Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

A short note to wish everyone (not just our customers, but also our suppliers, contractors, friends and associates) who has supported Londinium Espresso in 2008 a very happy New Year & thank you again for your contribution in 2008.

We have made a lot of new friends in 2008 and now have a strong network to help us significantly expand the business in 2009.  We look forward to working with you in 2009 to make it a lot less grim than the experts tell us it will be.  At Londinium we firmly believe that you make your own luck; blaming the Government doesn't get you very far.

Get 2009 off to a clean crisp start tomorrow morning with a cup of Londinium.  Make it your New Year's resolution to dump the milk & come over to the dark side!  Milk simply suppresses the gag reflex when you drink low grade, stale, poorly roasted, coffee!  Ok, it's hyperbole, but you get the idea.  Without milk inferior coffee has no where to hide, it really is that simple.  It might take 6 weeks to get used to, but after that you will never turn back, and if you are currently a member of the latte/frappuccino with extra cream & caramel club you can look forward to significantly reducing your calorie intake at the same time.

By the feel of things outside it is shaping up to be the coldest New Year's in London in the last ten years, so wrap up & enjoy it!



Monday, 3 November 2008

Wake up and smell the coffee – tea is for morons, by Jeremy Clarkson

From The Sunday Times
November 2, 2008

Jeremy Clarkson
I quite understand why people choose to be communists or Australians or tattooed. I may not share your opinions, but I know why you have them and I would fight for you to be able to express them in public.

Obviously not to the death, though. There’s no way I am going to die so that a green person can climb up a chimney and write “Gordon” on it, for instance.

However, while I understand why people want to drive an electric car or cut the Queen’s head off, and even why some people decide to emigrate to Spain, I do not understand why people continue to drink tea.

Recent figures show tea consumption is shrinking, especially among young people, yet Britain is still by far the largest consumer in the world per capita, with each person in the land drinking, on average, four cups a day. This is baffling.

I quite like a cup at around 5pm because this is “tea time”, but the figures suggest that many people are drinking it at “coffee time” as well. Some, since there is such a thing as “breakfast tea”, must also be drinking it first thing in the morning. This is as mad as starting the day with a prawn cocktail – and it all has to stop.

First of all, asking for tea in someone’s house is extremely antisocial because, if you take it with milk and sugar, this is a complicated, four-ingredient request. It’s exactly the same as being offered a biscuit and saying, “Ooh, thanks, but actually I’d prefer a Sunday roast.”

Seriously. That means meat, potatoes and two veg. And there is no difference between this and tea, milk, sugar and boiled water. In fact, it’s worse, because your host will have to find a teapot that hasn’t been used since their wedding day and is at the back of a cupboard behind the equally dusty fondue set.

In fact, the only thing I hate more than people asking for tea is people who ask for a gin and tonic. Why can’t you just have a beer like everyone else? Because now I’ve got to hunt down not just the gin and the tonic, but also the lemon and some ice.

At least with coffee most people have a machine that can deliver a refreshing and invigorating brew at the touch of a button.

Furthermore, coffee drinkers, being more travelled and therefore intelligent, will take it in the European style. Black with nothing added.

Of course, you may say that coffee causes your teeth to go brown and your heart to explode. But tea, if we’re honest, is as healthy as sucking on the pointy end of a machinegun.

Eight per cent of a tea leaf is toxic, around 25% is irrelevant, 2% is nutritious caffeine and most of the rest is acids, arsenic, chlorophyll, salts and tannins – which are useful only if you want to give your stomach lining the texture of a horse’s saddle.

If I were to use the model dreamt up by environmentalists when discussing climate change, I could very easily argue that tea will cause you to lose control of your limbs and that you will have to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Which could happen, for all I know.

Herbal varieties, however, are even more dangerous because if you come round to my house and ask for peppermint tea I will punch you in the mouth. Herbal tea is for nonces. At best, it is pointless. At worst, it is an affected piece of Hyacinth Bucket snobbery designed for the sort of people who spend half an hour deciding whether the wine they’ve been given is all right.

And chai tea? Have you tried that? Well, don’t – because you can achieve exactly the same effect, for a lot less, by drinking your own urine.

Of course, I dare say that some of you at this point are wondering why I am writing about tea in these troubled times. And thinking that, surely, with Peter Mantelpiece back on the front line and the financial markets in disarray, there are more important things to worry about.

Not so. Because when you stop and think about it, how many French or Italian banks have gone bust? And while we wobble, Spain’s Santander bank is stalking the globe like one of the country’s gigantic trawlers, sucking up the broken minnows.

This is because they are all coffee drinkers. They wake up, have an espresso; then, invigorated, they go to work quite literally full of beans.

We, on the other hand, expect to be able to operate on a stomach full of wet leaves. Tea, in actual fact, caused our banking crisis.

And before you point out that America is in a mess and they drink coffee, I should explain that they don’t. They put half a granule in a Styrofoam bucket and call it coffee.

But it’s not. It’s just a cup of warm water, and you can’t operate on that either.

The most popular tea in Britain is the sort favoured by workmen. They like it because it takes an age to make and is far too hot to drink when it’s ready. It is, in short, nothing more than an excuse for not doing any actual work.

That’s why it was so popular with empire-builders. They needed something time-consuming to fill the long, yawning hours. For the same reason, they played endless games of cricket.

Today, tea drinkers are clinging onto a way of life that’s gone. Tea break. Tea time. Tea clippers. It’s got to stop.

Tea should be viewed in the same way as we view coal. Something from the past. Something that is no longer relevant. Something for those who see the world in monochrome, through the eyes of Terry and June.

In an espresso MTV world, tea no longer has any place.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Fine olive oil in New Zealand

Why an article on olive oil on a coffee blog I hear you ask? Fair enough, and you might be right, but I have a broad interest in delving into the nuances of things that not so long ago were regarded as commodities; uniform, homogeneous, undifferentiated & price takers in the market place. For hundreds of years now wine has been evaluated in fine detail, then much more recently coffee, and now it seems, olive oil. I found this article interesting, in particular the concerns about the integrity of labeling standards for olive oil & wonder if we should have similar concerns regarding coffee. Enjoy...or ignore!

I found this article on page 28 of the Oct/Nov 2008 edition of the NZInspired magazine & it is reproduced here with their permission.

Could Kiwi extra virgin olive oil be the new sauvignon blanc? Paul Holmes, the well-known New Zealand television and radio broadcaster – and award-winning olive oil producer – certainly thinks so.

Let me tell you straight up why you should be very careful when you buy European ‘extra virgin’ olive oils. Because they might not be extra virgin, that’s why. In fact, they probably won’t be anything near extra virgin. Most likely, they will be processed, manufactured, washed and full of solvents. The truth is, unless you know exactly where the oil comes from and you are sure of the supply chain, or you have seen old Senor Salvatore himself squeeze the oil out of the olives and put it in a bottle, you can count on nothing.

Such is the looseness and corruption of olive oil production and distribution in the principal European olive oil countries of Spain, Italy and Greece.

New Zealand olive oil, however, trades on its freshness, quality and integrity. And we are now making plenty of it, too. The country’s oldest commercial plantings are in their second decade (see Olives in New Zealand fact box, page 30) and between ten to fifteen years ago there was a mass planting of olive trees around New Zealand as growers began to realise the same climate and soils that were starting to produce such excellent wines could do the same for extra virgin olive oil.

And so it has proved: Nelson’s Moutere Grove extra virgin olive oil was named one of the best 200 oils in the world by the prestigious German hospitality magazine Der Feinschmecker and it also won International Olive Oil Awards in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008; Suprema a Situ, an oil produced by the Wellington City Council on, of all places, Mt. Victoria, won a gold medal at the prestigious Los Angeles County Fair in 2005 (of New Zealand’s 26 extra virgin olive oil entries, nine were awarded gold medals and 11 received silver medals); and my own Paul Holmes extra virgin olive oil has won gold and silver medals nationally.

Like so much of the produce that is grown in our fresh air, extraordinary sunlight and young soils, New Zealand’s olive oils are rich in character, very fruity and peppery. In fact, they’re so good you can even drink them: based on strong scientific evidence that is recognised by the American Food and Drug Administration, extra virgin olive oil producers may soon be able to alert consumers to the fact that downing a few tablespoons a day can do your heart a world of good.

With a new understanding of the benefits a Mediterranean diet affords, New Zealand stands to profit greatly from an explosion in the use of olive oil around the world. And extra virgin olive oil, with its powerful antioxidants, its ability to discourage cholesterol, its apparent benefits to the heart (especially following bypasses) and its absence of bad fats is now rated as the best of the bunch.

