Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

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!

 

Ask Gail: Can you Steep Tea in a Kettle?

can you steep tea in a kettleTea is a lot like coffee in that it requires a precise control of temperature and time in order to extract the deliciousness. But sometimes you want something quick. So what are the short cuts you can take, if there are any? Well, unfortunately there aren’t many. A common question we get is if you can put your loose leaf tea directly in the kettle as you heat up the water. And the simple answer is no. Because time and temperature are essential factors to brewing coffee or tea, this short cut won’t give you good results.

Watch this Ask Gail video to find out why this won’t work and to hear a few solutions to the problem.

 

Crew Review: Hario V60 Drip Station

Hario V60 Drip StationPour some sugar on me! Ok, maybe not sugar or on me. But you can pour some water on my freshly ground coffee! And if you want, you can use the Hario V60 Drip Station. What’s that you ask? It’s only the coolest thing sitting on my counter (granted, my 8 year old toaster is not much competition).

The Hario V60 Drip Station is designed to compliment the whole V60 pour over brewing process. The acrylic stand is easy to clean and easy to assemble. The stainless steel grate sits on top of the ABS resin drip tray, ready to catch any rouge coffee. The whole station fits perfectly on the Hario V60 Drip Scale, which makes for a no fuss brewing process. Once everything is set up, you are ready to brew just like they do at your local coffee shop.

Some may say that the stand is not an essential piece of equipment for brewing up a tasty cup of coffee. And yes that may be the case. The V60 Coffee Dripper does fit nicely on top of your standard coffee mug but if you like an organized and clean looking set up, this is for you (much like it is for me!).

Take a look at the video below to see Gail brew up a cup using the Hario V60 Dripper, station and scale! Yeah, she went all out. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well, Gail is always reviewing products or answering your questions. We’d love you to be a part of the conversation!

Crew Review: Chemex Coffee Mug

Chemex Coffee MugWe love Chemex. Everything they make is so clean and looks great sitting out on the counter. So if you are also a fan of all things Chemex, listen up! Chemex has designed a great handblown glass coffee mug that looks like a miniaturized Chemex coffee maker.  The Chemex Coffee Mug is made from the same non-porous borosilicate glass that you are familiar with and comes in a 10 ounce size.

Gail recently took this cute little cup with her on vacation and used in a way that it is not intended. Gail made her morning coffee in the cup, just like it was the full size pour over vessel. She said it worked great and had to show everyone what she did. Take a look at the video below to see Gail’s thoughts and process for brewing coffee right in the mug! We think you will find this a pretty clever idea.

Head over to our YouTube channel after watching this video to find more Crew Reviews and other fun videos!

Crew Review: MiiR Travel Tumbler

Ok, I will be honest with you. I like to drink my coffee in a mug, a nice and heavy mug. Miir Travel Tumbler

I’m going to keep on being honest with you, those big heavy mugs are more trouble than they are worth when I am on the go. Trust me when I say I’ve tried and failed. I can no longer come into work with coffee stained pants, I would never hear the end of it from my co-workers.

Although I have had to put my coffee mugs away, I have found a replacement that I am quite enjoying. Let me introduce to you the MiiR Travel Tumbler. Aside from the awesome name, these tumblers have some great features. The most important factor to me is the double wall design. One of the reasons I love my big and heavy mugs is because of there ability to keep my drink hot! And the double wall on the MiiR Travel Tumbler does the same thing (and probably better, if I am keeping honest with you). The lid on these travel tumblers are great at keeping the coffee in the cup and not on my pants. However, the lid does not have a closing function on the drink hole. So you wont be able to be doing any backflips with this in hand. Although I suppose if you were able to flip fast enough the centripetal force would hold the coffee in its place, but I digress.

The MiiR Travel Tumblers come in a variety of colors, 6 to be exact. And if you want you can even get the stainless steel tumbler with the Seattle Coffee Gear logo on it, like all the cool kids are doing.

What really makes these travel tumblers stand out is the story behind MiiR’s one4one initiative to bring clean well water to people around the world. With every tumbler sold MiiR helps someone in need get access to fresh drinking water. MiiR is a great Seattle-based company and the MiiR Travel Tumbler is an all-around staff favorite. You like Fair Trade coffee? Great! Grab a tumbler that does good too.

Watch the video below to hear what Gail thinks about these tumblers in this Crew Review. And if you want, head over to our YouTube channel and check out what else Gail has been reviewing. She has been very busy!

 

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!