Category Archives: Q&A

Breville Oracle Advanced Menu

If you are anything like us, and let’s face it you most likely are, you probably like to tweak every setting on your espresso machine! From the steam temperature to adjusting the clock, getting your machine dialed in to you is first on your list when you unpack your new espresso machine. So when you opened your Breville and saw the Oracle Advanced Menu, you were jumping for joy!Oracle Advanced Menu

But wait! Tweaking settings just for the sake of tweaking settings is not always the best course of action. Trust me when I say, you can easily adjust a setting that will put your machine on the fritz and have you calling our Customer Service department in tears. And while on occasion it may feel nice to chat to our wonderful customer service team with a tissue in hand, it’s best to avoid the situation altogether. How you ask? With knowledge!

The Oracle Advanced Menu is just that, an advanced menu. It won’t need to be adjusted regularly, some settings may not ever need to be touched. But knowing what each menu option controls is great way to know what to adjust when the time comes!

We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Phil McKnight from Breville and thought he would be the best person to ask when it comes to the Oracle Advanced Menu. So we did!

Watch the in depth tutorial of the Oracle Advanced Menu below and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here.

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!

 

Meet the Roaster: Zoka Coffee Roasters

Zoka Coffee RoastersFounded 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.

Meet the Roaster: Zoka Coffee Roasters

Java Talk: Ristretto Roasters Chemex Demonstration

Chemex DemonstrationNot too long ago, we were lucky have Ristretto Roasters out at the grand opening of our Portland store to provide a tasting of some of their fabulous coffee. While they were in we got to chat with them about their approach to brewing and Ryan even allowed us to film him as he brewed on a Chemex. As we have seen with our other local roasters, Ryan had his own unique approach to the process, which was interesting to compare with the other techniques we have seen. We love having roasters in our store for coffee tastings, and Ristretto Roasters have already been back to visit us a second time, and they are hosting a third tasting at SCG Portland on September 6th, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you haven’t tried this locally roasted Portland coffee, this is your chance to do so. Likewise it is a great opportunity to pick up additional tips and tricks from Ryan and his crew.

How to Brew Chemex Coffee Ristretto Roasters Style:

For this brew we used Ristretto Roasters’ Kenya A/B Roast, which has taste notes of black current, Meyer lemon, and maple syrup. You get the maple syrup and current flavors right up front, and the Meyer lemon acidity is sort of a nice finish.

  • Start by weighing out your beans on a scale (make sure to zero out the scale once you have put your container on it, but before you add the beans).
  • Measure out 50 grams of coffee into your container.
  • Grind the coffee to a grind that is a little finer than a French press. When Ryan made his Chemex, he used a Baratza grinder set to the 28 mark.
  • Program a Bonavita Electric Gooseneck Variable Temperature Kettle to 196 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, open a Chemex filter and put the three fold side of the filter on the side of the Chemex that the spout is on.
  • Hold the filter in your Chemex, and use the water you heated up in the kettle to damp the filter down. The damping helps the filter suck in against the Chemex, gets paper tastes out and also heats up the vessel.
  • Pour out the extra water that has collected in the base of the Chemex.
  • Add 100 grams of water to the 50 grams of coffee in your Chemex and allow it to bloom for 30 seconds; starting your timer when you add the water for the bloom.
  • While the coffee is blooming, the coffee the coffee is expanding and oils are coming to the surface of the grounds. This process will slow down the brew and actually start adding water to the coffee.
  • After 30 seconds, add water to the center of the bloom and slowly do little circular spinning motions of pours around the bloom. This agitation brings out a nice acidity in the coffee. Over the course of four minutes, you’ll be adding up to 700 grams of water.
  • You don’t want to rush your pour, so make sure your water line stops a quarter inch from the rim of the Chemex.
  • Once you reach the four-minute and the 700 gram mark, you will be able to drink the wonderful Chemex coffee you have brewed.
  • When the brew stops dripping, you can remove the filter with the grounds and toss it into a trashcan or compost.
  • Before pouring a cup of the coffee, give the Chemex a little swirl, to make sure everything is well combined.
  • Then serve it up!

Java Talk: Ristretto Roasters Chemex Demonstration

Java Talk: Zoka Coffee Chemex Demo

Zoka CoffeeContinuing on our tour of local roasters, we recently visited Zoka Coffee in Ballard, Washington. While we were at the roastry, we were lucky enough to have our friend David brew up some Zoka coffee on a Chemex for us. We were also able to persuade him, which really wasn’t too hard, to share some of his brewing suggestions during the process In fact, if you’ve visited us at our Bellevue retail location, hopefully you’ve been able to pick up some of David’s tips firsthand at one of the workshops he has hosted. If not, here’s your chance to see what you’ve been missing!

One thing that made this demo different from others we’ve seen was that David introduced us to a relatively new filter to use when brewing; the Coava Kone. The Kone is made out of locally sourced steel and has laser precision perforation (say that three times fast!), which provides a really clean, crisp flavor. Even without the Coava Kone, David said the Chemex is Zoka’s favorite way to make coffee in general. This brew method is a little more forgiving than something like a Hario Cone and creates a lot of body like a French press but without being as sooty or oily. As a result, the Chemex is a great way to bring out the flavor nuances in single origin coffees and in coffee blends as well. David explained that the Chemex is used as a standard in Zoka’s roastry and they are beginning to implement in several of their cafes. If you’re interested in doing the same, or want to learn how to brew on the Chemex at home, check out David’s brewing tips in this video.

