Category Archives: Pour Over Coffee

Specialty Coffee for $20 or less?

Coffee Power, Activated!Time, counter space and budget may all be concerns, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. Fresh, locally roasted whole bean coffee is a step up from capsule coffee and miles above instant. If you take the time to find a specialty coffee blend that you like, then by all means take the time to properly store and brew it! You will notice your coffee tastes better, without spending extra money. Here are some tips.

Storage

Coffee is best stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Any freezer bag or airtight canister you already have in the pantry will do. After the bag of coffee is opened, use it within 30 days. Try not to buy more than a 30-day supply, even if it is on sale. ‘Waste not, want not.’ The beans harden and eventually become bitter as they go stale. Darker roasts don’t keep as well as lighter roasts because the oilier beans are quicker to oxidize.

Coffee Grinder

If you do not already have a coffee grinder in your arsenal, it is okay to ask the roaster to open the bag and grind it for you. This saves a large investment. Blade grinders are inexpensive but they are not able to make consistent size coffee grounds. An uneven extraction of the coffee can give it a strange taste. Burr grinders are more expensive, but you can always use someone else’s — the grocery store’s, a friend’s or your roaster’s — until your coffee budget increases. Just make sure to mention how you are brewing the coffee because the size of the grind varies for the following preparations.

Cone Shaped Dripper

This style is also called ‘pour over style’ coffee and brand names such as Melitta, Hario and Kelita have become synonymous. The cone can be made of plastic, ceramic, glass or metal. Hot water is poured gently and evenly over the ground coffee in the cone repeatedly until your preferred coffee to water ratio is attained. This method requires hot water, the dripper, a filter, ground coffee (fine drip) and a cup or carafe. Prices start at $3 plus the other necessary items.

  • Pros: Cheap! Delicious. Portable. Fun to make. Easy clean up. Most models make 1-2 cups.
  • Cons: Some models require a very careful directional method of pouring the hot water over the ground coffee to make sure the extraction is even. It will taste watery if this is not done with care. And it only makes a little bit of coffee at a time.

Immersion Dripper

This style is also called the Clever Dripper although there are other brands of immersion style brewing devices available. Instead of pouring the water over the bed of ground coffee and letting it drip through, this cone shaped dripper is filled, stirred and steeps like a French press. Then a lever is released and gravity flows brewed coffee into a cup or carafe. This method requires hot water, the dripper, a filter, ground coffee (fine drip) and a cup or carafe. Prices start at $18 plus the other necessary items.

  • Pros: Cheap! Delicious. Portable. Fun to make. Easy clean up. Most models make 1-2 cups.
  • Cons: Some, but not all, coffees taste better with this method as the coffee grounds are allowed to stay in contact with the water longer as they brew.

French Press

This is also called a press pot, cafetiere, coffee press or coffee plunger. It has a long and interesting history if coffee history is your jam! Of these budget brew preps, the French press tends to be the most forgiving and easiest to learn. Prices start around $7 and it only requires the addition of ground coffee (coarser than drip) and hot water.

  • Pros: Cheap! Delicious. Portable. Fun to make. Available in larger sizes.
  • Cons: Kind of a pain to clean up afterwards. Some people do not like that the filter allows coffee sediment through.

Cold Brew

This method is gaining popularity in the US and is already big in Japan. The benefit to this method is that it produces a cup of coffee with little to no acidity. As the name implies, it is cold brewed and served cold. This is a great budget option for warm weather climates. All you need is a cold brew filter pitcher, ground coffee (medium drip) and cold water. Pitcher prices vary, from about $18.

  • Pros: Cheap! Delicious. Easy to make. Available in larger sizes.
  • Cons: Requires 12-24 hours so you have to plan ahead! Some people do not like that the filter allows fine coffee sediment through. This method requires you to use a larger proportion of ground coffee than hot brews, but the result is concentrated and can be diluted with additional water.

Stove Top Espresso

Say you are in the mood for something stronger, darker and bolder…You can afford an espresso maker! A stove top espresso maker is where most people start their love affair with homemade espresso coffee. These affordable devices are intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is a very consistent and easily repeatable process. Prices start around $8 and all you need is ground coffee (espresso fine), water and a stove.

  • Pros: Cheap! Delicious. Homemade espresso!!
  • Cons: Tricky to learn at first. Also the espresso coffee grind size has to be very fine and consistent, not a job for a blade grinder.

Barista Snapshot: Jake at SteamDot Coffee

Jake SchmutzlerWho: Jake Schmutzler, Barista

Where: SteamDot Coffee Company, Anchorage, Alaska

What was the first coffee drink you remember tasting, did you like it?

