espresso

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 1

    One of the most essential parts of the coffee brewing process is grinding your coffee beans. Whether you're brewing in a press, pourover, drip brewer, or (especially) pulling espresso shots, having a reliable grinder is extremely important. That said, it's not easy to shop for a grinder, there's a lot that goes into selecting the right one for your kitchen. But we're here to help! We'll be taking a look at what makes these machines tick, and what you should look out for when purchasing. Let's get grinding!

    Why Bother?

    At a basic level, grinders are just motorized devices for making your whole coffee beans fit for brewing. So why not just buy whole bean? Why not grind them at the store? These are great questions.

    Beans are at their most flavorful just after grinding, so ideally you'll brew with them within a few hours of having ground them. pre-ground coffee offers less in terms of flavor notes, and generally just produces a standard "coffee" flavor, with strength dependent on dose and roast level. To get at the real flavor notes of specialty coffee, you'll want to grind it fresh.

    On top of that, different brew methods require difference grind levels. For pourover coffee, as an example, you typically want a consistency closer to rock salt. By contrast, espresso requires a much finer grind, one that isn't even possible with most coffee grinders.

    Blades Vs. Burrs

    So you're ready to buy a grinder, but why not just grab a $20 blade grinder at the grocery store? It turns out, for a number of reasons. Blade grinders are simply a pair of blades that spin at high speeds and slice beans to pieces. They are extremely inconsistent, and offer no control over grind level. On top of all that, they have to be replaced frequently as the blades dull.

    Burr grinders, on the other hand, provide a great degree of control and consistency. They also tend to last far longer than blade grinders, and can be maintained for years and years with proper cleaning and part replacement.

    But what is a burr?

    Burr Science

    Burr grinders use two plates to grind beans. These plates can be made of a variety of materials, but the most common are steel and ceramic. In the case of most home grinders, the plates will be flat, and sit on top of each other. Some higher end commercial grinders use conical burrs, with a cone shaped burr fitting inside of a funnel shaped burr.

    In any case, the burrs will have bumps and nobs that work to grind the beans as they are fed in from a hopper. Typically, a knob can be used to control how far apart the burrs are, thus controlling how fine the grounds are after grinding.

    Material Matters

    Arguably the most important aspect when purchasing a home grinder is the material and control method for the burrs. We'll discuss control and why it matters next week, but of these two aspects, burr material is the more relevant here.

    As noted above, burrs are typically made out of hardened steel or ceramic. There are some very high end coatings, but what you will see in 95% of home grinders (and even commercial) will be steel or ceramic, and each has its pros and cons.

    Steel burrs are strong and efficient, but they also tend to dull over time. Because of the nature of burrs, re-sharpening can be a challenge, so after several years the burrs may need to be replaced.

    Ceramic burrs generally solve the problem of dulling, and offer highly consistent grinding. They are, of course, more likely to shattering if a bad bean or other debris gets caught within the grinder.

    Both materials, however, are completely viable and should last years.

    Join us for part two and part three, where we dive into the specifics of grind control and motors!

  • Video Roundup—6/29/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time again to take a look at the videos we put out this week!

    First, Gail reviewed the Breville Glass Precision Brewer!

    Next, John gave us a review of the Eureka Club E Espresso Grinder:

    Finally, John took a look at the Eureka Club Doser Espresso Grinder:

    Let us know what you think! And have a great weekend!

  • New Product Spotlight: Jura J6

    The Jura J6 offers great shots and milk frothing without the learning curve of a more complicated semi-automatic espresso machine. With that in mind, it's easy to get excited about this machine. With 12 drink options, easy setup (and cleaning), and a simple interface, the Jura J6 might be just the thing your kitchen needs!

    Setup and maintenance

    Anyone familiar with superautomatic machines knows that setup and cleaning can sometimes be the price paid for ease of use. Not so with the J6. The manual is clear and easy to read, and will help you get your J6 up and running in 20-30 minutes. You will want to do some extra dialing in to make sure you get the best shots (something we covered in a video here!). Otherwise, setup is a total breeze.

    Cleaning and maintaining the J6 is easy as well. Simple guides help you to replace the CLEARYL Smart Filter,clean the milk system, and descale the machine. These tasks usually don't require much more than a container of cleaning solution and pressing a button.

    Great taste and easy to use

    One of the reasons some folks prefer semi-automatic machines to superautos is taste. With a semi-automatic machine you have full control over the flavor of your espresso. This is less true with superautos, usually offering few settings to control the taste. Luckily, the J6 pulls great shots out of the box. Even more impressive is that these shots are achieved with a push of a button.

