Londinium are proud to sell the Bacchi stove top espresso machine

by Reiss Gunson on Friday, 16 July 2010 11:51

Long time customers of Londinium will know that we have no interest in selling what we lovingly refer to as consumer grade junk.

Equipment that breaks down shortly after purchase corrupts our brand, and takes up your time and ours to post, repair, etc.  That is one of the reasons why we still only sell the Swissgold filters & the Olympia machines.  The stuff that didnt survive the beatings didnt get restocked, its as simple as that.

As a result we are a lot more cautious before we rush to stock new equipment.  A problem we have been working on for over a year is how can you make proper espresso at home without spending thousands?  You will have seen in previous blog entries some of the equipment we have tried out on our quest to solve this problem.  Well, having invested a not insignificant sum buying sample machines from around the globe to test we are proud to present you with a winner; the Bacchi of Trieste, Italy.

If you're anything like us I bet you've often wished that your moka pot could make real espresso.  Well, that's what the Bacchi does.  There is a lot the Bacchi doesn't do, but it does make 2 very good double shots of espresso with a minimum of fuss.  It doesn't steam milk, it isnt particularly sexy, and it isnt suitable if you need to roll out a lot of espresso, but it does what it is designed to do exceptionally well.

It works on gas & electric hobs and is ideal for camping.  Yes we tested the mypressi (ingenious as no heat source required, but in reality it does as you need to preheat the body in hot water unlike you have a thing for sour espresso) & the otto (a thing of great beauty), but if you are simply interested in very high quality espresso, the Bacchi wins hands down.

We only decided to sell the Bacchi after we convinced ourselves that it was relatively 'goof-proof'.  Products that require you to hold your mouth a certain way at the right moment to get an acceptable result are of no interest to us, as we know most of your have busy lives to get on with.

The Bacchi only demands espresso ground coffee, and yes we can't believe we are writing this but we have even tested it with pre-ground Illy coffee and we have still produced something that will pass as espresso for the tight wads out there who still wont fork out for a grinder.  However we will post some video in due coarse that will amply illustrate the difference when you feed the Bacchi some freshly ground Londinium espresso coffee.

So you've got your Bacchi, you've got some ground coffee. What next?  Unscrew the Bacchi & add probably 25ml of water (just enough to cover the base, no more - this water never gets it your coffee it is turned to steam to power the sprung loaded piston), then sit the 'piston' component on top, then fill the chamber in the top of the piston with water (this is the water that will go through the ground coffee), then fill the basket with coffee and sweep perfectly level with a straight edge (DO NOT TAMP, TAP, OR COMPACT IN ANY WAY), then assemble the unit.

Important:  Ensure you screw the unit together very firmly.  We do not in our initial test and actually sent the machine back to the factory in Italy as the machine was not reaching operating pressure and we could see steam escaping from one of the seals.  There should only be about 1mm maximum of clearance between the metal top of the Bacchi and the bottom of the black nylon screw if you have it tight enough.

 Then you place the Bacchi on the heat.  The only element of trial and error in the entire Bacchi experience is adjusting the heat so that it whistles at around the 6 minute mark.  If the heat is too high it will whistle before 6 minutes but the water in the top chamber will be too cold and your coffee will be under-extracted.  If the heat is too low it will take much longer than minutes, by which time the water in the top chmaber will be too hot and as a result the coffee will be over-extracted and burnt.

Our first shipment arrives at the end of next week.  Order your bacchi before they arrive in stock and get £10 off by entering the promotional code 'Bacchi' when you place your order on our website.

Without wishing to resort to hyperbole unnecessarily we are astounded at the quality of the espresso the Bacchi produces and it is for this reason alone that we have decided to sell the Bacchi.  There are no electrics to fail, it is well made, and is beautiful in its simplicty and robustness.  If you are not entirely happy with your Bacchi you are welcome to return it within 7 days for a full and prompt refund, no grumbling.

If you have questions please send us an email.

Learn more about Bacchi on facebook

New Costa Rican in stock

by Reiss Gunson on Friday, 16 July 2010 11:02

This shipment's a cracker.  Get it while it's still around.  The slightly grassy acidic streak in the last shipment is not present in this one.

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