Make Coffee You Love!

  • Video Roundup: 4/5/2019

    Hey coffee fans! It's time for another video roundup!

    First up, Gail's back with a review of the new OXO Brew Adjust kettle!

    Next, Nicole joined us for a look at the exciting new Barista Pro!

    Then, John gave us a tour of the Boxer with Timer commercial machine.

    Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for, Vietnamese Egg Coffee with Clementine!

    That's all for now folks, see you next week!

  • To Heat Or Not To Heat?

    One complaint we often see is that brewers don't keep coffee hot long enough. This, or that they don't brew at a high enough temperature. While we'd never tell someone how to enjoy their coffee, we thought we might share some insight on what's up with all this temperature talk!

    white ceramic cup filled with black liquid on top of saucerBrew Temp

    Generally, it's agreed that coffee is best brewed at 198-202 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is chemical. It's a complicated topic, but suffice to to say that we can scientifically guarantee that this temperature range produces the best coffee when brewing drip. For some coffee drinkers, that's just not hot enough! We can respect a want for a hotter brew, but the fact of the matter is that high quality drip brewers stick to this temperature range. Cheap brewers often start at lower temps and then shoot up to temps above this range, scorching the coffee. A high quality drip brewer will maintain the ideal temperature the whole way through.

    So what's the answer if you want hotter coffee? Really, it's to drink lighter roasts! Darker roasts extract at lower temps, so your cup will get very bitter if brewed too hot. Lighter roasts may lose some complexity at higher temps, but you can enjoy them hotter with less bitterness.

    Warming Plat Woes

    The other component of this equation is keeping the coffee hot in the pot. First of all, by warming the pot with some hot water before you brew, the coffee will keep its temp as it hits the carafe. This is a huge help, because a room temp put will suck some of that heat as the coffee brews! The other element is carafe type and heating plate. Sometimes we get complaints that high end brewers don't have plates that stay on all day. This is a feature, not a bug! By sitting in a glass carafe on a heating plate, coffee tends to scorch and burn over time, leading to an awful taste. If you plan to drink a pot more than two hours later (the shutoff time for most heating plates) we recommend brewing a fresh one then!

    Another option for maintaining heat is to switch to a stainless steel carafe. If pre-warmed, a well insulated stainless carafe can keep coffee hot for hours. This works especially well if your palate doesn't notice the metallic taste!

    Of course, all of this changes when you introduce pressure to create espresso!

  • Introducing Quills Coffee Roasting

    Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we offer a wide range of roasters. From established, recognizable standbys to up and coming outfits, we love to support our roasting partners. It's not every day that we add a new roaster to our lineup, so we always like a take a moment to recognize when we do! With that, we're excited to offer Quills Coffee!

    Community, Family, Quality

    Quills Coffee was started in 2007 by Nathan Quillo. Quillo's passion for coffee led him along the tried and tested path of enthusiast, to barista, to roaster. With his brother's help, they built and opened their first shop, in the Germantown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. Since then Quills has worked to build a strong, passionate community around their coffee. It's clear in their messaging that fostering the larger coffee community is a key component of their past, present, and future.

    But what about the coffee? We're happy to say, it's great. Quills' signature blend, Southern Gothic, acts as a great introduction to their catalogue. Featuring classic coffee flavors with impeccable balance, this is a great introduction to Quills and craft coffee in general. If you're more of an espresso drinker, Blacksmith's got you covered. This syrupy, sweet, and rich blend is the perfect pair with a new espresso machine, or if you're just looking for that classic espresso taste.

    Beyond the blends, Quills' single origin offering shows that they're not happy with just being "classic." Their tangy, dynamic Colombian shows off their adventurous side. Meanwhile, their Peru is a delicious, sweeter single origin that performs admirably via a number of brew methods.

    The main through-lines in all of these roasts are quality and balance. Quills pride themselves on offering a delicious, well balanced cup of coffee, and we think they nail it. Check out everything Quills at SCG here, and pick up a bag today!

  • Video Roundup: 3/22/2019

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for yet another video roundup here at SCG!

    First up, we had the pleasure hanging out with the guys from Anchorhead!

    Next up, Allie gave us a good old fashioned Crew Review of the Motif Brewer!

    Then John showed us how to change the brewers on a Eureka grinder!

    Finally, Clementine showed us how to make an espresso Old Fashioned!

    That's all for now folks! Have a great weekend!

  • Coffee Culture: Canada

    Coffee is a 6.2 BILLION dollar industry in Canada. Our favorite beverage is a big deal just a few hours north of us here in Seattle! In fact, coffee is the most consumed beverage in Canada by adults. That means adults in the great white north drink coffee more than beer, wine, soda, even tap water! So what makes Canadian coffee culture tick? How different is it than our own coffee scene in the United States? We thought we'd find out!

