Drip

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Choosing a Drip Brewer

    Are you ready to upgrade from your cheaper drip brewer into something a little more powerful? Maybe you had coffee out of a Precision Brewer or a Technivorm and are ready to upgrade your drip game? At first, choosing a drip brewer can seem daunting. Why doesn't a Technivorm have a screen? Do I have to program a Bonavita? Why are they so expensive? All of these are questions you might ask when first considering a new drip brewer, and we've got you covered!

    Why Bother?

    The first question that's important to answer is "why even pay more than $50 for a drip brewer?" And it's one of the easier ones to answer. To do so, lets break down what a drip brewer does. At its core, a drip coffee brewer heats water and then showers a basket of ground coffee with that water. From there, water drips into a carafe or mug. So what's the big idea with high quality brewers?

    The biggest thing is consistency. Ideal brewing conditions for coffee involve water heated to right around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (this can change with certain coffees, but is a good baseline). That means you need a brewer that can heat water to this temperature as it passes through a heating element and into the ground coffee. Ideally, this temperature will be maintained until the moment it hits the grounds. This creates the absolute best extraction.

    Cheaper brewers have a hard time heating water to precise temperatures, and an even harder time maintaining those temperatures through the brewing process. This is the absolute number one reason to switch off of a cheaper brewer. Cheap brewers can also fail to saturate all of the grounds with their spray heads, resulting in coffee that isn't properly extracted.

    So How Do I Choose?

    Given the above, the first criteria to look for is consistent water dispersal and heating. Options like a Motif or Bonavita brewer over this sort of performance without any bells and whistles. They make great brewers for someone who wants a very simple option with a very "standard" look.

    For something with a more unique appearance, check out Technivorm. These brewers also offer incredibly consistent performance, and with the right care, can last decades.

    These machines also often perform a "pre-infusion." This means that a small amount of water is used to wet the grounds and bloom the coffee. This helps release aroma and acids that can cause bitterness without this blooming period.

    If all you are looking for is a consistent cup of drip coffee, the above will help. Getting a brewer that is up for that temperature consistency and even water spray will go a long way in producing your perfect cup in the morning.

    With that said though, there's always the extra mile.

    Bells, Whistles, Screens, and Settings

    For those that want to tweak the brewing process, you'll want more than a simple one button brewer. Trying different flavor profiles by modifying brew temperature is possible with more technical machines. You might also be able to do things like brew specifically for iced coffee or control pre-infusion time. With this much control over the brewing process, you'll be able to experiment and find the perfect recipe for each roast you take home.

    While it's not the only brewer out there with advanced features like this, the Breville Precision Brewer is a great example of this type of drip brewer. It's also easy to use, and offers a quick, one touch brewing cycle that resembles the machines discussed above.

    With all of that down, all that's left to decide on is carafe! Most brewers come with the option of a glass carafe with a warming plate, or a thermal carafe that keeps the coffee warm without the plate. This is all down to personal preference. Leaving coffee on a warming plate can scorch it if left too long, but some coffee drinkers can taste a difference with a stainless carafe. Let your taste buds be the judge and try coffee from each if you can!

    We hope this helps you on your quest to find the perfect drip brewer for your kitchen!

  • All New Brew Grinders From Eureka!

    Eureka has long been a producer of exceptional espresso grinders. For years we've enjoyed consistent, simple grinding for home and commercial espresso. One thing we always say is that drip and espresso grinders are two different animals. While many espresso grinders are capable of grinding for drip, they're not ideal. Separating these processes is convenient, but it can also be hard to to get your espresso setting back after swapping to drip. For more information on why we think budgeting for a separate drip grinder is a good call, check out this article! Without further adieu, let's dive into these two new grinders.