Unlike some large-scale European producers, the olive oils that New Zealand companies export are genuine extra virgin, the best and most natural form of olive oil (see box below for an explanation of the different kinds of oils available). And controls on the claims that are written on the labels – such as printing the pressing date – are very strict.

Olives New Zealand, an industry body that aims to enhance production and emphasise quality, says the country’s effective border controls have prevented the arrival of major deleterious olive diseases and producers of premium quality olive oil aimed at niche markets are able to trade off and profit from the country’s clean, green image. Also, significantly, New Zealand’s new season extra virgin olive oils are available on the market when the northern hemisphere product is six months old.

It is possible to grow olives in most regions of New Zealand. Currently, the main producing areas are Northland, Waiheke Island, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Kapiti, Nelson, Marlborough and Canterbury, but there are also smaller numbers of growers in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Central Otago. Hawke’s Bay, where I produce extra virgin olive oil amongst the sunny hills south of Hastings at Mana Lodge, produces some 50 percent of New Zealand’s olive oil.

To some, these Kiwi oils are thought to be a little lively to the palate, but according to Rosemari Delegat, of Delegat Wines, one of New Zealand’s largest family-owned and family-managed
winemakers, this was the very problem the New Zealand wine industry faced back in the early nineties when it was trying to establish its sauvignon blancs. Too fruity, everyone said. And, when compared to the wines from France, it must have seemed so. Yet it was just a matter of time and persistence before the New Zealand taste was not only accepted but valued greatly. And the way things are going – and growing – our olive oil industry could be similarly lucrative.

At present, the United States imports around 300 million litres of olive oil a year, most of it from Europe, an increase of more than 70 percent in the last five years. And the subsidised European producers are rubbing their hands with glee. But how much of the oil they send is going to be extra virgin?

Frankly, it’s difficult to know. In August, a New York Times examination of the olive oil invasion from Europe reported a study of 30 olive oils labelled ‘virgin’ that were tested last year by the Food and Drug Administration. Only 18 were labelled correctly. The falsely labelled oils contained a blend of pressed and refined olive oils, instead of only pressed oils, and five bottles labelled ‘virgin’ contained no olive oil at all. So, just under half were crooked.

Olive oil consumption is also soaring in the UK, up 30 percent since 2001. But the British buyer is at the mercy of the racketeers as well. In Italy, back in March, police arrested 23 people and confiscated 85 farms when they uncovered a gang using low-grade oils from all over the Mediterranean and passing them off as the finest Italian product. This gives us an idea of the potential scale of the fraud there. Put a flash label on it and who knows what it is? Some old canola, perhaps, from round the back of a shed in Libya?

Blame the lack of regulatory muscle and those wicked old subsidies for making the rort so tempting. The Italian Farmers’ Union reckons half of the Italian oil sold within Italy alone is either adulterated or not Italian at all. But the Europeans, who produce more than 80 percent of the world’s olive oil, are a very powerful bloc and are able to a great extent resist controls from EU headquarters in Brussels on what goes both into a bottle and onto it.

Sure, the bottle will look smart, the labelling attractive and sophisticated, yet time and again in New Zealand and, as I found recently on a trip to Shanghai, which is being flooded with cheap European olive oil, the Tuscan or Spanish ‘extra virgin olive oil’ is of shockingly low quality.
It is not just flat, inferior oil. In most cases it is stale and rancid and it sits on the tongue like old fat. Good, fresh, extra virgin olive oil does not behave like that. Our best New Zealand extra virgin olive oils dance round the palate, full of life.

My own extra virgin olive oil is now exported to the UK, the US and to parts of Asia, where awareness of the product is growing. It’s also doing very well in Ireland and is used by at least one Michelin-starred chef in Dublin. And one thing you can be sure of, it is fresh, clean, natural, untouched and made with pride.

New Zealand producers are relatively small and new on the scene, so we have to be the best. We do not do corruption. We do not play silly games. We respect extra virgin olive oil, one of the most ancient, historic, most loved and beneficial of foods – and now one of New Zealand’s most promising agricultural export industries.

Paul Holmes Extra Virgin Olive Oil is currently seeking an active distribution partner in the UK. For more information check or email

For olive oil to be considered extra virgin it has to be cold pressed, meaning that the pressing takes place at room temperature, with no heat or chemicals used in the extraction of the oil. The olives are crushed and the oil goes straight into the tanks where it rests for a couple of months to settle before bottling. It is declared extra virgin if, when tested, it has a fatty acid content of less than 0.8 percent. Almost all the olive oil produced in New Zealand is extra virgin.
Virgin oils are still produced by pressing or centrifugation and without heat or chemicals to assist in their extraction, but they are the oils that haven’t quite made the premium grade.

The rest of them are not worth touching. ‘100 percent olive oil’, ‘Pure olive oil’, ‘Genuine olive oil’, or ‘Lite olive oil’ are all highly processed oils where the fruit is crushed again and again at very hot temperatures and chemicals, including solvents, are used to flush the last of the oil from the pulp. Some of the oil is so ruthlessly extracted that it needs dye before it is bottled. And ‘Lite olive oil’ is a deception. It simply means the bottle is light on olive oil. Avoid labels that say ‘Packed in Italy’ or ‘Packed in Spain’, as they tell you nothing about where the oil is from, how old it is, when it was pressed, how it was made or whether it is even olive oil at all.

It’s a surprise to many, New Zealanders included, to learn there is evidence of olive trees growing in New Zealand as early as 1830. However, it was another 150 years before a commercial olive industry was established. Charles Darwin documented the existence of olives in New Zealand when he visited the northern-most region of the country in 1835. And between 1860 and 1880, two prominent early settlers, Logan Campbell and Sir George Grey, independently attempted to establish an olive industry. Logan Campbell imported 5000 olive seedlings from South Australia but the venture only lasted a few years before it was abandoned, apparently because the yield and flavour of the oil did not match the Italian oils he was familiar with. Sir George Grey’s efforts to produce olive oil also failed but there are no records to tell us why.

In 1877, a report entitled The Report on Olive Culture was presented to the government of the day, emphasising the potential for olive growing in New Zealand. The report was ignored, possibly because of the experiences of Grey and Campbell. It wasn’t until 1960 that olive trees were imported and cuttings also taken from old, well-established trees and planted in trial blocks. Reports said olives should not be grown for oil production, but for fruit for pickling.
In 1971 eight olive trees were donated by the Cretan people in remembrance of New Zealand soldiers. These trees were distributed around the country and those propagated from one particular Cretan tree named Kala produced fruit more suitable for table olives. In 1986, Israeli-born Gidon Blumenfeld retired with his wife to Marlborough and set about developing an olive industry in New Zealand. By 1990, The Olive Grove and nursery were well established and received orders for trees from all around New Zealand. By the mid 1990s, the industry experienced a boom, particularly in Marlborough, the region noted for producing sauvignon blanc. Two specialist associations, The New Zealand Olive Association (now renamed as Olives New Zealand) and Oliveti, were formed to undertake research and provide networking opportunities. And it is only relatively recently the emphasis has changed to the production of high quality extra virgin olive oil. (Source: Olives New Zealand)

Monday, 27 October 2008

Busting up a Starbucks, Mike Doughty

I found this track on this morning; a bit of a laugh to get the week started

It is also available for download at iTunes i see

Let us know what you think

Have a good week


Monday, 20 October 2008

Credit crunch coffee...the new Londinium starter pack

This is our latest solution to a problem that has vexed us since 2004 when we began!

PROBLEM:  How to introduce newcomers to gourmet coffee at an acceptable price point, while not violating one of our founding principles, which is not to sell ground coffee as we believe it to be a fraud.

Ground coffee a fraud?  How? Well coffee beans begin to stale appreciably just 30 minutes after grinding.  Buy that exclusive Jamaican Blue Mountain pre-ground, but it simply isnt fresh and you are going to be drastically disappointed & join the ranks of the disaffected who sniff that gourmet coffee isnt worth the price it commands.  It is, but only if you get it absolutely fresh.  This is the assurance that Londinium Espresso gives you; fresh, 100% true to label, and a consistent roast every time.

None of our offerings to date have been at a price point that inspired the merely curious to enter the world of fine coffee

Our starter pack will now comprise a blade grinder, a Swissgold filter & a bag of great Londinium coffee for just £29.95, including postage & packaging

Yes we know it is a blade grinder and therefore not suitable for espresso, and yes they are inferior to burr grinders, but after years of experimenting and agonising how to introduce instant coffee drinkers to real coffee we think this is the best solution & vastly superior to selling ground coffee & kidding you that it will be fresh (other roasters simply accept that most people in the UK dont own a grinder & succumb to selling ground coffee as it enlarges their target market exponentially).

