Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

Burundi Coffee Tour – The Story Behind The Coffee

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In the Headquarters of Seattle Coffee Gear, we’ve been dying to put together a special package of coffee that would excite your taste buds. This couldn’t be any ordinary package of coffee. We wanted to take you somewhere—somewhere luscious banana groves sway in the wind and coffee tree rows stripe the earth. One ticket to Burundi, please.

Olympia Coffee Roasting sent us an amazing selection of three coffees from Burundi with different processing techniques: washed, natural and honey. Each process changed our experience of Burundi. We noticed the washed was bursting with citrus notes and sugary tea. The natural—oh man—the natural, smelled and tasted like grandma’s blueberry cobbler. And the honey was, as the name suggested, thick bodied with notes of honey and fruit. As we leaned back in our chairs and relished each cup, we knew these coffees deserved a one-way ticket to Burundi—in the form of our Limited Edition Burundi Coffee Tour.

Our Burundi Coffee Tour comes with three 12-ounce bags of Olympia Coffee Roastings Nkonge Honey, Long Miles Reserve Natural and Mikuba (washed) for the ultimate journey that you can share with family and friends. Or perfect for adventurous coffee drinkers seeking to experience and compare the different processing techniques.

Olympia Coffee Roasting & Long Miles Coffee Project

Of course, after blissfully sipping a toasty cup from our Burundi Coffee Tour, we grew curious about the origin of these delectable coffees and did a little more research. As it turns out, all three coffees were produced by the Long Miles Coffee Project, one family’s dream to change the local coffee industry. This project has captured our hearts and brought attention a side of coffee we don’t always encounter—the coffee farmers. At Seattle Coffee Gear, we work closely with our roasters to taste their latest blends or single origins. Our roasters, on the other hand, build relationships with the coffee farmers. Olympia Coffee Roasting has supported the Long Miles Coffee Project from the beginning of their journey to help transform Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world. This was a chance for us to understand the world of coffee farming—and they filmed it all to share with everyone.

Video produced by the Long Miles Project and Olympia Coffee Roasting.

While continuing to savor the warm aroma of blueberry cobbler coffee, we watched their 10-minute documentary of coffee in Burundi. The Carlson family; Ben, Kristy and their kids, Neo, Myles, and Ari, had a dream to produce amazing coffee and care for the community who grew it. It goes without saying, to have the coffee thrive, the community needed to thrive too. We’ve been following their journey through their blog posts, too, and there’s a connection between the family and the farmers that you can sense through their posts.

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In the video, Ben explains one of the hardships Burundi coffee farmers face is the dreaded potato defect—where the coffee truly tasted like a raw potato and not the delicious, golden fried ones we all love. Over 20% of the crops are affected by this potato taste and it’s all because of this little bug, the Antestia, which bores into the coffee cherries and leaves a hole for bacteria to enter. The solution was simple. The Carlson’s moved their family to Burundi and started the Long Miles Coffee Project to collaborate with Burundi coffee farmers and educate them on how to maintain their coffee trees to reduce the Antestia bug. “Our challenge is actually our opportunity,” Ben says in the video.

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From there, the transformation can only be described in the way this coffee tastes. You truly get to experience the fruits of their labor through the quality of these cups. Burundi, as we learned through reading the Long Miles Coffee Project’s blog posts, is in political turmoil. The coup d’état uprooted the Carlson family and it’s only this April that we saw another blog post from Kristy and learned they’re ready for harvesting their coffee for another year. We’re excited to see what next year’s coffees will be. For now, we’ll continue to enjoy our Burundi Coffee Tour.

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Macejams’s Blackberry Iced Coffee Recipe

What goes better with summer than a nice, cold glass of coffee? Blackberries! We had a feeling Blackberry Iced Coffee recipe from our friend, Macejam, was going to be delicious and our hunch was right. This recipe quick to make and perfect for sipping by the pool.

We ground up good ole Bluebeard Coffee El Capitan to pair with our fresh blackberries—El Capitan sounds like a perfect pool-side drink. Its rich, full body with notes of chocolate and caramel will add a strong kick to this berries and cream drink. We suggest using 2% milk for the ultimate creaminess for your blackberry iced coffee.

