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!

 

Crew Review: Acaia Pearl Scale

acaia pearl scaleI’m not sure about you but I use my smartphone to do just about everything. Gone are the days of simple arithmetic in my head, there is an app for that. There is also an app for controlling my wireless speakers, my lights, my thermostat, even when the cat gets fed. Can you see where this is going?!

Well now we can officially say it, gone are the days of the simple scale. Good riddance! The coolest new gadget on the block happens to be the Acaia Pearl Scale. It does everything you would want a modern scale to do, you know, like weigh beans down to a 10th of a gram. It is also super quick, giving you a read out in 20 milliseconds! That’s literally faster than a blink of an eye (by about 80ms no doubt). And of course it has a built-in timer!

But what really makes this scale special is its connectivity with the free app from Acaia. The app gives you a brewing timer, ratio calculator and a place to put all your coffee notes right at the tip of your fingertips. In addition to those features the app also contains some awesome visualization tools to analyze your brews. Nerdy? We think not!

What really makes this scale complete is the sleek design, reminiscent of a particular tech company that we have all grown to love. Am iRight?? Ok, clearly I’ve had too much coffee today. But brewing with this scale is just too much fun! Take a look at the Crew Review below. Gail and Miranda had a good time playing with all the features of the Acaia Pearl Scale as well.

Don’t forget to head over to our YouTube channel if you want to see more Crew Reviews or have a burning question to Ask Gail.

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.

 

Brewin’ With Brandi : Irish Whiskey Float

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!Irish Whiskey Float

We here at Seattle Coffee Gear are all wearing our obligatory green and drinking our whiskey laced espresso beverages. Are you green with envy yet? Ok, maybe we aren’t drinking just yet but Brandi has a recipe for you if you feel so inclined. It’s sweet, creamy, and infused with the happy juice.

The Irish Whiskey Float is a great way to end a meal this St. Patricks Day. What is not to love in a drink that combines vanilla ice cream, espresso and whiskey? Watch the video below as Brandi and Leslie whip up a couple adult beverages. The recipe is listed below as well. It makes 1 drink so duplicate as many times as need :) Oh, and if you liked this recipe check out some of Brandi’s past videos here.

 

Irish Whiskey Float

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Double shot of Espresso
  • 1 ounce Irish Whiskey

Instructions:

Start by brewing your favorite espresso. Set shots aside to cool slightly.

Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream to your glass.

Add the espresso and Irish Whiskey to the glass. And enjoy (responsibly)!

Crew Review: Rip van Wafels

Rip van WafelsIt’s coffee break time and I’m feeling a bit hungry. I could either eat yet another donut or I could open up a Rip van Wafel. What’s a Rip van Wafel you ask? Well it’s only the tastiest thing you can eat during your coffee break that will also start some chatter around the proverbial water cooler. This tasty item is both an experience and a snack.

It all starts with a piping hot cup of coffee. Before you even attempt a sip you place one of these Rip van Wafels on top of your cup, which is conveniently the perfect size and shape for your standard coffee cup. As your coffee cools down to a temperature that won’t burn your tongue the Rip van Wafel is getting all soft and gooey. Slowly you will see the middle of the Wafel sag, and that is when you know it’s ready to enjoy.

The texture is one of the better things in life. Soft and chewy. The flavor has notes of cinnamon and caramel, the perfect accompaniment for a cup of joe (as I am sure you know). Check out the video below and be sure to head over to our YouTube channel for more product reviews and general coffee goodness!

Crew Review: Coffee Grinder Comparison

Coffee Grinder ComparisonGrinders, grinders, grinders! So many coffee grinders, but which to choose? Well, we asked Gail if she would be so kind and review a few side by side. We decided the best place to start would be taking some grinders that are all in the same price range and see how they match up. In this coffee grinder comparison we took a closer look at the Rancillio Rocky, the Baratza Virtuoso, the Baratza Preciso and the latest from Breville- the Smart Grinder Pro.

We were very pleased with the quality of all 4 coffee grinders. Hands down the construction of all 4 was nothing short of excellent. They all had a nice design and produced a good quality grind. Gail took each grinder down to it’s finest setting to see which would take the cake. In results we got, it was clear that the Rocky Rancillio will give you the finest grind. So, if you are looking for a grind that feels like a fine talc powder, you will want to go with the Rocky Rancillio. The other three grinders all delivered a grind that was consistent and worthy of espresso.

We also took a closer look into the burrs of each grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso and the Baratza Preciso both have 40mm stainless steel conical burrs. The Rocky Rancillio has 50mm steel flat burrs and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has stainless steel conical burrs. We are in the process of finding out the exact size of the burrs on the new Breville machine (yes, it is that new!).