The Swissgold filter doesn't make espresso, but it produces a first class cup of coffee & indeed many of the world's most exclusive coffees should be drunk as filter coffee as the rigours of the espresso process will ruin them

We feel it is particularly relevant in these challenging economic times and think at this price point it makes an ideal Christmas gift & makes the world of gourmet coffee accessible to a much wider audience.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email or telephone or simply push the Skype button on the 'Contact us' page of the website

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Honduras revisited

As you will see on our website, we have revisited the manner in which we roast our Honduran coffee.  As a result we think it serves as a first class light & creamy espresso.  If you like a heavy thumping espresso, then this isnt for you.  It is just one step up from our soft as silk Mexican roast.

Monday, 13 October 2008

New £2 postage rate for single bag purchases

This week we have added a £2 postage rate for single 250g purchases

Previously we had a single £4 rate covering up to five 250g bags

We hope this will lower the barrier for anyone contemplating trying Londinium Espresso for the first time

If you have any other questions or suggestions do let let us know; we strive to be as responsive as possible to our customers' requests

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Guidelines for getting the best out of your Londinium coffee

We deliberately haven't called them instructions as we don't know what equipment you might be using, your level of experience, or indeed how you like your coffee to taste, so they we have used the somewhat more flexible term; 'guidelines'.

To those customers who have been forced to contact us in desperation please accept our apologies as we have been lax in not publishing any guidelines before now

Feel free to experiment, or indeed ignore completely if you aren't new to the espresso game.

For example, some Antipodean baristas will be found grinding more coarsely and using all manner of brute force on the tamp to jam in as much as 23g of coffee in a double basket. This is equally valid, just a different style.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of dose weights, if you are wondering why the coffee tastes so grim at your local cafe one of the reasons is likely to be low dose weight. It is not uncommon in for cafes lacking a specific interest in coffee to wind the shot dose down to 5.5 or even 5.0g per shot. This basically results in too much being taken from the coffee (another form of over-extraction if you like), and unsurprisingly their commitment to thrift results in you struggling to finish another disgusting espresso that is burnt and bitter.

1. We suggest 8g of ground coffee for a single shot and 16g for a double shot. These weights are important so verify with fine scales

2. One shot is approx 30ml, two shots 60ml. These volumes are important so calibrate your coffee cup(s) with measuring spoons or similar

3. You need a good burr grinder for espresso (i.e. not a blade grinder)

4. You want an extraction time of 22 to 25 seconds. If you are outside of this range we suggest that you keep the pressure on the tamp constant and only vary the setting of your grinder (finer if your extraction times are less than 22s and coarser if your extraction times are greater than 25s)

5. As an aside, we prefer to grind fine & tamp lightly, as opposed to grinding coarsely and tamping heavy

6. Once you have achieved (1) & (2) above you should find yourself with a deep (at least 3mm) crema with fine bubbles (only visible across strong light) and a lovely golden colour

7. A whitish crema indicates under-extraction, and extraction times less than 20s. The espresso will be watery, the crema thin and lacking density

8. A brown crema indicates over-extraction, and extraction times over 30s. The espresso will be very unpleasant to taste, and will often have a light white spot on the brown crema that appears right at the end of the extraction

9. Note that a variation in atmospheric conditions will necessitate making very fine adjustments to your grinder throughout the day

Let us know if you are still having trouble!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Great coffee at home in the credit crunch

The vast majority of coffee drinkers assume that great coffee means an espresso machine, which means considerable expense, which means they can not have great coffee at home or at work. The assumption is that you must go to a cafe to enjoy great coffee.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Great coffee demands great coffee beans, but not necessarily great expense.

All you need is:

1. A coffee grinder (it need not cost more than about £50)

2. Freshly roasted coffee beans from a gourmet coffee roaster.

3. A permanent Swissgold filter that you can throw in the dishwasher and reuse (£10 for a single cup filter or £14 for one that fits into your drip filter machine)

That's it!

So in these economically challenging times you can enjoy great coffee for an initial outlay of around £60-£70, and then enjoy coffee at around £0.30 a cup. If you sign up for the Londinium Subscription you will save a further 20% on the coffee and we pay the postage!

We think that makes sound economic sense in these challenging times.

Monday, 11 August 2008

British Red Cross London Christmas Fair

We have purchased a stand at the 2008 British Red Cross London Christmas Fair

We are advised that tickets are now available for purchase from the British Red Cross here

It will be held at the same venue as last year, namely;

Kensington Town Hall, Horton Street, London, W8 7NX

This is an opportunity to do all your Christmas shopping under one roof & assist a worthy cause at the same time.

Preview Night: Wednesday 26th November 5:30pm – 9:00pm opened by guest speaker (TBC) Tickets £20 (advance purchase only), includes wine and canapes.

Public Day: Thursday 27th November 10.00am - 4.30pm Tickets £5 on the door (£3 in advance), children free.

The 2008 London Christmas Fair will be the 14th event of its kind and the committee hopes to raise over £35,000 in support of the British Red Cross's vital humanitarian work. This year’s stalls will offer an eclectic mix of merchandise, from funky young designer bags and belts to kichenware, pashminas to pearls, delicious food and drink to exciting Fair Trade goods.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

They enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. When the crisis is over, they help them to recover and move on with their lives.

We will be donating 10% of all sales revenue taken at this event to the British Red Cross, so we look forward to meeting you there

We will take a machine & grinder along to allow you to sample our coffee, however the main focus will be the sale of bags of coffee beans. It will also be an opportunity to see the Olympia espresso machines & grinder in action if you are contemplating buying one

Please accept our apologies for mentioning C*******s in early August!

To learn more of the activities of the British Red Cross, click here

Friday, 25 July 2008

Transparency & blending

This is a word we have borrowed from the corporate world. Commonly used when the news is unlikely to be good but no one really wants to talk about it, as in "there is a lack of transparency over the robustness of the economy for Q4 08".

We think the blending of coffee beans also suffers from a lack of transparency. The accepted wisdom is the divine knowledge of the roaster will produce a blend that results in the perfectly balanced cup of coffee.

Blending also offers the roaster the opportunity to create a little bit of 'intellectual property' if you like. The composition of the blend is not usually declared, and therefore if the consumer responds well to the blend the roaster has a product that is difficult for his competitors to replicate. Fair enough.

The most humourous occasion when the virtues of blending were extolled was in a London restaurant where the waiter tried to convince us that some 30 different beans went into the particular blend of coffee that they served. We are happy to admit that it was very good coffee, but we doubt that anything like 30 different beans had made their way into the blend.

In our experience it is fairly difficult to detect the presence of a bean when it is less than about 10% of a blend. If you assume that the 30 different types of beans were not present in equal proportions, then some of the beans must have been present in concentrations of less than 3%. The presence of any bean at the 3% level or less would not be detectable in the mouth, so it seems highly unlikely that you would bother with anything like 30 beans in a blend.

Anyway, the point of the story is to illustrate the lack of transparency that cloaks the blending of coffee.

But there is a second reason why we have an issue with blending:

Assume you have been told exactly what beans make up a blend, and in what proportions.

Different beans are of different densities. This means that any blend of whole beans is going to settle out or stratify fairly quickly, i.e. when you tip the beans into the hopper of your grinder they will mostly be the beans with the lowest density. This means that unless you ground the entire bag in one hit, then stirred up the resulting ground coffee, that coffee you tasted would differ from what the blender had intended you to taste.

All a bit pedantic I hear you shout?

Well, perhaps, but I think it illustrates why we are skeptical about blending.

Our suggestion is that you buy single origin beans and blend yourself, if you want to go down that path. In this way you have the ability to control the proportions of the blend exactly. For example, weigh 5g of beans A & B, 10g of bean C, and 15g of bean D.

In this way you have complete transparency of knowing what you are paying for, and the ability to replicate your results exactly, time after time, when you strike upon a blend that you particularly enjoy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

New in: Rwandan bourbon - fair trade certified

New in today, as we continue our search for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July). A bourbon coffee from Rwanda - how cool is that? Very eager to taste this one!

New in: El Salvadorian Pacamara - rainforest alliance certified

New in today, as we continue our journey of discovery for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July).

New in: Brazilian pulped natural

New in today, as we continue our journey for new & interesting espresso flavours. Hope to start test roasting today (Tues 22 July).

Fri 25 July: we like this for its smoothness & low acidity. if we were to offer a criticism, perhaps it is a little bland for some tastes. nonetheless, it will have a broad spectrum appeal because the is nothing in the taste profile to polarise opinions. a 'safe' bet, if you will.

Has anyone used one of these crazy things?

