Make Coffee You Love!

  • Video Roundup: 2/14/20

    Hello coffee fans!

    It's time for another video roundup at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    We'll start with a look at some entry level "prosumer" machines with Allie!

    Next up, it's a look at the Rancilio Specialty RS1 with John.

    Gail gave us some thoughts on the Baratza Forte BG vs. the Eureka Mignon:

    And finally, Allie and I did a tasting of our Roast of the Month for February, Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa!

    That's all for this week! We'll be back soon with more video content. Have a great weekend!

  • Introducing AKA Coffee!

    It's time again for another roaster to join our incredible lineup!

    Today we're welcoming AKA coffee to the SCG roaster family. AKA Coffee was founded as Supersonic Coffee in Berkeley, CA back in 2013. After developing some delicious roasts, they ultimately rebranded to AKA Coffee due to copyright issues associated with opening cafes and retail locations. The result is a fun new name that pays homage to the change in branding and a fresh start in Oakland, CA!

    AKA has a commitment to offering quality coffee that's also accessible and approachable. We love this mentality and are excited to begin offering their coffee. Early this year they'll also be opening a retail location at the Castro Valley Marketplace. If you're in the East Bay you should be sure to check it out! Let's take a look at the roasts.

    FTW

    FTW is AKA's signature blend. This is a simple coffee that features notes of caramel and nuts. We find that this is a really approachable blend that works in a variety of brew methods. It's also easy to brew, providing a clean, satisfying cup even if you grind a little too fine or short. FTW is a great standby, perfect to keep around as an every day roast for your superauto or drip brewer!

    Kindred

    Kindred is a blend of beans from Latin America that spice and dried fruit notes. These simple notes are very accurate and really come through loud and clear in a pour over. We really enjoy this roast and think it displays some strong complexity and depth. Definitely a good one to try if you're an experienced specialty coffee drinker and a fun one to try a variety of ways once you've tried it in a pour over!

    Ethiopia Adame Garbota

    The first single origin that we've brought on from AKA, Adame Garbota is a tasty Ethiopian with classic notes from the region. Green apple and blackberry are the flavors AKA describes, and we definitely get the rich berry and softer fruit notes they're going for. A great pour over coffee and example of how this roaster tackles single origins!

    That's all we have for now, but keep an eye out for more single origins and blends from AKA Coffee! We're sure you'll enjoy their simple approachability as much as we do and are looking forward to our next cup as well!

     

     

  • An Introduction to Seattle Coffee Gear's Getting Started Guides

    Hello coffee fans!

    Over the years, we've offered lots of insight, reviews, and advice for getting started with coffee. Through our Coffee 101 posts we've provided information on the basics of brewing, from espresso to pour over. We've helped to teach you how to start brewing all kinds of ways, but usually those guides don't help too much with purchasing. We've done guides designed to help you figure out what to look for in espresso machines, for example. Now we'd like to do some purchasing guides to show you what machines have those qualities now!

    We'll be breaking these guides down by brew method, and they'll include examples of why machines work well for new users. We'll talk about setting budgets as well to help alleviate the sticker shock of new machines. Finally, these guides will work to help you understand why items cost what they do, so you'll come away with an understanding of what you should be paying for.

    Finally, we'll also be refreshing these guides every year or so to help provide insight into new products. This way you won't find the perfect machine that has been discontinued or is in between models. So stay tuned! We'll be bringing you our 2020 Getting Started Guides over the next couple of months!

  • Roast of the Month: Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa

    After a holiday break, it's time once again for Seattle Coffee Gear's Roast of the Month!

    This month we're featuring the delicious Ethiopia Nano Challa from Methodical roasting. This roast starts with fantastic coffee from an ever consistent producer.

    Exploring Nano Challa

    The Nano Challa cooperative was founded in 2004. After over 15 years this group has grown to a whopping 350 farmers. The farmers here grow world renowned coffee in the shade of the local forest. When it comes time for processing, the coffee is similarly dried in the shade. Drying coffee in this way does take longer than sun-drying, but also leads to more developed flavors. By the time it makes it to roasters around the world, this coffee has been lovingly grown, sorted, dried, and washed to perfection.

    Methodical's take on this coffee is absolutely exquisite. The roaster only lists two simple tasting notes, but there really is so much going on in the cup. The tangerine and sweet lemon notes on the bag get to the citrusy, bright acidity of this coffee. This flavor profile mixes with more common Ethiopian notes like berry and chocolate that we expect from coffees like this.

    What's even more impressive is that this coffee features a really smooth, balanced body too. This isn't a super light, flavor chasing type roast that requires a super refined palate. This is simply a good, drinkable coffee perfect for a wide range of tastes.

    Brew Methods

    Of course, as you might expect, we recommend a pour over for this coffee. This is a brew method that will really give you the richest flavor profile without being too strong. It's the best way to understand this coffee. With that said, this one will work well as a press and drip brew if you generally prefer those methods.

    Check out Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa today right here.

  • Video Roundup: 1/31/2020

    Hey Coffee Fans!

    We've got some great videos to share this week, so let's get started!

