Category Archives: Classes

Latte Art University

Latte Art UniversityCongratulations! On behalf of Seattle Coffee Gear and the faculty of the School Of Coffee Extraction, we are pleased to offer you admission to the Ph.D. program at Latte Art University.

That’s right folks! Gail is going to Latte Art University and you get go along for the ride. We teamed up with Max from Spotted Cow Coffee Company to bring to you a full week of Latte Art training! Max has been a barista with Spotted Cow for quite some time now, even venturing into the Barista Competition Circuit!

In this week long course, Max and Gail will explore everything you need to know in order to produce excellent latte art. (Hint: It begins even before you take the milk out of the refrigerator!)

Max will demonstrate how to produce some of the basic latte art shapes, including the heart and the rosetta! He will also be discussing the best alternative milks out there for latte art, as well as sharing some tips and tricks to producing great latte art on a single boiler machine!

So grab your frothing pitchers and a bag of freshly roasted coffee and practice alongside Gail as she goes through the program here at Latte Art University.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss a lesson! And as always, thanks for watching!

 

 

Breville Oracle Advanced Menu

If you are anything like us, and let’s face it you most likely are, you probably like to tweak every setting on your espresso machine! From the steam temperature to adjusting the clock, getting your machine dialed in to you is first on your list when you unpack your new espresso machine. So when you opened your Breville and saw the Oracle Advanced Menu, you were jumping for joy!Oracle Advanced Menu

But wait! Tweaking settings just for the sake of tweaking settings is not always the best course of action. Trust me when I say, you can easily adjust a setting that will put your machine on the fritz and have you calling our Customer Service department in tears. And while on occasion it may feel nice to chat to our wonderful customer service team with a tissue in hand, it’s best to avoid the situation altogether. How you ask? With knowledge!

The Oracle Advanced Menu is just that, an advanced menu. It won’t need to be adjusted regularly, some settings may not ever need to be touched. But knowing what each menu option controls is great way to know what to adjust when the time comes!

We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Phil McKnight from Breville and thought he would be the best person to ask when it comes to the Oracle Advanced Menu. So we did!

Watch the in depth tutorial of the Oracle Advanced Menu below and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here.

Ask Gail: How To Make A Latte

How to make a latteYou ask. Gail delivers. Simple as that.

We here at Seattle Coffee Gear get asked all the time by customers, potential customers, family,  friends and even people waiting for us to leave work. Ok maybe not the last one, except that one guy. Anyways…the question we get asked all the time is how to make a latte. And not just any latte, the perfect latte.

So we asked Gail if she wouldn’t mind giving us a tutorial. And you know what she said? NO! But to her credit, she said she would find someone who could. Fair enough Gail. And like I said earlier, she delivered. Gail was able to track down and convince a local barista who has competed in several international barista competitions  to come to our offices and show us how to make a latte. And not just any latte, a perfect latte.

We met Sean, our very kind barista,  and gave him the best equipment we could get our hands on: the La Marzocco GS/3, the Rancillio Rocky grinder, a frothing pitcher and a tamper. Everything you could need. We asked for the best latte he could make, and he showed us every step of the way.

Be sure to watch the video below if you want to be able to make a perfect latte every time. We all learned a lot from our time with Sean and hope you do too! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well for new videos all the time!

 

Java Talk: Caffé Lusso Chemex Demonstration

Caffee LussoWe recently had the pleasure of hosting Mike Smith from the Redmond, WA based roaster Caffe Lusso. The brand was started in 1999, when roastmaster Philip Meech realized how easy it was to find a bad cup of coffee even here in Seattle, the most caffeinated city in America. As a result, Philip set out on mission to improve coffee experience in the Northwest, and to create the best cup of coffee possible from available green resources.

While Mike was in the store, he demoed his approach for brewing on the Chemex. Some people think the Chemex is just one of the hip new way to brew coffee, but it was actually invented in 1941, meaning it has been around for over 70 years! What we like the most about this brew method is that it looks like part science experiment (as you probably know by now we love science!) and also brews great coffee. It’s also a fun way to brew coffee at home, since it brings out some of the more nuanced flavors of the coffee, especially if you’re dealing with a single origin or something more unique to your coffee program. Not to mention the design of the Chemex looks really nice and is sure to impress any guests you serve.

