Best of

  • Top 3 Brew Grinders of 2020

    It’s that time of year! Time for the best machines and accessories of 2020. We love everything we offer at Seattle Coffee Gear, but each year our content team puts our heads together to come up with the gear that we think is the best in the industry for right here and now. Today we’re digging into our top 3 brew grinders of 2020.

    What does brew grinder mean? It means these grinders are the best of the best for brewing pour over, drip, press, cold brew, and other “slow” brew methods. This is in contrast to espresso grinders, which are specifically designed for grinding fine enough to use with an espresso machine. We don’t recommend these grinders if you’re on the hunt for a grinder to use with your Rocket Espresso machine or Rancilio Silvia Pro. Stay tuned for our Top 3 espresso grinders if you’re in that market!

    Eureka Mignon Crono

    The Eureka Mignon Crono is a peculiar grinder, but one that we absolutely love. Built on Eureka’s tried and true Mignon platform, this is a grinder that offers a little more than the Mignon Filtro. But before we look at that, let’s look at what makes Eureka’s Mignon grinders tick.

    The first thing you’ll notice about the Crono is its rock solid case design. Mignon grinders are built like tanks, and last many years if properly maintained. The Crono is no different, with a full metal case and sturdy interior components. This build quality is where a large chunk of the price tag comes from. It’s also a looker, available in black or white with the smoked catch bin and hopper built from high quality, easy to clean plastic.

    Also of key importance with the Crono is its specifically designed brew path, motor, and burr set. While other grinders in the Mignon line are engineered for espresso, the Filtro, Crono, and Brew Pro are engineered specifically for slow brew methods. Finally, the stepless adjust these grinders feature can be a challenge to use initially, but also provide heightened precision for dialing in roasts to tease out their full flavor.

    What sets the Crono apart from the Filtro is its timer. The Filtro uses a simple manual control that you have to keep held down. This means you can’t set it and walk away. The Crono on the other hand uses a simple timer, which makes single dosing a breeze. If you prefer to keep the hopper filled, you can dial in a grind time as well.

    It’s a precise, consistent, powerful, and reliable grinder with a little something extra in the form of its timer.

    Fellow Ode

    The Fellow Ode is the newest kid on the block in this list. New for 2020, the Ode is something of a revolution in brew grinding. In keeping with Fellow’s theme of empowering hobbyist coffee fans with incredible gear for pour over, the Ode is loaded with features. 

    For starters, the Ode features massive 64 mm flat burrs. This type of burr set is typically found in high-end commercial grinders, so it’s a big deal that Fellow has scrunched these into a home brew grinder. With its solid construction, beautiful visual design, and 31 grind settings, the Ode has the basics covered.

    Then there’s its wild innovations. On the simpler side, there’s the Ode’s noise reduction, which is best-in-class. From there, things get very interesting. One thing that many coffee enthusiasts will tell you is that the way to the freshest coffee is through single dosing. What that means is that you store your beans in an airtight container, and then you only put what you need for your morning brew through your grinder. This cuts down on waste and preserves your beans better than storing your beans in a grinder hopper. The Ode embraces this fully, with a small loading area that only has room for a single dose of beans. While it has plenty of space for your extra large coffee bot, it isn’t the type of hopper you leave beans sitting in. 

    Once you’ve loaded the beans, you just have to engage the motor and the Ode takes care of the grinding. With a PID Controlled motor, the Ode is able to tell when it has finished grinding your beans. A built in grinds knocker and magnetically attached catch bin reduce mess and ensure minimal retention. It really is an incredibly innovative, premium package.

    Breville Smart Grinder Pro

    We say it all the time: Use a dedicated espresso grinder if you can. But that last part is important, because not all of us can! If you have budget or space limitations, maintaining two grinders might just be impossible. There are a few grinders that can actually perform well for espresso and slow brew methods, and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is one of them.

    The Smart Grinder Pro also represents excellent value. With 40mm conical steel burrs you’ll get a quality grind at both ends of the spectrum. You’ll also get a full 60 stepped grind settings, which is why the grinder can move so far at either end of the spectrum. A vibrant touchscreen works with the knob to give you a really clear indication of what setting you’re on as well, which is very convenient. Speaking of adjustments, you can actually get even finer or coarser grinds by opening the grinder and making adjustments to the top burr, which is supported as a feature, not a hack.

