Tag Archives: news

Three Cups a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Who would’ve thought that the fountain of youth could be found right in your very own kitchen — and right under your nose? Your morning cup of coffee provides more than just a kick in the pants to get going in the morning, it also has positive affects on your noodle!

Studies have shown that drinking at least three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife can cut Alzheimer’s risk 65 percent in late life.

A July 2011 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that ‘coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease,’ published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In early studies, USF researchers believed that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid. However, the same study also claims that it may not be the caffeine itself but a combination of the caffeine and coffee’s compounds that, when combined, increases blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Alzheimer patients are known to have low levels of GCSF.

In their studies, long term treatment with coffee enhanced levels of GCSF and memory in mice with Alzheimer’s. Three key benefits researchers found were:

  1. GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
  2. GSCF creates new connections between brain cells
  3. GCSF increases the birth of new neurons in the brain

While this has only been tested and verified on mice, it does demonstrate that coffee can have a strong impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s, to the extent that it’s worth more study. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors, said, ‘Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee.’

But who’s to say adding those extra cups of coffee won’t give you a memory like an elephant when you’re in your 90s? Better safe than sorry.

Field Trip: La Marzocco’s Strada Filter Basket

Last week, Joe Monahan and Jack Kuo of La Marzocco were kind enough to talk with this about their new, highly-precise basket — currently dubbed the Strada (after their cutting edge pressure profiling machines). Watch as they explain the theory behind it, why they wanted to build a better basket and the calibration process itself. The goal? Increase consistency in extraction, of course! These 58mm baskets will be available shortly.


Keeping You and Your Machine Healthy

We’ve heard concerns from customers on whether or not they should worry about trace amounts of lead or metal poisoning within their machines’ boilers and parts. So we’re going to  break down the makeup of particular metals that are housed within your unit to ease your mind — and your fears of  caffeine withdrawal.

Water corrosion is where it all begins and understanding your machine and what conditions cause corrosion — oxygen, water, metal and a catalyst — will help you manage and maintain your espresso machine.


Used for some espresso machine boilers and stovetop espresso makers as it heats up the fastest, ‘aluminum is protected from corrosion by increasing the amount of naturally occurring aluminum oxide (Aluminum + Oxygen) on its surface.’

As a mixture of  metals, also referred to as an alloy, and under ideal circumstances, Sergio Louissant of LatteMaestro.com explains that this combination protects the aluminum but also has a quicker turn around time in breaking down the aluminum oxide causing the aluminum to corrode.

Chloride in tap water wears down the catalyst that breaks the shield that is the oxide layer between the metal and boiler water, as stated in a piece in the JL Hufford Coffee Tea Supporter Forum. This causes damage to aluminum parts over time so it is best to use filtered water or to regularly clean and descale your machine to slow down the deterioration process.

However, even though machines with aluminum parts are less expensive, that doesn’t mean they’re frowned upon. With its ability to maintain good resistance against corrosion, it just may take more of a closer eye and knowledge to understand the chemistry of it’s maintenance and when its time to switch out parts to prevent the quick deterioration of this material. Because the connection between aluminum and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is still unclear, many folks try to avoid aluminum as a precaution.

Stainless Steel

Very resistant  to corrosion, stainless steel can be found in Saeco, Nespresso and Capresso machines. But its downfall is being the life of the party when it comes to hosting bacteria for a longer period of time on its surface compared to any other metal.

However, bacteria aside, since you won’t be cutting, dicing or chopping any raw meat on or with stainless steel espresso machine boilers and parts, as long as you keep the stainless steel within your machine clean, this material is ideal for espresso machines as it provides excellent heat retention and assures rapid steam function.


Unlike stainless steel and aluminum, espresso machines that use copper/brass boilers and parts, such as Rocket, Rancilio, Quick Mill, Pasquini, LaPavoni and Francis Francis, not only act like a repellent to those grimy germs and retain heat longer, but they also are the most resistant to corrosion than any other metal.

However, even with it’s popularity in higher end machines, some users are still left worried about the lead content in brass boilers.

While lead is added to some brasses, most manufacturers plate brass with nickel, such as Rocket Espresso, preventing any lead from leaching into water, reducing corrosion and acting as a barrier between brass and water.

But taking extra care when it comes to lead in products, it was in October of 1999 that the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content, leading to the reduction of lead content to 1.5 percent from it’s original 2 to 3 percent in products sold within that state. Following this action manufacturers were asked to reduce lead or to follow the requirement to warn consumers about lead content even if it didn’t have the ability to leach into materials such as water.

Hopefully this trend will catch up to the rest of the 49 states in the U.S. but for now, whether you choose a machine with aluminum, stainless steel or brass, taking precaution is key but knowing how your machine works and what it reacts well with will also keep you happy, healthy and caffeinated.

SCG’s Holiday Sale Page

If you’re looking for a smokin’ deal on new coffee gear — either for yourself or someone else — then check out or regularly updated Holiday Sale page. We’ll be rotating specials throughout the holiday season on a variety of espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders and related accoutrement, ranging from discounts to manufacturer-supported sales. Today only, we’re featuring a sale on the Jura Impressa C5 and the Saeco Via Venezia, so if either of these are on your list for Sandy Claws, today’s the day to pick them up!

You can check back each week to find out the new deals, or you can sign up for our SCG Coupons & Sales email — we’ll be sending this out each week through the holiday season, highlighting three of that week’s deals.

Internal Espresso Machine Parts Now Available!

