil

    If you’ve made it this far, you probably know that all coffee beans have some amount of oil on them. The degree to which the oil is released and sticks to the bean is largely dependent on the roasting process, but can also be influenced by the beans themselves. In any case, some roasts literally glisten with oil. Others are, by comparison, quite dry. 

    When you run any beans through your grinder, it can cause oil build up. This is just a fact of life when it comes to grinding coffee. With most grinders, you can open them up and give them a cleaning. Usually this involves removing the hopper and unscrewing the burrs, which can be time consuming, but isn’t hard with a standalone grinder. 

    Without regular cleaning like this, particularly oily beans can cause thick buildup on the burrs. Because burrs operate so close together, this oil buildup can cause sticking. Between that and the kind of buildup it has on the rotor, your grinder can completely seize. Again, this is something you can fix with a standalone grinder.

    Superauto Grinders

    The issue with superauto grinders is that they don’t open up for cleaning. Because of the way they are designed, superautos have to have each of their parts carefully engineered and positioned to work. That means there’s no way to open up the burrs and scrub them. This may seem like a major flaw, but if you just avoid the oiliest of beans your grinder will run for years and years!

    One potential option is Urnex’ recent innovation in grinder cleaning - SuperGrindz. This cleaning powder is designed specifically for cleaning buildup from superauto grinders. For anyone who absolutely must have a French roast in their superauto, it’s a good option. We still urge caution though, and you should make sure you use SuperGrindz as directed on the packaging. We say all this because grinder damage due to oil buildup is often NOT covered under warranties, as it is considered user damage. 

    The best bet is still to avoid those oily beans altogether!

     

  • Video Roundup 4/20/20

    Hey Coffee Lovers!

    We've got some VERY exciting videos for you this week, and for the time being we'll be coming to you on Mondays! Moving our video roundup day is temporary, but we wanted to help you start your week with some fresh coffee tips.

    So without further adieu...

    Gail gave us a look at her brewing setup from her RV!

    Then Allie showed us her process for dialing in Olympia's Big Truck Espresso:

    Next we've got a look at the brand new Rocket Espresso Appartamento Nera!

    Then Allie and I sat down to for a video chat to talk about our delicious Roast of the Month:

    And we're VERY excited to share a limited return of Good Morning Gail!

    That's all we have for you this week, we'll be back with more next Monday!

  • Roast of the Month: Victrola Burundi Mpanga

    It’s a tale of twin processes this month for SCG’s Roast of the Month! We’re excited to share Victrola’s Burundi Mpanga single origins. One of these roasts is a washed process, and the other is a honey process. We hope our customers will give each one a try to better understand how process effects flavor!

    Both of these coffees are from the same producer from Nyangwe Hill’s prestigious coffee farms. From there, the coffee is processed differently, allowing the end customer to experience the different flavor profiles the processes impart. To best evaluate them side by side, we recommend brewing as a pour over. From there though, let your imagination run wild! There’s so much joy to be had in exploring the ways to get the most out of each coffee.

    Mpanga Washed

    Washed process coffee is fully cleaned of the cherry before drying and shipping. This means no trace of the cherry is allowed to ferment and impart flavors after harvesting. 

    For this roast, the result is mild, sweet flavors that are clean and balanced. Expect notes of soft fruit, brown sugar, and raisin. We find this one to be delicious and easy to drink, as well as versatile. While we recommend trying them side by side as pour overs, this roast works particularly well as a drip or press brew too.

    Mpanga Honey

    For a quick refresher on honey process coffee: A honey process splits the difference between washing all of the mucilage off of the bean and allowing the whole cherry to ferment on the bean like in a natural. Honey process coffee is hulled, but the mucilage isn’t fully washed off, allowing for a honey like wrap to develop on the bean. 

    In practice, this gives this roast more unique and striking notes than its counterpart. Victrola lists notes of Maple syrup, cherry cola, and graham cracker. You’ll get plenty of sweetness that hits different parts of the palate differently, and a bright acidity that pulls the notes together. A great pour over, this roast also results in a sweet and delicious espresso!

    Again, we can’t recommend trying both of these roast side by side enough!

     

  • Video Roundup: 4/10/20

    Hey coffee fans!

    It's Friday, which means it's time for another video roundup here at SCG!

    Let's dig in:

    First up, we got a taste of John's morning routine straight from the source!

    Next up, it's Ariels morning routine!

    And finally, a look at some great ways to improve your latte art with John:

    That's all for now! Join us next week for more videos!

  • Coffee Culture at Home!

    This may seem like a silly post, as we talk about brewing coffee from home all the time! But something that we don’t often talk about is what living with the equipment we provide can be like. It’s easy to recommend equipment we love, but we wanted to share a little bit of what brewing from home really looks like once you’ve got your equipment home!

    Pour Over

    Brewing pour over is rewarding, but also a bit intense! You’ll need room for a scale, kettle, and grinder. To streamline pour over brewing we think keeping your water source close to your kettle is key! When it comes to grinding, there’s a couple of different ways you can manage your beans. If you keep multiple kinds of coffee stocked, you’ll be weighing your grounds each time you brew and then pouring them into the bean hopper. This can be time consuming but ensures the least amount of waste! If you have one coffee that you like you can fill your grinder with it and then do your best to grind just what you need each time. Every grinder is different, so some might make this easier with timed or weighted dosing. 

     

    On top of all of this, you’ll need to warm your cup with hot water, set your dripper, and wet your filter. The whole process can take anywhere from five to ten minutes, but the end result is worth it! It also doesn’t require expensive equipment. Many of these concepts also apply to drip and press brewing, but in these cases you can walk away as the coffee brews, instead of needing to tend to it like a pour over, though the flavor profile will also change!

