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  • Budget Grinder Shootout

    Happy 2021! 

    We wanted to kick off the new year with a look at four fantastic budget grinders that are perfect for new users. Check out the video below to see these grinders in action, hosted by yours truly! (And check out our new studio!)

    Let’s recap the breakdown:

    Bodum Bistro

    The Bistro is a grinder with a lot of range and some great usability features. First, it can definitely handle everything from a shot of espresso with a pressurized basket to a press. The grounds are not as consistent as we’d like at either extreme, but fine for both applications and everything in between. 

    With a layout of grind times and recipes built into the hopper lid, you’ll be able to get started quick with this grinder. We also liked the grippy rubber material on the catch bin as well as the rubber gasket that prevents mess. Unfortunately, due to static buildup, the catch bin can get messy in a hurry.

    Otherwise, we had good retention results, but the general plasticy nature of the dials and buttons here leave something to be desired.

    Capresso Infinity

    The Infinity offers quite simple controls in its timer dial that grinds until it stops. The timer doesn’t match up to seconds, which can be confusing at first. We generally just found it easier to single dose (pour in only the beans you need) or just manually hold the dial in place to grind and then rotate it closed when finished.

    The Infinity offers decent consistency and a little less range than the Bistro. With that said we generally liked the quality of the grounds more and enjoyed the lack of mess and low retention. The casing on the Infinity also feels more solid than the other grinders in this lineup.

    Solis Scala

    The Solis Scala is a really nice sweet spot on this list. It offers a pretty solid range that can definitely run from pressurized espresso shots up to presses. It also provides an impressive degree of consistency across its range. Its timer/push button activation is intuitive and it offers some solid retention and limited static.

    The catch bin is a little small and the plastic lid might take a little bit of getting used to. This grinder also feels a little plasticy all around, but it’s not quite “cheap” feeling either.

    Overall, the Scala is a highlight of this list when you combine performance, price, and usability.

    Baratza Encore

    The classic on this list, the Encore is definitely a great option that will last you many years. While we actually think the Scala stands toe-to-toe with the Encore in terms of performance, there’s no denying that Baratza’s grinder offers great range and consistency. We also love the simplicity of this machine.

    Static here is minimal, but the Encore does usually end up retaining half a gram of coffee or so. Not terrible, but it could be better. Otherwise, this is a great grinder that is also easy to get parts for, meaning you can keep it running for a very long time with a little bit of elbow grease.

    So there you have it! Unfortunately as usual we can’t just point to one of these grinders as the king of the entry level. But hopefully this comparison has helped you understand what makes them tick just a little bit more.

  • How to Spend Your Holiday Cash!

    Now that we’re in the last week of the year, we’re guessing some of you have received some holiday cash! Maybe you’re looking for some great ways to spend it on some fresh coffee gear. We’re here to help! Here’s a few ideas for how to spend that extra money on ways to upgrade your setup at a few different spending levels.

    $50

    If you have ~$50 extra, there’s plenty you can pick from to upgrade your coffee setup. If you’re a pour over fan, consider picking up a new dripper like the Espro Bloom! This nifty newer dripper offers an interesting twist on standard brewing with its unique shape and mesh auxiliary filter. If you need a little extra to get into free shipping territory, a bag of coffee is the perfect pickup!

    Maybe instead you’ve been neglecting part of the pour over process. If you’re still “eye-balling” your pours, the Hario V60 Drip Scale can be yours for right around that $50 mark. Finally, some new mugs or drinkware is always a great pickup for the new year!

    $100

    If you’ve got some cash in the $100 range, you’ve got some great room to really upgrade a pour over setup. Many users make do with a non variable kettle that just boils water. While you can count off the time for the water to get down to coffee temps, for that $100 in extra cash you could also pick up a Bonavita Variable Temp Kettle. This kettle is a great deal and easy to use to really improve your pour over.

    Maybe you’ve actually been getting by with an old blade or spice grinder. If that’s the case, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. Luckily the new Solis Scala is a great grinder for pour over and drip, and under that $100 price point!

    $250+

    Maybe you’ve got a more sizable bit of holiday money to work with. In the $250 range you’ve got lots of fun options for upgrades, including a new drip brewer! The Solis Scala mentioned above pairs great with a Bonavita Connoisseur. These two together come out to right around $250 before tax.

    You could also spend up just a bit more to pick up a Breville Precision Brewer, one of the finest drip brewers on the market. Finally, if you want to try a range of brewing styles, you could grab the Varia Multi-Brewer, a scale, and a few bags of coffee to go with them!

    Maybe you received one bigger gift card with how strange this year is, or maybe you’ve got a few that you’re using for day-to-day expenses and you’re looking on a larger ticket item to buy with that extra cash. If this is the case, the Philips 1220 Carina is a great way to overhaul your coffee setup. This superautomatice espresso machine is the all in one device you need to craft delicious cafe coffee drinks.