Hey its late at night & we stumbled across this new coffee making contraption

It appears to be the classic Italian moka pot with some added functionality which allows it to froth your milk for a cappuccino at the same time

Sure, it's not in line with our 'come over to the dark side' philosophy, but we enjoyed watching the video, nonetheless

Has anyone out there used one & have any comments to post on it?

Gimmick or groundbreaking?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Finally we have our porcelain Ancap cups

Having couriered many samples between Milan & London, and many more telephone conversations, we finally took delivery of our classic Italian 'thick wall' coffee cups from Ancap today.

Available in espresso (60ml), cappuccino/tea (200ml) & large cappuccino (350ml) sizes. These Ancap cups have a high quality deep glaze, with no pitting in the glaze where the handle joins the base of the cup. Compare the quality with the cheaper offerings more readily available and we think you will be quite surprised.

Sold in boxed sets of 6, complete with saucers.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Londinium Espresso now selling the world's finest domestic grinder & espresso machine from Olympia Express, Switzerland. Estb 1928.

Londinium Espresso are proud to announce that we have found a machine and grinder that accurately reflects the Londinium philosophy; artisan methods of manufacture coupled with an obsession for quality and that all but lost ingredient in today's modern age; 'feel'.

What do we mean by 'feel'? Well, the Olympia Cremina lever machine allows you to 'feel' very easily the hot water being forced through the ground coffee, including any channels that the water might find in the coffee (not a good look, but great to be able to detect if this is occurring during the espresso process), allowing it an easier path through the coffee and evidenced by a drop in resistance against the palm of your hand.

First class thermal stability in the group head is assured with a lot of chromed marine grade bronze, and a tiny footprint to assure it a place in the kitchens of London. Oh, and did we mention, no noisy irritating electric pump?

A high quality lever machine extracts a lot of subtle nuances from the coffee that an electric pump machine will not. If you have a coffee that is only 'so-so' then an electric pump machine is a good thing as the additional extraction that a lever machine brings tends to be unpleasant. However, with LondiniumEspresso it brings out a whole new layer of taste that was previously hidden in the cup.

The moment you take this machine from the box it becomes apparent what you have paid for. It is the perfect antidote to the throw-away consumerism ethos that defines our modern world. Many, many Olympia machines that are 30-40 years old are still in active service today, requiring only seal replacements every 3 or 4 years. Use bottled water with a dry residue value of less than 5omg/L and you should never need to descale your machine.

Note: These machines demand a first class grinder in order to function correctly, i.e. Mazzer/equivalent grade and above. Why is this? Well you grind very fine with these machines and tamp very lightly - danced on by pixies by way of metaphor - none of this fashionable 35psi to 50psi malarkey with a tamp weighing a couple of hundred grams!

Olympia Express - radically different since inception, just like Londinium Espresso.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Espresso cherry trifle

We would recommend our Brazilian yellow bourbon coffee for this recipe. Try it!

Espresso cherry trifle

Photography by Ben Dearnley

Espresso cherry trifle

Cooking Time

5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons marsala (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee, cooled slightly
  • 4 mini jam sponge rolls, cut into 5mm-thick slices
  • 50g good-quality dark chocolate, grated
  • 1/2 cup thick vanilla custard
  • 425g can black pitted
  • cherries, drained


  1. Combine marsala, sugar and coffee in a jug. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Divide the sponge slices between four 400ml-capacity whisky glasses. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the coffee mixture. Drizzle remaining coffee mixture over the sponge slices.
  3. Top with half the chocolate, and all the custard and cherries. Drizzle with the reserved coffee mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and serve.

Notes & tips

  • Marsala is a fortified Italian wine available from liquor stores. You could use dry sherry, Tia Maria liqueur, Kahlua liqueur or brandy instead.


Super Food Ideas - September 2007 , Page 79
Recipe by Annette Forrest

Thursday, 19 June 2008

An overview of different decaffeination processes from Wikipedia

Swiss water process

The Swiss Water Process is a method of decaffeinating coffee beans that was developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. To decaffeinate the coffee bean by the Swiss Water method, a batch of green (unroasted) beans is soaked in hot water, releasing caffeine. This process is done until all the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water. These beans are then discarded. Next, the water passes through a carbon filter which traps the caffeine molecules but allows the water and the coffee solids to pass through. The caffeine-free water which comes through, known as "flavor-charged" water by the company, is then put in a similar filtration device, and new coffee beans are added. However, since the flavor-charged water cannot remove any of the coffee solids from the new beans, only the caffeine is released. The process repeats, filtering out all the caffeine until the beans are 99.9% caffeine free. These beans are removed and dried, and thus retain most if not all of their flavour and smell.

Direct method

In the direct method the coffee beans are first steamed for 30 minutes and then repeatedly rinsed with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for about 10 hours. The solvent is then drained away and the beans steamed for an additional 10 hours to remove any residual solvent. Sometimes coffees which are decaffeinated using ethyl acetate are referred to as naturally processed because ethyl acetate can be derived from various fruits or vegetables. However, for the purpose of decaffeination, it is not generally possible to create such a large quantity of ethyl acetate, thus the chemical is synthetically derived.

Indirect method

In the indirect method beans are first soaked in hot water for several hours, essentially making a strong pot of coffee. Then the beans are removed and either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is used to extract the caffeine from the water—as in other methods, the caffeine can then be separated from the organic solvent by simple evaporation. The same water is recycled through this two-step process with new batches of beans. An equilibrium is reached after several cycles, where the water and the beans have a similar composition except for the caffeine. After this point, the caffeine is the only material removed from the beans, so no coffee strength or other flavorings are lost. Because water is used in the initial phase of this process, sometimes indirect method decaffeination is referred to as "water processed" even though chemicals are used.

CO2/O2 process

This process is technically known as supercritical fluid extraction. With the CO2 process, pre-steamed beans are soaked in a liquid bath of carbon dioxide at 73 to 300 atmospheres. After a thorough soaking, the pressure is reduced allowing the CO2 to evaporate, or the pressurized CO2 is run through either water or charcoal filters to remove the caffeine. The carbon dioxide is then used on another batch of beans.[3] This same process can also be done with oxygen (O2). These liquids work better than water because they are kept in supercritical state near the transition from liquid to gas so that they have the high diffusion of gas and the high density of a liquid. This process has the advantage that it avoids the use of potentially toxic solvents.

Triglyceride process

Green coffee beans are soaked in a hot water/coffee solution to draw the caffeine to the surface of the beans. Next, the beans are transferred to another container and immersed in coffee oils that were obtained from spent coffee grounds.

After several hours of high temperatures, the triglycerides in the oils remove the caffeine - but not the flavor elements - from the beans. The beans are separated from the oils and dried. The caffeine is removed from the oils, which are reused to decaffeinate another batch of beans. This is a direct contact method of decaffeination.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Costa Rican SWP decaf now in stock

Yes, we took delivery of this premium Swiss water process decaffeinated coffee today. Tomorrow we hope to run test roasts to profile this coffee. We will also try & post some more information on the Swiss water process of decaffeination and how it differs from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and MC (methyl chloride) decaffeination processes so you can appreciate the differences.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Swiss water process decaf - costa rica - due in this week

In response to customer requests, this week we expect to receive our Swiss water process decaffeinated coffee from Costa Rica. As soon as it arrives we will add it to our product collection for you.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Mail order coffee

Why choose Londinium Espresso for your coffee beans? Well, as a mail order coffee roaster the only opportunity we have to influence your opinion of us is through our product. We have no elaborate shop where the aromas of the world's exotic coffees waft paste your nose as they are ground, no ornate brass ware to measure your beans out in front of your eyes, no attractive sales staff to make you feel as though you will join the social elite if you buy our product. You see, we very much stand or fall on the opinion you form about our product in the privacy of your own home or workplace, uninfluenced by what the 'expert' in the shop might be suggesting that you should be able to detect in the roast. And so, there is no room for us to employ puffery or indeed any other claim that is not going to measure up when you first taste our product. Londinium - you be the judge.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Coffee problems?

