While coffee is like wine, in that you can have a lifetime of enjoyment familiarising yourself with different styles from around the world, coffee does not improve with age. You need to start thinking of coffee in the same way as you do fruit, which it is. Fresh is best. Ground coffee begins to stale after 30 minutes. For whole beans that are exposed to air, for example sitting in the hopper of your grinder, you will notice a drop off in the fabulous crema after 10 days. Sure, it will still be miles ahead of 99% of the coffee on the market, but none the less expect to notice the decline around the 10 day mark. This is significant to any espresso enthusiast as it impacts crema production, and as a result many of the subtle exotic elements of the coffee’s unique taste signature begin to disappear. And how long do our beans keep in the bag before a similar drop off is observed? Well, as you go beyond 5 weeks after the roast date (clearly stamped on all our bags) you will start to notice a drop off. Granted, it will still be miles fresher than 99% of all the coffee on the market, but that isn’t what you or us are here for. We are both in pursuit of espresso excellence. For this reason we only sell 250g bags to our residential customers, and reserve the 1000g bags for our commercial customers who will consume it before any drop off in freshness occurs. By the way, our coffee doesn’t stale any faster or slower than anyone else’s, so next time you see a ‘Best Before’ date of 12 months into the future, I am you’ll be thinking the same thing as us…Sure, it won’t make you sick, but espresso is hardly an exercise in survival is it? It is the hedonistic pursuit of the ‘ultimate cup’.
Grind size: the degree of fineness to which the coffee beans are ground. Grind size varies from extremely fine (powder) for Turkish coffee, to coarse for plunger coffee and vacuum coffee makers. The method by which you make your coffee determines how fine a grind you should use. The key components are, the method, the coffee, the weather (in particular humidity), and tamp pressure. If you find yourself using excessive tamp pressure, yet you are grinding fairly fine, the is most likely nothing wrong with your machine. It is you coffee that is letting you down. Try a bag of Londinium Espresso and be astounded at the difference. You will not have to grind as fine, which means your grinder will last longer, and you will not have to exert much pressure with the tamp. Life is easy with Londinium Espresso.
Intensity: the term used to describe the degree of a coffee’s impact on the palate. For example, Robustas are regarded as high intensity.
Maragogype: the ‘elephant’ bean. A variety of arabica bean almost double the normal size. Often superior in quality & priced accordingly.
Milds: a term often used when referring to washed arabica beans.
Mocha: the name designating coffee from Ethiopia and Yemen, originally shipped from the port of Mocha. Before the commencement of coffee growing in Asia and the Americas, the word ‘mocha’ was often used to refer to black coffee, and I believe it still is in Austria.
Pacamara: an excellent hybrid arabica bean combining Maragogype and Paca varieties and grown primarily in El Salvador.
Porcelain: the ideal material for coffee cups as it is a good insulator and does not taint the coffee.
Qishr: the Yemeni term for a brew made of dried and lightly roasted coffee cherries that have had the beans removed.
Robusta (Coffea canephora): one of the two major species of coffee, the other being arabica. Robusta accounts for 25% of all coffee consumed worldwide. Robusta beans are stronger than arabica, and much less subtle. They may be bitter, and generally have a higher caffeine content. Note: the best robustas are better than the worst of the arabicas.
Tamp: usually a flat faced metal instrument, often solid to give it some weight, used in the hand to compact the ground coffee into the porta-filter. It is a critical step in the production of espresso. If the pressure exerted is too light, air pockets will be left between some of the grinds and the water will quickly channel through these pockets as they represent the ‘path of least resistance’ through the coffee. It will result in underextraction, characterised by little or no crema, and any crema will be very pale in colour. If the pressure is too great it is possible that no water at all will make its way into the cup. In less extreme situations the water will eventually makes its way into the cup but the crema will be a chocolate colour, possibly with a light stain on the crema at the very end of the extraction. Both under and over extracted espresso is very unpleasant to drink, even if you have great coffee. Personally, with Londinium Espresso on board, and a moderately fine grind size, you should not be exerting much pressure with the tamp at all. I lightly tip the ground coffee into the porta-filter so it is raised up in a pyramid shape, then I lightly sweep the tamp straight across the top of the porta-filter to level it off, then I am looking to depress the level of the coffee by probably only 3mm, so it just has enough room to lock into the holder on the espresso machine. You will hear/read of people advising about 30, 50, even 70lbs of pressure. In my view this can only be the case if their grind is far too coarse, or the coffee is stale. You should only ever exert light pressure on the tamp with Londinium Espresso.
Viennese coffee: black coffee topped with a little whipped cream. served in a glass.
