Drip

  • Coffee Testing

    One thing we don’t talk too much about is the way we taste test new coffees, and how that might help you experience a new roast. 

    As you’ve almost assuredly noticed, coffee tasting notes aren’t always perfect. There’s usually some nuance in there, which we’ve talked about in the past. As such, we don’t just look at the notes and decide whether or not to bring on a roast. We actually try everything we bring on to make sure we like it.

    Given that, you might wonder why sometimes your brew is different from what we describe on product pages. So much of this comes down to brew method and personal palate, but what are the ideal ways to try a new roast?

    Brew

    For brewed coffee instead of espresso, we recommend a pour over. This allows you to start with a small sample of coffee instead of a whole pot’s worth. You’ll also get the most definition in the coffee’s notes, which is important for the initial tasting. 

    For a recipe, we always stick to a 1:16 standard ratio of coffee to water. It’s good practice to use around 20 grams of coffee and 320 grams of water. We then brew with three pours, using around 106 grams of water in each, starting with a 30 second bloom. Spreading the pours out evenly like this can help to balance and settle the tasting notes, even if an ascending pour ultimately leads to better flavor.

    Once you’ve tried a pour over of your new roast, you’ll be able to understand the way the flavor will come out in a drip brewer or press. I’ll also give you the best baseline for understanding those flavors.

    Espresso

    We often receive roasts not explicitly marked for espresso that seem well suited for the brew method. For these roasts, we still taste them as a pour over as described above. After that, we’ll try dialing them in for espresso.

    Dialing in a shot can be very challenging depending on the roast. Many coffees just aren’t suited for the brew method. Some trickier single origins (or even blends!) really need a long pull rather than the standard 20-30 seconds you usually start with. By developing your palate and practicing with different espresso blends you should be able to use pour over brewing to understand a coffee’s flavor. Developing this understanding can make it much easier to dial in a shot, because you know what you’re looking for. 

    In any case, it’s always exciting to pick up a new coffee and work out all of its subtle notes. We highly encourage you to experiment with these different tasting methods to get the most out of your coffee too!

  • Video Roundup: 4/27/2020

    Happy Monday Coffee Lovers!

    We've got another video roundup for you today featuring a load of quality coffee content. Let's dig right in!

    First up, our daring CEO Mike made his YouTube debut to share how he brews a delicious cup of decaf from home:

    Next, Allie gave us a look at how the Ratio Six stacks up against a Technivorm:

    Then I gave some thoughts on some of our newest coffees in a Coffee Roundup!

    Then, of course, you know her, you love her, it's Gail's second Good Morning Gail for 2020!

    And finally, we've got some coffee infused cocktail production with Ariel:

    We hope you've enjoyed this week's videos! We'll be back soon with more incredible coffee content!

  • 2020 Getting Started Guide: Grinders

    Hello! 

    If you’ve been keeping up with us recently you know we’ve been releasing our set of 2020 buying guides here on the SCG Blog. This week we’re providing a general look at buying your first coffee grinder, whether you’re pulling shots or brewing pour over. Let’s get started!

    Your First Espresso Grinder

    We covered buying an espresso grinder as part of our overall espresso buying guide. There we recommended the Rancilio Rocky and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. These are excellent grinders that are very affordable for an espresso grinder. The reason you tend to pay more for an espresso grinder is because of the need for very fine, very consistent coffee. This generally requires premium burrsets, motors, and controls. 

    The Smart Grinder Pro and Rancilio Rocky aren’t quite as easy to dial in for espresso as a Eureka Mignon might be, but they are excellent grinders for the price. They’ll have you pulling unpressurized shots from your new machine with just a bit of practice. Learning on a grinder like this is especially good for new users, because it’ll help you understand how pulling shots works!

    Filter Brewing

    One of the nice things about the above listed grinders is that they’re also great for non-espresso brewing as well. So we recommend them if you’re looking to brew with a range of different methods. With that said, having to switch the settings back and forth all the time can be a pain, so it’s worth having a separate brew grinder if you can. If you’re not planning on brewing espresso at all then you can even save a bit with these recommendations.

    For filter brewing like drip and pour over it’s hard to recommend anything other than the spectacular Baratza Encore. This is a world class brew grinder perfect for a wide range of non-espresso applications. If you are looking for stepless control for more fine adjustments, Eureka’s Filtro and Brew Bro also offer very compelling options. All of these grinders will provide excellent grounds for filter brewing for years and years.