Call us & we'll do our best to help you solve it. We're passionate about coffee & that means helping you enjoy a great cup everyday.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The finest cup of coffee you have had from your equipment or your money back

Today's blog merely underlines how serious we are about great coffee. Our promise is that our coffee will give you a better cup of coffee out of your equipment than anyone else's. Fullstop. Otherwise you get your money back. This isn't mere puffery. If we didn't believe this was the case we never would have started Londinium Espresso as we wouldn't have had a unique selling point. We are incredibly fussy about the beans choose to stock, buying a single bag to test, before ordering a larger quantity. The household brands in coffee have a finished product cost that is considerably less than the price we pay for our raw green beans. The only thing our products have in common with theirs is the name. In all other respects they are entirely different. Then we take a lot of care with the roasting process, much of which we have custom built oursselves, as we could not find satisfactory solutions in the market place. Finally we carefully inspect the roasted beans to remove as many defective beans as possible. People who just want a cup hot, bitter-burnt liquid will not see the point in paying a premium for our products. People who would like to discover what coffee tastes like just might. So if you are looking to differentiate your independant cafe from the high street chain cafes, are a business who understands the impression that fine coffee creates with your clients, or a connoisieur purchasing for your private consumption, please try Londinium with confidence. We will be more than happy to return your money in full, in the unlikely event that we do not meet or exceed your expectations. We have travelled the world extensively prior to establishing Londinium Espresso, and are confident that we are purveying some of the finest coffee in the world to our discerning customers.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Summer's here ... time for the Londinium affogato!

You simply won't believe how good this is on the hot afternoons that are forecast to continue all this week. If you can make a great espresso, you can make a great affogato. Take a cappuccino or similar sized cup & place a very generous scoop of fresh creamy vanilla ice-cream (the full cream Devon ice cream is ideal). Then grind your favourite Londinium Espresso coffee, place the cappuccino cup with the ice cream under the group head of your espresso machine, and draw two shots of espresso over the ice cream. Then leave for 2 minutes before eating so the espresso softens the ice cream & the ice cream chills the espresso. Enjoy! We bet you won't be able to resist a second one. They are the ultimate summer treat.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The Londinium Espresso cup is on the way

Today we received from Italy our sample cups. We will be placing an order next week, so look out for them on our website in the not-too-distant future. Espresso just isn't espresso without the proper thick walled porcelain cup. Yes, there are numerous cheap, thin-walled versions available that we think are simply a corruption. Also have a look at the glaze where the handle is joined to the body of the cup - cheap cups will almost always exhibit pitting in the glaze in this area where air bubbles have formed when the cup has been fired in the kiln. We think these will also make a great gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life. They will also be available in cappuccino and latte sizes, as shown in the photograph.

Friday, 25 April 2008

how much ground coffee should i use in the Swissgold (one cup) filter?

you might like your coffee strong, but please trust me on this; if you take the finest coffee in the world & make it too strong the delicate, unique flavours that you have gone to so much trouble to acquire will disappear & it will taste like a heavy caramel concoction.

so if you are looking for a starting point, and perhaps it is slightly on the weak side but at least it is an unambiguous measure, i would suggest 3 level desert spoons of freshly ground coffee beans with the isomac grinder set to position 6 (i.e. with the '6' at the front of the grinder) for a cup that will hold 250mL of water.

obviously a finer grind means you need less coffee & vice-versa for a coarser grind.

hope this helps. if you are having trouble, please call & we'll try & sort it out over the phone


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Demystifying how to prepare a great espresso

One of my goals in this blog is to de-bunk a few myths about coffee in general, and espresso in particular.

So we can keep this blog entry focused, let's assume you already have a suitable grinder & machine & coffee.

What now?

Firstly, unless you have some magic machine that I haven't had the opportunity of using yet, dump the first espresso out of the machine, whether it is the first cup when switching on or if the machine has been sitting unused for an hour or more (again just a guideline)

The golden rule I want to establish in this blog is 'the crema tells you everything'.

The crema on an espresso will tell you whether it is fit to drink without placing the cup anywhere near your lips.

The crema should be light golden colour. I recognise that it is slightly difficult to describe in words & publishing photos leads to chaos as everyone's screen shows colours slightly differently, but the following guide lines will at least get you into the 'zone' of espresso satisfaction, well on your way to nirvana.

Perhaps the easier way to describe the colour of the crema is what it shouldn't be.

Think of all the possible colours that the crema can adopt as a spectrum, ranging from whitish through the light golden colour already mention then on to the chocolate tones.

This colour spectrum is the espresso's built-in instrument panel telling you where in the range your espresso lies, all the way from chronically under-extracted (very light whitish tones) to chronically over-extracted (very dark chocolate tones). All you have to do is learn to read it by paying it a little more attention.

Once again, I am reluctant to dish out absolutes as my experience suggest that people's taste vary a little, but the key thing is to take note of the appearance of the crema before you taste the espresso, then taste it. If you like it, pause & take another good look at the remaining crema & commit it to memory. This is your target for next time.

Before we dive into under & over extracting, and what to do about it, lets talk about keeping the 'tail' out of your coffee. What's the tail I hear you ask?

The tail is just a word I have assigned to the light coloured splodge that will corrupt an otherwise perfectly drawn espresso right at the end. It will also be foamy/bubbly, unlike the extremely fine bubbles of the crema up to that point.

OK, great I hear you say, 'I have seen that bubbly white splodge on my otherwise perfect crema' but what can I do about it?

Well if you observe the stream of coffee as it flows from the bottom of the porta-filter you should see that it flows in a fairly continuous shape and then at some point just before the end of the extraction the stream will quaver or change shape. At this precise moment you need to quickly & carefully remove your cup out of the stream (by the time you have turned the button off it will be too late & the tail will still end up in your cup!)

But be careful - don't stick your eye so close to the machine that you are at risk of hot coffee spurting into your eye. Similarly when you deftly move the coffee out from under the stream do so in a smooth manner, not violently or you will most likely end up with hot coffee on your hand.

So, back to under & over extracting.

ANY WHITISH colour tones in your crema & you are under-extracting. What to do about it? Well, if you are only slightly off try tamping the coffee into the porta-filter with a little more vigour, or possibly place a little more coffee into the porta-filter. If this isn't enough, then set your grinder to a finer setting & try again. Yes, its trial & error, but not the rocket science that some would want you to believe.

ANY CHOCOLATE colour tones in your crema means it is over-extracted. What to do about it? The opposite of under-extraction. Possibly you have put in too much coffee, although you will usually be aware of this as you will struggle to get the porta-filter to locate onto the machine. More likely you have packed the coffee in with too much vigour. This is the most common scenario when you change to a Londinium coffee for the first time, as the coffee is so much fresher than most other coffee that there is a lot more oil still present in the bean which helps the grinds to stick together, unlike a stale coffee where the oils have long since departed and you are trying to force dry grinds to stick together. Failing that you might have to back your grinder off so it grinds slightly coarser.

...time is up for the moment, but those simple rules should get you well on your way to coffee nirvana.


A profile of Galapagos coffee

Trolling around the internet I found this informative profile on Galapagos coffee published by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture, which might be of interest if you are considering placing an order for our first shipment of this fabulous coffee. In stock now.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Recycle your coffee grounds

Spread your used coffee grounds over planted areas to provide nutrition to the soil & believe it or not, keep bugs away in an environmentally responsible way.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

click the Skype button to talk to us

if you would appreciate speaking with a real person to address your coffee dilemma click on the 'Contact us' page of our website & then click on the Skype button.

fast. free. personable.

even if it says 'I'm offline' there's still a good chance someone will answer. if not, please leave a detailed message & we will return your call as soon as possible.

londiniumespresso... gold coffee. gold service.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

fresher than fortnums!

Go on, take the Londinium challenge! Buy some Jamaican Blue Mountain (JBM) at Fortnum & Mason and compare it with ours. If ours doesn't come out on top we will refund you in full. Notice the foaming when the hot water hits the grounds? That is a key indicator of freshness. In our view JBM isn't really at its best when prepared by the espresso process, but we have clients who beg to differ so we have optimised the roast so it performs as well as can be expected in the espresso process. If you want to experience JBM at its best prepare it with one of our Swissgold filters & sit back to enjoy what is the most perfectly balanced coffee in the world.

I was somewhat disappointed with JBM when I first tried it as I expected it to taste completely different to any other coffee. Then I realised that isn't what JBM is all about. Sure there are coffees that are more acidic, sweeter, fuller bodied, and so on. What makes JBM famous is the encapsulation of a perfect balance of all those elements and more, in a single origin. If you consider it in this light I think you will be very impressed.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Swissgold KF4 filter

The KF4 Swissgold filter, which is designed to replace the paper filter in automatic drip coffee machines, is now in stock. Transform the quality of the coffee that you serve to your clients by acquiring one of these affordable permanent filters (no more frantic trips to the shop just before that important meeting to get some more paper filters! - we've all been there). Remember though that even a Swissgold filter will not cause delicious coffee to flow from a dirty machine!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Easter with Londinium Espresso

It is not too late to order some Londinium coffee to enjoy with your Easter eggs & hot cross buns over the weekend.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Tired of 'consumer grade' junk? Invest in some heavy machinery.

