Category Archives: News – Coffee

How To Ice Brew Coffee

Ice BrewIt’s summer. Which means iced coffee of course!

But we think iced coffee should be more than just hot coffee poured over ice. If you have been following our YouTube channel you know that we have been experimenting with different ways to get that coffee we know and love, ice cold.

We have experimented with cold brew, which is amazingly smooth, but takes up to 24 hours to brew! Luckily we found out about this Japanese Cold Brew method, or sometimes referred to as ice brew!

We made some great coffee using this ice brew method. It’s as easy as making a cup of pour over except you substitute half of your brewing water with ice. As a result, you brew concentrated coffee directly onto ice, which instantly cools your coffee–locking in all the flavor. Trust us when we say, you need to try this!

Watch the video below to see Gail demonstrate how to brew using the ice brew method! And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking here. We publish a new video every day of the week, so we are confident there will be something for you ;)





Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips

CappuccinoBy now you’ve probably heard of the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest. If you haven’t, this annual contest hosted by Lay’s allows people to submit their ideas for new potato chip flavors in to the company. The brand then selects three to four “flavor finalists” to actually produce so that the public can sample them and vote on an ultimate winner. Last year’s contest conjured up inventive flavors like Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread (which ended up being declared the winner). This year, contestants have gotten even more creative in developing flavor finalists, which are Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa, Wasabi Ginger and Cappuccino chips.

Being the coffee lovers that we are, we were both surprised and interested to hear that a cappuccino chip was being created. After all it combined two of our favorite things, a cappuccino and potato chips. However, we were a little uncertain how these two flavors would mix, as they are both pretty distinctive. As such, we decided we no choice but to put these cappuccino chips to the test and taste them ourselves. However, we wanted this test to be as scientific as possible and wanted people to taste these chips without developing any preconceived notions about their flavor. Therefore, we decided to invite several of our crew members to blind tasting, so we could find out what they truly thought of the chips.

“What were the results of the experiment?” you may ask.  What did the chips taste like? Are they sweet, salty or somewhere in between? More importantly, do they actually taste like a cappuccino or even coffee? You’ll just have to watch the video of our crew chowing down on these cappuccino chips to find out. Likewise, if you have gotten to try the chips out yourself, we would love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment and share your review.

Mystery Taste Test: Cappuccino Chips

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

SCAA 2014: Todd Carmichael

SCAAIn our past of couple posts you may have noticed there’s a lot to love about the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event. First of all, we have the opportunity to drink as much coffee and tea as possible, and try a variety of new roasts and flavors. Second, we get to visit with some of our favorite vendors and chat with them about new gear and ideas, as well as get to see them demo some of their equipment. And, last, but certainly not least, we get to meet new people in the coffee community and get to learn about their products and story.

As we made our way around the Event floor, we were luckily enough to encounter Todd Carmichael, who is a celebrity in the coffee industry. If you haven’t heard of Todd, he is the CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters and has visited a number of developing countries to source coffee responsibly and sustainably. He is the host of the Travel Channel show, “Dangerous Grounds,” which captures many of his quests, sometimes into dangerous or exotic areas, for great coffee on film.

We are able to chat with Todd a bit about some of his latest projects. His most recent is creating a pour-over manual siphon with temperature profiling abilities, which he developed for the U.S. Brewers Cup competition (the contest celebrates manual coffee brewing). While this little gadget is a mouthful to say, Todd calls the device “The Dragon,” and indeed this siphon appears to be a force to be reckoned with. Todd explained that the advantage of the Dragon is that it provides you with the ability to “profile” coffee like you do when you when roasting, except with immersion brewing. Unlike normal pour over brewers where the temperature starts high and then goes low, the Dragon allows you to change the temperature of the brew at the time you desire. This additional control over when the temperature drops allows you to “dig in on different layers” of complex coffees and get whatever flavor you are looking for, whether it be citrusy, sweet, etc. out of the coffee.

The coffee Todd prepared for us was excellent. It was very perfumy, with hints of sweet, citrus notes; almost like candy. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones impressed by the Dragon, as Todd went on to place second in the Brewer’s Cup. To learn more about the Dragon, check out this video of Todd’s demo.

