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November 2011 Newsletter

We're  back from our European adventure, which was very
enlightening indeed. In the run up to HOST exhibition I made a
point of studying the coffee culture in every town and village we
passed through, trying to discern any overall trends. The
benefits of close scrutiny became more apparent as our trip went
on, because sure enough there is a revolution happening.

In the June 2010 newsletter I wrote about the disappearing
Italian Barista, . It turns
out that it's not just Italy where this is happening, but most of
Europe. Superautomatic and Pod espresso machines are becoming the
norm rather than the exception in all sorts of venues. Ten years
ago Superautos were mostly found in offices or convenience
stores. 5 years ago they were appearing in McCafes and Starbucks.
Today they are present in ordinary bars, restaurants, hotels and
sandwich shops.

By my admittedly rough count, about one in every two venues
offering espresso drinks was using either a Superauto or a pod
machine. By the time we got to the Host exhibition, it came as no
surprise that almost all of the "new" offerings from espresso
machine manufacturers were Superauto or pod machines. The quality
of the espresso produced is less than stellar, but people seem to
accept it. I had a brief chat with 2010 World Barista Champ
Gwilym Davies which confirmed my observations that great espresso
is no longer a major Italian goal.

The manufacturers know their markets, and are obviously well on
top of these trends. The only other "new" technology I saw was
PID temperature control of individual brew groups, which really
isn't that novel.

The other really interesting thing was the complete lack of new
domestic machine offerings, with the exception of Lelit. It would
appear that the major machine makers have ceded the domestic
machine market to pods, superautos and Chinese manufacturers for
the forseeable future. The Lelit exception was (Finally!) a PID
controlled, brass boiler, standard 58mm group machine, which
should be available soon. It's what the Rancilio Silvia should
have been 5 years ago, but still isn't today. Price and
availabilty to come.

One interesting "new" small grinder I saw was offered by Casadio,
which is Cimbali/Faema's "second" brand. It looked very familiar,
and turned out to be a slightly blinged up Sunbeam EM0480
variant, so there must already be a certain amount of commerce
between the Italian companies and Chinese manufacturing

There will be a separate article about my HOST experiences in the
next couple of days.

Now on to the November Special coffee. I've been aware of this
coffee for a few years now, but this is the first time I've been
able to get it. From the northern mountains of Thailand,

Doi Chaang Peaberry

This coffee has a distinctive green apple and hazelnut aroma
which follows through to sweet, softly acid cup with a nutty

The Doi Chaang coffee plantations were originally founded as an
alternative crop to opium poppies grown by the Akha hill tribe. A
partnership with a Canadian coffee roaster has finally enabled a
wider distribution network. The coffee really ticks all the "feel
good" boxes, it's organically grown and Fair Trade certified, but
more than that it's a first class drop.

Until next month