Interested 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.
Here 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.
A 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.
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.
Among our most frequently asked questions is “how do you create perfectly frothed milk?” This question is often closely followed by, “how do I then use that milk to create latte art?” or “how do I incorporate that milk into a shot to make a latte, cappuccino, etc.?” This comes as no surprise, since one of the trickiest parts of making a great drink is getting the milk frothed just right. You don’t want your milk to be too frothy, but not entirely flat either. In most cases the goal you are trying to achieve is creating just the right amount of microfoam. To further help you achieve caffeinated bliss; we’ve decided to tackle all of these questions in this series of brew tips, starting with how to froth milk. After all, creating perfectly frothed milk is the one of the key components for creating all the other drinks.
Getting your technique down, and then practicing a lot, is an important part of successfully frothing milk. However, the type of machine you are using as well as the type of steam wand the machine has, will also impact how your milk turns out. For instance, inexpensive espresso makers and machines like the Saeco Via Venezia, often have panarellos, which basically foam your milk for you. This is great if you are an espresso newbie who isn’t used to using a manual steam wand or just want to have foamy milk and aren’t picky about what type of foam you get. The plastic models usually have four or more holes on the top, which bring in a lot of air and will make your milk bubblier. If you don’t like bigger, airy foam with a lot of bubbles, you might want to upgrade to one of the stainless steel panarellos that typically only have one hole.
When it comes to frothing milk on a machine that has a traditional steam wand, like the Nuova Simonelli Musica, the rules about the number of holes in steam arm change. Wands with four holes will give you a lot of steam power and will heat the milk really quickly. These wands will also create really amazing microfoam. However, the quality of the microfoam you get is partially based on what type of machine you are brewing on as well as the tip. For instance, the Musica naturally has a lot more steam power, as opposed to a machine like the Breville Dual Boiler, which is a bit slower when it comes to steaming. That being said, neither machine is better than the other, it just depends on what you are looking to create. The Dual Boiler is nice in that it gives you a lot more time to work with, and produce a lot of, foam. On the other hand, it can be tricky to get a lot of foam on the Musica because it heats up so fast.
Once you’ve got what machines and wands you will be using for brewing, it all comes down to practice as we mentioned before. However, we realize this can be harder than it sounds, so here is our cheat sheet for how to froth milk for a latte or a cappuccino.
11 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Latte
1) Start with a very cold pitcher and milk. This will gives you more time to work with your milk. If it is already warm already it’s going to heat up faster, providing you with less time.
2) Blow out the extra water in the steam wand.
3) Adjust the angle of the steam wand to suite your preferences. We typically keep ours at a pretty high angle, but you can play around with it to see what works best for you.
4) Hold the tip of your frothing pitcher against the steam wand; this will give you more leverage when moving the pitcher around.
5) You will also want to angle your frothing pitcher to the side, which will help you get the milk swirling around in a circle.
6) Submerge the tip of the steam wand in the milk. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a high pitch squeal followed by slurping. While it is loud at first, this is exactly what you want to hear. As soon as you hear that squealing noise, make sure you bring the pitcher down so you hear that slurping noise as you start to incorporate air. This will help prevent you from getting too much foam, since for a latte you want to create a smaller amount of foam.
7) Submerge the rest of the wand in the milk after a few seconds.
8) Once you can feel the bottom of the frothing pitcher get nice and toasty, almost too hot to touch, remove the steam wand from the milk.
9) Always wipe down and blow out the steam wand when you are done to prevent the milk from getting sucked back into the boiler.
10) Mix milk in by slowly swirling the milk around the pitcher, to get a rich and creamy consistency. The milk will look a bit more porous before you begin this process, but once you start mixing it in it starts getting a really shiny texture and that’s exactly what you want.
11) Combine the milk with espresso and relax with your drink.
7 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Cappuccino
1) Just like with a latte, you will want to start with very cold milk and make sure to blow out the extra water in the steam wand.
2) Start with the tip of your steam wand submerged.
3) Once you start hearing that high pitched squealing noise, you will want to slowly bring the pitcher further and further down to incorporate more air.
4) As soon as you feel the pitcher and milk get hot is when you stop frothing.
5) Tap the bottom of a pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around the pitcher to mix it in. You will notice that the texture of the milk is a lot thicker.
6) If you are creating a drier cappuccino (or a cappuccino with more foam and less milk), you will want to let the milk settle a little bit after you have mixed it, and it will separate out.