    The Filtro is a simple grinder with a lot of quality and consistency. It uses the stepless grind adjust, found on Eurekas espresso grinders. While stepless adjust isn't necessarily needed for drip brewing, and it is a little tricky to get the hang of at first, it also offers rock solid consistency. Powerful 50 mm flat steel burrs deliver the fluffy grounds you'd expect from Eureka grinders, but for drip instead of espresso. This grinder also grinds at consistencies perfect for pourover as well.

    The Filtro uses a simple push-button system for operation. While this isn't as convenient as timer based systems, it does mean that its easy to control. Simply hold the button down until you get the volume you want. What's nice here is that the Filtro does grind quickly, so you won't be holding that button for long. What really seals the deal on why we like this grinder so much is its price point. This is a truly affordable grinder from one of the biggest, most reliable names in the business. If you want something with a little extra under the hood, check out the Brew Pro!

    The first thing you'll notice about the Brew Pro is its touch screen, shared with its Mignon cousins. While this is still a drip grinder, its one with enhanced controls. Using the Brew Pro's screen you can set timed grinding to push and forget while you prepare your brew method. Speaking of controls, this grinder also uses a single rotation dial for its stepless adjust. This means that you won't have to spin it multiple times to find the fully closed and open positions. The Brew Pro also features upgraded 55mm burrs for more power, speed, and consistency. A truly premium brew grinder that offers just about the best you can get for non espresso brewing.

    This is a more expensive brew grinder than what you might be used to seeing. This may be the case, but between the Brew Pro's upgraded burrs, powerful motor, easy to use interface, and single rotation stepless adjust, we think it justifies its price point.

    Both of these grinders offer great options for anyone looking for a highly reliable, efficient grinder. We hope you love them as much as we do!

     

     

  • Coffee Extraction In Non-Espresso Brewing

    We talk a lot about sour vs. bitter shots in terms of espresso, but extraction matters for other brew methods too! Drip, pourover, press, espresso, cold brew, and more are all just different ways to get molecules to bond. We thought we'd talk a bit about extraction in pourover and drip coffee too!

    Sour Vs. Bitter

    You may already know that espresso shots can turn out bitter our sour. This is usually because your grind is too course or fine. A bitter shot is due to under-extraction and a sour shot is the opposite. What's happening here is that the bitter shot is being run through grounds that are too course. This means the water comes through the coffee grounds without getting a chance to properly bond with the coffee molecules. Sour shots are the opposite. In this case, the grind is too fine, making it harder for water to pass through and over extracting the coffee. Both of these things can happen in other brew methods as well!

    While its true that drip and pourover coffee are less demanding in terms of grounds, they still matter. What you're looking for here is consistency as much as fine-ness, because these brewing methods just work differently than espresso. In the case of espresso, water is being pumped through the puck of grounds. This means that finer grounds are needed to "stop" the water. In the case of drip and pourover, gravity is the thing pulling the water through. That means that much coarser grounds will work. That said, consistent grounds are important to ensure even extracation. So how do you correct for sour and bitter shots?

    Grind and Flow Rate

    The first thing to do is check your grind. Much like with espresso, if you're getting sour pourovers, consider making your grind a bit coarser. Do the opposite for bitter pots. Another thing you can seek to modify is your pour rate, and your amounts per pour. While the difference here should be minuscule, using a Gooseneck kettle will keep you from pouring too fast. In terms of amount, more water in your filter can lead to a faster flow rate through the coffee. Using less water per pour if your coffee is bitter and a bit more if its sour may not fix the problem, but it's a thing to try.

    Again though, grind courseness and consistency is almost always the most important thing!

  • Roast of the Month: Counter Culture Kabeywa Natural

    Counter Culture’s Kabeywa Natural is a stunning study in processes and flavor profile and one you should not miss.

    A Study In Process

    Kabeywa Natural is one of two Kabeywa coffees offered by Counter Culture this month. The other option is a washed coffee with less powerful tasting notes. We liked the natural because of its juicy flavors. Speaking of flavors, this is a coffee that blends a distinct grape flavor with more vague, but present, nutty and floral notes. The result is a sweet profile that doesn't overwhelm, but also presents itself strongly. This coffee's body is well balanced and isn't too rich or too thin. We really love this one as a pourover, but as with any great coffee, experimentation is always a good thing.

