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August 2009 Newsletter

"Who shall have a fishy in his little dishy, who shall have a
fishy when t' boat comes in?"
  As the song goes, my boat has come
in, not with a fish but with a swag of exceptional coffees.

I won't waste any time in getting them out to you, but I will
warn that there will be quantity limits, particularly on this
first coffee. Only 300kg of the green coffee made it to
Australia, of which I have only 60kg, for 50kg after roasting.
Note that in my opinion it is too acidic to make a balanced
straight espresso coffee, which should cut down on the demand a

My tasting notes read "First impression is a pronounced
blackcurrant aroma, confirmed by the first sip which delivers an
explosion of berry fruit and acid flavours to the palate. The
acid persists under the dense body, lingering on the back of the
palate. The taste, mouthfeel and acidity combine to epitomise the
"winey" nature of the coffee."

The coffee is of course Kenyan, specifically the

Kenya Iriraini Co-op AA
Limit 1.00kg

This coffee has recently taken 3rd place in the East African Fine
Coffee Association (EAFCA) Cupping contest in January 2009. Third
might not sound all that good, but the competition involves
hundreds of coffees, and just making the top ten is an
accomplishment. At a guess this is the best Kenya I'll taste in
the next couple of years.

The EAFCA Certification for the Iriraini Coffee


Several customers have contacted me about "news" items appearing
in the Melbourne Age Epicure magazine, the food and wine liftout
published every Tuesday. The first article which provoked comment
announced the opening of "Australia's first syphon bar."
I had to chuckle, because I thought that I'd closed the first one
in 1988.Not to mention the second one in 1996.

The second article was about some bloke in Prahran Market who was
going to open up a boutique roastery to provide freshly roasted
"Estate" coffees to the public. Not that I think it's a bad idea,
see the Kenya Iriraini, but he was carrying on as if the concept
was entirely new and had been invented by Monmouth coffee in
London. Sorry to burst his bubble, but Japanese syphon bars have
been doing this since the mid-1960's, and there are at least a
dozen roasters around Australia doing it right now, including me.

When I started up my business I copied the whole concept direct
from the Japanese, who were at that time (and still are) the
world's foremost buyers and roasters of single estate varietal

Of course, when I started sourcing coffees I found that there
were people in Melbourne who had been doing the varietal thing
even before the Japanese. Giancarlo Giusti (founder of Grinders)
and Bruce Cottle were among them.

As for the "First Syphon Bar" ... I have a copy of a poster from
the 1880's advertising "Oriental No.1 Coffee", manufactured by
Robert Harper & Co. of Melbourne , Sydney, Brisbane & Adelaide.
In the background is a Naperian syphon brewer (see ) .

The 1880's poster. Note the Naperian Syphon on the table!

Which is why I've never claimed to have been the first, even in
Australia. I suspect that title goes back a lot further than
anyone guesses. To quote Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new
under the sun."

Until next month