Q&A

  • Community Q&A: July 2018

    Welcome to the first Community Q&A at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    Here we'll feature questions sent to us at questions@seattlecoffeegear.com, the best question will receive a $10 SCG gift card!

    This month's Community Q&A question comes to us from Sam!

    the Barista Express™

    Sam asks:

    I bought a lovely Breville Barista Express and every now & again the basket will get stuck when removing the portafilter.  Any Ideas Why?  Great machine, still dialing in my shots.

    The Answer:

    This could be one of a few things! For starters, you'll want to check your grind consistency and texture. A very fine grind can lead to the puck developing an adhesive, cement like texture after pulling your shot. This, combined with the 3 way solenoid in the Barista Express' sucks air through the brew head (as its designed to) can lead to pucks getting stuck! A particularly sticky puck could even take a basket with it!

    To remedy this, you could try a coarser grind.

    The other potential issue is temperature. If you're leaving your portafilter in the brew group (as many do) and leaving the machine on for long periods of time, the expansion of the metal from the heat could be causing the basket to get stuck.

    A fix for this would be to try leaving the machine off, or the portafilter out of the brew head, and see if you're still running into issue when you power it on to pull a shot.

    There is, of course, the possibility that the issue lies in a warped basket too! Though Breville makes very consistent products!

    Sam's excellent question this month won him a $10 Seattle Coffee Gear gift card, so what are you waiting for? Send us your coffee questions now for a chance to have your question answered here, and a gift card from Seattle Coffee Gear!

  • Intro to Community Q&A!

    Hey friends!

    Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we want to create a place where we can teach people about our biggest passion: Coffee! To that end, we're very excited to launch our monthly community Q&A feature. Looking to learn more about our favorite espresso machines? Wondering what the difference between Ethiopian and Burndi coffee is? have something to teach US? Great! Drop us a line at questions@seattlecoffeegear.com and you may be featured in a future Q&A feature!

    The best question each month will receive a Seattle Coffee Gear gift card!

    Again that email is questions@seattlecoffeegear.com and we can't wait to hear from you!

  • Ask Gail: How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

    When you purchase fresh coffee beans, you’ll probably notice a roast date labeled on the bag and you might wonder: “How long do coffee beans last?” “Do coffee beans expire?” At Seattle Coffee Gear, we receive these questions a lot and it's a tough one to answer. We adhere to roaster guidelines for freshness and that right there is the keyword: freshness. Not expiration in the way most people understand it like a sour glass of milk. We could quickly agree that those foul smelling notes mean the milk has expired, but open coffee roasted six months ago and there probably won’t be that telltale reek. However, your nose may detect something is different. Coffee is volatile and the coffee industry only agrees on one fact: coffee changes.

    To answer the question, “How long do coffee beans last?” Let’s be frank: Until it stops tasting good. Let’s break down what “good” coffee is.

    Coffee Freshness

    In the coffee community, freshness is generally agreed upon by the roast date. The closer it is to the roast date, the fresher the beans. The moment coffee is roasted it begins to stale thanks to oxidation, not time. Of course, the more time oxygen has to work on the beans, the more it’ll stale. However, roasters haven’t agreed upon what “stale” means for coffee. As James Hoffman puts it in The World Atlas of Coffee; “The specialty coffee industry has failed to make a real impact because there is no strong agreement on how quickly coffee goes stale, and at what point it will have passed its best-before date.” Our practice at Seattle Coffee Gear is to follow the individual roaster’s guidelines, which are between two and four weeks then we’ll pull the coffee off the shelf.

    How long the coffee freshness lasts after roasting also depends on roaster’s processes like the packaging. There are different types of bags like the triple-ply foil that prevent fresh air from getting in while a valve allows carbon dioxide out. It’s a common packaging we see with our roasters and at your local grocery store. There are also packaging techniques that factor in coffee freshness such as nitrogen flushing. This process, used by Lavazza, helps preserve coffee beans by flushing away the oxygen and so temporarily eliminates it going stale. We say temporarily because as soon as you open the bag, oxygen finds its way in and begins to stale your coffee.

    How To Tell If Coffee Is Bad

    We know you were thinking about it. You’re probably sniffing your bag of beans trying to decide if it was bad or stale. Your nose is your best detector. “The human tongue can only really taste five flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami,” our Portland store manager, Joe, says. “The nose, however, is a magical input drive that can delineate between thousands and thousands of distinct compounds and the brain processes this information in the same place/way. Smell and taste are intimately linked.” So when your nose can’t smell the coffee, you can assume the flavor is gone.

