Category Archives: Uncategorized

Crew Review: Chemex Line Up

Chemex. What a great name. Say it with me, Chemex. It rolls off the tongue so well. We love our Chemex. A great design, simple look, and most importantly, an excellent cup of coffee.

chemexThe Chemex brand has been around for awhile, only to have become more popular in the past few years as the pour over method of preparing coffee has taken off.  But did you know that Chemex has multiple products in their line up? If you ever thought to yourself, “I will never make 10 cups of pourover coffee” you are in for a treat!

Gail took an in depth look at the entire line up. Starting with the classic 10-Cup Coffeemaker, the product you think of when you hear Chemex, all the way down to the cream and sugar set. Gail talks about which filter is the filter you need as well as looking at the differences between Classic series and the Glass Handle series.

So whether you need a 10-, 8-, 6-, or 3-Cup coffee maker, Chemex has something for you. Watch the video below before heading over to our YouTube Channel for more!

 

SCG In Portland: Rocket Machines

Continuing our trip to Portland, Gail took a moment to look at all the Rocket Machines. Rocket has some of the best looking machines on the market, clean and traditional are a couple of words that come to mind.

The top of the line is the double boiler machine, the R58. It is Rocket Machinesplumbable or you can run it off the water tank that comes with, the choice is truly yours! And boy can this machine steam milk! The service boiler (as it is called in Italy) is very powerful and something to get used to when you first open up your machine.

Next up in the Rocket Machine line up is the Evoluzione model. This model is available to both the Cellini look or the Giotto look (straight or beveled sides). The Evoluzione is a single boiler machine but also has the ability to be plumbed if you are looking to get rid of your water tank.

AnRocket Machined finally you have the Rocket Premium Plus with PID. The Premium Plus with PID also comes in both the Cellini or Giotto look, but is not able to be plumbed in. But, like the name suggests, it comes with a PID. The PID allows you to set the water temperature so you can really dial in your espresso shots.

Watch the video to see each of these machines side by side… by side! And if you haven’t already, subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here!

 

 

SCG in Portland: Illy Capsule Recycle

 

Continuing our “working” vacation in Portland, Gail took a moment to talk about the Illy Iperespresso Capsules. As you probably already know, Illy has made making espresso easier than ever. Using one of their capsule machines, like the Francis Francis Y1.1, you can be brewing up a tasty shot in seconds. No grinding or tamping required!

But with a shot of espresso  a day, the amount of used capsules can quickly get out of hand. So instead of throwing your capsules away it is best to recycle them! The Illy capsule recycle program is something we are proud to support. So, save your capsules, and anytime you visit our stores you can bring them in and we will recycle your capsules!

Help us keep the world we share clean and caffeinated!

 

Ask Gail: Storing Coffee in Humid Weather?

Storing CoffeeCoffee tastes best when it is fresh. So naturally questions on how to keep your coffee the freshest, longest always come up.  We all know that when storing coffee  beans they should be whole and only grind them when needed. But beyond that,  there is a lot of information out there that can be confusing when figuring out how to store your beans. And it gets even trickier if you live somewhere that is humid!

So we asked Gail if she wouldn’t mind breaking it down for us. How to store your beans in humid weather. This question led Gail and Miranda down a path of best practices, so be sure to tune in until the end. Everything from storing beans in the freezer to using an airscape is discussed!

Have you had a chance to watch all the Ask Gail videos? Be sure to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss a second! Watch the video below!

 

Crew Review: Saeco Energica Superautomatic Espresso Machine

Espressos, cappuccinos and lattes – oh my! The Saeco Energica is quite the energetic saeco-energicasuperautomatic. Why are we so thrilled about this energizing machine? We’re glad you asked…

The latest Certified Refurbished machine to release from Saeco, we like to think we’re reuniting the Energica with its long lost Exprelia family – you see the resemblance too, right? Featuring large, programmable one-touch buttons, a convenient auto milk frothing container and removable hot water spout, we dare you to find something this machine can’t do! Did we also mention the Energica has a bypass doser for your favorite pre-ground blend?

If all of these features leave you curious for more – and we know it does, don’t miss Gail’s latest review of this super-de-duper automatic machine!

Commercial Customer Spotlight: The Seed

Did you know that we have a department dedicated to helping coffee shops, and other commercial caffeine-serving institutions, get the perfect setup? Just as we’re super passionate about helping people make a great cup of coffee at home, we also want to help baristas make a great cup of coffee for you while you’re out and about!