7) Combine the milk with your shot of espresso and enjoy.
If you would like to see the process in action and follow along step-by-step, watch as our resident milk frothing expert Dori teaches Sarah how to perfect her pour. If you live in the greater Seattle area, you can also learn how to froth milk with Dori in person if you stop by for her Sunday milk frothing or latte art workshops in our Bellevue store.
Love tea? So do we! In these hot summer months, and particularly the “Dog Days of August” as some people like to call them, there is nothing better than a glass cold, smooth iced tea to cool you down. Luckily, with the Rishi Tea Simple Brew Teapots, making iced tea has never been easier!
To all of you who love coffee as well, this brewer might remind you of a French press. The construction is similar, as there is a filter attached to the brewer’s lid. However, unlike a French press, you don’t press the filter down. The purpose of filter is not to help extract the tea, but to prevent any tea particles from escaping into your cup. To make iced tea, fill the larger, 24 oz. Simple Brew Iced Teapot to the halfway mark with hot water, add your tea and let it steep for the desired length of time. After your tea has steeped, fill the other half of the teapot to cool down your tea. You might also want to refrigerate the tea and add ice to help cool it down even faster. Serve by pouring over a couple of ice cubes in a glass.
However, these teapots aren’t just for making iced tea, they will also brew a pretty tasty cup of hot tea. We love that these teapots because they are multifunctional as it allows you to use them all year long. The smaller, 13-15 oz. teapot is especially a good option for brewing hot tea, as it is more of personal-sized teapot that you can use to brew up one to two cups of tea. The process for brewing a hot cup of tea is similar to that of brewing a cold tea. All you have to do is spoon your loose leaf tea in to the bottom of the teapot, add hot water, let the tea steep for as long as you want and enjoy.
The smallest of these Rishi Simple Brew Teapots are also just big enough to allow a blooming tea ball to expand as it steeps. Thus, at your next tea party you can not only impress your guests with these classy looking teapots, but also entertain them as they watch their tea unfurl into a beautiful flower as it steeps. To discover more uses for these teapots, watch as Dori shows tea-newbie Brendan the ropes.
Jura has been busy designing a lot of new machines, and this latest model is sure to impress all of your friends! The Jura Impressa F8 contains a mix of some of the best features from the brand’s new and older machines. However, in our opinion the nicest part about this machine is its software and all of the programmability it has.
One of our favorite settings on the Impressa F8 is the “Expert Mode,” which allows you to be the authority and change the settings (shot volume, shot strength, shot temperature and amount of milk used) for all the drinks that are programmed on the machine. Likewise, the F8 gives you the option of changing the volume of your shot once the machine starts to brew, allowing you to customize and play around with your drinks on the fly. Finally, the machine also has a counter so you can keep track of how many shot you’ve pulled and how many drinks you’ve made, and use that to help calculate when your machine is due for a cleaning.
Speaking of cleaning, while Jura doesn’t provide you with access to the brew unit, which is the case on all of their superautos, they do provide you with some pretty efficient automated cleaning tools. These tools can be found and accessed in the maintenance section of the machine’s programming. For instance, you can program the Jura Impressa F8 rinse both your coffee and milk system to ensure your machine doesn’t get gunked up with coffee residue or old milk.
The Jura Impressa F8 is ideal for someone with a lot of users in their home, such as roommates or large family, that enjoy making a variety of coffee drinks. While we wish Jura had incorporated a little more stainless steel into the casing of the machine, we like that it has features like a bypass doser and digital screen as well as a ton of functionality. Watch as Brendan and Gail play around with the settings for making a cappuccino on the Impressa F8, and attempt Gail’s famous superauto latte art.
Founded in 1997, Zoka Coffee Roasters began with a small roaster in their now flagship café in the Tangletown neighborhood near Greenlake. Owner Jeff Babcock started Zoka because he wanted to create company whose purpose wasn’t about becoming a giant corporation, but whose goal was to create incredibly quality-oriented coffee. Jeff says, “We really wanted to focus on the quality of the coffee – because I knew it existed and I wanted to get there. I wanted to make a spectacular cup of coffee and I also wanted to make a great latte.” Jeff adds:
Just about every coffee company in the world says ‘we have the best coffee in the world’ but there is a lot to that, and if you really do have spectacular coffee, you have to go to the farm, you have to find it, you have to really know how to roast it right after you have found it, and then your presentation in your store as to prepare it right, and your baristas have to be very quality oriented and very customer friendly. So having all of those elements correct is the journey. And I guess you never quite get there, but we’re getting a lot closer.
