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November 2013 Newsletter

If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked ... all sorts of
things, but some questions are more common than others. The absolute
most asked question is "I've got an ABC espresso machine and my
shots are always too fast, how do I fix the machine?" The answer is
of course that you don't need to fix the machine, you do need to fix
the grinder. The reply, "What grinder?" explains why the dent in the
wall I bang my head against gets deeper every year.

Second would be "Why can't I get crema?", see above and add in
buying your coffee at the supermarket. I'll go on the record as
saying the ONLY way to get a semblance of fresh coffee from
supermarket offerings is to buy the various capsules (and associated
machines) now becoming common. Yes, it's expensive, and the coffees
themselves are pretty poor, but the packaging does help to preserve

Third most common: "Is my pump going bad, I don't seem to get the
same pressure as a year ago?" True, sometimes vibration pumps do
wear out, but by far the most common cause of this problem is lack
of cleaning. I try to gently guide the questioners through the steps
involved, while thinking "If you actually cleaned the *@!#$ thing
once every 5 years you wouldn't have any problems!"

Fourth is probably "Which machine do you recommend for an office?"
These days, much to my own detriment, I would have to say "Nespresso
Commercial." Expensive, yes, but clean and low maintenance vs.
superauto machines. A proper espresso machine and grinder setup also
needs a decent office barista, and few workers do well in the dual

Fifth place goes to "What's the best way to keep coffee fresh?" and
here my answer has always been the same, "Freeze it!" Preferably in
the sealed bag it arrives in, if not in an airtight container, glass
is better than plastic. The lower the freezer temp the better, chest
freezers are best. After that, don't keep it too long, anything more
than 3 months is too much.

And finally sixth is "Can I drop in to your shop and buy
spares/coffee/machines or pick up stuff?" This is by far the hardest
one to deal with. I'm a retailer, and I hate to tell my customers
"No" but sometimes it has to be done. It's a bit like asking Amazon
if you can drop in and pick up a book.

Most of the time the only person actually present in the office is
my coffee packer. I'm usually out and about, travelling between
coffee roasters and green coffee suppliers and warehouses. We don't
have a retail shop, or separate payment facilities. All our incoming
payments are directly processed by the bank. As I have frequently
told potential customers, we simply don't want to know any of your
credit card details, and we don't "do deals for cash." So the answer
is usually "Sorry, but it's not possible."

This also applies to requests to demonstrate machines and for hands
on training. Take it from my wife, the last person you want trying
to teach you something is me!

This month's special offers a very fruity flavour. It's from the
Oromia region, west of Harar and north of Sidamo and Yirgacheffe.

Ethiopia Limu Manna

Juicyfruit taste and aroma, smooth mid palate and almost tea like
flavours in the aftertaste. This is one coffee where the fruit
characters can be enhanced with a half teaspoon of sugar per cup.

Until next month