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May 2011 Newsletter

We're Baa-a-ck. A quick trip to the UK via Helsinki (Finland) and
a conference in London occupied most of our time away, but we did
manage to get in a week's holiday in the Cotswolds. Since I
usually get only 2 weeks holiday a year the break was much

As you would expect I study the coffee culture wherever I go.
Finland was interesting, the Finns have the highest per capita
coffee consumption in the world, at 12 kilos per person per
year! Much of this is percolator or filter coffee, served at
roughly double the strength you get in the USA, but espresso is
making inroads as well. The climate (it's the first time I've
ever been to a place where the sea was frozen) obviously has a
lot to do with it.

The quality of the coffee served ranges from good to excellent,
regardless of the brewing methods involved. All the baristas I
saw at work had solid technique to back up the drink quality. The
UK, on the other hand ... not so much. The only decent barista-
pulled shot I had there came from an Aussie.

I did manage to get some other acceptable coffees, but they were
all "push button", from either superauto, pod or capsule

As I have said before, these types of machines are steadily
taking over portions of the "traditional" espresso market, all
throughout Europe.

What I haven't said before is that some of these "espresso
systems" are actually starting to achieve acceptable results. In
particular, the commercial version of the Nespresso system, which
uses foil pods (rather than the expensive little metal capsules)
makes a drinkable espresso. The foil pod seems to preserve the
coffee far better than ordinary pod packaging. Certainly I never
detected any trace of stale coffee flavours from the Nespressos I
tasted, unlike coffees from other pod systems and superautos.

I would actually go so far as to recommend this system for office
use. It's clean, quick and relatively foolproof. The milk
delivery system isn't as good, producing a hot aerated froth
rather than true microfoam, but it's OK given the overall
standard of the drink involved.

This month there won't be a "special" coffee, since I haven't had
time to do the necessary roasting and cupping involved. I thought
I'd point you towards the new entrants on our list of coffees
instead; any of these would have rated a "special" appearance
under normal circumstances.

We've still got about a week's worth of

Yemen Mokha Ismaili 

Then you might like to try the

Organic Nepal Terai

This is the organic version of the Nepal Terali Supreme we
offered last year, and tastes identical, or the

Café de Cuba Peaberry

which is a slightly sweeter and more intense version of our
"normal" Cuban coffee.

Even our current decaff offering is new. Due to a worldwide
shortage of Colombian coffee we are now using Swiss Water
Decaffeinated Ethiopian Sidamo beans, which result in a somewhat
fruitier coffee than the Colombian, with some chocolate overtones
in the aftertaste.

Until next month