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of blackberries
  • 34 grams coarse ground coffee
  • 544 grams of water
  • 1.5 ounces vanilla syrup
  • 9 ounces of milk
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  1. In a medium bowl, smash six or more blackberries (half the cup). Add the smashed berries, coffee grounds into the French press. Tip: add a little bit of water to help scrap the berries out.
  2. Stir it all up then add 544 grams of water and brew for four minutes.
  3. Take the remaining blackberries and puree until mainly liquid. A blender is optional but helps create a smooth consistency. Add the vanilla syrup and stir.
  4. Fill your 10-ounce glass with ice and get ready for coffee!
  5. Pour five ounces of coffee onto the ice and then add the purple milk. Bon appétit!

The Story Of Persephone: Intelligentsia Coffee Persephone Blend

Persephone was a beautiful young lady cherished by her mother, the Goddess of Harvest, Demeter. Demeter presided over the fertility of the earth and brought the cycle of life and death to the harvest. With Persephone by her side, the flowers bloomed. Soon, though, the earth would grow barren.

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You may be thinking this is only a tale of our dear Persephone. Our friends at Intelligentsia Coffee used this fateful tale as a foundation to demonstrate their commitment to producing coffee from a seasonal perspective. Seattle Coffee Gear is proud to provide our customer’s with Intelligentsia Coffee Persephone Blend and share the story that inspired the name. 

One day, Persephone and her companions were picking flowers in a field, when Hades, ruler of the Underworld, caught a glimpse of Persephone and yearned to make her his. Hades sought help from his brother Zeus, who was also the father to Persephone, and revealed his love for her. Together, they plotted a plan to steal Persephone and bring her to the Underworld.

While still frolicking through the field, Persephone was enchanted by a lone daffodil. Little did she know, the flower was the trap set by Hades and his brother to capture poor Persephone. When she reached her delicate hand towards the flower, Hades cracked open the earth and spirited her away to the Underworld. When Demeter discovered her daughter was missing, the earth wilted under her vengeful spite.

Persephone was as distraught as her mother. She refused to eat a single bite—she knew that if she consumed food from the Underworld, she would be trapped there forever. Hades, undeterred, tempted her with food and elaborate decorations until eventually his offerings persuaded Persephone and she ate pomegranate seeds from the Underworld.

Above, the land still laid to waste, Demeter was determined to get her daughter back—no matter if Persephone consumed food from the Underworld. Hades refused since he had made Persephone his, but struck a deal to allow her to leave every six months of the year to visit Demeter. For the other six months, she would be Queen of the Underworld and rule with Hades.

That is why with each spring, Demeter wills the flowers to bloom with the arrival of her beloved Persephone from the Underworld. And when Persephone must fulfill the bargain and return, Demeter lets the crops wilt until she sees her daughter again.

The story of Persephone illustrates the seasonal cycle of coffee. During the spring, the coffee plant flowers and then summer ripens the cherries until they are ready to be harvested in winter. Intelligentsia Coffee’s Persephone Blend correlates with the growing season with their Direct Trade partners in the Southern Hemisphere. Persephone is composed of coffees from Bolivia, Brazil, and Zambia, where their most fruitful harvest during June through September.

Persephone’s blend carries notes of pomegranate—to honor Persephone, of course—and orange marmalade that finishes with a light bite of champagne. The balance of sweetness and acidity complements the contrast of Persephone’s story if you ask us. For as long as Persephone can stay with us, Seattle Coffee Gear will carry Intelligentsia Coffee’s Persephone Blend.

Hayden’s Cinnamon Coconut Latte Recipe

We’re digging the coconut oil trend here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We’re trendy. We previously whipped up a delicious coconut oil recipe with butter that made one creamy creation, but this time, we’re leaving the butter at home. Hayden sent us in this recipe for a Cinnamon Coconut Latte and we’re more than excited—but not as much as Gail—to try it out!

We’re pulling out big guns—the Rocket R60v—to make our latte. If you haven’t been following us, we’re head over heels for the new R60v. It’s a high-end home espresso machine built to be on par with their commercial. We brewed Counter Culture’s Fast Forward for our espresso shots. This light bodied blend with sweet and nutty notes is a perfect match with the refreshing coconut flavor.

