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  • New Product: Miir Travel Mugs!

    Taking coffee on the go is a constant struggle. There are thousands of different travel mugs out there, but that won't stop us from hunting for the best one! This week we're excited to introduce Miir Travel Mugs to our catalog of drinkware!

    Miir mugs are simple and effective. These mugs use vacuum sealing double walls to preserve temperature whether hot or cold. They also come with things you'd expect like a non spill spout and ergonomic design. We appreciate that these mugs keep things like ice cube and cupholder compatibility in mind. There's more though!

    The Miir mug uses medical grade stainless steel that is durable and long lasting, but doesn't impart any flavors. On top of this, the whole container is BPA free. This means nothing will make its way into your coffee when you use it with this mug. Finally, this mug is dishwasher safe and is available in multiple sizes!

    Check out Miir for yourself here!

  • AeroPress Tips & Tricks!

    If you've been keeping up on the world of Press coffee you'll know that the AeroPress continues to grow as a beloved brewing device. Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we love it, and we're sure you will too once you get your hands on it! If you haven't seen this wonderful brewer, check it out here. Once you've done that, or if you're already an AeroPress user, read on for some tips and tricks!

    Pourover Techniques and Inverted Brewing

    One simple way to get better flavor out of your AeroPress is simply through blooming the coffee. This is a technique used primarily in drip brewing, and especially in pourover. The bloom is simply a small pour before your main pour to wet the grounds. Letting this mixture sit for 10-15 seconds will help the coffee taste less bitter and acidic! Other pourover techniques that help with an AeroPress include pre-wetting the filter to remove the papery taste an pouring in a circular motion to evenly saturate the grounds.

    Another technique you can look to is inverted brewing! To use this method you'll want to grind fine, using a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. Flip the AeroPress upside down and push the tip of the plunger into the press. Add coffee and water as normal and stir. Next, let the coffee brew for one minute.

    Place a wetted filter in the cap, and put the cap on top of the AeroPress. Next, put your coffee cup on top of the AeroPress, then carefully flip the entire press and cup over and plunge as normal. This method results in a rich brew that, with proper plunging, comes out free of grit or sediment.

    Temperature and Pressure Variations

    One surprising thing to note about the AeroPress is that lower temperatures can work better than the typical brewing temps you may be used to. By brewing in the 175-185 degrees Fahrenheit range you can get better coffee than more typical, hotter temps. Try both ends of that range and see which one works better with different beans!

    Another thing many users don't consider is pressure variation. The rate at which you plunge affects the pressure that the coffee is brewed with. A harder, faster press will result in a heavier body. While not an exact comparison to espresso, it's the same principle as that brew method. on the flip-side, for a lighter cup, a slower, gentler press will result in less body and a lighter taste.

    Speaking of pressure, if using the standard non-inverted method, you can insert the plunger to use back-pressure to stop the drip that happens when you add water to the coffee grounds. this will prevent any weaker coffee from dripping out.

    Concentrates and Closing Thoughts

    One other practice to try is brewing AeroPress coffee as concentrate. Even at a standard 1:16 coffee:water ratio, this device brews some pretty strong coffee. If that alone is too strong for you, cutting it with water helps for a lighter cup. Another thing to consider is to brew with less water, creating a thicker concentrate. From there, you could store the concentrate in the fridge for an iced coffee, or just add hot water straight away to make more servings.

    All of these ideas an more are down to experimentation. One of the best parts about the AeroPress is how variable it is. Let us know if you come up with any other fun tricks!

  • Video Roundup: 4/19/2019

    It's that time once again for yet another video round up here at the SCG Blog!

    This week we've got another classic from Clementine, commercial goodness from John, and a good ol' fashion Crew Review from everyone's favorite coffee expert!

    First up, John gave us a look at the Bunn ICB Infusion brewer.

    Next, Gail took a look at the brand new Miele CM5300!

    And last but certainly not least, Clementine offered up a spicy AeroPress brew to round things out!

    That's all for this week!

  • Introducing the All New Miele CM5300!

    Miele has brought quality coffee to kitchens around the world for a while now. The CM6 series offers powerful programmability, great performance, and ease of use. Joining the 6 series is the all new CM 5300!

    New Footprint, New Price

    The CM5300 is, at its core, the same quality brewer as the 6 series' offerings. It still provides delicious espresso and milk drinks, features easy cleaning, and offers powerful programming options. It also clocks in at a lower price, with some upgrades in other areas.

    While the CM5300 lacks a hot water spout, this has allowed for a slimmer footprint. This is a great help for smaller kitchens, where space is often a serious consideration when considering a machine purchase. this slimmer case also comes in slick new colors, without sacrificing the cup warmer or other capabilities.

    Exquisite Programming

    One of the things that this machine can't be praised enough more is programming options. While it's standard to see things like a serving doubler, volume control, and other bells and whistles on high dollar machines, the CM5300 offers these features for less. The double serving option is great for making two lattes or espressos, but can also be used for larger containers like travel mugs. These sorts of options being offered at this lower price point are very exciting!