We have had our Olympia Cremina 2002 espresso machine since January 2005 & have nothing but praise to heap upon it. Yes, it takes a while to master the manual lever machine, but the rewards when they come, will compensate you ten-fold. The funny thing is these machines are priced at about the same level as other 'top-end' domestic machines. The difference is the Olympia machines have been built since 1928 and they haven't succumb to the desires of the cost accountants to strip every ounce of quality out so they just last till the end of the warranty period. On no, not these babies. They represent one of the few remaining products on the planet that are still made the way they were 80 years ago when they started. Don't just take our word for it; if you scan the web you will find people who have Olympia espresso machines that are still in active service after 30 years or more of regular use, save for replacing the seals every 3 years or so, which all machines demand. And with a manual lever machine there is no electric pump to replace, and no unpleasant noise that all vibrating electric pumps create. Furthermore the machine is very compact, which is critical in most London kitchens where space is at a premium. Use a bottled water with a low dry residue value, and you can look forward to never having to descale your machines - we have never had to in 3 years & there is no trace of limescale on the machine. Finally you will find that the Olympia machines extract subtle nuances from the coffee that few other machines will ever achieve. Yes, the price is high, but we still consider these machines represent value for money. Buy once, buy right. Made in Switzerland near the Italian border & built from heavy chromed bronze & stainless steel & machine screws. If you are considering purchasing one of these machines and have questions, feel free to give us a call.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

New at Londinium Espresso this week!

This week we launch Londinium 'five stars', the 5 bag selection of 5 different coffees at a 20% discount. We have also repositioned our starter pack at £50, rather than £100, by swapping out the Isomac grinder for a Krups grinder making the world of fine coffee more accessible than ever before. If you have any coffee questions, please ask.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Single estate - Rainha Farm Brazilian Yellow Bourbon in stock now

Londinium Espresso is pleased to announce the arrival of another exclusive single estate coffee into stock this morning, Brazilian Yellow Bourbon from Rainha Farm estate. It is no secret that we have been disappointed by many Brazilian coffees in the past, so we have gone for the best. The good news is this coffee produces a rich chocolate toned Swissgold filter cup which we were impressed with. But the biggest surprise was yet to come. We made an espresso and we found it stunning. We are currently of the view that it might usurp the No.15 roast as our premier espresso roast - what next! The No.15 still holds its crown as the smoothest & creamiest espresso, but this yellow bourbon will appeal to those who like their espresso to have more weight in the cup, a fuller flavour, whilst not displaying low levels of acidity. We expect this coffee to be a Londinium favourite for a long time.

Java Blawan Estate in stock now

Londinium Espresso are pleased to announce that they have received their awaited shipment of single estate coffee (Blawan), from the island of Java. We took a guess as to how dark we should roast this legendary coffee & I'm ashamed to say we blew it. Burnt notes were detectable. Arrgh! We have roasted a fresh batch today which we will rest overnight & try tomorrow, or perhaps Sunday. We have high expectations for this famous, classic coffee.

Jamaican Blue Mountain No.1 Flamstead Estate in stock now

Jamaican Blue Mountain No.1 (the highest grade), from the Flamstead Estate has just been booked into stock. Order yours while stocks last.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Entry level grinder: Krups GVX2-12 burr grinder

If you are contemplating the move to buying whole beans, but do not wish to spend too much on a grinder then the Krups GVX2 might be exactly what you are looking for. No, it is not suitable for espresso as it will not grind the coffee to a uniform size, which will become more noticeable as the burrs wear and become blunt. The container that holds the ground coffee is also susceptible to static charge which will cause the coffee grinds to stick to it. From time to time the beans will also fail to drop down into the grinder, causing it to spin freely at very high speed. But if you do not need to make espresso, and say team it with the Swissgold filter you will still be able to enjoy exquisite Londinium coffee for a very modest outlay. This grinder is sold at John Lewis for £40 last time we checked, and is also available online at Amazon & elsewhere at even lower prices.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Cupping - the correct adjectives to describe what you taste and smell in the cup

This list needs to be refined, but it provides us with a starting point. What is important in cupping coffee is that the accepted adjectives are used. I am not sure I agree with all of the comments that follow each adjective, but we can edit those in due course. For example, there are various characteristics listed below that are said not to be 'undesirable', yet I personally detest them in my coffee. As long as you use the accepted adjectives, I think whether or not a certain characteristic is 'desirable' is highly subjective, and largely a matter to be determined by you, the cupper.


  • Animal-like - This odour descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the smell of animals. It is not a fragrant aroma like musk but has the characteristic odour of wet fur, sweat, leather, hides, or urine. It is not necessarily considered as a negative attribute but is generally used to describe strong notes.
  • Ashy - This odour descriptor is similar to that of an ashtray, the odour of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. It is not used as a negative attribute. Generally speaking this descriptor is used by the tasters to indicate the degree of roast.
  • Burnt/Smoky - This odour and flavour descriptor is similar to that found in burnt food. The odour is associated with smoke produced when burning wood. This descriptor is frequently used to indicate the degree of roast commonly found by tasters in dark-roasted or oven-roasted coffees.
  • Chemical/Medicinal - This odour descriptor is reminiscent of chemicals, medicines and the smell of hospitals. This term is used to describe coffees having aromas such as rio flavour, chemical residues or highly aromatic coffees which produce large amounts of volatiles.
  • Chocolate-like - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the aroma and flavour of cocoa powder and chocolate (including dark chocolate and milk chocolate). It is an aroma that is sometimes referred to as sweet.
  • Caramel - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the odour and flavour produced when caramelizing sugar without burning it. Tasters should be cautioned not to use this attribute to describe a burning note.
  • Cereal/Malty/Toastlike - This descriptor includes aromas characteristic of cereal, malt, and toast. It includes scents such as the aroma and flavour of uncooked or roasted grain (including roasted corn, barley or wheat), malt extract and the aroma and flavour of freshly baked bread and freshly made toast. This descriptor has a common denominator, a grain-type aroma. The aromas in this descriptor were grouped together since tasters used these terms interchangeably when evaluating standards of each one.
  • Earthy - The characteristic odour of fresh, wet soil or humus. Sometimes associated with moulds and reminiscent of raw potato flavour, a common flavournote in coffees from Asia.
  • Floral - This aroma descriptor is similar to the fragrance of flowers. It is associated with the slight scent of different types of flowers including honeysuckle, jasmine, dandelion and nettles. It is mainly found when an intense fruity or green aroma is perceived but rarely found having a high intensity by itself.
  • Fruity/Citrus - This aroma is reminiscent of the odour and taste of fruit. The natural aroma of berries is highly associated with this attribute. The perception of high acidity in some coffees is correlated with the citrus characteristic. Tasters should be cautioned not to use this attribute to describe the aroma of unripe or overripe fruit.
  • Grassy/Green/Herbal - This aroma descriptor includes three terms which are associated with odours reminiscent of a freshly mowed lawn, fresh green grass or herbs, green foliage, green beans or unripe fruit.
  • Nutty - This aroma is reminiscent of the odour and flavour of fresh nuts (distinct from rancid nuts) and not of bitter almonds.
  • Rancid/Rotten - This aroma descriptor includes two terms which are associated with odours reminiscent of rancidification and oxidation of several products. Rancid as the main indicator of fat oxidation mainly refers to rancid nuts and rotten is used as an indicator of deteriorated vegetables or non-oily products. Tasters should be cautioned not to apply these descriptors to coffees that have strong notes but no signs of deterioration.
  • Rubber-like - This odour descriptor is characteristic of the smell of hot tyres, rubber bands and rubber stoppers. It is not considered a negative attribute but has a characteristic strong note highly recognisable in some coffees.
  • Tobacco - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the odour and taste of tobacco but should not be used for burnt tobacco.
  • Winey - This terms is used to describe the combined sensation of smell, taste and mouthfeel experiences when drinking wine. It is generally perceived when a strong acidic or fruity note is found. Tasters should be cautioned not to apply this term to a sour or fermented flavour.
  • Woody - This aroma descriptor is reminiscent of the smell of dry wood, an oak barrel, dead wood or cardboard paper.


  • Acidity - A basic taste characterised by the solution of an organic acid. A desirable sharp and pleasing taste particularly strong with certain origins as opposed to an over-fermented sour taste.
  • Bitterness - A primary taste characterised by the solution of caffeine, quinine and certain other alkaloids. This taste is considered desirable up to a certain level and is affected by the degree of roast brewing procedures.
  • Sweetness - This is a basic taste descriptor characterised by solutions of sucrose or fructose which are commonly associated with sweet aroma descriptors such as fruity, chocolate and caramel. It is generally used for describing coffees which are free from off-flavours.
  • Saltiness - A primary taste characterised by a solution of sodium chloride or other salts.
  • Sourness - This basic taste descriptor refers to an excessively sharp, biting and unpleasant flavour (such as vinegar or acetic acid). It is sometimes associated with the aroma of fermented coffee. Tasters should be cautious not to confuse this term with acidity which is generally considered a pleasant and desirable taste in coffee.


