Brewin’ with Brandi: Seahawk Burger

Seahawk BurgerRecently, the Seahawks have been a pretty deal around these parts. They did win the Super Bowl after all. Not ones to fall behind on a trend, we decided to celebrate their success by creating our own yummy treat – the Seahawk burger!

What makes this burger special? It has espresso in it! What, you thought we’d make something that didn’t involve coffee? Besides espresso, this burger contains the usual ingredients you would expect to find. To keep this recipe local, we did try to use Washington or Seattle-based produce, coffee and wine. Think Beecher’s cheese, Chateau Ste. Michelle wine and locally roasted espresso. We think this burger might also pair really well with a beer from one of our many craft breweries, such as Redhook or Pyramid. However, if you don’t live in the area, feel free to substitute in your own local brands.

While some naysayers, or fans of rival teams, may try to argue that football season is over, nothing says summer like grilling burgers on the barbeque. If it happens to be raining, you can always cook the burgers in a skillet. Plus, these burgers are a great way to help tide yourself over until football season starts up again.

Hungry? Check out our video to learn how to make these giant (and tasty!) Seahawk burgers with Brandi and Kaylie. You may even catch a glimpse of a surprise guest.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Seahawk Burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 sliced sweet onion (such as a Walla Walla)
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Washington state red wine (Merlot or Syrah)
  • ½ shot brewed espresso (such as Zoka’s Espresso Paladino Blend)
  • 4 (6 oz.) grass-fed ground beef patties
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 cup arugula (you will need a ¼ cup for each burger)
  • 12 slices of Colby Jack Cheese (use 3-4 slices for each burger)

Seattle Aioli:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • ½ shot brewed espresso

Directions:

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions and mushrooms in the oil until the onions start to caramelize and mushrooms soften, or about 5-10 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to the skillet to season the vegetable mixture. When the mixture has cooked down, add the red wine and ½ shot of brewed espresso (reserving the other ½ for later).
  • Cook the vegetable mixture for five more minutes until most of the wine and espresso burn off. This will give the mushrooms and onions a really nice flavor.
  • In the meantime, cook four hamburger patties to taste and begin preparing the Seattle aioli.
  • To make the aioli, combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and other ½ of the espresso shot together in a medium sized bowl. Wisk until smooth.
  • Spread aioli on each hamburger bun.
  • When the burgers are done grilling, top each patty with 3-4 slices of Colby jack cheese, mushroom and onion mixture and arugula lettuce.
  • Makes four large burgers – enjoy!

Crew Review: Frieling Coffee-for-One

Frieling Coffee-for-OneIf you’re looking for a pour over brewer that you can take with you on camping trips or other travels this summer, look no further than the Frieling Coffee-for-One. This single cup brewer is small in size and made mostly from plastic, making it lightweight, not easily breakable and very portable. Likewise, since the Coffee-for-One features a 23-carat gold-platted filter, you won’t have to worry about packing (or packing out) paper filters. After all, there’s nothing better than enjoying the great outdoors while reducing your ecological footprint at the same time. The other benefit of having a gold filter is that it enables the brewer to produce a cup of coffee that is similar in flavor to a cup produced on a coffee maker.

Of course, we wanted to see the Frieling Coffee-for-One in action. As such, we conducted a two-part test to see how easy the brewer is to use and what kind of flavor it produced. The Coffee-for-One passed the first part of the test with flying colors. To brew with this pour over, all you have to do is load coffee into the filter, place the water infuser on top and pour in hot water. You don’t even need to worry about getting all of your grounds wet, since the infuser has a shower head-like water distributor that will do the job for you.

When it comes to creating the flavor you desire, you may have to do a bit of experimenting. The instructions suggest using one heaping scoop of coffee when brewing a cup, but we found that this measurement produced a pretty light cup of coffee. Thus, if you are a daily coffee drinker who likes a strong coffee, we recommend using either two or three scoops when crafting your brew. Everyone’s tastes are different though, so it is a good idea to play around with the grind, amount of coffee and volume of water to find out what tastes best to you.

Not sure where to start? Watch Dori and Chris try out a few different grinds on the Frieling Coffee-for-One in the video below. You can even compare tasting notes and see if you get the same results.

Crew Review: Frieling Coffee-for-One

Crew Review: Krups EA82 Redux

KRUPS EA82Krups has been popular for decades, and much of the brand’s success is to due to the fact they create products with a high level of functionality and enduring quality. As such, it is no surprise that they are the maker of some of our favorite little robots, aka automatic coffee and espresso machines. Part of this lineup includes the Krups EA82 Espresseria, which has been around for a couple of years. In fact, its small size and affordable price have had made this machine one of our tried and true products. It has been awhile since we played around with all the features of this machine, so we decided to give it a more an in-depth look.

The Espresseria may appear unassuming at first glance, but this espresso maker packs in a lot of features for a machine in this range. The EA82’s display and programming make it incredibly easy to use, even for novice baristas. Likewise, the thermoblock boiler allows the Espresseria to create consistently hot drinks time after time. (A word to wise, by hot, we mean really hot, as in almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, you may want to let your drink cool down for a minute or two to avoid burning your tongue like us.) The milk frother does an excellent job of creating rich, foamy milk. Plus, it is nice to have the option of being able to have the EA82 froth your milk automatically or try your hand at frothing yourself. Most superautos only provide automatic frothing, so the opportunity to play around if you start to feel adventurous is certainly an added benefit.

