coffee

  • Video Roundup: 11/1/2019

    Hello friends!

    It's time yet again for another weekly video roundup here at SCG! We've got 4 videos hot off the press for you this week, let's get started!

    First, we've got John with a review of the Rocket Espresso Boxer Timer One Group:

    Next is a much requested comparison between the Philips Carina and the Saeco Vienna, should you think about upgrading?

    Then Clementine offered up a tasty treat for this magical season:

    Last but not least, Allie provided some helpful tips and tricks for the Izzo Vivi PID Pro:

    And that's all for now! We'll be back next week with loads more to share.

  • Izzo Vivi PID Pro Review

    The Izzo Vivi PID Pro is a dazzling stainless steel marvel that comes in at a great price point for what's on offer. Stainless steel casing and boiler material, a powerful heat-exchanger heating element, E-61 group head, and more, Join us as we break down what makes this machine tick.

    Appearance and Usability

    The Vivi really speaks for itself from an appearance standpoint. This machine is a beautiful collision of stainless steel, with the material comprising the casing, frame, and boiler. This means that the Vivi has a stunning shine that will dazzle every morning. There really aren't many other machines that stand out like an Izzo, and the Vivi is no exception. The lines on this machine also offer that classic Italian style to go along with the shine. The PID controls are easily accessible along with other levers and knobs. The PID interface also houses the machine's handy shot timer. The brew lever is nice and snappy, with clear action for starting and stopping water flow. Steam controls are al easy to manage with the twist of the dial. One thing to note is that the dials themselves are plastic, but this is partly to keep them cool to the touch during use. They are high quality, durable, and look great, so we don't see it as a real issue.

    In general, using this machine is a breeze. It is of course a technical brewer, but a great one to learn on. If you've used other Italian espresso machines you'll be right at home with Vivi. If you're more familiar with more entry level machines there will definitely be a learning curve. That said, it's more than worth it to learn to pull shots on a "professional style" machine like this. The only negative we can offer about using the Vivi is that the case does get very hot. Because there's not tons of clearance around the machine and its working components, you do have to be mindful to avoid getting burns.

    Performance

    The Vivi's performance is tough to beat at its price point. We offer some incredible machines around the $2,000 mark, and whole heartedly recommend all of them. The Vivi is no different, and if it wasn't up to snuff with the other brands we sell, it wouldn't be on our shelves. So with all of that said, what really makes this machine tick? First off, the heating element is a heat exchanger in a stainless steel, 1.8 liter boiler. This kind of heating element and volume means you'll be able to steam milk and brew while remaining temperature stable. That's a huge boon for shot and milk quality, as well as time. That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg

    Other brewing elements are the powerful pump, solenoid valve, and heated E61 Group head. The group head in particular is an important piece of the Vivi puzzle. E61s help water maintain temp as it passes through the portafilter, which it also heats. The result is hot shots that are brewed at the proper temp and pressure, without any blowback or spray thanks to the solenoid valve. Overall this is a stellar machine that can churn out delicious drinks in a hurry.

    Conclusion

    Between powerful insides and all of that stainless, there's a reason we offer this exclusive machine. Definitely one of the best options out there at the $2,000 or less pricepoint, and a perfect upgrade from an entry level machine. Learning to brew on a Vivi is worth the learning curve! Check if out on our store here.

  • Video Roundup: 10/25/2019

    Happy Friday coffee fans!

    We've got a few videos for you to check out this weekend, so lets jump right in!

    First up, Gail took a look at the new Philips 2200 superautomatic espresso machine:

    Next, Jamie from DeLonghi took a look at their Dinamica superauto with Gail!

    Last, but as always, not least, Clementine continued her spooky recipes with one so haunted that it scared up some technical difficulties:

    We hope you enjoy!

  • Video Roundup: 10/18/2019

    It's another Friday and we have LOADS of videos to share this week!

    Let's dive in:

    First up, Gail took a look at the new 3200 LatteGo from Philips.

    Next, we tasted our Roast of the Month!

    Then we got another crew review, this time of the NON LatteGo 3200:

    Allie dropped by the studio to offer some Izzo tips and tricks:

    And last but not least, another terrifying Coffee Collaboration with Clementine!

    That's all for now, get to watching!

  • Roast of the Month: Camber Guatemala Santa Isabel

    This month's Roast of the Month comes to us from Camber Coffee. Camber is a local roaster just north of Seattle in Bellingham Washington. We've been fans of Camber for a while, and we're really excited to be able to feature them!

    Origin

    Guatemala Santa Isabel was grown near the town of San Cristóbal Verapaz. This central Guatemalan town was at one time not renowned for its coffee. The producer of this particular coffee, Don Luis, worked with his son to develop the farm. By improving their cultivation techniques, they're fully developed their crop into a prize winning coffee. We loved Camber's take on this roast, especially given that it's from a region we don't see as many coffees from.

    The Coffee

    The coffee itself is a delicious washed roast that evolves as it cools and depending on the brew method. We've had this coffee as everything from a pourover to a vacuum siphon brew, and it's always interesting. Depending on brew method, you'll get sweeter cherry notes with more prevalence. On the other hand, our siphon brew highlighted the marzipan note that Camber lists. A classic drip brew should give you a nice balance that still offers some interesting taste.

