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June 2007 Newsletter

First, the great Rancilio Portafilter recall is almost complete. I've been swapping over portafilters with faulty chrome for the last 3 weeks. If you bought a Silvia from me in the last 8 months and you are having portafilter chrome problems, and you haven't let me know or received a new portafilter, now is the time to get in touch.

Second, it's getting increasingly difficult to send this newsletter out via email using my "normal" ISP facilities. The introduction of various spam reduction measures by the ISPs means that ANY email sent to a few thousand addresses is automatically suspect and will tend to be blocked. I am currently contemplating discontinuing the EMAIL newsletter in favour of the ONLINE version (all the newsletters go up on the website at the same time as the emails are sent) at  . Please let me know what is best for you.

The SCAA Conference in Long Beach California was the most "full on" conference I've been to so far. I was totally exhausted by the time it finished, as much from the intense concentration as from the jetlag. There is no doubt that it was worth it though, with a whole lot of immediately applicable stuff available.

On the "education" front I attended a hands on roasting intensive concentrating on profile roasting, the speeding up or slowing down of the process during roasting in order to optimise various flavour components in the cup. The techniques involved are immediately applicable to what I do right now, although it will take significant upgrades to the electronics of the machines to get the full benefit.

On the new products side, there were 2 outstanding debuts from my point of view. One was the Behmor Roaster, a development of the Ronco Rotisserie ovens designed to roast up to 500g at a time. There is no doubt it can roast quite well, and due to a catalytic converter there is little smoke during roasting. What it doesn't do very well is cool the beans AFTER roasting. There is a workaround for this but I suspect a good deal more development is still to be done. It still won the SCAA "Best New Product" award.

The other new product that wowed me was the Ditting shop grinder. I currently use Ditting grinders because of their high precision and superb durability. The new grinder retains this but is also incredibly easy to disassemble and clean, and even easier to change burrs on. Unlike every other grinder I know of, the burr plates are not screwed on, they are held in place with rare-earth magnets. I would love to see this "trickle down" into the consumer market, but suspect it will take a few years.

There were heaps of other surprises, including coffees from the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Nepal, and built in "under bench" commercial espresso machines. Pity there weren't two of me so I could cover it all!

The trophies for the 2007 US Barista Competition, won by Heather Perry. These were designed and built by Reg Barber, the tamper guy. The Long Beach Convention Centre. The place is absolutely HUGE, but it was pretty well filled by SCAA members.

The Behmor Roaster, demonstrated by its inventor Joe Behm. Everything but the cooling is good. The new Ditting shop grinder, with easy disassembly and cleaning and magnetically attached burrs.

New from Nemox, a "commercial" setup with grinder, espresso machine and milk steamer. As with several other "small commercial" machines on display, it has a brew boiler and steam thermoblock. The only really different espresso machine on display, the "Jetsteam." All the works are underbench, except for the heated groups, steam and waste tray.

The hands on Roasting Tent. I was on the Deidrich IR3 at front right. Some cultural appreciation in action at the Hawaiian Coffees booth!

This month's special is the "New Crop"

Yemen Mokha Ismaili

Yemen seems to vary from crop to crop even more than other coffees. This one has a fuller body and is so chocolaty it's almost cocoa, but is a bit less fruity than the previous lot. It's still a stunning cup, though, with the typical Yemen "wildness" at the edges.