Does Size Matter?

For some of us it does! Especially if you’ve got a snug kitchen into which you’d like to introduce a high-end espresso machine. In this video, Gail and Kat line up several models of machines and measure them out so you can see how they compare, dimension-wise.

Ask the Experts: Why Won’t my Superautomatic Make Espresso?

We often get calls from customers who have pushed the button for their espresso in the morning, but nothing comes out. They can hear the grinder working, they can hear it clicking and acting like it’s going to make espresso, but no go. Watch Gail as she gives some tips how to troubleshoot this issue before you call someone to repair your machine.

How to Clean the Burrs in a Baratza Grinder

Keeping the burrs of your grinder clean will extend the grinder’s life and keep it performing exceptionally well for years to come. In this video, Gail shows us how to disassemble and clean the burrs in a Baratza grinder, then shows us how to put it back together again.

A little bit leery of taking apart your grinder? You can also use the awesome burr cleaning product Grindz instead — it’s excellent and works well.

Making a Better Cup of Coffee: Rami

We’ve been communicating with Rami via YouTube ever since he ran across our videos and sent us some questions about grinders. Since then, we’ve helped him with some general tips and ideas as he was tweaking his home setup in order to make an amazing Americano — his morning ritual. He recently sent us photos of his process and described what he did to achieve a really delicious espresso at home.

Creating this delectable drink actually started 15 hours before, when Rami freshly roasted a batch of Sweet Maria’s Espresso Monkey Blend to a medium roast (or right after the second crack, in roasting lingo).

He then ground up the right amount for a double shot extraction:

Next, he filled his portafilter and tamped evenly. Then he put 3 oz. of hot water into his cup and put it under the portafilter, extracting the double shot right on top:

Removing the cup from beneath his portafilter, he lovingly admired his handiwork, anticipating its delicious flavor:

Bellissimo! Finally, he enjoyed the lovely Americano that he had so expertly prepared:

Rami’s setup is a FrancisFrancis X5 by Illy and a Rancilio Rocky Doser grinder. He says, “Special thanks to Kat for the post purchase support (you don’t get that much these days), dealing with these guys has been a pleasure, I think anyone interested in this kinda stuff should definitely check out Seattle Coffee Gear.”

Thank you Rami! We’re glad we could be part of helping you make a better espresso at home.

Do you have a story about making better espresso at home that you’d like to share? Let us know!

Another Feather in the Cap of Shade Grown Coffee

A recent report released by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) indicates that climate change may cause an increase in the pest known as the coffee berry borer. ICIPE studied plantations in Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, discovering that the projected increase in global temperature would make sub-tropical regions more susceptible to one of the most devastating pests to coffee crops.

The solution? Revert to cultivating the plants as an understory crop beneath taller forest trees. This was the traditional method for growing the plants, and is how coffee plants are often found in the wild– the forest canopy not only protects them from direct temperature changes, but it also supports a host of wildlife which are predators of the coffee berry borer pest, among others.

In fact, this isn’t the first biological threat to coffee that has come as a result of moving coffee out from under the forest: Over a hundred years ago, the fungus known as coffee rust eradicated many of the coffee plantations throughout Asia, resulting in that region’s heavy adoption of alternative crops such as tea and rubber (the move in India and Sri Lanka to cultivate tea is largely responsible for its ongoing popularity in the UK). Historians have theorized that the voracious spread of this fungus was largely due to the deforestation practices that coffee plantation owners underwent in order to increase their available crop space. The fungus’ spores are easily transported on wind currents, and not having any protection to block the winds from affecting them resulted in a widespread blight.

ICIPE is recommending that coffee farmers transition to the traditional shade-grown method to limit the impact this pest has on their crops as the global climate changes. Growing coffee in this manner, however, decreases the available crop yield and so can result in more expensive products down the line. Whether or not larger plantations begin to adopt these practices before nature forces their hand remains to be seen.