Reviews

  • Video Roundup: 3/27/20

    Hello out there!

    It's another week and another video roundup from us. As you might expect, we'll be making some creative changes to some of our video formats in the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy this week's videos, and look forward to some fun stuff coming soon!

     

    First up, John showed us how to pour a latte art favorite: the swan!

    Next, we got a crew comparison between two classic espresso machines from Allie!

    That's all for now! We know it's a light week, but we'll have so much more to share in the weeks ahead. Happy Friday everyone!

  • Video Roundup: 3/13/2020

    Hello Coffee fans!

    It's Friday and time for another video roundup! We have a selection of awesome videos to share this week, so let's dig right in:

    Firs up, John took a look at both the Mazzer Super Jolly and the Eureka Zenith 65 E in an informative Commercial Crew Review:

    Next, Allie offered up some tips and tricks for getting the most out of the Rocket Espresso Giotto Timer Evoluzione R!

    And finally, Allie and I gave some thoughts on our delicious Roast of the Month, Tony's Ethiopia Banko Dhadhato:

    That's all for now! We hope you're staying safe out there and enjoying a warm cup of coffee this weekend.

  • Video Roundup: 2/14/20

    Hello coffee fans!

    It's time for another video roundup at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    We'll start with a look at some entry level "prosumer" machines with Allie!

    Next up, it's a look at the Rancilio Specialty RS1 with John.

    Gail gave us some thoughts on the Baratza Forte BG vs. the Eureka Mignon:

    And finally, Allie and I did a tasting of our Roast of the Month for February, Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa!

    That's all for this week! We'll be back soon with more video content. Have a great weekend!

  • Roast of the Month: Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa

    After a holiday break, it's time once again for Seattle Coffee Gear's Roast of the Month!

    This month we're featuring the delicious Ethiopia Nano Challa from Methodical roasting. This roast starts with fantastic coffee from an ever consistent producer.

    Exploring Nano Challa

    The Nano Challa cooperative was founded in 2004. After over 15 years this group has grown to a whopping 350 farmers. The farmers here grow world renowned coffee in the shade of the local forest. When it comes time for processing, the coffee is similarly dried in the shade. Drying coffee in this way does take longer than sun-drying, but also leads to more developed flavors. By the time it makes it to roasters around the world, this coffee has been lovingly grown, sorted, dried, and washed to perfection.

    Methodical's take on this coffee is absolutely exquisite. The roaster only lists two simple tasting notes, but there really is so much going on in the cup. The tangerine and sweet lemon notes on the bag get to the citrusy, bright acidity of this coffee. This flavor profile mixes with more common Ethiopian notes like berry and chocolate that we expect from coffees like this.

    What's even more impressive is that this coffee features a really smooth, balanced body too. This isn't a super light, flavor chasing type roast that requires a super refined palate. This is simply a good, drinkable coffee perfect for a wide range of tastes.

    Brew Methods

    Of course, as you might expect, we recommend a pour over for this coffee. This is a brew method that will really give you the richest flavor profile without being too strong. It's the best way to understand this coffee. With that said, this one will work well as a press and drip brew if you generally prefer those methods.

    Check out Methodical's Ethiopia Nano Challa today right here.

  • Video Roundup: 1/31/2020

    Hey Coffee Fans!

    We've got some great videos to share this week, so let's get started!

    First up, Allie shared some great tips for brewing an iced Chemex.

    Next up, John was joined by Andrew from Rancilio to take a look at the Specialty RS1:

    Finally, it's a classic Crew Comparison throwdown between the Rocket Espresso Faustino and Eureka Mignon grinders:

    That's all we have for now, stay tuned for more video magic!

  • Video Roundup: 12/20/2019

    Welcome back to another video roundup!

    We're only a couple of weeks away from 2020, and we're pretty excited about it! Let's jump into our videos from this week:

    Kicking off our videos, Gail dropped in with her picks for the best grinders under $250.

    Next up, John took a look at how temperature can have an impact on the flavor of your espresso:

    Then, it's a classic Crew Comparison with Gail between the Miele CM6150 and the Philips 3200 LatteGo!

    Finally, we're so happy to share a look back at some of our favorite bloopers of 2019!

    That's all for now! We'll be back next week for our final roundup of 2019.

  • 2019 Holiday Roasts Guide - Part 3

    Welcome to part three of our Holiday Roasts Guide! If you haven't check out parts one and two, be sure to give them a read!

    Toady we're looking at another batch of seasonal roasts perfect for enjoying with your friends and family for the holidays!

