Crew Review: Melitta Pour Over Stands

Stainless StandMelitta Pour Over StandsWant to ensure you stay on trend with your coffee making? Why not try pour over coffee? Manual coffee-making methods are becoming increasingly popular, you’ve probably seen them popping up in your favorite cafes and many coffee enthusiasts are using them at home as well. The nice thing about brewing with pour overs is that you have more control over the different variables (the grind, water temperature, length of the pour, etc.) that go into to making a cup of coffee so you can create your ideal cup of coffee. In addition, with a pour over, you can evenly extract your entire basket of coffee, which is big advantage. Oftentimes on drip machines the middle of your coffee will get extracted a lot more than the edges, which can impact the flavor. As result, pour over coffee is typically very smooth and highlights the unique flavor profile of the coffee brewed. Besides providing you with the control you need to create a quality cup of coffee pour overs are also a simple, lo-fi way to create a tasty cup of coffee. All you need is a cup, kettle, pour over and a filter of coffee to start brewing. Of course, if you are brewing on a pour over, it is also nice to have a stand! Devices like Melitta Pour Over Stands put the focus on the coffee brewing process and provide an extra helping hand by holding your pour over in place.

Just as there are a variety of styles and types of pour overs, there are also a couple of different Melitta Pour Over Stands to choose from. However, one of the benefits of these stands is that both types we carry come with a porcelain cone (or even two or three in some cases) as well as filters, so that at least that part of the selection process is taken care of for you. From there, you just have to decide if you would rather go with the Melitta Bamboo Stand, which is a single brewer that will allow you to brew like a “slow bar” professional at home. If you like to drink a lot of coffee, are worried about other coffee drinkers stealing your precious brew or are looking to get a third wave setup in your café, you might want to consider getting the Melitta Stainless Steel Pour Over Bar. These sleek pour over stations allow you to brew either two or three pour overs at once, so you can serve several eager coffee drinkers. Check out Gail and Brendan as they try out these Melitta Pour Over Stands and pick up a few brew tips along the way!

Crew Review: Melitta Pour Over Stands

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

Saeco PureWe are excited to announce a new addition to the Saeco family. Part of the Minuto class of the machines, the Saeco Pure is the second machine that is in this category that we know of, but the brand claims that they are going to add at least one machine to the family and possibly more.

The release of the Pure couldn’t happen at a better time as one of Saeco’s other beloved machines, the Vienna Plus, has recently been discontinued by the brand. However, the Pure is an excellent replacement. Like the Vienna Plus, the Pure’s simplicity and wallet-friendly price point make it a great option if you are just getting into the world of espresso. This machine is a great option even if you consider yourself an old pro when it comes to superautomatic machines, but just want just the basics and not all of the fancy and sometimes complicated settings that come with higher end superautos. Keeping on up your maintenance is also a breeze with the Saeco Pure. Just like the Vienna Plus, the Pure has a removable brew group, so you can pop it out of your machine whenever it is due for a cleaning. If you want to speed up the process, you can put the brew group in your dishwasher. We just recommend that you put it in the top rack of the dishwasher so it doesn’t melt.

While the Pure is part of the Minuto family, this model does have three major differences from the first Saeco Minuto. First, the Pure doesn’t have a coffee lever that allows you to brew drip like the Minuto does. However, there is a button to press that will brew a lungo (long espresso) so you can get something close to drip coffee. Second, you can’t adjust the strength of your shot (also known as the aroma). As such, you’re best option from regaining some control over your shot is to cut back on the amount of water that is going to be dispensed, which will make the coffee stronger. Third, the burrs inside the Pure aren’t ceramic like on the Minuto, but are stainless steel. Keep in mind these differences don’t make the Pure not as good of an option as the Minuto, just a different one. With the Pure, you are provided with some programmability with the bypass doser, the ability to program the length of your shot or the option to brew a double shot.

If you’re looking to add this machine to your family of appliances decorating your kitchen, check out Gail and Brendan’s demonstration of the Saeco Pure. They’ll go through the features, compare them with the machine’s almost twin, the Saeco Minuto and brew up Gail’s famous wet cappuccino. It’s so good; we’ll never get tired of it! If you listen carefully you can even pick up some pro-tips for milk frothing with a panarello from Gail.