I remember loving the smell and the sounds of my dad’s morning coffee ritual: stoking the wood-stove, boiling water in the brass kettle, grinding K-Bay beans by hand with his Spong while I stayed in bed and the wood-stove heat and steamy coffee wafted up to my loft. But I hated the taste of the stuff.

What do you drink now at home?

I actually don’t make coffee at home. I live half a mile from my shop and coffee is a great incentive to get out of the house in the morning. During the summer, when I’m not in Anchorage, my French press is hard at work every day.

What do you drink at work, if different?

I open the shop 4 days a week so my first coffee is usually tasting the house espresso blend and our single origin espresso of the day. Mostly I like a cortado or a Chemex of whatever we have fresh. Our Columbia La Virgen is pretty fantastic right now. Sometimes I’ll go for a small Americano with a dash of heavy cream, but just a dash.

If you could teach people one thing about coffee, what would it be?

Every step matters. There isn’t a ‘darkest roast’ or a ‘strongest coffee.’ Good coffees are roasted just enough to bring out their inherent positive flavors. They’re roasted so you don’t need to mask negative flavors with cream and subdue bitterness with sugar. Certainly there is a spectrum of coffee flavors, but within that there is a world of subtleties to explore. Black coffee is not one flavor.

What’s cool about the Anchorage coffee scene?

Haha nothing. Well, us.

Nooo, in Alaska there isn’t much of a coffee culture. Kaladi’s has been the biggest thing going for quite awhile [since 1986] but they really offer a different product and cater to a different crowd than SteamDot. It’s exciting to see people come into our shop for the first time and watch their face as they sip a Chemex brew and they realize why we don’t have brewed coffee waiting out all day. Anchorage is unique because we get to give a lot of folks their first single origin, or their first real cappuccino or macchiato.

As a barista what are your thoughts on coffee skills versus customer service skills?

Anytime you go out to a restaurant or a bar or a coffee shop you’re paying for an experience. Part of that experience is the food, the booze, the coffee, part is the service, part is the place; it’s a mosaic. While each aspect takes more or less energy, the whole picture is ruined if any one piece is missing. Which aspect is the most important is going to depend on each customer and what experience they’re after. But why not be a decent person and try every time to pull a damn fine shot? I love coffee and I love talking about it, being rude just makes people go away; I try hard to be inclusive and informative.

Do you ever judge people by the drink they order?

We’re all here to enjoy our own beverages, some folks are more excited about drinks with coffee in them, while others are stoked to enjoy and explore the spectrums of flavors coffee has to offer on its own. I can’t fault someone for enjoying espresso covered in 16 ounces of scalded milk and stiff foam, white chocolate, raspberry and caramel sauce.

Are the espresso shots your dad pulls better than yours?

On our 3-group Strada? Hell yes mine are better. On his La Pavoni? Nope, his mad 2-stroke mechanic skills got me beat on the manual machine. But I taught him everything he knows about espresso!

SteamDot Coffee roasts coffee and espresso fresh in Anchorage, Alaska and operates two ‘slow’ coffee bars there.

photo by Tehben Dean
photo by Tehben Dean

Crew Review: Hario V60 Pour Over Tools

Hario V60 Pour Over Coffee GearWhen we first encountered the Hario V60 pour overs a few years ago, we were simultaneously entranced and intimidated by the artful precision with which the brewer crafted one of the smoothest cups of coffee we’d ever tasted. With some time, patience, experimentation and a lot of practice, however, we developed our own approach to our V60 prep … in fact, we love it so dearly now, we felt it was time to put it up on a pedestal.

Luckily for us, Hario USA released some new tools — including a modern acrylic stand — that gave us the opportunity to increase both the precision and the art of our pour. Watch Bunny and Teri show off the new Drip Station, Drip Scale and Glass Server from Hario. Pick up each of these separately or combine them together for a beautiful and sophisticated pour over setup.

Crew Review: Curtis WB5GT Digital Hot Water Dispenser

Curtis WB5GT Hot Water DispenserWith the rise in popularity of pour over bars in cafes all over the world, delivering high volumes of hot water at a specific temperature can be a bit of a challenge. Similarly, tea houses need to be cognizant of the different ideal brew temps for the variety of teas they sell, and using traditional kettles doesn’t always meet a business’ needs.

That’s where an awesome hot water tower like the WB5GT by Curtis comes in. With its programmable temperature, five gallon water tank and agitation pump (which provides continuous aeration so that your water never tastes stagnant or stale), you can brew cup after cup of delicious coffee or tea without waiting for the kettle to boil.