The SeedOver the years, we’ve worked with a variety of commercial customers, from cafes to banks and restaurants to schools. Each one of them has two things in common: They have a vision of their dream setup and they have very distinct needs (be it throughput, available space or even the color of the machine that will pull the whole space together). So, we’re super excited to begin a series of spotlights on some of these businesses that we hope will help you feel more confident when making your purchasing decisions and maybe even provide some inspiration!

The Seed, a coffee and juice bar, was gracious enough to be our first participant (thank you, Rachel!). So, without further ado, we present their Commercial Customer Spotlight!

Tell us a bit about your operation.

The Seed is a third wave coffee and juice bar in Boca Raton, Florida. We provide an artisan experience with an in-house roaster, pour over bar, espresso service, and small batch juices.

What equipment did you choose and why?

The Seed La MarzoccoWe built our shop around the La Marzocco GB/5. We knew this machine would be the centerpiece of the shop with a custom matte black powder coat. From there, we moved on to find the best grinders for our espresso and selected two Mahlkonig K30 Airs. For our slow bar, we went with the triple threat of Chemex, Hario V60 and Aeropress. These methods are ground to specific parameters on Baratza Forte grinders and the water comes from a Curtis tank. For our classic batch brew, we pair a Curtis grinder with a Bunn brewer.

A huge factor in our selection was the knowledge of the SCG team. Jason was quick to give us all the good and bad which allowed us to make the very best educated decisions for our shop.

What was your experience when you purchased from Seattle Coffee Gear?The Seed - Mugs

Several internet searches pointed us to SCG. The customer service and endless conversations from the SCG sales team, specifically our point person, Jason, were more than we could have hoped for. We would highly recommend the team at SCG and intend to have a long standing relationship for all our coffee gear needs.

What’s in store for the future of your company?
We’re hoping to open several similar operations in the next 2-5 years.

Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with those that are new to the coffee-serving community?

Trust that the common factor must be great coffee and great people. In order to yield the very best coffees, your equipment must be on point. Do not settle for subpar equipment. Your espresso machine and your grinders are EVERYTHING!


We’re really excited to see what the future holds for The Seed, which is already off to an awesome start! You should also totally check out their Facebook page because they seem like a pretty happenin’ place!

Interested in downloading a PDF of their spotlight? Get it here!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Ice Cream in a Baggie

Let us just start off by saying that we realize there are more efficient ways to make ice cream.

Shaking It Up!

However, we believe this way may be the best. Why? Well, there are three things we really love about this recipe:

  • The ice cream is amazing
  • It’s a workout…seriously
  • Did we mention that the ice cream is amazing?

Plus, it really is (as Kaylie repeats over and over again) a science project. The freezing point of the ice is lowered when you add salt to the bag, meaning that the ice must absorb even more energy (heat!) from the ingredients than it would normally need to in order to melt. The more energy that’s absorbed from the ingredients, the colder the ingredients get and *voila!* ice cream is made.

So, yeah, don’t feel too bad about having your children shake you up a delicious ice cream treat. It’s a little like continuing their education through the summer months (or evenings or weekends…), yes?

Oh, and there will be water everywhere, so do this outside or in an uncarpeted area.

 

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1 cup rock salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ shot of coffee concentrate (me made ours on the Toddy!)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Other Items

  • Gallon ziplock bag
  • Quart ziplock bag

Directions

  • Add ice to the gallon-sized bag until it is a little more than halfway full.
  • Pour the rock salt onto the ice and shake to mix.
  • In the quart-sized bag, add the sugar, coffee concentrate and heavy whipping cream. Mix lightly and then seal tightly, leaving a little bit of air in the bag.
  • Place the quart-sized bag into the bag filled with ice and seal.
  • Shake and shake and shake some more. Your muscles will burn like they’ve never burned before, but push through it! Shake for five minutes and then check the ice cream for consistency.
  • If the ice cream is still a bit too much on the liquid side, keep shaking. If it’s mostly solidified (remember, it won’t be frozen solid, it will just be more solid), then you’re good to go.
  • Remove the ice cream from its ice and salt bath, wipe off the bag and then eat it up!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Winter Kiss Martini Recipe

Winter Kiss Martini RecipeIt’s a brand new year and that deserves a little celebration, no? If you didn’t get all of your festivities out of your system a couple of nights ago, or you’re someone who feels that every day should end with a little bit of celebration, then this martini recipe has you in mind.

Admittedly, we weren’t sure about the fruit-and-mint combination that is featured in this martini, but it turned out to be both very refreshing and a little bit sweet. So break out the booze and the cocktail shaker, grab a bottle of your Monin Frosted Mint and get to shakin’! Or, just sit back and watch Brandi do all the work, then live vicariously through her enjoyment of this lovely martini.