In addition to continuing to learn about coffee, part of this journey has been becoming heavily involved in both the local and coffee community. In 2003 Jeff was invited to judge his first Alliance for Coffee Excellence Cup of Excellence (COE) competition, and has continued to judge them ever since. Likewise, Zoka consistently turns out fabulous baristas, and several of them have won barista championships. Finally, as Jeff mentioned previously, being on the ground and getting to know the people who grow, harvest and perfect the coffee Zoka roasts is a very important aspect to creating a spectacular cup of coffee. As such, Jeff makes frequent trips to origin to connect with coffee farmer around the world.
These reasons and more are why Zoka Coffee Roasters have become a much-adored favorite among coffee lovers over the years. In the last year Zoka was even named as one of America’s 15 Best Indie Coffee Shops by Fodor’s Travel, which is an impressive accomplishment. Here at SCG we’ve been fortune enough to work with Zoka quite a bit. Their talented crew members often stop by our stores for tastings and educational demos, so keep an eye on our calendar to make sure you catch the next one. We also were recently treated to tour of their roastery and got a chance to chat with their team. To learn more about Zoka Coffee Roasters and the wonderful small batch-roasted coffee they produce, check out our interview with Jeff Babcock himself.
Want to ensure you stay on trend with your coffee making? Why not try pour over coffee? Manual coffee-making methods are becoming increasingly popular, you’ve probably seen them popping up in your favorite cafes and many coffee enthusiasts are using them at home as well. The nice thing about brewing with pour overs is that you have more control over the different variables (the grind, water temperature, length of the pour, etc.) that go into to making a cup of coffee so you can create your ideal cup of coffee. In addition, with a pour over, you can evenly extract your entire basket of coffee, which is big advantage. Oftentimes on drip machines the middle of your coffee will get extracted a lot more than the edges, which can impact the flavor. As result, pour over coffee is typically very smooth and highlights the unique flavor profile of the coffee brewed. Besides providing you with the control you need to create a quality cup of coffee pour overs are also a simple, lo-fi way to create a tasty cup of coffee. All you need is a cup, kettle, pour over and a filter of coffee to start brewing. Of course, if you are brewing on a pour over, it is also nice to have a stand! Devices like Melitta Pour Over Stands put the focus on the coffee brewing process and provide an extra helping hand by holding your pour over in place.
Just as there are a variety of styles and types of pour overs, there are also a couple of different Melitta Pour Over Stands to choose from. However, one of the benefits of these stands is that both types we carry come with a porcelain cone (or even two or three in some cases) as well as filters, so that at least that part of the selection process is taken care of for you. From there, you just have to decide if you would rather go with the Melitta Bamboo Stand, which is a single brewer that will allow you to brew like a “slow bar” professional at home. If you like to drink a lot of coffee, are worried about other coffee drinkers stealing your precious brew or are looking to get a third wave setup in your café, you might want to consider getting the Melitta Stainless Steel Pour Over Bar. These sleek pour over stations allow you to brew either two or three pour overs at once, so you can serve several eager coffee drinkers. Check out Gail and Brendan as they try out these Melitta Pour Over Stands and pick up a few brew tips along the way!
After a year of writing tea reviews, I have visited quite a few different tea shops and houses in the greater Seattle area. While none of the other tea shops I visited were bad, in fact all of them served great tea and food, it was apparent that the owners of some tea shops hadn’t invested the same amount of knowledge or time into learning about the products they sell. Or if they have, they haven’t quite figured out how to share that information with their customers. However, when I recently stumbled upon Savrika Tea in downtown Kirkland, I realized I had discovered something really special.
You can tell that the owner, Rupa D. Gadre, is passionate about tea. This love for tea is evident from the second you step into Savrika Tea. This is not only because the numerous tea certifications she has earned, Rupa has been taking specialized courses since 2011 and officially became a Certified Tea Specialist in the Fall of 2013, but also due to the tea wall focal point and huge variety of tea with something to suit every taste.