    One of the more interesting elements of this roast is its origin combined with its process. While we don't see that much Ugandan coffee in the first place, it comes in now and then. What is exciting is how delicious this roast is from a natural process. Ugandan coffee has long had quality issues in its natural processing, resulting in unpopular harvests for specialty roasters. This means that most high quality Ugandan coffee is washed. With Kabeywa natural, Counter Culture has found a truly delicious sun-dried natural process crop. Grown at high elevations, this harvest emphasizes quality through meticulous processing and harvesting. Hand picked and carefully prepared for processing, this is a roast that speaks to what experienced, engaged producers are capable of. Counter Culture went so far as to suggest that this could be the best harvest in this producer's four year relationship with them. We think you'll love it too, and it's a great introduction to a region that is only going to get more prevalent over time.

    Order a bag here, and don't wait, because this roast is only available for a limited time.

  • Espresso Vs. Drip Grinders

    We get a lot of questions about what makes a good drip grinder Vs. espresso. We often get questions about the best grinder for both applications as well. There are a lot of things that go into a grinder, so we wanted to provide some tips for what makes each type tick.

    Drip Grinders

    What makes a great drip grinder is consistency. It's fairly well understood that larger burrs can lead to finer grind. In the case of a great drip brewer we're more interested in control settings and consistency than getting as fine as possible. Because drip brews require less fine adjustments, stepless controls are additional nice-to-haves, but not a necessity. What is important is consistency. A grinder with a decent sized (40mm or so) burrset and conical shape will provide quality, consistent grounds.

    Ultimately the point we're getting to here is that drip brewing is simply less demanding than espresso. This means that buying a drip grinder should be a much smaller dent in your budget than an espresso grinder.

    Espresso Grinders

    For espresso, consistency and control are important, but power is required as well. Espresso brewing requires a highly precise grind due to the pressure at play. This is especially true when using unpressurized portafilter baskets, because your grounds are helping to create that pressure. This means that you need very fine grounds that are also very consistent. The best way to get this is with larger (50mm or larger) burrs. Finding a compromise between burr size, shape, and price is key here. This need for more fine grounds is also why some grinders just can't to drip and espresso. Such a wide range of positions isn't possible for every burrset to do well.

    Another important facet here is control. Unlike other brew methods, desired fineness will shift from roast to roast. Some coffees will want a slightly coarser or finer grind depending on origin, roast level, and more. This all means that super fine adjustments are very important. You'll also need to carefully dial in your grinder for the best results for espresso whenever you refill it with a new bean. Which leads us to our conclusion...

    Why Not Both?

    Instead of hunting for a grinder to do both drip and espresso, consider budgeting for a separate one for each method. This may seem like overkill, but switching from your carefully dialed in espresso grind to drip and then re-dialing it is a large frustration. Even if you carefully mark where your espresso grind is set, it can be quite difficult to find the spot precisely. On the other hand, drip grinders are so comparatively affordable that by sacrificing a bit of budget for a separate one you can really make your coffee setup more usable.

    It's for this reason that we hesitate to recommend grinders that can handle both types of brewing, even if they technically do exist. Just make your life easier by adding a small drip grinder to your kitchen! We're sure it'll save you some headaches.

  • New From Acaia: Pearl Model S

    Acaia scales have been some of our favorites for a while now. The Acaia Lunar offers perfect shot weighing, and the Pearl is one of the best pourover scaled you can get. One of the reasons Acaia's products are so easy to recommend is their connectivity. By using smart apps that help you measure things like flow rate and temperatures, these scales are almost magical. Enter the Pearl Model S.

