Oh, how we love a great scale! It’s the basis for a beautiful shot of espresso or a perfect pour over, as dosage of coffee to water has a huge impact on the outcome of your caffeine beverage of choice.
The Bonavita Electronic Scale not only meets the features a scale is pretty much required to (you know, weighing things properly), but it also is quite pretty. Look at that glass! Measuring accurately to .01 grams, the Bonavita Electronic Scale is now flying solo and can be purchased on its own versus just bundled with other Bonavita products.
We’re going to skim over the Kuchenprofi Floating Tea Strainer because, well, it’s a tea strainer! We can say that it’s a really cool one that floats in your cup like a sea buoy (“Hey, I’m still here!”) and comes with a drip bowl to contain your post-brewing mess. If you want more details, and you know you do, then check out the video below!
Then there’s the real star of the show, at least in our eyes: Kuchenprofi Sand Tea Timer Set. Sure, you’re probably thinking that they look like the Scattergories timer that stares you down as you desperately try to think of vegetables that start with the letter ‘c’…but they’re so much more than that! Coming in a set of three, you’ll have a pretty timer for green, black and herbal teas. Say “goodbye” to over extracted tea and “hello” to a perfectly brewed spot o’ tea!
Want to ensure you stay on trend with your coffee making? Why not try pour over coffee? Manual coffee-making methods are becoming increasingly popular, you’ve probably seen them popping up in your favorite cafes and many coffee enthusiasts are using them at home as well. The nice thing about brewing with pour overs is that you have more control over the different variables (the grind, water temperature, length of the pour, etc.) that go into to making a cup of coffee so you can create your ideal cup of coffee. In addition, with a pour over, you can evenly extract your entire basket of coffee, which is big advantage. Oftentimes on drip machines the middle of your coffee will get extracted a lot more than the edges, which can impact the flavor. As result, pour over coffee is typically very smooth and highlights the unique flavor profile of the coffee brewed. Besides providing you with the control you need to create a quality cup of coffee pour overs are also a simple, lo-fi way to create a tasty cup of coffee. All you need is a cup, kettle, pour over and a filter of coffee to start brewing. Of course, if you are brewing on a pour over, it is also nice to have a stand! Devices like Melitta Pour Over Stands put the focus on the coffee brewing process and provide an extra helping hand by holding your pour over in place.
Just as there are a variety of styles and types of pour overs, there are also a couple of different Melitta Pour Over Stands to choose from. However, one of the benefits of these stands is that both types we carry come with a porcelain cone (or even two or three in some cases) as well as filters, so that at least that part of the selection process is taken care of for you. From there, you just have to decide if you would rather go with the Melitta Bamboo Stand, which is a single brewer that will allow you to brew like a “slow bar” professional at home. If you like to drink a lot of coffee, are worried about other coffee drinkers stealing your precious brew or are looking to get a third wave setup in your café, you might want to consider getting the Melitta Stainless Steel Pour Over Bar. These sleek pour over stations allow you to brew either two or three pour overs at once, so you can serve several eager coffee drinkers. Check out Gail and Brendan as they try out these Melitta Pour Over Stands and pick up a few brew tips along the way!
If you live in the United States, it is likely you are afflicted by hard water. According to a U.S. geologic survey completed by the American Water Works Association, 85 percent of the United States has hard water (also known as water that high mineral content). While hard water is not harmful to your health, it can have a funny aftertaste and, even worse, cause damage in the boilers of espresso machines by creating scale buildup. Now that you know that there is a good chance that you have hard water in your area, what do you do to protect your precious espresso machine? The easiest and relatively least expensive method is to invest in water softener for commercial espresso machines, such as the Everpure ESO7.
While there are a variety of different water softeners and filtrations systems on the market, we like the Everpure because it takes care of a lot of different aspects of water filtration. Not only will this cartridge soften your water, but it will also buffer and filter your water. This helps prevent the water from becoming too acidic and reduces minerals, chlorine, off tastes and orders. In addition, this system has a pretty long lifespan and covers most manufacture warranties. The Everpure ESO7 is a single cartridge system, so you will also need a filter head in order to connect it to your espresso machine. Everpure makes a couple of different heads, so you can get any one that fits this system, but we typically use the QL2 Filter Head since it is simple and economical.
However, before you install a water softener, it is important that you know exactly how hard your water is to ensure your purchase the right setup for you café. If you live somewhere that has water that contains five to three grains of scale, you will not want to get the ESO7, as it is too strong and will actually do more harm than good. On the other hand, if you are located in area that has six grams of scale or higher, that amount of scale does need to be brought down and you will want to install something like the Everpure ESO7 to protect your machine. Finally, if you are in an area with really hard water (yes, we’re looking at you Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and southern California), you can build a double or triple capacity flirtation system using these Everpure cartridges.
Besides working on a variety of setups, these cartridges are easy enough to install and replace that you can do it on your own. This will save you both time and money, since you won’t need to have a tech sent out to you or have to pay any for any technician fees. Ready to start setting up your filtration system? Check out this video where Brandon tells us a little bit more about the Everpure ES07 and demonstrates how it is installed.
