espresso

  • Buying Guide: Superautos

    Interested in espresso? Looking to cut pod coffee out? Still want the simplicity of push button operation? It sounds like you need a superauto!

    We've talked about superautomatic espresso machines at length here. So much so that you probably already know what these machines are. As a refresher, a superautomatic espresso machine is a machine that uses whole bean coffee to deliver delicious espresso based drinks. They are sort of like "cafes in a box." The trade-off is that no automated process can truly outdo a skilled barista on professional equipment. With that said, a superauto machine on your kitchen counter is an incredible convenience that can still provide a tasty morning does of caffeine. Superautos also cut down on the waste generated by pod machines, though they don't make drip coffee. There are a number of factors to think about when selecting a superauto. We'll touch on these things as we go through this guide to buying your first machine, or upgrading!

    First Machine

    For your first machine it's hard to argue against the Philips Carina. Getting into espresso for the first time is an expensive endeavor that the Carina makes a lot less scary. This is a simple to use machine that may seem light on features, but is actually a fantastic value. You can control dose (the amount the machine grinds for each shot) volume, and pull shots of espresso, long, coffee style lungo shots, hot water for americanos, and steamed milk. These are the core functions of any superauto espresso machine, so to have them surfaced like on the Carina is a boon. Add to all of this the easy to use AquaClean filtration system, and you've got an affordable winner of a beginner machine. Just remember to buy a filter with the machine!

    One thing that is important to note about the Carina is its panarello steam wand. This means that you'll need to manually hold a pitcher of milk up to the wand to steam it, like on a semi-auto machine. For many, the promise of automatic milk steaming is why they want a superauto in the first place. If auto steaming is a make or break feature for you, consider checking out the Philips 3200 Latte Go. This machine is just like the Carina in many ways, but includes a carafe based steaming system for automatic steaming.

    The other great thing about the Carina is it'll help you understand exactly what you want out of your next machine. Maybe you'll settle on the idea that more control over the shot is key for you. In this case, you may want to upgrade to a semi-auto machine. Maybe you like the superautomatic nature of the Carina, but you don't need the milk steaming. In this case, upgrading to something like the Jura A1, which brews espresso only, may be the perfect solution.

    Upgrading to a New Machine

    If you're looking at upgrading from an older machine and have a budget of over $1,000, consider the Jura E6. The E6 produces some exceptional espresso thanks to Jura's P.E.P. brewing system and is a definite upgrade from an interface perspective. Using its vibrant screen and simple button system you'll be able to set dose, temp, shot length, and milk volume for your drinks. One-touch cappuccinos with the E6's automatic siphon system are a delicious option as well. Finally, the maintenance tools on the E6 are really something. The comprehensive software is great at reminding you to rinse, clean, and descale the machine.

    The only real negative on this machine is the lack of milk control that you get. While the cappuccino foam that the siphon system on the E6 creates is decent, it just can't do lattes. This may be a dealbreaker for some folks. If that's you, then it's worth taking a look at the Miele 6350.

    The 6350 offers great milk texture for lattes and cappuccinos, delicious coffee, and is easy to operate. It's expensive, but justifies its price with extra features like a hot water spout, brew group light, and a a spill-proof drip tray. It's an easy recommendation for anyone looking at buying the last machine they'll need.

    Stay tuned for more buying guides focused on drip brewing and semi-auto espresso machines!

  • 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!

  • Video Roundup: 2/21/20

    Hey coffee fans!

    It's time for another video roundup here at SCG.

    First up it's Allie with a Crew Review of the Ratio Six!

    Next we've got a Crew Comparison for the ages with the R Nine One Group from Rocket Espresso, and the GS/3 from La Marzocco!

    And finally, Allie and I brewed up some AKA Coffee to taste:

    That's all for now! We hope you enjoyed, go make some coffee you love this weekend!

  • Brew Methods and Flavor Profiles

    We've talked at length about how to get started with different brewing methods. Sharing tips on brewing coffee is kind of our deal! An important piece of the puzzle that's often skipped though is helping you decide how you want to brew. There's more than a few factors in choosing a brew method, which we'll be sure to detail over the next few weeks. Today we're talking about an easy one: Flavor! Here we'll dig into the flavor profiles of each brew method to help you understand what you might like. This should also inform the types of coffees you might enjoy in each method.

    Drip

    The simplest, most common starting point for most people is a good ol' drip brew. While the principle here is the same as in pour over, drip brewing is distinct because we assume it's coming out of an electric brewer. To that end, we'll cover pour over in a separate section.

    Drip coffee is perhaps the most balanced brew method in terms of flavor. Typically if a coffee isn't specifically brewed for espresso, it'll at least taste fine in a drip brew. That means you're going to be getting lots of standard chocolate notes and any earthier flavors in the coffee. On the flip side, drip brewers can sometimes obscure lighter floral or fruit notes. To this end, the very best coffees in a drip brew are going to be well balanced blends and single origins.

