February 2018 Newsletter
This month marks exactly 4 years since we decided to stop selling
coffee brewing equipment. During this time we've continued to
service and repair machines that we once sold, but even this is
coming to an end, for the simplest of reasons. We're running out of
spare parts, and the main service technician we've been using is
So, sometime this year, we will have to decline the job of fixing
someone's machine, and all machines shortly afterwards. Apologies
in advance but it had to happen. There are alternative suppliers,
Jetblack Espresso in Sydney for Lelit type machines and Coffee-A-
Roma in Melbourne for Rancilio. Fortunately laScala machines can be
repaired by any competent espresso machine service technician.
What is interesting is that the majority of the various machines we
sold are still in service, a testament to their enduring quality.
Endurance and sustainability are suddenly the buzzwords for the
coffee industry as a whole. There are half-a-dozen major coffee
conferences this year and all of them feature sustainability as a
primary topic. This has been brought about by the effects of climate
change on coffee agriculture.
As I've discussed in previous newsletters, one of the effects is a
resurgence in coffee plant diseases and insect pests. Note that when
it comes to "traditional" coffee varietals like Typica, Bourbon and
Maragogype, this problem is only getting worse. The only way to
mitigate the effects is to change to more resistant Arabica
Sadly, "more resistant" hardly ever seems to equal "better tasting".
I have yet to taste any of the improved varietals that have better
flavours than the best heirloom ones, although a couple have been
almost as good. The other huge sustainability problem is even more
serious, the loss of coffee habitat.
African countries seem to be more affected at present, particularly
some areas of Ethiopia where "wild" Arabica varietals have grown for
centuries. This is a problem for farmers who see their livelihood
dying off and also for the future genetic diversity of coffee. One
of the major difficulties is that, yes, those varietals may be able
to grow further up the valley or mountainside, but that land already
belongs to somebody else and may already have different crops on it.
Another problem is that many African coffee farmers are subsistence
farmers, with a perilously narrow margin of survival. A crop that is
prone to failure will be replaced by one that may have a better
chance of success.
That's why the major topics of this year's conferences are about
finding ways to keep these farmers in business, producing quality
coffees and feeding their families. Fortunately, although it's now
becoming more urgent, it's been a work in progress for several
years. A very few farmers can even turn drier conditions to their
advantage, as with this month's Red Honey prepped Costa Rican.
It definitely felt like a good way to kick off the year:
Costa Rica Tarrazu Rojo Miel
This is NOT a coffee that could be called "delicate", instead it's
got a huge coffee flavour, nippy acidity and a long, long
aftertaste. Guaranteed to wake you up in the morning!
Until next month