If you have been on the long lost search for the perfect O-ring, gasket, steam manifold or thermostat for your DIY espresso machine rebuild project, you’re going to be pretty excited to learn about the new parts section of our site. Admit it, you are.

We’re now offering tons of internal parts for espresso machines, easily located via exploded machine diagrams. Right now we’ve built out the parts for several of Saeco’s machines and we’ll be expanding those as well as adding other manufacturers in the future — such as Ascaso, Quick Mill, Rancilio, Rocket Espresso and Solis.

If you’re technically savvy enough to diagnose your machine, understand which parts it requires for repair and then install said parts without injuring a) yourself and/or b) the family pet, this is for you. However, if you think you need information on what’s wrong, what to buy and how to install, let us tell you like a friend: We have an excellent repair center that will more than meet your needs.

Fast Coffee vs. Fast Food

Over the past few years, Starbucks has been laying off employees and closing down storefronts to make up for lost revenue during the recession, but they’re also now operating in a more crowded competitive space. Where they once dominated the market for quickly prepped gourmet espresso drinks, larger players are coming to the table and upping the ante.

Competing against fast-food chains, like McDonalds, who’s playing hardball by providing their customers with coffee drinks with all the frills but at a lower cost, Starbucks is trying to lure back their coffee connoisseurs who’ve been bedazzled by fast-food prices by offering free internet and access to e-books and sites that usually come at a cost. They’ve also begun mandating a slow down in service that would limit a barista’s drink prep to just one drink at a time — clearly in an effort to show customers some level of artisan skill in the face of the fast-food, assembly-line approach they used before (and from which they are more actively trying to differentiate themselves). This comes into play even more when you consider the ‘third wave’ coffee movement’s focus on the culinary rather than commodity attributes of the mighty bean.

Another way they’re trying to compete is by making their food options more healthy, reinventing their menu by ‘raising the bar on food to be tastier’ with ‘healthier and lighter options.’ Making baked goods that are healthy but without the cardboard taste, Starbucks has incorporated organic blueberries, a higher percentage of real bananas and has made marshmallow squares less of a guilty pleasure at only 210 calories. But other than slimming down their treats, they’ve also added healthier drinks and lunch alternatives by taking a queue from local farmer’s markets. With basic yet natural options, they now have smoothies and salads (i.e. Strawberry Banana Vivanno and Farmer’s Market Salad) made from real produce, which, again, carry less of a calorie count.

Is this what a Starbucks customer really wants, though? If the company grew to become a competitor in the international food market that is on par with McDonald’s by implementing many of the same operational techniques, can they roll these back in a sufficiently effective way to court customers back to their cafes? And how healthy has Starbucks really gotten when you see statistics comparing a 483-calorie Mocha Frappe Latte with semi-skimmed milk almost on par with a 492-calorie Big Mac?


What do you get when you have balloons, coffee grounds and a vacuum cleaner? No, it’s not the aftermath of an all-night party, but a fingerless hand called the ‘gripper’ that gives robots the ability to pick-up any object with ease.

An idea led by Eric Brown of the University of Chicago, who teamed up with Cornell University and US firm iRobot, they created the innovative hand with the classic ‘claw’ arcade game in mind — you know the one where you maneuver the claw to pick up a stuffed animal, candy or that one prized Faux-lex watch.

Watch this video and be amazed at how a coffee ground-filled balloon and the suction from a vacuum cleaner can make picking up something as small as a pin or pour a glass of water look like a piece o’ cake.

What will they think of next? Maybe one of these guys will be as common as having a vacuum cleaner in your house to do all the dirty work in a few years.

Seattle Coffee Gear’s Store is Moving!

We’ve talked about it a bit here and there — in our newsletter, on Facebook and Twitter — but thought we’d make it official here. Seattle Coffee Gear’s retail store is moving locations at the end of this month and here’s all the details:

We’ll be at our current location (4210 196th St SW, Lynnwood WA 98036) through this Saturday, October 30th — open for our usual hours of 10am – 6pm. We’ll then be moving real-quick-like and be open for business at the new joint beginning Monday, November 1st (also our regular hours of 10am – 6pm).

The new store is located at 6911 216th St SW, Lynnwood WA 98036, just a few miles southwest of our current location.

We’re growing! We moved our headquarters (repairs, offices, shipping and inventory operations) to a much larger facility earlier this year, and now it’s time for the store to follow. This means that all of our services will again be under one roof again, making it much easier for you to get the services you need.

In celebration of the move, we’ll be hosting and Opening Shindig on Sunday, November 14, from 12 – 4. We’ll have reps from Seattle-based manufacturer La Marzocco here, pulling shots from and answering questions on the GS/3, as well as other goodies and local vendors. We’re also holding a trivia contest that will test your knowledge of Gail & Kat’s videos — with a $100 SCG gift certificate grand prize!

Whether you can make it to the opening or can come up during another time, definitely come check out our new digs! We’re really excited about it and look forward to working with you in our new space.

Nespresso Batteries

Proving that caffeine can get more than just your body going, designers Mischer*Traxler created batteries utilizing old Nespresso aluminum capsules, coffee grounds, strips of copper and salt water. As part of Vienna Design week, the batteries were setup to power clocks displayed in Nespresso Austria’s display window.

In addition to questions of flavor/quality, one of the common concerns folks have about Nespresso machines is the capsules — specifically, are they eco-friendly? They are definitely recyclable, but you need to clean them out beforehand (often more work than some folks want to do) so here’s another option instead. Crush ‘em up and use them to power your alarm clock! We assume no liability when you arrive late to work, however.