culture

  • 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!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. Shop - Installation and Setup

    It's been a while since we checked in with our friends from Piecewise Coffee Co., and they've been busy! Piecewise just had its grand opening, so we're excited to hear more from Stanton and Lindsey soon. For now, we got some insight into their installation and set up process!

    What’s the biggest task in getting machines set up and ready to run?

    That would definitely be ensuring the utility hooks up were correct. We worked with our electrician, plumber and installation company (VP Coffee in our instance) to have all the connections meeting the manufacture specifications. Now that all the utility lines are in, we will probably never think about them again, but it sure was an effort making sure they were good to go at the start.

    What kind of testing do you do regarding the setup of machines to ensure smooth operating?

    The installation company did all the testing for us for the initial install. They used calibrated weights, scales and volumetric containers to calibrate the espresso machine. Once the initial setup was completed, we pulled our first shot of espresso and started the dialing in process. It took a day or so to get a consistent quality shot to pull, but we continually tweaked settings for just over a week to get something we were really proud of! 

    Did any of your logistic plans change based on seeing the final setup?

    For the coffee gear, not really. We were really fortunate to work closely with SCG on the machine layout, thinking about the impact to workflow with the layout of piece of equipment. The end product has proven to be well thought out and meet the needs of our coffee shop. 

    Other than coffee, refrigeration is one of the only things we have seen a need for outside of what we originally planned. However, we created our under-counter space to have extra wiggle room so the space was there to be flexible. As we learn the ropes of operating, we plan to take advantage of this area. If we had to redo everything, having an increase counter height would make the under-counter area even more flexible for equipment on casters. 

    What kind of maintenance schedules do you have planned? How does maintaining an espresso machine differ from maintaining a traditional drip grinder form a practical perspective?

    The plan is to maintain regular quarterly services, as recommended by our installation company. We couldn't afford to have either the espresso machine or the batch brewer go out of service. Having this regular schedule gives us more confidence both pieces of equipment will function well over the long haul. 

    We also make sure to perform daily maintenance on the equipment. The daily cleaning procedures keep us familiar, aware and consistent in how to maintain our gear. 

    Can you talk a little bit about challenges associate with water/electricity?

    As far as the operation of equipment goes, we haven't had any issues with water impacting equipment. The electricity has been a little of a struggle. Due to building codes, a GFI outlet had to be installed on the batch brewer and bulk bean grinder outlet. This electrical circuit also happens to be on the same circuit as our small countertop oven. If the oven is running in tandem with the brewer it can trip the GFI. Super frustrating! Our electrician is working with us to plan a work around while still maintaining building codes. 

    Did you work with a technician to get things set up? If so, did they handle everything?

    Yes, our technician was from a local shop and was a certified La Marzocco tech. This was important for us since the espresso machine was purchased new and would need a proper installation to maintain the initial factory warranty. Our tech was very helpful in showing each step of the installation and providing some troubleshooting steps for common issues.

    What kind of support do you have now for long-term maintenance of your equipment?

    Our long-term maintenance will continue with the initial installation company. They also provide emergency support if the equipment decides to stop working all of a sudden. 

    What was the most exciting machine to fire up and use for the first time?

    By far it was the espresso machine! It's still a joy to come in each morning and run it through its paces for the day; however, seeing all the effort culminate with the installation was amazing. It was the icing on the cake after a lengthy build out process.

    What sort of training do you have planned for operating the machines?

    This is something we're still building. Our coffee quality manager has extensive coffee experience and has trained each barista first in distinguishing a quality espresso shot from a poor shot. From there he demonstrates how adjustments to the grinders, espresso machine and tamping can swing taste along the quality spectrum. Consistency among our baristas is most important. Long term plans include SCA training to ensure our baristas are getting the best training possible. 

    What’s the first drink you made on your new espresso machine?

    I think we just drank straight espresso shots for the first few days! 

    What other steps have to happen after setting up equipment in order to open?

    Getting a solid workflow on bar was pretty important, as was integrating our full menu into the rotation. We've been fortunate to have an extended soft opening to bring it all together slowly. The inventory process was also a huge learning curve. Find the balance between being comfortable with the stock of items on hand, having enough space, and maintaining product quality is still something we are learning.

    Are you satisfied with your equipment choices?

    Overall most definitely. The only change we would make would be a dual unit batch brewer. Having the single unit limits some of our catering options.

    Do you feel that things worked out in terms of plans versus reality?

    Time will tell, but overall things have worked fairly closely with our plans. We know there's still a long way to go before calling our coffee shop a success, but it's been a pleasure operating the shop and having most of the big picture items meet expectations from the planning stages. 

     

    We'll be back soon with more from the Piecewise Coffee Co. crew!

  • Introducing: Methodical Roasting

    It's time again to welcome another wonderful roaster to our lineup of roasters!

     

    Methodical Process, Methodical Coffee

    Methodical Coffee comes to us all the way from Greenville, SC. This is a roaster built on all of the pillars of the greats. That means ethically sourced green coffee, meticulous roasting, and an eye for supporting their customer. We love what Methodical has to offer both in terms of single origins and blends. Of special note is this roaster's beautiful bag art. While the bag means nothing compared to what's inside, like perfume, pretty packaging always catches our eye. Adorned with flower sketches and gorgeous labeling and typefacing, this is the kind of bag you keep on the countertop as decor as you drink through its contents. But enough about the bags, what about the coffee? Let's take a look at each of Methodical's three blends.

    Blue Boy

    Blue Boy is a blend of 70% Guatemalan and 30% Colombian beans roasted to perfection as a classic medium-light roast. The pronounced chocolate and sugar notes blend deliciously with milk for a tasty latte. We also love Blue Boy as a drip or pourover, as it offers mild, but satisfying flavors all around.

    Belly Warmer

    Belly Warmer is a fun one because it's the rare dark roast for us. While not as dark as what some would prefer, this is a tasty diner style coffee that offers the right kind of bitterness and strength. Along with heavier notes of dark chocolate, we get some earthier tones that suggest this would be a wonderful coffee after a late night or for an early morning hiking or camping. Belly Warmer features a 50-50 mix of Costa Rican and Guatemalan beans.

    Play Nice

    Play Nice was roasted with its name in mind. The idea here was to create a coffee that would work great for a wide range of drinkers. Great as a drip brew, espresso shot, or in a latte, this blend reflects the very best of what makes coffee coffee. We enjoyed this roast a variety of ways as advertised, and we think you will too. This one offers 70% Colombian and 30% natural process Ethiopian beans for a unique, but familiar set of delicious tasting notes.

    So there you have it! Methodical is a great roaster with a range of coffees for a range of drinkers. Check them out today at Seattle Coffee Gear!

  • Coffee Culture: United Kingdom

    Hello coffee fans!

    Today we're taking a look into the culture of coffee in the United Kingdom! Join us for a look at what it's like to have a cup of joe across the pond!

     

    Coffee In the UK

    The British coffee industry has boomed over the last ten years, increasing cups per day by 25 million! This and other facts about the UK's coffee craze came out in a 2018 study from the British Coffee Association. It found that Brits consume a whopping 95 million cups of coffee per day. This is surprising for us on the American side of the Atlantic. Here, we tend to view the UK as a tea drinking nation, and historically this is true. It is only in recent decades that the British has made the switch to coffee. Also interesting is where they're drinking our favorite caffeinated beverage.

    The study found that well over half of coffee in the UK is consumed at home. This clashes with the notion that most coffee drinkers are doing it in shops and restaurants. In fact, a mere 10% of coffee was found to be drank in cafes. By contrast, Reuters found that American drink as much as 36% of their coffee on the go or in coffee shops. Quite the difference!

    The UK has even seen an explosion of third wave roasters. While Americans may consider this country to be the epicenter of the specialty roasting movement, some Brits would argue otherwise. Despite the figures above, café culture is also booming in the island nation. Coffee drinkers there love espresso, with lattés, cappuccinos, and au laits being common orders at the local coffee shop.

