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  March 2006 Newsletter

Conference time has rolled around again, so we will be overseas later this month and early next month. This year's SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) conference is at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Normally we would fly as directly as possible to Charlotte (Melbourne - LA - Charlotte) but the Qantas monopoly on direct flights to the USA makes this quite an expensive option. We have instead decided to go in the other direction with Cathay Pacific (Melbourne, Hong Kong, Milan, London, Chicago, Charlotte) which despite the time and distance involved is a lot less expensive. It also lets us catch up with overseas suppliers, customers and correspondents. Italy will involve factory visits to both Rancilio and laScala, hopefully with many photos of both plants.

We will be leaving on MONDAY 20th MARCH and returning on THURSDAY 13th APRIL, which will be the longest time we have ever spent away from the business. During our absence Tmanna will continue supplying roasted coffee orders, but green coffee orders and equipment orders will not be available. ONLY ORDERS SUBMITTED VIA THE ORDER FORM ON THE WEBSITE WILL BE FILLED. Tmanna does not have access to my phone or email, and will not see any orders emailed to me. While my phone has global roaming, ringing me could be a bit expensive!

Speaking of order forms, the new, all singing and dancing coffee order form should be working this month. The benefits will include a Tax Invoice emailed to you as soon as the order is placed, your credit card validated and charged immediately, and the elimination of the need for me to retain credit card numbers.

Equipment shortages have continued, with Italian manufacturers seemingly struggling to keep up. I received a much delayed partial shipment of Rancilio machines at the end of February, which sold out in less than 12 hours. I have another, much larger consignment due in late March, while I'm away. It will be available as soon as I return. Prices have increased about 3% on average, not bad if you consider that they've been stable for the last 5 years or more.

The Sunbeam EM0480 grinders are also available, at a price of $198.00 inc. GST plus delivery. This is basically RRP. I know that in major cities it will be possible to get the grinders cheaper from major department and electrical stores, but I suspect that all those customers NOT living in a major city will find the EM0480 a bargain. A look at the wholesale cost vs. the selling price convinced me that there was no way I could sell these at bulk store margins.

This month's special coffee is something different from the normal. It's a Central American coffee which is produced by the "pulped natural" process. This involves mechanical removal of the skin of the coffee cherry, after which the fruit is allowed to dry around the bean. It results in a sweeter, fuller bodied coffee with good acidity.

El Salvadore Cerro de las Ranas

This coffee epitomises "balance"; it has just the right combination of fruity flavour, clean sweet acidity and smooth body. The taste has hints of apple with dark chocolate overtones in the finish. It is a great plunger, filter or vac pot coffee, but is only suitable for espresso with added milk.

Finally, Australia Post has increased their charges yet again (the last increase was only 6 months ago) so postage charges on the new order forms WILL be increased.

Since I won't be around, there will be no newsletter or special coffee in April. Talk to you in May,