Saturday, 28 March 2009

fresh is best

it will seem obvious when it is pointed out, but people fail to make the connection that coffee is essentially a fruit, or at least the seed of a fruit.  as a result it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that fresh is best, just like any fruit.

next time you buy a bag of coffee have a look for the 'best before' date.  in almost all cases it will be 12mths after the roast date.  while it is true that coffee does go 'off' in the sense of making you ill, this practice is misleading and we have a problem with it.  perhaps less so if it is an inexpensive coffee, but a huge objection if you are buying a gourmet or premium coffee.

if you are buying pre-ground coffee it will be stale every time.  the information on the packet may try to persuade you that it is fresh as a result of some magical process, but this is at odds with reality, unfortunately.

one of the things you are paying for at Londinium Espresso is our commitment to stamp the roast date on every pack.  usually, but not always, this will be after you have placed your order.  we are not apologetic that we will sometimes ship coffee that was roasted a few days before your order as we are now firmly of the view that coffee needs at least 10 days in our unopened bags to reach its optimum, and seems to remain in such a condition until at least 3 weeks after roasting.  in our experience there is no significant drop off in quality until 6 to 8 weeks after roasting, assuming the bag remains unopened.  once opened the oxidation process accelerates rapidly and the coffee needs to be consumed in 7-10 days to be enjoyed in peak condition.  for this reason we sell our coffee in 250g bags.  in our experience 250g is about the amount of coffee that a moderate coffee drinker can get through in 7-10 days.

as always, if you have any questions please feel free to ask without obligating yourself in any way.  if we don't know the answer we will say so & endeavour to go away & find it & get back to you.

Daterra 3 weeks after roasting

just discovered a bag of Daterra in the pyramid of coffee that dominates the landscape here.  roasted 3 weeks ago to the day on 7 march 2009.  ran it through the machine & i must emphasise that it has improved further with a little time.  the flavours are smoother, rounder, and more full in the mouth.  still has the same basic profile as you would expect, but much more refined & enjoyable.  if you want to lower the cost i recommend you buy 5 x 250g bags at a time & enjoy the 20% discount.  only open one bag at a time and i think you'll find the last bag you have is more refined and enjoyable than the first bag you open only a few days after roasting.

NEW in: Hawaiian Kona extra fancy

roasted a couple of days ago.  tried it this morning as an espresso & through the swissgold.  have to admit we have under-roasted this and as a result it tastes a little wooden.  we'll roast again this afternoon, this time a little darker.  all coffee produced in Hawaii is fairly traded, though not certified as such, as the US labour/employment laws are in effect.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Anyone for Cuban coffee?

I was reading last night about Cuban coffee & decided we needed to find out if it is even half as good as their cigars.

Having been told the only guy in the UK with any is in Ireland & he will only sell roasted beans I am pleased to announce that we have found some green beans.

I've not had the opportunity to buy from sample so its fingers crossed on this one.  I love this journey of discovery that coffee takes you on.  It is one of the last products in the world that is completely natural & the processing of which hasn't been reduced to a mathematical formula.

The gourmet roasting community is always picking up unusual coffees, often in tiny quantities & roasting them according to their unique in-house roasting style and often creating a taste quite different to another gourmet roaster using the same bean, or a bean from a similar region.


Monday, 9 March 2009

Go and check this website out & watch episode 27

This is a crazy story of coincidence & the power of the web & tools like twitter

A while ago i ran a search for 'Gunson', my surname on twitter, just for the fun of it really

It turned up this guy, Jonathan Gunson, who runs a website called

He said on his show that he was in New Zealand & it is a fairly uncommon surname in that part of the world

So I asked a few a questions about his lineage & it turns out that we are related.  I lived in Auckland until I was 25 & never knew of Jonathan's existence

I have resided in London since 1998 & I get on twitter & find a relative & he ends up profiling me on episode 27

In return I must recommend the to you

It is free & I tune in every weekday to pick up his latest traffic nugget & have found plenty of useful practical tips

As a guy trying to get a web business off the ground I have found it to be a valuable, practical resource & encouragement

Anyway, a big thank-you to you Jonathan, I never expected this kind of exposure


Sunday, 8 March 2009

What is Londinium Espresso all about?

Please don't think we only care about espresso

Our mission is to re-introduce you to coffee.  Black coffee.  What other kind is there?

