Pour Over

  • Coffee Selection Tips for Your New Gear!

    It’s possible that you’ve just received a shiny new piece of coffee gear this holiday season. But what’s sweet equipment without a great roast to go with it? Let’s take a look at some things to look for when shopping for the perfect coffee for your new kit!

    Drip Coffee

    Let’s start with drip coffee. It could be that you’ve just picked up or received your first serious drip brewer. Sure, you’ve probably made a pot or two before, but maybe not on a high quality coffee maker!

    Drip coffee is great because it tends to bring out tasty flavors in a wide range of roasts. This means that you’ll get the “truest” flavors on more balanced roasts, as drip brewing tends to work better with more balanced flavor profiles. This isn’t to say that a super fruity natural will be bad as a drip brew, but you may not get milder notes then you would with a pour over. 

    Because of this, classic coffee flavors are a great place to start. Chocolatey blends and roasts with just enough fruitiness are the perfect way to break in your new drip brewer. That said, don’t hesitate to try out that exciting single origin you’ve been eyeing!

    Many of these concepts apply to press brewing as well, though with that style you’ll often get bolder, stronger flavors from rich or earthy roasts.

    Pour Over

    Pour over gives you the ability to really dial in flavors in a similar manner to espresso, but without the same intensity. This means that you can really pick roasts based on the notes you’re excited about.

    Your pour over kit will help you unlock the more intense fruit notes on naturals. It’ll still also give you those richer chocolate notes. To really get a great grasp of how delicate pour over flavors can get, give a tasty looking light floral roast a try. Some coffees actually take on a tea-like profile that is definitely to die for, and the only brew method that really works for these roasts is pour over, so it’s worth giving a try!

    There aren’t really any roasts that don’t work as pour over, though you may find that you prefer roastier diner style coffees in a press or drip.

    Espresso

    Espresso is the trickiest brew method to understand and develop a sense for. Whether you’re brewing with pressurized baskets, unpressurized baskets, or a superautomatic machine, you’ll probably want to start with a standard espresso blend. 

    Because this is such a precise brew method, starting with a blend that’s specifically roasted for espresso will make dialing in your grinder a little easier. Once you have a sense for how to get a good shot out of simpler blends, you can move on to more temperamental roasts. If you’ve got unpressurized baskets to use, you can get a good shot out of most coffees. If you’re using pressurized baskets or a superauto you may have a hard time getting something especially tasty out of a more delicate single origin. This is because these roasts often need a pretty precise grind and shot pull to build the proper complexity. This can be a challenge to nail with a pressurized basket or superauto.

    Also, don’t forget that you should avoid oily beans in a superauto! For a whole host of beans we think work great in these machines check out our Superauto Recommended coffee category!

    We hope this gives you some good things to look out for as you break in your new coffee equipment!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Pour Over

    It’s time for another holiday shopping guide! Today we’re looking at the wide world of pour over. This is a brew method many new coffee enthusiasts get into to start understanding specialty coffee, and we think it truly is a great way to learn! While pour over isn’t prohibitively expensive, there are more parts to it than with drip or even espresso. With that in mind, let’s get started with the most important part of your pour over set…

    Grinders

    The most important thing about drinking specialty coffee is fresh grinding your beans. With that in mind, a blade grinder just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want a burr grinder designed for grinding in the brew range, as opposed to super-fine for espresso. Luckily, there are multiple grinders in an affordable range to pick from!

    The first on the list is the Baratza Encore. This is a legendary grinder known for its reliability, performance, and ease of use. Any new specialty coffee enthusiast will get years of use out of an encore. This year, Seattle Coffee Gear is also excited to offer the Solis Scala! The Scala isn’t quite as proven as the Encore yet, but offers an excellent value and exceptional performance for drip, press, and pour over brewing, as well as a timed grinding option that the Encore lacks.

    If you’re looking for something a little more challenging to learn on, but that offers more precision, there’s the Eureka Mignon Crono. The Crono’s stepless grind adjust can be tough to master, but it offers the ability to get a very precise grind perfect for getting every note out of those tricky single origin roasts. The Crono does come in at a higher price than the Scala and the Encore, and may be well suited for an upgrade if you’ve already got a burr grinder that you’re looking to grow from. 

    With your grinder picked out, there’s a few more pieces of gear you’ll need to get brewing!