    Press

    Press brewing is an immersion style method that lends itself to big, bold flavors. This results in a body and flavor profile somewhere between drip and espresso. Where drip presents smokier notes and chocolate flavors, press brewing will really amplify them. This means that you'll get an extra strong cup of coffee out of a press without going all the way to the syrupy espresso consistency.

    With that said, sometimes brighter single origins will actually be better as espresso than in a press. We really recommend doubling down on those perfect medium, or even slightly dark, roasts if you're brewing press.

    Pour Over

    Pour over is the taster's choice for trying out coffees. We use this method whenever we test coffees here at SCG. This is because pour over tends to be the best brew method for separating flavors. When we say separating, we mean that complex roasts come across as open as possible when brewed as a pour over. This is most noticeable with light coffees that feature floral and fruity notes. If you're trying to understand why a roaster listed pink bubblegum or jasmine in the tasting notes, this is the method to use.

    The trick with pour over is the number of variables. Where press and drip brewing are pretty simple, it's often difficult to re-brew the same pour over twice. This is because water flow rate, minor temperature variations, and timing all tend to vary from brew to brew. This can make it hard to stay consistent, but just means it takes some practice!

    Espresso

    Espresso brewing is one of the most complex methods to use, but also very repeatable once you've dialed in a roast with your setup. Pressurized brewing from espresso tends to extract the sweetest, richest pieces of a coffee's flavor. The result is a syrupy body that is easy to pull too bitter or sour. If you're someone who thinks they *don't* like espresso, there's a good chance you've had it brewed poorly! A good espresso should be smooth, sweet, and very chocolatey. On top of all of this, adding steamed milk or foam and a syrup or two to an espresso creates a rainbow of delicious concoctions!

    While some prefer the super dark traditional Italian espresso roasts, there's actually a wide range of coffees that are great for this brew method. Round, simple blends can make a great espresso, but so can super light, tea like single origins. To get the very most out of the brew method, we recommend juicy, berry notes and classic chocolate flavors. This is the best way to start with this brew method!

    There are plenty of other interesting brew methods we will approach in future articles, but these four should get you started!

  • Introducing AKA Coffee!

    It's time again for another roaster to join our incredible lineup!

    Today we're welcoming AKA coffee to the SCG roaster family. AKA Coffee was founded as Supersonic Coffee in Berkeley, CA back in 2013. After developing some delicious roasts, they ultimately rebranded to AKA Coffee due to copyright issues associated with opening cafes and retail locations. The result is a fun new name that pays homage to the change in branding and a fresh start in Oakland, CA!

    AKA has a commitment to offering quality coffee that's also accessible and approachable. We love this mentality and are excited to begin offering their coffee. Early this year they'll also be opening a retail location at the Castro Valley Marketplace. If you're in the East Bay you should be sure to check it out! Let's take a look at the roasts.

    FTW

    FTW is AKA's signature blend. This is a simple coffee that features notes of caramel and nuts. We find that this is a really approachable blend that works in a variety of brew methods. It's also easy to brew, providing a clean, satisfying cup even if you grind a little too fine or short. FTW is a great standby, perfect to keep around as an every day roast for your superauto or drip brewer!

    Kindred

    Kindred is a blend of beans from Latin America that spice and dried fruit notes. These simple notes are very accurate and really come through loud and clear in a pour over. We really enjoy this roast and think it displays some strong complexity and depth. Definitely a good one to try if you're an experienced specialty coffee drinker and a fun one to try a variety of ways once you've tried it in a pour over!

    Ethiopia Adame Garbota

    The first single origin that we've brought on from AKA, Adame Garbota is a tasty Ethiopian with classic notes from the region. Green apple and blackberry are the flavors AKA describes, and we definitely get the rich berry and softer fruit notes they're going for. A great pour over coffee and example of how this roaster tackles single origins!

    That's all we have for now, but keep an eye out for more single origins and blends from AKA Coffee! We're sure you'll enjoy their simple approachability as much as we do and are looking forward to our next cup as well!

     

     

  • An Introduction to Seattle Coffee Gear's Getting Started Guides

    Hello coffee fans!

    Over the years, we've offered lots of insight, reviews, and advice for getting started with coffee. Through our Coffee 101 posts we've provided information on the basics of brewing, from espresso to pour over. We've helped to teach you how to start brewing all kinds of ways, but usually those guides don't help too much with purchasing. We've done guides designed to help you figure out what to look for in espresso machines, for example. Now we'd like to do some purchasing guides to show you what machines have those qualities now!

    We'll be breaking these guides down by brew method, and they'll include examples of why machines work well for new users. We'll talk about setting budgets as well to help alleviate the sticker shock of new machines. Finally, these guides will work to help you understand why items cost what they do, so you'll come away with an understanding of what you should be paying for.

