Category Archives: Science

Ask Gail: Correct Espresso Shot Volumes?

Espresso Shot VolumesA single. A double and a triple. You also have the possibility for each of those to be either a ristretto or a lungo. So, the question is what’s the correct espresso shot volumes for each of these and how long does each brew need to take. It can be confusing juggling all these variables, so we decided to Ask Gail to set it straight.

But, it turns out that even Gail was having trouble getting all this down. So she needed to ask Miranda! And thankfully Miranda was able to save the day. It turns out that the answer to this question is best answered with a chart! See below for the correct espresso shot volumes.

Espresso Shot Appropriate Volume Brew Time
Single 1 ounce 20-30 seconds
Double ~2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Triple ~3 ounces 20-30 seconds
Single Ristretto 1/2 ounce 20-30 seconds
Double Ristretto 1 ounce 20-30 seconds
Triple Ristretto 1 1/2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Single Lungo 1 1/2 to 2 ounces 20-30 seconds
Double Lungo 3 to 4 ounces 20-30 seconds
Triple Lungo 5 to 6 ounces 20-30 seconds

Take a look at the video below before heading over to our YouTube channel for more! Gail is always answering questions and playing with new toys!

 

(Not So Scientific) Experiment: Brewing Tea in a Pressurized Portafilter

You may remember that not so long ago we posted a blog about brewing tea on your espresso machine. Wha?! Yep, true story. At the time, we had a lot of fun with it and found that we could pressurized_teasuccessfully pull a whole cup of tea through a pressurized portafilter. There was even a layer of tea crema. So crazy and so cool.

Around SCG, we’re always looking for different ways to use the equipment we already have. So this was pretty exciting to us, especially given that there are cafes specifically dedicated to this type of tea experience…and now we could do it ourselves!

If you’re more into videos than text-based articles, we’ve created one specifically to walk you through the process of “dialing in” your cup of espresso machine-prepped tea. Now we’re off to daydream about the possibilities of tea lattes. Let’s say it together now: Yummmm!

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

Saeco PureWe are excited to announce a new addition to the Saeco family. Part of the Minuto class of the machines, the Saeco Pure is the second machine that is in this category that we know of, but the brand claims that they are going to add at least one machine to the family and possibly more.

The release of the Pure couldn’t happen at a better time as one of Saeco’s other beloved machines, the Vienna Plus, has recently been discontinued by the brand. However, the Pure is an excellent replacement. Like the Vienna Plus, the Pure’s simplicity and wallet-friendly price point make it a great option if you are just getting into the world of espresso. This machine is a great option even if you consider yourself an old pro when it comes to superautomatic machines, but just want just the basics and not all of the fancy and sometimes complicated settings that come with higher end superautos. Keeping on up your maintenance is also a breeze with the Saeco Pure. Just like the Vienna Plus, the Pure has a removable brew group, so you can pop it out of your machine whenever it is due for a cleaning. If you want to speed up the process, you can put the brew group in your dishwasher. We just recommend that you put it in the top rack of the dishwasher so it doesn’t melt.

While the Pure is part of the Minuto family, this model does have three major differences from the first Saeco Minuto. First, the Pure doesn’t have a coffee lever that allows you to brew drip like the Minuto does. However, there is a button to press that will brew a lungo (long espresso) so you can get something close to drip coffee. Second, you can’t adjust the strength of your shot (also known as the aroma). As such, you’re best option from regaining some control over your shot is to cut back on the amount of water that is going to be dispensed, which will make the coffee stronger. Third, the burrs inside the Pure aren’t ceramic like on the Minuto, but are stainless steel. Keep in mind these differences don’t make the Pure not as good of an option as the Minuto, just a different one. With the Pure, you are provided with some programmability with the bypass doser, the ability to program the length of your shot or the option to brew a double shot.

If you’re looking to add this machine to your family of appliances decorating your kitchen, check out Gail and Brendan’s demonstration of the Saeco Pure. They’ll go through the features, compare them with the machine’s almost twin, the Saeco Minuto and brew up Gail’s famous wet cappuccino. It’s so good; we’ll never get tired of it! If you listen carefully you can even pick up some pro-tips for milk frothing with a panarello from Gail.

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

(Not so Scientific) Experiment: Brewing Tea in the Bonavita Immersion Dripper

Immersion DripperEarlier this week we showed you how to make coffee on the Immersion Dripper, and now you can learn how to make tea on it. That’s right, tea! While a lot of our gear is designed with coffee in mind, there are a number of products that can also brew tea perfectly as well. Maybe tea and coffee aren’t so different. Perhaps the two camps can even finally make peace with each other and agree that both beverages can be equally delicious in their own way. Okay, that might be going a little too far, but at least they can share the same gear!

To be honest, it actually hadn’t occurred to us to brew tea this way until one of our viewers asked if it was possible. However, as you have probably learned by now, we love playing crazy chemists and jumped at the chance to try out this experiment. Besides, the fact that the Immersion Dripper has that valve on the bottom you can open and close (or turn on and off) that we like so much, made this product seem like a pretty good choice for steeping tea.

