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 June 2003 Newsletter

May has been a troublesome month, in more ways than one. First, the new shipments of Napoletanas and Juniors have arrived, bringing consternation with them, as you can see from the text of the emails I sent to all those who had machines on back-order.

"The new shipments of Juniors and Napoletanas are finally arriving. The Napoletanas are already in stock and the Juniors are due in the next couple of days. Unfortunately there is a major problem with these shipments.

The machines that have been shipped are Napoletana and Junior I's, NOT II's. This means that they come without the 3-way solenoid pressure release valve. This does not affect the quality of the brewed espresso or alter the look of the machine, but it does mean that:

1) Waiting time between shots is about 30 seconds 2) After pulling a shot, you will get some drips of coffee from the portafilter. 3) The spent coffee puck will not be as firm. 4) Cleaning the group by backflushing is not necessary (or possible).

Since it will be at least 2 months until a new shipment arrives the importer (Lygon Imports, www.lygonimport.com.au ) has decided to sell the machines "as is". Current RRP's for the machines are:

Junior A$535.00 Napoletana A$749.00

I believe that it is unsatisfactory to charge full price for these machines, since they have slightly reduced functionality, and so they will be available from me at 10% less than RRP.

Junior A$478.50 Napoletana A$676.50

You may wish to cancel your order, or purchase one of these units, or wait another 2 months until the new shipment arrives. Simply let me know which option you'd prefer and I'll arrange stocks accordingly."

This saga (which has been going on since last September) has cost me a small fortune in lost sales, interest charges etc. I’m determined it won’t happen again, so I’ll be off to the big Trade Fair held in Milan in the middle of November to see what I can sort out for myself.

Then, the new season shipment of Cafe de Cuba has been delayed. This means that Cafe de Cuba is out of stock until the end of June, but I’ve developed a blended "match" which is almost the same, with a fraction more acid. It will be called "Cuba Analogue" to identify it. Finally, the 2 bags of Dominican Cafe Josef, last month’s special, turned out to be 70kg bags rather than the usual 60kg bags. This means I’ve still got about 20kg of this much praised coffee left to roast, so it will probably remain on the list for the next week or so.

Below is a quote from Don Schoenholt, co-founder and past president of the SCAA and CEO of Gillies Coffee in New York. Don knows more about coffee than any 10 other people I can think of, but is currently "taking arms against a sea of troubles." The City of New York has established that the wonderful aroma of roasted coffee emanating from the front door of Don's establishment is "air pollution", following an anonymous (of course) complaint, and fined him for it!

There's more to it than that, of course, since Don's factory is in an Industrial area that's being yuppified, and said coffee smell (and worse) emanates from the doors of every chain coffee store in New York, but Don's a fighter and won't be giving in; he's taking it to a higher court. Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to quote him and wish him well in his battle with idiot bureaucracy; the whole specialty coffee trade is deeply in his debt.

"Mocha & Java.

In coffee Eden first there was Mocha, and then there was Java. The first blend, made either by accident or by design but probably by the hand of man rather than the hand of God (but you never know about these things) was made by putting the two original coffees of commerce together in the same pot.

M&J is a remembered taste in the cultural history of American coffee cuisine. It represents to us something warm and wonderful tied to our simpler quainter culinary past.

M&J is the coffee equivalent of Sweet & Sour in other foods. The original blends were formed by the mixing of two distinctively different coffee tastes and looks. The deep smooth heavy taste of old weathered Javas (they got that way crossing the ocean in equatorial heat in unvented cargo holds of wooden bottomed sailing ships) and the piquant, bitter-sweet cocoay taste of Arabian (now Yemen) Mochas that were blended together usually after, but sometimes prior to roasting.

The bakers term "Mocha" by the way comes from trying to recreate the taste of those cocoay notes of pure Arabian coffee. They succeeded in an overly sweet way by literally adding chocolate to coffee.

The traditional look of the M&J blend is small curled beans (Mocha) and Large flat beans (Java) mixed together.

Today roasters try to recreate the taste of old any number of ways; most often with lively small bean new crop Central American coffees standing in for the Mochas blended with larger past crop coffees of American or other origin filling in for the old Javas.

The nearest thing to an "old brown" Java today is India Monsooned Malabar. The Mochas of course are still grown in Yemen, and can be found in the better coffee lines here in the states.

A hundred years ago true Mocha & Java was already a thing of legend no longer found in packages so named. At that time almost all the "Mochas" we saw were Brazil coffees. Any "mild" of good bean was sold as Javas. The purists howled but the stuff was sold as Mocha & Java anyway. This ended with the passage of the first Food & Drug laws in the US beginning in 1906. The big brands switched to proprietary names to avoid being "scolded" by the Government for mislabeling.

When I was a boy (I was in High School when John Glenn made his first orbital flight) there was only one brand of Mocha & Java advertised in the land. The company was sold years ago, and no longer makes the Mocha & Java claim. The rebirth of the specialty trade brought with it a nostalgia for things past, and Mocha & Java began, again to appear on barrels and bins, and bags.

Roasters have an interesting time making the blend and marketing their efforts. Some sell a blend of Mochas from Yemen and Javas from Java. Others sell a blend of Ethiopian Mocha (sometimes spelled Moka, Mocca, etc) and Javas from Java. Some use "Javas" from Timor, or Sumatras or just don't give a hoot and use "Javas" from Ecuador, Colombia, Peru or what-have-you.

There is almost no way for a roaster to get it right. If it's Yemen and Java its correct by origin but most assuredly doesn't taste like the legend though it may taste very good on its own merits. With the real taste buried with the palates that knew it well several generations ago roasters improvise.

If the origins in the blend are not Yemen and Java the blend should be called Mocha & Java Style. In coffee Jargon "Style" means "similar to but not the same as," unfortunately consumers aren't really educated to that fact. The roaster should have some additional descriptive on the package of Mocha & Java Style coffee but most do not. Most do not bother to even say "Style." Mocha & Java has become a coffee name without an origin.

Real Mocha is pricey. Real Java is too. And real Javas aren't what they are cracked-up to be in the cup any more. So what's a fella to do? The myth of Mocha & Java is mightier than the passage of time, and continues to have a powerful pull upon the specialty coffee world particularly here in the United States.

As long as the legend of Mocha & Java persists there will be consumers who seek it out. Nature and commerce abhor a vacuum so there will be Mocha & Java to be purchased.

As with all things Caveat Emptor.

-i840coffee (D.N.S.)"

Here's your chance to try my stab at it, anyway! I’ve used this year’s Mocha Harar (which is more like Yemen Mocha than most Yemen Mochas I’ve tasted) and real aged Java Arabica.

Mocha/Java Blend $34.00/kg

Full bodied, smooth, chocolatey, rich, yummie! Has a HUGE crema brewed by espresso.

During May I finally managed to complete my assessment of some High End domestic espresso machines available locally; it’s up on Coffeegeek at http://www.coffeegeek.com/columnists/alanfrew/05-25-2003. The last of the test machines is now for sale at cost, so here’s someone’s chance to snap up a bargain.

Brugnetti Simona Top Automatic 1 group espresso machine, in black & stainless steel finish, $1540.00 inc. GST. Full 12 month warranty etc. applies. This is a Heat Exchanger machine with automatic shot dosing, 1.5l brass boiler, steam always on tap, auto boiler refill, tank water level sensor etc. Comes with single & double commercial portafilters & baskets, scoop, tamper, blind filter & espresso machine detergent.

Alan.