Category Archives: Tips – Brew

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.

 

Ask Gail: Latte Art Using Milk Frothers?

Latte ArtEvery once in awhile we like to let our inner Picasso out to play. It’s fine, we all do it and there is nothing to be ashamed of! But the question remains, is it possible to create beautiful latte art using milk frothers?

Well, unfortunately the short answer is no. While milk frothers like the Jura are excellent at providing you with no-fuss perfectly frothed milk for your espresso beverages, they just don’t have the finesse needed for latte art foam.

We asked Gail to give us a little explanation as to why these stand alone milk frothers won’t give us the best results and she delivered! Watch the video below to see Gail attempt some latte art using a milk frother.

Ask Gail: Soupy Pucks

Nine out of ten home baristas agree, soupy pucks are a coffeehouse sin. Well, maybe not a sin, but in our experience it’s pretty close! What causes a soupy puck and why exactly is it so bad? When it comes to the hard questions, we like to ask Gail!

Gail and our excellent customer service team are always reiterating how important it is to dial in your grind – and this Ask Gail session is no exception! Having your grind too fine can cause soupy pucks, as a super fine grind will hinder proper water flow. The water is then “trapped” on top of the puck and released into the dredge box with the under-saturated puck, causing a sour or bitter espresso shot and the undesirable soupy puck.

If you think there could be more to your soup-tastic pucks, check out our first edition of Ask Gail!

Brew Tips: Latte Art Basics

If we had to choose three words to describe the video below, they would be “Chad is awesome!”

When he’s not helping out customers in our Seattle Coffee Gear Portland store, Chad teaches barista classes. Which means that as soon as he joined the team we started hitting him up to make some sweet latte art videos for us. After all, we could write out the steps to latte art all day long, but having a visual aid is at least 100 times better (if not 1,0000).

In this video, Chad walks us through latte art basics. Pay attention, because you’ll need these next week when we post some advanced techniques!

Brew Tips: How to Make a Macchiato

Sarah and Dori are back (at the same bat time on the same bat channel) and ready to share their cafe macchiatobrew tips with you! Up this time is the macchiato, but not the one drenched in caramel that you are accustomed to seeing in a big chain coffee shop. While, admittedly, those are delicious, this is an old fashioned foamed milk and espresso type o’ macchiato.

Composed of two parts espresso to one part foamed milk. And by “foamed milk” we really mean either the foam off the top of the milk or really, really well frothed milk. So milky coffee lovers may want to look at a cappuccino to get their espresso beverage fix!

How to Make a Macchiato

1)   Clear the extra water out of the steam wand.

2)   Follow our steps for frothing milk for a cappuccino (yes, even though you are making a macchiato) when preparing your milk.

3)   As you froth your milk, keep in mind that you should be expanding it quite a bit and incorporating in as much air as you can. Remember: We’re looking for that milk foam!

4)   Clean up that steam wand while you pull your espresso shot.

5)   Give your frothing pitcher a firm tap against the counter and swirl to incorporate the foam into the milk.

6)   For a macchiato with very foamed milk, pour the milk directly on top of the espresso shot. For a macchiato with a dollop of foam, let the milk sit for a minute to let it separate from the foam (or don’t tap and swirl initially) and then spoon a few tablespoons onto the espresso shot.

You can be as pro as Sarah and Dori, too. Just watch the video below and then follow the foolproof steps to macchiato mania!