roasting

  • Spotted Cow Coffee Co at SCG Bellevue

    SpottedCow_Selects (2 of 21)

    Let's just call them trendsetters.

    Spotted Cow Coffee Company is quietly nestled in the city of Mill Creek, just 25 minutes due north of the bustling coffee scene of Seattle. However, Spotted Cow isn’t doing anything quietly.SpottedCow_Selects (1 of 21)

    Since open in 2003, the Spotted Cow has progressively been setting the tone for specialty coffee in smaller Western Washington cities often overshadowed by Seattle’s highly saturated market. In the midst of this coffee overload, they have found a unique voice offering high quality coffee in a warm and welcoming setting. This caught the eye of our team here at Seattle Coffee Gear, prompting us to bring them on as one of our earliest roasters available online and featured in store to be enjoyed on our tasting wall.

    Leading up to their “Hello September Open House”, we invited head roaster Joshua Montoya to join us at our Bellevue location to showcase some of Spotted Cow’s delicious coffees in espresso and pour over form at our tasting. Sharing his wisdom on their roasting approach as well as notes to look for in their various offerings, Joshua and crew masterfully prepared their Ethiopian Gedeb as well as their flagship Farmhouse blend and answered questions from guests who came out to the pop-up. Notes of strawberry and sweet citrus shone through in their Gedeb, while Farmhouse showcased refined flavors of dark chocolate covered berries and stone fruit.SpottedCow_Selects (7 of 21)SpottedCow_Selects (15 of 21)SpottedCow_Selects (21 of 21)Join Spotted Cow Coffee Co this Saturday, September 9th, from 10am to 6pm at their cafe in Mill Creek, WA for their Hello September Open House! SCG will be on site preparing and serving coffee from 10-1pm, so make sure to stop by and say hello!

    Purchase a bag of Spotted Cow here!

  • Roaster Feature: Huckleberry Roasters

    It’s your classic coffee shop success story: Local barista meets customer. Customer becomes a regular. Barista and regular bond over a love for records and beer, becoming good friends. Friends experiment with roasting coffee in their garage. That coffee gives way to Huckleberry Roasters – Denver based coffee roaster and café producing some of Seattle Coffee Gear’s favorite coffee.

    Huckleberry Roasters is the byproduct of entrepreneurs Koan Goedman and Mark Mann’s friendship that developed over a shared passion for community centric business practices and specialty coffee. Shown in their transparent relationship with their farmers, their ever growing staff of excited coffee professionals, and their dedicated following of customers expanding far beyond the Mile High City area – it’s clear that Huckleberry Roasters is doing something incredibly special.

    Huckleberry Roasters Pecos Street location. Image Credit: Ross Evertson

     

     

    We caught up with co-founder Koan Goedman to hear a little bit about his personal journey in coffee, how Huckleberry Roasters came to be and where they’re going next, and his favorite home brew method.

    Huckleberry Roasters co-founders Koan Goedman (left) & Mark Mann (right). Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney Huckleberry Roasters co-founders Koan Goedman (left) & Mark Mann (right). Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    It seems like every coffee enthusiast has a journey where really good coffee finally clicks for them. When was that aha moment for you?

    Can I claim two "aha" moments or is that a huge cop-out? The first, which happened as a consumer, I remember quite vividly. It was a natural Ethiopia Harrar from Intelligentsia brewed on a Fetco in 2002. To be totally honest, I didn't seek it out and I didn't really know what to do with the coffee when I tasted it -- it was so radically different from what I thought coffee was. It was delicious and I wanted more! Fast forward most of a decade, the second a-ha moment came very early on in Huckleberry's existence. We'd just roasted a coffee from Guatemala, called Finca La Bolsa. Joe Marrocco from Cafe Imports suggested it and who was I to argue? It was one of the first coffees that we roasted and was legit tasty! We roasted it well, we sort of knew why & how we roasted it well. It was a milestone for a tiny coffee roasting company and it propelled us forward!

    Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    It’s one thing to go from simply enjoying coffee to stepping into the specialty coffee industry. What made you decide to take this venture on? What was the goal?

    I wish this story was a bit more romantic, but here's the truth: it could have been anything! Mark Mann and I shared in an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to own a business together...and coffee is what we did, what we knew and what we were interested in. Had we been heavier/savvier drinkers, maybe it would've been a neighborhood bar (I own one of those now, so what does that say about me?). Had we been makers and better with our hands, maybe it would've been a leather goods company? We knew coffee, we had an amazingly supportive community through coffee and our decision was basically made for us. The path forward seemed clear(ish).

    Like most businesses, our mission statement is a living thing. It changes from time to time. Our focus gets shaped and shifted as our experience teaches us what works. However, from day one, we've always wanted Huckleberry Roasters to mean something, stand for something and leave a mark. This certainly manifests itself in our coffee philosophy, where we try to be approachable and welcoming in the coffee we source, roast, brew and serve. That foundational goal also pushes us to be generous in our fundraising and support of organizations doing important work, while also pushing ourselves forward towards a healthy, thriving and fun company culture for our family of employees.

    The roasting process. Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    What is your favorite coffee that you currently are roasting?

    Like picking a favorite child. This is cruel! I've been on a pretty big South & Central American coffee kick lately. We just roasted the last of some of our Colombian coffees, but we have a stunner from Costa Rica, called Santa Maria, that's just the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas. It's so good! Comforting in all the right ways with deep sweetness and fantastic body, but also with some grape and candied orange fruitiness that keeps your attention. It also happens to be one of the kinds of coffees that Huckleberry prides itself in! We're really proud of the cooperative (CoopeDota) it comes from and being able to help Costa Rica continue to be a global leader in sustainable coffee growing. It's maybe not the wild & crazy flavor profile you may get from a Kenya, but it's super drinkable and enjoyable. It's the kind of coffee that I think specialty coffee needs to truly embrace if we're going to keep growing.

    Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    What is your favorite way to brew at home?

    Siphon. Ha ha. False - I'm not a psycho. Honestly, the go to is the Bonavita Auto Brewer. It's easy, it's consistent, it's fast, it makes good coffee and it allows me to spend my little free time with my family.

    Outside of Huckleberry, are there any other roasters your excited about?

    Most def! I (and Huckleberry on the whole) have a pretty big crush on the lovelies over at Cat & Cloud. Just a bunch of superheroes over there that are hitting all the marks right now! Plus, I used to go to Capitola Beach when I was growing up, so I have a soft spot for that city. I continue to always be in total awe of Counter Culture. (Do I just have a thing for roasters with the letter C?) Counter Culture keeps growing and does so with such smoothness and ease that it's almost irritating. If only they weren't so dang nice! We get to send them coffee from time to time and their roasters give us the best, no bulls*** constructive criticism we hear.

    Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    Image Credit: Koan Goedman Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    Community is clearly at the core of Huckleberry. How did that become so central to the ethos of what you guys are doing?

    I think I hinted at this a little bit in an earlier response, but...we would be nothing without the love and support of our friends & families. They said our coffee tastes good when it didn't, and encouraged us to push onward. They said our coffee tasted bad when we thought we were masters, and still encouraged us to push forward. We embraced all that love and wanted to be sure that we passed it forward ourselves - be it in the communities of our cafes, be it in being helpful to other coffee companies, so on and so on. Sadly, I think the word community has become somewhat meaningless over the last few years. It's such a trendy word to throw around that it's stopped being meaningful in a lot of ways. We do our best to push back against that tide as much as we can!

    The friends behind Huckleberry. Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney The friends behind Huckleberry. Image Credit: Kathleen Moloney
    Anything else we should know about what you guys are doing at Huckleberry?

    Oh, yea! Mark and I just signed our names on a lease to a new cafe! It's going to be super, duper mega radical! We'll be located in the activated lobby of The Maven Hotel in downtown Denver, as the anchor tenant to the Dairy Block development. It's a pretty expansive space, so we're going to be doing some fun stuff like a walk-up style service window on the sidewalk, in addition to the full-service counter inside. We'll be doing some exciting and snazzy food & drink things, as well as using the larger footprint to offer programming and educational workshops. Plenty to be worked out still, but sometime before the end of the year we'll be doling out LOTS of high fives!

    Huckleberry Roasters is currently Seattle Coffee Gear's featured roaster, and we're proud to include a bag of their coffee with every order on Rocket espresso machines. Purchase a bag here.

    To learn more about Huckleberry Roasters, visit their website at huckleberryroasters.com.

    Image Credit: Koan Goedman Image Credit: Koan Goedman
  • Coffee On The Brain: What’s Happening When Roasting Coffee Beans?

    What's Happening?

    Let’s get cracking on today’s coffee lesson. Today we’ll dive into the chemical process that transforms those green beans into the aromatic, brown beans we’re all familiar with. The process is so complex, it’s not fully understood, but what we do know, we’ll share with you on this episode of Coffee On The Brain.

    Roasting coffee beans produce over 800 aroma and flavor compounds. There are two chemical component groups, volatile and nonvolatile, that occur during the roasting process. The volatile components create the aroma while the nonvolatile create the basic flavors that we get from coffee such as bitterness or sourness. Caffeine falls into the nonvolatile category and accounts for some of the bitterness in your cup.

    Now to the good stuff: the roasting stages. Each stage goes through a number of endothermic and exothermic phases. To sum it up, the endothermic phase is when the beans absorb the energy in the form of heat whereas the exothermic phase the beans release the energy. It’s easy to remember “en” as “in” and “ex” as “exit,” for those of you taking notes.

    Try roasting coffee beans right in your own home. We’ve got the Behmor 1600 Plus Home Coffee Roaster and Velton’s Bonsai Green Beans - Unroasted to create the right roast for you. You'll have the freshest coffee on the block and a perfect conversation starter during your next brunch out. Check out this video we’ve made with the Behmor roaster and give it a try!

    Roasting Stages

    Stage One: Endothermic
    The green beans absorb energy in the form of heat, lose moisture and mass and begin to turn yellow in color. Beans will give off a toast or popcorn smell.

    Stage Two: First Crack
    Heat released in the form of steam creates a large crack during the exothermic phase. The beans double in size and turn light brown.

    Stage Three: Pyrolysis
    Fats and sugars in the beans continue to break down and develop the aromas and flavors we know and love.  Roaster's typically stop roasting during this stage.

    Stage Four: Second Crack
    Pressure formed by various gasses crack the beans again. The beans deepen to a medium to dark brown and begin to develop a sheen as oils are pushed to the surface.

    Stage Five: Final Roast
    Most roasters will stop prior to the second crack to retain the bean's flavor. The longer the beans are roasted, the less unique flavored is preserved.

    Roastingcoffeebeans_infographic

  • Espresso vs. Coffee Beans: Is There a Difference?

    What’s The Difference?

    Browsing the coffee aisle, you might notice some bags are marked as espresso or drip blends. That get’s you thinking: “What’s the difference between coffee and espresso beans?” The truth is, there’s no difference between espresso and coffee beans. A coffee bean is a coffee bean. So, why are bags labeled differently? As it turns out, it's the brew method.

    Labeling beans as espresso or drip is nothing more than a recommendation from the roaster on how to bring out the flavor of the beans. Of course, there are different roasts and coffee beans—two species actually, Arabica and Robusta, as well as varietals bred from these species—but each is still a coffee bean that can be used in a variety of methods.

    We’ll dive into how beans and blends create different flavors and how the recommended brew methods evolved.

    Olympia Big Truck organic espresso blend is a sweet, clean bodied roast shines as an espresso. Olympia Big Truck organic espresso blend is a sweet, clean bodied roast shines as an espresso.

    Coffee Flavor Profile

    Read the label of your favorite bag of beans and you’ll sometimes find food descriptors like oranges or baking ingredients like brown sugar listed on the label. These descriptors are unique flavor notes that the roaster has tasted or smelled in the beans based on their recommended brew process. However, these descriptions do not indicate the quality of brew, but a recommendation based on the background of the beans—such as growing region, process or whether it’s a single origin or blend.

    Try brewing based on their recommendation: What do you taste? Perhaps it’s what the roaster detected—subtle sweet and fruit flavors with chocolate undertones or black tea with a tart, citrusy kick—or maybe you’ll find a slightly different flavor.

    Espresso vs Coffee

    So, how did espresso beans come about? When it was first popularized, coffee farms didn’t have the refinement of cultivating that we see today—and when the lesser quality beans were brewed as espresso it was painfully noticeable. When you put beans under pressure, like you do with espresso, the flavor profile becomes more intense, sort of like the difference between a blueberry tea and a spoonful of blueberry jam. In an effort to create a consistent flavor profile, roasters would use a darker roast to produce smoky, caramelized sugar notes, like we see in an Italian roasts. This roasting method, however, meant that the nuanced flavors were no longer detectable. Nowadays, specialty roasters source high-quality beans to make this method of masking taste not necessary. Roasters can experiment with lighter roasts the enhance the flavor of the coffee and share its complexity.

    Brewed coffee, whether it’s from a standard drip brewer or pour over set-up like Chemex, tends to produce less intense flavors than espresso making it more forgiving when used to brew a variety of coffee qualities. You many also find that brewed coffee is a bit easier to control the extraction and therefore the flavor of the cup you produce. Many find that single origins, beans sourced from one location, are easier to brew in this fashion. Single origins typically have more delicate flavors, which makes it easy to under or over extract making them often difficult to brew with for espresso. Think of it like a target, getting a great cup of brewed coffee is like hitting the board and a great cup of espresso like hitting the bullseye. It’s not impossible, but it will take a bit more time and dedication.

    We believe the writing on the bag shouldn’t influence how you brew. It’s a recommendation meant to guide you, but it’s ultimately up to you to experiment and find that ideal brew. While it might require some finessing to dial-in a single origin for espresso, we think the reward is well worth the effort—add some steamed milk and you’ll get a decadent, dessert-like treat. We enjoy pulling espresso shots that taste like a rich blueberry cobbler using a delicious natural processed coffee.

    Slate Coffee Roasters' Cream and Sugar drip blend brings out notes of dark chocolate and caramel when brewed on a dripper. Slate Coffee Roasters' Cream and Sugar drip blend brings out notes of dark chocolate and caramel when brewed on a dripper.

    Conclusion

    There is no difference between espresso and coffee beans. When specialty roasters write “espresso blend” or “drip blend,” it’s just the brew method roaster's believe will make the flavor profile really shine. Coffee is a matter of personal taste and preference—you do you and make coffee the way you love.

  • Crew Review: Nesco Coffee Roaster

    Next up in our series on home coffee roasters is the Nesco, which is another air roaster, similar to the iRoast 2. One of its special features is a corkscrew in the roasting chamber, which rotates the beans to potentially achieve a more even roast. Also, Comic Sans.

    Rob takes us through his initial assessment of features and functionality and we then roast up our first batch of Velton's Bonsai Blend. While this roaster purports to have a catalytic converter in order to reduce the smell, we found it only had minimal effect.

     

  • Crew Review: iRoast 2 Home Coffee Roaster

    Rob has agreed to become our master roaster! The first model up in his journey of self-improvement is the iRoast 2, a popular entry-level home roaster that basically functions as a modified popcorn popper.

    Watch as he takes us through the features and roasts his first batch of Velton's Bonsai Blend; then we meet up a few days later to see how they compare to the master!

  • Coffee Roasts: Shades, Names and Flavors

    Back in May, we wrote a little bit about Italian vs. French Roasts, but lately we have been sampling a lot of different roast and blend types and decided to read more about the basic theory behind roasting and blending. In our research, we ran across Kenneth Davids' excellent table describing the different roast styles and their corresponding flavor, so we thought we'd reprint it here for easy future reference.
  • Italian Roast vs. French Roast

    We've found that we generally prefer medium roasted coffees because we're able to taste a more diverse palette of flavors in a specific coffee blend. However, we know that there are die-hard devotees of dark roasted coffee and we were recently asked what the difference was between French Roast and Italian Roast.

    They're both roasted quite darkly, so that they have an oily sheen to them after the roasting process is complete. With a French Roast, the temperature of the roast is high enough that these oils are brought to the surface and will impart a roasted flavor to the produced coffee or espresso. Aromas can vary from berry to citrus. Italian Roast is much darker and oilier than a French Roast and often preferred in Italy.

    If a coffee is described as being a French or Italian roast, it isn't because they were grown or roasted in these countries, just that the roaster utilized this generalized roast level for that blend of beans. You can read more about roasting in our article It Starts with Great Coffee.

    What is your preferred roast or blend and why? We'd love to hear about some of your favorites!

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