    First up, Allie shared some great tips for brewing an iced Chemex.

    Next up, John was joined by Andrew from Rancilio to take a look at the Specialty RS1:

    Finally, it's a classic Crew Comparison throwdown between the Rocket Espresso Faustino and Eureka Mignon grinders:

    That's all we have for now, stay tuned for more video magic!

  • Philips Carina Tips and Tricks

    The Philips Carina is one of the most affordable ways to get into superautomatic espresso machines. You've probably heard us gush about the features of this machine, but there's some tips and tricks that'll help you get the most out of it. Read on to learn more and get brewing!

    • Warmup time
      • The Carina features pretty fast warmup times. With that said, we recommend turning the machine on first thing, so that it'll be ready to brew when you're ready for coffee!
    • Water tank, bean hopper
      • A quick check of the water and bean levels each morning will help you to avoid any delays in getting your drink in the morning.
    • Waste bin
      • Similar to our last tip, consider dumping water from the drip tray in between clearing the waste bin. Otherwise you can end up with an easily spilled drip tray when trying to dump the waste bin!
    • Brew volumes
      • By pressing the drink button for your drink a second time, you can double the volume of the brew. By combining this with the volume "slider" button you can brew larger drinks.
    • Milk steaming
      • The Carina's panarello steam wand makes steaming easy, but by checking out some general milk steaming tips you can up your milk game.
    • Use less oily beans
      • More of a general superauto tip, but using beans that aren't too oily can keep your machine's grinder in tip-top shape.
    • Experiment
      • Try out a variety of drink options to really put your new machine through its paces!
    • Dial in your machine
      • The dial inside the bean hopper is used to dial in your machine, something you should definitely do! From there it can take a dozen or so drinks for the machine to produce its best coffee.

    So there you have it! Using these tips you can really get the very best usability and coffee from your Carina!

  • Super or Semi?

    Superautomatic and semi-automatic machines have similar names but ultimately work quite differently. If you're a regular reader you already know the difference between them. For the uninitiated, a superauto handles everything from grinding the beans to steaming your milk. All you have to do is press a few buttons and maybe hold a pitcher, otherwise the machines does it all. On the flip-side, semi-automatics are a little more hands on. While they don't requires you to manually pump water in (we'd call a machine like that a manual machine) they do require you to grind and tamp the beans yourself. They also require you to steam milk yourself for lattes or cappuccinos.

    So which one's for you? If you're new to espresso, you may jump to assume that a superauto is the right option. While that's absolutely the right call for any users, there's reasons to take a closer look.

    Superautos

    The superauto customer is someone who simply wants good coffee quick. Maybe you like a range of drinks, maybe you're laser focused on getting the best latte or americano. In either case, if your concern is convenience, superautos are the way to go. These are machines that don't require finesse to operate and can brew coffee just a few minutes after being plugged in. There are considerations, of course, you won't want to use especially oily beans, for example. Superautos also can struggle to produce very hot drinks due to the nature of their design.

    In any case though, if you are more concerned with quick coffee than learning the ins and outs of espresso, these machines are for you.

    Semi-automatics

    Semi-automatics definitely require more work than a superauto. While there are grinder/machine combos, you'll probably need to buy a separate grinder at some point if you get into semi-autos. These machines also have a real learning curve. Dialing in a tricky single origin to taste good on your semi-auto can be very challenging. It can also be tough to learn to steam milk at first, as there is technique involved. The thing you do get out of semi-autos though, is control.

    Controlling the brewing process with a semi-auto gives you a lot of options. You can really pull specific notes out of lighter roasts, or get extra hot milk. You can make your cappuccinos as dry as you'd like, or, with machines that have PID controllers, control brew temperature. All of this definitely results in a more hobbyist angle. With all of that said, after some practice, making drinks on a semi-automatic machine gets much quicker. Before you know it you'll be brewing with speed and confidence.

    Of course, none of that matters is if you're mostly looking for a quick caffeine fix, or a simpler drink. It's also important to note that superautomatic technology has come a long way. While it's still hard to replicate the work of an experienced barista on expensive machines, they're getting close. You can get incredible good coffee from a superauto, it all comes down to your desire to tweak and control the process!

  • A Look At Braun Coffee Brewers!

    This month we added Braun's SCA rated drip coffee brewers to SCG. These brewers are yet another great option for fans of a classic pot of drip coffee. But what makes them special? Well first, there's that SCA certification. SCA stands for "Specialty Coffee Association." This is a large body that handles a lot of awareness and outreach around specialty coffee. One of the things they do is certify drip brewers capable of producing high quality coffee. This is largely done through maintaining consistent brew temperatures. All of the Braun machines that we now carry also have this SCA certification!

    Let's get into the brewers!

    KF9150

    The KF9150 offers handy features like dedicated over ice brewing and auto-on for your morning coffee fix. It also provides the ability to directly control things like water temperature and brew size. What's more, this brewer even offers a hot water spot. This isn't always the case with drip brewers, and the spout gives you the ability to use the machine for hot chocolate or tea. We love that about it! If there are any caveats, it's that this brewer is a little on the busy side in terms of looks. With that said, smart design features like a removable water tank more than make up for the crowded control panel.

