Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

Ask Gail: How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! We love our coffee here and truly drink it up. Our kitchen is always stocked with a 5 pound bag of the good stuff (Yes 5 pounds!) But how long do coffee beans last? Fresh coffee is good coffee. Stale coffee not only has an inferior taste it also can wreak havoc on your espesso timing.

So, we asked Gail to drop some knowledge when it comes to how long coffee beans will stay fresh and how we can make the beans last longer.

Here are some of the big take aways from our conversation:

  • Store your beans whole because once you grind them their freshness will begin to diminish in the first 15 minutes. With such a short time frame between fresh and stale when the beans are ground, it’s best to grind only the beans you need per brew event.
  • Beans from larger roasters (think Lavazza) will have nitrogen flushed their bags. That means before you open the bag, the amount of oxygen in the the bag will be next to none. Oxygen is a key factor in the degradation of coffee bean freshness. So these type of beans will last longer in the unopened bag vs. a local roasted bean (which won’t be nitrogen flushed).
  • Once a bag is opened it should be stored in cool and dry place. Something like an Airscape is a great place to start.

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on coffee bean freshness. Oh, and if you have a question for Gail be sure to leave it in the comments and we can see if she has the answer! Also, you can check out past Ask Gail videos here if you are interested.

 

Crew Review: notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers

notNeutral Ciclone TumblersDouble walled items seem to be hot right now (but not to the touch!). The latest product that takes advantage of this design are the notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers. A double wall is excellent for hot or cold liquids because it helps keep the heat (or lack thereof) where it belongs.

The notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers come in three sizes: 2.5 oz, 6 oz and 10 oz. We love the 10 oz. option for iced coffees (its almost summertime!). The double wall design is great for iced coffees because it eliminates the inevitable sweating glass! Each tumbler is hand blown from borosilicate glass (which is a great conversation piece), but be aware there may be slight variations from cup to cup. Borosilicate is a laboratory grade glass that is both heat and scratch resistant, so feel free to put these babies in the dishwasher!

We are really happy with these tumblers. The design fits nicely in your hand and makes a great addition to our ever growing collection. Watch the Crew Review video below and then head over to our YouTube channel to see what else Gail has been playing around with!

 

 

Crew Review: Acme Cups

Acme Cappuccino CupPicture yourself sitting outside a bustling cafe enjoying a delicious cappuccino in the morning sun. Maybe you are noshing on a crisp biscotti while solving the crossword puzzle. Is the mood set? Now look closer at the image in your mind. What are you holding? If the cup feels sturdy and proudly displays the beverage held inside, chances are, you are holding an Acme cup.

Acme cups were originally designed for heavy use in cafes (much like the one you are sitting outside of now). Made from thick ceramic, all the cups in the Acme line up are built to last. They also keep your coffee hotter longer because of the sheer thermal mass, and that makes for a great drink! The Acme cups come in 4 sizes: the demitasse, the tulip, the cappuccino and the latte. We carry multiple colors and even have a saucer option if you so choose.

Here we are going on and on about awesome cups again. Watch the Crew Review below to see what Gail really thinks about these Acme cups and be sure to head over to our YouTube channel for more videos!

     

 

 

 

Crew Review: Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade

Saeco BottomlessSaeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter UpgradeOftentimes when we find an espresso machine or coffee maker that allows us to make a cup of coffee exactly the way we like it, we use the machine until it no longer works for us. Only then do we then consider upgrading to a different model. However, that is not to say we won’t improve upon the machine while it’s still in our hot little hands when given the chance. Not only does this make the coffee the machine produces better, but it also might allow us to hang on to the espresso machine a little while longer. Luckily, we were afforded this opportunity with a few of our tried and true espresso makers and were able to create a Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade that will work on machines like the Via Venezia and Aroma.

We were really excited that we here at Seattle Coffee Gear were able to develop an upgrade (that’s right you won’t find them anywhere else) for some of our favorite Saeco machines. The nice thing about this upgrade is that since the Aroma and Via Venezia already come with a pressurized portafilter, adding a non-pressurized portafilter increases the functionality of this machine. With the pressurized portafilter that comes with these machines you have the ability to use pre-ground in your machine, as the portafilter will compensate for the grind not being perfect. This will be your easy-peasy approach with no tamping necessary. In addition, with the non-pressurized portafilter you now also have the ability to get in touch with the barista side of your coffee experience and play around with the grind and flavors of coffee, which can be the most enjoyable part of espresso.

