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  • Video Roundup: 2/15/2019

    Hey coffee fans!

    We hope you're staying warm out there if you're experiencing cold weather! This week we have some fun videos to share with you!

     

    First up, your's truly joined forces with Clementine and Allie to check out our February Roast of the Month!

    Next, we got part two of our workshop tour with Gail!

    Finally, Clementine brewed up some Turkish coffee in another Coffee Collaboration!

    Thanks for joining us, stay tuned for more soon!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. - Building a Drink Menu

    If you haven't been keeping up with our friends at Piecewise Coffee Co. be sure to check out their Bio and Selecting Equipment posts! Today we asked Stanton and Lindsey a little bit about how to build a drink menu for a coffee shop!

    First off, from a “chicken or the egg” perspective, did you decide on a general menu before selecting equipment? Or did you decide on what equipment to purchase and then build your menu around that gear?

    The answer I wish we could give was to knock out the menu first, but it was too tempting not to get caught up reading equipment descriptions and watching product reviews. Choosing the equipment was exciting, while locking in a menu was more-so work. However, we learned it is very difficult to build a shop without first thinking about the menu. Without it you can find yourself fighting to make the layout functional. We were fortunate to stumble upon a podcast by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) covering café startups and it helped give us a big picture focus on how equipment and menu influence each other.

    Our menu doesn’t incorporate much onsite food preparation and a big reason was an attempt to make the startup cost more manageable. Eliminating equipment needs is an obvious answer to keeping cost low, but far costlier was the additional need for architectural designs and engineered systems. Take for example biscuits, we wanted to offer some as a secondary option to our other breakfast items and we started pricing out small ovens. Well the oven led to a ventilation hood which led to additional building penetrations for air flow which all lead to an increase in the size of the HVAC units. Our commitment level to that menu item changed quickly with those additional costs. Learning about things like insurance cost increases for using an onsite grease fryer or the sizing and placement of grease traps were part of the learning process for us. 

    It’s inevitable that menu and equipment decisions will impact each other but starting with the menu first can help keep changes to a minimum. 

    What kind of market research did you do for your area to make decisions about what kind of drinks to carry?

    We visited a lot of local restaurants and coffee shops. We felt like anything within an hour’s drive was fair game for learning what products were already successful in our market. Asking waiters or baristas what the more popular products were was very helpful as was just asking for favorites from family, friends, coworkers or anyone who was interested in what we were doing with the shop. Learning their favorites made it more personal while still reaching out to our customer base. Our goal with this research was to help develop a perspective outside of our own for the drinks people want to see in any coffee shop. Generally, people were very open to share what they liked and didn’t, which was encouraging. 

    How much did your vision for a coffee focused shop affect menu choice? The assumption would be a lot, but I’d like to get at the “coffee identity” factor and how it relates to your menu.

    With our goal to offer high quality in every drink, the shop’s menu won’t be overly extensive. We didn’t want to spread ourselves to thin starting off with a lot of options. Something about tons of choices, just didn’t seem like, “us,” right now.  We aren’t minimalists in nature, but we do love to cut waste enough to truly enjoy what is in front of us. We live our lives that way and believe the same for our coffee shop and its offerings. With that in mind, we’ll offer the best of the basics, focusing on amazing taste every single time.

    Do you think about food pairings when building the menu? Or was the thought to offer standby food options but build the drink menu independent of that?

    For us, the food and drink menu were built independent of each other. We knew the size of our shop limited space for food preparation so we built the drink menu and then developed relationships with high quality food establishments to help on the food side. Pairing between the two comes into play, but it is a little further down on the decision tree for us than may be at some other shops.

    How much does ingredient/coffee sourcing play into the development of your menu??

    Sourcing hasn’t impacted the menu development as of yet! We are working with local stores, which has made most of our development more convenient.

    How do you offset the desire to do something different with the need to offer a standard set of coffee drinks?

    It’s definitely a balance act between the vision for the shop and maintaining the shop’s economics. Our vision was so intertwined with serving the community that we started from the desire to know how best to serve the customers already surrounding us. This meant providing the standard coffee offerings based off the market research mentioned earlier. We then looked at how we could advance specialty coffee in the shop. We settled on some highlights with the pour over selection and building in coffee education events. Knowing every customer won’t want to know the growing region of a bean or the solid particle distribution in their espresso shot keeps us grounded to high standards on the more traditional drinks while focusing on stellar service. We believe quality speaks for itself in any form.