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + a dash
  • 20 grams of ground coffee (makes 2 ounces espresso)
  • 8 ounces of 2% milk
  1. Prep your semi-automatic machine. Before brewing give your machine 30 minutes to warm up.
  2. Grind 20 grams of coffee into a double-shot portafilter. This makes 2 ounces of espresso. Lattes are generally made with 1-2 ounces of espresso per 8 ounces of milk or 1:3 ratio.
  3. Pour 8 ounces of milk and add one teaspoon of coconut oil and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.
  4. If you can steam and brew at the same time, we like to start the shot and then begin frothing the milk while it’s extracting the coffee. If you can’t do both, first steam your coconut and milk mixture and then make your shot so it’s at the hottest temperature.
  5. Add the 2 ounces of espresso to a 10-ounce glass and then pour the steamed milk on top. Try a little latte art while you’re at it!
  6. Add a dash of cinnamon to the top. Enjoy!

Thanks Hayden for the recipe! We’re thinking about putting it on ice for this warm weather we’re having in Seattle.

Send us your favorite recipes in the comments below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all things coffee related!

Coffee On The Brain: How Altitude Affects Coffee Flavor

By now you’re well on your way to being a coffee flavor expert. We’ve talked about how flavors differ from coffee varietals or how the roasting process changes the beans—just a few of the factors that create a unique profile! But have you ever noticed the elevation listed on your bag of beans? On this episode of Coffee On The Brain, Amber reveals how altitude affects coffee flavor. The answer might surprise you!

A coffees flavor can change based on where the plant is grown. The higher altitude affects coffee flavor by making it harder for the coffee plant to mature. You might think this means that the coffee’s flavor wouldn’t be good, but actually, the opposite is true. It takes longer for the coffee plants to mature and that helps produce cherries that are bursting with fruity, floral or spicy flavors.

When we say higher altitude, we’re talking about coffee that is grown at least above 3,000 feet or preferably 5,000 feet or 1,524 meters, which coffee roasters frequently use as their measurement. Some of our favorite coffees are grown above 5,000 feet like the Intelligentsia Coffee Bolivia AnjilanakaCaffe Ladro Ethiopia Yirg Z, and Bluebeard Ethiopia Ardi Natural.

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The lower you go in elevation—lets say down to below 3,000 feet—the easier it is for the plant to grow, mature and produce boring flavors. That’s right, boring. Lower altitude cherries create a less desirable cup described as simple and bland.

Here’s a quick and simple guide for how altitude affects coffee flavor:

How Altitude Affects Coffee Flavor

Growing at higher altitudes does have its drawbacks, though. It puts stress on the plant and makes it harder for farmers to grow a lot. With fewer plants, it is more expensive to produce those coffees and that means a higher price tag for us.

Here’s another factor to throw in the mix—slopes. Imagine you’re a farmer growing your coffee in a valley that floods. There’s no drainage so the plants begin to absorb lots of water and produce big, fat, juicy cherries. Sounds delicious, right? Wrong—those bloated cherries have lost lots of flavor thanks to the water diluting the sugars.

The farmer’s that planted their coffee on a mountain slope have better drainage and so the cherries are crisp. The harder cherries preserve the delicious sugars and flavor packed in the beans—think Intelligentsia Coffee Bolivia Anjilanaka that Gail brewed on this episode of Good Morning Gail. This seasonal blend is grown above 5000 feet and has notes of chocolate, nuts and fruit.

The higher altitude affects coffee flavor by making it harder for the coffee plant to mature.

Flavor profiles are complex with all the variables in the mix that produce different notes and body. It’s no wonder there are so many rich coffee blends to try! Watch the full episode of Coffee On The Brain with Amber and if you didn’t realize you were missing out on episodes, come on over and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Coffee Collaboration: Use Up Your Old Coffee Beans Recipe

Old Coffee Beans

Here’s the age old question that’s been affecting coffee lovers across the nation: What do you do with stale, old coffee?

To answer this questions, you should know why it goes stale.

Coffee goes stale when it has been oxidized by contact with—you probably guessed—oxygen. Roasters will use different bagging methods to reduce oxidization, but once you split open that new bag of coffee and take a big whiff of those fresh roasted beans, the quality goes down from there. As the beans stale, the flavor quality is reduced and loses its unique profile.