Espresso: from the Italian ‘to put under pressure’. Prepared with at least 14 bar of pressure in the now famous espresso machine. May use either a manual lever to force the hot water through the ground coffee or an electric pump (either vibrating or rotary). The resulting beverage has a thick texture and should have a deep luxurious crema if the beans are fresh. Correctly prepared, espresso should be mellow and sweet. With Londinium Espresso it does not have to be burnt and bitter. Surprisingly, the espresso method results in coffee with a slightly lower caffeine content than other methods as the water is in contact with the coffee for a much shorter period of time. A single shot of espresso is usually made with 7 grams of finely ground coffee, and is served in a small but extremely thick walled china cup. The thickness of the cup wall effects the ‘mouth feel’ of the espresso. Espresso served in a full sized coffee cup will not be enjoyable, largely because the crema will dissipate quickly over a larger surface area, and it is in this emulsion that all the delicate elements of the espresso’s flavour are trapped.
Caffe corretto: espresso spiked with spirits, usually grappa. As you might expect, it has a kick like mule.
Caffe macchiato: (Italian for ‘spotted’) espresso with a few drops of milk added
Caffe mocha/Bicerin: 1 part espresso, 1 part hot chocolate, 1 part steamed milk, added in that order.
Doppio: double espresso (2 shots). Standard issue at Londinium Espresso – a single shot really isn’t enough!
Espresso con panna: espresso with a small teaspoon of whipped cream
Espresso ristretto: (Italian for ‘cut off’) usually made by loading enough ground coffee for a double shot, but only drawing through the volume of water that you would for a single shot. So, an espresso of twice the concentration. Only for the brave.
Marocchino: a caffe macchiato topped with a pinch of cocoa.
Granita di caffe: coffee poured over shaved ice and frequently topped with whipped cream (i.e. con panna)
Irish coffee: A marvelous Irish invention. Brewed coffee spiked with whisky & topped with cold whipped cream. Ideally, the coffee should be sipped through the cream and not mixed into it.
Monsooned coffee: In India green coffee beans are purposely exposed to the monsoon winds for several weeks, a process which moistens the beans and develops a distinctive flavour that in former times characterised beans after a long sea journey from India to Europe.
Dry-Processed: coffee beans dried in the sun, with little rinsing or sorting. Typically results in a poorly graded coffee, as a result of the impurities that remain mixed up with the beans. Dry-processed coffee beans are sometimes referred to as ‘naturals’.
Green coffee beans: Fresh coffee beans that have been wet or dry processed, graded, and are ready to be roasted.
Organic coffee beans: coffee beans grown without chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Consumers should be aware that many small growers do not use chemicals anyway, simply because they can not afford them, but their product may not carry organic certification. This is particularly true for coffee grown at high altitudes where few insects or bugs may be present and therefore chemicals not really necessary, combined with very inaccessible terrain making it difficult for chemicals to be transported to the plantation, and of course poverty.
Washed coffee beans: wet-processed coffee beans, which are repeatedly rinsed and sorted. Because of this, washed beans are superior in quality to dry-processed beans.
Vacuum coffee maker: water is placed in a glass globe. A second glass globe is inserted into the top of the first, with a rubber seal binding them together & a unique glass rod acting as the filter. Medium ground coffee is placed in the upper globe. A heat source is placed under the lower glass globe. As the water in the lower glass globe expands it is forced into the upper globe. When all the water in the lower globe has been forced into the upper globe, the heat source is removed. The lower globe then cools, creating a lower pressure in the lower globe, than in the top globe, and so the coffee is sucked back down into the lower globe. The most famous and spectacular of these is the original one, being the Cona, from England.
Crema: the foam that gathers on the surface of a good espresso, being an emulsion of the essential oils contained in the coffee. For any given roast, the fresher it is, the more crema you will see on your espresso. It really is that simple. The crema should not be too pale in colour, nor should it be even close to approaching a chocolate colour. The colour of varnished pine is approximately the colour you should be targeting, or possibly a shade darker. The bubbles in the crema should be so fine that they are barely visible across the light.
Londinium: the best in bespoke suits. Londinium Espresso: the best in bespoke coffee. The smoothest espresso you have ever drunk, or your money back. If you are ready for bespoke, you are ready for Londinium Espresso. If you want a particular coffee…just ask! We are bespoke, remember?
If you are currently buying your coffee beans from Monmouth Coffee, Bullet, Sacred, Has Bean, The Bean Shop, Roast and Post, then you are no doubt a connoisseur of coffee.
We respect our competitors, as they are with us in the crusade against poor coffee.
