News

Great coffee at home in the Credit Crunch

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

The vast majority of coffee drinkers assume that great coffee means an espresso machine, which means considerable expense, which means they can not have great coffee at home or at work. The assumption is that you must go to a cafe to enjoy great coffee.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Great coffee demands great coffee beans, but not necessarily great expense.

All you need is:

1. A coffee grinder (it need not cost more than about £50)

2. Freshly roasted coffee beans from a gourmet coffee roaster.

3. A permanent Swissgold filter that you can throw in the dishwasher and reuse (£10 for a single cup filter or £14 for one that fits into your drip filter machine)

That’s it!

So in these economically challenging times you can enjoy great coffee for an initial outlay of around £60-£70, and then enjoy coffee at around £0.30 a cup. If you sign up for the Londinium Subscription you will save a further 20% on the coffee and we pay the postage!

We think that makes sound economic sense in these challenging times.

British Red Cross London Christmas fair

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:01

We have purchased a stand at the 2008 British Red Cross London Christmas Fair

We are advised that tickets are now available for purchase from the British Red Cross here

It will be held at the same venue as last year, namely;

Kensington Town Hall, Horton Street, London, W8 7NX

This is an opportunity to do all your Christmas shopping under one roof & assist a worthy cause at the same time.

Preview Night: Wednesday 26th November 5:30pm â 9:00pm opened by guest speaker (TBC) Tickets £20 (advance purchase only), includes wine and canapes.

Public Day: Thursday 27th November 10.00am – 4.30pm Tickets £5 on the door (£3 in advance), children free.

The 2008 London Christmas Fair will be the 14th event of its kind and the committee hopes to raise over £35,000 in support of the British Red Cross’s vital humanitarian work. This yearâ s stalls will offer an eclectic mix of merchandise, from funky young designer bags and belts to kichenware, pashminas to pearls, delicious food and drink to exciting Fair Trade goods.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

They enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. When the crisis is over, they help them to recover and move on with their lives.
We will be donating 10% of all sales revenue taken at this event to the British Red Cross, so we look forward to meeting you there

We will take a machine & grinder along to allow you to sample our coffee, however the main focus will be the sale of bags of coffee beans. It will also be an opportunity to see the Olympia espresso machines & grinder in action if you are contemplating buying one

Please accept our apologies for mentioning C*s in early August!

To learn more of the activities of the British Red Cross, click here

Transparency & Blending

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:00

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: Rwandan Bourbon - Fair Trade Certified

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:59

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: El Salvadorian Pacamara - Rainforest Alliance Certified

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:59

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: Brazilian pulped natural

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:57

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.

Has anyone used one of these crazy things?

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:56

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/sku5279260/index.cfm?pkey=celtnew

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?

Finally we have our Porcelain Ancap cups

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:56

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 now selling the World's finest domestic grinder and espresso machine from Olympia Express, Switzerland. Estb 1928

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:54

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.

Espresso cherry trifle

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 01:49

Cooking Time
5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons marsala (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee, cooled slightly
  • 4 mini jam sponge rolls, cut into 5mm-thick slices
  • 50g good-quality dark chocolate, grated
  • 1/2 cup thick vanilla custard
  • 425g can black pitted
  • cherries, drained

Method

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

  • Marsala is a fortified Italian wine available from liquor stores. You could use dry sherry, Tia Maria liqueur, Kahlua liqueur or brandy instead.

Source
Super Food Ideas – September 2007 , Page 79
Recipe by Annette Forrest