Overall each grinder will get the job done, but some are better suited for different environments. Watch this Coffee Grinder Comparison Crew Review to see them side by side and for Gail’s take on where each will be best suited!

Crew Review: notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers

notNeutral Ciclone TumblersDouble walled items seem to be hot right now (but not to the touch!). The latest product that takes advantage of this design are the notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers. A double wall is excellent for hot or cold liquids because it helps keep the heat (or lack thereof) where it belongs.

The notNeutral Ciclone Tumblers come in three sizes: 2.5 oz, 6 oz and 10 oz. We love the 10 oz. option for iced coffees (its almost summertime!). The double wall design is great for iced coffees because it eliminates the inevitable sweating glass! Each tumbler is hand blown from borosilicate glass (which is a great conversation piece), but be aware there may be slight variations from cup to cup. Borosilicate is a laboratory grade glass that is both heat and scratch resistant, so feel free to put these babies in the dishwasher!

We are really happy with these tumblers. The design fits nicely in your hand and makes a great addition to our ever growing collection. Watch the Crew Review video below and then head over to our YouTube channel to see what else Gail has been playing around with!

 

 

Crew Review: Hario Olive Wood Coffee Press

hario olive wood coffee pressWe love new things! This time it’s a new product from Hario. Building on the classic french press, Hario has really created something special. The Hario Olive Wood Double Walled Coffee Press is a new favorite of ours. While the 14oz won’t supply enough liquid gold for a crowd, it will easily satisfy a few.

One of our favorite things about this new product is the style. It’s contemporary design is complete with a removable (for easy cleaning) olive wood handle and leather strap. We know looks aren’t everything, but it truly looks great out on the counter. The design also includes (as the name suggests) a double wall which helps keep the heat where it belongs, in your brew! Another awesome feature worth mentioning is the mesh filter at the end of the plunger. It’s finer than you would typically find on a french press, which means less coffee silt in your cup. Yes please!

We asked Gail to give us a full Crew Review of the Hario Olive Wood Coffee Press. Watch the video below to see her brew a pot and give you the full scoop!

 

 

Crew Review: Acme Cups

Acme Cappuccino CupPicture yourself sitting outside a bustling cafe enjoying a delicious cappuccino in the morning sun. Maybe you are noshing on a crisp biscotti while solving the crossword puzzle. Is the mood set? Now look closer at the image in your mind. What are you holding? If the cup feels sturdy and proudly displays the beverage held inside, chances are, you are holding an Acme cup.

Acme cups were originally designed for heavy use in cafes (much like the one you are sitting outside of now). Made from thick ceramic, all the cups in the Acme line up are built to last. They also keep your coffee hotter longer because of the sheer thermal mass, and that makes for a great drink! The Acme cups come in 4 sizes: the demitasse, the tulip, the cappuccino and the latte. We carry multiple colors and even have a saucer option if you so choose.

Here we are going on and on about awesome cups again. Watch the Crew Review below to see what Gail really thinks about these Acme cups and be sure to head over to our YouTube channel for more videos!

     

 

 

 

Crew Review: Saeco Gran Baristo Update

Saeco Gran Baristo In case you didn’t already know, we love our Saeco Gran Baristo with Removable Bean Container. In fact, we love it so much that we made an updated Crew Review just for kicks! Well, we actually wanted to showcase this machine again because we found the more we used it the better our experience was.

What are some of our favorite features of this machine you ask? Well the first one is in the name, “removable bean container”! This comes in handy if you find yourself with a couple types of coffee just waiting to be brewed. Perhaps something different for the evening? We also love the programmable user profiles. Since everybody likes their coffee a particular way, the Saeco Gran Baristo makes it easy for up to 6 different users to customize and save their drink preferences. Another feature that really rocks our world is the adjustable spout. You are able to adjust the spout so you can have up to 6.5 inches of cup clearance. Quad-shot cappuccino anyone?

We did few tests as well to see just how well the Saeco Gran Baristo functions in real world environments. The results of our temperature tests are as follows:

  • Espresso - During testing we were able to get both of these drinks up to 171°F on more than one occasion.
  • Milk - After three rounds of automatic milk frothing we were able to get the temperature to 144°F.
  • Hot Water - The hot water generally stayed around the 160°F mark.

We give this machine a thumbs up for functionality, performance, and quality of the drinks it makes. Watch the updated Crew Review below and then head over to our YouTube channel to see what else Gail has been up too.