    Are you working with a specific roaster or seeking a wider range of roasts?

    The bulk of our coffee offerings will come from a single roaster who is local to our city. This is in large parts to the quality and diversity of the beans they offer. 

    How did you settle on your roaster?

    This was a big decision for us and a little intimidating at first. We started with several cold calls and email inquiries to regional and local roasters. Most were happy to answer questions we had and share about their range of products. Often they would send samples, and several allowed us to visit their roasteries. While the roaster’s bean quality was high on the list in making this choice, number one was having a relationship with the roasting company and knowing we could develop a good working relationship. You place a lot of trust into your roaster and knowing the people helped us feel settled in our choice. We are fortunate to have a great relationship with our roaster. 

    Are you looking to expand the menu in the future or specialize strongly in what you already have planned?

    While we are open to making menu changes to meet our customer’s needs well, the plan is to stay within our current style of offerings or at least stay very near them.

    How did you decide what you want to carry beyond coffee?

    Great question! We’re still working on that lol. A great part about opening the shop is knowing that every decision doesn’t have to be made before opening. This is one of those items for us that is still developing. We knew we wanted the food selection to be classic foods with a gourmet bent that would elevate the shop’s experience, almost without noticing. We believe we’ve done that with the partnership we have. The rest of what we’ll offer is still in process!

    How do you decide what to offer in terms of dairy and alternative milks?

    We wanted some variety in the alternative milk options but stayed close to the types commonly found in most shops (soy, almond, etc.). We’re big fans of the current oak milk products due to the great taste and ability to steam them like milk.

    One thing that always frustrated me when working in a coffee shop was general misconceptions about different coffee drinks from customers. Things like misunderstanding what a macchiato is, or not understanding the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, leading to customer complaints. Do you have any strategies for dealing with a customer that lacks coffee knowledge? How does that play into your drink menu?

    We see this as such an opportunity to help our customers learn more about the products they love and how they vary. It’s not possible to expect each customer to “order correctly” when so many shops vary the recipes for the standard range of drinks. This is one flaw of the coffee industry that gets translated into the customer’s error. The goal is to serve each customer and have them know they’re being served. This includes covering ordering miscues and helping to ensure they get exactly what they hoped for when they came into the shop. With the drink menu, we anticipate having a few pictorial descriptions around the shop to assist with ordering and help prevent unnecessary waste.

    Building some coffee drinks can be a challenge from a technique standpoint. How much does training and staff capabilities factor into building your menu?

    We are working to build the training program and want to really break it down to a series of small skills that build on each other. The barista trainings by the SCA are fantastic and we plan to utilize them with our baristas. With a comprehensive training program and several quality control measures, we don’t anticipate having to restrict the menu.

    Do you have any other recommendations for aspiring cafe owners on how to construct their menus?

    Definitely get a subscription to a specialty coffee magazine or two. We’ve read about some fascinating and original drinks that may be inspiring.

    We'll be back soon with more from Stanton and Lindsey!

  • Roast of the Month: Burka Gudina Ethiopia from Spotted Cow!

     

    Complex, approachable, and delicious!

    We try to bring you a wide range of origins and roasters with Roast of the Month. With that said, sometimes a certain origin really nails it for a season, which is why we've been enjoying so many Ethiopians lately! At the very least, we are very excited to feature Spotted Cow, a roaster we've yet to bring you as a Roast of the Month! This single origin couldn't be a better introduction to this talented roaster!

    Burka Gudina starts as a solid Ethiopian with flavors you'd expect. On first sip, the predictable, yet delicious, berry notes of a natural from the region surface. These flavors combine with richer chocolate notes to give you that delicious "chocolate with a cherry on top" you get from a good natural. What really impresses us with this roast is how much deeper it goes. Sometimes complex coffee can really overwhelm the palate and be a lot to handle. Not so with this roast!

    Another rarity with more complex coffees is the heavy body. Often when there are a lot of unique notes, they come from brighter, lighter bodies. This usually comes down to roast level. This Spotted Cow is an example of a true medium that doesn't sacrifice richness. We also really love the bit of tamarind that the roaster notes, we really tasted it! That sweet/sour balance makes for a really interesting and approachable roast.

    We recommend checking this one out as a pourover first. While it does feature a heavier body, this brew method is still the best for nailing those more complex notes. Once you've tried that, experiment! Our suggested roast methods are just a guide, and we always encourage experimenting with coffee. We've yet to try this one as an espresso, but we'd love to hear how you like it!