SCAA 2014: Todd Carmichael

SCAA 2014: Coffee Kids

Coffee KidsAs a retailer of espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, accessories and of course coffee, we clearly rely heavily on others in the coffee community. Since we would not be where we are today without the hard work of numerous people around the globe, we feel it is only to appropriate for us to do what we can to give back to the people who have helped generate our success. Thus, Seattle Coffee Gear is committed to charitable giving in the coffee communities that need it most. To facilitate this process we donate to Coffee Kids, a non-profit organization that supports coffee-farming communities in Latin America to contribute toward a better quality of coffee by investing in projects and education, food security, health care, capacity building and economic diversification. We have chosen to work with Coffee Kids due to the multi-pronged approach mentioned above and we appreciate the resources and expertise they put into reaching community goals.

At the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event, we were excited to come across the Coffee Kids booth, and chat with their Development Director, Elisa Kelly, who to learn more about their organization. Elisa explained that Coffee Kids was founded in 1988 by Bill Fishbein, and was originally started as a sponsor a child program, which is what inspired the name “Coffee Kids.” However, after a few years, Fishbein realized that the company’s dollars could go further if they were put into the hands of the community. As a result, he changed the company’s model, and Coffee Kids now focuses on funding projects at the base of these coffee families and communities, and putting the terms of development in their hands. These types of projects help ensure that coffee famers get the correct price for their coffee so they can continue producing quality beans. In addition, the programs provide farmers with the ability to start or expand their own small businesses so they can make a living and put food on the table year round. Clearly, Coffee Kids is doing great things to improve the lives and livelihoods of coffee-farming families. Check out of video to hear more of Elisa’s insights about the company.

SCAA 2014: Coffee Kids

SCAA 2014: JC Coffee Farms Cupping Demo

JC Coffee FarmsRecently, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) hosted their annual exposition in Seattle. The Event was a great success featuring a variety of retailers in the coffee and tea industry, and we were luckily enough to be able attend. While we were there we got a chance to talk to some of our favorite vendors about what equipment is coming down the pike for them in the next year or so, as well as meet some new people and check out their products as well. Fortunately, we were also able to film a few of these conversations and demonstrations and we will be sharing them through out the week.

Our first episode in this series is a coffee cupping hosted by Pedro from JC Coffee Farms, which also just happens to the producer of Café Lusso’s coffee beans. JC Coffee Farms in a family partnership between Sergio and Anita Dias and Ibraim and Marly Chaib de Sousa, whose farms are located in Carmo de Minas, Brazil. Pedro explained that one of the main purposes of a cupping is to taste the quality of it’s aroma, body, mouth feel, sweetness and acidity and then to compare the coffee either to itself or another coffee. In this case, we decided to brew three cups of the same coffee and focus on what makes the coffee taste different, taste its consistency from one cup to another and look for any defects (even though that is not something we want to find). Of course the part of the goal of coffee cupping is also to do it for the love of coffee, try something new, share your findings and have fun.

In case you missed Caffe Lusso’s cupping at our Bellevue store, here’s your chance to get a rough idea of what it is like to attend one. Hopefully, you will be able to join us next time!

SCAA 2014: JC Coffee Farms Cupping Demonstration

Interview with Breville’s Phil McKnight

BrevilleAn influencer in the espresso and drip coffee industry for the past 15 years, Breville has long been one of our favorite brands. Not only do they create beautiful die cast espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, blenders and even ice cream makers, but they also put a lot of work and research into developing their products. For instance, when Breville makes an espresso machine there is nothing left behind; all the gadgets you need to create a drink (portafilter, different sized portafilter baskets, frothing pitcher, cleaning tools, etc.) are included an there is even a place to store them. As a result, you can expect to receive machines with great functionality like the new Oracle BES980XL, which enables you to easily pull a shot and froth your milk for latte while still giving you control over the parameters involving the extraction of your shot. This approach also permits Breville to improve products that have become old standbys, like their dual boilers, by gathering customer feedback to create something even better, such as the Dual Boiler BES920XL.