Rupa’s entry to the tea world and entrepreneurship was somewhat unexpected. She originally worked as a Web Analyst for Cisco Systems, but took a hiatus from work to have children. As a mom, Rupa often visited the mall for her kid’s play dates and stopped at Teavana while there. Yet, while the store introduced her to a variety of wonderful loose leaf teas, she soon realized there were major drawbacks with the experience. One, there was no place to actually sit and enjoy the tea she purchased, so Rupa was forced to take the tea home and drink it by herself. Two, Rupa explains that she had a lot of questions about tea that the store staff couldn’t answer. Thus, disappointed in the lack of the social aspect and wanting people to be able to learn more about the tea they were drinking, Savrika Tea was born.
When it was clear that the store was going to be a reality, Rupa told me that she lucked into meeting an architect, who also happened to be an ex-Starbucks employee, through a fellow parent. Rupa explained that, while not a designer, she knew she wanted “a modern and clean look and feel. That is evident also in the tea wall focal point, the furnishings I chose, the concrete design on the floor, and the bathrooms.” Rupa adds that “because I’m the one making the final decisions, there was no committee to restrict my colors or themes,” which was nice since it allowed her to make the space truly her own.
The appearance of the store definitely accomplishes Rupa’s goal. The shop is a modern oasis, with shiny granite tables and a cozy nook to one side of the space that is excellent for curling up with a good book. The clean lines of the shelving put the tea ware and tea that is sold on display. Aside from the giant wall of tea, my favorite part of the store was the tea sampling station that is set up in the center of the room. Here, all 200 varieties of tea the shop sells are stored in small, color-coded tins (black tins for black teas, green tins for green teas and so on). Customers are able to open these tins in order to smell and examine the teas inside to find one or more that they would like to drink. There is a directory of all the teas that the store offers, which lists the ingredients and a description of each tea to help you get a better idea of what each one contains. If you still aren’t sure what tea you would like to try, Savrika’s knowledgeable staff can help you find a tea that is a good fit for you based on what flavors you enjoy. To ensure her staff remains knowledgeable about tea, Rupa says that, “after every training [I go to], I bring back my coursework and notes and educate my staff. That way they have more information at hand when speaking with customers.” In addition, Rupa states, “ I encourage my staff to try a new tea on each shift; that way they can give personal recommendations as well make their way through all 200 varieties.”
After exploring a number of the different teas on offer, I ended up deciding upon a black-green tea blend called “Roxie’s Passion” at the recommendation of a staff member. This blend includes black tea, green tea, papaya cubes, rosehip peel, flavoring and sunflower blossoms. Since it is summer, and has been hot out, I opted to have Roxie’s Passion brewed iced. The tea arrived at my table in a to-go cup and was a pretty golden peach color. The flavor was even better. The tea tastes of a nice, smooth traditional black tea, except slightly lighter, perhaps because of the green tea that was also in the brew. There were fruity notes, such as peach and passion fruit, in the tea that made it even more delicious. In addition, the tea shop sells quite a few desserts and tea sandwiches, which can be hard to find nowadays. I didn’t sample any of these goodies myself, but they looked pretty tasty.
While Savrika Tea is Rupa’s first foray into selling tea on her own, it is not her first experience with tea. According to Rupa:
As far back as I can remember, tea was always around and part of my life. When we had guests, my Mom would bring out the nicer teapots. At parties, chai was always the last item served. When we’d go on vacations, my parents would stop the car for afternoon tea time. It didn’t matter where we were, but the tea break came to be expected. It was the tradition that followed from India to their new country, from their parents’ houses to our home, and now to my home and business.
Since tea has long been a part of Rupa’s life, she decided she would combine another important aspect of her background, her Indian heritage, into the store. As such, “the base of the [store’s] name is ‘Sarika,’ which is a Sanskrit woman’s name meaning beauty in nature. I added the ‘v’ to make it Savrika – wholly mine and unique, but with an Indian base. “
Savrika Tea is rapidly approaching its second birthday; the store opened its doors in September of 2012, and shows no signs of slowing down. Even on a Wednesday afternoon, when I visited, there were quite a few people in the shop sipping tea while reading or working on their computers. Besides selling tea, Rupa offers frequent tea tastings and classes so customers interested in learning more about tea have the opportunity to do so. It seems the abundance of knowledge Rupa provides her customers is likely what makes Savirka Tea so successful. Rupa said it best when she stated, “I have no agenda except to provide high-quality tea and perhaps educate customers along the way.”