Winter Kiss Martini Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz. Monin Frosted Mint syrup
  • 1 1/4 oz. berry-flavored vodka
  • 1/2 oz. orange cognac
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • ice
  • orange peel (for garnish)

Directions

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients and then shake well. Serve up in a martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.

What’s Your Signature Espresso Drink? Episode Two: The Puristas

Purista Blog - Coffee RoasterWe talk a lot about coffee experimentation here at SCG. The great thing about being a coffee lover is that there is always something new to learn. Heck, we will try any espresso drink and any coffee brewing method at least once and we love to share our knowledge.

Recently, we met a couple who have taken our raison d’être ‘How do you make great coffee at home?’ to new heights of exploration. They have even started to roast their own coffee beans at home! When passion and inquisitive minds collide … meet the bloggers behind Purista.

Home Roasters

David and Mae have a beautiful coffee review blog. In researching their coffee reviews they found ‘one green coffee can become any multitude of different roasts.’ Many coffee lovers would simply compare these final roasts but David and Mae were intrigued by the whole process. ‘In order to more fully explore coffee, and to provide ourselves with even more education and understanding, we decided to begin roasting coffee at home. We are still in the early stages of our roasting setup, and are learning new things with every roast.’

Ethiopia Aramo

David and Mae’s Recipe for Success

‘We recently adopted a back-to-basics mentality with our roasting. Per the suggestion of a member of the Sweet Maria’s coffee roasting community, we now roast in the following manner:

  • Turn on the roaster
  • Add just enough coffee to stop the rotation of the mass of coffee
  • Watch. Smell. Listen.

This has already proven so much better than how we were doing it before. Our roasts are now closer to seven minutes, rather than the four minutes we were getting before for the same roast level. This translates to a more developed profile — more complex aromas, flavors, finish.’

Signature Drink: Pomegranate Molasses Affogato

Here is the background and step by step recipe with pictures from David and Mae for this luscious and festive holiday treat. The volume yields 4 drinks total.

‘We wanted to create a signature drink that embodies the season, but keeps our Purista ideals in tact. What we mean by that is that we want the coffee to be the focal point and any additions secondary and complementary. Since we’re also proponents for taking the time to make something well, the recipe involves a bit of work.
Pomegranate Molasses Affogato

Ingredients

  • 1 pint Vanilla ice cream; chocolate ice cream would be a solid choice as well
  • 4 double shots Espresso
  • 8 oz 100% Pomegranate juice (POM makes a bottle just the right size)
  • 1 tbsp Agave sweetener (you can use cane sugar or honey instead)

Directions

We’ll walk you through the pomegranate molasses reduction before the assembly of the drinks. This takes some time, and attentiveness, but you can make it ahead of time and store it in a container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the pomegranate juice and agave sweetener and reduce on a medium-low heat. The liquid should simmer within about ten minutes. After ten minutes check it about every four minutes. In twenty eight to thirty minutes, the liquid should have reduced by more than half and coat a spoon ever so slightly, like syrup, when stirred. Don’t let it get too thick, as it will thicken a bit more as it cools, and for this drink we want it to be about the same consistency as the espresso.
  2. Remove from heat and let it cool about five minutes before pouring it into a suitable container. If you’re doing it ahead of time you can just put it in the refrigerator. If you need to use it relatively soon, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes.

And now it’s time for assembly …

Pomegranate Molasses Affogato

  1. Place 1/2 cup ice cream into 4 small cups or bowls. For reference, our INKER cups are 6 ounces. Place in the freezer until the espresso is prepared.
  2. Pull a double shot of espresso for each serving.
  3. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and pour a fresh double shot over each serving, followed by a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses.

Note the way that the syrup and espresso seamlessly blend together in texture. Then take note of the tartly sweet play on the coffee’s own acidity accentuated and complemented by the pomegranate. The ice cream is just a carrier vessel, and a balancing component that tames the intense flavors just enough, and shocks the coffee into a submissive temperature. This is our treat of the season, and since we can’t have you in our own living room, we send this decadence off to yours. Happy holidays!’

Many thanks to David and Mae. If you would like to share the recipe for your signature drink, send us an email!

The Reluctant Barista: What’s Up With Portafilters?

Saeco Via Venezia portafilter optionsFrom bean to cup, making espresso at home is poetry in motion. Nothing captures the essence of espresso better than a close up view of a streaming bottomless portafilter — a portafilter designed without spouts so that the bottom of the filter basket is visible. Bottomless, pressurized, non-pressurized … though they do the same job, they each do it a little differently. To get the most out of any espresso machine, let’s get to know the portafilter a little better.