    This adaptability and general great flavor was what really grabbed us about this camber. This is just a great coffee that you and other coffee drinkers you brew for will love too! Check out Camber's Guatemala Santa Isabel here today!

  • Video Roundup: 10/11/2019

    Happy Friday!

    We have a cornucopia of new videos this week and we can't wait to share!

    Check out Gail's look at the fabulous Supergrindz superauto grinder cleaner:

    Next up, you may have heard the news that we have a new line of superautos on the block, here's an overview!

    Gail also provided a look at the SCG exclusive Carina here:

    John gave us a meaty crew review of the Rocket Espresso RE Doppia:

    And finally, it wouldn't be Friday without some Clementine!

    We hope you enjoy! We'll see you next week for a whole new set of videos!

  • Superauto Milk Steaming Systems

    There are a lot of different ways that superautos handle milk steaming. While the end result is your morning latte or cappuccino, how you get there has an effect on the final product. Here’s a rundown of some of the milk systems you might run into while browsing Seattle Coffee Gear!

    Panarello

    Panarello steam wands work a lot like the kinds of steam wands you find on semi-automatic espresso machines. The difference is that these wands are designed to direct steam in your milk in such a way that less finesse is required compared to a standard steam wand. While you do have to hold the milk up to the wand to do the steaming, these devices also let you decide how hot you’d like your milk. This is useful for superauto owners because one of the complaints some people have about these types of machines is milk not being hot enough. On the other hand, the whole point of superautos is to make the whole process automatic, so you'll have to decide for yourself if you value control more than convenience. Take a look at the Philips Carina for an example of a Panarello system.

    Siphon System

    Cappuccinotores and other siphoning systems pull milk through a tube into a steam chamber within the machine. From there the milk is delivered to your cup. These systems are easy to use and convenient, but they can require a bit of extra cleaning and don’t offer much control over the process of steaming the milk. Since milk is drawn into the machine, it's hard to get all the way in and clean the inner-workings of the steam system by hand. Luckily most siphon systems feature a cleaning cycle that makes it easy to run a cleaning agent through the system to clean out any gunk. Another thing to keep in mind is that siphons don't always handle alternative milks or cream easily. You should make sure your machine will be able to heat something other than milk if you use an alternative. The Miele line of superautos uses a siphon system.

    Carafes

    Carafes generally have you pouring milk into a container that you then plug in to your machine. Milk is pulled from the carafe into a steam chamber, then dispensed into your drink. This method helps to cut down on waste, you can simply store the carafe in the fridge with any excess milk. These systems do mean another item to clean, and often are more expensive than the other options on this list. Otherwise, carafe fed milk systems are a really great option that simplifies your steaming. The Saeco Incanto Carafe features a carafe.

    Hygiesteam

    Hygiesteam is a unique system developed by Saeco for use with Xelsis machines from 2018 onward. This system uses cleaning agents and a metal siphon that self cleans itself periodically to help alleviate cleaning issues. While the siphon can be placed in any container, a specially designed carafe supplied with the machine even combines some of the conveniences of other carafe based systems. Overall, the Xelsis' Hygiesteam system produces some of the best milk we've ever had out of a superauto, largely due to the control you get from the touch screen interface of the machine. Check out Hygiesteam on the Xelsis here.

    LatteGo

    The newest entry to the superauto milk steaming family is Philips' LatteGo. This device looks just like the carafe you might find on other machines, but actually offers something very new and different. Instead of pulling milk through tubing, milk is pulled into a simple steam chamber and poured through a part of the carafe itself. A siphon at the bottom of the device pulls the milk up into a chamber that steam is injected into, but that chamber is part of the carafe instead of the machine. The milk is then poured through a large spout into your coffee. This is a great system that creates excellent texture and can be cleaned and stored very easily. It really combines some of the best elements of different milk steaming systems into one package. The LatteGo system is available only on the Philips 3200 LG for now.

    As you can see, there are a lot of options for superauto milk steaming!

     

     

     

  • Philips 1220 Saeco Carina Superautomatic Espresso Machine Review

    If you follow us here, we're guessing you're familiar with Philips Saeco's prowess in the superauto market. From past machines like the Vienna, through the modern Incanto Line, to the best in class Xelsis, this is a proven manufacturer. New on the scene is a full line of Philips machines, and with it, a new Seattle Coffee Gear exclusive. We wouldn't sell you this machine if we didn't believe in it, so it's high time to put it to the test!

    Appearance and Usability

    The new Philips line uses case stylings similar to the Xelsis. This gives all of these machines a sleek, stylish look that fits into any kitchen easily. Carina's faceplate a simple glossy black, keeping the buttons readable. Front access water is a huge plus, thought beans are still top-loading, with a grind setting dial in the hopper. The drip tray is simple and functional, though it can be a touch finicky to slide in and out at first as you get used to it. Simplicity is the name of the game for Carina's interface. On the front you'll find buttons for espresso, coffee, hot water, and steam. At first this can seem like a limited set of options, but combined with controls for strength and water volume, and the panarello steam wand, there's a lot you can do here. With a few button presses you'll be pulling shots, pouring americanos, and whipping up lattes. As with most superautos, the coffee button pulls a long shot rather than true drip. This means you won't quite get drip coffee, but something somewhere between an espresso and an americano.

