Category Archives: Coffee Roasters

Crew Review: Behmor Home Coffee Roaster

We drink a lot of coffee. But you probably already knew that. But did you know that we also roast our own coffee? Well, did you? Because we did!Behmor Home Coffee Roaster

That’s right folks! Gail and the SCG team are coffee roasters! Not professional roasters by any means (and probably not even that good if we are being honest!) But we did play around and roast up a quarter pound of coffee beans on the Behmor 1600 Plus Home Coffee Roaster.

The Behmor 1600 Plus Home Coffee Roaster is small but mighty. Coming in at only 19 pounds, and no larger than your standard microwave, this home coffee roaster can roast up to 1 pound of beans at a time.

The Behmor is pretty easy to use, and makes for a great entry level tool to begin roasting coffee beans at home. It features 5 pre-programmed roast profiles that allow for easy roasting of any type of bean. Simply set the amount of beans you are wanting to roast, a roast level and a profile, hit start and watch as your green beans turn into that beautiful brown we know and love.

After the roasting period, the Behmor 1600 Plus Home Coffee Roaster automatically goes into a cooling cycle. After a period of time, you can remove the drum and look at your freshly roasted beans. But don’t go grinding them up just yet. Several days of off-gassing is required for optimum taste!

Watch our full Crew Review below! And be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss the video where we taste the beans we roasted in the video!

 

 

Ask Gail: Coffee Cans vs. Coffee Bags

The question was asked, why are some coffees bagged in cans while other coffees are bagged in, well, bags? A great example of this can be found in Lavazza’s product line. The Qualita Oro Espresso comes in a can while the Top Class Espresso comes in a bag, and this goes on and on. So what is the real reason for the different packaging, coffee cans and coffee bags?coffee can

Naturally, we had to Ask Gail. She looked into this for us and came up with her own hypothesis. And it really came down to two things:

Cost and availability of equipment.

For a local roaster, packaging his or her roasted coffee in a can just isn’t  feasible. The equipment and space to store said equipment would simply cost too much. So why then do we see cans of coffee on the shelves? It turns out the raw cost of a can is cheaper than the raw cost of bag. So for a roaster at a large enough scale it would make business sense to package some coffees in a can.

Be sure to watch the full video below! Do you have a question for Gail? Ask her in the comment section on Youtube! And while you are there, subscribe to our channel :)

 

Interview with Behmor’s Joe Behm: Behmor 1600 Plus

Okay, we’re not going to lie, we’re pretty excited about a retrofittable coffee roaster. What do we mean by that? Well, if you would like to purchase the new Behmor 1600 Plus (more details on that below) then you totally can. But what if you purchased a Behmor 1600 and it’s still in perfectly good shape? Then you can purchase an upgrade panel, install it on your Behmor 1600 coffee roaster in 30 minutes to an hour, and get the functionality of the Behmor 1600 Plus!

If you purchase the Behmor 1600 Plus, or upgrade your Behmor 1600, you’ll be rewarded with more flexibility in your roasting. In addition to granting you access to a manual roasting mode, you can also cycle through the display during the roasting process to view temperature or press ‘D’ to double the speed of the drum and, ultimately, change the undertones of your coffee. There’s also an added safety feature that prompts you to interact with the roaster in order to continue. Trust us folks, it doesn’t take long for the roast to go from delicious to burned, so please don’t risk walking away from any roaster!

To get all of the details, watch the video below!

Meet the Roaster: Water Avenue Coffee

Water Avenue CoffeeAll of our hard work and planning have paid off, and our Portland location is now open! If you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, please do. Might we suggest that you stop by to take part in our Grand Opening celebration tomorrow, and enjoy some free treats and as much coffee as you can drink!

We are excited to be a part of the “Rose City” and have been soaking in the amazing coffee culture and community. “What, I thought Seattle and Portland were rivals?” some people may exclaim. The truth is, just like most siblings, Seattle and Portland may give each other a hard time every now and then, but we do actually love our sister city. While both cities are gems of the Pacific Northwest for different reasons, they do have one thing in common – the love of great coffee. What makes this shared love more interesting is that each city has developed its own unique culture around the brew.