    Scales and Kettles

    Outside of fresh grinding your beans, the other key components to brewing great coffee are water temperature and proper grounds to water ratios. Consistent temperature in the 195-205 fahrenheit range is key to getting a great pour over (or any coffee brew). To achieve that, you’ll want a kettle that you can trust, and that offers variable temperatures. For this, we think the best combination of price, performance, and features for this holiday season is the Bonavita Interurban. The Interurban provides precision temperature control, multiple presets, and a stylish look with multiple finish options.

    In terms of scales, there’s a couple of great ways you can go. Your scale is very important because you need to both weigh your grounds going in, and weigh as you pour to ensure the proper ratio. To achieve this, we recommend either the Hario V60 Drip Scale or the Oxo Precision Scale and Timer. Both are reasonably priced, accurate, and feature timers to help you with your bloom and pours.

    For those looking to take their weighing the extra mile, the Acaia Pearl offers even more precise weight, an expanded set of brew modes, and connectivity with Acaia’s smartphone apps, which help you dial in your pour over recipe to the T.

    Drippers and Servers

    For your choice of dripper, it really comes down to preference, as all drippers do create an almost imperceptible difference in flavor. For starters, there’s the Hario V60, which is a classic, and very affordable. We’d recommend the V60 as you first start exploring pour over. If you’re looking to get a little bit more adventurous, the Kalita Wave and Espro Bloom both offer interesting takes on pour over drippers, and are worth giving a try.

    Many people just brew their pour over directly into their mug of choice, but if you’re looking to brew for two, or just brew extra for yourself, you can pick up a Hario V60 Server, which is a great option for brewing a “pot” of pour over.

    With grounds, water, weight, and dripping all worked out, all you need is to add filters for your dripper of choice, and you’re good to go!

  • Simplifying Your Morning Cup

    Hey Coffee Fans!

    With school starting and many parents helping their children to access a virtual classroom, we thought it would be a good time to look at ways to simplify your morning cup of coffee! 

    There are a few techniques that can help you cut down your time to coffee in the morning, no matter what brew method you choose. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite ways to do this!

    Workflow

    We’ve talked at length about workflow in the past, and it’s important here as well. Making sure you have access to your coffee, grinder, and brewing equipment is the key to a quick cup of Joe. This means setting up a dedicated workspace for brewing your coffee if you can. You should also identify the passive elements of your brewing that can take the longest. Do you brew pour over? Makes sure you start heating your water as a first step. Drip fan? Consider placing your filter in the basket the night before. 

    Another great way to speed up your brewing process is to portion coffee ahead of time. Taking 10 minutes to prep pre-weighed coffee is a great way to save a few extra minutes while you prepare your brew! You can also fill your drip brewer’s water tank the night before to cut that step from the drip brewing process.

    Method

    To really hone in on brewing faster coffee, you might want to take a look at your brewing process. Slow, hands on methods like pour over are not the quickest option. You might want to consider switching to something like drip or press brewing, two “set it and forget it” methods. In the case of drip brewing, all you have to do is load up the water and grounds and push a button. Five minutes later, you’ll have delicious coffee!

    Similarly to drip brewing, for a coffee press you just load in coffee and water and set it to steep, ready to press later. You can even take your press around with you to have your coffee the second it’s finished steeping.

    Of course, for rapid morning coffee there’s nothing faster than a superautomatic espresso machine. Superautos give you delicious coffee with just a few button presses. What’s more, you can even make lattes and cappuccinos in a super automatic with a milk steaming system. Many of the best superautomatic espresso machines even steam milk automatically!

    We hope these methods and ideas help you get your coffee just a tad bit quicker this school season. Stay safe!

  • Brew Ratios

    Most at-home coffee enthusiasts know that the gold standard brew ratio for a pot of coffee is 1:16 coffee to water. This means that if you use 10 grams of ground coffee you’ll want to use 160 grams of hot water for brewing. The reason for this has to do with extraction. Coffee to water ratio is one of the three key ingredients for brewing great coffee. The others, of course, are water temperature and grind size.

    With all of that in mind, are there times that you might want to stray from that 1:16 ratio? 

    Alternative Brew Ratios

    For drip and pour over coffee, 1:16 will create the gold standard cup of coffee that really exemplifies the roast that you’re using. It’ll be the best way to tease out the flavor notes on the bag and generally offers the flavor agreed upon as ideal. That said, everyone’s tastes are different. If you brew up a new bag and find that it tastes too strong, you can try a 1:17 ratio. This will “water down” the coffee, but it may create a flavor more conducive to your taste buds. 

    The reverse of this is true too. If you like your new roast but wish it were just a stronger flavor, by brewing at a 1:15 ratio you’ll find a stronger flavor. The issue is what flavors this will tend to bring out. A weaker ratio may water down some of the more delicate, gentle notes that make a coffee unique. By contrast, brewing a roast stronger may not intensify your favorite notes.

    Ratios for Different Brew Methods

    While all of the above applies to drip, pour over, and press brewing, espresso is a different world entirely. There’s certainly a lot of ways to express a brewer’s touch on pour over coffee, but espresso offers another level of experimentation. Generally, you’ll want to start with a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water for espresso. With that said, the variability of espresso flavors by slightly modifying parameters is quite pronounced. 

    The goal with espresso shots is to brew something smooth without any bitterness or sour notes. To do this, you have to careful balance grind level, shot time, and ratios. Many easy to dial in blends will work best at that 1:2 ratio with a 20-30 second shot time. The variable will be your grind size, which you’ll adjust to hit those parameters. But then there’s the trickier single origins.

    While that 1:2 ratio and 20-30 second pull time is a good baseline, we try coffees better suited to experimentation all the time. These usually come in the form of single origins. In some cases, a longer pull will draw out some of the sneakier flavor notes in a single origin. On the flip side, using more coffee and less water can drastically alter the profile of the shot.

    The important thing when experimenting with espresso is to make very small adjustments. Jumping to a 1:1 ratio will have a pretty significant impact on shot flavor. This may result in a better shot, or one especially suited to combining with milk. That said, we usually recommend experimenting with pull time and grind size before adjusting ratios. This is partly because there’s a limit to the amount of coffee you can make work in a portafilter on both sides of the equation. 

     

    Hopefully this look at brew ratios has given you some ideas for where you’d like to take your next espresso shot or pour over!

  • Roast of the Month: Brandywine Costa Rica Las Lajas

    It’s that time once again for Roast of the Month! This month we have a unique and delicious Costa Rican Black Honey roast from the ever excellent Brandywine Coffee Roasters! 

    Region and Process

    Costa Rican coffee is always a treat because the flavors present are usually quite diverse. Typically coffee regions tend to have a unifying theme when it comes to flavor. Colombian coffee with its rich chocolate flavors and Ethiopian coffee featuring those strong berry notes. In the case of Costa Rican coffee, you tend to get a wide range of notes that are hard to push into a particular bucket. While that may mean it’s harder to pick out a perfect coffee from the region, for adventurous coffee drinkers it’s a great thing. Thankfully roasters like Brandywine also offer quite accurate and detailed tasting notes as well, which helps.

    Black honey processing is a unique method of processing that is becoming more common, but is still not something we see every day. Honey processing is a type of processing where the skin of the coffee cherry is removed (as opposed to a natural process where it’s left on) but the some of the mucilage inside of the cherry is left on the bean to ferment (as opposed to a washed process where the whole cherry is removed). The result is flavors that mirror a natural process but with slightly less intensity. Black honey processing is a process by which the smallest amount of cherry is removed from the bean, which leads to more intense flavor than a typical honey process. 

    Brewing and Flavor Profile

    As with most of our Roast of the Months, we recommend brewing this one as a pour over. This is because it has diverse and complex enough flavors that the separation offered by pour over really does the job best. We brewed at a standard pour over grind with a V60, 200 degrees fahrenheit water, and a standard 1:16 ratio. The result is a dazzling cup that brings out the notes on the bag pretty exactly.

    The apple juice note is subtle but present in a sort of fleeting way. It’s met with those delicious sweet-tart kiwi notes and a softer melon flavor. Finally, the brown sugar note is what ties these three fruity flavors together. It sort of dances around the edges of the palate, offering a delicious bow for this present of a roast. Body wise, this coffee is well rounded and full without venturing into heavy, oily territory. It’s definitely a medium roast that trends lighter, but without the brighter characteristics you get from a light roast.

    This coffee does hold up in other brew methods as well, working especially as a drip brew. With a great brewer and the right grind, you can get a near perfect cup of drip coffee from the roast. 

    Like with every single origin, this roast will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to order a bag before it’s gone!

  • Pour Over or Press?

    Espresso and drip coffee both require machines that might not be easy to accommodate in a small kitchen, or travel with. For those looking for a brewing solution that fits some tighter spaces, pour over and press brewing is quite attractive! Let’s take a look at each style so you can get an idea for what might fit your taste buds more.