The best way to avoid old coffee is to brew it ASAP. Each coffee bag typically has a roast date and a recommended “best buy” date. But when your coffee ultimately goes stale, it’s time to get inventive like our coffee friend Saxman11290 who sent us this delicious recipe solution. Let’s check it out!

This recipe calls for a double shot of espresso, so you’ll need a superautomatic or semi-automatic machine. Got it? Here’s everything you’ll need:

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup of 2% milk
  • 14-18 grams of ground old coffee
  • Drizzle of chocolate sauce
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of ice into a shaker.
  2. Using an espresso machine, make a double shot of espresso. For semi-automatics measure 14-18 grams of pre-ground old coffee or use a superautomatic and brew a double shot.
  3. Pour your double shot on the milk and ice and shake it up!
  4. Pop off the glass and strain the mixture over a chilled glass.
  5. Top off with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Enjoy!

Thanks Saxman11290 for this tasty creation! Gail whipped herself up a cup—and we don’t want to spoil it for you—but she couldn’t tell that she was drinking old coffee.

Send us your favorite coffee recipe in the comments below and we’ll share it with everyone on another episode of Coffee Collaboration.

Coffee On The Brain: What’s Happening When Roasting Coffee Beans?

Let’s get cracking on today’s coffee lesson. Today we’ll dive into the chemical process that transforms those green beans into the aromatic, brown beans we’re all familiar with. The process is so complex, it’s not fully understood, but what we do know, we’ll share with you on this episode of Coffee On The Brain.

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Roasting coffee beans produce over 800 aroma and flavor compounds. There are two chemical component groups, volatile and nonvolatile, that occur during the roasting process. The volatile components create the aroma while the nonvolatile create the basic flavors that we get from coffee such as bitterness or sourness. Caffeine falls into the nonvolatile category and accounts for some of the bitterness in your cup.

Now to the good stuff: the roasting stages. Each stage goes through a number of endothermic and exothermic phases. To sum it up, the endothermic phase is when the beans absorb the energy in the form of heat whereas the exothermic phase the beans release the energy. It’s easy to remember “en” as “in” and “ex” as “exit,” for those of you taking notes.

Try roasting coffee beans right in your own home. We’ve got the Behmor 1600 Plus Home Coffee Roaster and Velton’s Bonsai Green Beans – Unroasted to create the right roast for you. You’ll have the freshest coffee on the block and a perfect conversation starter during your next brunch out. Check out this video we’ve made with the Behmor roaster and give it a try!

Roasting Stages

Stage One: Endothermic

The green beans absorb energy in the form of heat, lose moisture and mass and begin to turn yellow in color. Beans will give off a toast or popcorn smell.

Stage Two: First Crack

Heat released in the form of steam creates a large crack during the exothermic phase. The beans double in size and turn light brown.

Stage Three: Pyrolysis

Fats and sugars in the beans continue to break down and develop the aromas and flavors we know and love.  Roaster’s typically stop roasting during this stage.

Stage Four: Second Crack

Pressure formed by various gasses crack the beans again. The beans deepen to a medium to dark brown and begin to develop a sheen as oils are pushed to the surface.

Stage Five: Final Roast

Most roasters will stop prior to the second crack to retain the bean’s flavor. The longer the beans are roasted, the less unique flavored is preserved.

Coffee Collaboration: Portuguese Mazagran Coffee – A Coffee & Lemonade Treat!

 While you’re impatiently waiting for short season, we’ve got a refreshing drink that’ll curb your summer appetite! Today’s concoction includes a summer favorite, lemonade, and our personal favorite, coffee, to create one delicious treat. Thanks Nick for the awesome recipe!

Gail went ahead and made herself a glass! Here a tip Gail discovered: make sure you have a tall enough container. We recommend at least a 12-ounce glass for this brew.

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Nick’s Portuguese Mazagran Recipe:

Equipment:

  • 12 ounce+ glass
  • AeroPress
  • Scale

Ingredients:

  • 56 grams fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 356 grams filtered water
  • 56 grams sugar
  • 100 grams of Ice
  • 25 grams of light roast coffee ground fine
  1. In a carafe with 100 grams of ice, combine the sugar, lemon juice and 56 grams of water to make a concentrated lemonade.
  2. Bring the remaining 300 grams of water to a boil.
  3. Set the AeroPress on top of the lemonade mixture and add in 25 grams of coffee.
  4. Slowly add 300 grams of boiling water into the AeroPress. Stir and brew for about 4 minutes and press when done.
  5. Stir to combine the lemonade with the coffee and pour into a glass with fresh ice!