If the Krups EA82 didn’t already simplify your life enough by making delicious espresso drinks for you, it also contains a special slot for storing a plastic coated manual. This feature ensures that your manual is always close at hand if you ever need to troubleshoot your machine. That’s right, no more digging through a “junk drawer” of manuals to find the one you need. Should you need further assistance, there is contact information for support in nearly every country imaginable, so no matter where you are help is never far away.

Finally, while most superautomatic espresso machines can be bulky, the Krups EA 82 is pretty small in size and will not take up a lot of space on your counter. As such, this machine is great option for people who are just starting out, don’t have a lot of room or looking for an affordable machine to help ease them into the world of espresso. To learn more about the Krups EA82, check out Brendan and Gail as they model a few of our stylish SCG t-shirts, and try out some of the machine’s settings.

Crew Review: Krups EA82 Redux

A Tea Lover in a Coffee World: Review of High Tea on an Alaskan Cruise

premium teaThe end of May and the beginning of June are not only the beginning of the camping and backpacking season for many people, but they are also the start of the summer vacation season. While many people in the greater Seattle area travel to warmer climes, another popular vacation destination is Alaska. After all, Alaska is considered part of the Pacific Northwest, albeit a very far northern part of it. In fact, a few of our other crew members have already made the trek, so I decided it was my turn and booked myself on a cruise. Besides, in addition to getting to explore the beautiful scenery, I thought it would be a great chance to check out the coffee and tea scene up north.

Before I left on my trip, a few of my co-workers gave me some advice on things to do while traveling. One of the most important pieces being to make sure to see if my cruise ship offered high tea on of the days during the trip. Once I was onboard, I glanced at the schedule and was excited to find that there indeed was a high tea planned for the next day and made a note to attend.

tea treatsTo my surprise and delight, the tea was far fancier than I expected. Arrayed on at least two-dozen, if not more, platters were hundreds of sweet and savory teatime goodies. These treats included sandwiches made with smoked salmon, cucumber, prosciutto, turkey and roast beef combined with either cream cheese or mayonnaise. In addition, there were a variety of muffins, breads, éclairs, brownies, cookies, cakes, tarts and fruit. There was even a snack that was new to me for teatime – biscuits and gravy! Behind this gigantic spread of food were six beautifully hand-carved watermelons and an ice sculpture of a windmill. In short, the display was stunning.

With so many different snacks available, it was difficult to take them all in, let alone decide which ones to sample. After much deliberation, I ended up picking up a salmon sandwich, cucumber sandwich, éclair, fruit tart and a chocolate covered strawberry. All of which were very tasty. The tea served, although good, wasn’t quite as impressive as the food. The tea was a pretty common brand that you could likely find at your local grocery store. However, I did pick up a little secret for others that also prefer to have premium teas at teatime. You can bring your own tea and brew it at your table. Hot water is readily available at every table, so all you need is your loose leaf tea and an infuser. The beauty of this approach is that you can use whatever travel brewer you prefer, be it a tea filter, a small tea infuser or travel tumbler. Even without this remedy, the high teas were definitely worth revisiting. There was one held at the same time each day of the cruise and some even had different themes, such as a cupcake tea.

Alaska Wild TeasWhile I wasn’t able to go to high tea every day, I did get a chance to check out some local Alaskan teas while I was on land. The brand of teas I stumbled upon is, not surprisingly, called “Alaska Wild Teas.” These teas are not “true teas” but are rather tisanes made out of a blend of wild Alaskan herbs, fruit and berries. Even though they aren’t true teas, they sure are tasty! The teas come in flavors like blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, wild rose and strawberry, and can be served hot or cold. I even brought some back home with me to continue to enjoy and share with friends and family.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and it was interesting to sample and learn about teas from another part of the country. Will you be traveling somewhere exotic this summer that will also allow you to partake in local coffee or teas? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

(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

Crew Review: Bonavita Immersion Dripper

Bonavita Immersion DripperIf you have just joined the fabulous world of coffee (welcome!) or are just getting into specialty brew methods, we have just the thing for you. We’re talking about the Bonavita Immersion Dripper, which is kind of like a pour over and a French press combined. What makes this dripper unique is that it has an on/off (or open and closed) switch that opens or closes the valve on the bottom so you can immerse the coffee as long as you want.

To use the Immersion Dripper, turn it off by closing the valve on the bottom of the base, and then prep and load the dripper like you would a pour over. A few things of note are that you don’t have to get your grind perfect, which is why we think the dripper is a good choice for coffee beginners or people who just want no muss and no fuss when making their coffee. Likewise, unlike on a French press, if you go toward the finer side with your grind, the filter will prevent a bunch of sediment from leaking into your brew. We also like the fact that you can set your pour over up anywhere, and don’t have to balance it on a cup while you’re brewing and throwing coffee in it, since with the valve closed nothing will leak out.

Once you have everything set up, you can pre-infuse the coffee, let it bloom for about a minute, and pour the rest of the water in the brewer. Just as you don’t have to picky about your grind, you don’t have to have a specific pour for this dripper either. You don’t even need to have a gooseneck kettle or make sure the water stays in the center like on other pour overs, you can just dump the water in however you desire. Next, you let the coffee steep as you would with a French press. When you reach your preferred steep time, you do not plunge as you would on a French press, but slowly open the valve to release your tasty brew into your cup.

Ultimately, we really like this pour over, since you can play around with your steeping time and easily spilt a couple cups all with little to no mess. Watch as Dori and Chris brew up a cup of or two on the Bonavita Immersion Dripper, we weren’t kidding when we said pour overs are kind of their thing.

Crew Review: Bonavita Immersion Dripper