Ask Gail: Correct Espresso Shot Volumes?

Espresso Shot VolumesA single. A double and a triple. You also have the possibility for each of those to be either a ristretto or a lungo. So, the question is what’s the correct espresso shot volumes for each of these and how long does each brew need to take. It can be confusing juggling all these variables, so we decided to Ask Gail to set it straight.

But, it turns out that even Gail was having trouble getting all this down. So she needed to ask Miranda! And thankfully Miranda was able to save the day. It turns out that the answer to this question is best answered with a chart! See below for the correct espresso shot volumes.

Espresso Shot Appropriate Volume Brew Time
Single 1 ounce 20-30 seconds
Double ~2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Triple ~3 ounces 20-30 seconds
Single Ristretto 1/2 ounce 20-30 seconds
Double Ristretto 1 ounce 20-30 seconds
Triple Ristretto 1 1/2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Single Lungo 1 1/2 to 2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Double Lungo 3 to 4 ounces 20-30 seconds
Triple Lungo 5 to 6 ounces 20-30 seconds

Take a look at the video below before heading over to our YouTube channel for more! Gail is always answering questions and playing with new toys!

 

Crew Review: Breville Coffee Grinder Comparison

When I say Breville you say grinder! Breville! *crickets*Breville Coffee Grinder Comparison

Ok…that isn’t as much fun as I remember. But we all should be really excited! With the recent addition of the Breville Smart Grinder Pro to the Breville Coffee Grinder line up we decided that now is as good a time as ever to compare them all! So may I present to you the Great Breville Coffee Grinder Comparison of 2015!

To start things off we took a look at the entry level grinder, the Breville Dose Control Pro. With an entry level grinder with Pro in the title, how can you really go wrong? We liked this grinder a lot. The finest grind held its own when we compared all three. The body has a little more plastic than the other grinders in this line up, but the build still feels strong.

Next we took a look at the Smart Grinder. This grinder, as well as the Smart Grinder Pro, has a digital screen that is your control center. The display will show you everything from your grind setting to the amount of time remaining on the grind session. All three grinders have attachable portafilter holders (for 58mm, 50mm and 54mm), but the two Smart Grinder models also come with a convenient grounds catcher for those french press or pour over days.

The Smart Grinder Pro is the latest addition to the line up. It is really the next generation of the Smart Grinder. Some of the additional features includes an adjustable top burr which gives you over 60 grind settings for really fine tuning your grind. However, it should be noted that during our testing, we noticed the Smart Grinder Pro has a little trouble grinding when it’s simultaneously set at the finest burr setting and at the finest digital setting. If you adjust the top burr to the finest setting, we suggest you do not take the digital setting all the way down to the very finest grind. This shouldn’t be an issue unless you have your heart set on a very fine grind for Turkish coffee. Even with that hiccup, the grind is still very fine. Gail was impressed.

Take a look at the video below to see the full comparison.  And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for new videos 6 days a week!

 

Ask Gail: Can you Steep Tea in a Kettle?

can you steep tea in a kettleTea is a lot like coffee in that it requires a precise control of temperature and time in order to extract the deliciousness. But sometimes you want something quick. So what are the short cuts you can take, if there are any? Well, unfortunately there aren’t many. A common question we get is if you can put your loose leaf tea directly in the kettle as you heat up the water. And the simple answer is no. Because time and temperature are essential factors to brewing coffee or tea, this short cut won’t give you good results.

Watch this Ask Gail video to find out why this won’t work and to hear a few solutions to the problem.

 

Crew Review: Hario V60 Drip Station

Hario V60 Drip StationPour some sugar on me! Ok, maybe not sugar or on me. But you can pour some water on my freshly ground coffee! And if you want, you can use the Hario V60 Drip Station. What’s that you ask? It’s only the coolest thing sitting on my counter (granted, my 8 year old toaster is not much competition).

The Hario V60 Drip Station is designed to compliment the whole V60 pour over brewing process. The acrylic stand is easy to clean and easy to assemble. The stainless steel grate sits on top of the ABS resin drip tray, ready to catch any rouge coffee. The whole station fits perfectly on the Hario V60 Drip Scale, which makes for a no fuss brewing process. Once everything is set up, you are ready to brew just like they do at your local coffee shop.

