Category Archives: Tips – Brew

Brew Tips: How to Make a Cappuccino

How to Make a CappuccinoIt’s that time again! Yep, Dori and Sarah are back to teach you how make another one of those delicious and fancy drinks you find in your local cafe. In this week’s installment they’ll show how to make a cappuccino. One of the more common drinks, people often confuse cappuccinos with lattes. It is easy to see why, as they are pretty similar since they are both milk-based drinks with espresso. However, with a cappuccino, there is a third component included in the recipe that is not in a latte – foam!

Thus, a cappuccino is a third part foam, a third part milk and a third part espresso.  Luckily this is pretty easy to remember, even for the math adverse like myself. Typically a cappuccino will have more foam and less milk than a latte and the entire drink will only be about six oz., so not that giant drink you may love and adore from some chain stores. In addition, some places will actually steam the a cappuccino a little cooler than some other drinks, so it is more like a drink you can chug. The reason for this is because is your milk is steamed at a cooler temperature, you can get more of the natural sweetness out of the milk and your drink will be sweeter. However, if you heat your milk past 140 degrees Fahrenheit the milk starts to get bitter.

How to Make a Cappuccino

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

2)   Follow our seven steps for frothing milk for a cappuccino 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.

4)   When you’re done frothing, tap the bottom of the pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around to get a nice, rich foam. We usually try to work in the little mound that forms on top of our milk to ensure our milk is creamy through out. However, if you like to keep the mound so you can eat the foam with a spoon, that’s perfectly fine too!

5)   Don’t forget, if you like a cappuccino with more foam ask for a dry cappuccino the next time you are at your favorite café. You can also achieve this effect at home by letting your drink sit for a minute or two after you have made it and the milk will separate. If you want a creamy cappuccino, start drinking right away.

Watch as Dori and Sarah show you how to make a cappuccino in just a few minutes! While it may seem like they are just making it look easy, once you have your technique down you’ll be making this drink in a snap as well!

Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte and a Mocha

how to make a latte2Last week we gave you some tips on how to perfectly froth your milk for creating a latte or a cappuccino. Now we are going to expand on those skills a bit and show you how to make a latte and a mocha. Once again we used our trusty Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine with its super-charged frothing power to create these drinks.

How to Make a Latte

1) When making a latte you can use as much milk as you want. Generally you want to use more milk for a latte than you would use for making a cappuccino, about 8 oz. is a good amount.

2) Once you have your milk, follow the same tips we used for frothing milk for a latte in our video last week.

3) Since you are only making a little bit foam for your latte, make sure you submerge your steam arm fairly quickly to ensure you are just heating the milk and not creating bubbles.

4) When your milk is hot, tap the pitcher and swirl the milk around the pitcher to get it mixed in. This time around you will be able to see the milk texture underneath, as the milk is not nearly as thick as when we were frothing it for a cappuccino. However, you can still create a rich milk by making sure any foam you have created is well-incorporated in to the milk. If you let it separate out too much, you’ll get that lighter milk texture and have thick foam on the top.

5) Pour your frothed milk into a cup containing a shot (or two or three!) of espresso and you have created a latte.

How to Make a Mocha

1) Creating a mocha is very similar to creating a latte, as it is basically a latte with chocolate. As such, follow steps 1-4 in the latte recipe above to prepare the milk for your mocha.

2) Before you add milk to your cup, mix your espresso shot with chocolate syrup (you can use any type of chocolate to create a mocha – white, dark, sugar-free, whatever you prefer). Stir the espresso and shot together with a spoon to make sure they are well combined. This makes creating the drink easier, especially if you want to attempt latte art, which we’ll save for another post.

3) Pour in the milk with the espresso chocolate mixture, and enjoy.

Follow along with Dori and Sarah as they make a latte and a mocha. Make sure to check back in next week to discover what other coffee concoctions you can make with your newfound skills.

Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte or a Mocha

Brew Tips: How to Froth Milk

How to Froth Milk2Among our most frequently asked questions is “how do you create perfectly frothed milk?” This question is often closely followed by, “how do I then use that milk to create latte art?” or “how do I incorporate that milk into a shot to make a latte, cappuccino, etc.?” This comes as no surprise, since one of the trickiest parts of making a great drink is getting the milk frothed just right. You don’t want your milk to be too frothy, but not entirely flat either. In most cases the goal you are trying to achieve is creating just the right amount of microfoam. To further help you achieve caffeinated bliss; we’ve decided to tackle all of these questions in this series of brew tips, starting with how to froth milk. After all, creating perfectly frothed milk is the one of the key components for creating all the other drinks.

Getting your technique down, and then practicing a lot, is an important part of successfully frothing milk. However, the type of machine you are using as well as the type of steam wand the machine has, will also impact how your milk turns out.  For instance, inexpensive espresso makers and machines like the Saeco Via Venezia, often have panarellos, which basically foam your milk for you. This is great if you are an espresso newbie who isn’t used to using a manual steam wand or just want to have foamy milk and aren’t picky about what type of foam you get. The plastic models usually have four or more holes on the top, which bring in a lot of air and will make your milk bubblier. If you don’t like bigger, airy foam with a lot of bubbles, you might want to upgrade to one of the stainless steel panarellos that typically only have one hole.