    Grab a bag here!

  • The Crema Craze!

    One of the most frequent questions we get is this: How do I produce more crema on my espresso shots? We decided it would be a good idea to give an overview of what crema is, and explain why you might not want more!

    What is crema?

    Crema is the tan liquid that forms when you’re first pulling your espresso shot. As the shot pulls, the liquid gets darker, and you end up with a layer of this tan colored head on top of the drink. This gives it the look of a well poured stout beer. But where does it come from? In part, crema is created when water is pushed through the coffee at pressure. This emulsifies the oil in the coffee and forms tiny bubbles of air. Brighter liquid is also formed by C02 emissions during the extraction, though this isn’t quite the same thing as the crema from the fat in the coffee. That C02 is present in the bean after roasting, and naturally defuses through a process called “out-gassing.” Fun fact, the valve on your bags of coffee exists specifically to facilitate this out-gassing process.

    But what does it really taste like? Sour, it turns out! While certain roasts benefit from a layer of crema to balance out the flavors of the espresso, in other roasts limiting crema is actually preferable. In fact, some roasts don’t even produce any crema due to low fat content. So what factors actually influence this sour layer of bubbles?

     

    How to get more (or less) crema

    The first thing to note is processing. Natural/honey process roasts retain more of the bean’s fat content. As noted above, a fattier bean will result in more crema. This is part of why it can be hard to dial in a natural, and why espresso blends are so popular. Ultimately, climate also has a lot to do with the oil content of the beans as well, so the whole production process influences the fat levels in the roast. Another thing to consider is roast date. It’s tough to call out the ideal time to brew and espresso after roasting. However, you’ll definitely see more of the brighter liquid during the first 72 hours after roasting. Generally the coffee will take this long to de-gas as described above. This is why it’s usually advisable to wait a few days after roasting before attempting to dial in fresh beans.

    Another factor in crema formation is roast level. Darker roasts pull the oils in the coffee to the surface of the bean, this actually results in less crema. This is because there is less oil in the bean after grinding and transferring to a portafilter. Finally, equipment matters too. a pressurized portafilter will naturally result in higher pressures, which will create more crema. That said, it won’t be as rich as crema created through more natural, unpressurized means.

    In any case, it’s important to remember the point above: While crema looks nice, you should work to pull a good shot, not one that is loaded with crema. This will create a more sour shot, rather than a balanced one!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. - Equipping Your Shop

    Hey everyone!

    A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to our friends Stanton and Lindsey Scoma, founders of Piecewise Coffee Co. If you haven't had a chance to read about them, you can do so here! This week we're taking a look at Stanton and Lindsey's process of selecting equipment. We're also sharing some of the photos of the cafe build in progress!

    Hey Stanton! We're excited to see the progress at Piecewise. How did you go about selecting the space?

    The area we selected was in what was formerly the city’s main economic hub. Several storefronts dotted the side-walk lined street, but the life of the area had left decades earlier. We wanted to show off our little city and the history it has by giving the community another reason to walk the street.  We were blessed to have building owners who share this vision. The building we’re in is around 75 years old and we stripped back most of the interior to expose its structural character. Many of the bricks in our space were made just down the road in a local brickworks. What elements could be left exposed were.

    Makes sense, how did you go about designing the layout of the interior?

    While showing a little of our city’s past, we also wanted a space that encouraged our customers to feel welcome. The long and narrow nature of the building allowed our customer servicing area to have one long bench with several two-person table tops. This makes the space adaptable for individuals coming to study or for larger groups to come push the tables together creating a more typical community table. Community can’t be forced, and our space allows it to meet a variety of their needs. The design is full of clean lines in a lessismore approach.

    How did the general layout of the space factor into your equipment selection?

    The largest impact on selection when considering space available was ensuring the drink prep area wasn’t cluttered. We eliminated a hot water tower because the available space just wouldn’t allow it. Instead, we chose a drip brewer with a hot water dispensers to help alleviate having to eliminate the hot water tower. Fortunately, our espresso machine was in a custom space built for it so we didn’t have any space concerns with its selection.

    What considerations does workflow require when selecting equipment?

    Workflow was important for us, but we felt it could be managed well if the equipment in the shop was easy to operate and allowed our baristas to stay engaged with our customers.