    Even more impressive than the shots are how well the J6 nails milk texture. Superautos usually get close to chain café quality, but pale in comparison to a seasoned barista manually frothing milk. Then there's the J6. While nothing truly beats the range of texture possibilities on a manual steam wand, the J6 definitely edges out the drive through café experience. On top of that, it does it all with a button press.

    Footprint, head room

    While not noticeably smaller than other superautos (it is, in fact, a little on the tall side), we had no trouble fitting the J6 on a crowded countertop. The bean hopper, water tank, and accessory storage are all easy to access as well. Furthermore, the bean hopper and water tank are quite large. This means you'll have to refill less, making maintenance on the machine even easier.

    We're excited to offer the J6, if you're ready to see this great machine in action, check it out here!

  • New Product Spotlight: Baratza Sette 270Wi

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi offers a few great improvements of the 270W. The old model was the first grinder to feature Acaia technology in the grinder itself. If you've never heard of Acaia, they make excellent scales specifically for weighing coffee. This means that you can save tablespace by combining grinder and scale, a great option for those working with smaller kitchens. Because the grinder is adjustable you can also grind into a plastic container (included in the box) instead of a portafilter. This flexibility makes the Wi a solid choice for grinding for pourover as well. The Wi operates on the high quality conical steel burrs you'd expect from a high end grinder.

    Intelligent Technology

    The original 270W featured two circuit boards, one that measured weight and one that controlled grinding. This led to a slight delay in start and stop time for grinding. The 270Wi combines these two processes in one circuit board, resulting in much more accurate grinds to the weigh you set.

    The Wi also learns as you grind. If you set grind weight at 22 grams and the grinder under grinds to 21.4 grams, it'll compensate on the next grind. If it then over grinds it'll compensate back. While this process can take a few grinds to dial in, eventually it'll nail your target weight every time.

    Improved Usability

    The other addition to the Wi is the pulse feature. This allows you to pulse a little extra coffee into your container or portafilter. You could also, in theory, pulse an entire grind if you want to circumvent the automatic grinding.

    Additionally, you can stop and restart automatic grinding without fear of the grinder restarting the grind process and over grinding.

    Finally, slight modifications to grind speed has resulted in a minor noise reduction over the W as well.

    Our early tests with the 270Wi have been quite promising. You can check out what our resident expert Gail has to say about the Wi in our crew review below, and order one for yourself here!

     

  • SCG Exclusive: Rocket Espresso R58 - Il Centesimo Giro d'Italia Edition

    Rocket_Giro_FinalSelects (17 of 32) The Rocket Espresso R58 - Il Centesimo Giro d'Italia Edition featuring custom pink dials, commemorative engraving, and an individually numbered face plate.

    What does it take to pull the perfect shot of espresso? Patience. Expertise. Precision. Diligence. A deep understanding of your materials. The list goes on with different preparation techniques from person to person informing your perspective. Espresso aficionados alike strive for that euphoric moment of perfection – a demitasse cup of liquid gold. While many tools exist to get you there, a select few reign supreme. The Rocket Espresso R58 Il Centesimo Giro d'Italia Edition stands at the peak of its class. A reflection of espresso and cycling mastery, the R58 Centesimo is a commemoration of 100 years of Italian Bike Touring excellence.

    The second of the famed 'European Grand Tour', The Giro d'Italia follows a route over 2,200 miles long circumventing Italy in a 23-day race. This centennial achievement is memorialized in this limited edition R58. Each R58 Centesimo sports the names of Giro d'Italia's champions (including 2017s Tom Dumoulin), custom side panels, maglia rosa-themed gauges and matching accessories. Much like a champion cyclist, you'll find the R58—with its classic dual boiler E61 setup, removable PID controls, and optional plumbing—a prime contender for creating some of the best espresso you've ever had.

    Limited to a run of 100 machines worldwide to echo the 100 winners of the race, each R58 Centesimo is individually numbered to reflect it’s place it this one of a kind collection. Only 9 are available in the United States exclusively at Seattle Coffee Gear.

    Rocket_Giro_FinalSelects (11 of 32) Reflecting a cyclist's wheel, each R58 Centesimo features custom engraving of every Giro d'Italia champion.

