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.

Ask Gail: How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! We love our coffee here and truly drink it up. Our kitchen is always stocked with a 5 pound bag of the good stuff (Yes 5 pounds!) But how long do coffee beans last? Fresh coffee is good coffee. Stale coffee not only has an inferior taste it also can wreak havoc on your espesso timing.

So, we asked Gail to drop some knowledge when it comes to how long coffee beans will stay fresh and how we can make the beans last longer.

Here are some of the big take aways from our conversation:

  • Store your beans whole because once you grind them their freshness will begin to diminish in the first 15 minutes. With such a short time frame between fresh and stale when the beans are ground, it’s best to grind only the beans you need per brew event.
  • Beans from larger roasters (think Lavazza) will have nitrogen flushed their bags. That means before you open the bag, the amount of oxygen in the the bag will be next to none. Oxygen is a key factor in the degradation of coffee bean freshness. So these type of beans will last longer in the unopened bag vs. a local roasted bean (which won’t be nitrogen flushed).
  • Once a bag is opened it should be stored in cool and dry place. Something like an Airscape is a great place to start.

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on coffee bean freshness. Oh, and if you have a question for Gail be sure to leave it in the comments and we can see if she has the answer! Also, you can check out past Ask Gail videos here if you are interested.

 

Brewin’ With Brandi : Irish Whiskey Float

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!Irish Whiskey Float

We here at Seattle Coffee Gear are all wearing our obligatory green and drinking our whiskey laced espresso beverages. Are you green with envy yet? Ok, maybe we aren’t drinking just yet but Brandi has a recipe for you if you feel so inclined. It’s sweet, creamy, and infused with the happy juice.

The Irish Whiskey Float is a great way to end a meal this St. Patricks Day. What is not to love in a drink that combines vanilla ice cream, espresso and whiskey? Watch the video below as Brandi and Leslie whip up a couple adult beverages. The recipe is listed below as well. It makes 1 drink so duplicate as many times as need :) Oh, and if you liked this recipe check out some of Brandi’s past videos here.

 

Irish Whiskey Float

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Double shot of Espresso
  • 1 ounce Irish Whiskey

Instructions:

Start by brewing your favorite espresso. Set shots aside to cool slightly.

Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream to your glass.

Add the espresso and Irish Whiskey to the glass. And enjoy (responsibly)!

Crew Review: Rip van Wafels

Rip van WafelsIt’s coffee break time and I’m feeling a bit hungry. I could either eat yet another donut or I could open up a Rip van Wafel. What’s a Rip van Wafel you ask? Well it’s only the tastiest thing you can eat during your coffee break that will also start some chatter around the proverbial water cooler. This tasty item is both an experience and a snack.

It all starts with a piping hot cup of coffee. Before you even attempt a sip you place one of these Rip van Wafels on top of your cup, which is conveniently the perfect size and shape for your standard coffee cup. As your coffee cools down to a temperature that won’t burn your tongue the Rip van Wafel is getting all soft and gooey. Slowly you will see the middle of the Wafel sag, and that is when you know it’s ready to enjoy.

The texture is one of the better things in life. Soft and chewy. The flavor has notes of cinnamon and caramel, the perfect accompaniment for a cup of joe (as I am sure you know). Check out the video below and be sure to head over to our YouTube channel for more product reviews and general coffee goodness!

Make Coffee You Love!