News

An experiment: Ten years of drinking almost entirely single origin espresso

by Reiss Gunson on Saturday, 30 October 2021 12:13

Please note that what i have written below only relates to espresso

Having pursued single origin espresso for the last ten years in something of a search for excellence i have reached a conclusion, perhaps heretical to some, but never mind.  It is absolutely the case that there are some fabulous off the charts single origin/single estate/microlot espresso roasts in existence.  They are an absolute joy to experience, in many cases delivering flavours in the cup that you might not have thought coffee could deliver.  Almost always i order 1 kilo of any coffee so i get to taste it change from when it is just a few days post roast to when it is several weeks post roast, and tasting this progression is very helpful if you want to understand the roast and detect which flavour notes drop out as the coffee ages and which notes appear from the background that were not noticable when the coffee was at its freshest

However as much fun as it is discovering these single origin gems, and i will still be buying single origins that strike me as interesting, i have found that i have tired of their one dimensional aspect which is almost always present.  after ten years of single origin i am tired of a single off the wall flavour note that i never expected to taste in a coffee.  now i want those flavour notes but i want the full orchestra, i want balance.  i wanted perhaps two or three of these off the wall flavours carefully chosen by an expert coffee roaster to compliment each other in the way that heston blumenthal does with food.  what do i want?  i want a blend.  not a traditional coffee blend which is shorthand in the industry for penny pinching and trying to flog low grade coffee at a premium, the proverbial silk purse from a sow's ear, but a blend of single estate and microlot speciality coffees

The leads into my next thought.  in a good number of cities in the world there are now a good number of great coffee roasters; competition between them is high.  i think they need a new trick, a new product offering, and here is what i think that new product offering could be.  perhaps some are already doing it, i dont know

Speciality coffee has become obsessed with precision, at least by some practitioners.  Take grinders for example where users are weighing to a tenth of a gram and performing particle distribution analysis of the grind to determine the distribution of the size and shape of the grounds that the grinder is producing, and measuring grinder tolerances in microns.  But here's the thing; what about when you buy a bag of coffee that is a blend?  The beans separate by weight and the beans separate by size, just as any bag of an aggregate material will, but no attempt is made to address this.  It can be guaranteed that with a bag of blended coffee the proportion of each coffee that makes up the blend is going to vary with each 18g of beans that you scoop out of that bag, and its going to vary a lot.  Perhaps this doesnt trouble you at all, in which case click away and read no further, but i think this is letting the game down, particularly if you have purchased a blend of speciality coffees which if it is true to label you will have paid a lot of money for; you deserve a consistant taste experience with each shot you pull and to achieve that you need to lock in the proportion of each of the constituent beans in each dose you measure

The only way to lock in the proportion of each speciality coffee in the blend as the roaster wanted you to experience is if the roaster sold you the constituent speciality coffees in the blend before they mixed them

So, if their speciality blend contained say five different speciality coffees they would then sell the five coffee in the ratios that you need to make the blend.  So the blend might consist of 1 part coffee A, 2 parts coffee B, 5 parts coffee C, 3 parts coffee D, and 1 part coffee E.  The roaster could sell these coffees in 200g bags, so in the above example you would be buying 12 lots of 200g, a total of 2.4Kg, which some individuals might find too much but i think there are work arounds such as measuring out the coffee beans into individual bean cellers that many home barista enthusiasts already have and use and then freexing those that you think you wont be using for some time.  Then you have 2.4Kg of coffee that you have pre-blended at the exact ratios that your favourite master roaster envisaged you experiencing.  When you want a coffee you take the lid off the bean cellar and pour it into your single dosing grinder

Possibly roasters will baulk at that and just say we sell in 250g minimum and if the ratios of the blend dont divide cleanly into 250g portions, then tough, and i think the market would accept that as the beans left over could always be consumed as single origin or combined into new experimental blends, either way i dont see that it would go to waste

For sure this is a niche market and it wont be of interest to many, but i think in an increasingly competitive market for coffee roasters this is a point of difference they could offee that would not involved them buying any more coffee and not having to blend it would be one less step too.  The only downside might be having to offer the coffees that are only present in the blend in small proportions in smaller bags they perhaps they currently offer

On the customer side i would definitely be prepared for the extra work in blending the coffee myself in return for locking in the ratios of the blend so they were the same for every shot i pulled of the blend

If you are wondering if a blend you are considering purchasing is a speciality blend a good way to tell if whether the exact beans used in the blend have been disclosed on the bag.  If they have not you can safely assume it is not a genuine speciality coffee blend.  You would also expect that the beans in the blend are also available for sale by the roaster as single origin roasts, another good cross check

Personally i think carefully considered blends of speciality coffee are the future of specilaity espresso cofee because they give you the full orchestra taste experience, rather than one spectacular flavour note performing alone

little londinium

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 06 June 2021 16:14

UPDATE: 10 JUL 21

the little londinium is not going to follow a drip fed release to market approach, unlike most of our previous models

the 4 pre-production units will be assembled and tested, revised if necessary, and then signed off into production

the production components will then be produced and the machines will be assembled and the product will then be made available for purchase on our web store

one thing is cerain the news will break here first, rather than any social media platform

 

UPDATE: 3 JUL 21

the UK foundry have not delivered us the 4 sample lever groups for sign off into production, something we expected in May

we now have all the other components in house and there is nothing more for us to do other than wait

i am told by those experienced in dealing with foundries that it is a bit of a feature of the industry, but its frustrating none the less

there isnt much else to say as we have now taken all the project steps that are within our control as far as we can (boiler, portafilter, heating element, valves, seals, frame, power leads, packaging, etc, etc)

our suspicion is we may not receive the lever group until august 15

the only good news is when it does finally arrive we should be able to move quickly to assemble it