Some may say that the stand is not an essential piece of equipment for brewing up a tasty cup of coffee. And yes that may be the case. The V60 Coffee Dripper does fit nicely on top of your standard coffee mug but if you like an organized and clean looking set up, this is for you (much like it is for me!).

Take a look at the video below to see Gail brew up a cup using the Hario V60 Dripper, station and scale! Yeah, she went all out. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well, Gail is always reviewing products or answering your questions. We’d love you to be a part of the conversation!

Ask Gail: How to Adjust The Water Hardness Level

Adjust The Water HardnessThe DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 might be small, but it’s packed with plenty of power and productivity-enhancing functions to deliver cup after cup of delicious roast. Magnifica ESAM3300′s digital control panel with programmable settings, built-in burr grinder and one-touch foam system help save you time, while its 7 1/2 cup (60 ounce) water reservoir means you’ll need to refill less often. Did we mention Magnifica’s self-cleaning powers? ‘Tis true, this sublime Super-Automatic includes a decalcification indicator and an easy-to-clean, removable coffee bin and drip tray.

With everything it can do, it is best to keep it running at tip top shape. Descaling when you need to and general maintenance that all espresso machines require. Knowing your how hard your water is will allow the machine to perform properly. How hard your water is depends on how much mineral content is dissolved in it. The more minerals the harder your water. You can test this level with the test strip that comes with the machine.

Once you know how hard your water is you need to do is adjust the water hardness level on the machine! (It’s a lot easier than it may sound). Watch the video below to find out how to set your water hardness level, Gail will be glad you did.

 

Crew Review: Chemex Coffee Mug

Chemex Coffee MugWe love Chemex. Everything they make is so clean and looks great sitting out on the counter. So if you are also a fan of all things Chemex, listen up! Chemex has designed a great handblown glass coffee mug that looks like a miniaturized Chemex coffee maker.  The Chemex Coffee Mug is made from the same non-porous borosilicate glass that you are familiar with and comes in a 10 ounce size.

Gail recently took this cute little cup with her on vacation and used in a way that it is not intended. Gail made her morning coffee in the cup, just like it was the full size pour over vessel. She said it worked great and had to show everyone what she did. Take a look at the video below to see Gail’s thoughts and process for brewing coffee right in the mug! We think you will find this a pretty clever idea.

Head over to our YouTube channel after watching this video to find more Crew Reviews and other fun videos!

Ask Gail: Troubleshooting Pressurized Portafilters

Pressurized PortafiltersWe like to think of an espresso machine like a bicycle. In order to keep it running in tip-top shape you need to get your hands dirty once in a while. Maintenance on your machine (or bike) is something you should be doing with some sort of regularity. Personally we enjoy trying to figure out how to get the best out of our machines. But we also know that it can be frustrating when your espresso isn’t flowing and all you want is that pick me up!

Sometimes we find that brand new pressurized portafilters on Saeco machines won’t allow water to flow freely. After some sleuthing around we figured out that the problem lies with the spring inside the portafilter being too tight. When the spring is too tight, the coffee doesn’t flow, and that is just no good. So we asked Gail if she would show us how to fix this problem at home. It is surprisingly easy to fix, all you need is a Phillips head screw driver and a pair of clippers.

A word of warning however. Before you go clipping things off your espresso machine it is best to rule out any other variables that could be causing the issue. First, if you run your machine without the portafilter in place do you get water coming though the brew head? If that is working, take your basket out of the portafilter and see if you can see light through the holes. If you don’t see any light coming through, we’d recommend giving the portafilter a good deep clean as it is most likely clogged. If you do see light, try pulling a shot but don’t put any grounds in the basket. If you get water flowing though the issue could be with your grind. Try going a little more course than you usually do and see if that fixes the problem.  But if you don’t get anything flowing through, your next step will be to watch the video below and follow Gail’s instructions.

 

Crew Review: MiiR Travel Tumbler

Ok, I will be honest with you. I like to drink my coffee in a mug, a nice and heavy mug. Miir Travel Tumbler

I’m going to keep on being honest with you, those big heavy mugs are more trouble than they are worth when I am on the go. Trust me when I say I’ve tried and failed. I can no longer come into work with coffee stained pants, I would never hear the end of it from my co-workers.

