This is a word we have borrowed from the corporate world. Commonly used when the news is unlikely to be good but no one really wants to talk about it, as in “there is a lack of transparency over the robustness of the economy for Q4 08”.
We think the blending of coffee beans also suffers from a lack of transparency. The accepted wisdom is the divine knowledge of the roaster will produce a blend that results in the perfectly balanced cup of coffee.
Blending also offers the roaster the opportunity to create a little bit of ‘intellectual property’ if you like. The composition of the blend is not usually declared, and therefore if the consumer responds well to the blend the roaster has a product that is difficult for his competitors to replicate. Fair enough.
The most humourous occasion when the virtues of blending were extolled was in a London restaurant where the waiter tried to convince us that some 30 different beans went into the particular blend of coffee that they served. We are happy to admit that it was very good coffee, but we doubt that anything like 30 different beans had made their way into the blend.
In our experience it is fairly difficult to detect the presence of a bean when it is less than about 10% of a blend. If you assume that the 30 different types of beans were not present in equal proportions, then some of the beans must have been present in concentrations of less than 3%. The presence of any bean at the 3% level or less would not be detectable in the mouth, so it seems highly unlikely that you would bother with anything like 30 beans in a blend.
Anyway, the point of the story is to illustrate the lack of transparency that cloaks the blending of coffee.
But there is a second reason why we have an issue with blending:
Assume you have been told exactly what beans make up a blend, and in what proportions.
Different beans are of different densities. This means that any blend of whole beans is going to settle out or stratify fairly quickly, i.e. when you tip the beans into the hopper of your grinder they will mostly be the beans with the lowest density. This means that unless you ground the entire bag in one hit, then stirred up the resulting ground coffee, that coffee you tasted would differ from what the blender had intended you to taste.
All a bit pedantic I hear you shout?
Well, perhaps, but I think it illustrates why we are skeptical about blending.
Our suggestion is that you buy single origin beans and blend yourself, if you want to go down that path. In this way you have the ability to control the proportions of the blend exactly. For example, weigh 5g of beans A & B, 10g of bean C, and 15g of bean D.
In this way you have complete transparency of knowing what you are paying for, and the ability to replicate your results exactly, time after time, when you strike upon a blend that you particularly enjoy.
New in today, as we continue our search for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July). A bourbon coffee from Rwanda – how cool is that? Very eager to taste this one!
New in today, as we continue our journey of discovery for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July).
New in today, as we continue our journey for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July).
Fri 25 July: we like this for its smoothness & low acidity. if we were to offer a criticism, perhaps it is a little bland for some tastes. nonetheless, it will have a broad spectrum appeal because the is nothing in the taste profile to polarise opinions. a ‘safe’ bet, if you will.
Hey its late at night & we stumbled across this new coffee making contraption
It appears to be the classic Italian moka pot with some added functionality which allows it to froth your milk for a cappuccino at the same time
Sure, it’s not in line with our ‘come over to the dark side’ philosophy, but we enjoyed watching the video, nonetheless
Has anyone out there used one & have any comments to post on it?
Gimmick or groundbreaking?
Having couriered many samples between Milan & London, and many more telephone conversations, we finally took delivery of our classic Italian ‘thick wall’ coffee cups from Ancap today.
Available in espresso (60ml), cappuccino/tea (200ml) & large cappuccino (350ml) sizes. These Ancap cups have a high quality deep glaze, with no pitting in the glaze where the handle joins the base of the cup. Compare the quality with the cheaper offerings more readily available and we think you will be quite surprised.
Sold in boxed sets of 6, complete with saucers.
Londinium Espresso are proud to announce that we have found a machine and grinder that accurately reflects the Londinium philosophy; artisan methods of manufacture coupled with an obsession for quality and that all but lost ingredient in today’s modern age; ‘feel’.
What do we mean by ‘feel’? Well, the Olympia Cremina lever machine allows you to ‘feel’ very easily the hot water being forced through the ground coffee, including any channels that the water might find in the coffee (not a good look, but great to be able to detect if this is occurring during the espresso process), allowing it an easier path through the coffee and evidenced by a drop in resistance against the palm of your hand.
First class thermal stability in the group head is assured with a lot of chromed marine grade bronze, and a tiny footprint to assure it a place in the kitchens of London. Oh, and did we mention, no noisy irritating electric pump?
A high quality lever machine extracts a lot of subtle nuances from the coffee that an electric pump machine will not. If you have a coffee that is only ‘so-so’ then an electric pump machine is a good thing as the additional extraction that a lever machine brings tends to be unpleasant. However, with LondiniumEspresso it brings out a whole new layer of taste that was previously hidden in the cup.