    The Model S is an update to the Pearl style scale. While the existing Pearl is still a powerful scale, the Model S steps things up a notch. On the surface, this scale looks quite similar to its predecessor. The most notable difference comes in the form of its new programming options. This is where the aforementioned app connectivity comes into play.

    Previous Pearl models featured connectivity with Acaia's Brewbar app, which allowed you to monitor all kinds of real time metrics while brewing pourover. While this was a fun, useful tool for home baristas, the Model S takes this concept further with the Brewguide app.

    Instead of simply allowing you to monitor brew elements, the Brewguide app actually connects you with other users. Roasters can upload the perfect pourover recipes for their roasts, and pro baristas can share their favorite techniques. When you find a recipe that you like you can send it to the scale. From there, the Model S will walk you through each pour, ensuring that you hit the proper flow rates and saturation levels. This kind of walkthrough integration is perfect for newcomers to pourover. Even for veteran home baristas, the ability to experiment with and share recipes should be a boon.

    Beyond all of these fancy app features, this is still the same powerful, durable scale that Acaia is known for. Water resistance will protect the Model S from splashes during brewing, and it is accurate to a tenth of a gram. For those looking for the smartest scale you can buy, check out the Acaia Pearl Model S here!

     

  • 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!

  • Water Filtration and Why It Matters

    Water filtration is a big, complex subject, but one that really matters! Mineral content in water is the number one killer of espresso machines. With this in mind, it's extremely important to properly filter and read your water. Using hard tap water can lead to premature limescale buildup. This can cause real damage to your machine in the worst case, and will at least demand more frequent maintenance.

    There is, however, good news! Thanks to chemistry there is a whole world of resources to help you use the perfect water with your machine. So where does it start?

     

    Water Hardness

    Filtration starts with the source of the water. Depending on your location and the quality of your water, filtering it can be more or less of a strain. Most espresso machines come with test strips that help you determine your water hardness. Hardness refers to the level of minerals in your water. For water that has higher lime content, you'll need to change filters more frequently.

    Many machines actually offer helpful tracking of your filters based on hardness. Jura, Saeco, Breville, and others all track when you install a filter, and what your water hardness is. From there, the machine will remind you when its time to change the filter. Many of these machines do this simply over time, but there are some machines that even read the amount of water that comes through the filter. These machines allow you to track when you should change the filter more exactly.

    The main way the above manufacturer's filters differ is in how you pick them. Jura's Clearyl filters have plastic parts that match the receiving parts on the tank. From there you can determine if you need a white or blue filter. In the case of Saeco, they offer a single AquaClean across their currently supported line of machines, making filtration easy. Finally, Breville offers two simple filters that are easy to tell the difference between.

    But what if your machine doesn't offer a proprietary water filter?

    Bottled, Pre-filtered, and More

    In many cases, if you don't have a smart filtration system you'll want to pre-filter your water. Not all filters are created equal, so it's a good idea to check the hardness of your filtered water carefully as well. Based on this hardness, you can determine how safe it is to use pre-filtered water to fill the tank of your espresso machine. Some manufacturers, like La Marzocco, suggest that if your water is too hard, use bottled water. Using bottled water isn't as simple as using spring water though, as certain bottled waters can have high mineral content as well.

    Make sure you check the bottled water you use. If you're not sure a brand should be used in your machine, contact the manufacturer for the ultimate yes or no answer.

    It's important to remember that water filters must be changed and maintained too. Whether using a smart filter or pre-filtered water, make sure that you change your filters regularly. Water run through an expired filter could be too hard, causing real maintenance issues for your machine. In the case of certain E61 Grouphead machines, at home descaling can actually damage your machine. For this reason you'll need to take it to a technician for its regular maintenance. By properly filtering your water you'll have more time between those descalings!

    On top of all of this, filtered, fresh water just makes better coffee. By using the best possible water, you eliminate that variable from the brewing process, and allow the coffee to truly speak for itself. So make sure your filters are fresh and your water is clean today!

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