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have Breville pay us a visit all the way from Australia to do some training. While they were here, we got a chance to chat with Breville’s Global Business Manager for Beverage Products, Phil McKnight. Since he started at Breville Phil has been known as the “coffee guru” as he has over 10 years of industry experience in coffee, including judging the Australia Barista championships and running his own café in Sydney. We were eager to hear his thoughts on coffee makers and espresso machines, and asked him to if he’d be willing to do an interview with us so we could learn more about one of our favorite brands. Phil happily obliged and shared some of his insights about the brand’s history, manufacturing techniques and what products we can look forward to seeing in the future.

Interview with Breville’s Phil McKnight

Brew Tips: How to Store Your Coffee Beans

Coffee BeansYou’ve found the perfect espresso machine or coffee maker for you and gotten some tasty coffee beans to brew with. However, now you’ve started to use your beans, you may be wondering how to store them so that they retain their flavor and stay in the best shape possible. This subject can be quite confusing, as there almost as many ideologies on the best way to store coffee beans as there are roasts. In the hope of clearing things up, we completed a variety of tests to determine the best way to keep your coffee fresher longer.

The Freshness Factor

You may have heard that coffee has a short shelf life, which is mostly true. After the beans have been roasted, they outgas carbon dioxide for about 72 hours. As such, many local roasters will package their beans in bags that feature one-way valves that allow the carbon dioxide to escape while protecting them from contact with oxygen, which can make the beans go stale. While this allows you to experience the coffee’s peak flavor, but it will start to lose its freshness once its bag has been opened. Thus, as a general rule, we have found that it’s best to consume your coffee within one or two weeks after opening the bag.

If coffee wasn’t already complicated enough, it is important to keep in mind that every coffee has it’s own sweet spot for when it tastes the best after it has been roasted. Thus, if you ask a number of different roasters when you should drink your coffee beans by, you will get a variety of different answers. Since everyone has different tastes, so we highly recommend that you experiment with your coffee and find your own sweet spot for your roasts.

Storing Your Coffee

Due to the reasons mentioned above, we have found that is best buy your coffee in small quantities, as you need it. Likewise, if you are using whole bean coffee, you should only grind your beans as you make your coffee or espresso, instead of grinding the whole bag all at once. This will ensure the coffee keeps more of its flavor.

However, if you buy your coffee in bulk or need to store it for some other reason, you do have options.  For starters, you may want to divide your coffee supply into a small container for daily use, and a larger container for the bulk of the coffee (which will only be opened to refill the small container). This will allow you to reduce the amount of air the larger container of coffee is exposed to, enabling you to keep it longer. Another thing to keep in mind is generally whole beans will have a longer shelf life than ground beans, which go stale at a faster rate since they have more surface area. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t store ground coffee, you may just not be able to keep it quite as long, depending on how sensitive your taste buds are.

In fact, this same rule applies to how long you can store your coffee in general. In short, it depends on you and how you like your coffee to taste. Some people will notice a change in the flavor of the coffee after a week and want to replace it, while others won’t notice a difference in the coffee until it has lost most of its flavor.

When it comes to storing your coffee, the best environment to keep it in is an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Why is how you store your coffee so critical?  If you don’t store your coffee in this manner, you risk exposing your coffee to the five “coffee killers” listed below, which decrease the lifespan of your coffee and cause it to go stale.

  • Air: When roasted beans are exposed to air, the flavors in them are oxidized, causing the coffee to go stale.
  • Moisture:  One of the worst things for coffee, moisture taints the oils in the beans, causing off flavors or even making the beans deteriorate.
  • Heat: Exposing the beans to heat before they are brewed will cause them to lose flavor.
  • Light: Direct light can cause the beans to go stale and lose flavor.
  • Odor: Coffee is porous, which means if coffee is near other fragrant items, like fish, it can absorb these flavors. As a result, your coffee could end up tasting like seafood instead of coffee.

Luckily, there are some pretty nifty containers on the market that you can use to store your coffee in and keep it out of harm’s way. We have found that the best options are metal, ceramic or even darkly colored plastic canisters. In addition, it is important to use coffee containers that are airtight, which will keep out air and can prevent moisture and odor from contaminating your beans as well. One of our favorites is the Airscape Coffee Bean Canister, which has a specially designed lid that you push down to remove air from inside the can.