    We hope this post has given you some ideas to spend that gift card cash on coffee equipment you’ll love!

     

     

  • Coffee Selection Tips for Your New Gear!

    It’s possible that you’ve just received a shiny new piece of coffee gear this holiday season. But what’s sweet equipment without a great roast to go with it? Let’s take a look at some things to look for when shopping for the perfect coffee for your new kit!

    Drip Coffee

    Let’s start with drip coffee. It could be that you’ve just picked up or received your first serious drip brewer. Sure, you’ve probably made a pot or two before, but maybe not on a high quality coffee maker!

    Drip coffee is great because it tends to bring out tasty flavors in a wide range of roasts. This means that you’ll get the “truest” flavors on more balanced roasts, as drip brewing tends to work better with more balanced flavor profiles. This isn’t to say that a super fruity natural will be bad as a drip brew, but you may not get milder notes then you would with a pour over. 

    Because of this, classic coffee flavors are a great place to start. Chocolatey blends and roasts with just enough fruitiness are the perfect way to break in your new drip brewer. That said, don’t hesitate to try out that exciting single origin you’ve been eyeing!

    Many of these concepts apply to press brewing as well, though with that style you’ll often get bolder, stronger flavors from rich or earthy roasts.

    Pour Over

    Pour over gives you the ability to really dial in flavors in a similar manner to espresso, but without the same intensity. This means that you can really pick roasts based on the notes you’re excited about.

    Your pour over kit will help you unlock the more intense fruit notes on naturals. It’ll still also give you those richer chocolate notes. To really get a great grasp of how delicate pour over flavors can get, give a tasty looking light floral roast a try. Some coffees actually take on a tea-like profile that is definitely to die for, and the only brew method that really works for these roasts is pour over, so it’s worth giving a try!

    There aren’t really any roasts that don’t work as pour over, though you may find that you prefer roastier diner style coffees in a press or drip.

    Espresso

    Espresso is the trickiest brew method to understand and develop a sense for. Whether you’re brewing with pressurized baskets, unpressurized baskets, or a superautomatic machine, you’ll probably want to start with a standard espresso blend. 

    Because this is such a precise brew method, starting with a blend that’s specifically roasted for espresso will make dialing in your grinder a little easier. Once you have a sense for how to get a good shot out of simpler blends, you can move on to more temperamental roasts. If you’ve got unpressurized baskets to use, you can get a good shot out of most coffees. If you’re using pressurized baskets or a superauto you may have a hard time getting something especially tasty out of a more delicate single origin. This is because these roasts often need a pretty precise grind and shot pull to build the proper complexity. This can be a challenge to nail with a pressurized basket or superauto.

    Also, don’t forget that you should avoid oily beans in a superauto! For a whole host of beans we think work great in these machines check out our Superauto Recommended coffee category!

    We hope this gives you some good things to look out for as you break in your new coffee equipment!

  • Happy Holidays from Seattle Coffee Gear

    We’re so grateful that we’ve been able to deliver a bit of holiday cheer to so many of our wonderful customers. From all of us here at Seattle Coffee Gear, we hope you and your family and friends have a safe, happy holidays!

  • Holiday Coffee Culture

    Coffee has evolved to be a major part of the holiday experience, and today we’re taking a look at some of the reasons why coffee may have become so important to the holidays!

    Warm, Cozy, and Delicious!

    Studies have shown that coffee consumption increases around the holidays, and there are a number of potential reasons for that! For starters, December is when many parts of the world (in the Northern Hemisphere of course!) start to get quite chilly. A nice hot coffee in the morning right after the sometimes unpleasant experience of waking up to a chilly home is a great way to start the day. Coffee is also a great accompaniment to a chilly walk to work or in the park. It’s also a cozy addition to a nice evening around the fireplace.

    And that’s another important note to mention - more free time! Many folks get at least a little bit of extra time off around the holidays. Not having to work or get to class the next morning makes that 4PM coffee just a little less dangerous! There’s also the need for a little extra kick when you’re busy preparing gifts, studying for your finals, or travelling (though we hope you’re enjoying a nice, safe staycation this year!).

    That last bit is another key factor - seeing family and friends. While we all may be cooped up inside this year, in “normal” years travel and gatherings are a key part of the holidays. Coffee is a drink with so many ways to prepare it, and so many unique flavors from roast to roast. When you think about it, it’s the perfect beverage to share with friends and family.

    And that’s part of why we see so many holiday roasts!

    Holiday Roasting

    It’s become a holiday tradition for specialty roasters to prepare holiday roasts for the season. This tradition is rooted in the fact that so many coffee notes fit the holidays so well. Flavors like citrus, chocolate, and baking spices provide a wonderful assortment of tastes for the season! We also see some interesting offshoots and more adventurous notes than you’d typically find in a basic blend. Since coffee is seasonal, all of this works out with the standard supply chain for the roasters and producers as well.

