March 2012 Newsletter
By far the most common question I get asked is "I want to buy an
espresso machine. Which one would you recommend?"
The answer I would like to give, of course, is "One of the
machines I sell!" but I normally manage to restrain myself.
Instead I usually lead the querant through a mental checklist of
budget, lifestyle, usage and expectations to arrive at a
tentative answer. I've been doing it so often lately that I
thought this month would be a good time to get it written down.
On to the checklist!
1) What sort of coffee are you expecting to make? This can range
all the way from seriously good straight espresso to vaguely
coffee flavored hot milk drinks.
2) How much work are you prepared to put into it? This is the
point where people often decide to buy a superauto machine.
3) Are you aware that you will have to develop at least
rudimentary barista skills with grinding, dosing and frothing? I
call this "the second superauto decision point."
4) What kind of grinder will you be using? "Grinder? ,,, I need a
grinder?" is the normal response, and my answer is always that
the grinder is more important than the machine.
5) How many coffees are you planning on making per day? There is
not much point in spending substantial amounts of money to do 2
quick cappuccinos on weekend mornings.
6) Given all of the above, what sort of budget are we talking
about? Remember to include the grinder! This is the point where
the choices really start to narrow down.
7) Are you planning on getting into espresso as a hobby or as a
convenience? And this can be the point where either the credit
card or the long-suffering spouse may emit smoke and begin to
There are hundreds of other pertinant questions that follow from
the above ones, such as using the grinder for other brewing
processes, coping with 10 person dinner parties, the need for
regular maintenance etc. but the answers to the initial seven
tend to sort things out fairly quickly.
Sharp eyed customers may have spotted that in February we roasted
the last of our organic Nepal Terai and switched back to the
Organic Timor Maubesse. This sort of substitution will probably
happen again in the future, as it depends a lot on crop cycles
and worldwide demand issues.
Customers with long memories may recall that over a dozen years
ago I offered a coffee from the first "Cup of Excellence" auction
held in Brazil. That was also the first time any COE coffee had
been available in Australia, and a very nice drop it was. Of
course, the rest of the world started to wake up to "Auction
Finalist" coffees and they became almost impossible to get, so I
was pleasantly surprised when this one turned up again.
Brazil Fazenda Lambari
This is an incredibly smooth and sweet coffee with very low
acidity. It carries flavours of cocoa and hazelnut which sort of
sneak up on you and then explode in a very long, lingering creamy
Given all of the above it is, as you would expect, a magnificent
single-origin espresso coffee, but it still tastes superb brewed
by other methods like plunger, syphon or filter.
Until next month