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April 2005 Newsletter

Office coffee: the words still send a shiver down my spine. A
plastic cup of lukewarm grey dreck with particles of allegedly
non-dairy (hopefully non-fatal) creamer floating in the scum on
the surface. Produced from the archetypal Café Bar, actual
relationship to COFFEE  yet to be determined.

That was over 20 years ago, but is still true in some offices.
Many others have moved on, if only in the boardroom, to at least
filter coffee and sometimes even espresso. In the last 3 or 4
years, espresso coffee in the general workplace has become a lot
more common. As a part of this, I'm getting a lot of enquiries
about machines suitable for office use.

My recommendation is to always go for a superauto machine unless
there is a posse of aspiring baristas working there. "Proper"
espresso machines require knowledge and technique to make good
coffee, and few offices have people with the necessary
experience. The recommendations below are based on my experiences in the local market with many users of superauto machines.

Two prominent manufacturers are missing from the list;
Saeco/Gaggia and Jura. Saeco is excluded due to their appalling
service backup (at least in Victoria.) Jura misses out because in
my experience their machines run too cool, below the temperature
required for good espresso. I don't know why this is so, or
whether it can be corrected by changing settings, but I have seen
it too often to ignore it.

Small Office (up to 10 people).

Solis Palazzo

I like the Solis Pallazo machines sold by Diamond C services, . Internally they are Saecos but build quality and service backup is top knotch.


Medium Office (10 -50 people.)

2 candidates here: from Crown Coffee,, the Quickmill Super Cappuccino 5500 and from Lygon Imports  the San Remo Automat. Both have internal all metal brew groups and a variety of adjustment parameters to allow excellent brewing.

Quickmill 5500

San Remo Automat


Large Office (50 people & up.)

Schaerer Model C

Here there is a wide choice of machines, including high end Saecos, Schaerer, Azkoyen, Acorto and many others, all representing a major investment and requiring top service backup.
My advice here is to first investigate the service and supply, then choose the machine. With all of the above, it's also important to remember that without the best coffee beans (my job!) the end product will still be dreck.

One of the reasons I emphasise the service side of superautomatic espresso machines is that setup and maintenance by someone who knows what they are doing is critical, especially with the professional level machines. Any change in the brewing parameters, even something as simple as a change of beans, can lead to less than optimum brewing performance.

There is a "Dual Special" this month, because I managed to get a
deal on a dozen Chinese made solid stainless steel 58mm tampers.
These are available for $22.00 each inc. GST. They're not in the
same league as the ones Greg makes, but they are good value at this price.

The special coffee is one I've been after for a couple of years,
as a special treat for those who love "chocolatey" coffees.

Uganda Bugisu AA

A  full bodied, low acid coffee with complex dark chocolate
flavour and distinct cocoa aftertaste. The addition of milk and
sugar produces the definite impression of milk chocolate.

Finally, a quick warning: due to increases in world metal and
energy prices, espresso equipment prices will be going up in the
near future. I've been quoted 5% increases effective next month,
but if commodity prices continue to rise this may be just the