Last week we shared our affection for the Pasquini Livia G4, and discussed how to care for the machine. This week, it is time for another of one of Pasquini’s semi-automatic espresso machines to enjoy the spotlight. Almost like a little sibling to Livia, at just 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide the Livietta is probably one of the smallest semi-autos on the market. However, don’t be fooled by the machine’s diminutive size, it still packs a powerful punch. The Livietta has two thermoblocks, which enable simultaneous brewing and steaming, as well as a very fast heat up time. Since this machine does so much work for you, it is important to provide your Livietta with a little TLC every once and a while. As part of this process, we recommend giving the machine a thorough cleaning and using SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livietta to exchange the parts that are showing signs of wear and tear.
How do you know when its time to replace some of the parts on your machine? A few key signs to look out for are water or coffee coming over the top edge of your portafilter when brewing, your pump working harder or the flavor of your coffee just generally tasting off. The first scenario is likely occurring because your brew head gasket has failed and is no longer making a seal with your portafilter. Meanwhile, the later two scenarios are probably being caused by coffee residue that has built up on your brew head screen or in your portafilter basket, which does actually make your machine work harder and can taint your coffee. In either case, your Livietta is definitely in need of a tune up, so you can replenish the rundown parts.
Removing and installing SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Pasquini Livietta is basically the same process we used on the Livia. You will remove all the accessories on the machine, flip it over and began removing the brew head components (brew screen screw, brew screen, diffuser and gaskets). The main difference between the two machines in this process is that in addition to the brew head gasket, the Livietta also has a shower screen holder gasket. This just means that you have two gaskets to uninstall, remove the shower screen holder gasket followed by the brew head gasket, which might require a bit of extra elbow grease. As usual, the next step is to clean any coffee grounds and residue out of the brew head (your diffuser and portafilter basket should already be soaking in a Cafiza solution made with the tablet provided) to prevent it from eating away at the new parts you will be installing.
Next you can begin installing the new parts in the reverse order from which you removed them. When it comes to the gaskets, install the brew head gasket first, followed by the shower screen holder gasket. When installing the screen gasket into the groove created for it, make sure that you don’t twist the gasket to make it fit or it won’t fit properly. To speed up and simplify the installation process, you can lineup the diffuser, shower screen and screw and thread them back into the brew head. Do one final check with your portafilter to make sure everything is seated right, and you’re done!
Want to see the process of installing SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Pasquini Livietta in action before tackling it yourself? Check out this video to have Brendan walk you through it.
Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for Pasquini Livietta
If you’re lucky, you have a summer filled with fun adventures ahead of you. However, you maybe wondering what you are going to do without your favorite coffee or tea while you are away from home. Even if you don’t have a vacation planned, you may wish that you could take your coffee or tea with you on your ride to work. If you fall into either of these two categories, we have a variety of Planetary Design French presses that you can grab and take with you when you are on the go.
One option is the Table Top Coffee Press. This French press is available in a couple of sizes to ensure you have enough coffee for everybody. Although this press was originally designed for indoor use, it is incredibly durable and is perfect for camping and outdoor entertaining. Likewise, since the press is double walled and vacuum-insulated, it will keep your coffee warm for hours even if it is a little chilly outside.
The other Planetary Design French Press we carry is the Double Shot Travel Mug and Press. This French press is great for camping and back packing as well, and there are a couple of features we particularly enjoy. The first is that the travel mug comes with two lids, one lid that has a built in press mechanism and one lid that is a regular sippy top, so you can switch them out depending on which one you want. The second feature we like is the hidden compartment, which is found beneath the bottom of the cup, that allows you can store extra coffee or tea for later use.
While both of these French presses have great filtration systems, the Table Top Coffee Press even has two filters, we suggest that you use coarsely ground coffee with this French press. If you grind your bean to the finer side, you still may end up eating your coffee. To discover how to operate all of the Planetary Design French presses, watch as Dori walks us through their benefits.
As we mentioned a few weeks ago, to us, Hario means happiness (the true meaning of the word is “king of glass”). And nothing makes us happier than fun new coffee gear to play with! Thus, we made sure to make our way over to the Hario booth while we at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) expo. As we expected, Hario had a ton of great new products on display. We’re big fans of science and are always interested in creating experiments of our own, so our two favorite products that are new to the United States market are the Hario Beam Heater and the Hario Next Siphon.
Luckily, we had Kris Fulton from Lamil Coffee (a California based coffee house) to explain the beam heater to us. One of the main advantages is that the heat it emits comes from a really high-powered halogen lamp, which comes with a dimmer switch that allows you to have more control over the heat coming off the lamp as well as the direct heat on the coffee. To show us how the beam heater works Kris demoed it with the Next Siphon, enabling us to learn more about the siphon as well. Siphon brewing as become pretty popular in the past couple years, since not only does it produce a great cup, but it is also neat to watch and is sure to impress your guests. So we put our “scientist hats” on and watched Kris brew us on a cup of coffee. Although the process does look like a science experiment, we were happy to find that this brewing method is not as complicated for the barista as it sounds.