How to Brew Chemex Coffee Caffe Lusso Style:

  • Place a Chemex filter (which is basically a four-sided filter) inside the top of the Chemex, with three sides against the spout – this allows for air to pass through both in the brewing process and through out the entire brewing method.
  • Before brewing, pass water that has been heated to 200 degrees over the filter in the Chemex. This pre-infusion process will get rid of any paper taste or feel from the filter and temper the glass vessel, which will help keep your coffee from getting cold.
  • Once you have pre-infused your Chemex, make sure to pour out any excess water that has collected in the bottom of the carafe.
  • Now, you can load your coffee into your filter. For this brew we used Caffe Lusso’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. For this roast we used the grind setting in between the notch for a flat bottom and paper cone.
  • The next step is the desire amount of coffee you want into the filter. When dosing your coffee, it is always best to use a scale. You’re often supplied with tablespoons and things like for measuring out your coffee, but they are not an exact science, so it is better to us weight if you want to be consistent.
  • For this brew, we scooped 44 grams of coffee into our filter, making sure to scoop a little divot out of the center, so it can capture some of the water.
  • Then, pour a little water into the divot you just made in the coffee, and allow it to sit for a few seconds to serve as a pre-soak. At this point you won’t see a whole lot of coffee dripping into the carafe, but there might be a little bit.
  • The next part of the process is where the actual brewing of the coffee occurs. This step takes about 3-4 minutes, so Mike recommends that you set a timer and start it to make sure you are no track with the time.
  • Once you’ve started your timer, slowly pour in 700 milliliters of water. Use a circular motion that goes counter clockwise, starting from the outside of the filter and moving in.
  • Since your scale was set to 44 grams when you added the coffee, you will when you have put in 700 milliliters of water when the scale reads 744. (The density of water of is equal to 1 g/mL, with the mass of 1 mL = 1 g).
  • After a minute or so you’ll notice that the coffee will start dripping through the neck into the base of the carafe. Once you get to the three and a half minute range, most of the water will have passed through the grounds, and you’re brewed coffee will be in the base of the carafe. However, you can continue the brew for up to four minutes if you so desire.
  • Once you’ve reached the four minute mark, you’re brew is done. Remove the filter and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Caffe Lusso is doing a couple more events with us at our Bellevue store in May. Their farmer Sergio from Brazil will be here to discuss their farming technique on May 3rd and they will be doing a traditional cupping on May 10th where you can sample a variety of roasts. So if you’re in the area make sure to stop by, get to know the folks at Caffe Lusso and taste their delicious coffee.

Java Talk: Caffé Lusso Chemex Demonstration

For the Love of Coffee

Roasted coffee beans in the shape of the heart on white backgrouValentine’s Day: a holiday to celebrate the one who is near and dear to your heart, the one that is always there when you get up in the morning, the one who motivates you throughout the day and the one who will help keep you from falling asleep when you have a late night project  – coffee!!

What better day than Valentine’s Day to explore your passion for all things coffee? Of course, it might be nice to share your love of coffee with those who are important to you too. If you don’t know where to start or are having a hard time coming up with something to do, here are a couple of tips to help you out.

Bypass the Crowds

One of the things that people dread about Valentine’s Day is having to wait hours to get into their favorite restaurant (yes, it can happen even if you have a reservation). However, if you plan a coffee based date, you can skip the wait and spend the day as you please. Instead of doing dinner, try grabbing breakfast or brunch instead, that way you can start to your day by bonding over a cup of delicious coffee or espresso.

If you’re the type of person who likes to be on the move, you can also get your drinks (and snacks!) to go and take them to your favorite park or location in the city for a private picnic. In fact, many cities and towns have “secret” gardens or hideaways that only those in the know are aware of, which can be dug up with a little online research. Checking one of these places out is a great way to surprise your other half, and you will learn something new about your city.

Another option is to head out to your favorite café for dessert – after all, today is one of the few days where you have an excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate and nothing goes better with chocolate than coffee. While drinking coffee at night may sound counter intuitive, there are an amazing number of coffee shops that are open late just for these types of occasions. Some cafes even sell drinks that are spiked with vodka or a variety of liquors so you can get your party started.