When it comes to frothing milk on a machine that has a traditional steam wand, like the Nuova Simonelli Musica, the rules about the number of holes in steam arm change. Wands with four holes will give you a lot of steam power and will heat the milk really quickly. These wands will also create really amazing microfoam. However, the quality of the microfoam you get is partially based on what type of machine you are brewing on as well as the tip. For instance, the Musica naturally has a lot more steam power, as opposed to a machine like the Breville Dual Boiler, which is a bit slower when it comes to steaming. That being said, neither machine is better than the other, it just depends on what you are looking to create. The Dual Boiler is nice in that it gives you a lot more time to work with, and produce a lot of, foam. On the other hand, it can be tricky to get a lot of foam on the Musica because it heats up so fast.

Once you’ve got what machines and wands you will be using for brewing, it all comes down to practice as we mentioned before. However, we realize this can be harder than it sounds, so here is our cheat sheet for how to froth milk for a latte or a cappuccino.

11 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Latte

1)   Start with a very cold pitcher and milk. This will gives you more time to work with your milk. If it is already warm already it’s going to heat up faster, providing you with less time.

2)   Blow out the extra water in the steam wand.

3)   Adjust the angle of the steam wand to suite your preferences. We typically keep ours at a pretty high angle, but you can play around with it to see what works best for you.

4)   Hold the tip of your frothing pitcher against the steam wand; this will give you more leverage when moving the pitcher around.

5)   You will also want to angle your frothing pitcher to the side, which will help you get the milk swirling around in a circle.

6)   Submerge the tip of the steam wand in the milk. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a high pitch squeal followed by slurping. While it is loud at first, this is exactly what you want to hear. As soon as you hear that squealing noise, make sure you bring the pitcher down so you hear that slurping noise as you start to incorporate air. This will help prevent you from getting too much foam, since for a latte you want to create a smaller amount of foam.

7)   Submerge the rest of the wand in the milk after a few seconds.

8)   Once you can feel the bottom of the frothing pitcher get nice and toasty, almost too hot to touch, remove the steam wand from the milk.

9)   Always wipe down and blow out the steam wand when you are done to prevent the milk from getting sucked back into the boiler.

10)     Mix milk in by slowly swirling the milk around the pitcher, to get a rich and creamy consistency. The milk will look a bit more porous before you begin this process, but once you start mixing it in it starts getting a really shiny texture and that’s exactly what you want.

11)     Combine the milk with espresso and relax with your drink.

7 Steps for Frothing Milk for a Cappuccino

1)   Just like with a latte, you will want to start with very cold milk and make sure to blow out the extra water in the steam wand.

2)   Start with the tip of your steam wand submerged.

3)   Once you start hearing that high pitched squealing noise, you will want to slowly bring the pitcher further and further down to incorporate more air.

4)   As soon as you feel the pitcher and milk get hot is when you stop frothing.

5)   Tap the bottom of a pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around the pitcher to mix it in. You will notice that the texture of the milk is a lot thicker.

6)   If you are creating a drier cappuccino (or a cappuccino with more foam and less milk), you will want to let the milk settle a little bit after you have mixed it, and it will separate out.

7)   Combine the milk with your shot of espresso and enjoy.

If you would like to see the process in action and follow along step-by-step, watch as our resident milk frothing expert Dori teaches Sarah how to perfect her pour. If you live in the greater Seattle area, you can also learn how to froth milk with Dori in person if you stop by for her Sunday milk frothing or latte art workshops in our Bellevue store.

Brew Tips: How to Froth Milk

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

Java Talk: Water Avenue Chemex Demo

Water Avenue ChemexThe grand opening of our Portland store this past weekend was a great success! We had a great turn out and had a wonderful time meeting all of you. Thank you so much for your support. Besides getting a chance to meet everyone, one of our favorite parts of the weekend was the coffee! We had a couple of our local roasters brewing on our store during the event and we got to try out some coffee from a few of the other local roasters we carry as well.

For instance, while we were visiting with Water Avenue Coffee, one of their baristas, Joshua, was kind enough to demonstrate to us how they brew coffee on a Chemex. This was a real treat for us, since we really like brewing on the Chemex. We’ve found that it creates a really smooth and tasty brew. Not only did we enjoy the coffee, but it is also fun for us to see how different roasters brew since they each have their own unique method. Watch Joshua in action to learn Water Avenue’s approach to making coffee on a Chemex.

How to Brew Single Serve Chemex Coffee Water Avenue Coffee Style:

For this brew, we used Water Avenue Coffee’s El Salvador El Manzano roast, which is a Red Bourbon, pulped natural from El Salvador that was ground just finer than drip coffee.