    Plus, there’s the exciting artwork that goes along with these seasonal blends! We often get extra fun bag art that adds a wonderful bit of extra character to these tasty roasts.

    There’s no doubt that coffee is an important part of the holidays. We hope you’re enjoying some coffee YOU love this year!

     

  • Behind the Scenes at SCG: Holiday 2020

    Hey coffee fans! We’ve all had quite the year here at Seattle Coffee Gear and we’re sure you have too. With the difficulties from COVID-19 we’ve almost all shifted to working from home, while instituting strict social distancing and cleaning guidelines for staff that has to be on site. We’re really proud of how the whole team pulled together here (figuratively speaking of course!), especially as we’ve dealt with the holiday rush!

    Holiday Content

    Our video team worked hard to create awesome video content all holiday long. As you may have guessed, we tried to film as much of it in single sessions as possible. We also made sure multiple hosts were never in the studio at the same time to make social distancing a little easier. 

    We’re so glad we were able to focus on delivering content that helped with buying decisions, because it was very hard to look at machines in person this year. We’re glad everyone enjoyed the tops 3s, shopping guides, gifting tips, and host favs. We also were excited to share Ariel and John’s tips and recipes, and hope they made you holiday just a bit brighter.

    Holiday Shopping Rush!

    Our shipping teams have been doing an outstanding job of responding to the huge holiday rush this year. They’re some of the real heroes of the company, and have been working with our shippers to get everything sent out. 

    Our Customer Service and Sales teams have been working hard to help everyone with their holiday shopping and getting their new machines set up. We’ve seen some of the highest volume of contacts ever this holiday, and we’re working our butts off to get back to everyone!

    Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

    We’ve really enjoyed the set of holiday roasts we’ve seen from across our roasting partners. Delicious, easy to work with coffee for a range of brew methods has helped to keep us going as we push through the holiday rush!

    We’re all eager to get back to the office and see each other, as well as provide more dynamic, exciting coffee content. We have big plans in the works across our teams for 2021, and we really hope you join us. 

    Most importantly, we’re thankful for you this year. Our customers are some of the best in the world, and we love bringing you our unique blend of content and retailing. We hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday this year, whether it’s already partway concluded, or hasn’t really started yet!

  • Holiday Video Roundup

    Hey coffee fans!

    It’s time for our biggest video roundup of the season! Since we have so much to cover we’ll be linking to the videos for usability.

    First up we have our big ol’ list of 2020 top threes:

    Next we have a trio of holiday drink recipes with Ariel:

    And finally, a couple of tips and tricks videos for the season with John:

     

    We hope you enjoy the video content and have a wonderful holidays!

  • Holiday Coffee Drinks

    Hey Coffee Fans!

    Today we’ve got some extra delicious coffee drinks (alcoholic and non!) by way of resident mixologist, Ariel! Ariel demonstrated these drinks in the video below, but we’ve got them here for you too! Let’s dive in:

    Gingerbread Cookie Syrup Latte:

    1 cup water

    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/4 cup light corn syrup

    1/4 cup Biscoff cookie butter

    1 tsp. Gingerbread spice

    1/4 tsp ground cloves

     

    Combine ingredients in over medium-low heat. Whisk until sugar, corn syrup, and cookie butter are well combined. Pour into a heat resistant container and let cool. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

    Add syrup to taste for your next latte and top with whipped cream!

     

    Spicy Hot Chocolate:

    1 cup water

    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/4 cup light corn syrup

    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    2 tsp Chinese Five Spice

    1-2 dried Thai Chilis

     

    Combine ingredients over medium-low heat. Whisk until sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder are well combined, allow flavors of the spices and chilis to infuse, remove from heat once desired spice level is reached. Strain into a resistant container and let cool. Cover and store in the pantry for up to 2 weeks.

    Combine sauce with steamed milk and top with a whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce!

     

    Espresso Syrup:

    1 cup (4 shots) espresso

    1 cup granulated sugar

     

    Combine espresso and sugar in a heat resistant container. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

     

    Espresso Bourbon Flip:

    2 oz of your preferred bourbon

    1 whole egg

    1oz espresso syrup

     

    In an empty drink shaker, combine bourbon, egg, and syrup. Shake vigorously for one minute to combine ingredients and whip the egg. Add 4-5 ice cubes to shaker and shake again for 30 seconds to chill. Double strain into coupe glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

    We hope you've enjoyed these holiday coffee treats!

  • Holiday Host Favorites!

    We know we’ve been inundated with lists this year, but we’ve got one more important one to share! So far we’ve had our best ofs and shopping guides, but what would our top 3s hosts bring home themselves? Let’s take a look!

