Category Archives: Tips – Brew

Latte Art University

Latte Art UniversityCongratulations! On behalf of Seattle Coffee Gear and the faculty of the School Of Coffee Extraction, we are pleased to offer you admission to the Ph.D. program at Latte Art University.

That’s right folks! Gail is going to Latte Art University and you get go along for the ride. We teamed up with Max from Spotted Cow Coffee Company to bring to you a full week of Latte Art training! Max has been a barista with Spotted Cow for quite some time now, even venturing into the Barista Competition Circuit!

In this week long course, Max and Gail will explore everything you need to know in order to produce excellent latte art. (Hint: It begins even before you take the milk out of the refrigerator!)

Max will demonstrate how to produce some of the basic latte art shapes, including the heart and the rosetta! He will also be discussing the best alternative milks out there for latte art, as well as sharing some tips and tricks to producing great latte art on a single boiler machine!

So grab your frothing pitchers and a bag of freshly roasted coffee and practice alongside Gail as she goes through the program here at Latte Art University.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss a lesson! And as always, thanks for watching!



Morning Maintenance: Programming a PID

Time and temperature. If you break down the essentials of a good cup of coffee/shot of espresso you will arrive at two variables: time and temperature.Silvia PID

It doesn’t matter how fresh your coffee is or how expertly roasted it was. If your brewing time and temperature are not correct, you end up with something you don’t want to drink. So what’s the best way to control those two variables? With a PID of course.

Especially on a single boiler machine, where the boiler temperature will fluctuate between brew temp and steam temp, a PID will help you dial in a delicious shot of espresso, every time.

In the Morning Maintenance video below Gail will show you how to program your PID on the Rancilio Silvia. The PID’s we install on the Silvia will allow you to control the brew temperature, pre-infusuion time, pre-infusion wait time, and brew time.

Once you know how to program your machine, it’s fun to experiment with different temperatures and times for the same coffee. Each variable will bring out different flavors in your cup! Yum!

Be sure to subscribe to our channel for more videos! Subscribe to our channel by clicking here!


Ask Gail: Bitter and Sour Espresso Shots!

Sour EspressoBitter and sour espresso shots, oh my! Getting that perfect espresso shot takes time and practice. But knowing what to taste for and what adjustments to make goes a long way to pulling that perfect shot.

Espresso shots can have two extremes, either an overly bitter shot or a very sour shot. Both of which are very easy to recognize. But how do you go about fixing the off flavors? We asked Gail to give us the run down.

So if you espresso shot tastes sour check out the video below to find out the cure!


Does your espresso shot taste overly bitter? Watch the following video for some helpful tips!


Did you find these videos helpful? Then you might want to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos just like these!


A Look Inside A Breville Oracle

Breville OracleIn case you haven’t noticed, we like to take things apart here at Seattle Coffee Gear. So anytime we are offered a Breville Oracle that is cut in half, we obviously take it.

And now we get to share it with you!

The Breville Oracle is a cross between a super-automatic and a semi-automactic espresso machine. Which means we knew there would be parts inside we had never seen before! Gail was particularly interested in looking at the auto tamping machinery. And of course it was just as cool as we imagined.

Take a look at the video below to see what the insides of the Breville Oracle looks like! You will not be disappointed.



SCG In Portland: Dialing In A Grinder

Dialing In A GrinderWhen pulling espresso there are 4 things that should be on the front of your mind. The beans, the grind, the tamp and the timing. We are going to focus on the grind right now because it can be one of the more difficult things to really nail. Your grind consistency is going to effected by the bean you are using, how fresh that bean is, the humidly in the room, heck, even your mood! So dialing in your grinder so you can pull your shot in the appropriate amount of time is essential!

Let me start out with a word of warning: dialing in a grinder will use up a lot of coffee, especially if your machine is new. So be prepared to grind up to a pound of coffee!

The trick to dialing in a grinder is keeping all your other variables consistent. So your dose, grind distribution and tamp pressure should be exactly the same every time. That way you know that it is just the texture of the grind that is affecting your timing.

Speaking on timing, this is how you will know which direction to adjust your grinder. The goal is to pull a double shot of two ounces in 25-30 seconds. If your shot reaches two ounces in, say, 15 seconds then you know your grind is way too course. A finer grind will slow your extraction time. On the other end, if it takes 35 seconds to reach that two ounce mark, your espresso will be over extracted. Adjusting the grinder to be more course will fix this.

Remember, when adjusting your grinder you should be making small adjustments. Sometimes one step is all it will take! Also be sure to grind at least a double portafilter worth of beans after each adjustment and throw that out. Otherwise you will have grounds from the previous setting muddling up your shot.

Watch the video below for the in depth tutorial on how to dial in a coffee grinder. And while you are at it, subscribe to our YouTube channel!