Crew Review: Saeco Pure

A Tea Lover in a Coffee World: Savrika Tea Review

IMG_1795After a year of writing tea reviews, I have visited quite a few different tea shops and houses in the greater Seattle area. While none of the other tea shops I visited were bad, in fact all of them served great tea and food, it was apparent that the owners of some tea shops hadn’t invested the same amount of knowledge or time into learning about the products they sell. Or if they have, they haven’t quite figured out how to share that information with their customers. However, when I recently stumbled upon Savrika Tea in downtown Kirkland, I realized I had discovered something really special.

You can tell that the owner, Rupa D. Gadre, is passionate about tea. This love for tea is evident from the second you step into Savrika Tea. This is not only because the numerous tea certifications she has earned, Rupa has been taking specialized courses since 2011 and officially became a Certified Tea Specialist in the Fall of 2013, but also due to the tea wall focal point and huge variety of tea with something to suit every taste.

IMG_1821Rupa’s entry to the tea world and entrepreneurship was somewhat unexpected. She originally worked as a Web Analyst for Cisco Systems, but took a hiatus from work to have children. As a mom, Rupa often visited the mall for her kid’s play dates and stopped at Teavana while there. Yet, while the store introduced her to a variety of wonderful loose leaf teas, she soon realized there were major drawbacks with the experience. One, there was no place to actually sit and enjoy the tea she purchased, so Rupa was forced to take the tea home and drink it by herself. Two, Rupa explains that she had a lot of questions about tea that the store staff couldn’t answer. Thus, disappointed in the lack of the social aspect and wanting people to be able to learn more about the tea they were drinking, Savrika Tea was born.

When it was clear that the store was going to be a reality, Rupa told me that she lucked into meeting an architect, who also happened to be an ex-Starbucks employee, through a fellow parent. Rupa explained that, while not a designer, she knew she wanted “a modern and clean look and feel.  That is evident also in the tea wall focal point, the furnishings I chose, the concrete design on the floor, and the bathrooms.” Rupa adds that “because I’m the one making the final decisions, there was no committee to restrict my colors or themes,” which was nice since it allowed her to make the space truly her own.

IMG_1818The appearance of the store definitely accomplishes Rupa’s goal. The shop is a modern oasis, with shiny granite tables and a cozy nook to one side of the space that is excellent for curling up with a good book. The clean lines of the shelving put the tea ware and tea that is sold on display. Aside from the giant wall of tea, my favorite part of the store was the tea sampling station that is set up in the center of the room.  Here, all 200 varieties of tea the shop sells are stored in small, color-coded tins (black tins for black teas, green tins for green teas and so on). Customers are able to open these tins in order to smell and examine the teas inside to find one or more that they would like to drink. There is a directory of all the teas that the store offers, which lists the ingredients and a description of each tea to help you get a better idea of what each one contains. If you still aren’t sure what tea you would like to try, Savrika’s knowledgeable staff can help you find a tea that is a good fit for you based on what flavors you enjoy. To ensure her staff remains knowledgeable about tea, Rupa says that, “after every training [I go to], I bring back my coursework and notes and educate my staff. That way they have more information at hand when speaking with customers.” In addition, Rupa states, “ I encourage my staff to try a new tea on each shift; that way they can give personal recommendations as well make their way through all 200 varieties.”

After exploring a number of the different teas on offer, I ended up deciding upon a black-green tea blend called “Roxie’s Passion” at the recommendation of a staff member. This blend includes black tea, green tea, papaya cubes, rosehip peel, flavoring and sunflower blossoms. Since it is summer, and has been hot out, I opted to have Roxie’s Passion brewed iced.  The tea arrived at my table in a to-go cup and was a pretty golden peach color. The flavor was even better. The tea tastes of a nice, smooth traditional black tea, except slightly lighter, perhaps because of the green tea that was also in the brew. There were fruity notes, such as peach and passion fruit, in the tea that made it even more delicious. In addition, the tea shop sells quite a few desserts and tea sandwiches, which can be hard to find nowadays. I didn’t sample any of these goodies myself, but they looked pretty tasty.