    Alternate Brew Methods

    There’s a world of other weird and wonderful ways to brew coffee out there, from press to vacuum and mokapot. For these varied types of brewing we recommend many of the above grinders in various configurations. If you love press coffee, something like the Baratza Encore will be the perfect match. If you want to brew a mokapot but have the option of switching to pour over brewing, the Smart Grinder Pro we mentioned is a great step between ultra-fine capable grinders and something that can go courser.

    In the end, grinder selection has more to do with how it’s specialized rather than how expensive it is. Pricier grinders are certainly pretty and full of bells, whistles, and performance for more demanding brew types like espresso. However, to get started you just need the right tool for the job!

    That’s all for now, we’ll be back with one more buying guide, featuring some alternative brewing methods, next week!

    Check out the rest of our getting started guides!

  • Brewing at Home for Maximum Efficiency

    Hello out there!

    2020 is certainly a weird and wild year, and we know it has many folks working from home. Our deepest condolences and most sincere thoughts go out to all of those affected by the outbreak. With all of that in mind, building an efficient coffee setup at home is key. We decided to break down some of our favorite brew methods and how long they take to go from whole beans to delicious coffee.

    Pour Over

    Pour over is definitely the slowest brew method we’re looking at today. From measuring, grinding, heating water, wetting filters, blooming, and pouring, a lot of work goes into the perfect pour over. While we think it’s totally worth it to get some of the tastiest coffee around, it’s not the most efficient way to brew. Pour over takes around 5-8 minutes to prepare for most home brewers, but can take as much as 10 minutes to get right if you’re not used to the process. It’s the perfect way to start your morning if you can find some time to spare though!

    Drip Brewing

    Drip brewing (and similarly, using a press) is one of the most hands off methods possible. While it can still take 3-5 minutes to set up your drip brewer, you can step away and get back to your other tasks while you wait for the coffee to brew. This may make it the ultimate option for your morning cup of coffee, as you’ll also get more than one cup out of a pot. Also the best choice if you’re brewing for someone else as well!

    Semi-Automatic Espresso

    Semi-Auto brewing is a mixed bag in terms of effort. An experienced home barista can pull a tasty shot in just a few minutes. The time from grinding to pulling to even steaming milk is quick, but takes practice to master. We recommend practicing and dialing in your grinder when you have more time on your hands. By properly dialing in and familiarizing yourself with your equipment, you can whip up a delicious mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up from your semi-auto machine in 5 minutes or less.

    Superautomatic Espresso

    Superautos are the pinnacle of convenience for espresso machines. Given how fast an easy it is to brew with a superauto, it’ll barely impact your routine. Pulling shots just takes a button press with a Carina or Xelsis. What’s more, depending on what kind of milk system your machine has you may even be able to automatically froth milk for lattes and cappuccinos. By combining all of these features, you’ll be able to get the same kinds of drinks you normally grab on your afternoon break in just minutes from your kitchen. The only downside is that superautos don’t produce drip coffee, but most *do* offer a lungo option, which is a long espresso shot that gets closer to the flavor of a drip brew.

    So there you have it! Four fantastic brewing methods that will fit your schedule throughout the day. Stay safe out there and enjoy your coffee!

     

  • 2020 Getting Started Guide: Drip Coffee

    We’ve looked at pour over, superautos, and semi-autos in our buying guides posts so far, but there’s a couple of stones still left unturned. Today we’re going to offer some advice for buying a machine perfect for one of the simplest, but most approachable kinds of coffee brewing: Drip! Drip coffee is easy to get started with, but with so many brewers out there it can be hard to get a grasp of what will provide the best bang for your buck. We’re here to help!

    Grinders

    First thing’s first, you need a way to grind your beans! While you could use pre-ground coffee, using freshly ground beans is the best way to get the most out of your brewer. In fact, having coffee that’s been freshly ground is arguably the most important part of the process alongside temperature stability. 

    With that in mind, it’s hard to recommend any grinder as highly for first time drip brewers as the Baratza Encore. This grinder is well priced, consistent, easy to use, and will last quite some time. Baratza is one of the best grinder producers that we know, and it shows in this no-frills knockout of a product. If your budget has a bit more headroom we can also wholeheartedly recommend the Eureka Filtro. The filtro offers just a bit more performance and reliability due to its larger burrs, which are specifically designed for drip brewing. The Filtro also features stepless grind adjust, which gives you more precise control over grind size.