    The timed dosing offered here is impressive as well. Using the touchscreen’s foolproof interface you can set grind times. This is helpful for once you dial in a grind. If you do want to grind manually, you can just hold the activation button down as well. Finally, you can pause mid-grand to level out the grounds or check weight, which can help with dialing in that time programming. 

    While we really do love the Smart Grinder Pro, it is important to note a couple of tradeoffs. It’s not going to perform quite as well at either end of the grind scale as a dedicated brew or espresso grinder. While it’s going to produce a good grind, there is still a reason to seek dedicated grinders. Part of that is also that switching back and forth from an espresso grind to a brew grind can be frustrating, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Otherwise, this is a great pick for anyone working with a tighter budget or who doesn’t have room for two grinders.

    Baratza Encore

    And here we have an entry that could very well make this list forever. The Baratza Encore remains one of the best starting points in coffee. There are few pieces of gear that a budding pour over enthusiast will get more use out of. The Encore continues to combine high quality engineering, a commitment to reliability and repairability, and an attractive price point.

    If you’re not familiar, the Encore is a simple machine. A rotating hopper provides 40 stepped grind settings, a simple on off switch engages the motor, and a molded catch bin catches the grinds. You can also grind a little extra with the Encore’s pulse button, located above the hopper.

    It’s the Encore’s performance and reliability that make this grinder such a shoe in for our best of list every year. With extensive parts availability through Baratza, your Encore could last decades with proper maintenance and the occasional repair. Its 40mm burrs are easily accessible and simple to clean as well. Once you put it all together you get a grinder for the ages, and it’s available at an excellent price point.

    New this year is a stylish white finish, finally offering an alternative to the black version.

    All three of these grinders could be the last brew grinder you ever need to buy, and we love them for that. Stay with us for more best of 2020 content throughout the month! Make Coffee You Love!

  • Top 3 Drip Brewers of 2020

    Welcome to another 2020 Best Of article! ‘Tis the season for our content team to come together and bring you our picks for the best coffee gear of 2020. Today we’re taking a look at our favorite drip brewers of the year! 

    In case you’re new to the world of coffee, a drip brewer is your classic “coffee maker.” These machines are usually pretty simple. Generally, you’ll put ground coffee in a filter, which you’ll then place in a basket. Next, you’ll fill up a water tank with water to the desired coffee volume you’re brewing. From there, you’ll turn the machine on, and it’ll begin to heat the water and pour it onto the grounds. The water will filter through the grounds and into a vessel as delicious coffee.

    Technivorm Moccamaster KBT741 Coffee Maker

    The key to brewing the perfect pot of coffee is temperature stability. You need water heated to 195-205 degrees fahrenheit. The thing we love about Technivorm brewers is how rock solid the temps are in their machines. Because they use copper boilers, you’ll get quick heatups and a 5-6 minute brew cycle with hot, delicious coffee every time. Like the other brewers on this list, the SCAA certification here confirms that the Specialty Coffee Association of America has confirmed that this machine keeps its water in that ~200 degree fahrenheit range. 

    Another key part of the brewing process is proper saturation of the coffee grounds. You want even spray of water around the brew basket to ensure that the water spreads correctly through the grounds. Many cheap brewers will drop water through a narrow spout right into the middle of the basket. This wastes all of that coffee around the edges of the basket and leads to less flavorful coffee. The Moccamaster features a spray head designed to evenly apply water to the coffee.

    We couldn’t talk about Technivorm without talking about that look. The KBT741 features the same industrial design that other brewers in the Technivorm lineup offer. While it won’t be the perfect fit for every kitchen, we love the stark modern aesthetic that Technivorm’s designs offer. The model featured here comes with a thermal carafe, which we like for heat retention. Some users will prefer a glass carafe with a heating plate, which Technivorm also produces.

    The cherry on top is the Moccamaster’s longevity. The high quality components that produce such great coffee also have the added benefit of being long lasting. In fact, with appropriate cleaning and maintenance, we’ve heard stories of Technivorms lasting decades. While your mileage may vary here, these are incredibly solid drip brewers. It’s this durability paired with the high quality coffee that the Moccamaster produces that has earned it a spot on our list.

