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February 2003 Newsletter

Well, I'm back from holidays and fighting fit...in theory, anyway. Actually, I returned expecting a flood of orders and got a deluge instead! My first eager customer called about 8.30 a.m. as I was trying to get my luggage off the carousel, and then everyone else piled on. Since I had zero stock of roasted coffee, or machines, it took a few days to get back up to speed. It's taken a couple of weeks but I've finally caught up as of yesterday, and now have the time to think about other things.

Costs and prices have been on my mind since late last year. Coffee prices have risen a bit, but not really enough to worry about. What has gone up is the cost of packaging, postage, couriers and insurance, which I'm sure is no surprise to anyone. I'll be increasing the prices of some coffees to compensate, and adjusting the courier fee up to $4.00, but that will be it for the time being.

What I will be trying to work out is a way to better adjust packaging costs. A 200/250g valved bag is now only a few cents cheaper than a 500g bag, and many customers are requesting their coffees packed in small bags, increasing both the cost per bag and the labour cost. 4 x 500g bags at 90c each are a LOT cheaper than 10 x 200g bags at 80c each!

Quaha machine prices have also increased; RRP for the Lux is $249.00, the Junior $535.00 and the Napoletana $749.00. The first stocks of Napoletanas has arrived, and I’ve cleared up a considerable backlog. The Juniors and the Lux have yet to come into stock, but when they do all existing orders will be supplied at the OLD price; I'll get my new prices up in the next couple of days, below the RRP as always.

One of the most frequent questions that people ask is "what's the best way to store coffee?" There's an extended discussion on my website at http://www.coffeeco.com.au/altcof/altcoffeepage10.html , but briefly the facts are this:

Fresh roasted coffee gives off large quantities of carbon dioxide and other volatiles, and stales in the presence of oxygen, moisture and light. Vacuum packing in valved foil bags removes oxygen and moisture, which are then replaced by CO2 gas. This will slow down the staling process, which can be further slowed by freezing the unopened packs.

My own taste tests have shown that coffee packed and frozen in this way only starts to alter in taste and brewing characteristics after about 12 weeks. Note that coffee not packed like this should not be frozen, as the presence of moisture and oxygen will lead to much faster deterioration.

Once a pack is opened it should be stored in an airtight glass container in the bottom of the fridge, and used within a week. All the times above apply to ground coffee, with whole beans you could probably double storage life, but I haven't done the experiment.

In the next couple of weeks I will be chasing up long neglected stuff like the Isomac and Expobar heat exchanger type espresso machines, and "low end" commercial grinders. There are a few new product lines entering the market now, including domestic machines from Nemox in Italy, a direct competitor of Quaha. In Australia they are being brought in by the Quaha importer, which makes for an interesting situation.

The Nemox Napoletana and Junior are NOT the same as the Quaha models, matching the Saeco Via Venezia range instead, with 53mm portafilters and 120ml stainless steel boilers. The Nemox Opera and Fenice are almost totally identical to the Quaha machines, except for external badges. Confusing, isn't it? You can see the range at http://www.nemox.it/index_eng%20prodotti/products.htm .

I’ll be bringing in some stainless steel base sets (which include a knockbox and accessories drawer) for the Silvia/Rocky duo in the next few weeks. The doserless version of the stainless steel Rocky grinder should be available about May.

There is no "special" coffee this month, I've been selling the remainder of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sulawesi Toraja, both of which are almost gone. I promise to have one organised for next month, though!

Alan