Valentine's day at Londinium Espresso

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:28

Ever had a Valentine’s Day that left you burnt & bitter? Well this year be prepared with Londinium Espresso. If the day goes well you can relax, safe in the knowledge that ‘inviting them back for coffee’ isn’t going to disappoint. It will mark you as an individual at the cutting edge of couture coffee. And if things don’t go as well as you’d planned, you’ve got the finest coffee in the land all to yourself. Have some on hand to cover either eventuality!

Coming soon: Long term review of the Olympia Cremina 2002

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:28

we’ve had ours for 3 years, with nothing but good things to say (once we learnt how to use it!). built like Stonehenge (to last). no electric pump to replace. largely unchanged since 1928. voted best espresso machine by the New York Times (from memory) a few years back. the price is high, but you do get what you pay for. new electric pump model now onsale – lets hear from you if you have one of these.

Friday's tip

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:27

Well , you can dismiss this suggestion with a ‘yes he would say that wouldn’t he’, but in my experience it is worth dumping the first espresso that you draw from your machine.

This applies whether it is the first shot when you turn it on, or if the machine has been sitting idle for some time. Try it, I think you might be surprised at the results, particularly if you are only drawing off one for yourself, then you will always be having the first one out, and most likely disappointed with the results.

Thought for the day...

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:27

in life, you get what you pay for…if you’re lucky!

At Londinium Espresso the focus is on quality at a fair price. There is an ocean of poor quality coffee, freely available on every corner. There is some expensive coffee out there that is not true to label, or more often does not taste true to label because it is stale.

Why would anyone buy pre-ground Hawaiian Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain? It’s pre-ground; that means its stale before it leaves the store.

Why would anyone buy these coffees as a blend, particularly if the proportions are not disclosed – how much of the premium coffee are you actually receiving for your money? The delicate flavours of the premium coffee are swamped by the presence of an inferior coffee. What a waste of money.

All this leaves you bitterly disappointed when you expose it to the only opinion that really counts; yours. And possibly embarrassed if you have served it to your friends.

We don’t think it’s a contradiction to say we offer premium coffee beans that represent excellent value for your money. That’s why we have the Londinium Guarantee. If it isn’t the smoothest cup of espresso you’ve had, send it back for a prompt refund from ourselves.

At Londinium Espresso you get what you have paid for: premium coffee that meets or exceeds your expectations.

If you would like a particular coffee that doesn’t currently appear on our website, get in touch & we will promptly acquire it & roast it fresh for you.

in life, you get what you pay for…if you’re lucky!

The Londinium advantage

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:26

At Londinium Espresso we have spent some time designing a custom shaped bag that the postman can fit through your letterbox. So what I hear you ask, ‘how does that help me?’ Well, it means you can be at work getting on with your life and when you return home, instead of having a nice little ‘sorry we missed you’ card from the courier, you will have a gleaming gold coffee ingot from Londinium Espresso. You see, we are always thinking about little ways that we can make it easy for you to access great coffee. I you have a coffee related question, call us or email, and we’ll try and find an answer.

Send us a coffee question

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:26

...and we’ll post the answer on this blog. if you have a new machine and are disappointed with the results, start by weighing your coffee. 7 grams for a single shot, 14 grams for a double. Sure, you don’t need to do this once you have great coffee cascading from your espresso machine, but if you have tried everything else, it is worth going back to first principles. If you can not get that weight of coffee into your porta-filter, and tamped down say 3mm below the top of the porta-filter, then your grind is top coarse, and vice-versa if the measured amount drops in with space to spare. It sounds fanatical, but you will have to make adjustments for extreme weather conditions, particularly for changes in humidity and also as the coffee ages. For example, when you use Londinium Espresso you will most likely find you need to back the grind off (i.e. make it more coarse) initially. If you have it lying around for a while, just tweak the grind one increment finer. Remember to wait for any coffee that was ground at the earlier setting to pass through the grinder, before making it finer again if necessary. Hope this helps. Reiss.

How long does coffee keep fresh?

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:26

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’.

The Londinium Glossary - Part 4

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:25

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.

The Londinium Glossary - Part 3

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:24

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)

The Londinium Glossary - Part 2

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:24

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.