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September 2007 Newsletter

Further to my last newsletter, most of the slaving over a hot
computer that I actually do is email. Once upon a time I thought
that twenty emails a day was a lot, but these days it's closer to
200 a day, from people all over the world, with all sorts of
questions. My replies tend to be terse at best, a lot of them are
direct links to web pages where the answers to particular
questions can be found.

For much of next month there won't be many replies, because I'll
be in Italy for 3 weeks from the beginning of October. The HOST
exhibition is on again, the largest display of coffee equipment
in the world, and I plan on being there as well as visiting my
other suppliers. I'll also be taking a rare holiday for a week or
so, but I should be in somewhat intermittent email contact over
the trip. The replies will probably be even terser!

Roasted coffee supply will continue without a break, but the
machine order page will be shut down, because I won't be around
to test the machines before shipping. Despite the advice of some
of my peers to the contrary, I firmly believe testing is
necessary.

A good example of why came up during the month, where a machine I
had on test performed flawlessly for half a day, then started
tripping the circuit breaker every time I pressed the "Brew"
switch. There were 2 possible causes for the problem, faulty pump
or faulty solenoid coil, and it turned out to be the solenoid
coil.

This sort of failure is really nothing to do with the machine
manufacturer, who buys thousands of these coils every year. A
certain small percentage WILL fail, and only actual use over time
will identify the problem. I'd rather such failures happen when I
have the machine on the bench than when it's thousands of
kilometres away with the customer.

The other benefit of testing each and every machine we sell is
that you become so familiar with them that you can walk customers
through potential problems with a clear picture of the machine in
your head. This allows you to give reasonable advice even from
the other side of the world, usually when someone has found yet
another way to do something not-quite-correctly. There are rare
instances when a machine that has passed testing fails after
delivery, but they are very rare indeed.

Finally, there is peace of mind for both the customer and myself.
The customer knows their machine will work "out of the box", and
I can rest knowing that the machine is up to spec.

This month's special coffee is from the San Emilio farm in El
Salvador, the same farm that Tom of Sweetmaria's gets his current
offering from. It's a classic washed central American bourbon
coffee.

El Salvador Mirasol
$38.00/kg

The only true description of this coffee is that it tastes like
COFFEE. Incredibly balanced acidity, flavour and body, not a
straight espresso coffee but superb with milk. Simply excellent
in plunger or filter brewers.

The Cup of Excellence auctions are going a long way towards
putting neglected origins like El Salvador and Panama on the map,
and I'm happy to be able to help.

Since I'm away next month there won't be an October newsletter or
an October special, but with luck there'll be enough of the El
Salvador to go 2 months. The November newsletter will be a
monster though, with a complete report from HOST.

Alan