Brew Up a Heart Throb Latte

If you want to avoid going out all together today, you can always make your coffee or espresso at home. Surprise your sweetie with a latte in bed or brew up some tasty after dinner coffee. If you really want to go all out, try whipping up the “Heart Throb Latte,” a special drink that our Bellevue Store Manager, Rachel, created for Valentine’s Day. The recipe is actually pretty simple and the drink tastes just like a raspberry truffle – yum!

Ingredients:

Directions:

Combine the sauce and syrup together in a cup and then pull the espresso shots directly into the cup and mix well. Add the steamed milk to taste. If you’ve gotten your latte art making skills perfected, now is the chance to show them off by creating a heart-shaped design on top of the drink.

Share the Love

CoffeeLoveSharing is caring and our treat to you is to share our coffee knowledge thorough our  classes. They may even be a good date for fellow coffee and tea aficionados; after all, sometimes the best gifts are free.

Have you always wanted to be able to create beautiful hearts in your lattes but have not been quite sure how to make them? Then make sure to sign up for our Latte Art class in March, where you will learn how to make hearts and other designs. Come next Valentine’s Day, you’ll be able to surprise your sweetie with heart in their morning latte.

Most people use this day to shower their significant others, friends, family and even pets with affection, but don’t forget that machines need love too! After all, your espresso machine makes you tasty espresso drinks day after day, morning, noon and night with nary a complaint (well, it shouldn’t be complaining, and if it is, all the more reason to keep reading). However, just like any other relationship, the one with your espresso machine is improved with maintenance. So why not make a date to take your machine to one of our maintenance classes and give it a little extra TLC? At this event our Service Writer will teach you how to perform routine maintenance on your semi- or superautomatic machine, which will prolong it’s life and improve your espresso. Space is limited in all of these classes so, if you’re interested, make sure to get in touch with us and sign up.

Don’t Forget Your Friends

Doing something nice for someone doesn’t have to be reserved just for significant others. It’s great to also acknowledge those people who you see on a day-to-day basis or have known your whole life but don’t always have the opportunity to thank (or show your appreciation for all that they do for you). So pick up morning or afternoon coffee for your co-workers and neighbors, or even make it for them yourself. If you have friends or family members that live out of town, send them a letter, a gift card or even call them. While all of these things sound simple, just knowing that you care and took the time to think of them will brighten their day.

SCG Classes and Events

Rachel makes mochas for the ladies of Visit Bellevue at one of our SCG classes and events.It’s two weeks into the new year and we’re off to a good start. We’ve recovered from the holidays and are gearing up for the rest of the year (which includes setting up new SCG classes and events). Although the winter months are a busy time for us, that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun too! Some of us got to travel to warmer (and in some cases, colder) climes, while others stayed in town and enjoyed the generally mild weather.

One of the exciting things that those of us who stayed in town got to do was host an event for the lovely ladies on Visit Bellevue Washington’s sales and marketing team. The team got in touch with us because they thought it would be fun to learn how to make a drink or two (and make sure they were fully caffeinated) before heading off to their holiday party. So Rachel fired up our Nuova Simonelli Musica, which happens to be the same type of espresso machine that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson owns, and showed them how to make peppermint mochas. Afterwards, we enjoyed chatting with the gals for a bit as they explored our store and bought a few goodies for their friends and family.

Of course it wouldn’t be a new year without resolutions – and one of ours is to provide you with more fun classes! This coming year we have a slew of events lined up, including classes on how to make a variety of coffee preps, coffee and tea tastings, maintenance classes (so you can keep all your gear in tip-top shape) and visits from some of our roasters and equipment vendors.

We are excited to get our classes going again, and will be resuming them this month at our Bellevue store. To kick things off we will be hosting two educational/tasting events where you can learn everything there is to know about the featured product and sample it as well!

Blooming Tea Tasting

Saturday, January 18th, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

You may have seen these display teas at parties or heard your friends talk about them. If not, now’s the time to learn! Blooming teas allow you to enjoy both tasty tea and a show, as these hand-sewn balls of tea transform into beautiful flowers when placed in hot water. Best of all, if you are one of the first few guests at the event, you will get a free tea ball to take home that you can use to impress your friends and family.

How to Make Excellent French Press Coffee

Saturday, January 25th, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

We’ll be brewing delicious French press coffee at the top of every hour for this event, and discussing everything you need to know about making perfect French press coffee. From what type of grind to use, to how long to let your coffee steep, we have you covered!