    The Big Race:

    Giro d'Italia 1953, Stage 4, Wim van Est and Gino Bartali Giro d'Italia 1953, Stage 4, Wim van Est and Gino Bartali
    • Founded in 1909, the original Giro d’Italia was organized as a means to raise funds for the La Gazzetta dello Sport – an Italian publication covering various sports and the most widely read daily newspaper in Italy.
    • The race is held annually during late May and early June, except for two breaks during World War 1 and 2.
    • The Giro d’Italia is one of three races that make up the ‘European Grand Tour’ – the Tour de France and Vuetla a España complete the trifecta.
    • Professional road bicycle racer Tom Dumoulin won the 100th race – becoming the first Dutch rider to win the race.
    Rocket_Giro_FinalSelects (20 of 32) The one of a kind R58 Centesimo stands above the rest.

    Details of Excellence on the R58 Centesimo:

    • Italian cycling history comes together with Milan-made espresso machine mastery featuring custom pink dials, packaging, tamper, and engraved side panels celebrating past winners of the Giro d’Italia.
    • Manufactured in Milan and limited to 100 machines. Only 9 exist in the United States and are individually numbered with a custom front face plant.
    • PID-Controlled Double Boiler allowing for superior control of steam and brew boiler temperatures. PID controller is detachable.
    • Plumb in adaptability; hosing included.
    • Classic E61 Group providing thermal stability at the head of the machine.
    • Insulated Steam Wand allowing for barista-quality steaming ability without the risk of burning your hands.

     

    What does Gail think? Check it out!

    Don’t miss this opportunity to own a piece of Bicycle racing and espresso history. Buy your one of a kind machine here!

  • Seattle Coffee Gear + illy: Be Your Own Barista

    SCG_illy (2 of 24)It’s a frustrating question that has plagued many a coffee aficionado throughout the years: why doesn’t the cappuccino I make at home taste as delicious as the cappuccino I buy from my local coffee shop? The answer to that question can be found by addressing a diverse set of material related variables from the freshness of your beans, to the quality and calibration of your grinder, to the pressure at which you are extracting your espresso. Maybe your machine hasn’t been cleaned? Maybe it wasn’t properly rinsed after cleaning?

    But what about when you’ve covered all of the variables and you’re still not getting the results you are hoping for? Then it’s time to look at your technique!

    SCG_illy (11 of 24)That’s where illy’s “Be Your Own Barista” course came in to play. Meant to empower coffee lovers who wanted to take their home coffee preparation to the next level, this class held at our Bellevue location provided participants with the opportunity to train hands-on with Giorgio Milos – illy Master Barista and Italian Barista Champion. Equipped with all of the tools needed to produce great coffee at home, fourteen students discussed coffee history, learned tips and tricks to consider when preparing their beverages, and were released to put their new knowledge to the test while illy’s education team helped fine tune their technique.

    “I never knew I could make espresso that tastes this good,” shared a participant frustrated with the past drinks she had been making at home. It was a matter of making small corrections to her grinder as well as changing her tamping that helped her produce a cleaner, fuller bodied drink. Many attendees took notes on the discussions while others asked technical questions they had been investigating for months.

    Seattle Coffee Gear strives to be a place where coffee lovers like us can go to the next level in beverage preparation using the best tools available while also being a resource for people to ask questions and learn. This partnership with illy is only one of the many ways we continue to help people “make coffee you love!”

  • Crew Review: Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine

    Basic gets a whole new definition with the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine! Sure, it’s simple design and easy to use controls are the fundamentals, but this little machine comes with more accessories for budding baristas to grow their technique; the Basic includes both non-pressurized, pressurized and pod baskets to adapt to anyone’s barista skills.
  • Top Three Milk Frothers

    If you’re looking to enliven your plain old cup of joe with delicious frothy milk, then you’re going to love having an electric milk frother! At the touch of a button, boring milk is whipped into frothy foam perfect for your morning cappuccino crave. To make it easier for you to choose, we rounded up the top three milk frothers: the Bodum Schiuma Milk Frother, Jura Automatic Milk Frother and Breville Milk Carafe. Pair these stand alone frothers with your drip brewer or French press to make coffee setup! Find out the features and functionalities of our top three picks!
  • Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 and Sette 270W

    The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 and 270W have finally been released for home barista’s kitchens. Have you gotten your hands on one of the Settes? If you haven’t, you’re not alone! Both grinders are in high-demand and it’s no surprise why. Baratza built both the Sette 270 and 270W with the hardware to grind efficiently and quickly—3.5 to 5.5 grams per second!
  • 9 Espresso Gifts For Home Baristas

    Looking for the perfect gift for espresso? Whether you’re searching for a gift for a coffee-loving friend or adding these gift ideas to your list, check out these fresh picks for home brewer’s with an espresso machine. Bonus: We picked gift ideas that'll fit anyone's budget.

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