    But what about upgrading? You may want something that provides a little bit more in the bells and whistles department in the future. On the Baratza front, the Vario-W features more micro adjustments than the Encore, with the addition of weight based dosing. As you explore the coffee world you’ll find that weight is a better way to dose your coffee than volume, and the Vario-W helps with that.  Eureka also offers an excellent grinder upgrade in the form of the Brew Pro. The Brew Pro features the same powerful burrs as the Filtro mentioned above. It also adds timed grinding via a vibrant touch screen. The perfect upgrade if you become accustomed to the precision stepless adjust of the filtro.

    Brewers

    It’s time for the main event! Selecting a brewer is actually a bit easier than you’d think. The two most important pieces of a drip brewer are temperature consistency and the ability to evenly wet grounds. Bonuses like pre-infusion are nice to get the absolute most flavor out of your coffee. For all of this and a palatable price, check out the Bonavita Connoisseur. This brewer offers exceptional temperature stability, has a wide angle showerhead for the water, and even does simple pre-infusion. It’s the perfect option to start with, and comes at an excellent price too. 

    But what about an upgrade? Eventually you might want more control than the Connoisseur offers. There’s arguably no better upgrade option you’ll find than the Breville Precision Brewer. This brewer offers an incredible degree of control over your coffee. Including options for brewing over ice, using a pour over attachment, specific gold cup brewing settings, and tons of options for setting custom recipes, the Precision Brewer should be the last machine you’ll ever need. 

    Thanks for joining us for this look at getting started with your drip brewing shopping list!

    Check out the rest of our getting started guides!

  • Introducing Spyhouse Coffee Roasters!

    It’s time once again to welcome another new partner to the SCG lineup of outstanding coffee roasters. Today we’re excited to introduce Spyhouse Coffee Roasting! Spyhouse Coffee Roasting comes to us from the chilly climes of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Spyhouse describes themselves as focused on building partnerships. Partnerships with distributors, producers, and customers. These partnerships paired with a finely honed skill for roasting has resulted in excellent, reliable coffee.

    The Blends

    Spyhouse Coffee’s house blend is Orion. Featuring notes of chocolate and sweet fruit, this is a simple but enjoyable roast that is perfect as an espresso or drip blend. A roaster’s house blend really should tie their coffee program together. We’re happy to say that Orion absolutely does so for Spyhouse. This is a tasty, adaptable, and easy to brew blend that does everything a house blend should do!

    Bold and the Beautiful offers a richer, darker blend of beans that is especially excellent as a strong drip brew. With notes of baker’s chocolate, black walnut, and creme brulee, this roast isn’t heavy on smoky flavors, but they’re present. Like a refined and extra flavorful cup of diner coffee, Bold and the Beautiful is perfect for anyone looking for a heavier coffee to have as a morning drip brew.

    Surprising Decaf

    We’ll be honest, good decaf can be tough to come by. Thankfully, Spyhouse Coffee’s Colombia Decaf Organic is quite good! With far more depth than what we typically see in a decaf, this is a satisfying coffee for the late afternoon or caffeine avoidant! We recommend it in a drip brew or a pour over, but either way we’re sure fans of decaf will enjoy.

    And none of this gets into Spyhouse Coffee’s full range of single origins. We have a few to choose from now, and we’ll be evaluating more to rotate in! 

    We hope you’ll give Spyhouse Coffee a try, and if you do we’re sure you’ll find them just as tasty as we do. Order a bag today

  • Keep Your Coffee Hot This Winter

    Winter is well and truly here, and we thought it'd be a good time to talk about heat. Hot, clean water is possible the most important part of the brewing process after getting good, fresh ground coffee. It's no wonder then that heat is often the sticking point for a lot of coffee drinkers! We often hear about how coffee out of superautos isn't hot enough, or how warming plates won't stay on long enough. We figured now would be a great time to talk about some ways to keep your coffee hot, and help set expectations.

    Drip Brewing

    One of the biggest questions with brewing drip coffee is whether glass or stainless carafes are better for heat. The truth is, they just work differently. Stainless steel carafes insulate your coffee to keep it warm vs. being heated by a plate underneath for a glass carafe. Either way, your coffee won't stay hot for more than an hour or two. You can help this by running hot water into the carafe to heat it prior to brewing. This will heat the carafe so that the coffee doesn't bleed as much temperature into it during brewing. Either way, you should expect to need to brew more coffee after an hour or two. If you find it hard to drink a whole pot in that time, just consider brewing less coffee!

