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August 2004 Newsletter

To all of those who were lucky and fast enough to get some of
last month's Yemen Mokha Ismaili special, my congratulations. To
everyone else, don't despair, because I will be getting more,
probably around November or December. In fact, this was the
fastest selling special coffee I've ever offered. I sold the
whole 120kg in the first week of July, despite the high price,
and the feedback from my customers has been entirely positive.

One thing that did become clear towards the end of that frenzied
week was that many of my customers are used to websites which are
not updated to reflect reality. I make sure that the coffees
available on the order pages are actually in stock, and if you
can't find a coffee special on the list, that means I no longer
have stock.

I suspect that this month's special may survive quite a bit
longer than the Yemen. It is
 
Kenya AA Peaberry
$34.00/kg

This is a mild, delicate coffee with deliciously subtle flavours,
fine acidity and a delightfully clean finish. In wine terms I
would describe it as a Rose to the Yemen's blockbuster Shiraz.
It is most suitable for brewing by syphon, plunger or drip filter
rather than espresso methods, although it does make a fine Café
Latte.

In recent months a number of "new, high end" models of domestic
superautomatic espresso machines from companies like Saeco, Jura
and Quickmill have appeared on the local market. The price point
for these machines is around $2500.00, which is more than for a
full featured single group heat exchanger espresso machine and
grinder combination, and double that of the complete Rancilio
Set.

I've been getting a lot of queries about these machines, which
basically boil down to 3 questions:

What's the espresso like?

How's the milk frothing?

How long do they last?

The answers (from my personal perspective) are that the espresso
is adequate, but nowhere near as rich, complex and full flavoured
as you can achieve from a good machine and grinder combination.

The milk frothing (usually with the aid of a "device") is again
adequate but far outside the realms of the temperatures and
microfoams needed for milk sweetness and latte art.

The expected machine lifetimes are a bit trickier, but customer
feedback would certainly place the working lifetimes of Saeco
machines in medium use situations at 3-5 years. It's worth noting
that Solis and Spidem superautos are manufactured by Saeco, but
Jura and Quickmill do their own thing.

The "why is it so?" comes back to how the machines are built,
which is mostly from plastic and aluminium for the
superautomatics vs. stainless steel, brass and copper for the
conventional machines. Commercial quality superautos (built from
metal) are available, but won't leave much change (if any) from
$10,000.00.

In the end, the decision on what kind of machine to buy must take
into account factors like convenience and the commitment of the
operator(s). I'd never recommend a conventional espresso machine
for a large office, or a superauto for a serious espresso
drinker.

Your decision to purchase one or the other can be made easier if
you consider which end of the spectrum you occupy; "easy to use"
or "hard to please". I'm at the hard end, but I recognise that
not everybody else is.

Finally, a number of customers have complained that they no
longer receive the email newsletter, but have to read it on the
website. Email addresses are automatically removed from the list
if the email "bounces" and bounces from a spam blocker supplied
by http://www.spamhaus.org are becoming all too common. This is
NOT because I'm listed as a spammer, but because my ISP (Bigpond,
largest ISP in Oz, etc.) is. Spamhaus recommend that individuals
pressure their ISP's to block the spam, but they've obviously
never dealt with Bigpond on an individual basis.  I'm working on
a fix to get around this with my site hosting ISP but it's a
couple of months off and may require you to specifically add your
name to a "new" list.


Alan