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

Crew Review: Baratza Preciso

Baratza PrecisoWe’ve long enjoyed the grinders produced by Baratza due to their ability to grind our coffee and espresso to just the right consistency to produce that the perfect cup. The other thing we love about Baratza is they are constantly innovating and improving their grinders. This means each usually model features an upgrade that causes us to like it even more. Such is the case with the Baratza Preciso, which used to be called the Virtuoso Preciso. While the name of this grinder changed to simply the Baratza Preciso a while back, we realized we didn’t have a video of this model with its new moniker. We’ve also had a few people request that we compare the Preciso with its cousin, the Baratza Virtuoso. Therefore, we decided why not kill two birds with one stone and create a video that solves both problems.

Like the Virtuoso, the Preciso is designed with 40mm conical steel burrs that will produce a consistent grind every time. Yet, while both grinders create a very good grind, we found that the Preciso has a couple of features that give it a slight advantage over the Virtuoso. The main difference between the Preciso and Virtuoso is that in addition to the 40 macro adjustments found on each machine, the Preciso also has 11 micro adjustments in the front. This allows you to have more control over how fine or coarse your grind is, since you can adjust the micro setting to future dial in the macro setting you have selected. In fact, we’ve found that the combination of these micro and macro adjustments allow the Preciso to have more precision and options than other models, meaning you will hardly ever have any trouble dialing in your grind.

We also like that the Preciso comes with a portaholder (which is not included with the Virtuoso, but you can buy the portaholder separately and add it on) that will hold your portafilter in the grinder for you for easy dosing. We even tested out several different portafilters in the portaholder, and were pleased to find that the majority of them fit without any adjustments.

Ultimately, we decided that the Preciso has a bit of an edge over the Virtuoso, since it has more options. Thus, the Preciso is a great machine for home baristas who is brewing different types of espresso and really wants to experiment with their coffee and their grind. That doesn’t mean the Virtuoso isn’t a good grinder, because it certainly works well. However, the Virtuoso is better suited for people who don’t need as fine a grind or are using a pressurized portafilter. Of course, we couldn’t claim that the Preciso was, like its name, more precise without first testing our theory. Watch Brendan and Gail as they put both the Baratza Preciso and Virtuoso to the test to see which machine can create the finest grind.

Crew Review: Baratza Preciso

SCG Portland Retail Store Tour

Portland retail storeAfter six busy weeks of planning and building, our Portland retail store turned out fantastically! With the opening of our third retail store, there is now a place outside the state of Washington where you can come and visit us. Of course, there is also our website, which we must admit is pretty convenient and a great way for those of you who don’t live in the Pacific Northwest to check out and buy coffee gear. However, the advantage of visiting us in person is that you have the ability to play around with different products and the opportunity to attend some fun and interesting classes.

Speaking of those of you who are outside the Pacific Northwest, by now you might be wondering what the new Portland retail store looks like. Well, for starters, we have our shiny, new Rocket Espresso machines by the front door when you walk in. These machines are followed by a display of Technivorms and other drip coffee makers. We also have nearly every flavor of Monin syrup you can imagine setup in the front window, to create a lovely rainbow of goodness. Finally, just around the corner we have displays for well-known brands like Jura, Nespresso, Delonghi, Breville and Saeco.

In addition to espresso and coffee makers, we also have every accessory you need to around out your coffee making experience. For instance, we have hot water kettles, pour overs, scales, tampers, knock boxes and shot glasses. Of course, all of this gear wouldn’t be complete without the coffee itself. As such, we’ve created a “coffee market place” where you can find coffee from a variety of Portland roasters as well as a few Italian brands like Illy and Lavazza.

Besides all of the fantastic gear we have for sale on the floor, you will also find our repair center in the back of the floor. Here we can troubleshoot or fix your beloved machine on the spot or within a couple of days, if it is a more extensive repair.  We can repair most major brands, so if your machine is acting up, bring it on down and we can at least give you a free estimate of what it will cost to get your espresso or coffee maker fixed.

We think that store turned out wonderfully and couldn’t be happier with how the space looks. However, don’t just take our word for it. Take a virtual tour of our Portland retail store yourself in this walkthrough we filmed right before our grand opening. Better yet, come visit us in person the next time you’re in Portland, we’d love to have you!

SCG Portland Retail Store Tour

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia

SCG Tune Up Kit for the Saeco PoemiaIf you’re a new at home barista, the Saeco Poemia espresso machine is probably your new best friend. Not only is the machine is easy to use, but it is also very forgiving of those who are still learning. The pressurized portafilter means there is no need to perfectly tamp your espresso and the panarello wand makes milk frothing a breeze too! With this compact and stylish machine by your side you will be making lattes in no time!