    Breville Precision Brewer (Tribute Edition)

    If we had to pick ONE favorite drip brewer, it’d have to be the Precision Brewer from Breville. This brewer delivers many of the features of the Technivorm mentioned above. A high degree of temperature stability and excellent sprayhead design provide the same brewing quality that you get from machines like the Moccamaster. The Precision Brewer alse offers extensive programming.

    This programming is really where the value of the Precision Brewer comes into play. A robust menu system gives you a wide range of brewing options. From simple combinations of parameters like a “Gold Cup” option, which adheres to SCAA Gold Cup settings, to more exotic and unique settings, this brewer can do a lot. We love the Precision Brewer’s iced coffee and cold brew settings, which are programmed specifically for cold copy. It also has single cup and pour over options (which work with the adapter included in the Tribute Edition). 

    The best part of all this programmability? You can also build your own settings. You can control volume with water in just like any machine, and the menus allow you to manually set temperature and flow rate. This is the kind of control you can usually only achieve with manual brewing methods like pour over. The reason these kinds of options are so great is the experimentation you can do with the Precision Brewer and a tricky single origin that has flavors a standard set of drip brew parameters won’t quite tease out.

    The Precision Brewer also hits other bullet points offered by premium drip brewers. From solidly built components like a sturdy thermal carafe (also available in glass), the Tribute Edition’s pour over attachment, and a brew basket that can accommodate multiple types of filters to a long lasting internal pump and heating element, this machine is built as well as it performs. 

    It’s really difficult to point to a better drip brewer for the coffee enthusiast who wants the widest range of brew options. The only potential turn off with the Precision Brewer is that there can be a learning curve as you come to understand its menu system. We feel the menus are intuitive, but they’re a little more complicated than the push button operation of other drip brewers.

    Ratio Six

    The Ratio Six is another brewer that makes the list based purely on its incredible quality. While it doesn’t feature the programming of the Precision Brewer, it’s just a really solid machine that brews great coffee. This, of course, starts with its incredible output. This machine makes some of the best drip coffee we’ve had. A stellar heating element and sprayhead produce heat stable water that properly saturates the coffee grounds. This commitment to quality components stays true inside and out as well, with stainless steel casing giving it the most premium feel of any of the brewers on this list.

    One of our favorite unique features of the Ratio Six is its optional heat shield. Most drip brewers have at least a very small gap between the showerhead and the filter basket that can release some of the water’s heat. The Ratio Six helps to ensure heat retention by including an optional silicone gasket that sits between the sprayhead assembly and the filter basket. While this can seem a little awkward to use at first, it helps produce extra hot coffee.

    None of this touches on another key part of the Ratio Six: Looks! While we always value function over form, the Ratio Six has performance covered already. In the looks department, this one’s a keeper. From gorgeous angles to that stainless steel finish, this brewer is a bit large, but it’s quite the art piece too. It’ll look great alongside a similarly stylish grinder, and it’s neutral color should make it a great fit in a variety of kitchens. 

    All of these features come together to make the Ratio Six a really excellent brewer that we’re happy to include among our 2020 favorites!

    And there you have it! Three of the very best drip brewers money can buy in 2020. Stay tuned for more Best Of 2020 content here and on our YouTube channel!

     

  • Gail's Picks: Best Drip Brewers of 2019

    Welcome to another edition of Gail's Picks for 2019! Today it's all about drip brewers, and we have three fantastic coffee machines to share with you. Drip brewers are really a standby for any coffee lover, and finding the perfect one can be a challenge. That's why we're showing off a few, with specific brewers working best for specific coffee drinkers. Without further adieu, let's get started!

    Bonavita Connoisseur

    The Bonavita Connoisseur is the perfect brewer to get for that budding coffee fan in your life. It also makes an excellent secondary brewer if you primarily drink another form of coffee like espresso or press. This is an affordable machine that has no frills, but doesn't need them. For under $200 you're getting rock solid temperature stability, arguably the most important part of a drip brewer. That means that while you can't control the temperature of the water, it is solidly in the 198-202 degree range for proper extraction. It'll brew your coffee perfectly without scorching it and creating that icky flavor that cheaper drip brewers create. This is why we think it's perfect for new coffee drinkers. In a lot of cases people think that burned tasting coffee is just the way coffee tastes. The Connoisseur can show them a better way!