    Water

    Whether you end up going for press or pour over, hot water is a must. We recommend picking up a variable temperature kettle like this Bonavita kettle or this Fellow EKG. One of the most important parts of any brew method is accurate, consistent temperatures, and both of these kettles will provide that!

    If you’re traveling and don’t want to bring a whole kettle with you, you can get by with boiling water left off boil for 20-30 seconds. 

    Pour Over

    Pour over brewing is simple and effective, but takes a little practice to get right. When considering it as a brewing option with a smaller footprint, keep your scale in mind. Because of how pour over is made, you really need a scale to measure weight as you brew. This can take up additional space, but there are plenty of scale options that are compact enough to slide into a bag for travel. We love the Hario V60 Drip Scale for its slim profile and usability.

    You’ll also need a dripper, which doesn’t take up much cupboard space, but can be difficult to pack for travel if that’s your goal. The Hario V60 is a gold standard dripper, but this collapsible dripper from GSI Outdoor is perfect for travel. You’ll need appropriate filters for your dripper as well, which can add a bit more complication for travel.

    Space questions aside, pour over offers fantastic flavor. It’s the brew method we use here at SCG to try new coffees, and the perfect way to take in every note from a roast.

    Press

    Coffee presses generally offer a bolder, stronger flavor than pour over. For some, press coffee is the only way to go. Depending on your press, it can be a little bit difficult to get a totally grit free cup. With that in mind, the Aeropress Go is a fantastic press that uses a paper filter to strain the grounds. Aeropress is one of our most popular presses, and a fantastic option for coffee on the go or at home. The Go in particular collapses into a simple cup to travel with.

    Other presses can still offer excellent results as well and brew in larger quantities, but might be harder to travel with. Classic like this Bodum Brazil or this Espro P7 are fantastic options that are simple to use and delicious. These larger options are a little on the large side, so they might be hard to travel with.

    Final Thoughts

    One last thing to keep in mind is a grinder. Luckily a simple brew grinder like the Baratza Encore or the Oxo Brew can handle press or pour over brewing.

    The best thing you can do is try both brew methods. For those who like a little variety, the space and cost is gentle enough with pour over and press brewing that you might even find room for both!

  • 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!

  • Roast of the Month: Colombia Finca El Cedro

    It’s time once again for our Roast of the Month! This month we’re featuring Colombia Finca El Cedro from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters! We always love a unique Colombian single origin, and this one is no exception. Let’s get into brewing and tasting this delicious roast!

    Spice Forward

    We definitely think this one works in a variety of brew methods. Regardless of how you brew, this roast is very interesting because it really fits a “spice forward” profile. This is unique among Colombian coffees, which usually favor strong chocolate notes. In the case of this roast, the more chocolatey flavors are quite subtle, with much more spice coming out in the flavor profile. When we say spice here, we really mean a baker’s spice kind of thing. Notes cinnamon and nutmeg are what we taste, along with some of those sweeter notes from the fruitier flavors.

    The raspberry note on this one comes across as quite subtle, barely presenting unless you brew as a pour over. More prevalent are the brown sugar and apricot notes. When combined with that spice flavor you get a delicious fruit pie-like taste. We get the sort of pie notes that you might encounter in a Fall apple pie. 

    One interesting element to this roast is just how bloom time really affects the flavor here. Let’s talk about brew methods to get into that a little bit more!

    Brewing and Blooming

    When we refer to bloom time, we’re talking about the bloom step of brewing as pour over. This is the stage where acids are released from the coffee with a short pour at the start of the pour over process. By extending the bloom time on this roast, you can really affect the flavor. A longer bloom will bring out more of those spice notes, versus a shorter bloom time, which highlights a bit more of the sweetness. We’ve experimented with bloom times ranging from 20 seconds to a full minute!

    If you’re not brewing pour over, you’ll still get a great cup of coffee out of this roast. Drip brewing leads to a more balanced cup, which still highlights the spice notes we keep mentioning. As an espresso, you’re going to get more of that sweetness, which is usually the case with this richer brew method.

    No matter how you brew, Colombia Finca El Cedro is a delicious coffee that you won’t want to miss! Grab a bag today!

  • Coffee History: Japan

    It’s time for another look at coffee history, this time, in Japan! So much wonderful coffee gear comes from this island nation, so we wanted to take a look at how the drink has had an influence on the culture there! Let’s jump in.