    Boast Coffee - The Gift

    Boast's 2019 holiday roast is called the Gift. It's a lovely blend that features notes of mixed berry pie, caramel, and graham cracker crust. The roaster has really leaned into the "holiday pie" set of flavors with this one, and we think it's pretty delicious! The result is a flavor profile that lands right in the middle between new and traditional holiday tastes. It also features a perfect medium body that isĀ justĀ the thing for entertaining guests. Some folks love a darker roast, and some experienced friends and families will appreciate something light, but everyone loves a good medium roast. Also of note is the processes on this blend. All of the beans feature a single origin, but different processes. So you get some of the flavors of washed, honey, and natural processing styles without any flavor overwhelming. This one is best as a pour over, but can be enjoyed in a variety of brew methods. Pick up a bag here!

     

    Partners Coffee Roasters - Miracle on North 6th St.

    Partners offers up a gorgeous package with delicious tasting notes this holiday season. Miracle on North 6th St. has noes of orange, cinnamon, and malbec. These all combine for a deliciously traditional set of flavors we're sure you'll love. We love the notes of natural beans in here that don't overwhelm, tempered by the milder tones of a washed process. Mixing Latin American and African beans, this is a warm blend that tastes great on a chilly morning or an evening with guests. Enjoyable in a wide variety of brew methods so that you can test it out however you'd like. Grab a bag before its gone here!

     

     

    Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Winter Solstice

    Perfect for enjoying with it's namesake, Winter Solstice is a great seasonal blend from Kickapoo. This roaster from Wisconsin knows a think or two about frozen winter nights, so who better to offer a seasonal roast to keep you warm? This one lands squarely on the "traditional" side of the fence, with prominent notes of dark chocolate, caramel, and apple. Super rich and very warm and cozy, this is a wonderful roast for the season to keep you warm into the wee hours of the morning. We're sure you'll love it as a drip brew, making it an easy one to bust out for groups as well. You can purchase a bag of Winter Solstice here.

     

     

    Velton's Coffee - Holiday Blend

    Local favorite Velton's Coffee really delivered this Holiday with their seasonal Holiday Blend. This one is a little bit fruitier, with the natural beans in the blend bringing on prominent, but not overwhelming notes of raspberry and pineapple. This roast also features washed beans, so never fear if you find that natural flavor overwhelming. Velton also lists candied lemon as a note, which captures the sweet but citrusy taste we get on the end of the sip. This is a great roast to try as a filter brew. This brewing method normalizes the flavor notes so that no single not overwhelms the others. Perfect for a medium roast like this one! Pick up a bag here.

     

     

    Bluebeard Coffee Roasters - Snowbeard Holiday Blend

    Bluebeard is really on a roll this year, and their Holiday Blend is no exception whatsoever. Perfectly balancing sweet and rich elements, this blend has exactly what you want in a holiday roast. Deep chocolate and plum notes meet baking spice and toffee for a taste that has to be tried to be believed. This is the sort of coffee that the most stalwart cream and sugar user will drink straight up, because it offers such a creamy profile with its sweetness. We really can wait for you to try it. Snowbeard is great as whatever brew method you like best. Espresso will bring out its sweeter elements while a drip brew will provide a more balanced cup. Get it before its gone here.

     

     

    That's all for now! Join us next week for our final look at our 2019 holiday blends!

     

  • Video Roundup: 12/13/2019

    Hello coffee fans!

    It's Friday the 13th, but that doesn't mean this coffee round up will get freaky. Or does it?...

    It doesn't. Sorry to disappoint!

    Anyway, on to the videos!

    First up, yours truly hosted the first episode of Under Pressure, our new coffee themed game show!

    Next up, Gail took a look at the SCG Exclusive Bambino Pro!

    Next up, John took a look at a couple of commercial cold brew brewing methods!

    Then we have a crew review of the Seattle Coffee Gear pour over set!

    And finally, it's a look at some delicious holiday drinks with Allie!

    We hope you enjoy these videos, we'll be back with more next week!

     

  • Breville Barista Express Vs. Barista Pro

    If you've followed Breville's espresso machine output you're definitely familiar with the Barista Express. This legendary machine is so many home barista's first machine due to its built in grinder. We love the simplicity of this machine and how it helps you learn the basics of crafting espresso. It also lets you use unpressurized portafilters, so you can learn and grow with the machine. This year Breville introduced the Barista Pro. This machine is very similar to the Express, but offers some extra bells and whistles. We wanted to dive into the differences between the machines to help you make a decision for your first purchase, or upgrade

    External Design and Features

    First, the basics: Both of these machines feature a built in burr grinder perfect for producing grounds specifically for them. They also share a case form factor, with the Pro offering slightly sleeker lines but generally the same shape. Both machines have a dedicated hot water spout for crafting Americanos. That said, the Pro's spout is angled slightly to fire directly into you cup so you can pull the water without moving it.

    The biggest difference between the two machines is the digital vs. analog displays. The Express has several buttons for different functions and an analogue pressure gauge in the middle of its interface. By comparison, the Pro has a bright, backlit digital display with smaller buttons. Some users do prefer having the analogue steam gauge, but we don't feel it ultimately adds all that much. The best way to dial in a shot is to focus on the time it takes to pull, rather than watching a steam gauge. That screen on the Pro also gives you deep control over brewing without cluttering the face with buttons.

    Internals and Performance

    The visual/interface differences between these machines is the most noticeable thing from afar. However, it's the performance that really sets the Pro apart. The Barista Express features Breville's Thermocoil water heating. Water is pulled through a heated coil to reach the perfect brewing temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its allows the machine to heat fairly quickly, but you'll still want to turn it on and give it a minute or two to warm up.

    The Pro, on the other hand, uses Breville's newer thermojet heating. This allows you to pull shots within 20 seconds of flipping the machine on, it also means lightning fast warm up time for steaming. That also means almost non-existent downtime between drinks. The design principals between the two heating elements are similar, but the Pro's heating is just... better.

    Conclusion

    Both of these machines offer fantastic introductions to home espresso. It's why the Pro is offered alongside the Express rather than as a replacement. Which one makes sense for your first machine depends on your preference in their appearance, and whether you value the faster drinks of the Pro or the analogue gauge of the Express. If you already own an express and want a little more performance without advancing to an even higher end machine, the Pro is a fantastic upgrade. You can check them both out on our Breville brand page.

  • Miele CM5000 Series Review

    The Miele 5000 series seeks to pack the power and programmability of the 6000 series into a lower price point and smaller footprint. Does it succeed? Today we're taking a look at this interesting machine in a crew review!

    Appearance and Usability

    The Miele 5300 (and SCG Exclusive 5500) take the design aesthetic of the 6000 series as a guide. This means that the Miele "coffee box" look is present here as well. As part of the switch to the smaller case style, the 5300 and 5500 have dispensers on the outside of the case. These machine are also missing the light that is present on the 6000 machines. It's definitely a trade-off, and some will prefer the aesthetics of the 6000s. We like the way the 5000s look, and are especially enamored with our SCG exclusive. The color on the 5500 is really gorgeous and sets itself apart from the rest of the line.

    Usability on both machines is solid, with a similar interface to the 6000 series. Again the 5500 shines here, with its hot water spout and profiles for custom drinks. The case designs are good, though some with low cabinets may find accessing the water and bean hopper frustrating. The machines' compact size also results in smaller hoppers and tanks. We found this to be a worthwhile tradeoff though for anyone needing that smaller size. Cleaning and maintenance of these machines is as simple and menu driven as on its older siblings. All of this makes the 5000 series very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. If you can, snag a 5500!

    Performance

    Performance wise, Mieles make great coffee. Heatup time is quick and the brews are good and strong. As we always say, you'll always get better coffee from a highly trained barista on a superauto. That aside, Mieles produce shots on par with machines from Jura and Philips-Saeco, the other two leaders on the market. The 5000 series machines are also great because they're giving you the same coffee that you'd get out of a 6000. That's not always true of the "compact" versions of larger machines, and deserves a callout.

    On the milk front, the 5000 series also offers the quality that the larger machines do. While we couldn't quite get latte art out of one of these machines, a truly experienced barista may be able to bridge that gap. The milk is also steamed quite fast, though your mileage may very with certain alternative milks.

    The number of drink options available is great across the board, and there's a notable difference here where it counts. For example, lattes and cappuccinos are more varied here than on some superautos, where just the volume of milk vs. coffee changes rather than milk texture. The Miele's "coffee" button is also better than on a lot of machines. Because superautos brew espresso and not drip coffee, you're never quite getting that with the coffee button on a machine like this. Instead, you're getting a lungo pulled shot. That means a shot that has extra water poured through it. It's kind of like an Americano but with water pulled through the coffee instead of added after brewing. With Miele's carafe mode, you can actually brew a whole pot of this drip-like brew. Other machines can brew single cups, but something about the ratios on Mieles make it a little closer to drip brewing.

    Conclusion

    If you have the budget and counter space, the 6000 Mieles are still a really great option. With that said, we think the 5000 line is here to stay, and they're fantastic machines if you need something more compact or affordable. Check out the 5500 here and the 5300 here!

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