First off, what exactly is a portafilter? Some people call just the handle portion portafilter and some people call the handle and filter basket combination portafilter. Some people also call it a portaholder, and that is a little weird, but we understand what you mean. Once the filter basket is filled with ground coffee, the portafilter can be locked into place inside the brew head of your traditional espresso machine. Locked and loaded! Now you are ready to pull espresso shots … If it were only that easy!

To illustrate the differences between types of portafilters, I chose the Saeco Via Venezia. It is a semi-automatic home espresso machine that comes with a pressurized portafilter. There is also a non-pressurized portafilter and bottomless portafilter upgrade available for it, so it makes a good example of how each portafilter works to create a different espresso experience. All three portafilters use the original included double filter basket. Here’s how they compare:

Saeco Via Venezia pressurized portafilterPressurized – The espresso flow is greatly restricted. When the pressure from the boiler combines with an added restriction, it literally spits the coffee out. The restrictive design can be part of the filter basket, part of the portafilter (the Via Venezia uses an additional gasket) or a spring between these two pieces.

Pressurized portafilters often come standard on entry-level espresso machines because they are easier to use for beginners. The coffee doesn’t have to be perfectly fresh, the size of the grind can have a little bit more variation and tamping is not necessary in most cases.

In exchange for this ease of use, the cleanup is messier because the leftover puck is wetter. It is hard to explain the taste difference but a pressurized shot will taste a little bland and homogenous when compared with a non-pressurized espresso shot. The crema produced is mainly a function of extra pressure and not an indicator of coffee freshness. It adds to the visual appeal but not the taste. However, if you are making milk-based drinks you will probably not notice these small differences.

Saeco Via Venezia non-pressurized portafilter upgradeNon-Pressurized – The 15 bar pressure from an espresso machine forces the water and steam through the filter basket. A good espresso extraction needs freshly ground coffee with a consistent particle size. It is also important to tamp evenly with the right amount of pressure so that water flows through in a uniform manner. If espresso flows out one side more than the other, it will still taste okay, but it might have had the potential to taste better with a more even tamp, or a more accurate dosage, or more consistently ground coffee. This is the point where you can seriously start to geek out about your espresso-making methodology!

Non-Pressurized portafilters are for home baristas ready for the challenge to manage variables manually. If you have an interest in crafting delicious espresso, you need a non-pressurized portafilter. This is especially true if you drink espresso, Americano coffee or a Cafe Macchiato. These are drinks where the character of the espresso is front and center compared to a latte or cappuccino where the espresso takes a backseat to ten ounces of milky goodness.

Bottomless – (Sometimes called a naked portafilter.) Usually, the spouts on the bottom of the portafilter direct the coffee as it streams out. Not so with a bottomless portafilter. As a learning tool for a home barista, the bottomless portafilter is a great way to check your progress. Saeco Via Venezia bottomless portafilterThe term ‘channeling’ refers to water that leaks through the puck unevenly due to poor distribution of grounds. Other reasons these crevasses occur can be due to an inconsistent grind, incorrect dosage or an uneven tamp. Any small error will result in random spurts and a messy espresso extraction with a bottomless portafilter. The barista can then take steps to fix one or more of these variables in the hopes of producing a cleaner (and better tasting!) shot.

Some say a bottomless portafilter will make a hotter shot since the espresso does not come into contact with a metal spout. This temperature difference is pretty negligible. It is easier to brew directly into a demitasse and it is easier to keep clean. But the main reason to use a bottomless portafilter is the visual cues it offers that can lead you to micro adjustments in timing, tamping and measurement.

About Filter Baskets – An E61 filter basket is 58mm across while the Via Venezia filter basket is 53mm across and DeLonghi tends to run about 51mm across. Sizes, shapes and hole patterns vary by manufacturer. There is no consensus on whether bigger is better or which proprietary hole pattern is better. The often frustrating thing for home baristas to keep in mind is that most portafilters and filter baskets are not interchangeable between brands. Even if they share the same size diameter, their profile shape will prevent a universal fit in the portafilter or brew head configuration of a different model espresso machine. When looking for a replacement or upgrade, double check compatibility first!

Along with the functional differences listed above, some portafilters are heavier, some are lighter weight and some may feel more balanced in your hand. The tactile sensation of the portafilter is important too. Will the portafilter be ergonomic for all household users? These are seemingly small details to consider when evaluating an espresso machine purchase but it will be part of your daily routine for years to come, so it’s best to shake hands and get to know your portafilter first!