What about glass or clear plastic containers? While these options do look pretty on your counter and let you to see the contents inside, they also allow in one of the biggest coffee killers – light. If you really want to keep your beans in a clear container, make sure to store it in a pantry or drawer where it won’t be exposed to sunlight. Another alternative is to use a polarized canister that will allow you to see its contents while keeping light out.

Is it Ever Okay to Freeze Your Beans?

Freezing beans is a contentious topic in the coffee world. Some people adamantly oppose ever freezing your beans, while some claim it’s okay in certain circumstances. According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), “It is important not to refrigerate or freeze your daily supply of coffee because contact with moisture will cause it to deteriorate.” This is a valid point, since every time you open the bag of coffee, which is likely at least once a day; you will be exposing the beans to oxygen and whatever humidity is in the air. Neither of these things is good for coffee and can impact the coffee’s flavor. This effect is even worse when open bags of coffee are stored in the freezer. The humidity forms ice crystals, which essentially freezer burns the beans and causes them to go stale even faster.

However, when it comes to storing unopened coffee, the NCA states it okay to keep it in the freezer as long as it is in an airtight bag. However, once you remove this bag from the freezer and thaw the coffee, do not put the bag back in the freezer. If you do, you will encounter the issue mentioned above, and will likely have freezer burned coffee. Instead of returning the coffee to the freezer, the NCA suggests that you “move [it] to an airtight and store in a cool, dry place.”

While we like the NCA, we couldn’t just take their word for it, so we decided to conduct a couple of tests ourselves. While we did notice a slight difference in the taste of the beans and did have to tweak our grind for the beans a bit, overall we found that coffee beans can be frozen, as long as the package is tightly sealed and unopened the entire time.

Through our research and quasi-scientific experiments, we have discovered a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when storing your beans. While we prefer to use our coffee sooner rather than later, we have found it is possible to prolong the life of your coffee if you take the time to store it properly.


Hot Blog On Blog Action: Seeing Double

Hot Blog on Blog Action: Zoka Coffee Profile
Dana Foster (left) Celeste Clark (right)

Is two better than one? With the fast approaching opening date of our second retail store, we sure think so. All that is left to decide is: Should we clone Gail? This month’s Hot Blog on Blog Action covers this (our new store, not cloning Gail) and much more coffee & tea news that you may have missed from SCG.

Update: Seattle Coffee Gear to Open Bellevue Location  (via Seattle Magazine)
We are getting the word out. And the word is … A second retail location for Seattle Coffee Gear! Beginning on September 3rd, we launch our caffeinated invasion of Bellevue, Washington. Help us celebrate said invasion during our Grand Opening event on September 14th, during which we’ll have tastings, giveaways, prize drawings, discounts and more!

Interview: Coffee Pros Dana Foster + Celeste Clark (via Food GPS)
In this fun blog article, we interview the heart and soul of Zoka Coffee, Dana Foster, Director of Coffee, and Celeste Clark, Head Roaster. This dynamic coffee duo injects professionalism and compassion into a longstanding Seattle-favorite roastery.

Giving Used Espresso Machines a Second Life (via Ground to Ground)
From humble beginnings, refurbished coffee makers and espresso machines are given a new lease on life under the care of trained technicians. Read how the Refurb Crew reduces, reuses and recycles onsite at Seattle Coffee Gear.

A Tea Time Moment in the Office (via An International Tea Moment)
It takes all kinds! And for Brenna that means the chance to make tea she loves at home and at work. We don’t judge, especially when she makes delicious Rishi Tea for us, too!

If you want a daily dose, we spill the beans about new store opening events, a coffee comic strip, sharing latte art and other items of caffeinated interest on:

Hot Blog on Blog Action: We’re Back!

Kerry Park SeattleWant to know what’s on our collective mind? Much like the Borg we are single-minded in the pursuit of … coffee! Here’s where we comb the interwebs and report back to you on the the weird and the wonderful coffee-related things we find.  After a three-year hiatus, our highly curated and highly subjective links to the coffee blogosphere return with a vengeance.

If you want a daily dose, we spill the beans about Bacon Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld’s coffee date with David Letterman and other items of caffeinated interest on: