culture

  • Video Roundup: 3/13/2020

    Hello Coffee fans!

    It's Friday and time for another video roundup! We have a selection of awesome videos to share this week, so let's dig right in:

    Firs up, John took a look at both the Mazzer Super Jolly and the Eureka Zenith 65 E in an informative Commercial Crew Review:

    Next, Allie offered up some tips and tricks for getting the most out of the Rocket Espresso Giotto Timer Evoluzione R!

    And finally, Allie and I gave some thoughts on our delicious Roast of the Month, Tony's Ethiopia Banko Dhadhato:

    That's all for now! We hope you're staying safe out there and enjoying a warm cup of coffee this weekend.

  • Coffee Culture: Cowboy Coffee

    What do you think of when you think of cowboys? Cattle? Horses? Adventure (though this may be more fantasy than fact)? One thing we think of when we think of cowboys is their love of coffee! It's hard to start a day on the ranch without a stiff, hot cup of joe to wake you up. The cowboy method has been around for decades, but has seen something of a renaissance in recent years. This is largely because of how good this method of brewing can actually be!

    It's true, the typical thinking might be that heavy immersion brewed coffee would be too strong or bitter. It turns out, the opposite is true. But how id it brewed? Recipes vary, but generally coarse ground coffee is added to water that is either boiling or heating up to a boil. After a certain brew length, some cold water is poured into the pot, cooling the coffee to drinking temperature and stopping the brewing. This cold water also drives the grounds to the bottom of the pot, making it easy to pour grit-free coffee. Many coffee drinkers will say its some of the smoothest coffee they're ever had!

    But what's going on in that pot?

    The drinkability of cowboy coffee probably has a lot to do with the coarse grounds. Since these grounds won't dissolve into the coffee it prevents over-extraction and makes for buttery smooth coffee. This also means the heat of boiling water doesn't totally scorch the coffee like it would in a drip brew. While the principles work anywhere, it helps that being at high altitudes leads to a perfect boiling point right at 212 degree Fahrenheit. That brew as boiled immersion combined with the coarse grind and cold water to halt the process all adds up to a tasty cup of coffee!

    This means that coffees with a lot of classic coffee taste and smokier notes will come through well in cowboy coffee. This is because some of their stronger notes will be diminished thanks to the style.

    Despite the knee-jerk response from many specialty coffee enthusiasts to turn their noses up at this brew method, combining immersion brewing with craft coffee is a great way to kick it up a notch! Not to mention, we already use immersion brewing all the time in the craft coffee world. For example, the Fellow Duo Steeper uses similar concepts to cowboy coffee that uses a filter to filter out the grounds instead of pushing them to the bottom with cold water. Stovetop espresso brewers like the Ilsa Express also use immersion style brewing and high heat to brew and extract coffee.

    So pick up some of your favorite smoky beans, brew em' coarse and get to boilin'. Try some cowboy coffee!

  • Introducing Your Family to Craft Coffee

    Hey coffee fans!

     

    It's the holiday season, and for many folks that means lots of time with family and friends. One of the joys of these kinds of gatherings is being able to share your favorite treats of the season! We know that sometimes it can be tough to "sell" grocery store coffee drinkers on fancier stuff. It's why we thought we'd offer some tips for sharing your favorite coffee with your favorite people this Holiday!

    Start slow

    Look, we would all love for our family to understand how delicious a bright, floral shot of espresso can be. This is also a pretty challenging leap from the less flavorful coffees they might be used to! We recommend starting small by going for an old fashioned drip pot of coffee. Prepare it before they arrive and offer it to them without feeling like you have to explain what you brewed. Lots of complicated information can be overwhelming and lead to your test subj... We mean guests, jumping to conclusions about what they're drinking.

    Leave the bag near the brew

    Specialty coffee usually features some beautiful bags. You might already do this, but if you don't, leave that pretty package next to your brewer! Anyone passing by might be enticed to pick it up and ask about it. Once it's a question, it's easier to share info on the coffee you've brewed.