IMG_1812While Savrika Tea is Rupa’s first foray into selling tea on her own, it is not her first experience with tea. According to Rupa:

As far back as I can remember, tea was always around and part of my life.  When we had guests, my Mom would bring out the nicer teapots.  At parties, chai was always the last item served.  When we’d go on vacations, my parents would stop the car for afternoon tea time. It didn’t matter where we were, but the tea break came to be expected. It was the tradition that followed from India to their new country, from their parents’ houses to our home, and now to my home and business.

Since tea has long been a part of Rupa’s life, she decided she would combine another important aspect of her background, her Indian heritage, into the store. As such, “the base of the [store’s] name is ‘Sarika,’ which is a Sanskrit woman’s name meaning beauty in nature. I added the ‘v’ to make it Savrika – wholly mine and unique, but with an Indian base. “

IMG_1823Savrika Tea is rapidly approaching its second birthday; the store opened its doors in September of 2012, and shows no signs of slowing down. Even on a Wednesday afternoon, when I visited, there were quite a few people in the shop sipping tea while reading or working on their computers. Besides selling tea, Rupa offers frequent tea tastings and classes so customers interested in learning more about tea have the opportunity to do so. It seems the abundance of knowledge Rupa provides her customers is likely what makes Savirka Tea so successful. Rupa said it best when she stated, “I have no agenda except to provide high-quality tea and perhaps educate customers along the way.”

Java Talk: Ristretto Roasters Chemex Demonstration

Chemex DemonstrationNot too long ago, we were lucky have Ristretto Roasters out at the grand opening of our Portland store to provide a tasting of some of their fabulous coffee. While they were in we got to chat with them about their approach to brewing and Ryan even allowed us to film him as he brewed on a Chemex. As we have seen with our other local roasters, Ryan had his own unique approach to the process, which was interesting to compare with the other techniques we have seen. We love having roasters in our store for coffee tastings, and Ristretto Roasters have already been back to visit us a second time, and they are hosting a third tasting at SCG Portland on September 6th, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you haven’t tried this locally roasted Portland coffee, this is your chance to do so. Likewise it is a great opportunity to pick up additional tips and tricks from Ryan and his crew.

How to Brew Chemex Coffee Ristretto Roasters Style:

For this brew we used Ristretto Roasters’ Kenya A/B Roast, which has taste notes of black current, Meyer lemon, and maple syrup. You get the maple syrup and current flavors right up front, and the Meyer lemon acidity is sort of a nice finish.

  • Start by weighing out your beans on a scale (make sure to zero out the scale once you have put your container on it, but before you add the beans).
  • Measure out 50 grams of coffee into your container.
  • Grind the coffee to a grind that is a little finer than a French press. When Ryan made his Chemex, he used a Baratza grinder set to the 28 mark.
  • Program a Bonavita Electric Gooseneck Variable Temperature Kettle to 196 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, open a Chemex filter and put the three fold side of the filter on the side of the Chemex that the spout is on.
  • Hold the filter in your Chemex, and use the water you heated up in the kettle to damp the filter down. The damping helps the filter suck in against the Chemex, gets paper tastes out and also heats up the vessel.
  • Pour out the extra water that has collected in the base of the Chemex.
  • Add 100 grams of water to the 50 grams of coffee in your Chemex and allow it to bloom for 30 seconds; starting your timer when you add the water for the bloom.
  • While the coffee is blooming, the coffee the coffee is expanding and oils are coming to the surface of the grounds. This process will slow down the brew and actually start adding water to the coffee.
  • After 30 seconds, add water to the center of the bloom and slowly do little circular spinning motions of pours around the bloom. This agitation brings out a nice acidity in the coffee. Over the course of four minutes, you’ll be adding up to 700 grams of water.
  • You don’t want to rush your pour, so make sure your water line stops a quarter inch from the rim of the Chemex.
  • Once you reach the four-minute and the 700 gram mark, you will be able to drink the wonderful Chemex coffee you have brewed.
  • When the brew stops dripping, you can remove the filter with the grounds and toss it into a trashcan or compost.
  • Before pouring a cup of the coffee, give the Chemex a little swirl, to make sure everything is well combined.
  • Then serve it up!