What is even better is we didn’t just create one non-pressurized portafilter upgrade for these machines; we created two. In addition to the standard Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade, we also created a Bottomless Portafilter Upgrade for Saeco Machines as well. The bottomless portafilter is truly a great teaching tool, as you see your shot as it comes out of the portafilter. If you have done everything correctly, you will see your coffee first start to dispense around the edges of the portafilter, then form into a cone in the middle. On the other hand, if your coffee starts coming out on the side, or does anything else, that means you have fractures or channeling in your puck. All is not lost if this happens, part of the learning process is trying again and seeing if you can adjust your technique to get a better shot the next time around.

To use these Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrades on your machine, all you have to do is pop out the basket from your pressurized portafilter and put into one of the non-pressurized portafilters and you are good to go. Keep in mind that when you use these non-pressurized portafilters you have to be really in tune with the grind of the coffee. As such, you will want to a get good grinder and 53 mm tamper to complete your setup, which you can do fairly inexpensively. Ultimately, adding a non-pressurized portafilter to your Saeco setup is a great option if you are interested in upgrading to a fancier semi-auto and want to see what you are getting into. Or, perhaps you are enjoying your Aroma or Via Venezia but want to start trying to make the same drinks your favorite barista has been making at your local coffee stand. Speaking of brewing like a pro, check out as Gail shows off her barista skills while she and Brendan explore all the options these non-pressurized portafilters provide.

Brew Tips: How to Make a Cappuccino

How to Make a CappuccinoIt’s that time again! Yep, Dori and Sarah are back to teach you how make another one of those delicious and fancy drinks you find in your local cafe. In this week’s installment they’ll show how to make a cappuccino. One of the more common drinks, people often confuse cappuccinos with lattes. It is easy to see why, as they are pretty similar since they are both milk-based drinks with espresso. However, with a cappuccino, there is a third component included in the recipe that is not in a latte – foam!

Thus, a cappuccino is a third part foam, a third part milk and a third part espresso.  Luckily this is pretty easy to remember, even for the math adverse like myself. Typically a cappuccino will have more foam and less milk than a latte and the entire drink will only be about six oz., so not that giant drink you may love and adore from some chain stores. In addition, some places will actually steam the a cappuccino a little cooler than some other drinks, so it is more like a drink you can chug. The reason for this is because is your milk is steamed at a cooler temperature, you can get more of the natural sweetness out of the milk and your drink will be sweeter. However, if you heat your milk past 140 degrees Fahrenheit the milk starts to get bitter.

How to Make a Cappuccino

1)   Clear the extra water out of the steam wand.

2)   Follow our seven steps for frothing milk for a cappuccino when preparing your milk.

3)   As you froth your milk, keep in mind that you should be expanding it quite a bit and incorporating in as much air as you can.

4)   When you’re done frothing, tap the bottom of the pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around to get a nice, rich foam. We usually try to work in the little mound that forms on top of our milk to ensure our milk is creamy through out. However, if you like to keep the mound so you can eat the foam with a spoon, that’s perfectly fine too!

5)   Don’t forget, if you like a cappuccino with more foam ask for a dry cappuccino the next time you are at your favorite café. You can also achieve this effect at home by letting your drink sit for a minute or two after you have made it and the milk will separate. If you want a creamy cappuccino, start drinking right away.

Watch as Dori and Sarah show you how to make a cappuccino in just a few minutes! While it may seem like they are just making it look easy, once you have your technique down you’ll be making this drink in a snap as well!

Crew Review: Primula Coffee and Tea Products

We love a product that can do double duty (or, in this case, triple duty)! Primula Products

The Primula coffee and tea products do just that, allowing you to brew everything from cold brew coffee to fruit infused iced tea. They even have a bottle that lets you make cold brew on-the-go! So, let’s take these products one by one, shall we?