How to Brew Chemex Coffee Zoka Coffee Style:

In this brew, we used Zoka Coffee’s Santa Rosa 1900, a single origin coffee grown in the hills above Tarrazu, Costa Rica.

  • Measure out 48 grams of whole bean coffee and grind it to about the same size as kosher salt.
  • Place the grounds in the Coava Kone filter in the Chemex. This filter is the reason why your grounds should be a little coarser than what you would use with a traditional paper filter. If you use the same size grind, it will be too fine and you will have a thin layer of soot at the bottom.
  • Begin by saturating the grounds evenly with water that has been heated to 204 degrees Fahrenheit. Let saturate for about 30 seconds.
  • Continue to pour the rest of the water, using frequent small pours beginning in the center and expanding circularly to the outside. Avoid pouring down the sides of the filter to prevent water from getting underneath it, diluting the coffee.
  • The extraction process should take a little over four minutes, and use 720ml of water.
  • After your coffee has finished extracting, throw away the coffee in your filter, pour coffee into a preheated cup, and enjoy. You should have about 40 oz. of coffee, enough to serve three to four people.

Java Talk: Zoka Coffee Roasters Chemex Demo

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: 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: Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker

Sowden SoftBrew Coffee MakerThe classic clean lines and simple brew method of the Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker made us instant fans of this brew method when it first came onto the market a few years ago. Besides, the coffee maker isn’t the only product we love, we also enjoy the timeless look of the Penrose SoftBrew Tea Maker and the mini 12 oz. Coffee Maker on days when we don’t want quite as many cups of coffee. What makes this low-tech approach to coffee so different? The SoftBrew filter is 185 microns in diameter with about 200,000 holes in it, and likely one of the finest filters around. As a result, it separates the grinds from the coffee well so the pour is very clean and there is very little sediment in the pot. This extra-fine filter also means you don’t have to be as precise with your grind, making it a great way for coffee neophytes to learn about and appreciate the mighty bean.

Since brewing coffee (and tea) is such an individualized process, we like to learn how other people brew on their coffee gear. Over the years, people have given us a variety of different tips for brewing on the Sowden, from everything on how to heat the water to how much coffee to use. In addition, we’ve conducted a few fun experiments ourselves, such as cold brews, iced teas and even using different milks. If course, we also like hearing what our vendors recommend, especially since they use the product on a regular basis. As such, while we were at SCAA we stopped by the Sowden booth to visit our vendor for the brand, Michael so he could show us what approach he uses. Besides demonstrating his preferred method for brewing on the Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker, Michael filled us in on a little of the brand’s history. Check out the video to learn the secret behind the SoftBrew name and see this little coffee maker in action.

SCAA 2014: Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker

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

Commercial Tips: Choosing a Commercial Grinder

Commercial GrindersWhether you’ve decked out your café with the latest and greatest espresso machines or are just starting to put together your shopping list of equipment, one of the most important things you’ll need is a commercial grinder. However, even though having a good grinder is a crucial aspect of your shop (in fact, some people would say it is even more important than your espresso machine) it can be hard to figure out exactly which one you should choose. For instance, what type and how big of a grinder do you need? Or what is the difference between all the various burr-set sizes, burr shapes and dosers anyway?

When deciding upon a grinder, the first step is to think about the type of shop you have and then calculate how many drinks you are expecting to serve per day. Based on our caffeinated mathematics for stores here in Seattle, a donut or bagel shop serves about 20-50 drinks, a coffee shop will serve around 200+ drinks and restaurant or a bar can expect to serve 10-50 espresso beverages a day. Of course these numbers can fluctuate depending on how big your store is, where it is located, etc.

Once you have determined how many people you will be serving, you can start thinking about what type of grinder to pair with your espresso machine. If you have a smaller sized bakery or donut shop with a one-group machine like a Rancilio Epoca, you’ll get something like the Mazzer Mini, which is a 58mm burr-set grinder that is perfect for doing 20-50 drinks a day. If you have a slightly higher volume store, such as a small to medium sized coffee shop that makes about 120-200 drinks a day you will need to move to a bigger grinder. Generally, if you are making this number of drinks you will have a two-group espresso machine such as the Rancilio Classe 7 or Nuova Simonelli Appia, so you will want to pair it with a 64-65mm grinder like the Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith or the Mazzer Super Jolly.

What is the advantage of having bigger burrs? You won’t have to wait as long to get a shot. With a smaller burr-set like 58mm, it will take you about 8-10 seconds to get a double shot of espresso, while with a 64-65mm burr-set it will take only 6 seconds. Thus, if you have a small volume café, it is ok to go with smaller burrs since you won’t experience as much of a time crunch. However, you cannot use a smaller grinder at shop at that is doing 150 drinks a day, as it will slow you down too much.

Does your shop fall somewhere in the middle? You can try getting a commercial grinder equipped with a doser. This allows you to make multiple drinks at once by grinding for them and then fill up the portafilter back to back. Another good rule to keep in mind is that 75 drinks a day is the limit for a smaller 58mm burr-set grinder, and 200 drinks a day is maximum for a mid-size 64-65mm burr set grinder. Finally, if you are making more like 300 drinks day rather than 200, you will need to get a large grinder to get your doses out even faster. For these grinders, you will be looking at something like the Mazzer Major, a 83mm burr-set (which is the biggest flat burr grinders get) grinder or even moving to a conical grinder such as the Compak K10.

Still have questions? Check out this video as Brandon and Kaylie describe picking out a commercial grinder in more detail.

Commercial Tips: Choosing a Commercial Grinder