    Coffee Arrives in Japan

    Like many goods, coffee first arrived in Japan in the 18th century, sometime around 1700. Our favorite bean found its way to Japan via Dutch traders, some of the first foreigners to make contact with the Japanese. For most of these early years, coffee was a luxury brewed at home by the wealthy, rather than at coffee shops like in most places. It wasn’t adopted widely in the country until the Meiji Era, which lasted from 1868 to 1912. Even during this time, its popularity was brief and limited.

    In 1888 the first coffee shop opened in Japan, and it closed just a few years later. It’s hard to pinpoint why the beverage had trouble catching on. A factor that may have been related is cost and difficulty in importing beans, especially already roasted ones.

    Coffee During the 20th Century

    During World War II, coffee was seen as a Western influence. This was true of many Western items, and was a function of the government’s stranglehold on the populace during their Imperialistic attempts at expansion. As a result of this, coffee was banned in Japan and didn’t have much presence in the country until well after the war was finished.

    Coffee began its resurgence in Japan in the 1960s, and grew immensely in popularity over the rest of the century. According to Rochelle and Viet Hong (Coffee In Japan: 100 Years of Mornings), imports grew from just 15,000 tonnes in 1960 to over 440,000 tonnes today. Part of this rise can be attributed to the ways in which Western culture became a fascination in Japan in the latter half of the 20th century. That, coupled with coffee’s marketing as an on the go beverage made it a convenient thing to enjoy on the way to work or school. This worked well in Japan’s busy, always in motion economy. 

    Modern Coffee Consumption

    In modern Japan, coffee occupies an interesting place in culture. It is still viewed as a Western beverage, and is treated like many elements of Western Culture. Much like American fast food and theme parks, coffee is viewed as a novelty. While still a largely on the go drink, it’s also one that’s enjoyed as a solitary one by most people. Unlike the United States, where coffee is often a social activity, this is largely reserved for tea in Japan. The exception comes from young people, who view coffee as a disruptive drink, and often enjoy it in groups as a counter-culture activity.

    We couldn’t talk about modern coffee in Japan without mentioning how much Japan has influenced Western coffee culture. Manufacturers like Hario have created some of the finest equipment for pour over in the world. Coffee may come to Japan from the West, but Japan has certainly made its mark on the way the world drinks coffee too!

  • Our New Arrivals!

    It’s time to take a look at some of the newest items we’ve added to our catalog here at Seattle Coffee Gear! With everything from grinders and scales to a brand new superauto, we have plenty to talk about. Let’s jump in!

    Jura Ena 8

    The Jura Ena 8 is the newest superautomatic espresso machine from this excellent manufacturer. The Ena 8 offers a small footprint and loads of drink options that make it the perfect superauto for someone who wants some style with their espresso machine. With a unique cylindrical water tank and bold design elements, the Ena 8 excels in that looks department. As for the drinks, this machine’s vibrant interface is intuitive and easy to use without sacrificing a depth of options. 10 build in recipes will be an excellent place to start, and one touch lattes will save you time when you’re in a hurry. To top it all off, Jura’s smart water filtration system keeps everything running clean and smooth and extends the time between descalings. Shop the Ena 8 here!

    All Black Eureka Mignon Filtro

    Eureka’s Mignon Filtro isn’t all new to the lineup, but its all black casing and hopper is. This excellent brew grinder is now available in a slick black finish that looks stunning alongside your favorite drip brewer. The new smoked black hopper adds an extra layer of style onto an already beautiful coffee grinder that we really can’t say enough about. Check out this update look here!

    Capresso Infinity Plus Coffee Grinder

    Looking for an affordable brew grinder? The Capresso Infinity Plus is a great option to get your first taste of fresh burr-ground coffee. With its affordable price point and simple operation, there’s a lot to love with this grinder. Using the original Capresso Infinity as a base, this new version features an updated hopper, clearer markings for adjustments, and a timer. All of this together makes it an excellent way to get started with brewing coffee from home. Just keep in mind that this is not a grinder we recommend for espresso, as it can only grind for pressurized baskets. Give the Capresso Infinity Plus a look here.

    Oxo Precision Scale and Timer

    We always love a new item from Oxo. This stylish little scale is a great way to dose and weigh your morning pour over. With a built in timer, you can even time your pour perfectly for that delicious recipe you have saved. An optional silicone sleeve keeps your vessel in place, and insulates the scale from heat. Finally, the Oxo’s big, bright display is easy to read even in lower lighting conditions. We do only recommend this scale for brewing, as it’s 0.1g accuracy is not quite fine enough for espresso shots. Shop this handy scale here.

    Stay tuned for more Summer additions to the catalog!

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