    The Coffee Association of Canada found that 72% of adults drink coffee daily in the country in 2018. Wow! Of that number, 60-70% of them, broken down by ethnic group, prepare their coffee at home. Most Canadians favor drip coffee, but espresso based drinks are becoming more and more popular. Only 13% of adults with a coffee brewer own an espresso machine, so most espresso is consumed from cafés and restaurants.  However, 59% of those with a brewer at home have a drip brewer, showing the preference for drip coffee. There's also a large number of instant coffee drinkers, but with fantastic roasters like 49th Parallel on the rise, the paradigm is shifting.

    Much like in the United States, specialty roasting is largely being done in major cities. Vancouver B.C., just a few hours away from our home in Seattle, has many roasters like 49th supported by bustling cafés. This thriving coffee tradition has a long history. The first coffee shop in Toronto opened all the way back in 1801, and coffee has continued to be a popular beverage since. Coffee shops across the country run the gamut from trendy spots all the way to homey, family run cafés.

    Many coffee shops in Quebec model, as expected, European affairs. From Italian and French inspired facades to more traditional drinks, these shops feature classic, beautiful atmosphere. As you might expect, Canadian coffee culture is as vast and diverse as what we experience in the United States!

  • Video Roundup: 3/15/2019

    Happy Friday!

    We're back with another Friday video roundup!

    Fist up we have another Roast of the Month coffee tasting!

    Next, John took a look at the Rancilio Classe 7!

    And last, but certainly not least, Clementine gave us some tips on brewing some delicious Klingon coffee! K'plah!

    Join us next time for more awesome videos!

  • SCG Crew Interviews: Allie

    Hey coffee fans! This week we're chatting with another one of our fabulous crew members! Allie worked in our Bellevue retail location before coming to our HQ to work on our commercial and home consulting teams! We hope you enjoy getting to know her!

    What’s your life story?

    I grew up in Louisiana in a town right off the interstate in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It was a town of about 10,000 people, where the best food and coffee are served at the local gas station (I know). I graduated high school early and moved to Tennessee to pursue my degree. While in college, a friend introduced me to specialty coffee. I already loved my morning cup of drip, but tasting my first Chemex changed the game. I quickly fell in love with the community, the culture, and the ability to connect with people over a beverage. After graduating college, I decided to follow my heart (and my taste buds) and move to Seattle to find out what the real coffee scene was about. 

    What’s your background with coffee? Be specific if you can!

    I started working at Starbucks in 2015. I loved the rush of caffeine and adrenaline from working on the bar in the morning. I moved around a lot, so I've actually worked in several Starbucks in various responsibility positions. When I decided to move to Seattle, I was chosen to work for the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (which was the only one in the world at the time).  Working for the Roastery taught me a lot about specialty coffee, espresso, and roasting. I quickly made it a habit to go on coffee crawls every chance I got so that I could learn about how others pulled their espresso and what made it unique. When I stumbled upon Seattle Coffee Gear, I was hooked immediately. A whole new way to experience coffee: equipment!

    What has it been like transitioning from SCG retail?

    Working in SCG retail gave me great hands on experience with our most popular equipment and allowed me to have a real understanding of what people are looking for in their machines. I can pretty much narrow down the machine you are going to purchase with a few well answered questions. 

    What’s your favorite thing about the coffee industry?

    Coffee = connection. It brings people together from all over the world, from all places in life, at any time of day. It's amazing how many wonderful and passionate people I have met at a coffee bar.  Pouring beautiful latte art or dialing in an espresso to an exact note allow me express myself in a really fulfilling way. 

    What’s your favorite way to brew/drink coffee?

    Black coffee. Most mornings I start off with an espresso and a hand brew chaser. 

    What do you like to do for fun? Outside of coffee!

    I love to travel. I try to go somewhere new every year (if I'm lucky). So far the best place I've ever been is Salzburg, Austria. 

    What’s one thing you want everyone who shops at SCG to know about running/opening a cafe

    A ton of work goes into making an excellent cup of coffee.  I have a lot of respect for the product and the way its made. Choosing the right equipment (and using it well) makes all the difference in the drinks you sell!
  • Superauto Milk

    If you've shopped around for an espresso machine before you're probably encountered the great super vs. semi-auto debate. You probably also know that superautos grind whole coffee beans and brew consistent shots. One thing that can be a bit of a mystery though is milk systems. With options like cappuccinotores, panarellos, and carafes there's a lot to learn when it comes to superauto milk!

    Setting Expectations

    One thing that is key to your decision making at the top is expectations. The first thing that can be a tough latte to swallow is temperatures. Superauto machines always struggle to produce milk at a hot enough temperature for some coffee drinkers. This has to do with the relatively narrow band of temperature that's acceptable for milk steaming, as well as the tech at play in automatic systems. This is one reason to potentially consider a panarello system, but more on that in a bit.

    The other issue is microfoam quality. There is no automatic frothing system that exists that can fully recreate a professional's work. Because it takes minute adjustments to maintain a good froth and incorporate foam, superautos have a tough time nailing it. The good news is that these machines are getting closer! Examples like the Saeco Xelsis can even produce milk for latte art with a bit of practice.