    Keep it simple

    While we'd love for you to sell your family and friends on a challenging natural process single origin, you might want to keep it simpler. Stick to a blend that offers some classic coffee notes, plus a little bit extra. Options like our SCG Holiday Blend or Bluebeard's Snowbeard fit this bill nicely. If they like the coffee, then you can suggest they try more adventurous roasts. This ties in with using a simpler brew method like a basic drip brewer. We're sure your guests will appreciate a bit of familiarity!

    Branch out into pour over

    A very eye opening thing to a lot of coffee newbies is their first pour over. This is a brew method that is perfect for understanding the intricacies present in many coffees. After your guests have tried a more complex roast than the basic grocery store coffee they may be used to, exploring it further as a pour over could really open them up to craft coffee.

    Spread it out

    Don't try to go all in on this in one visit. After a morning pot of drip, offer a pour over at the next gathering. Coffee is still coffee! Too much at once can lead to a bit of an overload for newer coffee drinkers. That can be unpleasant and off-putting in the long run.

    Most importantly...

    Don't be a snob!

    Lots of people have a perception of craft coffee as a snobby thing to enjoy. Many folks think all coffees taste exactly the same and coffee as a hobby is a wasted effort. Rather than argue with a person like that, the best thing you can do is meet any dismissal with humor and humbleness. Not everyone likes coffee for coffee's sake!

  • 2019 Holiday Roasts Guide - Part 2

    It's time for part 2 of our holiday roasts series! If you haven't yet, check out part 1 here!

    Dogwood Coffee - Snow Emergency

    Dogwood's Snow Emergency is a certified classic holiday roast. Returning with some equally classic notes, we love this one for so many reasons! Fruity, chocolatey, vanilla-y, this is a must drink coffee for your holiday rotation. Sometimes with these roasts we get the most excited by wild new elements, but this one does a wonderful job of sticking to the script. Delicious in a wide range of brews too, try it as a drip brew to get a baseline. You can buy a bag here.

     

    Verve Coffee Roasters - Holiday Blend

    Verve's Holiday Blend is described with the note "comforting." We think that makes a lot of sense! Also featuring notes of candied orange and spiced rum, this is a satisfying sipper. As usual, we always have to point out that no, there is no alcohol in this roast despite the spiced rum note! Perfect for chilly nights by the fire, this one has just enough sweetness to put a smile on your face. Brew it however you like, but pick it up here.

     

    Espresso Republic - Cabin Fever

    Milk Chocolate, Molasses, and Nutmeg in one of the prettiest boxes we've ever seen... Sign us up! Espresso Republic's Cabin Fever is a wonderful holiday roast full of warm and cozy flavors. Enjoy this one snuggled under a blanket by a frosted over window with a good book while you recover from a busy evening with friends and family. Also great for sharing, but we won't tell! We're sure you'll love this one as a drip brew or espresso! Purchase it here.

     

    Camber Coffee - Cambrrrr

    It's a real treat to see Camber throw some humor into the title of this seasonal roast, especially given their gorgeous, classy packaging. This roast is more than a funny name though, offering a little something extra. Like we said above, some holiday roasts are all about bringing something new to the season, which Cambrrrr definitely does! The fruity sweetness on display here is soft and mild, without offering too much "candied" taste like you can get sometimes with particularly fruity blends. Try it as a pourover and buy it here!

     

    Brandywine Coffee Roasters - Seattle Coffee Gear Holiday Blend

    It's back for 2019! We loved our 2018 holiday blend with Brandywine so much that we brought it back for this season. This year the roast features notes of mulled cider, marionberry jam, orange, and chocolate for a perfect mix of old and new notes. Sweet, juicy, and not too complex, we think this roast will be a great choice for just about very coffee fan. It's mellow, easy to drink, and easy to brew. Kind of the point! We wanted to bring you something you would love to try with your family and friends, and we hope we did so. Try it in a variety of brew methods. Be sure to get it before it's gone here!

     

    We'll be back next week with part 3!

  • 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!

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