Ask Gail: How Many Grams Fit In a Portafilter?

portafilterWhen you get your first espresso machine the first thing you want to do is pull a shot! As you are grinding out your beans you may ask yourself, how much coffee am I supposed to grind into my portafilter?

Well the answer is, it depends. As you may already know brewing espresso is a balancing act of multiple variables. And even the slightest change in a  variable can drastically change your result! So the numbers below are an average amount of coffee that should go into each portafilter.

Your grind setting will affect this amount, how oily the coffee you are using will affect the amount, even the humidly in your room will have an effect! So precede with caution. :)

Under typical situations a single basket will hold 11 grams of coffee. A double basket will hold 17 grams. And a triple basket will hold 21 grams of the good stuff!

Watch the Ask Gail video below and be sure to subscribe to our channel for all the latest videos :) Click here to subscribe if you haven’t already!

Crew Review: Jura Cleaning Products

Jura Cleaning ProductsI clean. You clean. We all clean our Jura Machine! Thank you, thank you, I will show myself out now.

If you can’t tell already, I am here today to talk to you about the Jura cleaning products! Because we all know that dirty espresso machines make bad espresso, and we won’t have that! All of Jura’s machines conveniently use their cleaning products, which makes the cleaning process easy to handle.

First up on the maintenance tasks is going to be replacing the water filter. It is best to do this every couple of months or more frequently if your water is particularly hard. To find the proper replacement all you need to do is match the color of the cap, either clearyl blue or white. You can learn more about this process in the Ask Gail video found here.

You will also need to clean your milk frother regularly to insure freshly frothed milk and zero clogs! Using the Milk Frother Cleaning Liquid is easy, just dilute and soak your equipment overnight. The cleaner is designed to eat up all the milk proteins leaving you with a squeaky clean frothing system.

Descaling is also something you will need to do in order to keep your machine in tip top shape. Scale is essentially a mineral build up, much like plaque in an artery. Using the Decal Tablets will rid your machine of the build up and add life to your machine.

Watch the video below to learn more about how to use these products!



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!


Ask Gail: Espresso Shot Quality

espresso shot qualityAs with everything in life, when you choose one thing you will always have give up a little something elsewhere. And that’s not always a bad thing! But in order to make an informed decision you should know what it is exactly that you will be gaining and losing. When it comes to espresso machines, a lot of what you will be gaining and losing is espresso shot quality.

Let us preface by saying that there are a lot of factors that need to come together in unison in order to create the perfect shot of espresso. Everything from the grind, to the tamp, to the humidity in your environment need to be just right for that espresso to make the ultimate list of all things delicious. So one machine simply can’t make all things come true. But it certainly can get you close.

When it comes to espresso machines you have essentially three families: manual, semi-automatic and super-automatic. We are going to focus on the semi- and super-automatics since they tend to be the most popular. The super-automatics are the one stop shop machines. Espresso at the push of a button. Super convenient for those who want it. The semi-automatics give you a little more control over your espresso shot. You have the ability to fine tune your grind and tamp pressure to just how you like it. That is not to say that super-automatics don’t give you options, but there will inherently be less.

As a result, your shots will vary from machine to machine. We think that you can pull better shots on a semi-automatic but that comes at a cost. You will be required to hone your craft in order to get that sweet nectar just right. While a super-automatic will get you close enough with little to no effort. It all comes down to what you want! That’s really the best part of it all.

Watch the video below to hear Gail’s full explanation of espresso shot quality from machine to machine. And be sure to check out our YouTube channel as well for more information and Crew Reviews!


Ask Gail: How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! We love our coffee here and truly drink it up. Our kitchen is always stocked with a 5 pound bag of the good stuff (Yes 5 pounds!) But how long do coffee beans last? Fresh coffee is good coffee. Stale coffee not only has an inferior taste it also can wreak havoc on your espesso timing.

So, we asked Gail to drop some knowledge when it comes to how long coffee beans will stay fresh and how we can make the beans last longer.

Here are some of the big take aways from our conversation:

  • Store your beans whole because once you grind them their freshness will begin to diminish in the first 15 minutes. With such a short time frame between fresh and stale when the beans are ground, it’s best to grind only the beans you need per brew event.
  • Beans from larger roasters (think Lavazza) will have nitrogen flushed their bags. That means before you open the bag, the amount of oxygen in the the bag will be next to none. Oxygen is a key factor in the degradation of coffee bean freshness. So these type of beans will last longer in the unopened bag vs. a local roasted bean (which won’t be nitrogen flushed).
  • Once a bag is opened it should be stored in cool and dry place. Something like an Airscape is a great place to start.

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on coffee bean freshness. Oh, and if you have a question for Gail be sure to leave it in the comments and we can see if she has the answer! Also, you can check out past Ask Gail videos here if you are interested.