Apologies for the broken page link today

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 07:21

Apologies for the broken page link today

In my haste to clean up the back end of the website I accidentally deleted a reference page

We appreciate there is still quite a lot of scruffy ‘space filler’ text on the site & we will replace this with genuine content in the next day or so

Kind regards


New! Olympia steaming jug

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 03:12

Ahh! This jug makes life easy. A recent addition to the Olympia product line, this milk frothing jug is more appropriate for home use, having a capacity of just 500mL.

Furthermore it is tapered, such that the top of the jug is narrower than the base.

The outside of the jug is polished, while the inside has a satin finish.

I wasn’t too taken with the shape of the handle, until I picked it up. It is shaped so that it fits very snugly in your hand and doesn’t wobble around. Some thought has gone into this.

Finally it is made of very heavy gauge stainless steel. The downside is this drives the price up considerably. Just how much additional material has been used in the manufacture of the jug becomes evident as soon as you lift it… it is heavy! Heavier than jugs with a much larger capacity.

The payback is the thick walls of this jug act as a heat sink, keeping the milk cooler for much longer whilst you stretch the milk. Personally I found this a massive advantage & am now knocking out great frothy milk with ease for all those who insist on corrupting their coffee with it.

Visit to Olympia Express, Switzerland

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:53

I havent time to write a meaningful report right now, but I will at least make a start and post some images…

A flight to Milan & an extremely pleasant trip by car up into southern Switzerland where the people bring a winning combination of Swiss precision & Italian flair. No surprise then to find a large number of successful manufacturing companies based here.

The purpose of the images below is to demonstrate that the Cremina is a domestic machine built to a commercial standard. This is not the consumer grade junk that proliferates today, where you throw it away and buy another if something breaks. No, the simple sturdy Swiss engineering means these machines are easy and cost effective to service.

A relatively recent change in ownership of Olympia has seen heavy investment in developing the engineering excellence of the machine even further. A more precise thermostatic switch has been developed, along with a new pressure guage without a stop pin to ensure the needle of the gauge is not damaged under the vacuum that occurs when the machine is turned off. Olympia have also changed the press tool for the top cowling on the boiler to allow you to warm your espresso cups on the top of the machine. In addition the piston has been changed to a twin seal design. Quality control programs have also been embedded in the production process to ensure all components meet the design specifications provided by Olympia. The design of the drainage tray has also been refined, and the pins on the lever are have reverted from machine screws with grub screw retainers to circlip retainers on each end to assist ease of correct reassembly when servicing the machine.

Left end elevation: Olympia Cremina with boiler housing & group removed. Old style thermostatic pressure switch clearly visible in brass housing. Now replaced with a much smaller & more accurate design.

Main elevation: group removed.

Right end elevation with group removed. Clearly visible mounted to the top of the boiler are the over pressure release valve (mounted vertically), the feed for the pressure gauge, the outlet pipe from the base of the boiler to feed water to the sight glass water level indicator, and the return feed from the sight glass to the boiler (top)

A new design of bronze piston with marine grade (316) stainless shaft with the two seal seats clearly visible

A collection of pistons fitted to shafts and ready for installation.

Externally I thought the shower screen was in good condition…

...but it wasn’t! Coffee oils had formed a hard residue on the inside.

The key to staying young is to stay flexible! Both seals under pressure between forefinger and thumb; old seal (top), new seal (bottom). A new generation of silicone seals are currently under development.

What’s the collective noun for espresso machines? A hiss of espresso machines, perhaps? Olympia Maximatic model almost ready to go to their new owners. These are selling like hot cakes.

Moca grinder showing off the engineering excellence for which it is renown. It took me a while to come around to agreeing with the design of this grinder, in particular the fixed box for the collection of grinds, but I am now an advocate.

This is due to the quality of the grind, the quiet operation, its very small footprint, and the fact the I no longer spread coffee grinds all over the kitchen as they are captured in the box very effectively.

And far too quickly it is time to make the return journey to Milan.

All in all a great day with great people. I personally learnt a lot about how the machines were manufactured, the history of the company, and the plans that the [relatively] new owners have for the company. In all aspects they are seeking to build on the fine history of Olympia, and expect to see some exciting new machines from Olympia in the not too distant future.