-------------------------

 

 

we remain on target to get a pre-production sample together this month, june

that isnt a guarantee that it will happen, but nothing has occurred yet which will prevent it from happening either

some people are taking some well earned holidays this week and on their return we will start putting pieces together

elements, seals, boiler, sheet metal fabrications are all very much in hand; the lynch pin in this project is the all new compact 58mm spring lever group which is a gem

rapid prototyping takes you so far, but it isnt until you screw all the real pieces together that you can see for sure how it performs

we're also looking to ship it with polystyrene free packaging as we feel we can do better in this area

kind regards

reiss.

Machines to the USA will now be sent to you with FEDEX

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 02 June 2021 10:05

You can never make all of the people happy all of the time, but hopefully we can make some of the people happy some of the time with this announcement

 

Prepay EU tax and duty option now available on machine orders

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 18:05

We have finally got around to adding the ability to prepay duty and tax for any machine order that is shipping to a country that is a member of the European Union (EU)

Apologies for taking so long to get around to it; we have a few long over due jobs like this hanging around

The next big one is a redesign of the website so it runs properly on mobile devices

Keep checking in, we have plenty of news to come in 2021

reiss.

All of our current product range is now in its final form

by Reiss Gunson on Thursday, 22 April 2021 14:01

With the R24 now shipping with a thermistor to regulate the boiler all of our product range is now in its final form with no changes planned

The thermistor makes no difference to the taste of the espresso in the cup; with the 30A Sirai the range in group temperature in response to the cycle of the pressure switch when the machine is at idle is just 0.1C

Instead it eliminates the mechanical click of the pressure switch, which some users find annoying, and it frees up a lot of space inside the casing so the machine is much easier to work on, and it removes 700g of weight

With the customer portal now allowing us to manage a much greater number of customer contacts each day we only have two significant projects remaining for 2021

The first is a long overdue upgrade to how the website is presented on mobile devices, which i know has frustrated a large number of users for a long time

While this remains an urgent priority, we are waiting for the person who is responsible for this to have time to address it

The other project is the release of the compact lever machine, which remains on target to deliver a final sample for pre-production testing and sign off in june

We use and recommend Nuova Fima S.p.A pressure gauges

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 15:12

On the cold water line on our plumbed in machines we use and recommend Nuovafima gauges of Italy

The small plastic ones are too small to accurately set or read the preinfusion pressure in our view

This 63mm diameter gauge in 0-6 bar range gives you 0.1 bar increments, which is about perfect

In New Zealand we buy them from these guys, http://www.cps.co.nz/shop/gauges/63-mm-gauges/63mm-brass/stainless-bottom-entry-gauge/P147/C36

Given there are so few bits to break in our plumbed in machines, spend a little bit more on the installation and enjoy the reward of a nice set up for years to come

nuovafima.com

Video calls

by Reiss Gunson on Saturday, 06 March 2021 18:51

we are pleased to announce that we no longer use Facetime and WhatsApp for our video calls

instead we have a video call app integrated into our new customer relationship managament (CRM) system, which allows us to book a meeting in advance at a time that suits you, complete with reminders

it also allows us to run one to many conferences where more than one person is interested in the subject

we are now working on bedding in the new CRM system as there is a lot to learn and configure

we hope that some of you are enjoying the benefits of the new system already

if there are specific tutorials you would like me to prepare please let me know and i will put it together for you

kind regards

 

reiss.

Android users of LONDINIUM app

by Reiss Gunson on Monday, 01 March 2021 13:06

a number of android users have made me aware of connection issues with v1.0.4 of the londinium app

blynk have just replied to me to advise the following;

Is v1.0.4 the ‘new’ version?
Yes, that was the new version. 
We added a small change and published a new version: 1.0.5
The issue with adding/connecting devices should be fixed in it.

 

so please delete v1.0.4 if you are using the android version of the app and download v1.0.5 and let me know if issues remain

no iOS user has reported any issue with v1.2 from the app store

kind regards

 

reiss

LONDINIUM app v1.2 is now available in the App store

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 28 February 2021 14:16

Please download it and let me know if you have any issues

I am unsure if the updated Android version is available yet

KInd regards

Reiss.

LONDINIUM app outage issue: explanation

by Reiss Gunson on Saturday, 27 February 2021 18:52

Blynk have helpfully provided a detailed explanation of why the expiry of an SSL certificate was responsible for the outage, and why only a subset of users were affected:

 

The certificate was updated automatically 2 days ago. Old Blynk firmware had a bug where the intermediate certificate footprint was hardcoded. The new certificate has the intermediate certificate changed. That caused connection issues for the hardware. 
 
Why not all users where affected?
Some of the devices established the connection before the certificate was updated, so they were able to connect. The connection is keep-alive and everything was ok. Also, during the certificate update the server is not restarted, so connections with prev certificate were working fine. Only new connections weren't working. That's why we weren't able to detect this issue by our monitoring system.
 
The fix is the next - right now we serve 2 certificates. One is for hardware, another is for web and apps.
That should solve the issue. Sorry for inconveniences.

 

Blynk have definitely exceeded my expectations in their response to this issue.  I am very impressed as we pushed the boat out developing the R24 with this industry leading technology and they have proven themselves to be a very good business partner.

KInd regards

 

Reiss.