However, what happens if, heaven forbid, your best friend eventually starts to act funny? For instance, you may notice that coffee or water is pouring over the top edge of your portafilter when you pull a shot on your machine. While this sounds scary, never fear, this is not the end of your relationship. All it means that your brew head gasket is no longer making the seal between the brew head and the gasket, which can easily be remedied by using SCG’s tune up kit for the Saeco Poemia.

The tune up kit comes with five parts: a brew head gasket, brew screen and screw, boiler spring and boiler valve. It is easiest to install these parts by flipping the machine over, but before you do this you will want to remove all accessories so they don’t get in your way while you are working on the machine. Once you have flipped your machine over, the next step is to remove the worn out parts so you can replace them. You should remove them in the following order: 1) brew screen 2) boiler bushing – make sure keep this piece close at hand since there is no replacement part included in kit 3) boiler spring and boiler valve and last, but not least 5) the brew head gasket.

After you have removed all the old parts, make sure to clean and remove any coffee grounds that have gathered around the brew head. You may even have to flip your machine right side up again to get all the grounds out. However, it is really important to make sure all of the grounds are removed since coffee is acidic and will eat away at your brew head gasket. Once you have give your espresso maker a thorough cleaning, you can begin installing the replacement parts from SCG’s tune up kit for the Saeco Poemia in your machine. You should install the parts in the reverse order that you removed them, so start with the brew head gasket. When you have installed the new parts and reassembled you espresso machine, you can then double check your work by inserting your portafilter into the machine to make sure that it lines up properly.

Knowing it is time to give your beloved Saeco Poemia some maintenance isn’t always as dramatic as having coffee leaking over the side of your portafilter. Some other signs that it is time replace these parts are if you hear your pump working harder than it used to. This can happen if you have so much coffee residue built up on your screen or portafilter, so that your pump does actually have to work harder to get through that pressure. Or you may find that your coffee just tastes off and you’re having trouble noticing a difference in taste between different blends of coffee. This could also be due to the fact that you have a lot of coffee residue built up that is affecting the taste of your shot. Luckily, SCGS’ Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia can resolve all of these issues, and the installation is actually relatively painless. For more detailed instructions, watch as Brendan walks us through the process step-by-step. Your old friend will be up and running again before you know it!

Tech Tips: SCG’s Tune Up Kit for the Saeco Poemia

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

Meet the Roaster: Water Avenue Coffee

Water Avenue CoffeeAll of our hard work and planning have paid off, and our Portland location is now open! If you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, please do. Might we suggest that you stop by to take part in our Grand Opening celebration tomorrow, and enjoy some free treats and as much coffee as you can drink!

We are excited to be a part of the “Rose City” and have been soaking in the amazing coffee culture and community. “What, I thought Seattle and Portland were rivals?” some people may exclaim. The truth is, just like most siblings, Seattle and Portland may give each other a hard time every now and then, but we do actually love our sister city. While both cities are gems of the Pacific Northwest for different reasons, they do have one thing in common – the love of great coffee. What makes this shared love more interesting is that each city has developed its own unique culture around the brew.

Since we’ve been down in Portland, we’ve had the opportunity to explore this culture a bit more in depth. We were fortunate enough to get to chat with some of the local roasters we are featuring in our SCG Portland store. We recently sat down with Matt Milletto, one of the co-owners at Water Avenue Coffee, to talk shop at the company’s retail and roasting facility in Portland’s Southeast Industrial district. Here is where Water Avenue produces all of the coffee that they sell to their wholesale accounts, and the space also features a coffee bar that acts as a showcase for their coffees. The coffee factory certainly has been making a name for itself since it’s inception four years ago, and has been repeatedly been named one of the best places for coffee in town.

According to Water Avenue’s owners (Bruce Milletto, Matt Milletto and Brandon Smyth), they got the idea to open a coffee shop when they were browsing vintage roasters online. They ultimately purchased a 1974 Samiac roaster and began building a business from there. Matt explained that the name “Water Avenue” is a toast to street they are located on, since the area has been such a success for them. In fact, the neighborhood has rapidly grown around them, and Matt states that their business has been doing three times what they forecasted in their initial projections. Matt believes this success can be largely attributed to the fact that Portland has an outstanding community that has enabled the city to truly become a destination for specialty coffee. Check out the video to hear more about Water Avenue Coffee’s history and Matt’s thoughts on the culture of the town we are proud to now call our home.

Meet the Roaster: Water Avenue Coffee