If you can appreciate the value in an espresso machine that will deliver espresso that is superior to what you will receive in any retail establishment, can be readily serviced, and will be in a fit condition to pass on to your children, then there really is only one choice. Olympia of Switzerland.

Fresh is best

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:33

it will seem obvious when it is pointed out, but people fail to make the connection that coffee is essentially a fruit, or at least the seed of a fruit. as a result it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that fresh is best, just like any fruit.

next time you buy a bag of coffee have a look for the ‘best before’ date. in almost all cases it will be 12mths after the roast date. while it is true that coffee does go ‘off’ in the sense of making you ill, this practice is misleading and we have a problem with it. perhaps less so if it is an inexpensive coffee, but a huge objection if you are buying a gourmet or premium coffee.

if you are buying pre-ground coffee it will be stale every time. the information on the packet may try to persuade you that it is fresh as a result of some magical process, but this is at odds with reality, unfortunately.

one of the things you are paying for at Londinium Espresso is our commitment to stamp the roast date on every pack. usually, but not always, this will be after you have placed your order. we are not apologetic that we will sometimes ship coffee that was roasted a few days before your order as we are now firmly of the view that coffee needs at least 10 days in our unopened bags to reach its optimum, and seems to remain in such a condition until at least 3 weeks after roasting. in our experience there is no significant drop off in quality until 6 to 8 weeks after roasting, assuming the bag remains unopened. once opened the oxidation process accelerates rapidly and the coffee needs to be consumed in 7-10 days to be enjoyed in peak condition. for this reason we sell our coffee in 250g bags. in our experience 250g is about the amount of coffee that a moderate coffee drinker can get through in 7-10 days.

as always, if you have any questions please feel free to ask without obligating yourself in any way. if we don’t know the answer we will say so & endeavour to go away & find it & get back to you.

Daterra 3 weeks after roasting

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:33

just discovered a bag of Daterra in the pyramid of coffee that dominates the landscape here. roasted 3 weeks ago to the day on 7 march 2009. ran it through the machine & i must emphasise that it has improved further with a little time. the flavours are smoother, rounder, and more full in the mouth. still has the same basic profile as you would expect, but much more refined & enjoyable. if you want to lower the cost i recommend you buy 5×250g bags at a time & enjoy the 20% discount. only open one bag at a time and i think you’ll find the last bag you have is more refined and enjoyable than the first bag you open only a few days after roasting.

New in: Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:32

roasted a couple of days ago. tried it this morning as an espresso & through the swissgold. have to admit we have under-roasted this and as a result it tastes a little wooden. we’ll roast again this afternoon, this time a little darker. all coffee produced in Hawaii is fairly traded, though not certified as such, as the US labour/employment laws are in effect.

Anyone for Cuban Coffee?

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:32

I was reading last night about Cuban coffee & decided we needed to find out if it is even half as good as their cigars.

Having been told the only guy in the UK with any is in Ireland & he will only sell roasted beans I am pleased to announce that we have found some green beans.

I’ve not had the opportunity to buy from sample so its fingers crossed on this one. I love this journey of discovery that coffee takes you on. It is one of the last products in the world that is completely natural & the processing of which hasn’t been reduced to a mathematical formula.

The gourmet roasting community is always picking up unusual coffees, often in tiny quantities & roasting them according to their unique in-house roasting style and often creating a taste quite different to another gourmet roaster using the same bean, or a bean from a similar region.


by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:31

Go and check this website out & watch episode 27

This is a crazy story of coincidence & the power of the web & tools like twitter

A while ago i ran a search for ‘Gunson’, my surname on twitter, just for the fun of it really

It turned up this guy, Jonathan Gunson, who runs a website called

He said on his show that he was in New Zealand & it is a fairly uncommon surname in that part of the world

So I asked a few a questions about his lineage & it turns out that we are related. I lived in Auckland until I was 25 & never knew of Jonathan’s existence

I have resided in London since 1998 & I get on twitter & find a relative & he ends up profiling me on episode 27

In return I must recommend the to you

It is free & I tune in every weekday to pick up his latest traffic nugget & have found plenty of useful practical tips

As a guy trying to get a web business off the ground I have found it to be a valuable, practical resource & encouragement

Anyway, a big thank-you to you Jonathan, I never expected this kind of exposure


What is Londinium Espresso all about?

