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October 2005 Newsletter

Murphy's Law mandates that sooner or later something will go
wrong when you place an order. We have policies in place to try
to minimize any inconvenience to our customers,
( ) but we can't anticipate
every eventuality.

The common ones, though, can be handled like this:

"You emailed that you were posting my coffee on XX, but it still
hasn't arrived."

In this case, the first step is to allow 7 days from the time of
mailing, then contact your local post office and find out if your
parcel has arrived but they've neglected to send you a card
telling you so. This is by far the most common occurrence. If the
parcel is definitely not at the post office, then email me and
let me know.

What happens then is that I register a complaint with Australia
Post and immediately organise a free replacement order for you.
This scenario is so frequent that I've got it down to an art,
with about 1 in every 300 parcels vanishing without a trace.
Fortunately, courier deliveries are much more reliable, although
still not perfect, and are also trackable via webpage. The
occasional parcel does go astray, but again they're replaced at
our expense.

Not all problems happen at the time of order, but incorrect grind
(especially for espresso) is another one that crops up
frequently. As some of you will recall, I did a whole newsletter
on the subject last year
( and
the only realistic solution to grind problems is indeed to buy a

Machine related problems probably cause more grief than any
others, because they tend to fall into 2 clearly defined
categories, "Wear and Tear", where a component fails under normal
use, and "Incorrect Usage" where the way the customer uses the
machine is at fault. It's this last category that causes all the
problems, as no-one wants to hear that it's their fault.

Unfortunately it's usually pretty clear when it is the customer's
fault, especially when it comes to overheating the boilers and
burning out the elements of domestic machines, which is by far
the most common machine problem I see. You can see a bevy of
nuked boilers/elements below.

In this case the boiler has been allowed to run dry (steam wand left open) and the element has melted. Copper will NOT melt under water.Here there has still been enough water in the boiler to form superheated steam, which reacts with the copper element to give the "multicolour" effect.
It's obvious that a trained service tech will know immediately that a boiler has been overheated or allowed to boil dry, customer denials to the contrary or not. This is why my instructions emphasize "turn OFF the steam switch and refill the boiler". Good machine technique can save everyone, customer, importer and manufacturer, a lot of expensive grief.
Same multicolour result in a Silvia boiler.


Trying to mediate between the customer and the service tech,
especially when the machine is under warranty, is ... trying,
because improper usage is NOT a condition covered by warranty. So
far I've managed to sort out most of the problems, but it's
getting harder as the manufacturers are sticking more to the
"letter of the law" with warranties. So please, please read the
instructions that come with the machines, the important bits are

This month's special is the new crop of an old favourite,

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

It has a pronounced citrus flower aroma, with a clear, shimmering
acidity and a ginger and orange peel middle palate, which
moderates into a smooth chocolatey finish. This is a stunning
example of a great Ethiopian origin coffee.


Thanks to Bigpond's level of incompetence going from merely high
to absolutely dire, my sporadic email service has ceased
altogether. Bigpond has apparently "firewalled" incoming email
from my (and several thousand other Australian business') web
host, Webcentral. This doesn't affect my outgoing mail but blocks
all my incoming mail. Fortunately the order pages are not
affected. Any email since the afternoon of Friday 7/10/05 is
still in a queue somewhere in cyberspace, so if you're desperate
to communicate with me the secure order pages are the only way at
present. And yes, I WILL be looking at other ISP's.


It looks like things are working again, but it also appears that
(despite reassurances from both Bigpond and Webcentral) any
incoming email from Friday to Monday has been lost and will not be