The moment you take this machine from the box it becomes apparent what you have paid for. It is the perfect antidote to the throw-away consumerism ethos that defines our modern world. Many, many Olympia machines that are 30-40 years old are still in active service today, requiring only seal replacements every 3 or 4 years. Use bottled water with a dry residue value of less than 5omg/L and you should never need to descale your machine.
Note: These machines demand a first class grinder in order to function correctly, i.e. Mazzer/equivalent grade and above. Why is this? Well you grind very fine with these machines and tamp very lightly – danced on by pixies by way of metaphor – none of this fashionable 35psi to 50psi malarkey with a tamp weighing a couple of hundred grams!
Olympia Express – radically different since inception, just like Londinium Espresso.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1. Combine marsala, sugar and coffee in a jug. Stir until sugar dissolves.2. Divide the sponge slices between four 400ml-capacity whisky glasses. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the coffee mixture. Drizzle remaining coffee mixture over the sponge slices.3. Top with half the chocolate, and all the custard and cherries. Drizzle with the reserved coffee mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and serve.
Notes & tips
Super Food Ideas – September 2007 , Page 79
Recipe by Annette Forrest
Swiss water process
The Swiss Water Process is a method of decaffeinating coffee beans that was developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. To decaffeinate the coffee bean by the Swiss Water method, a batch of green (unroasted) beans is soaked in hot water, releasing caffeine. This process is done until all the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water. These beans are then discarded. Next, the water passes through a carbon filter which traps the caffeine molecules but allows the water and the coffee solids to pass through. The caffeine-free water which comes through, known as “flavor-charged” water by the company, is then put in a similar filtration device, and new coffee beans are added. However, since the flavor-charged water cannot remove any of the coffee solids from the new beans, only the caffeine is released. The process repeats, filtering out all the caffeine until the beans are 99.9% caffeine free. These beans are removed and dried, and thus retain most if not all of their flavour and smell.
In the direct method the coffee beans are first steamed for 30 minutes and then repeatedly rinsed with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for about 10 hours. The solvent is then drained away and the beans steamed for an additional 10 hours to remove any residual solvent. Sometimes coffees which are decaffeinated using ethyl acetate are referred to as naturally processed because ethyl acetate can be derived from various fruits or vegetables. However, for the purpose of decaffeination, it is not generally possible to create such a large quantity of ethyl acetate, thus the chemical is synthetically derived.
In the indirect method beans are first soaked in hot water for several hours, essentially making a strong pot of coffee. Then the beans are removed and either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is used to extract the caffeine from the waterâ as in other methods, the caffeine can then be separated from the organic solvent by simple evaporation. The same water is recycled through this two-step process with new batches of beans. An equilibrium is reached after several cycles, where the water and the beans have a similar composition except for the caffeine. After this point, the caffeine is the only material removed from the beans, so no coffee strength or other flavorings are lost. Because water is used in the initial phase of this process, sometimes indirect method decaffeination is referred to as “water processed” even though chemicals are used.
This process is technically known as supercritical fluid extraction. With the CO2 process, pre-steamed beans are soaked in a liquid bath of carbon dioxide at 73 to 300 atmospheres. After a thorough soaking, the pressure is reduced allowing the CO2 to evaporate, or the pressurized CO2 is run through either water or charcoal filters to remove the caffeine. The carbon dioxide is then used on another batch of beans. This same process can also be done with oxygen (O2). These liquids work better than water because they are kept in supercritical state near the transition from liquid to gas so that they have the high diffusion of gas and the high density of a liquid. This process has the advantage that it avoids the use of potentially toxic solvents.
Green coffee beans are soaked in a hot water/coffee solution to draw the caffeine to the surface of the beans. Next, the beans are transferred to another container and immersed in coffee oils that were obtained from spent coffee grounds.
After several hours of high temperatures, the triglycerides in the oils remove the caffeine – but not the flavor elements – from the beans. The beans are separated from the oils and dried. The caffeine is removed from the oils, which are reused to decaffeinate another batch of beans. This is a direct contact method of decaffeination.
Yes, we took delivery of this premium Swiss water process decaffeinated coffee today. Tomorrow we hope to run test roasts to profile this coffee. We will also try & post some more information on the Swiss water process of decaffeination and how it differs from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and MC (methyl chloride) decaffeination processes so you can appreciate the differences.