Filter coffee

by Reiss Gunson on Monday, 21 June 2010 04:16

If you are new to making filter coffee, or have acquired some 'gourmet' coffee that you want to try for the first time we would suggest using less.  Even fine gourmet filter coffees take on an unpleasant heavy treacly mouth feel and lose the delicate elements if they are prepared too strong.

If you like your coffee to have a heavy tarry taste that coats your the inside of your mouth then that might be what you want, but you certainly won't get to taste the delicate elements in the coffee that you have paid for.  You might as well stick with something less exotic and save yourself some money into the bargain.

As always, a set of fine digital scales helps enormously if you are wandering around in the coffee wilderness wondering if the coffee you have prepared tastes as the roaster intended.  These days they are relatively inexpensive at around the GBP10 mark, and if you take care of them you will get a benefit from them for years to come.

While we enjoy espresso, which is obviously regarded as a 'strong' coffee, we think a common mistake is filter coffee being made up too strong.  This might sound odd, but we think filter coffee should be weak enough that you can taste the water.  That is to say, it should taste like water, that has been flavoured by coffee.  It should have a 'clean' taste to it.  It should be so strong that there is no 'cleansing' taste to the coffee.  If the inside of you mouth feels like it has been coated by the coffee and your thirst has been slaked to any degree by the end of the cup we would suggest you might be making it up too strong.

Each to their own obviously, but if you are looking for some guidance then that's our suggestion.  The term 'filter' grind is also rather misleading as we grind to espresso fineness for the Swissgold filter if we are in a hurry and dont want to alter a grinder and it works fine.  If we are setting the grinder specially for filter use we will set it slightly coarser than an espresso grind, but only slightly.  Again we find it preferable to grind slightly finer and use a little less coffee.  If the coffee tastes wooden you may be grinding too coarse for the water to extract sufficiently from the coffee.

As alway we would recommend the Swissgold filters, so one-eyed are we in this respect that we cant understand why anyone bothers with paper filters anymore.  If you wondered why Swissgold filters arent more frequently seen for sale if they are as 'wonderful' as pontificate about we believe the reason is purely commercial.  The selling price is low (cf a more elaborate machine), there are no servicing revenues to be had, and barring stupidity (eg damaging with an item of cutlery in the sink when washing) they last for years and years.  Ours has been used more than once a day since 2004 and is not damaged in any way.  Expect to see Londinium restocking them soon as we believe the Swissgold filter is one of the best, cheapest & fastest ways to enjoy gourmet coffee.  You wont see them for sale in the high street much as there simply isnt enough money to be made from them, so it falls to the small gourmet houses to ensure the commerical survival of one of the simplest, yet best, methods of making coffee.  There are other 'gold' permanent filters available on the market which you are welcome to try, but in our view they are a distant second.  The Swissgold is proudly made in Switzerland still, being one of the few consumer items whose production hasnt been transferred to a low cost economy.  When you open the box the build quality will be immediately self evident.  For example hold the filter up to the light & you will see how consistently fine and even the laser cut is in the stainless steel mesh.  Years of wonderful coffee from a device that costs just a few pounds.  You could pair this with a manual grinder if funds were limited and have access to some of the best coffee in the world.  It doesn't have to cost thousands.

Sterling stengthens a little against Swiss Franc, Olympia espresso machine prices down by around £100

by Reiss Gunson on Saturday, 05 June 2010 02:20

Today we have updated Olympia espresso machine prices to reflect the pound sterling finally making some recovery against the Swiss Franc.  Obviously the greater the price the larger the fall, but it translates into pre-VAT reductions of GBP85 on the Cremina and almost GBP100 on the Maximatic.  Find them here;

Papua New Guinea coffee, Sigri Estate

by Reiss Gunson on Thursday, 03 June 2010 03:14

As you probably know, the root stock for the coffee plantations of Papua New Guinea was taken from the Jamaican Blue Mountains, but none of the coffees in Papua New Guinea that we have tried would ever be confused in a blind tasting with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.  This isn't to say the Papua New Guinea coffees are poor, indeed some are very good, and I personally like the taste of Papua New Guinea coffee a lot.  The coffee from the Sigri Estate is instantly recognisable from standard Papua New Guinean coffees even before you roast it as the grading is so much higher.  You don't have to be a 'coffee expert' to detect that.  The beans are larger, exhibit a high degree of uniformity in size and shape, are greener (fresher), and have fewer markings and defects (black spots, typically moisture damage) on the beans.

Sigri Estate coffee, as with most estate coffee to be fair, is brighter and cleaner than the standard (Y1) grade Papua New Guinean coffee.  That said it is not as sweet, nor as complex or balanced as genuine Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.  It really is the balance of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee that sets it apart.  As we have remarked before, a lot of the expensive coffees have now gained a bad reputation as people invariably by them from vendors whose coffee is not fresh.  Whatever coffee you are buying it must be fresh.  You've seen me write about this often enough in the past to know what is coming next; buying ground coffee is a waste of money, buying expensive exotic ground coffee is a colossal waste of money, regardless of how 'fancy' the retailer.