    Types Of Steam Systems - Panarello Wands

    So with the understanding that temp and texture are tough to recreate, what are the options out there? Let's start with panarellos.

    Panarellos (like the ones on the Saeco X-Small, pictured above), look quite a but like manual steam wands. The biggest difference is in material and shape. Panarellos often combine metal materials like stainless steel with plastic, making them more cost effective than fully manual steam wands. They also are designed to froth milk with less careful pitcher adjustments. Where a steam wand is simply a tube with a tip at the end to release steam, panarellos guide and restrict steam flow more carefully, and add a bit of air to the steam. This means they are less powerful and capable than a manual wand, but easier to use. Some panarellos even have built in temperature sensing to ensure that milk is frothed to the perfect temp. In action, this means that you'll physically hold a container of milk up to the wand while it does its thing. Generally you won't need to make any adjustments though, and the wand will take care of the rest. The benefits here are in more direct temperature control, while you give up some texture quality and ease of use.

     

    Types Of Steam Systems - Cappuccinotores and Siphons

    So what about cappuccinotores?

    These nifty attachments fit onto panarello wands and other systems to make the frothing process fully automatic. This brings a standard panarello wand in line with other milk siphon systems that don't utilize carafes. With these systems, milk is sucked up into the machine, then heated and textured, then poured into the cup. Systems like this are incredibly easy to use, you just drop a pipe end into your milk and the machine does the rest. The biggest issue with these systems are temperature control and cleanup. Because these machines literally suck in the milk from the container, keeping them clean is key. Removing and rinsing the pipe regularly is important, as well as using a cleaning solution to get inside of the machine. Most superautos with pipe systems will have an automated cleaning procedure that you can run with some cleaner as well. A great example of a machine with a siphon system like this is the Miele CM6.

    Types Of Steam Systems - Carafes

    The last type of milk system we'll cover today is the carafe. Technically, carafe based systems are a subset of siphons. Generally carafes simply act as a container to easily store the milk you'll use in a siphon system. This is the case with the optional carafe that comes standard with the Miele CM6350 or as an add on to the 6150, as well as the Xelsis from Saeco. It's worth mentioning carafes though because of how much simpler they make the process. The Xelsis' hygiesteam system works with a carafe to alleviate the cleaning issues we mentioned above, and even just cutting out the step of pouring milk into a container to be siphoned from is a time saver. On some machines, like the Incanto Carafe, you actually just plug the carafe into the espresso machine instead of using a siphon. These systems are considered high end, so the biggest downside you'll face is price. Additionally, as with any siphon system, temperature can be lower than desired for some!

    With new systems like Phillips' Latte GO on the horizon, superauto steaming continues to change and evolve!

     

  • Video Roundup: 3/8/2019

    Happy Friday!

    Welcome to yet another video roundup. We've had some fun this week over on our YouTube, so let's jump in!

    First, Allie gave us some descaling tips on the Breville Barista Express!

    Next up, Gail gave us a look at the Atom 75.

    Finally, Clementine explored the Rooibos Espresso Latte in a new Coffee Collaboration!

    That's all for now! Go enjoy some coffee you love!

  • Roast of the Month: SCG Rainier Morning Blend!

    Hey Coffee fans!

    It's time for another Roast of the Month! This month we're featuring a roast so good we put our name on the bag! SCG Rainier Morning Blend is our roasting collaboration with our friends at Brandywine. After such a wonderful experience working with the roaster for our Holiday Blend last year, we set out to collaborate again on a year round offering!

    Cozy Mountain Flavors

    Rainier Morning Blend features a tasty mixture of Colombian and Ethiopian beans. This mix creates a combination of two of our favorite flavors: Cherry and chocolate! Colombians feature strong, rich chocolate notes. It's part of why this origin is such a standby in coffee culture. Colombians offer that classic "coffee" taste of rich chocolate notes tempered by a hint of bitterness and acidity. In Rainier Morning Blend these chocolate notes are pronounced, and get at how important they are in coffee in general! On the flip-side, the Ethiopian beans bring you the sweetness of one of our Cascadian favorites: Rainier cherries!

    Other tasting notes on this roast include hazelnut and plum, both rounding out a satisfying, easy drinking flavor profile. To get to these notes we worked with Brandywine by suggesting potential notes. We offered suggestions like chocolate, apples, berries, and of course, those Rainier Cherries. From there, Brandywine did the heavy lifting. After sending us a few samples we settled on this delicious recipe! This roast is an excellent "every day" blend for drip brewers and your home espresso machine. It also comes recommended as a great pick for your favorite superauto!

    Another thing we were thrilled to work with the folks at Brandywine on was the art! If you've seen Brandywine's beautiful collection of roasts before, you know the artwork is always unique and always fabulous! For Rainier Morning Blend we wanted to feature 3 PNW musts: Rainier, pine trees, and one of our favorite local sea creatures, the orca whale! The result was a fun piece that's just as flavorful as the beans inside the bag!

    We can't wait for you to try Rainier Morning Blend, so grab a bag today!

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