First up, the Primula Cold Brew Glass Carafe System. Simply add 16 tablespoons of ground coffee to the mesh filter, screw the insert into the carafe, add water and let brew in your refrigerator overnight. Easy peasy, yes? You can also store it the refrigerator for up to 14 days, so you’ll never be far from a chilly caffeine jolt!

Then you have the Primula Flavor It 3-In-1 Beverage System, which has inserts for: Brewing tea, infusing your beverage with fruits or herbs and a core you keep in your freezer for a quick cool down (minus the dilution of ice). But who needs tea when you can make sangria? Yeah, we went there. Oh, and you can use the same inserts from this little guy with the cold brew carafe.

Last, but not least, is the Cold Brew Bottle. It allows you to make cold brew on your way to work…’nough said!

If you want to learn more, you should watch the video below. Heck, you should watch the video below regardless. Sarah and Teri have a grand old time with the Primula product line!

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

Toddy Cold Brew SystemInterested in one of the summer’s hottest (or should we say coolest?) gadgets? If you’re in to cold brew coffee or even coffee in general, there’s a good chance you have heard of the Toddy Cold Brew System. The Toddy was originally created 50 years ago by Todd Simpson, after a Peruvian process for producing coffee concentrate inspired the chemical engineering graduate to make his own system for brewing cold (and hot!) coffee with less acid to be easier on the stomach. The rest is history and the Toddy has been popular ever since. In fact, ever since we opened our first store around eight years ago, people always came in asking for the Toddy. This brewer has gotten even trendier in the last year or so, and we are lucky enough to have it now gracing our shelves.

It seems we got the Toddy at just the right time, since we don’t know if we would have survived this scorcher of a summer without it. Several of our crewmembers haven’t been able to start their day without heading to the refrigerator for a fresh cup made on the Toddy Cold Brew System. It’s easy to see why everyone has fallen in love with the Toddy, even though it may not be the fanciest looking piece of equipment we carry, since it is incredibly easy to use and requires minimal prep-work.

Besides being easy to use, the Toddy Bold Brew System does also create some very smooth and tasty coffee. If you can’t get enough of this cold brew or want to serve it in your cafe, there is an even larger Commercial Toddy Cold Brew System that will produce 2.5 gallons of goodness. Now, that is a lot of coffee concentrate! The nice thing about this commercial brewer is that even though you are making more coffee, the process is relatively similar to that of the home sized brewer and takes the same amount of time. In addition, if coffee isn’t your bag, you aren’t out of luck as you can also cold brew tea on both models of the Toddy!

While it was hard for us to find many downsides to the Toddy, we do wish the removable handle were a bit sturdier, as all the weight from the coffee made it feel a little unstable at times. Likewise, we would also like to see the home model of the Toddy come with a lid for the brewer in the future, like on the commercial model, as this would make us worry less about our previous coffee getting disturbed during the steeping process.

Overall, the few issues we found were fairly minor and are made up by the days of coffee the Toddy can provide a solo sipper and all the fun recipe ideas that come with the brewer. Perhaps there will some experimenting in our future. In the meantime, you can pick some brew tips from Brendan and Gail as they review the Toddy and come up with a few recipes on the fly.

Crew Review: Toddy Cold Brew System

Taste Test: Mokito Coffee

Mokito CoffeeHere at SCG we love trying new things, and are always on the lookout for new coffee and tea to sample or new products to experiment with. As such, we couldn’t believe our excitement when we got our hands on Mokito coffee. This coffee has been produced in Lombardy, Italy since 1931, but it can be a bit challenging to get a hold of outside of the country. In fact, as far as we know, we are the only ones in the United States that currently sell Mokito blends.