  • Body - This attribute descriptor is used to describe the physical properties of the beverage. A strong but pleasant full mouthfeel characteristic as opposed to being thin.
  • To an amateur coffee taster, body can be compared to drinking milk. A heavy body is comparable to whole milk while a light body can be comparable to skim milk.
  • Astringency - The astringent attribute is characteristic of an after-taste sensation consistent with a dry feeling in the mouth, undesirable in coffee.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Valentine's Day at Londinium Espresso

Ever had a Valentine's Day that left you burnt & bitter? Well this year be prepared with Londinium Espresso. If the day goes well you can relax, safe in the knowledge that 'inviting them back for coffee' isn't going to disappoint. It will mark you as an individual at the cutting edge of couture coffee. And if things don't go as well as you'd planned, you've got the finest coffee in the land all to yourself. Have some on hand to cover either eventuality!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Coming soon: long term review of the Olympia Cremina 2002

we've had ours for 3 years, with nothing but good things to say (once we learnt how to use it!). built like Stonehenge (to last). no electric pump to replace. largely unchanged since 1928. voted best espresso machine by the New York Times (from memory) a few years back. the price is high, but you do get what you pay for. new electric pump model now onsale - lets hear from you if you have one of these.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Friday's tip

Well , you can dismiss this suggestion with a 'yes he would say that wouldn't he', but in my experience it is worth dumping the first espresso that you draw from your machine.

This applies whether it is the first shot when you turn it on, or if the machine has been sitting idle for some time. Try it, I think you might be surprised at the results, particularly if you are only drawing off one for yourself, then you will always be having the first one out, and most likely disappointed with the results.

thought for the day...

in life, you get what you pay for...if you're lucky!

At Londinium Espresso the focus is on quality at a fair price. There is an ocean of poor quality coffee, freely available on every corner. There is some expensive coffee out there that is not true to label, or more often does not taste true to label because it is stale.

Why would anyone buy pre-ground Hawaiian Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain? It's pre-ground; that means its stale before it leaves the store.

Why would anyone buy these coffees as a blend, particularly if the proportions are not disclosed - how much of the premium coffee are you actually receiving for your money? The delicate flavours of the premium coffee are swamped by the presence of an inferior coffee. What a waste of money.

All this leaves you bitterly disappointed when you expose it to the only opinion that really counts; yours. And possibly embarrassed if you have served it to your friends.

We don't think it's a contradiction to say we offer premium coffee beans that represent excellent value for your money. That's why we have the Londinium Guarantee. If it isn't the smoothest cup of espresso you've had, send it back for a prompt refund from ourselves.

At Londinium Espresso you get what you have paid for: premium coffee that meets or exceeds your expectations.

If you would like a particular coffee that doesn't currently appear on our website, get in touch & we will promptly acquire it & roast it fresh for you.

in life, you get what you pay for...if you're lucky!

the Londinium advantage

At Londinium Espresso we have spent some time designing a custom shaped bag that the postman can fit through your letterbox. So what I hear you ask, 'how does that help me?' Well, it means you can be at work getting on with your life and when you return home, instead of having a nice little 'sorry we missed you' card from the courier, you will have a gleaming gold coffee ingot from Londinium Espresso. You see, we are always thinking about little ways that we can make it easy for you to access great coffee. I you have a coffee related question, call us or email, and we'll try and find an answer.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Send us a coffee question

...and we'll post the answer on this blog. if you have a new machine and are disappointed with the results, start by weighing your coffee. 7 grams for a single shot, 14 grams for a double. Sure, you don't need to do this once you have great coffee cascading from your espresso machine, but if you have tried everything else, it is worth going back to first principles. If you can not get that weight of coffee into your porta-filter, and tamped down say 3mm below the top of the porta-filter, then your grind is top coarse, and vice-versa if the measured amount drops in with space to spare. It sounds fanatical, but you will have to make adjustments for extreme weather conditions, particularly for changes in humidity and also as the coffee ages. For example, when you use Londinium Espresso you will most likely find you need to back the grind off (i.e. make it more coarse) initially. If you have it lying around for a while, just tweak the grind one increment finer. Remember to wait for any coffee that was ground at the earlier setting to pass through the grinder, before making it finer again if necessary. Hope this helps. Reiss.

How long does coffee keep fresh?

While coffee is like wine, in that you can have a lifetime of enjoyment familiarising yourself with different styles from around the world, coffee does not improve with age. You need to start thinking of coffee in the same way as you do fruit, which it is. Fresh is best. Ground coffee begins to stale after 30 minutes. For whole beans that are exposed to air, for example sitting in the hopper of your grinder, you will notice a drop off in the fabulous crema after 10 days. Sure, it will still be miles ahead of 99% of the coffee on the market, but none the less expect to notice the decline around the 10 day mark. This is significant to any espresso enthusiast as it impacts crema production, and as a result many of the subtle exotic elements of the coffee's unique taste signature begin to disappear. And how long do our beans keep in the bag before a similar drop off is observed? Well, as you go beyond 5 weeks after the roast date (clearly stamped on all our bags) you will start to notice a drop off. Granted, it will still be miles fresher than 99% of all the coffee on the market, but that isn't what you or us are here for. We are both in pursuit of espresso excellence. For this reason we only sell 250g bags to our residential customers, and reserve the 1000g bags for our commercial customers who will consume it before any drop off in freshness occurs. By the way, our coffee doesn't stale any faster or slower than anyone else's, so next time you see a 'Best Before' date of 12 months into the future, I am you'll be thinking the same thing as us...Sure, it won't make you sick, but espresso is hardly an exercise in survival is it? It is the hedonistic pursuit of the 'ultimate cup'.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Londinium Glossary - Part IV

Grind size: the degree of fineness to which the coffee beans are ground. Grind size varies from extremely fine (powder) for Turkish coffee, to coarse for plunger coffee and vacuum coffee makers. The method by which you make your coffee determines how fine a grind you should use. The key components are, the method, the coffee, the weather (in particular humidity), and tamp pressure. If you find yourself using excessive tamp pressure, yet you are grinding fairly fine, the is most likely nothing wrong with your machine. It is you coffee that is letting you down. Try a bag of Londinium Espresso and be astounded at the difference. You will not have to grind as fine, which means your grinder will last longer, and you will not have to exert much pressure with the tamp. Life is easy with Londinium Espresso.

Intensity: the term used to describe the degree of a coffee's impact on the palate. For example, Robustas are regarded as high intensity.

Maragogype: the 'elephant' bean. A variety of arabica bean almost double the normal size. Often superior in quality & priced accordingly.

Milds: a term often used when referring to washed arabica beans.

Mocha: the name designating coffee from Ethiopia and Yemen, originally shipped from the port of Mocha. Before the commencement of coffee growing in Asia and the Americas, the word 'mocha' was often used to refer to black coffee, and I believe it still is in Austria.

Pacamara: an excellent hybrid arabica bean combining Maragogype and Paca varieties and grown primarily in El Salvador.

Porcelain: the ideal material for coffee cups as it is a good insulator and does not taint the coffee.

Qishr: the Yemeni term for a brew made of dried and lightly roasted coffee cherries that have had the beans removed.

Robusta (Coffea canephora): one of the two major species of coffee, the other being arabica. Robusta accounts for 25% of all coffee consumed worldwide. Robusta beans are stronger than arabica, and much less subtle. They may be bitter, and generally have a higher caffeine content. Note: the best robustas are better than the worst of the arabicas.

Tamp: usually a flat faced metal instrument, often solid to give it some weight, used in the hand to compact the ground coffee into the porta-filter. It is a critical step in the production of espresso. If the pressure exerted is too light, air pockets will be left between some of the grinds and the water will quickly channel through these pockets as they represent the 'path of least resistance' through the coffee. It will result in underextraction, characterised by little or no crema, and any crema will be very pale in colour. If the pressure is too great it is possible that no water at all will make its way into the cup. In less extreme situations the water will eventually makes its way into the cup but the crema will be a chocolate colour, possibly with a light stain on the crema at the very end of the extraction. Both under and over extracted espresso is very unpleasant to drink, even if you have great coffee. Personally, with Londinium Espresso on board, and a moderately fine grind size, you should not be exerting much pressure with the tamp at all. I lightly tip the ground coffee into the porta-filter so it is raised up in a pyramid shape, then I lightly sweep the tamp straight across the top of the porta-filter to level it off, then I am looking to depress the level of the coffee by probably only 3mm, so it just has enough room to lock into the holder on the espresso machine. You will hear/read of people advising about 30, 50, even 70lbs of pressure. In my view this can only be the case if their grind is far too coarse, or the coffee is stale. You should only ever exert light pressure on the tamp with Londinium Espresso.