    Pat

    • Saeco Xelsis: The Saeco Xelsis is a fantastic superauto that is high end, but provides so much bang for your buck. Loads of drink customization options, high quality milk steaming, great shots, and easy maintenance make this my superauto of choice to bring home for the holidays.
    • Solis Barista Perfetta: The Barista Perfetta is a really solid entry to the semi-auto world that offers just a little more than a simple entrypoint. This is a machine that really gives you all you need to get started, but will last you a good long time as you discover what you want in a more generational machine.
    • Bonavita Interurban: The Interurban is a great, simple kettle that includes the gooseneck spout, programmable temps, and reliability. Bonus points for including the temperature presets!

    Jake

    • Eureka Mignon Notte: The Mignon Notte is one of the best ways to get into grinding for espresso. Affordable, simple, and high performance, this is a grinder you can use with your first machine all the way to prosumer, high end options.
    • Philips 1220 Carina: The Carina is such an incredible value for what it offers. You get consistent shots, milk steaming, and easy maintenance in the most affordable superauto on the market. It may not have the bells and whistles of the Xelsis, but this machine is a great all around purchase to get your morning latte.
    • Ratio Six: The Ratio Six is an incredible consistent drip brewer that’s simple and high performing. The included heat retention gasket offers extra performance that we haven’t seen on the competition!

    John

    • Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto: The Cinquantotto is a powerful machine that provides very high end prosumer grade performance and might just be the last espresso machine you ever buy. With its programmable PID controller, auto on, and detachable touch screen control unit, this machine combines form and function elegantly.
    • Acaia Pearl S: The Acaia Pearl has been a longtime favorite for crafting perfect pour over. WIth the Pearl S, Acaia has upped its game. This scale combines accuracy, timing, and ease of use for a pretty unbeatable package.
    • Baratza Virtuoso+: The Virtuoso+ is a precise, high-performance brew grinder that gives the perfect grind for slow brew methods. What’s more, the easy to use digital timing knob means you can dial in your time to grind. The lit catch bin also is a nice touch for that early morning (or late night) cup of coffee.

     

    Check out our host’s favorites over on our YouTube Channel as well!

  • Holiday Coffee Favorites

    Hey coffee lovers! It’s that time of year for cozy coffee notes and comfy drinks perfect for frosted windows and lit fireplaces. It’s a tough year because we can’t all share our favorite coffee with visitors, but we’re here to make the most of it with some favorite roasts and ways to prepare them.

    Brandywine Coffee Roasters - Seattle Coffee Gear 2020 Holiday Blend

    As has become holiday tradition here at SCG, we’re proud to have collaborated with our friends at Brandywine Coffee Roasters on another holiday roast! If you can tear your eyes away from the adorable artwork on the bag, you’ll find a delicious, classic set of notes within.

    One of the best parts of this roast is how versatile it is. Whether you like an espresso, drip brew, press, pour over, or more, this blend is just the right thing. On top of this, this is a delicious roast with or without milk. For a little extra fruitiness, we love a latte made with a hint of raspberry syrup.

    Onyx Coffee Lab - Framily

    As the name implies, Framily is the perfect complex, but approachable blend to share with friends and family over the holidays. It’s true most of us can’t do that in person this year, but this one’s a great candidate to send to your framily and enjoy over your holiday video calls. 

    Framily’s notes offer some lighter tastes over classic richness via a medium roast that is easy to brew and drink. Because this one’s got some fruitier notes along with that earl grey touch, we recommend giving it a shot as a classic pour over. This method will tease out those lighter flavors wonderfully, and you can impress your friends and family with your technique over a video meeting!

    Camber Coffee - Dialed In Espresso

    This one’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s available year round! We still couldn’t pass up the chance to recommend it. Why is this? Because it’s the perfect way to break in your new espresso machine. We worked with Camber to develop Dialed in as an easy to, well, dial in, espresso. That means it’s got classic espresso notes and will be a great coffee to get started with.

    With that in mind, this one’s a great add to some eggnog! If you’re brave enough try steaming eggnog, just remember to go slow and steady, it’s jumpy! It’s also important to carefully purge and clean your steam wand after steaming a thicker milk substitute like eggnog.

    Partners Coffee Roasters - Miracle on North 6th St.

    This one’s where that quintessential bit of orange flavor comes in. Miracle on North 6th St. fills that baked goods profile with a hint of citrus to really top it off. This is another one that works great in a lot of brew methods and isn’t hard to work with.

    That’s why we think it’s a great one to share as a pot of old fashioned drip coffee with a roommate or partner. Maybe you’ve got more than just a couple of coffee drinkers in your home and you’ll need a second pot! Either way, this one’s great with or without milk or cream.

    The truth is, we’re in love with all of our holiday blends, and we want to hear how you’re brewing them! Try out your favorite roaster’s seasonal roast this year and let us know how you love to prepare it!

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