Once you have put yourself in a position to buy coffee beans you then need to determine when the coffee was roasted.  Many roasters are a little oblique about this as life is a lot easier to roast in large batches and leave it lying around until customers arrive to buy it.  They will often say that coffee isn't best immediately after roasting anyway, which is true, but why not disclose the roast date so the customer can decide for themselves when they consider the optimum date after roasting to be for their palate.  Personally I think it is around the 7 day mark for most coffees, but those that express their acidity very brightly can benefit from up to 3 weeks resting after roasting if you are using it for espresso, and those with less acidity can be deployed a little sooner, perhaps as little as 2 days after roasting for something like our Columbian Supremo.  Still, some of our customers like to drink it before the beans have barely cooled; each to their own.  In clearly stamping the roast date at the top of each bag Londinium Espresso provide you with the information to decide on your own optimum number of days after roasting to consume any given coffee.

Papua New Guinea Sigri Estate now available.

What biscuit goes well with espresso?

by Reiss Gunson on Thursday, 03 June 2010 01:16

Well biscotti obviously work, but I've found these in the local supermarket & their unobtrusive simplicity complements espresso extremely well.  They are basically sugar, butter & flour and wafer thin so they do not overshadow the delicate elements in your espresso.  You could also try short bread, although one that has been baked in thin pieces, not the great flag stone sized variety.

New release: Rwandan Nyamyumba, typica bourbon, fully washed

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 23:15

This week we released our Rwandan bourbon for sale.  Something that has worked well for this coffee is storing it for a few months before roasting.  Is it possible for green coffee to be too fresh, too green, if you like?  Yes, especially if you are roasting as a single origin for espresso use and you need tone down the acidity a little.  This coffee gives you a classic Italian espresso style, in that no extreme flavours are present, however the taste has a nice weight to it with a very pleasant after taste.  This espresso doesn't display any extreme elements, yet it isn't flimsy or non-descript.  We can whole-heartedly recommend it.

What other people think No.2

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 05 May 2010 05:19

 From:     Kees van der Westen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
    Subject:     good coffee
    Date:     4 May 2010 15:06:56 GMT+01:00
    To:     Reiss Gunson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>


Hello Reiss,
Just wanted to thank you very much for the great samples of coffee you sent.
These are exquisite!
My best,

Kees van der Westen
Espressonistic Works b.v.

van Elderenlaan 6
5581 WJ Waalre
The Netherlands

Productie +31 (0)40 222 34 33

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tilbury green

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 02 May 2010 04:54

That is to say, a small fraction of the green coffee stacked up at one of the many warehouses on the Tilbury docks.

Quattro Maximatic

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 02 May 2010 04:27

What other people think

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 10:57

With the permission of the author we publish verbatim today's feedback:

    From:     R.J. Vriesendorp <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

    Subject:     Costa Rica from Londinium Espresso

    Date:     27 April 2010 11:40:44 GMT+01:00

    To:     lespresso <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Dear Reiss,

Thank you very much for sending the samples of your coffees.

When we opened the box, two samples stood out as more than a little

interesting. the Monsooned Malabar, and the one we're currently cupping,

the Costa Rica SHB. I was a bit anxious to try the latter as espresso,

expecting it to be something like biting a lemon.

To be honest, I'm pleasantly surprised. Obviously, it's roasted a bit

into 2nd click, but it's far from starbucked; only a few visible patches

of oil. Still, it actually has a decent body, it's not the thin brew I

expected. It has a good flavour too; caramel, toasted bread, floral

notes, and something like sultanas (maybe tamarind) underneath. Brewed

at 94.0 C, it's all very nicely balanced, and a good single bean

espresso with a long aftertaste. At lower temps, the acidity is more

pronounced, and the roast notes come out a bit more than I care for.

What puzzles us, however, are the beans themselves. Most Costa Rican

coffees are well screened, and uniform in size. This coffee is very

uneven in size, and it contains a relatively high percentage peaberries,

about 15% by weight, post-roast. Peaberries are rare in the usual Costa

Rican varieties (Typica, Caturra, and Catuai). The flavour profile

doesn't really match those varieties either. So, we're very curious.

What's the story here? From which area is this coffee, and how is it

processed? Is it a blend of coffees from various estates in a that area?

Or is it a single estate coffee, maybe a Bourbon "Miel"?

It wouldn't change our final verdict on the coffee though. We feel it's

a well chosen, and expertly roasted coffee. It has a lot of terroir in

the cup, while still making a great single origin espresso. It's not a

coffee for the large milky brews, but it makes an excellent espresso.

For a Costa Rican, that is impressive.

We're looking forward to tasting the other samples.

Kind regards,

Robert J. Vriesendorp

Editor - Food & beverages, CaffeZine

Mariaplaats 32-B

3511 LL Utrecht

The Netherlands

This is why Olympia espresso machines are the perfect choice for London living

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 12:00

 These images will provide you with all the ammunition you need to convince your non coffee drinking partner that an Olympia setup will easily fit into your London kitchen, no matter how tight space is.  We think it looks terrific in white too.  Most of the machines we sell are in anthracite (the colour of the base of the machine and grinder shown on the right).  We are ashamed to admit our Olympia workhorses seldom look anything like the showroom condition of this pampered pair.