    All of this is in opposition to the history of coffee in the UK. Until recently, most coffee drinkers preferred instant coffee for its simplicity. The shift to third wave roasting is often attributed to millennials seeing coffee as upper class and desirable. Either way, Britain continues to develop into a coffee loving nation!

  • Introducing: TOCA Coffee

    TOCA Coffee is a brand new roaster to SCG coming all the way from New Jersey! This roaster is available in coffee shops across that state and in New York, and has an excellent reputation for quality. TOCA is a family business, with a deep dedication to providing high quality coffee. Obvious as that may sound, this roaster's commitment to quality is notable in the ways it informs the roasting process, and it shows in the roasts! TOCA's blends offer a balance and drinkability that doesn't sacrifice interesting notes. This is an exciting prospect for any coffee drinker that is interested in exploring a wider range of roasts but doesn't like more challenging, intense coffees. On the flipside, TOCA's single origins maintain the sense of adventure you'd expect from that style of roast.

     

    Maya Blue

    This blend of Latin American beans tastes darker than you'd expect from a medium roast. The result is coffee that is approachable for fans of lighter coffee that maintains a smokier flavor. We're impressed by this blend in a drip/filter brew.

    Halcyon Days

    This blend offers a brighter take on blends than what you might be used to. Full of brighter citrus and sweet notes, Halcyon Days also brings a smooth body with just enough acidity. Perfect for a range of brew methods, this blend of Ethiopian and Sumatran beans is a great place to start for fans of lighter roasts.

    Amasia Espresso

    No roaster's catalog is complete without a delicious espresso blend! Amasia is so named in reference to colliding tectonic plates bringing the Americas and Asia together in the distant future. This inspiration comes from the blend's mix of Sumatran, Guatemalan, and Brazilian beans. The result is a sweet, syrupy set of notes with smokey undertones, perfect for espresso!

     

    We hope TOCA's roasts tickle your tastebuds for years to come. Check out their full catalog here!

     

  • Coffee History: Brazil

    Hello coffee fans! We're back with yet another coffee history! This week we're looking at a major coffee producing country and its history: Brazil!

    A Storied History

    Coffee in Brazil stretches all the way back to the 1700s. The first coffee plants were planted in the late 1720s in the Brazilian state of Pará. Pará is located in the north-central part of the country, bordered by several other states as well as by the ocean to the Northeast. From there, coffee plants spread south throughout the country, eventually reaching Rio De Janeiro later in the century. This coffee was planted primarily for Brazilians to enjoy domestically. However, over the course of the century, demand for the bean grew through the Americas and in Europe. In the early 19th century, plantations expanded all over Brazil, and soon it was the number one export in the country.

    Over the next century, Brazil became the leading producer of coffee in the world, supplying 80% of the world's coffee beans. Processing in Brazil was primarily done by hand using natural methods. While early processors used this method due to a lack of equipment, it had a silver lining. Because Brazilian coffee is typically grown at a lower altitude than in some coffee producing countries the cherries tend to be a little less sweet. The natural process imparts more of the fruit's character in the bean than a machine washed process. This increase in fruitiness helps Brazilian coffee to develop its unique taste.

    But while Brazil remains a major coffee producer, why isn't it still the coffee producer?

    An Evolution of the Market

    One cause for this is the way the coffee industry has evolved. Early in the drink's history, purchasers were careful as to where they bought beans from. This meant that Brazil's reputation for quality product was key to its expansion in the global coffee market. As the world modernized, coffee began being consumed more in pre-ground and instant forms. This evolution of the industry led to less concern over where the beans came from. On the flip side, as third-wave roasting renewed an interest in carefully sourced coffee, more producing nations began to make a mark. The result is wider diversity in coffee availability. While this may have hurt Brazilian exports, it means more choice for roasters and end consumers, and rising demand for the drink means it will be a part of Brazil's economy forever!

    It's no surprise that we love Brazilian coffee, and we hope you've enjoyed this look at the country's early years producing it!

  • 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!

  • 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!

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