    This brewer also has a great pre-wetting feature that blooms the coffee in a manner that you'd get from pour over. Overall it creates a really tasty pot of drip without complications, and that's why we think it's one of the best drip brewers of 2019!

    Technivorm Moccamaster

    The Technivorm Moccamaster is a classic machine that will last many years if properly maintained. While this brewer lacks programmability, it makes up for it in sheer reliability, performance, and style. Featuring Technivorm's signature industrial design, the temperature stability here is exceptional. There's something about Technivorm brewed coffee that's just different than what you get out of other brewers. It's bold, flavorful, and complex, and that's all thanks to the design of the heating element and spray head. Again, this machine is also built like a tank. We've seen Technivorms last decades if properly maintained and cleaned. This glass carafe version also features an auto-shut off warming plate that won't burn the coffee after it has been brewed.

    What's more, these machines com in a variety of different colors! This makes it the perfect option for the style conscious kitchen. You'll be able to match your machine to the color scheme of the rest of your equipment.

    Breville Precision Brewer

    Finally, we have the Precision Brewer. This machine combines the incredible performance of the above mentioned machines with a suite of customization options. From pour over, to cold brew, to iced coffee, and more, the Precision Brewer lives up to its name. You'll be able to control every aspect of the brewing process with this machine, making it one of the smartest drip brewers available. For times when you're not looking for all of that functionality, you can just brew with the pre-programmed SCAA-rated Gold Cup setting. This will brew coffee that adheres to standards set by the specialty coffee association for properly tasting and evaluating minute details in the coffee. When you do want to get more hands on, you can play with the different settings to get the perfect flavor profile from different kinds of coffees. Pretty much the pinnacle of drip brewing tech, we love this machine!

    The SCG exclusive Tribute Edition also includes a pour over adapter. This allows you to use a pour over dripper and the built in settings to brew incredible automatic pour over.

    Conclusion

    That brings us to a close on another set of top threes! With that, we're done with Gail's Picks for 2019! We hope we've helped you make some tough decisions about what to pick up to step up your coffee game this holiday season.

  • Gail's Picks: Best Espresso Grinders of 2019

    Today we're powering on with our top machines of 2019! Earlier this week we brought you our top 3 brew grinders for the year. We have 4 espresso grinders to talk about today! As usual, our top machines lists take a look at new and old machines to provide guidance on what the best options on the market are as of preparing the list. Like brew grinders, we have some great classic espresso grinders and a newer face or two as well! Join us as we give these machines a look.

    Baratza Sette 270Wi

    This grinder was featured on our 2018 list, and it maintains its spot here for good reason. This grinder makes its mark with its weight based dosing feature. Incorporating Acaia technology, the portafilter holder actually weighs during grinding. This means that you can get a perfect grind weight without needing to dial in a timer. This makes dialing in your overall shot very easy compared to trying to figure it out by timing. The result is faster dialing in times with less wasted coffee, which is all anyone can ask for in their grinder!

    Dosing wouldn't help if the Sette didn't also produce great grounds, and we can confidently say this one does. Some of the best, most consistent grounds we've ever seen come out of the Sette, especially impressive when considering the price point. Add in bells and whistles like easily removable burrs (for cleaning), a hopper gate, and a compact footprint and it's easy to see why this grinder makes the list.

    Eureka Mignon Specialita

    The Specialita is a compact, powerful, and consistent grinder that easily makes our list. 55mm flat steel burrs and a powerful motor bring some incredibly consistent and high quality grounds to your espresso set up. The vibrant touchscreen allows for timed dosing that allows you to quickly and easily dose for a shot. Outside of that, the simplicity of this machine is part of why it is so very great. Eureka's Mignon line does a wonderful job of putting very little technology between you and your grounds without sacrificing quality and performance.

    On top of all of this, the Specialita is whisper quiet, has a hopper gate and stepless grind adjust, and should fit on virtually any countertop. As a bonus, it's available in striking red and chrome finishes.