    Semi-Automatic Espresso

    Brewing with a semi-auto is a bit more complicated up front but can ultimately be a bit easier once you’ve got it down. You’ll need to dial in your grinder, which can be a bit tricky depending on your coffee of choice. You’ll want to arrange your machine and grinder together so you can move your portafilter back and forth easily, as well as have easy water access for your machine. 

     

    The actual brewing process is quick when you’re used to it, and with a machine like the Rocket Appartamento you can steam milk and brew at once. You’ll want a couple of towels on hand to clean out your portafilter after you knock the puck, and to wipe down your steam wand (after you purge it of course!). Aside from that, regular backflushing and descaling are key bits of maintenance!

    Superautomatic Espresso

    Superauto machines like the Philips Carina change a lot of this dynamic! All you have to do for prep is making sure you have a ready source of beans and water. The biggest hassle with a superauto is needing to refill the water tank, aside from that, it’s super easy to brew with these machines (Pun intended)! You’ll have some regular cleanup like wiping down and watching drip tray elements and the brew group that are very important, but otherwise maintenance just extends to replacing water filters and regular descaling. All in all these machines are quite easy to live with and maintain. 

    The only real downside to superautos is that they don’t give you quite the same degree of control that a semi-auto machine does. Many users will want the fine tuning you can achieve with a semi-auto, but if you just want good coffee without the extra work, these machines are the perfect option. 

     

    We hope this is a helpful window into what it’s like to have these machines on your countertop!

     

  • Coffee History: The French Press

    The History of the French Press isn’t as French as you might think! We decided it’d be fun to take a look at the history of this beloved brew method. Let’d dive in!

    Beginnings

    The first coffee presses likely did originate in France. These very basic, rudimentary presses followed similar principals as today’s coffee presses. They were likely homemade as well. These proto-coffee presses usually involved using a metal screen or some cheese cloth with a metal rod acting as the plunger. You’d simple press the whole thing down into an appropriately sized vessel after steeping to separate the grounds and the liquid. While simple and perhaps more clumsy and messy than today’s presses, they did the job. 

    We say that it’s likely these presses originated in France because of the French obsession with coffee in the 19th century. They were generally on the forefront of developing new ways to brew and enjoy coffee. For the next step in the French Press story, we head to one of their neighbors.

    The Milanese Not Quite French Press

    The first patented coffee press was developed by Milanese designer Attilio Calmani in 1929. Over the course of the next 30 years this press saw design modifications and updates. Many of these updates were developed by Faliero Bondanini, who later patented the design in 1958. This is how we finally got the name “French Press.” The reason for this is the factory that Bondanini built his presses in was located in France. They originally produced cabinets!

    His brand, Melior, was aided in its rise to popularity by being featured in the 1965 film the Ipcress File, which starred Michael Caine.

    The 1960s to Today

    After the success of the Melior French Press, British and European countries began to take notice. Of particular note was Danish kitchenware company Bodum, who you’re probably familiar with. They took the press worldwide, and developed it into the cylindrical design you’re familiar with now. 

    From the past to the future, the French Press is a bonafide legend!

     

  • Video Roundup 4/3/20

    Hey out there!

    It's a weird time right now, with many of us working from home we decided to do some special content. All of your favorites from SCG will be checking in from home, but this week we've got a mix!

    First up, I (Pat) ran through my at home brewing set up, and how I brew each morning!

    Next, Allie gave us her own tour of her setup.

    Finally, we've got a look at the Brewista Cold Pro Jr. with Ariel.

    That's all for now, join us next week for more home coffee content!

  • 2020 Getting Started Guide: Alternative Brewers

    By now you’ve hopefully seen our guides for buying gear for pour over, drip, espresso, and superautos. Beyond those methods there’s a whole world of fun odds and ends to try! We wanted to list some of our favorite alternatives to the “standard” ways to make coffee, so read on to learn more!

    Presses and Cold Brew

    One very popular brewing method is the coffee press. While you’re probably familiar with the concept of the French Press, presses come in more varieties! First up, the American Press. This press uses the motion and ergonomic design of the French Press but has a brew chamber that increases the pressure to create a profile closer to espresso. For on the go brewing, AeroPress’ AP Go offers a similar cup to the American Press in a compact package. Both of these brewers use a medium grind, so you’ll be all set if you already have a burr grinder for use with a drip brewer or pour over!

    Cold Brew is one of the simpler ways to brew coffee, but it can seem like a pain given how much effort goes into one cup. The Cold Pro Jr. allows you to brew a large amount of concentrate overnight with very little prep. Simply add coarsely ground coffee to the filter, pour over water, and stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours, and you’ll have more cold brew than you can drink. It’s a great way to explore this delicious way to brew!

    Siphons and Stove Top Espresso

    Two other fun ways to get more out of your coffee setup are the siphon brewer and the stovetop espresso maker. Stovetop espresso makers use steam pressure to make an espresso like drink on your stovetop instead of with a machine. The Ilsa Omnia is a great way to try this out, and works best with a finer grind like you’d get from an espresso grinder (though finer settings on brew grinders can work in a pinch too).

    A siphon brewer is another way to use your stovetop, and the Bodum’s Santos is a fun way to see this method in action! Easy to clean and simpler than it looks, vacuum brewing makes brewing coffee into a cool science experiment.

    Ready for something different?

    Bonus round! If you’re ready for something different, we recently brought in some incredible tea makers as well. The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker and Brewista Smart Brew each approach hands off, automatic tea brewing a little differently, but with similarly excellent results. Both offer the ability to brew puts of tea and keep them hot to sip on over time, a great change of pace for the coffee fan who craves some variety!

    Check out the rest of our getting started guides!

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