The setup for preparing tea on this dripper is basically the same process for brewing coffee. Place a filter inside the brewer and pre-infuse with hot water to dampen the filter and heat up the cup. In fact, since we are using loose leaf tea for this experiment, we think the filter will work much like a tea bag, but better since we are using full leaves and not tightly constraining them, and keep sediment from getting into our brew. Next, we combined Rishi Masala Chai tea with boiling water in the Immersion Dripper, let the tea steep for the desired time and sampled a cup or two. To see how the tea turned out, watch as Dori and Chris perform this experiment!

 

(Not so Scientific) Experiment: Brewing Tea in the Bonavita Immersion Dripper

SCAA 2014: Hario Beam Heater

HarioAs we mentioned a few weeks ago, to us, Hario means happiness (the true meaning of the word is “king of glass”). And nothing makes us happier than fun new coffee gear to play with! Thus, we made sure to make our way over to the Hario booth while we at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) expo. As we expected, Hario had a ton of great new products on display. We’re big fans of science and are always interested in creating experiments of our own, so our two favorite products that are new to the United States market are the Hario Beam Heater and the Hario Next Siphon.

Luckily, we had Kris Fulton from Lamil Coffee (a California based coffee house) to explain the beam heater to us. One of the main advantages is that the heat it emits comes from a really high-powered halogen lamp, which comes with a dimmer switch that allows you to have more control over the heat coming off the lamp as well as the direct heat on the coffee. To show us how the beam heater works Kris demoed it with the Next Siphon, enabling us to learn more about the siphon as well. Siphon brewing as become pretty popular in the past couple years, since not only does it produce a great cup, but it is also neat to watch and is sure to impress your guests. So we put our “scientist hats” on and watched Kris brew us on a cup of coffee. Although the process does look like a science experiment, we were happy to find that this brewing method is not as complicated for the barista as it sounds.

Basically, using a siphon brewer is all about pressure. Once the water in the bottom chamber of the siphon gets to the right temperature, you use the rubber seal at bottom of the top chamber to create a vacuum that draws the water from the bottom chamber to the top chamber. When all the water is in the top chamber, you introduce the coffee to the hot water. The next step is to give the coffee a stir to fully incorporate it and then let it sit for a certain amount of time. After the coffee sits for the desired length of time, you turn off (or remove) your heat source and break the seal you created earlier. This causes the vacuum between the two chambers to suck the coffee down into the bottom chamber. As the coffee is being sucked down, the ground coffee is going to be filtered out by the metal filter. Thus, at the bottom of the carafe you will have fresh brewed coffee and at the top of the carafe you will have ground coffee. The resulting coffee, according to Kris “has the full-body richness you get from a full-immersion brewer like a French press combined with the clarity you get from a percolator like V60 or a pour over.” In other words, it is delicious! To learn more about both of these products, and to see them in action, watch as Kris shows them off in this video.

SCAA 2014: Hario Beam Heater

Brewing Tea on the Capresso EC PRO Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

Capresso EC PRO Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

Ground black loose leaf tea in a pressurized portafilter.

Through the magic of the Internet, we heard that people have been using their espresso machines to brew black tea. This sounded like an interesting concept to us, and we were curious to see if it would work. People have been known to brew rooibos (also called red espresso) this way, and have even started whole cafes based on this idea. So why wouldn’t it work with black tea? We decided to put this theory to the test and use the Capresso EC PRO Espresso & Cappuccino Machine to brew Ceylon O.P. by Danmann Freres Teas.

To make the tea, we filled the machine’s pressurized portafilter up to the first line inside with the loose leaf black tea. Then we loaded the portafilter into the machine, and started the extraction. We let the extraction go long, about 30-40 seconds, until the cup was mostly filled and the brew started to become clearer. The tea that was produced had a good aroma and was medium orange-brown in color. However, when we sampled the tea, the flavor was not bad, but definitely weaker than normal.

Crema on top of the second cup of tea.

Crema on top of the second cup of tea.

Not ones to be easily defeated, we were curious what would happen if we ground up the tea leaves before dosing them into the portafilter. To grind the tea, we grabbed the Hario Skeleton (Skerton) Coffee Mill, and set it to a coarser grind setting since we were using a pressurized portafilter. After grinding a couple of teaspoons full of tea we noticed that many of the tea leaves were passing through the grinder whole, so we readjusted our grind to be much finer. We were a little concerned that the tea was now too fine and would choke the portafilter, but we decided to go ahead and try it anyway.

Once again we loaded the portafilter into the Capresso EC PRO and started the extraction. We immediately noticed the tea was coming out much darker in color this time around. Suddenly we began to notice a different color coming out of the portafilter – there was a crema on top of the tea! While having a crema is not unusual for rooibos brewed on espresso machines, we were surprised we’d get the same effect with black tea. After about 30-40 seconds, we stopped the extraction. The color of the tea was much darker in comparison to the first cup we made, and topped with a thick, foamy crema. This time around the tea tasted exactly like it should, as if it had been steeping for three to five minutes.

pressurized_tea12

The lighter tea (top left) was the first cup we brewed. The dark one (bottom right) was the second.