    Finally, we'll also be refreshing these guides every year or so to help provide insight into new products. This way you won't find the perfect machine that has been discontinued or is in between models. So stay tuned! We'll be bringing you our 2020 Getting Started Guides over the next couple of months!

  • Philips Carina Tips and Tricks

    The Philips Carina is one of the most affordable ways to get into superautomatic espresso machines. You've probably heard us gush about the features of this machine, but there's some tips and tricks that'll help you get the most out of it. Read on to learn more and get brewing!

    • Warmup time
      • The Carina features pretty fast warmup times. With that said, we recommend turning the machine on first thing, so that it'll be ready to brew when you're ready for coffee!
    • Water tank, bean hopper
      • A quick check of the water and bean levels each morning will help you to avoid any delays in getting your drink in the morning.
    • Waste bin
      • Similar to our last tip, consider dumping water from the drip tray in between clearing the waste bin. Otherwise you can end up with an easily spilled drip tray when trying to dump the waste bin!
    • Brew volumes
      • By pressing the drink button for your drink a second time, you can double the volume of the brew. By combining this with the volume "slider" button you can brew larger drinks.
    • Milk steaming
      • The Carina's panarello steam wand makes steaming easy, but by checking out some general milk steaming tips you can up your milk game.
    • Use less oily beans
      • More of a general superauto tip, but using beans that aren't too oily can keep your machine's grinder in tip-top shape.
    • Experiment
      • Try out a variety of drink options to really put your new machine through its paces!
    • Dial in your machine
      • The dial inside the bean hopper is used to dial in your machine, something you should definitely do! From there it can take a dozen or so drinks for the machine to produce its best coffee.

    So there you have it! Using these tips you can really get the very best usability and coffee from your Carina!

  • Super or Semi?

    Superautomatic and semi-automatic machines have similar names but ultimately work quite differently. If you're a regular reader you already know the difference between them. For the uninitiated, a superauto handles everything from grinding the beans to steaming your milk. All you have to do is press a few buttons and maybe hold a pitcher, otherwise the machines does it all. On the flip-side, semi-automatics are a little more hands on. While they don't requires you to manually pump water in (we'd call a machine like that a manual machine) they do require you to grind and tamp the beans yourself. They also require you to steam milk yourself for lattes or cappuccinos.

    So which one's for you? If you're new to espresso, you may jump to assume that a superauto is the right option. While that's absolutely the right call for any users, there's reasons to take a closer look.

    Superautos

    The superauto customer is someone who simply wants good coffee quick. Maybe you like a range of drinks, maybe you're laser focused on getting the best latte or americano. In either case, if your concern is convenience, superautos are the way to go. These are machines that don't require finesse to operate and can brew coffee just a few minutes after being plugged in. There are considerations, of course, you won't want to use especially oily beans, for example. Superautos also can struggle to produce very hot drinks due to the nature of their design.

    In any case though, if you are more concerned with quick coffee than learning the ins and outs of espresso, these machines are for you.

    Semi-automatics

    Semi-automatics definitely require more work than a superauto. While there are grinder/machine combos, you'll probably need to buy a separate grinder at some point if you get into semi-autos. These machines also have a real learning curve. Dialing in a tricky single origin to taste good on your semi-auto can be very challenging. It can also be tough to learn to steam milk at first, as there is technique involved. The thing you do get out of semi-autos though, is control.

    Controlling the brewing process with a semi-auto gives you a lot of options. You can really pull specific notes out of lighter roasts, or get extra hot milk. You can make your cappuccinos as dry as you'd like, or, with machines that have PID controllers, control brew temperature. All of this definitely results in a more hobbyist angle. With all of that said, after some practice, making drinks on a semi-automatic machine gets much quicker. Before you know it you'll be brewing with speed and confidence.

    Of course, none of that matters is if you're mostly looking for a quick caffeine fix, or a simpler drink. It's also important to note that superautomatic technology has come a long way. While it's still hard to replicate the work of an experienced barista on expensive machines, they're getting close. You can get incredible good coffee from a superauto, it all comes down to your desire to tweak and control the process!

  • 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!

  • Video Roundup: 1/10/2019

    Welcome to yet another video roundup!

    We've got cold weather and lots of snow in the forecast here in Seattle! Perfect weather to stay indoors and check out some fun SCG videos. So without further adieu...

    Our first video this week comes courtesy of Gail, and it's a look at our new Bonavita kettles!

    Next up, it's a look at La Marzocco's Strada and some tips on how to program it:

    After that, Gail provided some Rocket Espresso R58 tips and tricks!

    And last but not least, Allie offered up another look at the ristretto shot:

    That's all for now! We'll be back an braving the cold next week, we'll see you then!

Items 1 to 10 of 247 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 25
Subscribe

Finally, something for that inbox

Join our email list and be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products.

close

Join our email list

GET 10% OFF ONE ITEM*

Be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products - starting today!

 

JOIN
*Some exclusions apply. See email coupon for more details.