    Of course, what’s most important for coffee drinkers is flavor, and the freshest beans don’t guarantee the best flavor. In fact, we’ve brewed beans a month past their roast date and loved them. We’ve had those same beans right after roasting and preferred the aged beans. That’s why we think how long coffee beans last can be gauged by flavor. Each coffee’s flavor profile is different, but once the volatile aromatics break down, so does the flavor. Think of it in terms of cooking. The oils carry the flavor and so when the oils in coffee are gone, so is the flavor. “As they are volatile, these compounds slowly leach from the coffee so the older it is the less interesting it will taste,” writes Hoffman.

    Storing Coffee

    The best way to store and keep your coffee as fresh as possible—because inevitably, you will open your freshly roasted beans and start the cycle of oxidation—is to keep it in a cool, dry place. Oxygen and moisture are the enemies of coffee. Once water comes in contact with beans, it starts the brewing process and extracts the flavor. That’s why products like the AirScape Coffee Bean Canister are excellent to keep around since it uses a one-way valve to push out oxygen and air-tight lid to keep out the elements—hello, fresh coffee.

    Freezing coffee, then, seems like a bad idea but it’s a trend we’ve seen in the coffee community. It’s not all misplaced either. Done properly, freezing coffee has its benefits. One benefit is using it for espresso to extract a richer, thicker body. If you freeze ground coffee, it’ll dissolve faster in hot water and produce a fuller flavor. However, once you take the coffee out of the freezer, you can’t let it thaw. Any moisture that condenses on the beans will start the extraction process on your coffee. A way around this is to measure the dosage for how much coffee you’ll need.

    How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

    In the coffee community, the word expired describes coffee differently than other foods like milk. There’s no defined expiration or best-by date for coffee. We can only guarantee that coffee is volatile substance and therefore will rapidly change. How long coffee beans last also depends on the type—sorry didn’t mean to throw you a curveball. Ground coffee, for example, has more surface area for oxygen to leach out the flavor compounds. If you wanted to keep your coffee fresher longer, we’d recommend leaving the beans whole and grinding them only when you’re ready.

    Lastly, the best way to determine if your coffee is fresh, like we’ve discussed, is to follow your senses. If you no longer taste the notes you love, it’s safe to say your coffee expired and it’s time for a new bag. What’s really important is if you still enjoy your coffee regardless of the best-by date. Of course, at Seattle Coffee Gear, we make sure to adhere to roaster’s guidelines and pull coffee that’s past the freshness date provided. While we enjoy sipping our coffee sooner rather than later, we follow our senses and let the coffee speak for itself.

  • How To Guide: Ask a Question

    Ask a Question

    You’ve probably spent hours reading through product reviews and prolonged stories just to discover the question you’re looking for wasn’t there. Enter: Ask a Question—our way of saying, “Hey, we know you’ve got burning questions best answered before you’ve made a purchase.” Ask a Question is an interactive community of machine owners and product experts answering questions using their real experience. If it goes unanswered, our Crew steps in with the best response—we’re coffee machine owners, too!

    Where To Find It

    Under every product, we've included the "Ask a Question" tab. Click on the tab and you'll see all the questions and answers. To ask and answer questions, you can be anonymous or log in to your account.

    How This Works

    1. Type in your question. If there are matching questions in our Q&A database, we'll show them immediately.
    2. If there aren't any, submit a new question. You'll get fast answers from customers who really own the item(s) and from our product experts. (About half the time you'll get an answer in under two hours, depending on your question and the item you are asking about...)

    Done! Now you can save time searching through the internet. If you need a place to start thinking of questions you'd want to ask, we've got you covered.

    Good Topics To Ask About

    • Which items will best meet your needs
    • What customers who own an item think of it
    • How to use, fix or take care of an item
    • Product information
    • General advice related to the types of products we sell
    Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 4.15.53 PM Here's a customer's answer to a question on the Saeco Xelsis Evo.


    Share Your Experience

    As a proud new owner of a coffee maker, you're in the know. Make suggestions for newbies or share your early morning coffee routine. It's your time to shine and show you've got this—remember the pure satisfaction of knowing the answer in class and impressing all the kids and teacher. Yeah, it's something like that.

    Now, you owners might be wondering how you'll know there's a new question to be answered. We'll shoot you an email and let you know when there's a new one. Or you can take a look under the Ask a Question tab and see if there's anything you can answer. If you don't know and you're thinking you got to know too, just click on the "I Have This Question Too," to let owners know. Our Crew can take on unanswered questions or provide other suggestions we know.

    That's all there is to it! Check out how many questions and answers you or others have entered by clicking on their name. You might be surprised at how much you know—any excuse to call Mom and brag, right?

     

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