    When we designed the behind the counter area, we wanted to create two regions, one for preparing espresso-based drinks and one for drip brew drinks. Each area would have its own unique equipment and anything needing to be shared would be put on a small overlapping area. Equipment capable of doing everything required for each drink area was important for this concept to work. SCG helped us think through this and showed us equipment models that could get this design right.

    Where would you say Piecewise’s “coffee identity” lies? Do you see the shop as a coffee focused shop, or is coffee just part of a wider offering of food and other drinks?

    Our focus at Piecewise Coffee is most definitely on the coffee drink. It’s our desire to produce the best tasting coffee and introduce some third wave coffee products to our area.

    Broad question, but what were some of the benefits of working with a consultant? Obviously we want to make SCG consultants seem awesome, but even more than that we want to highlight how important it is to have a dealer that does more than just sell you a machine.

    The knowledge and accessibility of the SCG consultant staff was so impressive. Each coffee shop has a unique set of needs and no equipment review we found was able to address all of our needs like John did. He had a way of steering us towards equipment to match our business and coffee goals that we couldn’t have done on our own. And we never felt pressured working with SCG.

    We ran into an issue with a custom ordered item and John worked with the manufacturer to speed up shipping times so it wouldn’t delay our opening date. To get what we wanted, when we wanted it, would have taken us several phones calls coordinating with the manufacturer and shipping company. John handled it all for us. Another thing SCG did for us was finding service technicians. Within a day, he provided several companies who serviced our area and were ready to perform initial setup and on-going maintenance.

    How much independent research did you do Vs. relying on your consultant?

    Starting out, we had a high-level understanding of coffee equipment brands but didn’t really understand the differences when it came to us considering the actual purchase of equipment. Getting ready to drop some serious cash has a way of making you more interested in the details! At each coffee shop we visited, we would note equipment being used by the baristas and often we asked how they liked working with a particular espresso machine or grinder. All the brands have several models, each with their own nuanced pros and cons. We probably spent several weeks doing independent research when you add the coffee shop visits with the internet research. A ton of hours were spent watching Youtube reviews which helped show differences in action between machines. 

    When did Seattle Coffee Gear come in?

    As we got closer to placing an order for the equipment, we connected with SCG about the purchase and found out they offered free equipment consultation. This wasn’t something we had considered or even knew about prior to them mentioning it. The team at SCG listened to our dreams and goals with the coffee shop before ever asking what equipment we were interested in. Above anything else they cared about a quality match between the shop and its equipment. Their depth of knowledge was apparent from the first conversation. It was detailed and often based on actual experience working with the different machines. Most baristas work with one or two different espresso machines or grinders, but the SCG team has worked with dozens and from their experience they shared how each would perform in a store. 

    What was one of the most helpful techniques that John used to help you make purchasing decisions?

    The biggest question they asked was “Why” we wanted each specific piece of equipment. They took the time to make sure we knew what each equipment piece could do for us. The one time we had a question they couldn’t answer, they reached out to the manufacturer and got back to us in a day or two. Our confidence in equipment selection went way up after we connected with SCG. If we had to start over, we still would have done our own independent research, but would very much preferred having a conversation with the SCG equipment team at the earliest point in the process to narrow the options. 

    How much did brand factor into the purchasing process?

    Brand factored most into the espresso machine selection. Being the workhorse of the shop, we wanted this one piece to have a solid history of reliability and, most importantly, repairability. The number of servicing technicians is limited in our market and we needed to know our machine could be serviced by someone in the area. We had brand preferences for the other pieces of equipment, but yielded to features and pricing more on those items.

    What was the hardest piece of equipment to settle on? Why?

    The drip brewer took the most thought to choose. There’s a number of makes to sort through, each with a dozen or more of their own models. Sometimes the differences were hard to spot and pricing could vary wildly. John helped us settle on one that was very programable with brew parameters like water temperature and brew time. John’s knowledge of equipment reliability helped us feel confident in making our selection.

    What equipment did you try to save some money on?

    The biggest investment for our shop was by far the espresso machine and espresso grinder. Our goal with them was to get the all the features needed to produce the best coffee possible. John at SCG really helped us navigate the different models for both those items and make a selection. John was also able to help us save money on the bulk coffee grinder by steering us away from one that would be way overkill for our size of coffee shop. 

    Where did you leave room for upgrades?