Watch Brandon take us through all of its features and demonstrate its functionality.

 

SCG Crew’s Favorite Gear: Kettles, Pour Overs, Press Pots, Coffee Makers, Oh My!

You know that we play with a lot of different types of coffee equipment here at SCG and the crew definitely has their faves! We asked for volunteers to share which gear they dig in different product categories. Watch as Brendan, Kaylie, Shiami, Sam, Gail, Bunny, Dori, Teri and Miranda talk to us about their favorite kettles, pour overs, immersion / press pots and drip coffee brewers.

Vertical Coffee Tasting: Velton’s Brazil Condado Estate

Velton's Coffee - Single OriginsOne of the benefits of choosing a single origin bean is consistency. Especially when pulling shots of espresso where you’re utilizing a relatively small amount of coffee grounds in your brew, a single origin ensures you’re getting the same grinds every time. With a blend, on the other hand, you have the potential for a unknown ratio to end up in your portafilter, and that can cause a little bit of havoc if you have a deep commitment to consistency.

One of the drawbacks, however, is that single origins can be difficult to source. While a blend is devised with a target flavor profile in mind and the sourcing and selection of beans will change every year depending on the coffee crop, a single origin is, well, a single coffee bean. If you fall in love with one from a specific estate or farm and they experience issues the following year, you’re kind of out of luck. But maybe that’s also something you can love about them — the potential for their rarity.

In this video, we play around with a few different preparations of a single origin from Velton’s Coffee, the Brazil Condado Estate. We featured this guy because it is a great espresso single origin and also produces a delicious cup via pour over, AeroPress and drip. Watch the ladies prep it up and give their thoughts on the coffee’s flavor profile.

Bonavita Extravaganza!

In support of a bunch of fun new gear they’re releasing over the next few months, Bonavita‘s main engineer, Brian, visited with Gail to show ‘em off. Watch as they talk through a few different products aimed toward pour over coffee lovers. The Bonavoyage Travel Kettle has already hit the market and the other goodies will land during the winter of 2012.

Bonavita Bonavoyage Travel Kettle

Bonavita Porcelain Immersion Brewer

Bonavita Pour Over Stand & Dripper

Bonavita Pour Over Scale

Crew Review: Chemex with Glass Handle

Hanging with Gail and Jess is always a blast, but when there’s a Chemex added to the mix, things can get a little wild.

Sure, Jess originally chose it for its looks, but she has kept it around for its high quality performance — a lot like … well, we digress. Her shoot-from-the-hip Chemex brew style has always produced a delicious cuppa, without all the precision some might assume must be involved, so we asked her to come around for a little show.

Watch as she demonstrates her ‘technique’ using the Chemex with a glass handle (as opposed to its Woodneck counterpart).

Compare: Hot Water Kettles

Tea lovers, pour over aficionados, French press geeks and cup noodle fanatics know that you can’t beat a good electric kettle. But with so many to choose from, how is one to decide which is the best for their needs?

Watch as Gail takes us through the paces of several different models that we carry. She goes over their features and specs, then we perform a (not-so) madcap race to see how quickly they boil 20 oz. of water.

New Product Round-Up!

Yeee-haw. We wanted to take a moment to let you know about a slew of new goodies we’ve added over the last few weeks.

Quick Mill QM67 Dual Boiler
A double boiler for under $2k? Quick Mill’s latest model features the E61 brew head, separate boilers for simultaneous steaming and brewing, an integrated PID for controlling the brew boiler temp and a simple case design. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to a prosumer-class machine but your budget hasn’t allowed it, the QM67 is definitely worthy of your consideration.

Bonavita Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
We did a crew review of this featuring the engineer, Brian, a few months back, but the kettles themselves finally hit the market at the end of August! Select a specific temp and the kettle will heat until it reaches it, then hold it at that temp as well. With the curved gooseneck, it’s an excellent option for precision pour over preparation (say that three times fast!).

Refurbished Jura Superautomatics
If you’re a fan of Jura’s superautos — or want to be — you can pick up a factory refurbished model at an awesome discount! We’ve added three new models to our refurb line-up: The space-conscious ENA 5, the ultra sleek J6 and the straight-forward C9 One-Touch.

Saeco Tune-Up Kits
Love your Saeco semi-automatic? Keep it tuned up and in excellent working order with one of our three new parts kits. These include everything you need for a regular cleansing of your Aroma, Sirena or Via Venezia, plus instructions on how to get the job done.