Although I have had to put my coffee mugs away, I have found a replacement that I am quite enjoying. Let me introduce to you the MiiR Travel Tumbler. Aside from the awesome name, these tumblers have some great features. The most important factor to me is the double wall design. One of the reasons I love my big and heavy mugs is because of there ability to keep my drink hot! And the double wall on the MiiR Travel Tumbler does the same thing (and probably better, if I am keeping honest with you). The lid on these travel tumblers are great at keeping the coffee in the cup and not on my pants. However, the lid does not have a closing function on the drink hole. So you wont be able to be doing any backflips with this in hand. Although I suppose if you were able to flip fast enough the centripetal force would hold the coffee in its place, but I digress.

The MiiR Travel Tumblers come in a variety of colors, 6 to be exact. And if you want you can even get the stainless steel tumbler with the Seattle Coffee Gear logo on it, like all the cool kids are doing.

What really makes these travel tumblers stand out is the story behind MiiR’s one4one initiative to bring clean well water to people around the world. With every tumbler sold MiiR helps someone in need get access to fresh drinking water. MiiR is a great Seattle-based company and the MiiR Travel Tumbler is an all-around staff favorite. You like Fair Trade coffee? Great! Grab a tumbler that does good too.

Watch the video below to hear what Gail thinks about these tumblers in this Crew Review. And if you want, head over to our YouTube channel and check out what else Gail has been reviewing. She has been very busy!

 

Ask Gail: Espresso Shot Quality

espresso shot qualityAs with everything in life, when you choose one thing you will always have give up a little something elsewhere. And that’s not always a bad thing! But in order to make an informed decision you should know what it is exactly that you will be gaining and losing. When it comes to espresso machines, a lot of what you will be gaining and losing is espresso shot quality.

Let us preface by saying that there are a lot of factors that need to come together in unison in order to create the perfect shot of espresso. Everything from the grind, to the tamp, to the humidity in your environment need to be just right for that espresso to make the ultimate list of all things delicious. So one machine simply can’t make all things come true. But it certainly can get you close.

When it comes to espresso machines you have essentially three families: manual, semi-automatic and super-automatic. We are going to focus on the semi- and super-automatics since they tend to be the most popular. The super-automatics are the one stop shop machines. Espresso at the push of a button. Super convenient for those who want it. The semi-automatics give you a little more control over your espresso shot. You have the ability to fine tune your grind and tamp pressure to just how you like it. That is not to say that super-automatics don’t give you options, but there will inherently be less.

As a result, your shots will vary from machine to machine. We think that you can pull better shots on a semi-automatic but that comes at a cost. You will be required to hone your craft in order to get that sweet nectar just right. While a super-automatic will get you close enough with little to no effort. It all comes down to what you want! That’s really the best part of it all.

Watch the video below to hear Gail’s full explanation of espresso shot quality from machine to machine. And be sure to check out our YouTube channel as well for more information and Crew Reviews!

 

Crew Review: Acaia Pearl Scale

acaia pearl scaleI’m not sure about you but I use my smartphone to do just about everything. Gone are the days of simple arithmetic in my head, there is an app for that. There is also an app for controlling my wireless speakers, my lights, my thermostat, even when the cat gets fed. Can you see where this is going?!

Well now we can officially say it, gone are the days of the simple scale. Good riddance! The coolest new gadget on the block happens to be the Acaia Pearl Scale. It does everything you would want a modern scale to do, you know, like weigh beans down to a 10th of a gram. It is also super quick, giving you a read out in 20 milliseconds! That’s literally faster than a blink of an eye (by about 80ms no doubt). And of course it has a built-in timer!

But what really makes this scale special is its connectivity with the free app from Acaia. The app gives you a brewing timer, ratio calculator and a place to put all your coffee notes right at the tip of your fingertips. In addition to those features the app also contains some awesome visualization tools to analyze your brews. Nerdy? We think not!

What really makes this scale complete is the sleek design, reminiscent of a particular tech company that we have all grown to love. Am iRight?? Ok, clearly I’ve had too much coffee today. But brewing with this scale is just too much fun! Take a look at the Crew Review below. Gail and Miranda had a good time playing with all the features of the Acaia Pearl Scale as well.

Don’t forget to head over to our YouTube channel if you want to see more Crew Reviews or have a burning question to Ask Gail.

Make Coffee You Love!