News

Busting up a Starbucks, Mike Doughty

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:05

I found this track on Last.fm this morning; a bit of a laugh to get the week started

It is also available for download at iTunes i see

Let us know what you think

Have a good week

Reiss.

Credit Crunch coffee... The new Londinium starter pack

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:04

This is our latest solution to a problem that has vexed us since 2004 when we began!

PROBLEM: How to introduce newcomers to gourmet coffee at an acceptable price point, while not violating one of our founding principles, which is not to sell ground coffee as we believe it to be a fraud.

Ground coffee a fraud? How? Well coffee beans begin to stale appreciably just 30 minutes after grinding. Buy that exclusive Jamaican Blue Mountain pre-ground, but it simply isnt fresh and you are going to be drastically disappointed & join the ranks of the disaffected who sniff that gourmet coffee isnt worth the price it commands. It is, but only if you get it absolutely fresh. This is the assurance that Londinium Espresso gives you; fresh, 100% true to label, and a consistent roast every time.

None of our offerings to date have been at a price point that inspired the merely curious to enter the world of fine coffee

Our starter pack will now comprise a blade grinder, a Swissgold filter & a bag of great Londinium coffee for just £29.95, including postage & packaging

Yes we know it is a blade grinder and therefore not suitable for espresso, and yes they are inferior to burr grinders, but after years of experimenting and agonising how to introduce instant coffee drinkers to real coffee we think this is the best solution & vastly superior to selling ground coffee & kidding you that it will be fresh (other roasters simply accept that most people in the UK dont own a grinder & succumb to selling ground coffee as it enlarges their target market exponentially).

The Swissgold filter doesn’t make espresso, but it produces a first class cup of coffee & indeed many of the world’s most exclusive coffees should be drunk as filter coffee as the rigours of the espresso process will ruin them

We feel it is particularly relevant in these challenging economic times and think at this price point it makes an ideal Christmas gift & makes the world of gourmet coffee accessible to a much wider audience.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email or telephone or simply push the Skype button on the ‘Contact us’ page of the website

Honduras revisited

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:04

As you will see on our website, we have revisited the manner in which we roast our Honduran coffee. As a result we think it serves as a first class light & creamy espresso. If you like a heavy thumping espresso, then this isnt for you. It is just one step up from our soft as silk Mexican roast.

New £2 postage rate for single bag purchases

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:03

This week we have added a £2 postage rate for single 250g purchases

Previously we had a single £4 rate covering up to five 250g bags

We hope this will lower the barrier for anyone contemplating trying Londinium Espresso for the first time

If you have any other questions or suggestions do let let us know; we strive to be as responsive as possible to our customers’ requests

Guidelines for getting the best out of your Londinium Coffee

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 02:03

We deliberately haven’t called them instructions as we don’t know what equipment you might be using, your level of experience, or indeed how you like your coffee to taste, so they we have used the somewhat more flexible term; ‘guidelines’.

To those customers who have been forced to contact us in desperation please accept our apologies as we have been lax in not publishing any guidelines before now

Feel free to experiment, or indeed ignore completely if you aren’t new to the espresso game.

For example, some Antipodean baristas will be found grinding more coarsely and using all manner of brute force on the tamp to jam in as much as 23g of coffee in a double basket. This is equally valid, just a different style.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of dose weights, if you are wondering why the coffee tastes so grim at your local cafe one of the reasons is likely to be low dose weight. It is not uncommon in for cafes lacking a specific interest in coffee to wind the shot dose down to 5.5 or even 5.0g per shot. This basically results in too much being taken from the coffee (another form of over-extraction if you like), and unsurprisingly their commitment to thrift results in you struggling to finish another disgusting espresso that is burnt and bitter.

1. We suggest 8g of ground coffee for a single shot and 16g for a double shot. These weights are important so verify with fine scales

2. One shot is approx 30ml, two shots 60ml. These volumes are important so calibrate your coffee cup(s) with measuring spoons or similar

3. You need a good burr grinder for espresso (i.e. not a blade grinder)

4. You want an extraction time of 22 to 25 seconds. If you are outside of this range we suggest that you keep the pressure on the tamp constant and only vary the setting of your grinder (finer if your extraction times are less than 22s and coarser if your extraction times are greater than 25s)

5. As an aside, we prefer to grind fine & tamp lightly, as opposed to grinding coarsely and tamping heavy

6. Once you have achieved (1) & (2) above you should find yourself with a deep (at least 3mm) crema with fine bubbles (only visible across strong light) and a lovely golden colour

7. A whitish crema indicates under-extraction, and extraction times less than 20s. The espresso will be watery, the crema thin and lacking density

8. A brown crema indicates over-extraction, and extraction times over 30s. The espresso will be very unpleasant to taste, and will often have a light white spot on the brown crema that appears right at the end of the extraction

9. Note that a variation in atmospheric conditions will necessitate making very fine adjustments to your grinder throughout the day

Let us know if you are still having trouble!

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).