If you are in the area or plan on visiting soon, make sure to keep an eye on our calendar for more classes in the months to come. We would also love to hear your feedback on our classes. Is there something you want to learn about that we haven’t covered? Or a class you’d like to see featured again? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

Field Trip: Gail & Kat Take on the SCAA Main Event

No, there weren’t any wrestlers present, but there was a high concentration of coffee related ninjas on the floor. Last week, we were lucky enough to head down to Anaheim, CA, for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Main Event, which is a specialty coffee industry educational and trade show that covers everything from coffee growers to roasters to equipment suppliers to mad skilled baristas. This year, it also hosted the United States Barista Championship — with Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia defending and re-securing his title. He’ll be heading out to compete with the rest of the national barista champs from around the world at the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) event this summer in the UK.

But back to the show. We attended a few different lectures, talked with many of our vendors on the trade show floor, watched Midwest Barista Champ Mike Marquard compete in the USBC semi-finals and even headed to a little partay that Intelligentsia, La Marzocco and Espressi (makers of the MyPressi TWIST) were throwing at Intelligentsia’s roastery in L.A. Yes, Grammy got her groove on.

In this video, Gail talks to us about what she learned from the lectures we attended, discusses some new products we saw  and even shares with us her new love for TWIST-inspired cocktails.

Coffee: The World in Your Cup Lecture Series – Third Lecture Update

This past Tuesday, we headed into the third lecture of the Coffee From the Grounds Up series, being held at the University of Washington in conjunction with the Burke Natural History Museum’s exhibit Coffee: The World in Your Cup.

Unfortunately, we had a last minute scheduling conflict, so weren’t able to attend last week’s lecture on Direct Trade — very bummed about that. Tuesday night’s lecture was from an anthropological perspective and was entitled Why We Love Coffee. The speaker was professor Eugene Anderson and covered the social, cultural and economic factors that make caffeine-based drinks such an essential element of so many societies. Professor Anderson explores the impact of all types of drinks that contain caffeine — from coffee to tea to yerba mate to even cola — and it was quite fascinating to hear about the importance these stimulant-based beverages have in different societies.

Some of our notes from the lecture were:

  1. Purchasing shade grown coffee is one of the most powerful choices we can make as consumers because they’re promoting fabulously diverse nature preserves around the planet
  2. Caffeine works by preempting the adenosine receptors in our brain which regulate our sleep cycles and the acclimation process inspires our body to create more adenosine receptors, which is why we need more caffeine over time to experience the same result — your body will keep producing these receptors because you need to sleep, eventually
  3. Chocolate was used historically in a similar method as coffee, but the chocolate houses around the world slowly transitioned to coffee houses because it takes less coffee than chocolate to produce the same result, and coffee has little-to-no calories, whereas chocolate will make you feel full after awhile because of it’s high caloric composition
  4. The UK and other members of the Commonwealth are so tea-centric due to the coffee rust blight that wiped out the coffee plantations in India and Sri Lanka — after this happened, the plantations replanted with tea instead, which is why these societies became such renowned tea drinkers
  5. Coffee houses were historically notorious hotbeds of rebellion — the American Revolution was born out of coffee houses, and it’s no secret that the Beat generation, which fed into the 60’s hippie movement in the US, spent a lot of time fomenting their resolve in coffee houses (Cafe Trieste in San Francisco is one such legendary place where the likes of Alan Ginsburg and William S. Burroughs wrote/read/ranted)
  6. Feminist politics were also born from coffee, although more so in private spaces, the coffee klatches of yesteryear were spaces in which women could get together in order to discuss their own version of what many considered subversive politics — that is, equal rights
  7. The rise of what some consider ‘yuppie coffees’ — ie. Starbucks gourmet lattes, etc. — has turned the coffee house from a place of the working classes to the haunts of the leisurely, privileged class
  8. There is intense ritualization of coffee and caffeine-based drinks around the world; the highest per capita coffee intake is in Finland, which has an incredibly sacred, detailed and intricate ceremony that developed over hundreds of years and involves the evolution of the bread that was adopted/adapted by several different cultures — one notable evolution is Jewish challah
  9. Many of the aforementioned ceremonies were developed as a method for creating community or celebrating the sacred. For example, the Sufis developed a ceremony that involved coffee simply because it helped them stay awake for the other aspects of the ceremony
  10. The explosion of coffee consumerism over the last 300 years can be tracked to an increased adherence to time/alarm clocks (something driven largely by the industrial revolution), work discipline trends and the gourmetship/connoisseurship of the bean
  11. Coffee houses were also historical places of business. We’re used to seeing folks working on laptops at the local cafe, and this is a natural evolution of what used to be considered the poor man’s or working man’s office. Establishments such as Lloyds of London began as a coffee house, frequented quite often by members of the maritime industry, which eventually developed into an insurance/bonding firm that is now famous for some of their more unique insurance policies. It was quite typical that community or labor leaders would have their specific hours at a specific table and the locals could find them there during those ‘office hours’ at the local coffee house
  12. Coffee houses — and all houses that serve caffeine-based drinks — serve the very vital function of the 3rd place. The 3rd place refers to a non-work, non-home environment that allows for community, society and brings people together — they are intrinsic locations for humans and the societies in which they live, as they help them to both adapt to and survive the system