    We were a little unsure which menu items our community would want most so we left a large section of our undercounter storage area open. As we grow this can allow us to add equipment for the specific wants of our customers, whether it be with additional refrigeration or cold brew taps or hot food storage.

    What piece of equipment are you most excited to get your hands on?

    We keep referencing the espresso machine, but it’s such a such unique item and we cannot wait to get some time using it! 

    We can't wait to bring you more from Stanton, Lindsey, and Piecewise soon!

     

     

     

     

     

  • The Convenience of a Superauto

    We talk a lot about semi-automatic and superautomatic espresso machines. If you've read our blog before you probably know that a superauto combines grinder and brewer in one. This is different from a semi-auto, which requires a standalone grinder. You may also know already that a superautos can brew coffee (and usually steam milk) with just a push of a button! But how do they stack up against semi-autos?

    Ease of Use

    The first and most obvious answer is ease of use. Professional baristas train for a long time to be able to make exquisite drinks on semi-automatic machines. A superauto makes this process far easier. It's true that in reality there's more to them than pushing a button and getting coffee out of one of these machines, but it's pretty close. The machine will also help you learn what different coffee drinks are if you're intimidated by the café menu!

    The other challenge with semi-auto machines is milk steaming. Where you may need to spend hours learning the perfect way to steam a pitcher of milk, a superauto's milk system does it by itself. Now, it's important to note, you'll never get milk like what a professional can steam on a superauto. Correctly creating microfoam and incorporating it into milk is so delicate that a machine will always struggle. However, milk systems in superautos do a great job, and steam milk better than many amateurs out there anyway!

    These machines also save time. The full process of grinding, weighing, brewing, and steaming milk on a semi-auto can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your skill level. A superauto can produce a latte or cappuccino in just a minute or two. What's more, there's usually less clean up with a superauto.

    Another component in the ease of use argument is maintenance. Semi-auto machines require you to know exactly how and when to perform backflushes, cleaning, and descaling. While these aren't impossible to learn, they do make maintaining a one of these machines more complex than a superauto. By contrast, a superauto will give you helpful indicators, warnings, and prompts. Typically cleaning and maintenance is a step by step process that the machine can walk you through as well.

    The Tradeoff

    None of this is to say there's no tradeoff with these machines. The biggest is control. On a semi-auto you can tease out the complexities of a single origin to really craft something unique. Superautos work better with blends, as they tend to pull shots with a little less finesse. This isn't to say their coffee is bad though. On the contrary, the control you get out of a semi-auto doesn't mean better drinks. Instead, semi-auto espresso machines are often enjoyed by coffee hobbyists who enjoy a more complex process.

    As noted above, the same is true for milk. Superautos create good milk texture, but not on the level of a pro barista. That said, it takes a lot of practice and skill to make quality steamed milk, and some higher end machines get very close to what a barista could do.

    Finally, superautos tend to create cooler drinks than semi-auto machines. This is a real stumbling point for some coffee drinkers, so be sure to take a look at reviews for the specific machine you're considering.

    One thing you don't necessarily have to compromise though, is price!

    Pricing

    Superautos, like semi-autos, run the gamut in terms of price. From the Saeco XSmall clocking in around $500 all the way up to higher dollar machines like the Miele CM6350. Truly, there's a superauto for every budget.

     

  • Single Origins Vs. Blends

    We talk a lot about single origins, blends, brew methods, and tasting notes here, but when you’re new to the coffee world those terms can be intimidating! This week we want to look at some basic coffee vocabulary.

    Single Origins

    There are two main types of third wave coffee that you can buy, blends and single origins. Some people think the term “single origin” is just a snooty buzzword used to sell expensive coffee. On the contrary! Its just a designation to help people understand what they’re drinking. A single origin roast is one who’s beans come from the same processing station (and often the same farm) in a region. Typically you’ll see names like Counter Culture’s “Ethiopia Idido” or Tony's “Kenya Kiganjo AA.” These names can be confusing! The first thing to look for is the country. This is the most simple element of single origins, as coffees from a single country tend to have similar flavor profiles, with the details worked out in the processing and roasting. In the case of our first example, the word “Idido” refers to the Idido cooperative where the beans were produced and processed in Ethiopia. In our second example, the term AA refers to the grade of the beans. AA beans are the largest and most dense coffee beans, something that effects flavor. On the flipside, the word “peaberry” would denote a specific type of smaller bean, preferable for other roasts. These elements of a single origin’s name are often explained on the bag, but if they aren’t covered there you can usually search for the coffee on the roaster’s website for the full story! We try to share anything especially unique on our product pages as well!