Since we’ve been down in Portland, we’ve had the opportunity to explore this culture a bit more in depth. We were fortunate enough to get to chat with some of the local roasters we are featuring in our SCG Portland store. We recently sat down with Matt Milletto, one of the co-owners at Water Avenue Coffee, to talk shop at the company’s retail and roasting facility in Portland’s Southeast Industrial district. Here is where Water Avenue produces all of the coffee that they sell to their wholesale accounts, and the space also features a coffee bar that acts as a showcase for their coffees. The coffee factory certainly has been making a name for itself since it’s inception four years ago, and has been repeatedly been named one of the best places for coffee in town.

According to Water Avenue’s owners (Bruce Milletto, Matt Milletto and Brandon Smyth), they got the idea to open a coffee shop when they were browsing vintage roasters online. They ultimately purchased a 1974 Samiac roaster and began building a business from there. Matt explained that the name “Water Avenue” is a toast to street they are located on, since the area has been such a success for them. In fact, the neighborhood has rapidly grown around them, and Matt states that their business has been doing three times what they forecasted in their initial projections. Matt believes this success can be largely attributed to the fact that Portland has an outstanding community that has enabled the city to truly become a destination for specialty coffee. Check out the video to hear more about Water Avenue Coffee’s history and Matt’s thoughts on the culture of the town we are proud to now call our home.

Meet the Roaster: Water Avenue Coffee

SCG Portland Grand Opening Event on Saturday, June 28th

SCG PortlandCan you believe we’ve almost reached the end of June already? What is even more exciting is that the Grand Opening of our SCG Portland store is just three short days away! The Grand Opening festivities will begin at 10:00 a.m. so make sure to arrive early and join us for day filled with delicious coffee tastings, raffle drawings and other goodies.

Free Gift Bags

The first 30 customers in the door will get a free gift bag packed with all kinds of sweet stuff:

  • Coaster
  • Shot Glass
  • Coffee
  • A candy bar (loaded with coffee beans, of course!)
  • Cups
  • And more!

Free Gift with Purchase (while supplies last)

Something has to be a surprise, right? Let’s just say this: You’ll be sporting your love of coffee!

Raffle Drawing

Our giveaways don’t stop at just the gift bags or gifts with purchase! We’ll also be raffling off machines, grinders and other accessories from Bonavita, Jura, Baratza and more!

Tastings and Demos

In addition to our slew of giveaways, we’ll also be treating your taste buds. Local roasters like Ristretto and Sterling will be hosting coffee tastings through out the day. Likewise, Bonavita and Krups will be stopping by to teach you how to brew up the perfect cup of coffee or espresso on their gear. It wouldn’t be summer without some frosty treats to help you cool down, so we’ll also be mixing up some sweet snacks on our Breville ice cream maker.

If you’re in the area this Saturday, we’d love for you to stop by and help us celebrate the opening of our third retail store. You can find us at: 26 NW 23rd PL, Portland, OR 97210.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Seahawk Burger

Seahawk BurgerRecently, the Seahawks have been a pretty deal around these parts. They did win the Super Bowl after all. Not ones to fall behind on a trend, we decided to celebrate their success by creating our own yummy treat – the Seahawk burger!

What makes this burger special? It has espresso in it! What, you thought we’d make something that didn’t involve coffee? Besides espresso, this burger contains the usual ingredients you would expect to find. To keep this recipe local, we did try to use Washington or Seattle-based produce, coffee and wine. Think Beecher’s cheese, Chateau Ste. Michelle wine and locally roasted espresso. We think this burger might also pair really well with a beer from one of our many craft breweries, such as Redhook or Pyramid. However, if you don’t live in the area, feel free to substitute in your own local brands.

While some naysayers, or fans of rival teams, may try to argue that football season is over, nothing says summer like grilling burgers on the barbeque. If it happens to be raining, you can always cook the burgers in a skillet. Plus, these burgers are a great way to help tide yourself over until football season starts up again.