    Rocket Espresso Faustino

    Rocket Espresso is one of the most well known names in Italian espresso machines. This is for good reason, their brewers are some of the most incredible machines you can get from a style and performance perspective. This year they extended that to the home espresso grinder in the new Faustino. Featuring 50mm flat steel burrs, stepless grind adjust, and time dosing, this is a wonderful grinder to pair with your new Appartamento. That's not all though, the compact footprint of the Faustino is a selling point too. This is a grinder that you can easily fit in a wide range of setup sizes, and its stylish looks will compliment more than just a Rocket Espresso machine.

    All of this is why we're happy to include it on our 2019 best of list!

    Eureka Atom 65

    On the high end of our best of 2019 list we've got the mammoth Atom 65 from Eureka. This beast of a grinder may not have the footprint of the other grinders on the list, but its sheer power, consistency, and and quiet operation makes up for its taller profile. Its name comes from the brilliant 65mm flat steel burrs that its powerful motor drives, and those burrs and that motor really do provide some of the best grounds you can get. It's also an incredibly quiet grinder that will have the rest of your home sleeping like babies when you grind for your morning shot.

    The Atom 65 also features burrs that adjust from the bottom. That may not seem like a big deal, but it means you can open and clean the grinder without losing your grind setting. It's a feature found most often on commercial grinders, and one that makes maintenance so much easier.

    Conclusion

    Check back in for more of our favorites for 2019!

  • Video Roundup: Holiday Edition!

    It's time for our last video roundup of the year! This week we're taking a look back at all of our holiday content to share some you'll enjoy!

    First, here's a look back at our favorite espresso machines of 2018!

    Next, Gail gave us some great gift ideas, here's one of many videos in our "Gifts Under" series!

    Speaking of Gail, here's a little SCG Holiday Special featuring some holiday treats!

    Last but not least, we tried to make an eggnog latte!

  • Video Roundup: 11/9/2018

    Happy Friday!

    We're here with another video roundup!

    First up, our top 3 espresso machines of 2018!

    Next up, we took a peek at the new Breville Bambino!

    Followed by another top 3, this time focused on grinders:

    Finally, Gail's favorites for 2018!

    Thanks! Make some coffee you love this weekend!

     

  • Seattle Coffee Gear’s Top 3 Grinders of 2018

    Hot on the heels of our top 3 espresso machines of 2018, we’re back with our top 3 grinders of the year! This year we saw some exciting new releases, so we’ve decided to feature two of those alongside a home espresso classic.

    The Rancilio Rocky

    The Rocky is a classic standby in home espresso brewing. This is a grinder that has existed for a long time and sold loads of units. This is for good reason. The Rocky is built with the same design ethos as Rancilio’s commercial machines. This makes for extremely high quality grounds and a solid built, especially at the Rocky’s price point. This grinder features 55 stepped position adjustments and a set of 50mm flat steel burrs. This burr set doesn’t provide quite the lack of retention of more expensive conical burr grinders, but it makes up for this with consistency and quality. The motor is also extremely robust, giving you the kick you’d expect from a quality grinder. All around, this grinder is just an excellent choice for home use, with very few caveats.

    The only thing that you may notice is a lack of programmability. There’s no timed or volumetric dosing options, and the grinder is controlled by a simple on/off switch. An option with a doser is available for those seeking espresso grinding specifically. The Rocky is a great grinder for a wide range of applications, from espresso all the way up to press and pourover.

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi

     

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi is a new grinder for 2018 that improves upon the 270 model. Most of these improvements come in the form of updates to the weighted dosing of this grinder, its most compelling feature. Built with scale tech from Acaia, one of the leaders in coffee scales, the 270Wi grinds extremely accurate doses of coffee. After just a few calibration grinds, the 270Wi can grind to three pre-programmed doses, and does so consistently.

    On top of the convenient dosing, this grinder features an easy to clean, drop out 40mm conical steel burr set. Our only word of caution is that the stepped fineness settings really work best for espresso. We recommend a secondary grinder for drip or press brewing. That said, due to the design of this grinder, you’ll likely prefer using it with a portafilter anyway. Other convenient design features include a flip down stopper on the grinder’s hopper to keep beans from flying when you remove it, as well as adjustable portafilter arms. An excellent, well priced espresso grinder that really nails weighted dosing better than most!