    KF9170SI

    The 9170SI takes a lot of the features of the 9150 and adds a slightly more adaptable frame to the whole package. It retains things like the hot water spout, brewing options, removeable water tanks, and general programmability and combines them with a sleeker look. The 9170SI also includes a goldtone mesh filter, giving you more options for brewing. The only issue here, like with the 9150, is that the number of options can be intimidating at first.

    KF9070

    The KF9070 is still on the way to our site, but it delivers performance and consistency just like its larger siblings. The difference here is removal of the hot water spout and some progamming features for a simpler design and lower price point.

    Whatever machine fits your kitchen best, we're excited to welcome Braun to the SCG family!

  • Keep Your Coffee Hot This Winter

    Winter is well and truly here, and we thought it'd be a good time to talk about heat. Hot, clean water is possible the most important part of the brewing process after getting good, fresh ground coffee. It's no wonder then that heat is often the sticking point for a lot of coffee drinkers! We often hear about how coffee out of superautos isn't hot enough, or how warming plates won't stay on long enough. We figured now would be a great time to talk about some ways to keep your coffee hot, and help set expectations.

    Drip Brewing

    One of the biggest questions with brewing drip coffee is whether glass or stainless carafes are better for heat. The truth is, they just work differently. Stainless steel carafes insulate your coffee to keep it warm vs. being heated by a plate underneath for a glass carafe. Either way, your coffee won't stay hot for more than an hour or two. You can help this by running hot water into the carafe to heat it prior to brewing. This will heat the carafe so that the coffee doesn't bleed as much temperature into it during brewing. Either way, you should expect to need to brew more coffee after an hour or two. If you find it hard to drink a whole pot in that time, just consider brewing less coffee!

    If you're trying to serve coffee for a group at an office or event, consider a batch brewer. Nothing keeps drip coffee hot for hours and hours like an airpot!

    Pour Over

    For pour over, there's a trick that will really help you with heat retention, and that's leaving your dripper and filter over your server. By only removing these for pouring the coffee, your server will retain more heat. This means you can brew a couple of cups worth and it'll stay warm. Other tips include pre-heating the server by pouring hot water into it, pre-heating your cup the same way, and transferring the coffee to an insulated thermos right after brewing.

    Espresso

    A big one for espresso is keeping your portafilter hot. Special brew groups like E-61s will do this automatically. In any case though, you should keep your portafilter in the machine at all times to aid with this heat. If you have a machine that doesn't heat the portafilter, run a shot's worth of water through it before pulling your espresso. This will heat the portafilter and help with even extraction and heat during brewing. Keeping your cup warm helps here too.

    For superautos, heat is just an issue that comes with the territory. These are machines with lots of moving parts packed into tight spaces. Unfortunately, their need to flash heat water quickly to maintain convenience means they just don't always produce drinks as hot as you'd like. Our best recommendation for superautos is to try steaming your milk prior to brewing, as this heats the water more and generally increases the temperature to the machine. We also recommend consuming your drink shortly after brewing to enjoy it at its hottest! If you still find that your superauto isn't as hot as you'd like, it might be time to consider switching it up to a semi-auto.

    That's all for now, we hope you enjoy some (hot) coffee you love this Winter!

  • Introducing: AeroPress Go!

    The AeroPress is one of the most iconic coffee makers of the past decade. A favorite of travelers, explorers, and fans of good coffee everywhere, it's a wonderful device. If you're not familiar, the AeroPress combines aspects of filter brewing, presses, and espresso to create a delicious cup of coffee. What's so ingenious here is how simple it is. To brew you just add coffee and hot water to a brew chamber, let steep, then press the brewed coffee through a filter and into your cup! Lots of tricks like inverting the press, using different ratios, and playing around with grind size are possible. The result is a high quality, easy to use device that you can use just about anywhere. All you need is ground coffee and hot water!

    One of the best aspects of the AeroPress is how portable it is. While plenty of users love it enough to make it their home coffee machine, its portability takes it a step further. This is because, as mentioned above, all you need to use it is some ground coffee and hot water. This makes it a great option for everything from office work and hotel stays to camping and holiday travel. This year though, Aerobie is launching a special new version of the AeroPress that doubles down on portability.

    The AeroPress Go is slim, simple, and stylish. It packs the full AeroPress brewing kit into a tight package that fits in its own storage container. This container even works as a cup! This means you can easily carry the whole brewer and its tools with you wherever you go. We love it for all of the travel options mentioned above. What's more, it's roughly the same price as the original Aeropress. The only substantive difference between the two models is the size. The AeroPress go is a touch smaller, which may put off users who want to brew larger volumes beyond a single cup at a time. With that said, it's very easy to brew a concentrate in the Go, so you can still brew enough coffee for your friends, just make sure to add a bit of water!

    Even better - the Go works with the same filters as the original AeroPress (even the Fellow Prismo  attachment is compatible). This is an exciting product to kick off 2020 with, and we're excited to be able to offer it. Pick one up right here, and take your brewing on the Go!

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