Overall, the lecture was very involved and the above notes are just a selection of what we gleaned from Professor Anderson. Wonderful food — and drink! — for thought.

Coffee: The World in Your Cup Lecture Series – First Lecture Update

Last night was the kick-off of the Coffee: From the Grounds Up lecture series that is being held in tandem with the Burke Natural History Museum’s Coffee: The World in Your Cup exhibit. The series was kicked off by Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds, and was quite enjoyable. He discussed a lot of what is in his book, but here are some bits n’ pieces we picked up that we thought were interesting:

  • Caffeine is likely a natural pesticide that exists within the cherry to keep it from being decimated by tropical pests. This is similar to how coca leaves have a small amount of the chemical used to produce cocaine.
  • There is a resounding myth around the discovery of coffee — replete with dancing goats and monks — but there is some evidence that, at some point, nomadic Ethiopian people discovered that grinding up the beans of the cherries, placing them in fat and then ingesting the mixture would help them travel long distances…and this practice is still in existence among nomadic tribes in that African region today.
  • Brazil became such a big player because of two primary reasons: They had a lot of land and they were poised to take over the crop when the coffee rust disease nearly wiped out all of the bushes in Indonesia.
  • Americans have a very emotional relationship to coffee and kind of act like it’s our birthright that we should have access to cheap beans, regardless of market, environmental or political forces. There have been several times that frosts in Brazil resulted in an increase in bean prices — which then spurred congressional hearings to discuss the cause of the prices and find a way to resolve it! Communism was listed quite often as a cause during much of the cold war, and in 1962 there was an international coffee price agreement that was in affect until 1989, when the cold war ended. It was in our best interests politically to support the large coffee growing regions of the world, lest they fall pray to the evils of communist ideals! :)
  • There has always been and always will be a boom/bust cycle in coffee agriculture, due in part to the economic drivers of coffee growing regions as well as the basic growing cycle of the bushes themselves. They take a few years to produce quality cherries, so a time investment can be lost if too many are grown or not enough, etc. Around 2001, there was a huge bust due largely to an overproduction of robusta coming out of Vietnam, which was being grown to the detriment of the native highland peoples there that were being systematically and forcefully removed and persecuted in order to make room for coffee plantations. This is something that hasn’t been talked about much that we’re going to look into more.
  • Haiti was the site of the first and only successful national slave revolt, which included the burning down of coffee plantations and tons of the native trees. There are some theories that posit that the heavily denuded nature of Haiti and the removal of the colonial structures could play a part in the fact that hurricanes ravage it so often and it is the poorest country in the western hemisphere to this day. Another interesting topic for further research.
  • Because carbon dioxide is produced during the roasting process, coffee has to be a bit stale to begin with if it’s going to be packaged for export; this makes it not an easily manageable product for mass production, because the packaging can explode if the coffee wasn’t allowed to sit long enough. With the invention of the one-way release valve that is seen on many high end coffee bean bags these days, however, the coffee can be packaged more freshly and this could mean that roasting could take place in the growing country instead of after it’s exported to the consuming country. This could mean that there is room for future economic benefit in the growing countries, who could start roasting the coffee as well and then ship it out in bags with release valves.

Next week’s lecture is on direct trade and we’ll provide a similar synopsis of our thoughts here then. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or comments on what we shared here.