Once these roasts traveled safely into our stores, we had to sample them! To make it a fair comparison, we decided to brew all the roasts across the same brew method. This time around, our brew method of choice was the Bodum Brazil French press. We loaded 45 grams of each flavor, ground to a French press grind, into our presses and added 23 oz. of 200-degree water. Then came the best part, actually drinking the coffee! Here are our thoughts on each Mokito Coffee:

  • Bianco: Best brewed as drip coffee, half of our taste testers feel in love with the Bianco blend. We found the blend to have hints of nutty flavors (although one taster thought the brew also had a slightly vegetable taste), and it was very clean and smooth.
  • Verde: The mildest of all three of the blends, we thought the Verde blend would be a great option for people just getting into coffee or for people who don’t like starting the day off with strong coffee. We also thought this coffee had a slightly green hue, but the name could have biased us. During later testing we found this roast tasted the best when brewed as drip coffee.
  • Rosso: Definitely the strongest blend, Rosso preforms really well as an espresso. We thought this blend had a smokey flavor, similar to toasted or roasted almonds. We also picked up a few hints of chocolate.

If you are a fan of Italian coffee, we highly recommend giving Mokito coffee a try. Overall, we found all three Mokito blends to be very smooth, and its flavor and aroma are very comparable to other well-known Italian brands, like Lavazza. For more tasting notes, watch as some of our crew sample this wonderful coffee.

Taste Test: Mokito Coffee

Brewin’ with Brandi: Iced Tembleque Latte

Iced Tembleque LatteA Tembleque is a Puerto Rican style coconut dessert that is often served during the holidays. The dessert is like a cross between Jello and pudding, and is sweet, but not cloying. White and smooth, when a tembleque is served in a glass and topped with cinnamon it almost looks like a latte. Being the creative people that we are, we thought why not try to transform this popular dessert in to something you could drink as well. We spent some time playing around in the kitchen, and the result was an Iced Tembleque Latte!

Smooth and refreshing, with a tropical feel, this iced latte turned out even better than we expected. Not to mention it is perfect if you want to cool off on a hot summer day. However, just because summer is almost over doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this drink. We still have several weeks of warm weather ahead of us, and you can make this drink hot as well. You’ll feel like you are in paradise all year long! In addition, an Iced Tembleque Latte is incredibly easy to make, as it only requires a few ingredients. Watch as Brandi and Kaylie try it out, soda shop style.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Iced Tembleque Latte

Ingredients

Directions

  • Pour the shot of espresso over ice in a glass.
  • Add the milk in to the glass.
  • Stir in the coconut syrup.
  • Top the drink with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and add an umbrella for decoration if you’d like.

Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte and a Mocha

how to make a latte2Last week we gave you some tips on how to perfectly froth your milk for creating a latte or a cappuccino. Now we are going to expand on those skills a bit and show you how to make a latte and a mocha. Once again we used our trusty Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine with its super-charged frothing power to create these drinks.

How to Make a Latte

1) When making a latte you can use as much milk as you want. Generally you want to use more milk for a latte than you would use for making a cappuccino, about 8 oz. is a good amount.

2) Once you have your milk, follow the same tips we used for frothing milk for a latte in our video last week.

3) Since you are only making a little bit foam for your latte, make sure you submerge your steam arm fairly quickly to ensure you are just heating the milk and not creating bubbles.

4) When your milk is hot, tap the pitcher and swirl the milk around the pitcher to get it mixed in. This time around you will be able to see the milk texture underneath, as the milk is not nearly as thick as when we were frothing it for a cappuccino. However, you can still create a rich milk by making sure any foam you have created is well-incorporated in to the milk. If you let it separate out too much, you’ll get that lighter milk texture and have thick foam on the top.

5) Pour your frothed milk into a cup containing a shot (or two or three!) of espresso and you have created a latte.

How to Make a Mocha

1) Creating a mocha is very similar to creating a latte, as it is basically a latte with chocolate. As such, follow steps 1-4 in the latte recipe above to prepare the milk for your mocha.

2) Before you add milk to your cup, mix your espresso shot with chocolate syrup (you can use any type of chocolate to create a mocha – white, dark, sugar-free, whatever you prefer). Stir the espresso and shot together with a spoon to make sure they are well combined. This makes creating the drink easier, especially if you want to attempt latte art, which we’ll save for another post.

3) Pour in the milk with the espresso chocolate mixture, and enjoy.

Follow along with Dori and Sarah as they make a latte and a mocha. Make sure to check back in next week to discover what other coffee concoctions you can make with your newfound skills.

Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte or a Mocha