The Londinium Glossary - Part III

Viennese coffee: black coffee topped with a little whipped cream. served in a glass.

Espresso: from the Italian 'to put under pressure'. Prepared with at least 14 bar of pressure in the now famous espresso machine. May use either a manual lever to force the hot water through the ground coffee or an electric pump (either vibrating or rotary). The resulting beverage has a thick texture and should have a deep luxurious crema if the beans are fresh. Correctly prepared, espresso should be mellow and sweet. With Londinium Espresso it does not have to be burnt and bitter. Surprisingly, the espresso method results in coffee with a slightly lower caffeine content than other methods as the water is in contact with the coffee for a much shorter period of time. A single shot of espresso is usually made with 7 grams of finely ground coffee, and is served in a small but extremely thick walled china cup. The thickness of the cup wall effects the 'mouth feel' of the espresso. Espresso served in a full sized coffee cup will not be enjoyable, largely because the crema will dissipate quickly over a larger surface area, and it is in this emulsion that all the delicate elements of the espresso's flavour are trapped.

Caffe corretto: espresso spiked with spirits, usually grappa. As you might expect, it has a kick like mule.

Caffe macchiato: (Italian for 'spotted') espresso with a few drops of milk added

Caffe mocha/Bicerin: 1 part espresso, 1 part hot chocolate, 1 part steamed milk, added in that order.

Doppio: double espresso (2 shots). Standard issue at Londinium Espresso - a single shot really isn't enough!

Espresso con panna: espresso with a small teaspoon of whipped cream

Espresso ristretto: (Italian for 'cut off') usually made by loading enough ground coffee for a double shot, but only drawing through the volume of water that you would for a single shot. So, an espresso of twice the concentration. Only for the brave.

Marocchino: a caffe macchiato topped with a pinch of cocoa.

Granita di caffe: coffee poured over shaved ice and frequently topped with whipped cream (i.e. con panna)

The Londinium Glossary - Part II

Irish coffee: A marvelous Irish invention. Brewed coffee spiked with whisky & topped with cold whipped cream. Ideally, the coffee should be sipped through the cream and not mixed into it.

Monsooned coffee: In India green coffee beans are purposely exposed to the monsoon winds for several weeks, a process which moistens the beans and develops a distinctive flavour that in former times characterised beans after a long sea journey from India to Europe.

Dry-Processed: coffee beans dried in the sun, with little rinsing or sorting. Typically results in a poorly graded coffee, as a result of the impurities that remain mixed up with the beans. Dry-processed coffee beans are sometimes referred to as 'naturals'.

Green coffee beans: Fresh coffee beans that have been wet or dry processed, graded, and are ready to be roasted.

Organic coffee beans: coffee beans grown without chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Consumers should be aware that many small growers do not use chemicals anyway, simply because they can not afford them, but their product may not carry organic certification. This is particularly true for coffee grown at high altitudes where few insects or bugs may be present and therefore chemicals not really necessary, combined with very inaccessible terrain making it difficult for chemicals to be transported to the plantation, and of course poverty.

Washed coffee beans: wet-processed coffee beans, which are repeatedly rinsed and sorted. Because of this, washed beans are superior in quality to dry-processed beans.

Vacuum coffee maker: water is placed in a glass globe. A second glass globe is inserted into the top of the first, with a rubber seal binding them together & a unique glass rod acting as the filter. Medium ground coffee is placed in the upper globe. A heat source is placed under the lower glass globe. As the water in the lower glass globe expands it is forced into the upper globe. When all the water in the lower globe has been forced into the upper globe, the heat source is removed. The lower globe then cools, creating a lower pressure in the lower globe, than in the top globe, and so the coffee is sucked back down into the lower globe. The most famous and spectacular of these is the original one, being the Cona, from England.

Crema: the foam that gathers on the surface of a good espresso, being an emulsion of the essential oils contained in the coffee. For any given roast, the fresher it is, the more crema you will see on your espresso. It really is that simple. The crema should not be too pale in colour, nor should it be even close to approaching a chocolate colour. The colour of varnished pine is approximately the colour you should be targeting, or possibly a shade darker. The bubbles in the crema should be so fine that they are barely visible across the light.

Londinium Espresso: bespoke coffee roasters

Londinium: the best in bespoke suits. Londinium Espresso: the best in bespoke coffee. The smoothest espresso you have ever drunk, or your money back. If you are ready for bespoke, you are ready for Londinium Espresso. If you want a particular coffee...just ask! We are bespoke, remember?

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Prospective customers

If you are currently buying your coffee beans from Monmouth Coffee, Bullet, Sacred, Has Bean, The Bean Shop, Roast and Post, then you are no doubt a connoisseur of coffee.

We respect our competitors, as they are with us in the crusade against poor coffee.

However, we are the new boys in town & we are keen for your custom.

Do give us a try - I think you will find our roasts will meet or exceed your expectations, and just in case it is not to your liking we back every roast with a 'prompt 100% money back guarantee'.

We also strive to back our products up with first class service. So even if you don't need to order coffee beans today, but you have a coffee related question, do give us a call & we'll do our best to find you the solution.

Thank you for visiting


Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Londinium Glossary - Part I

Today's blog is the start of the Londinium glossary of coffee. The idea is to provide you with a point of reference for any terms that you may be unfamiliar with, so here goes:

Acidity: a quality highly prized by connoisseurs, and more commonly found in high altitude varieties of coffee bean. Generally, the more acidity a coffee has, the less suitable it is for a straight espresso and the more suitable it is for a filter cup coffee.

Arabica: the fruit of the Coffea arabica bush, being one of two major species of coffee (the other being Coffea canephora, or Robusta as it is more commonly known), both believed to have originated in Ethiopia. Arabica coffee accounts for approximately three quarters of global coffee consumption. It is usually superior in quality, and lower in caffeine than Robusta.

Aroma: the fragrance given off by coffee as it is prepared, and in the mouth as it is being consumed. As we are only able to detect four tastes with our tongue, the aroma of coffee is vitally important to being able to detect the subtle nuances of a fine coffee's taste signature.

Barista: the person who has been trained in the correct preparation of espresso, upon which they often develop their own specialities, such as 'latte art'.

Bean (coffee): the seed of the coffee bush, found inside the fruit (the coffee cherry). It is typically referred to as the seed when cultivated, and the bean when subsequently marketed.

Blue Mountain: possibly the most famous coffee bean of all, and one of the most expensive. It is produced in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The taste is subtle, with underlying chocolate notes. Should always be sold as a single origin coffee (i.e. unblended).

Body: the term used to describe the texture of the brew, the impression the texture leaves in the mouth, and the length of time that impression lingers. A full bodied coffee is thick textured and has a lingering taste in the mouth. The espresso process generally produces a coffee that is full bodied, although in my view this more a reflection of the process than the coffee beans used.

Cafe Allonge: A French term to describe diluted espresso. The Italians use 'Americano'. i.e. a full size coffee cup to which a shot/double shot of espresso is added, then topped up with hot water.

Cafe Liegeois: A French term referring to cold coffee poured over vanilla ice cream & topped with whipped cream.

Caffeine: an alkaloid stimulant contained in coffee beans. The caffeine content can vary by as much as fifty percent between arabicas and robustas. Generally speaking, caffeine is not harmful to your health unless consumed in irresponsible quantities (say 30 cups per day), you are pregnant, you have a heart condition, or you are sensitive to caffeine.

Caracoli: usually a coffee cherry will contain a seed comprising two beans. On occasions only a single bean develops, effectively a mutation. As the flavour is more concentrated in a single bean, caracoli beans are highly prized, especially those of the arabica variety.

Coffee cherry: the fruit of the coffee bush, which is round in shape and bright red in colour. The coffee beans are the seeds of the cherry, usually two, but occasionally a single bean (caracoli).

Chocolatey: the term used to describe the highly prized aroma found in the great arabicas, such as Jamaican Blue Mountain, New Guinea Sigri, and Australian Skybury.

Decaffeinated coffee: coffee from which the caffeine has been chemically removed. Approximately 78% of decaffeinated coffee utilises fairly unpleasant chemicals to do so. The only exception is the 'Swiss Water Process', which is different to the 'Water Process' which uses chemicals. The taste and aroma of coffees that have been decaffeinated is diminished, but espresso suffers the least.