    It helps that all of this is backed by a longstanding tradition of performance in the CM6 series too. Programmability is great, but if the milk or coffee quality isn't there then it's hard to justify the price of one of these machines. The CM5300 offers that same taste and texture produced by the CM6, just with the changes mentioned above.

    We're sure you'll be just as excited about this machine as we are once you see (and taste) what it has to offer, so check out the Miele CM5300 here now!

  • Coffee History: Brazil

    Hello coffee fans! We're back with yet another coffee history! This week we're looking at a major coffee producing country and its history: Brazil!

    A Storied History

    Coffee in Brazil stretches all the way back to the 1700s. The first coffee plants were planted in the late 1720s in the Brazilian state of Pará. Pará is located in the north-central part of the country, bordered by several other states as well as by the ocean to the Northeast. From there, coffee plants spread south throughout the country, eventually reaching Rio De Janeiro later in the century. This coffee was planted primarily for Brazilians to enjoy domestically. However, over the course of the century, demand for the bean grew through the Americas and in Europe. In the early 19th century, plantations expanded all over Brazil, and soon it was the number one export in the country.

    Over the next century, Brazil became the leading producer of coffee in the world, supplying 80% of the world's coffee beans. Processing in Brazil was primarily done by hand using natural methods. While early processors used this method due to a lack of equipment, it had a silver lining. Because Brazilian coffee is typically grown at a lower altitude than in some coffee producing countries the cherries tend to be a little less sweet. The natural process imparts more of the fruit's character in the bean than a machine washed process. This increase in fruitiness helps Brazilian coffee to develop its unique taste.

    But while Brazil remains a major coffee producer, why isn't it still the coffee producer?

    An Evolution of the Market

    One cause for this is the way the coffee industry has evolved. Early in the drink's history, purchasers were careful as to where they bought beans from. This meant that Brazil's reputation for quality product was key to its expansion in the global coffee market. As the world modernized, coffee began being consumed more in pre-ground and instant forms. This evolution of the industry led to less concern over where the beans came from. On the flip side, as third-wave roasting renewed an interest in carefully sourced coffee, more producing nations began to make a mark. The result is wider diversity in coffee availability. While this may have hurt Brazilian exports, it means more choice for roasters and end consumers, and rising demand for the drink means it will be a part of Brazil's economy forever!

    It's no surprise that we love Brazilian coffee, and we hope you've enjoyed this look at the country's early years producing it!

  • Video Roundup: 4/12/2019

    It's that time again!

    Time to get into some of the awesome video content we've cooked up this week!

    First up, John gave us a preview of a brand new commercial Rocket Espresso machine!

    Next up, the crew did a tasting of our Roast of the Month from Tony's!

    And finally, Nicole showed us some of the differenced on the all new Barista Pro, from Breville!

    That's all for now! Join us next time for more video roundups!

  • Roast of the Month: Tony's Ethiopia Deri Kochoha

    It's time once again for Roast of the Month! This month we're featuring an incredibly delicious Ethiopia from Tony's Coffee. Tony's offers consistently good coffee, so we've been excited to see how they handle this roast!

    This natural Ethiopia comes from the Deri Kochoha processing station. Roasts from this station were really exciting last year, so we're happy to see Tony's deliver a delicious finish to these beans!

    The Deri Kochoha processing station processes coffee from approximately 600 farmers. This diversity in producers really affects the beans that leave the station. It means that from year to year, this processor develops wildly different exports. The coffee is dried on raised tables in a natural process, leading to the intense berry notes in this roast.

    Rich, Sweet, Smooth

    And intense they are! The flavors on display here are strawberry, cocoa, and peach. We think Tony's nailed these notes, with the strawberry really taking the lead. If you're familiar with naturals, you'll be familiar with the strongest flavors here. Like the all of the best naturals, this Tony's opens up into rich chocolatey notes that fold into the strawberry flavors wonderfully. What really sets this coffee apart is how it finished. A soft stonefruit note finishes the flavor palate, leaving you with a pleasant, fruity, but mild aftertaste. It's a great invitation to take another sip!

    This is a delicious roast for pourover brew methods, which bring out the brighter, berry notes deliciously. After you get the full range of flavors out of the pourover, this is a roast that some will love as an espresso. It's tricky to dial in single origins, even more so when you're working with a natural that has stronger flavors. That said, the results can be phenomenal!

    However you decide to brew Ethiopia Deri Kochoha, we're sure you'll love this excellent roast from Tony's. Grab a bag right here today!

  • Barista Pro Review

    The Barista Express has been the gold standard for new home baristas for years now. By combining a quality espresso grinder with solid brewing and steaming, Breville build a winner in the Express. It has always been an easy machine to recommend as a first purchase, or upgrade from a cheaper, less powerful brewer. So how does the new Barista Pro stack up? Is it just a higher price tag with a fancier face? The short answer is no, the long answer is a lot more interesting.