However, we are the new boys in town & we are keen for your custom.
Do give us a try – I think you will find our roasts will meet or exceed your expectations, and just in case it is not to your liking we back every roast with a ‘prompt 100% money back guarantee’.
We also strive to back our products up with first class service. So even if you don’t need to order coffee beans today, but you have a coffee related question, do give us a call & we’ll do our best to find you the solution.
Thank you for visiting
Today’s blog is the start of the Londinium glossary of coffee. The idea is to provide you with a point of reference for any terms that you may be unfamiliar with, so here goes:
Acidity: a quality highly prized by connoisseurs, and more commonly found in high altitude varieties of coffee bean. Generally, the more acidity a coffee has, the less suitable it is for a straight espresso and the more suitable it is for a filter cup coffee.
Arabica: the fruit of the Coffea arabica bush, being one of two major species of coffee (the other being Coffea canephora, or Robusta as it is more commonly known), both believed to have originated in Ethiopia. Arabica coffee accounts for approximately three quarters of global coffee consumption. It is usually superior in quality, and lower in caffeine than Robusta.
Aroma: the fragrance given off by coffee as it is prepared, and in the mouth as it is being consumed. As we are only able to detect four tastes with our tongue, the aroma of coffee is vitally important to being able to detect the subtle nuances of a fine coffee’s taste signature.
Barista: the person who has been trained in the correct preparation of espresso, upon which they often develop their own specialities, such as ‘latte art’.
Bean (coffee): the seed of the coffee bush, found inside the fruit (the coffee cherry). It is typically referred to as the seed when cultivated, and the bean when subsequently marketed.
Blue Mountain: possibly the most famous coffee bean of all, and one of the most expensive. It is produced in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The taste is subtle, with underlying chocolate notes. Should always be sold as a single origin coffee (i.e. unblended).
Body: the term used to describe the texture of the brew, the impression the texture leaves in the mouth, and the length of time that impression lingers. A full bodied coffee is thick textured and has a lingering taste in the mouth. The espresso process generally produces a coffee that is full bodied, although in my view this more a reflection of the process than the coffee beans used.
Cafe Allonge: A French term to describe diluted espresso. The Italians use ‘Americano’. i.e. a full size coffee cup to which a shot/double shot of espresso is added, then topped up with hot water.
Cafe Liegeois: A French term referring to cold coffee poured over vanilla ice cream & topped with whipped cream.
Caffeine: an alkaloid stimulant contained in coffee beans. The caffeine content can vary by as much as fifty percent between arabicas and robustas. Generally speaking, caffeine is not harmful to your health unless consumed in irresponsible quantities (say 30 cups per day), you are pregnant, you have a heart condition, or you are sensitive to caffeine.
Caracoli: usually a coffee cherry will contain a seed comprising two beans. On occasions only a single bean develops, effectively a mutation. As the flavour is more concentrated in a single bean, caracoli beans are highly prized, especially those of the arabica variety.
Coffee cherry: the fruit of the coffee bush, which is round in shape and bright red in colour. The coffee beans are the seeds of the cherry, usually two, but occasionally a single bean (caracoli).
Chocolatey: the term used to describe the highly prized aroma found in the great arabicas, such as Jamaican Blue Mountain, New Guinea Sigri, and Australian Skybury.
Decaffeinated coffee: coffee from which the caffeine has been chemically removed. Approximately 78% of decaffeinated coffee utilises fairly unpleasant chemicals to do so. The only exception is the ‘Swiss Water Process’, which is different to the ‘Water Process’ which uses chemicals. The taste and aroma of coffees that have been decaffeinated is diminished, but espresso suffers the least.
Click here to see a recent BBC article on coffee & health
Dr Trombetti says she hates the stuff herself – but points to a welter of scientific evidence to back her case. Coffee contains tannin and antioxidants, which are good for the heart and arteries, she says. It can relieve headaches. It is good for the liver – and can help prevent cirrhosis and gallstones. And the caffeine in coffee can reduce the risk of asthma attacks – and help improve circulation within the heart.
There is no denying that coffee is not for everyone. If you drink too much it can increase nervousness, and cause rapid heartbeat and trembling hands. Pregnant women, heart patients, and anyone with a stomach ulcer are usually advised to avoid it. And even Dr Trombetti says no one should drink more than three or four cups a day.
Don’t just take our word for it! Click on the above link to see the latest from the BBC. Caffeine isn’t the issue, too many calories is. Consume less fat & eat more fresh food. Obesity-related health issues are now the number one killer in much of the developed world.
Londinium Espresso is the solution. Just add water.