We were (pleasantly) surprised to find you can brew a decent up of tea using a semi-automatic espresso machine and a pressurized portafilter. If you are going to try this experiment yourself we highly recommend grinding your loose leaf tea into smaller particles, since that gave us the best results. We only tried this experiment with black tea, so we aren’t sure if this technique will work to brew other types of tea, such as rooibos or herbal infusions. We also haven’t tried brewing the tea with a different machine or tested to see if brewing tea on an espresso machine is faster than brewing with a kettle. If you try this experiment with different variables, let us know in the comments. I sense more tea experiments in our feature!

Brew Temperatures on Drip Coffee Makers

drip coffee makersIf you haven’t noticed, we love science! Of course the best part is conducting fun experiments and playing around with toys like the Fluke temperature probe. This time around, we were interested in seeing how some of our drip coffee makers compare when it comes to how consistent and how hot they actually get while brewing.

In order to complete this experiment, we lined up the Breville YouBrew, Capresso CoffeeTEAM TS, Bonavita Coffee Maker, DeLonghi kMix and Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Brewer and tested each machine one by one. For the sake of consistency, we stuck the temperature probe at the bottom of each machine’s filter holder, and prepared a single brew with just water, no coffee. We might have gotten a more accurate reading by placing the probe right where the water comes out of the coffee maker, but it was not possible to do so on all of the drip coffee makers, so we didn’t structure our test that way. However, our quasi-scientific research will still give you a good idea of how the machines differ and how hot they heat the water. To find out which is the hottest, watch as Gail puts these five drip brewers through their paces.

SCG Crew Tests: Comparing Brew Temperatures on Drip Coffee Makers

Crew Review: Hario Cold Water Dripper

Hario Cold Water DripperOne of the things we appreciate the most in this world is a little mad science. Experimenting and having fun with coffee is the cornerstone of why we do what we do, so we’re always game to try out new ways of doing things. When we took on the Hario Cold Water Dripper last year, we had admittedly less-than-stellar results. So while we dug that it was a slow-food approach to making smooth cold brew coffee, it wasn’t high on our list of favorite gear.

Cut to last month when one of our techs, Bryan, decided to experiment with this dripper, then reported to us his findings. What’s the best way for a mad scientist to validate a theory? Perform the proof experiment, successfully, at least one more time! So in came Bunny and the rest is now history.

The cool thing about the Hario Cold Water Dripper is that there is an element of showmanship involved, but it is also relatively hands-off and produces truly delicious coffee. The key is getting the right combination of coffee dosage, water volume, grind particle size and droplet frequency, but equally important is the kind of coffee you’re using and the water you’re brewing with. We find that coffees that come out as a rich, chocolatey espresso tend to taste like actual chocolate milk as a cold brew, while others that have more bright, fruity notes produce an often berry-forward cold coffee. But every coffee you love should be at least experimented with as a cold brew to see how it measures up, so definitely have fun with it!

Watch as Bunny sets up her experiment, then we check back over several hours throughout the day as the Hario Cold Water Dripper slowly produces a delectable batch o’ joe.

Crew Review: Hario Cold Water Dripper – Redux!

Crew Review: Frieling Insulated French Press – 44oz

Frieling French PressIf you were going to peek through our kitchen windows on a Saturday morning (which we’re really hoping you weren’t going to do), it’s highly likely you’d see us sipping a delicious cup of coffee produced by our small Frieling coffee press. It’s something we enjoy in blissful solitude, ruminating over the previous week’s hijinks and planning future hilarity so that it may flawlessly ensue.

But we totally understand that while we happen to be on the loner side of the spectrum, many of you enjoy sharing your Saturday morning java with other people — and, clearly, Frieling understands that, too! In answer to the prayers of all you extroverts out there, they’ve introduced a new size in their popular line of double walled stainless steel coffee presses: A mambo 44 oz.

To find out how much it actually yields, though, we put Teri to the test. Watch as she brews up a batch of coffee, measuring out her quantities and then showing us how much coffee the press produces. If you want to share your caffeine with those you love, pick one up today — they’re available in either brushed or polished finishes.

Crew Review: Frieling Insulated French Press – 44oz

As for us, we’ll be chilling over here in the corner with our tiny 11oz model, thinking deep thoughts and wearing nothing but a catsuit.

SCG Experiments: Drip Coffee Preparations in the Brazen Brew

Brazen BrewIt’s time for Fun with Drip Coffee, starring Bunny and Coach!

When preparing coffee, we know that there are a few different variables we can tweak in order to impact the flavor in the cup. We can play with brew temperature, pre-infusion timing, grind consistency, coffee dosage and water ratio, and each element will produce a different flavor nuance.

So we decided to play around with that! In this video, we take three different Brazen Brewers and we change up the grind consistency, coffee dosage, brew temperature and pre-infusion time, then taste them to see how they compare. Watch as we learn more about how changing these elements impacts our coffee.