    If you're trying to serve coffee for a group at an office or event, consider a batch brewer. Nothing keeps drip coffee hot for hours and hours like an airpot!

    Pour Over

    For pour over, there's a trick that will really help you with heat retention, and that's leaving your dripper and filter over your server. By only removing these for pouring the coffee, your server will retain more heat. This means you can brew a couple of cups worth and it'll stay warm. Other tips include pre-heating the server by pouring hot water into it, pre-heating your cup the same way, and transferring the coffee to an insulated thermos right after brewing.

    Espresso

    A big one for espresso is keeping your portafilter hot. Special brew groups like E-61s will do this automatically. In any case though, you should keep your portafilter in the machine at all times to aid with this heat. If you have a machine that doesn't heat the portafilter, run a shot's worth of water through it before pulling your espresso. This will heat the portafilter and help with even extraction and heat during brewing. Keeping your cup warm helps here too.

    For superautos, heat is just an issue that comes with the territory. These are machines with lots of moving parts packed into tight spaces. Unfortunately, their need to flash heat water quickly to maintain convenience means they just don't always produce drinks as hot as you'd like. Our best recommendation for superautos is to try steaming your milk prior to brewing, as this heats the water more and generally increases the temperature to the machine. We also recommend consuming your drink shortly after brewing to enjoy it at its hottest! If you still find that your superauto isn't as hot as you'd like, it might be time to consider switching it up to a semi-auto.

    That's all for now, we hope you enjoy some (hot) coffee you love this Winter!

  • 2019 Holiday Roasts Guide - Part 4

    It's time for our final holiday roasts guide for 2019!

    Check out parts one, two, and three if you haven't! Let's finish this list up.

    Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Revelry

    Revelry is not a new name, but this year's version does bring some fresh notes. Fig, fruitcake, and honeysuckle should tell you that this is a sweet, fruity roast. Its bright notes a assisted by a generally lighter body that's still medium when viewed on the roasting spectrum. We think this is, like many other holiday roasts, a good beginner's coffee that adds just a little bit extra for those looking for it. Great for groups and easy to brew - you really can enjoy it however you like! Pick some up here.

     

     

    Ruby Colorful Coffees - Cheers Seasonal Blend

    Rich and warm are two words that perfectly describe Ruby's Cheers holiday blend. Cheers is an appropriate name too, because this is definitely one to cheer about! The notes of mulled wine, dried fruit, spice and sweet citrus go great together. All of those flavors work with its medium body to give just enough juiciness and plenty of flavor. Perfect for the season, we recommend this on as a drip/filter brew. Don't miss it! Grab a bag here.

     

     

    49th Parallel Holiday Blends

    49th has really spoiled us as usual with not one, but TWO holiday blends. Their Holiday Filter features notes of cherry strudel, redberry jam, and almonds. It's a flavorful cup perfect for drip and filter brew methods. On the other hand, their Holiday Espresso offers plum, pomegranate, and vanilla flavors. Both of these roasts are wonderful in their specific brew methods and give you a lot of flexibility this season. Great for those with a dedicated grinder for each brew method, and a delicious treat for entertaining friends and family! Get em' before they're gone.

     

     

    Anchorhead - Winter Warmer

    Winter Warmer is a proven classic for a reason. Despite some morbid bag art (who are we kidding, we love it), this is a tasty brew with some silly notes. While Anchorhead's listed flavors are a little coy, we can at least share that this coffee is rich, sweet, and loveable. Great as a filter brew, pour over, espresso, press, or really whatever type of brew method you like best. Share some holiday cheer and a whole lot of deliciousness this season with Winter Warmer! You can buy a bag of this annual favorite right here.

     

     

    Huckleberry Roasters - Sister Winter

    Last but certainly far from least, we've got Huckleberry's seasonal: Sister Winter! We're ending our list this year on one of the most classic tasting roasts we've got this season. Full of chocolate, berries, baked goods, and warmth, this is a coffee lover's coffee. A blend of natural and washed process beans, you'll get just the right medium body to enjoy with all that sweetness. Sister Winter won't overwhelm your palate though, tempering those sweet flavors with a tiny hint of bitterness and a warm undertone that keeps it an easy drinker. Buy a bag here!

     

    That's all for now! We hope you've enjoyed this look at our 2019 holiday roast lineup, and we'll see you in 2020 (or a little bit sooner)!

     

     

  • 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.

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