Hungry? Check out our video to learn how to make these giant (and tasty!) Seahawk burgers with Brandi and Kaylie. You may even catch a glimpse of a surprise guest.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Seahawk Burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 sliced sweet onion (such as a Walla Walla)
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Washington state red wine (Merlot or Syrah)
  • ½ shot brewed espresso (such as Zoka’s Espresso Paladino Blend)
  • 4 (6 oz.) grass-fed ground beef patties
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 cup arugula (you will need a ¼ cup for each burger)
  • 12 slices of Colby Jack Cheese (use 3-4 slices for each burger)

Seattle Aioli:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • ½ shot brewed espresso

Directions:

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions and mushrooms in the oil until the onions start to caramelize and mushrooms soften, or about 5-10 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to the skillet to season the vegetable mixture. When the mixture has cooked down, add the red wine and ½ shot of brewed espresso (reserving the other ½ for later).
  • Cook the vegetable mixture for five more minutes until most of the wine and espresso burn off. This will give the mushrooms and onions a really nice flavor.
  • In the meantime, cook four hamburger patties to taste and begin preparing the Seattle aioli.
  • To make the aioli, combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and other ½ of the espresso shot together in a medium sized bowl. Wisk until smooth.
  • Spread aioli on each hamburger bun.
  • When the burgers are done grilling, top each patty with 3-4 slices of Colby jack cheese, mushroom and onion mixture and arugula lettuce.
  • Makes four large burgers – enjoy!

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

Hot Blog on Blog Action: Tea Time — What?!

velton rossLast month something strange happened at Seattle Coffee Gear (well, stranger than usual): A bunch of the SCG Crew started drinking *gasp* tea! And with this new found appreciation for tea, we discovered the basic preparation fundamentals are similar to coffee prep.  It starts with fresh water, a quality product and the right gear. Check out the lovely links you may have missed about all things coffee (and tea!).

  • Here Is My Handle, Here Is My Spout via 39Steeps.blogspot.com – Don’t settle for a drippy tea kettle when you can harness the power of fluid dynamics, no lab glasses or Bunsen burners required!
  • Interview: Coffee Pro Velton Ross via FoodGPS.com – Our ace reporter Brenna tracks Velton’s success from barista to renown roaster.
  • The Controversy Over Crema via TheShot.CoffeeRatings.com – Shocking but true stories about espresso crema. Some people scoop it off! Some people have been known to mix it altogether! And some naughty people call blonding from a pressurized portafilter, crema.
  • The Art of Making Flowering Tea via LeafJoy.com – Grab a glass teacup or glass teapot and watch the magic unfold. Flowering teas are more fascinating to watch than Sea-Monkeys and more enjoyable to consume (we’re just theorizing here, though, because we’ve never consumed Sea-Monkeys).
  • Be A Coffee Pro At Home: Vertical Tastings via ChicagoCoffeeScene.com – Take the best whole beans you can find and then do a little side-by-side challenge with your favorite coffee preps. AeroPress, Chemex, French press … it’s all good!

If you want a daily dose, we spill the beans about serving espresso in brandy snifters, the Kaffeologie S-Filter upgrade and other items of caffeinated interest on:

Coffee 101: Fair Trade vs Direct Trade

Zombo-coffee-farmersWhether you’re sipping on a delicious cup of Velton’s Single Origin Mexico Nayarita, or savoring Zoka’s Espresso Palladino, your beans have started their journey hundreds or thousands of miles away from you (at least if you live in Seattle). Roasters source beans for their signature blends or single origins in one of two ways: They either buy green (unroasted) beans from importers, or they visit farms around the world to purchase beans directly from coffee producers.

Coffee is one of the most highly valued products in world trade, however it’s also an incredibly labor intensive crop with a yield at the mercy of weather conditions and a price dictated by market forces. An abundance of coffee in the global market drives prices down, while smaller harvests can demand higher prices.  It’s a tricky business since it can take up to four years for a coffee plant to yield fruit, making it difficult for producers to respond quickly to a fluctuating market. In 2001, a global oversupply of coffee depressed prices worldwide to an all time low of 45 US cents a pound, and overnight thousands of farmers were forced out of business. It was an intense reminder of how vulnerable these farmers are to price fluctuations at a global scale.

The Fair Trade program was established to set a floor price for green beans on the global market (a minimum of $1.40/lb for unwashed Arabica, or the market price if higher, plus 20 cent premium for community development) and promote sustainable practices for commodity producers around the world. The participants must adhere to a series of standards such as participation in a co-op and investment of at least 5 cents in quality or productivity investments, and in exchange they become Fair Trade certified (identified by a black and white logo of a man with outstretched arms).  Fair Trade Certification is monitored by an independent company called FLO-CERT to ensure that producers are following the outlined guidelines. How does this impact you? As a consumer you can breathe a little easier knowing that farmers were paid a fair price for the beans in your hopper. It’s important to note that Fair Trade has faced some criticism in recent years because it requires co-op participation (excluding some producers that want to remain independent) and some claim there is little evidence of community investment.