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This sweet infusion reminds Gail of iced tea with lemonade—another summer favorite!

Do you have a recipe to share with us? Drop us a comment below and we’ll brew up your favorite cup!

Coffee On The Brain: Mundo Novo & Catuai Coffee Varietals

On this Episode of Coffee On The Brain, we travel to Brazil to explore the Mundo Novo and Catuai coffee varietals. These South American coffees create a tasty blend that you have to try! After a short history lesson, we’ll brew up some of 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza coffee blend

The Mundo Novo coffee varietal thrived in Brazil and is a natural hybrid of Typica and Bourbon plant. It’s a favorite amongst farmers for its resistances to disease and its higher fruit yield than a Bourbon varietal. It didn’t, however, inherit the desired flavor profile that people love from a Bourbon. That doesn’t mean you can’t find quality Mundo Novo beans! When you are lucky enough to come across some, the flavor is described as heavy and sweet with lower acidity.

What do you do then when beans are missing desired traits? You make new ones, of course! The Catuai is a high-yield Arabica cultivar from the Mundo Novo and Caturra coffee varietals. It was bred in the 1950s by the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil likely as an attempt to create a high-yielding, pest resistant plant with delicious cherries.

The Catuai is a high-yielding cultivar with a sweet, Bourbon-desired flavor, but, unfortunately, it is susceptible to diseases—we call this a success in the coffee world! Two out of three desired traits isn’t too bad. While the dream for a bean with all three traits wasn’t fully realized in this varietal, the Catuai coffee produces some espresso blends that we’ve come to love.

Want to get your hands on some Catuai coffee?

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Amber brewed up 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza and gave it a try. She detected notes of sweet, caramel balanced with tropical fruit undertone—like a mini-vacation in a cup! Try it and tell us what you think. 

If you’re curious to try Amber’s quick pour over, here’s the easy instructions.

Quick Pour Over Recipe:

  • Chemex Carafe with filter
  • 30 grams of ground 49th Parallel’s Honduras Finca Bonanza coffee
  • 500 grams of water at 205 degrees
  • Brew for 3:50 minutes
  • Serve  hot and enjoy!

Ask Gail: How To Sign Up for SCG Subscriptions!

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Imagine waltzing into the office and throwing a friendly “hello” to Gail before making a beeline to the kitchen. You expect to be greeted by the aroma of piping hot coffee but the stale air and huddle of co-workers around the pot confirm your suspicions. You ran out of coffee. Again.

Why run out of coffee when you can get fresh roasted beans delivered straight to your home or office? We launched SCG Subscriptions to put the pep back in your step and free your mornings for important tasks like brewing another pot. With SCG Subscriptions, you can have selected coffee, tea and cleaning supplies mailed directly to you!

If that’s not the definition of convenience, then this certainly will be! We made it super easy to sign up and change your subscription. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1. First, you’ll need a Seattle Coffee Gear Account. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to create one or log in before you can set up your subscription. 

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Step 2. To start your subscription, go to seattlecoffeegear.com. For an example run-through, we’ll subscribe to—you guessed it—coffee! Click on the “Coffee & Tea” tab and browse through the coffee based on their flavor profile and specialities. Currently, we offer SCG Subscription on most coffees, teas and cleaning supplies.

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Step 3. Choose an item and click on the photo to get more information. This is also where you will subscribe to that item.

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Step 4. On items that are available for SCG Subscription, under the “Add to Cart” button is the “Subscribe” button. Click on “Subscribe” and the website will prompt you to login to your SCG Account.

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Step 5. Log in to your account and fill out the subscription information. In your account, you will be able to:

  • Adjust frequency between every week, two weeks, a month or two months for delivery
  • Address who’s receiving the delivery
  • Change your address when you move
  • Add, change or cancel your order at any time!

That’s all there is to it! Watch the full video below with Gail and Miranda as they explain the awesome convenience of this new feature!