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July 2007 Newsletter

The first part of my Magnum Opus, Domestic Espresso Machine
Repair, is now up on the website for all the world to see. This
bit deals with the Rancilio Silvia, with the Lelit/Imat/Nemox
portion to follow next month. I've tried to pitch it at the level
of the intelligent DIYer, without too much handholding. At the
end of the article I plan to go into detail on various little
tricks which can be generalised to most domestic espresso
machines, but you can see where I'm up to now at .

One thing that's become clear lately is that people often send
machines in for "repair" when what is really needed is
maintenance, or in layman's terms a bloody good clean. The
machines arrive with totally clogged showerscreens, hardened
gaskets, steam wands blocked up with ancient dried milk and a
general air of neglect. After an hour of elbow grease they
suddenly start to look and work "as good as new". In the past
I've charged my time for repairs and cleaning at $60.00 per hour,
but this is about to change. From now on repairs will still be
$60.00, but cleaning is going up to $100.00 per hour, primarily
because it's no fun at all.

I'd far prefer that the customers do it themselves and save the
money. You can see what's involved at and
It's definitely not rocket science.

On a more pleasant subject, I've been working on a new espresso
blend for the last year or so. My aim with this particular blend
was to get the most "chocolate" flavour possible, so that the
addition of milk gave the taste of a "Mocha Latte" without
actually adding chocolate to the mix. When you consider that
"Mocha", generally thought of as a mix of chocolate and coffee,
was originally meant to approximate the flavour of Mokha, the
coffee from Yemen, you might say I've tried to bring things
around in a circle.

However, what I was after required more body and less wild berry
fruit than straight Yemen Mokha, because I wanted to also give
the same sort of mouthfeel that adding chocolate gives to the
drink. This has required cupping quite a few African and
Indonesian coffees for both their body and flavour
characteristics, as well as the odd mild Central American bean.
You only have to look at the monthly specials for the last year
to get an idea of some of the candidates.

Anyway, I finally think I've got the right balance of coffee,
chocolate, body and smoothness in a single package; I'll be
interested to hear your opinions on the subject. So this month's
special will be

Espresso Cioccolato

Ultra smooth and chocolaty with a rich creamy body and lingering,
low acid cocoa aftertaste.

If it gets a favourable response it will be a permanent addition
to the coffee menu.

Speaking of favourable responses, I got a huge response to the
question "email vs online" that I asked in the last newsletter,
with about 60% in favour of email, so it looks like I'll be
emailing out the newsletter for the foreseeable future. I'm still
working on ways to do this efficiently, and at some stage I may
need to get everyone who wants to be on the mailing list to re-
subscribe, but I'll worry about that AFTER I get the repair
article finished. And for those who suggested it, I'm sorry, but
there aren't any email clients I know of which will allow you to
add 5000+ addresses to your "BCC" field! <G>.