     

    We usually recommend trying single origins as pourovers to get the most out of their complexities. Once you have some experience with selecting different single origins, you can start experimenting with different brew methods!

    Blends

    Most coffee drinkers consume more blends than anything. A blend is simply a combination of single origin beans mixed together! Most grocery store coffee you find will be blends, but plenty of micro-roasters get creative with them too! Often blends will be developed to highlight a specific tasting note or region. Most blends will feature a creative name, such as Stumptown’s “Hair Bender." A blend of South American beans may provide a jumping off point for you to find other South American origins that you enjoy! In other cases, roasters work to find a combination of beans that when roasted in a specific way create a particularly intense chocolate flavor. In these cases, blends can help you dial in specific notes to look for in the future. Most blends tend to be signature or seasonal, and are also often offered for specific brew methods as well! Intelligentsia’s “Black Cat Espresso” is a combination of beans perfect for espresso, and a great place to start for the new home barista.

     

    Blends tend to stay in stock for longer than single origins as well, because the beans can rotate in and out with less noticeable changes to their flavor profiles. In some cases, roasters may offer seasonal blends to celebrate specific holidays, or feature freshly harvested beans that are only available seasonally themselves. We update our product pages when we get a new batch of a blend in so that the page stays accurate to any bean changes!

    Notes and Additives

    One question we get a lot is whether or not roasts contain the items listed in their tasting notes. It’s important to know that those notes are simply a roasters interpretation of the flavors in the coffee. If a coffee notes strawberry, it simply means that it has a strawberry like flavor in the mix, not that it actually includes strawberries. In some cases, coffees DO feature additives, but this is always very clearly noted. The only coffee available through SCG with additives is Coast Roast’s “New Orleans Blend With Chicory.”

     

    We’ll dig into tasting notes and cupping in a later post, but we hope this helps outline some differences in different types of coffee!
  • Coffee Culture: Thailand

    Last week saw the return of one of our favorite features: Coffee Collaboration! Our new host, Clementine, shared a recipe for making Thai Iced Coffee. Check it out here! We love the video so much that it led to a deeper look at Thai coffee culture. We wanted to share that with you in the return of our Coffee Culture blog series!

    Producer/Consumer

    Thailand's coffee culture is interesting because it's also a major producer! In many cases, because roasting coffee is an expensive endeavor, drinking coffee isn't a part of the lives of the people producing it. Thailand primarily produces robusta beans, which are generally considered lower quality than their Arabica counterparts. This means that much of the coffee produced in Thailand goes towards producing blends and instant coffee. With that said, a push is being made to plant and harvest more Arabica beans. Either way, coffee production remains a rich, historical trade in many Asian countries, and Thailand is not different!

    It is exciting, then, that the Thai people love this drink so much too! Coffee shops gained popularity in the 20th century as places to share news and talk politics. Because of the scarcity of televisions and other communication equipment, news traveled by word of mouth up until wider access to the Internet in Thailand. The popularity of these hangouts culturally also led to a love of consuming coffee as well! That's something that remains true to this day. Whether ordering out of a cart or café, coffee lovers in Thailand drink this beverage all day, every day. In this way, coffee consumption in the country is quite similar to the way it's consumed in the West. The main differences come from the way it's roasted and brewed!

     

    But how do they brew?

    Kafae Boran (or ancient coffee) is an interesting, unique roasting and brewing method developed in Thailand during WWII. Developed to answer the problem of scarcity, this method involved dark roasting robusta beans with grains, spice, and sugars. Sometimes even soy beans were used in the roast's production! From there, the coffee is brewed with a cotton filter and steeping in boiling water, in a manner similar to tea. Finally, sweetened or condensed milk is generally added to taste. Kafae Boran remained the dominate method of coffee roasting and brewing for decades in Thailand, but was joined by instant coffee. Near the end of the 20th century Starbucks began operating in the country. This led to wider availability of more kinds of culture. Despite this, Kafae Boran remains popular.

    One brew method that has found success in America is oliang. The word translates to "black cold," which when applied in this context refers to iced coffee! The Kafae Boran brew method is typically used, with ice being added brewing. From there condensed (gopi) or fresh (yoklo) milk can added. Thai restaurants will frequently add both to create the sweet "Thai Iced Coffee" you might be familiar with. Many street vendors even serve this cool treat in a bag with a straw instead of in a cup!