At the risk of upsetting you we dont regard latte as coffee, nor cappuccino, and certainly not a triple frappe grande mocha caramel lard arse whatever nightmare

You're welcome to enjoy them all.  We just don't think they should be confused with coffee.  They are coffee flavoured milk.  That's all.  And if you haven't figured it out for yourself already, they are calorie bombs, whilst coffee is calorie free.

You see the trouble is milk fat is a great masking agent.  When it comes to appreciating the subtle differences between two brazilian coffees, for example, you won't stand a chance.  Your taste buds will be smothered in a blanket of milk fat, rendering them useless.

Londinium Espresso is all about introducing you to coffee.  Black coffee.  Water.  Coffee. And, er, that's it.  There is no where for poor quality coffee or poorly roasted coffee to hide.

You, the consumer, have been served up coffee of continuously diminishing quality since World War II broke out.  We believe it's time to take you back.

Historically, believe it or not, coffee was known as a 'sweet' drink.  I bet you're thinking 'coffee is not sweet, its often bitter or burnt, or perhaps both.  Yes, that's true, but it doesn't have to be that way.

You're probably thinking, ah but, I dont have any fancy expensive coffee making equipment, i cant afford any, its out of my league.

Well, that's not true either.  All you need to acquire is an inexpensive blade grinder & a Swissgold filter.  You may even have a stovetop coffee maker, or plunger, or filter machine at home, in which case all you need to buy is a grinder.  Make sure you keep you equipment clean, ensuring no coffee residue forms in it.  You see it is all about accessing great coffee beans.

Forget ground coffee, it is a waste of money.  Ground coffee stales in half an hour or so of being ground & therefore you will never taste a fraction of the coffee's original, fresh roasted flavour.

Anyway, I think we have made our point.  Londinium is all about black coffee.  Great black coffee.  Filter, vacuum, espresso, stove-top, the method doesn't matter.  It's all about the coffee... not the additives.

We are also on hand to help you solve coffee problems and chew the fat when pondering where to spend your hard-earned cash on your next caffeine toy, all without obligation and as impartial as we can be for coffee zealots!

Grinders: blade & burr

This is a bit of a pedantic rant, but I am sick of people proclaiming that blade grinders are no good because they cut the beans and burr grinders are good because they grind the coffee.

Blade grinders have 'blades' but if you feel them you will notice they are not sharp.  They don't cut the coffee, they simply 'smash' the beans.  As a result the 'grinds' it produces are a vast array of sizes, and equally importantly, shapes.  Hopeless for espresso as the water simply takes the coarse of least resistance through the puck of coffee and it produces a curious mix of over & under extracted coffee.  Not nice.

Entry level burr grinders don't do a whole lot better either, some of them having plastic/composite burrs which wear smooth fairly quickly, unsurprisingly.

Good burr grinders, i.e. those selling for GBP200 and above in the UK actually have burrs that are quite sharp.  As a result they do 'cut' the coffee bean.  The correct term is probably 'mill'.  These sharp burrs, or teeth if you like, ensure the resulting grinds are very uniform in both size and shape.  This is what you are paying for in a top quality grinder.

The need to minimise the heating of the coffee if you are grinding any volume is addressed in three ways; 1) the use of highly conductive material (metal/metal alloy/ceramic) for the burrs to dissipate the heat away 2) larger diameter burrs so the working surface of the burr is increased, thereby spreading the thermal load over a wider area 3) reducing the revolutions at which the burr turns, which in turn requires gearing and usually a more powerful electric motor, all of which add to the cost.

All of the above needs to be mounted into a very rigid assembly otherwise the burrs would be able to flex/move as the resistance of beans stuck the working face of the burrs.  This obviously adds to the cost as robust engineering as described above is needed.  It demands high quality metals/metal alloys and plenty of them.

The upside is you aren't buying what I like to refer to as 'consumer grade junk'.  When the burrs eventually wear out in a high quality grinder (stated as every 400Kg in a Mazzer Super Jolly) you can simply replace the burrs and you have a new grinder essentially.  If you are bothered by such things this is the world our grandparents knew and it is a lot more environmentally friendly than throwing cheap, poorly made items out every year or so.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Bodum Antigua grinder at an amazing price

Trolling the web just now I found this incredible deal;

No the grinder isn't suitable for espresso production but it is superb for anything else

I had one for years to test and I was very impressed

Before you ask we are not affiliated to these guys in ANY way, I have not been asked to post this, I was simply checking out the current price, thinking it to be about GBP90 & found this.