    Visual Design

    The Barista Pro features a completely redesigned case that maintains a similar footprint as the Express, but with a totally different look. Most recognizable is the addition of a backlit screen, somewhat similar to the Barista Touch. This screen provides information about grind fineness, amount, and timers. Keeping all of this on one screen makes dialing in the machine a little friendlier. Rather than track numbers in different places, you can review everything about the grind settings at a glance. The screen also offers a shot timer, a huge boon for any machine. Measuring shot time is key to pulling a good shot, so having this information visible on the main display is a great feature.

    Otherwise, the visual design and controls are on par with that of the express. This machine is simple to operate with intuitive controls for pulling shots, adjusting the grinder, and steaming milk or adding hot water. All of this combines for a design package that is a step up from the Barista Express. That said, if these visual improvements were all this machine offered it'd be a hard sell given the price difference. Thankfully, there's a lot more under the hood in this new model.

    Brewing and Steaming Performance

    Breville has always had a knack for fitting powerful heating systems into affordable machines. The Barista line has always been a great example of this, but their new machines push this concept even further. First introduced in the Bambino, the Barista Pro features Breville's new ThermoJet heating system. The Bambino already impressed with its heatup and steam times, but getting this enhanced heating element in a more prosumer machine is exciting. From lightning fast heatup times to a near non-existent delay going from brew to steam, this heating system does work.

    When dialing in, we were able to pull several shots in a row with the Pro heating up. As far as making lattes, the milk steaming both switched on faster, and steamed milk faster than the Express by a considerable margin.

    Another interesting upgrade on this machine is the hot water spout. This spout functions like you'd expect, but it's angled to allow you to make Americanos without moving your cup. Some of this depends on your cup size and design, and it is surprising to see the hot water come out at an angle at first. While this isn't nearly the overhaul that the heating element and look got, it's worth mentioning for even easier Americanos!

    Verdict

    Overall it's extremely easy to recommend the Barista Pro. It's true that its price pushes into competition with machines like the Silvia and CC1, but those machines don't also have a built in grinder. There is certainly an argument for being able to upgrade these devices independently, and both of the aforementioned machines are viable options, but if you're new to espresso or looking to upgrade from the Express, the Pro is a no brainer.

    You do still run into the combo machine issue of sludge in the drip tray, and stepping up into dual boiler machines will provide even faster steam and heatup times. With all that said, we're huge fans of the Barista Pro here, and you should absolutely add it to the list of machines to research before you make your next purchase.

    Check out the Barista Pro on Seattle Coffee Gear here!

  • Video Roundup: 4/5/2019

    Hey coffee fans! It's time for another video roundup!

    First up, Gail's back with a review of the new OXO Brew Adjust kettle!

    Next, Nicole joined us for a look at the exciting new Barista Pro!

    Then, John gave us a tour of the Boxer with Timer commercial machine.

    Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for, Vietnamese Egg Coffee with Clementine!

    That's all for now folks, see you next week!

  • To Heat Or Not To Heat?

    One complaint we often see is that brewers don't keep coffee hot long enough. This, or that they don't brew at a high enough temperature. While we'd never tell someone how to enjoy their coffee, we thought we might share some insight on what's up with all this temperature talk!

    white ceramic cup filled with black liquid on top of saucerBrew Temp

    Generally, it's agreed that coffee is best brewed at 198-202 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is chemical. It's a complicated topic, but suffice to to say that we can scientifically guarantee that this temperature range produces the best coffee when brewing drip. For some coffee drinkers, that's just not hot enough! We can respect a want for a hotter brew, but the fact of the matter is that high quality drip brewers stick to this temperature range. Cheap brewers often start at lower temps and then shoot up to temps above this range, scorching the coffee. A high quality drip brewer will maintain the ideal temperature the whole way through.

    So what's the answer if you want hotter coffee? Really, it's to drink lighter roasts! Darker roasts extract at lower temps, so your cup will get very bitter if brewed too hot. Lighter roasts may lose some complexity at higher temps, but you can enjoy them hotter with less bitterness.

    Warming Plat Woes

    The other component of this equation is keeping the coffee hot in the pot. First of all, by warming the pot with some hot water before you brew, the coffee will keep its temp as it hits the carafe. This is a huge help, because a room temp put will suck some of that heat as the coffee brews! The other element is carafe type and heating plate. Sometimes we get complaints that high end brewers don't have plates that stay on all day. This is a feature, not a bug! By sitting in a glass carafe on a heating plate, coffee tends to scorch and burn over time, leading to an awful taste. If you plan to drink a pot more than two hours later (the shutoff time for most heating plates) we recommend brewing a fresh one then!

    Another option for maintaining heat is to switch to a stainless steel carafe. If pre-warmed, a well insulated stainless carafe can keep coffee hot for hours. This works especially well if your palate doesn't notice the metallic taste!

    Of course, all of this changes when you introduce pressure to create espresso!

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