    Eureka Mignon Specialita

    The Specialita is one of the awesome new Mignon grinders added to Eureka’s lineup this year. These grinders offer a more compact footprint and are less expensive than some of Eureka’s larger grinders. They also add some powerful noise dampening technology that will keep them from waking up the whole family in the morning. It’s this quiet operation that puts this grinder over the top for us, but it’s not all it offers.

    The Specialita features large 55mm flat steel burrs. While plenty of grinders (especially in the commercial space) have larger burrs, it’s rare to see them of this size in this form factor. The Specialita should easily fit on even the most cramped countertop, and looks stunning, especially in red. We also love the touchscreen. It is extremely simple, but looks great and offers easy access to timed dosing. The portafilter activated button on this grinder keeps grinding simple and easy. Last but not least, smart design features like the wide, anti-clumping chute and easy to access burrs make this grinder easy to recommend. The stepless grind setting adjusts the bottom burr, meaning you can take it apart to clean it without losing your setting.

    These three grinders make a great addition to any countertop, and we hope you’ll agree! For more thoughts, check out our video of these three grinders below!

  • Seattle Coffee Gear’s Top Three Espresso Machines of 2018

    It’s that time of year again! Leaves are falling, the air is getting cool and crisp, and Summer is well and truly in the rear view mirror. All of this means that we have plenty to share about our favorite machines for 2018! Today we’re taking a look at SCG’s top espresso machines of 2018! We focused on picking the best buys of the year, not limiting the list to machines that came out this year.
     
    Chances are that if you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ve seen a machine from Rancilio. From stalwart commercial machines to no-frills home machines, Rancilio earns its reputation. The Silvia is no exception! For starters, many of the Silvia’s features are inspired by its commercial siblings, but adapted for the smaller form factor. The controls are also extremely easy to use. Simple on/off switches control extraction and steaming, with clear indicator lights to tell you when something’s not right.
    All of this combines with excellent construction and component quality to produce a solid machine. The Silvia doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some higher dollar machines. It also doesn’t have the boiler capacity of machines above its price bracket. It makes up for this with usability and reliability. New this year is a stylish black powder coat over the stainless steel frame. The classic stainless Silvia is still a nice looking machine, but the black may fit better in your kitchen, and we love how it looks.
    The Silvia is the perfect machine for someone upgrading from an entry level brewer or looking to spend a little extra on their first machine!
     
    If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that we’re big fans of this machine. The Saeco Xelsis is an update to a classic machine that well outperforms the previous model. We’ve said it before, but the programmability, milk quality, and ergonomics of this machine punch above their weight. It’s an excellent superautomatic in its price bracket.
    The control options in the Xelsis are more varied than most other superautos. This means you get to change things like milk texture, flavor, strength, and so much more with the slide of a finger. Additionally, while the shots from the Xelsis are on par with any of its competitors, the milk is the real star. The hygiesteam system froths milk with quality that’s not easy to achieve from a device of this nature. That system, plus Saeco’s tried and tested AquaClean water filtration, make maintaining the Xelsis easy.
    It’s great machine wether it’s your first superauto, or an upgrade.
     
    We don’t have too much to say about this machine that we haven’t already. Between the Appartamento’s stellar looks, excellent build quality, and capable components, this is simply one of the most successful home espresso machines that we offer. The first thing you’ll likely notice is its looks. This machine shines with its beautiful stainless steel casing and tactile controls. These controls give you the ability to make fine adjustments to your brewing process. They also help you “feel” every aspect of pulling the shot and steaming your milk. This gives you a great sense of the science behind your brewing.
    It wouldn’t be one of our favorites though if wasn’t also high performing. The Appartamento features a 1.8 liter heat exchange boiler, this will allow you to steam milk and brew shots at the same time, something that’s hard to find in machines at this price point. The heated E-61 group also keeps water temps and extraction even through the brewing process. To top it off, the build quality of the Appartamento is extremely solid. In the end it’s a fine machine for someone ready to buy a machine they’ll hold onto for a very long time.
    Check out the video version of this piece, where I discuss these picks in our studio! Stay tuned for even more best of 2018s, coming very soon!

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