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:30

Please don’t think we only care about espresso

Our mission is to re-introduce you to coffee. Black coffee. What other kind is there?

At the risk of upsetting you we dont regard latte as coffee, nor cappuccino, and certainly not a triple frappe grande mocha caramel lard arse whatever nightmare

You’re welcome to enjoy them all. We just don’t think they should be confused with coffee. They are coffee flavoured milk. That’s all. And if you haven’t figured it out for yourself already, they are calorie bombs, whilst coffee is calorie free.

You see the trouble is milk fat is a great masking agent. When it comes to appreciating the subtle differences between two brazilian coffees, for example, you won’t stand a chance. Your taste buds will be smothered in a blanket of milk fat, rendering them useless.

Londinium Espresso is all about introducing you to coffee. Black coffee. Water. Coffee. And, er, that’s it. There is no where for poor quality coffee or poorly roasted coffee to hide.

You, the consumer, have been served up coffee of continuously diminishing quality since World War II broke out. We believe it’s time to take you back.

Historically, believe it or not, coffee was known as a ‘sweet’ drink. I bet you’re thinking ‘coffee is not sweet, its often bitter or burnt, or perhaps both. Yes, that’s true, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You’re probably thinking, ah but, I dont have any fancy expensive coffee making equipment, i cant afford any, its out of my league.

Well, that’s not true either. All you need to acquire is an inexpensive blade grinder & a Swissgold filter. You may even have a stovetop coffee maker, or plunger, or filter machine at home, in which case all you need to buy is a grinder. Make sure you keep you equipment clean, ensuring no coffee residue forms in it. You see it is all about accessing great coffee beans.

Forget ground coffee, it is a waste of money. Ground coffee stales in half an hour or so of being ground & therefore you will never taste a fraction of the coffee’s original, fresh roasted flavour.

Anyway, I think we have made our point. Londinium is all about black coffee. Great black coffee. Filter, vacuum, espresso, stove-top, the method doesn’t matter. It’s all about the coffee… not the additives.

We are also on hand to help you solve coffee problems and chew the fat when pondering where to spend your hard-earned cash on your next caffeine toy, all without obligation and as impartial as we can be for coffee zealots!

Grinders: Blade & Burr

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:29

This is a bit of a pedantic rant, but I am sick of people proclaiming that blade grinders are no good because they cut the beans and burr grinders are good because they grind the coffee.

Blade grinders have ‘blades’ but if you feel them you will notice they are not sharp. They don’t cut the coffee, they simply ‘smash’ the beans. As a result the ‘grinds’ it produces are a vast array of sizes, and equally importantly, shapes. Hopeless for espresso as the water simply takes the coarse of least resistance through the puck of coffee and it produces a curious mix of over & under extracted coffee. Not nice.

Entry level burr grinders don’t do a whole lot better either, some of them having plastic/composite burrs which wear smooth fairly quickly, unsurprisingly.

Good burr grinders, i.e. those selling for GBP200 and above in the UK actually have burrs that are quite sharp. As a result they do ‘cut’ the coffee bean. The correct term is probably ‘mill’. These sharp burrs, or teeth if you like, ensure the resulting grinds are very uniform in both size and shape. This is what you are paying for in a top quality grinder.

The need to minimise the heating of the coffee if you are grinding any volume is addressed in three ways; 1) the use of highly conductive material (metal/metal alloy/ceramic) for the burrs to dissipate the heat away 2) larger diameter burrs so the working surface of the burr is increased, thereby spreading the thermal load over a wider area 3) reducing the revolutions at which the burr turns, which in turn requires gearing and usually a more powerful electric motor, all of which add to the cost.

All of the above needs to be mounted into a very rigid assembly otherwise the burrs would be able to flex/move as the resistance of beans stuck the working face of the burrs. This obviously adds to the cost as robust engineering as described above is needed. It demands high quality metals/metal alloys and plenty of them.

The upside is you aren’t buying what I like to refer to as ‘consumer grade junk’. When the burrs eventually wear out in a high quality grinder (stated as every 400Kg in a Mazzer Super Jolly) you can simply replace the burrs and you have a new grinder essentially. If you are bothered by such things this is the world our grandparents knew and it is a lot more environmentally friendly than throwing cheap, poorly made items out every year or so.