Java Talk: Ristretto Roasters Chemex Demonstration

Tech Tips: How to Replace the Bean Hopper on a Rancilio Rocky

Rancilio RockyCoffee enthusiasts will rejoice when they discover how much control they can have over their grind when they use the Rancilio Rocky coffee grinder. It is no wonder that this machine is one of the most recognized names in the industry. In addition, the Rocky won’t look bad on your counter and it is made to last. However, just as with any other coffee equipment, if you don’t take good care of your grinder and keep up on its maintenance, your Rocky won’t stay looking beautiful forever. If you do make the mistake of falling behind on your machine’s maintenance and your bean hopper starts looking more green than blue, you do have the option of replacing it. In case your wondering, the reason your hopper has changed color isn’t a trick, it is because coffee oils and residue have built up on the plastic and stained the hopper. Discoloration is not the only reason for replacing your hopper. You may also want to replace your hopper if it is really old or has gotten damaged during shipping.

Once you’ve decided to replace your bean hopper on your grinder, the process isn’t overly complicated, but it does involve a couple of steps. Keep in mind that while you’re replacing the bean hopper on your Rancilio Rocky is also a great time to complete a grinder service on the inside of your machine. This will allow you to clean up any stale coffee grounds and residue that have built up inside your grinder that can cause your coffee to taste off or even damage your machine.

While the replacement hopper does come in a kit that includes directions for installation, a stopper, screws and a sticker, the instructions are not incredibly clear, so we have broken them down to make them a bit easier to consume. Better yet, you can use this process to replace the bean hopper on both the doser and doserless versions of the machine, so it doesn’t matter which model of the machine you own.

Watch as Jeremiah guides Brendan through the process step by step. If you’re still feeling nervous, just know that this was also Brendan’s first time completing this swap, and he completed the task without any major hang-ups. If Brendan can replace the bean hopper on a Ranicilo Rocky grinder, so can you!

Tech Tips: How to Replace the Bean Hopper on a Rancilio Rocky

Crew Review: Everpure ESO7

Everpure ESO7If you live in the United States, it is likely you are afflicted by hard water. According to a U.S. geologic survey completed by the American Water Works Association, 85 percent of the United States has hard water (also known as water that high mineral content). While hard water is not harmful to your health, it can have a funny aftertaste and, even worse, cause damage in the boilers of espresso machines by creating scale buildup. Now that you know that there is a good chance that you have hard water in your area, what do you do to protect your precious espresso machine? The easiest and relatively least expensive method is to invest in water softener for commercial espresso machines, such as the Everpure ESO7.

While there are a variety of different water softeners and filtrations systems on the market, we like the Everpure because it takes care of a lot of different aspects of water filtration. Not only will this cartridge soften your water, but it will also buffer and filter your water. This helps prevent the water from becoming too acidic and reduces minerals, chlorine, off tastes and orders. In addition, this system has a pretty long lifespan and covers most manufacture warranties. The Everpure ESO7 is a single cartridge system, so you will also need a filter head in order to connect it to your espresso machine. Everpure makes a couple of different heads, so you can get any one that fits this system, but we typically use the QL2 Filter Head since it is simple and economical.

However, before you install a water softener, it is important that you know exactly how hard your water is to ensure your purchase the right setup for you café. If you live somewhere that has water that contains five to three grains of scale, you will not want to get the ESO7, as it is too strong and will actually do more harm than good. On the other hand, if you are located in area that has six grams of scale or higher, that amount of scale does need to be brought down and you will want to install something like the Everpure ESO7 to protect your machine. Finally, if you are in an area with really hard water (yes, we’re looking at you Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and southern California), you can build a double or triple capacity flirtation system using these Everpure cartridges.

Besides working on a variety of setups, these cartridges are easy enough to install and replace that you can do it on your own. This will save you both time and money, since you won’t need to have a tech sent out to you or have to pay any for any technician fees. Ready to start setting up your filtration system? Check out this video where Brandon tells us a little bit more about the Everpure ES07 and demonstrates how it is installed.

Crew Review: Everpure ESO7