April 2003 Newsletter
My apologies for the delay in this month's newsletter, but
"Domestic Factors" intervened last weekend.
I'm still short of Imat Napoletanas and Juniors (latest is
"another 3 weeks") but finally I have a few LUX grinders. These are
the Nemox version (prettier and more expensive than the Imat/Quaha
model) but they are in stock. The prices on the website have been
adjusted to take into account the higher cost, but will come down
when the Imat machines finally arrive. Existing orders were supplied
at the old price.
I'm also just about out of the Rancilio Sets, the demand for
these has been much higher than anticipated. I've got some more on
order, and they'll come in with the new Rocky Doserless grinder in
I went along to the "Celebrate the Bean" festival at Southbank a
couple of weeks ago, and my photo report is up on Coffeegeek at http://www.coffeegeek.com/columnists/alanfrew/03-30-2003
. There were a whole lot of "Domestic" espresso machines there, some
interesting seminars (which were packed, they need more space!) and
many local roasters.
Several people I met mentioned the recent "Choice" magazine
reviews of home espresso machines. After reading this travesty of a
review, all I can say is that if I reviewed machines the way Choice
does, no one would EVER trust my recommendations again. Their review
has to be one of the worst examples of ignorance about the whole
espresso process that I've ever seen.
As far as I can tell, all the machines were tested with a single
(unspecified) coffee at the same grind level. No effort was made to
adjust grind parameters for 25 second shots or to differentiate
between single and double shots, amount of coffee in filter baskets
or correct warm up procedures. I'm glad I'm not one of the "Espresso
Experts" quoted at the end of the review, although to be fair to
those involved, none of them have any form in the "domestic"
espresso field at all. If you buy an Espresso machine based on this
review, you WILL be disappointed.
Anyway, on to a much cheerier subject, Indonesian Coffee.
Coffee cultivation was started on Java by the Dutch in 1696, and
has continued to this day. All the islands that make up the
Indonesian Archipelago have some form of coffee growing activity,
but the "best" beans are generally considered to be the Sulawesi
Toraja, Sumatra Mandheling and Lintong, and the Java Arabica.
All the beans have the common characteristics of relatively low
acidity and heavy body, but there are significant flavour variations
between them. In particular, the Java Arabica was the first to be
exported to Holland, and the long sea voyages produced a type of
aging or monsooning which reduced the acidity and increased the body
even further. The distinctive taste is still prized in quality Dutch
So this month's special is the Aged
JAVA ARABICA $35.00/kg
This is a great big brute of a coffee, with an incredibly heavy
body and a greater depth of flavour than any other coffee I sell.
Sweet, subtle, discreet it's NOT, instead it delivers a monster kick
to the tastebuds.
Its espresso performance is similar to Robusta, without the nasty
tastes. It requires a MUCH finer grind setting but delivers huge
globs of crema, almost too much. As you would expect, this coffee is
normally available only in blends which cut back its potency. I'm
playing with a Mocha/Java blend myself but haven't got it right yet.
I now have my Isomac Millennium on the bench, for a comparison to
the Expobar Office control, with a view to selling a "high end" home
machine. I'll be trying to get a Brugnetti Simona Top to play with
as well, but the importer is out of stock for a few weeks.
The Hario Noveau 5 cup syphons have finally arrived as well, and
I hope to add them to my current line up next week, as soon as the
prices and spares positions are clarified. Finally, if any aspiring
"home roasters" are interested, I've discovered a cache of Tiffany
popcorn poppers locally. I still use my first Tiffany for test
roasting, and apart from being a bit warped & melted it does a