    Also present are simple rinse and AquaClean. The latter is one of our favorite parts about the Carina - it uses Saecos current AquaClean filtration. This means you'll get guided alerts on when to change the filters. This filtration system makes cleaning and maintaining your machine incredibly easy.

    Another note here is the panarello steam wand. Sometimes these devices get a bad rap in the superauto world because they're less "auto" than cappuccinotores and carafes. This is true, but panarellos also give you full control over degree of foam, and temperature. Sure, it takes a little bit of extra effort, but you save yourself from being stuck with milk that isn't hot or foamy enough for you.

    Performance

    This machine uses the same brewing hardware as the higher end machines in the new Philips line. This means you'll be getting the same quality of espresso machines double the price, and it's far better than pod-based machines at this price point. You also get to bring your own beans. It's true - the Carina isn't quite at the level of the Xelsis, but for a fraction of the price, it's impressive. Impressive enough to recommend even to someone replacing an Incanto or Pico. Dialing in grind, strength, and volume will let you get the coffee tasting just how you like it too. Carina also heats quickly, going from off to ready to brew in under a minute. Steaming requires a bit of additional heat up time, and we recommend starting with your milk and then pulling your shot.

    The AquaClean filtration performs as well as you'd expect, and as noted above, the panarello works great. It's not quite as convenient as a carafe or cappuccinotore, and it's slower than a more expensive semi-automatic, but it still heats up and works quickly.

    Conclusion

    The biggest strength that the Carina has is its price point. This is definitely not a "cheap" machine, as it has features, performance, and style well beyond its price point. That price point is, however, an extremely attractive piece of the puzzle. The Carina is one of the lowest price superautos on the market, and that's with few compromises. We absolutely recommend this machine for any new superauto customer. It's even a great replacement if your Incanto is getting a little long in the tooth! Check out the Carina exclusively at SCG here, and learn more about the Carina on our spotlight page!

  • Video Roundup: 10/4/2019

    Another week, another roundup! It's time to dig in to all of our video content from this week!

    First up, a long awaited look at DeLonghi's LaSpecialista with Gail (and Jamie from DeLonghi!):

    Next, Gail showed us some handy tips & tricks for use with the Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato!

    And finally, of course, it wouldn't be Friday without a new Coffee Collaboration with Clementine:

    Check back next week for more videos!

  • Clearing Space: Where To Put It All?

    It's a constant struggle as a coffee fan, where do you put all of your supplies? How do you manage a machine, grinder, accessories, cups, the coffee itself... Sometimes it feels like too much! Here are some ideas for ways to keep down the clutter and manage your coffee making space, from grinders, to drip brewers, to espresso.

    General Tips

    The first thing we recommend is creating a dedicated space. This isn't possible for everyone, but whether it's a kitchen island, a space next to the sink, or the top of a shelf, it helps. Carving out a specific space for your coffee equipment helps cut down on mess and clutter. You also wont have to worry about finding your gear when it's time to get brewing. The biggest consideration in picking your space is access to power and water. This is especially important for an espresso brewer, where you'll need to provide both in steady supply.

    We also recommend dedicating some organizational space to your brewing space as well. This could be a drawer under the counter, a cabinet, or dedicated shelf space below your brewing area. Having a place to carefully and generally store your accessories next to, but without cluttering your brewing space is important.

    Finally, there's storing the coffee beans themselves. We recommend a solution like an Airscape or a Fellow Atmos. These canisters  vacuum seal your coffee, keeping it fresher for longer. It's also easier to scoop coffee from a canister than it is from a bag.

    Espresso

    For espresso setups, having a clear workflow from machine, to grinder, to tamp, to machine is key. You'll want a mat like a this one from Rocket Espresso, and to store your portafilter in your machine. Another tip is to keep a catch tray under your grinder. This way you'll be able to easily clean up any excess grounds and cut down on mess.

    Another big thing to keep in mind is your circuit. You'll want to make sure that running your grinder and espresso machine at once won't trip anything, otherwise you might be in for a longer wait for your morning coffee.

    Otherwise, keeping your grinder, portafilter, and machine close to each other and near needed power, water, and milk will be a huge help!

    Drip Brewing

    For drip brewing a lot of the same principals apply, but you'll also want to be able to carefully weigh out your grounds before brewing. If you're a fan of measuring volume instead of weight, you may want to keep a second storage container handy for excess ground coffee. Otherwise, you might miss your grind amounts and throw coffee out.

    Handy storage options for drip and pourover brewing include this filter holder, it's designed for V60 dripper filters, but can fit other filters as well.

    Keeping a grinder, whole and ground canisters, and filters close at hand should lead to an excellent cup of drip.

    There are other organization tips out there, but all of the above should get you started on curating a space for your brewing. This will help you to enjoy your morning cup with less prep and less cleanup, giving you more time to focus on the coffee!

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