Direct trade takes a slightly different approach to sourcing, whereby roasters are traveling to and purchasing directly from coffee producers across the world. This gives roasters access to smaller growers that don’t want to participate in a co-op (and are thereby excluded from Fair Trade), and gives them more control over quality, consistency and visibility into immediate social and environmental concerns. While direct trade has become increasingly popular in recent years, there are no uniform standards that everyone adheres to. As a consumer, this means you are trusting your roaster to conduct business in an ethical manner. Some roasters like Intelligentsia and Counter Culture have established their own direct trade standards to promote visibility and accountability for their purchasing practices. Counter Culture even partners with Quality Certification Services, a 3rd party organization that verifies their own guiding principles. We are extremely fortunate to work with a number of roasters in the Seattle area who source directly; one of which, Caffe Ladro, recently traveled to Central America to source beans, visiting Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. By purchasing directly from producers, not only can they find the highest quality beans, but they can give back to the communities they work with in a tangible way. This year, Ladro will launch a program to donate $1 of each bag of Natamaya coffee to build a soccer field.

Since direct trade relationships have the potential to create long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with producers around the world, the business practice itself is sustainable and more transparent. That means that even those of us who are at the end of the line, enjoying delicious cups of coffee, can better understand where this product comes from and contribute to a positive community impact with every sip … and who wouldn’t dig that?

Field Trip: Zoka Cup of Excellence Tasting

You may be wondering, what is the Cup of Excellence (COE)? How will my cup measure up? Will it give me an inferiority complex? I was first introduced to the COE on a recent field trip to Zoka Coffee Roasters, where Sam and I got a tour of the facility and the low down from head roaster Celeste Clark.

The COE is one of the most esteemed awards given to coffee roasters. Over the course of three weeks and at least five tasting rounds, coffees are rated based on the following criteria: cleanness of cup (can the coffee’s terroir show through?), acidity (does it have a brightness to it?), mouthfeel, flavor (a combination of taste and aroma), aftertaste, balance and overall score. Each round eliminates the lowest rated coffees, and the last ones standing that receive 85 points or higher are Cup of Excellence Winners. Among the highest quality coffees in the world, consider yourself lucky to get your hands on these beans.

Zoka is no newcomer to the COE and coffee roasting accolades, their founder Jeff Babcock having previously judged the Guatemala Cup of Excellence competition.  On our recent field trip, we tasted their Espresso Palladino Blend, Tuscan Blend, Colonel Fitzroy and Java Nica according to COE standards. We started the cupping process by experiencing the aroma of the ground coffee in each cup, three cups per blend to compensate for any inconsistencies. We then combined equal parts ground coffee and water, allowing the coffee to bloom and steep for four minutes.  While breaking the delicious brownie-like crust (see photo for action shot), we got to experience the aroma a second time.

Celeste and Dana, pros in the coffee world, then went to work removing the grounds from each cup, and we waited six more minutes before we had our first sip. Like tasting a fine wine, a loud slurp from the spoon was key to getting enough air on the palette to highlight various flavor profiles.  To prevent caffeine overload, it’s commonplace to spit post-slurp, rinse your spoon and repeat with the next cup. Slurp, savor, spit, rinse and repeat. As the coffees cooled down even further, different flavors began to shine through, and I tasted more cinnamon notes in the Java Nica, hints of pecan in the Colonel Fitzroy and the Palladino’s deep molasses undertones. It was a coffee revelation!

I’m often so eagerly awaiting my cup of java in the morning that I throw it back quickly to feed my inner-beast, but this experience reminded me to take the time to indulge in each cup. Savor your coffee as it cools from piping hot to room temperature – you’re guaranteed to taste more complexity with each sip.

Thank you to Zoka for sharing this meticulous cupping technique with us and being so generous with their time! If you’re a lucky Seattlite, stop by one of their cafes and treat yourself to an artfully crafted coffee beverage this winter.