    We hope you've enjoyed this look at how coffee is enjoyed in this wonderful country. We'll have more coffee culture for you soon!

  • Video Roundup: 1/18/2019

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for another video roundup here at SCG!

    First up, we took a look at the Technivorm Moccamaster with Gail!

    Next, we did a comparison of the Izzo Alex PID and the Rocket Giotto R!


    Finally, we relaunched Coffee Collaboration with a fabulous new host, Clementine!

    Thanks for joining us! We'll be back next week!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. - Bio

    An introduction to Stanton and Piecewise Coffee!

    Over the past few months, we've had the pleasure of working with Stanton and Lindsey Scoma on starting their brand new coffee shop! They are looking forward to improving their community of Cayce, South Carolina through coffee! Stanton came to us for advice, and ultimately the purchase of, the equipment in their new shop. We thought it'd be a great opportunity to take a closer look on what it's like to build out and open a coffee shop! Over the coming months we'll talk to Stanton about topics like choosing a machine, building a drink menu, building out the space, and loads more. This week we thought we'd provide an introduction to the Scomas, so read on to learn more about this passionate, hard-working family!

    What’s your history with coffee?

    I’m a chemical engineer by trade, so processes, procedures, and extraction are in my blood. I love the taste of a good cup of coffee and early in 2015 I started realizing there is a true system + method to what gives you amazing taste. The taste that helps us all feel like we can truly seize the day. My wife bought me a ChemEx for Valentine’s Day, I “stole” my twin brother’s burr grinder and the rest is history!

    My wife’s history is somewhere between a long dependence for an early morning cup of joe and anything special I can make for her. She inherently knows when it’s disgusting and when it’s perfection. She’s a sucker for the smell and always thinks it tastes better with a dash of cream + dessert.

    What led you to want to open a coffee shop?

    Like we said earlier, we are true dreamers at heart. Our brains are constantly thinking of all the wonderful things we could be a part of. We would drive by a run-down gas station and talk about how a cute coffee shop could give the area and community a facelift. A coffee shop isn’t just a business, it is a place where community is given the opportunity to gather together. It is a business you don’t just open for yourself, you open it for others. We love the concept!

    Changes in my job lead us to move to a different part of our town. After the move my wife saw a building that left her wondering if this was an opportunity to do something awesome in our area. We started digging and it turned out the building owners were friends of ours who were also searching for someone to do something special in the space. Well, stars started aligning at that point and it’s hard to turn away when they do. Between the amazing building owners, changes in the season of life and my growing love for the industry, we decided we were all in! Opening a coffee shop was in our future.

    How did you find Seattle Coffee Gear?

    The first time I heard about Seattle Coffee Gear was through watching their product review videos for commercial espresso machine reviews. We were interested in specific features, but not a specific model and wanted to learn more about the best machine for our shop. The videos were such a useful resource in making our choice!

    What’s the thing you’re most excited about in terms of building out the shop?

    It would be seeing all the disjointed planning efforts coming together into something real and tangible. The dream comes to life slowly in these small step-by-step iterations. Seeing your invested time, research and decision making finally come to fruition is the sweet reward. You are finally purchasing equipment, choosing furniture color, printing branding on merchandise, and engaging with customers on social media. As exciting as it is to decide on building the shop, it pales watching it become a breathing entity.

    What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

    While we are excited to share the coffee shop with the community, we wonder if the community will be as excited to see the coffee shop come to them. Success can be measured in so many different ways and you hope one of the ways leads to the business sustaining itself. Most business start slow and enduring until you see success will probably be our biggest challenge. No one buys into your vision like you, but if you do something great it is worth the fight. Our inclination is that the community will adopt us, but it still falls into the great unknown until the doors to the coffee shop are open.

    What’s your favorite way to brew/drink coffee?

    My favorite brew method goes back to how I got started with specialty coffee and that’s with a simple ChemEx and burr grinder. I drink my coffee barefoot (aka black). My wife’s favorite brew method is to ask me to make it for her lol. We have a local grocery store who has a good coffee selection and each week we pick up a different roaster or origin. Keeping the brew method the same and changing the beans makes it easier to pick up on all the fun differences in flavor.

     We'll have so much more to share from Piecewise Coffee Co. coming soon!

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