Basically, using a siphon brewer is all about pressure. Once the water in the bottom chamber of the siphon gets to the right temperature, you use the rubber seal at bottom of the top chamber to create a vacuum that draws the water from the bottom chamber to the top chamber. When all the water is in the top chamber, you introduce the coffee to the hot water. The next step is to give the coffee a stir to fully incorporate it and then let it sit for a certain amount of time. After the coffee sits for the desired length of time, you turn off (or remove) your heat source and break the seal you created earlier. This causes the vacuum between the two chambers to suck the coffee down into the bottom chamber. As the coffee is being sucked down, the ground coffee is going to be filtered out by the metal filter. Thus, at the bottom of the carafe you will have fresh brewed coffee and at the top of the carafe you will have ground coffee. The resulting coffee, according to Kris “has the full-body richness you get from a full-immersion brewer like a French press combined with the clarity you get from a percolator like V60 or a pour over.” In other words, it is delicious! To learn more about both of these products, and to see them in action, watch as Kris shows them off in this video.
One of our favorite items is the V60 coffee dripper itself, since it comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials. You can get the Hario V60 in ceramic, glass or acrylic, and it comes in three sizes that make two, four and even six cups of coffee – so you can share with your friends of course! The scale has some pretty impressive features as well. You can use it as both a scale to weigh your coffee and also as a timer, so you can make sure your pour over brews for just the right amount of time. Of course it’s hard not to love the glass server, which looks somewhere between a cute little beehive and a carafe, will pretty up any tabletop. The server’s airtight lid enables you to keep in the aroma of your coffee and it is handy for making cold brew in your refrigerator. What is even cooler is that you can combine all of these pieces together with the V60 Drip Station to create your own fancy setup, transforming your kitchen into a gourmet coffee bar.
We’ve talked about these products quite a bit over the years, so we thought we’d share our preferred way to brew on these coffee drippers. And who better to demonstrate this than Dori and Chris, who are big fans of pour over brewing. Watch as they brew up some super-smooth, nearly acid-free coffee on the Hario Coffee Dripper V60 and show how to use all the accessories you can pair with it at the same time.
Crew Review: Hario Coffee Dripper V60 and Accessories
The E61 group head is one of the more popular brew groups, and is seen on a number of different brands of espresso machines like Rockets, Alex Duettos, older ECM machines and some Quick Mills. In fact, the E61 is one of our favorite types of brew groups since it is designed to provide consistent heat, enabling your water temperature to stay the same from the boiler to the moment of extraction. However, just like any other brew group, it is important to clean and perform regular maintenance on the E61 so it continues to produce tasty shots day after day. Luckily, we’ve made the job easier by creating a Tune Up Kit for the E61 Brew Group for both 8mm and 8.5 mm gaskets.
“Why are there two different sized kits?” you may ask. The reason is the metal on metal friction from your portafilter rubbing against your brew head will wear down the “ears” on your portafilter. As a result, there will be a gap between the brew head and the portafilter, causing the portafilter to no longer sit straight in the machine. This is normal and will happen on most machines, but to get it sitting properly again you will need to start using a 8.5mm gasket. Thus, to help you out, we have also made an E61 Brew Group Tune Up Kit with a 8.5mm Gasket.
However, even though you know that doing preventative maintenance on your machine is important, the process can sound a little daunting. After all, once you take the brew head apart there are all of those little pieces to keep track of and then you have to figure out how to put everything back together. The reality is reassembling your brew head it is isn’t too difficult, and we even include step-by-step instructions in our tune up kit for E61 brew group (as well as all our other parts kits) to help you out. If this isn’t enough to dispel your fears, you can allow along with Brendan in this guided video.
SCG Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for E61 Brew Group
If you love French press coffee as much as we do, why not ex-press this love of yours by using the La Cafetiere Lexi to brew up some tasty java? Not only will this porcelain cafetiere, don’t let the name confuse you – cafetiere is synonymous with French press in Europe, look elegant on your dining room table but it also will keep your coffee warmer longer than glass models since it helps retain heat. However, you will have to pre-warm that carafe in order to get it up to temperature. Another advantage of this French press is that the silicone gasket inside the pot makes for easy brewing, as it provides an excellent seal.
Making coffee on a French press may sound fancy (and hey, why not exploit the term a little to impress your guests) but it is actual pretty simple to make. First, heat your water to about boiling, we used a Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Kettle in our example, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Then measure coarsely ground coffee into the cafetiere and pour a small amount of water over them. Let the grounds “bloom” for about 20-30 seconds before pouring in the rest of the water. Next, allow the grounds steep in the water for about five minutes, you can brew your coffee for a shorter (four minutes) or longer (six minutes) length of time depending on how strong you like it to be. You can also give the grounds a stir halfway through the steep time if you would like to allow them to mix. After the coffee has steeped, slowing press the plunger down, so finer grounds don’t escape through the sieve. And you’re done, you’ve have successfully made French press coffee!
To see the process in action, watch Miranda as she makes a cup of coffee on the La Cafetiere Lexi. If you want even more tips on brewing with a press pot, check out our snazzy infographic on how to make excellent French press coffee.