  • Pre-wet your filter paper, with some of the 192-degree water you heated for your brew.
  • Pour 31g of coffee into filter. Settle the grounds.
  • Bloom coffee for about 25 seconds by pouring in 40g of water (about 10% of the water). Make sure to use a swirling motion, inside out, while pouring. This helps ensure that all grounds are saturated so the water disperses better when you do the continuous pour.
  • Continuously pour 410g (450g total by weight) of water in a tight circular motion over a period of one minute. When you do the pour, pour the water in a steady stream and move in concentric circles. This is important so as to disperse the turbulence of the water and not break up the grounds, which leads to over extraction.
  • During this pour aim to get through all 450 grams of water and finish the pour at about 1 minute and 20 seconds.
  • Let the coffee extract for another minute and half (3 minutes total), give or take about 10 sec, depending of the density of the coffee and the quality of the pour.
  • Tip: At the end of the extraction you should have a wall of coffee around the edge your filter, which means you poured correctly. The turbulence of the water was dispersed during the pour, meaning the water didn’t hit the side of the Chemex and wash all the grounds down, which is what you want to see.  You don’t want to see the bare sides of the Chemex, as that means too much coffee has gone down to the bottom.
  • After your coffee has finished extracting, throw away your filter, pour coffee into a preheated cup, and enjoy.

Java Talk: Water Avenue Chemex Demo

(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

(Not so Scientific) Experiment: Cappuccinatore on the Intelia Focus

Intelia FocusWe love the fact that the Intelia Focus (also known as the black version of the Intelia) is energy efficient and has vibrating finger guard to quickly and painlessly send our beans down the grinder chute. However, we’ve long wondered if it is possible to use a cappunccinatore on this machine to froth your milk as you can on its stainless steel brother and the Intelia Cappuccino. Don’t get us wrong; we do like the panerello that comes with this machine, since it does allow for slightly more controlled milk frothing. Yet, since the Intelia Focus is superautomatic machine, there are some of us that wish the entire process was automated.

For people who aren’t familiar with the cappuccinatore, it is a hose-like attachment that travels from the milk frothing pitcher with your milk to the milk frother inside your machine. The milk is then sucked up from the container, frothed in the machine and finally dispensed in your cup. Before we tested the cappunccinatore on the Intelia Focus, we wanted to see how well it worked on a machine the cappunccinatore is built for, so we started our experiment on the Intelia Cappuccino. The milk this little frother produced was surprisingly hot, around 173 degrees Fahrenheit according to our Fluke temperature probe. After this impressive result we decided to repeat the experiment on the Intelia Focus. Since the Focus has the same internals as the Intelia Cappuccino, we had a good feeling about how this test would turn out. As expected, the cappuccinatore did indeed work on the Focus. We were surprised to find that the temperature of the milk produced was considerably cooler, however, coming in at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit on our thermometer. We’re not sure why there is such a huge difference in temperature, but were excited to that our experiment worked, since having more options is an always an advantage. Check out our video with Gail and Brendan to see how the cappuccinatore works on Intelia Focus for yourself.

(Not so Scientific) Experiment: Cappuccinatore on the Intelia Focus

SCAA 2014: Todd Carmichael

SCAAIn our past of couple posts you may have noticed there’s a lot to love about the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event. First of all, we have the opportunity to drink as much coffee and tea as possible, and try a variety of new roasts and flavors. Second, we get to visit with some of our favorite vendors and chat with them about new gear and ideas, as well as get to see them demo some of their equipment. And, last, but certainly not least, we get to meet new people in the coffee community and get to learn about their products and story.

As we made our way around the Event floor, we were luckily enough to encounter Todd Carmichael, who is a celebrity in the coffee industry. If you haven’t heard of Todd, he is the CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters and has visited a number of developing countries to source coffee responsibly and sustainably. He is the host of the Travel Channel show, “Dangerous Grounds,” which captures many of his quests, sometimes into dangerous or exotic areas, for great coffee on film.

We are able to chat with Todd a bit about some of his latest projects. His most recent is creating a pour-over manual siphon with temperature profiling abilities, which he developed for the U.S. Brewers Cup competition (the contest celebrates manual coffee brewing). While this little gadget is a mouthful to say, Todd calls the device “The Dragon,” and indeed this siphon appears to be a force to be reckoned with. Todd explained that the advantage of the Dragon is that it provides you with the ability to “profile” coffee like you do when you when roasting, except with immersion brewing. Unlike normal pour over brewers where the temperature starts high and then goes low, the Dragon allows you to change the temperature of the brew at the time you desire. This additional control over when the temperature drops allows you to “dig in on different layers” of complex coffees and get whatever flavor you are looking for, whether it be citrusy, sweet, etc. out of the coffee.

The coffee Todd prepared for us was excellent. It was very perfumy, with hints of sweet, citrus notes; almost like candy. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones impressed by the Dragon, as Todd went on to place second in the Brewer’s Cup. To learn more about the Dragon, check out this video of Todd’s demo.

SCAA 2014: Todd Carmichael

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

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