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ISBN 978-0-646-48632-1




To Looloo, Ella, Dan, Bonnie and Melchizedek

First Published by Loowedge Publishing in 2008

P.O. Box4178

Copacabana, Australia 2251

Copyright© 2008 lnstaurator

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any

form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including

photocopying recording, or any information storage and

retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, byway

of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise

circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of

binding or cover other than that in which it is published and

without a similar condition including this condition being

imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A Catalogue record of this book is available from the

National Library of Australia

ISBN 978-0-646-48632- l

Editors: Laura Everage San Francisco USA and

Emily Oak Sydney Australia

Photography: Adrian Lander

Design: Gentil Eckersley

Printed and bound in China by Hang Tai Printing




. The Quest Begins: Espresso Exodus

. My First Godin MyE spresCsou pE xperience

. My First Espresso Bar

. Viva the EspressoT raining Revolution

. Coffee to Espresso Evolution


. Cupo f Excellence®G: rowerso f the Future

-Altitude Versus Latitude

. Mountain Top® Coffee Estate

. Growers and Roasters Dance Together

. Processing Like a Winemaker

-The Essential Agronomist

. The Sweet Kiss of Long Ripening

World Taste Preferences


. Arabica Versus Ro bus ta

. Crema is Only Cream?

Roast Profiling

. Blending: The Fun of the Alchemist

Decaft hatTastesT oo Good: SWISSW ATER®D ecaf

Roasting Speed: Which Way Did He Go?

Body Without Too Much Bitterness

EspressoT asting for Smarties


-New Breed Barista

. More Data Free Observations

-Extraction Times

. Crema … Again

. Water: The Great Elixir Base

-Grinding: Unlocking the Coffee Genie

To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate

Rage and The Machine

How to Become a World Barista Champion

Conclusion: How to Make an Espresso Coffee



This book is not just another textbook. Rather, it is a record

and an explanation of my quest to discover the pure joy

found in a cup of espresso coffee. For more than two-and-aha

If decades, I have been involved in the selecting, roasting,

packing, brewing, tasting and marketing of specialty coffee.

Over this time, there have been enormous changes within

the coffee industry; not just in my own country of Australia,

but all around the world.

Why is it, that of al I people, an Australian is writing a

book about espressoc offee?A s it happens,A ustraliae njoyed

a large influx of Italian immigrants after the Second World

War. In turn, they established a vibrant espresso culture

that eventuallyt ook over the landscape.A s a matter of fact,

Australia now has the highest market penetration of home

electric espresso machines in the world. Yes, more than Italy.

Although we can’t claim to be the sole arbiters of espresso

taste, our national verve for innovation, an inclination to

challenge authority, and a solid espresso heritage, provided a

very fertile field for espresso to spring up in this most unlikely

place. Perhaps this humble field down under may provide

a small glimpse into the future, with the rest of the world


following suit and migrating toward espresso-basecdo ffees.

For someone who has made his livelihood from coffee,

true joy boils down to one thing. A few sips of thick, syrupy,

bittersweet nectar that resembles a rich, dark mocha chocolate

liquid mixed with smooth complex spices. This is espresso

coffee. The heart of coffee.

It is this humble espresso shot, a thimbleful of black

coffee poured in front of our eyes, which has become the

foundation of vast coffee empires and complete cafe menus.

It sustains untold households, from the low-paid, humble

plantation worker who picks the coffee, to the hi-tech, chic

cafe society set who consumes it.

Of the thousands of coffees tested by professional

cuppers each year, only occasionally will someone come

across an espresso coffee that has all the elements of

perfection. This sublime taste experience is what some

professionals describe as “seeing God in the cup”.

It is this experience that excites enormous passion.

It drives coffee professionals, as well as many people from all

walks of life, to almost fanatically pursue the experience again

and again. It requiresa n investment in learning, becauseth e

perfect espressoc offee is so confounding and elusive.Justa s

a beautiful mirage shimmers in the distance, or the proverbial


end of the rainbow beckons, so too often the wonderful taste

of espressoc offee seemsj ust beyondo ur grasp.

Enormous amounts of time, energy and money have been

invested in capturing this elusive taste, not only for personal

joy, but for business reasons as well. For if the espresso coffee

shot is not taken to its fullest potential, the rest of the coffee

menu, and the empire, will falter.

This book is a description of a coffee philosophy,

a muse with a few practical hints and a few personal stories

that could act as a guide to some. This approach differs from

that of numerous textbooks on espresso in that it gets to

the heart and sou I of espresso. I cou Id say it It is a bit Ii ke a

surgeon though, who sets out to use his scalpel to try and

locate a person’s spirit. This was always going to be mission


Coffee’s rich history has been told countless times

in books that highlight the romance and reach of coffee’s

past and present. This book is not so much about the exotic

countries that coffee is grown in. Instead, it is about what

makes the difference between two cafes located side by

side. For instance, one may be packed with people, buzzing

with vibrant conversation and electrifying ambience, while

the other lies empty and lifeless.


A certain alluring mystique periodically attaches itself

to coffee. In our current ti mes, that mystique is based around

the relativelyn ew form of coffee call ed espressoT. hi s book is

about embracing the invigorating mystique that is espresso

coffee, while it also sets out to burst the myths that shroud

and hinder the wonderful experience of seeing God in an

espresso cup.

My hope is that this book will inspire you in you_qr uest

for a great espresso.. .a n experiencet hat can seems o simple,

yet is so gloriously complex.



When I entered the coffee industry it was by accident.

I was on holiday from the university where I was studying

for my Bachelor of Arts degree in Australian history, when

my brother asked me to help in his new coffee roasting

business. Here I am twenty-six years later, still doing coffee.

Through the years, I’ve invested more than most do in

the pursuit of great espresso coffee. I have worked as a barista

in my own specialty espresso bars, set up several wholesale

roasting factories, trained coffee staff on a national basis,

developed practical standards in a real-time business

environment and built severals uccessfubl usinessesa long

the way including an international wholesale espresso

roasting businessw hich boastso ver 350 stores. In addition

to building businesses, I developed evaluation tests and

brewing standards for baristas, much of which has been

absorbed into World Barista Championship judging criteria.

I have been involved as a judge, or Executive Director,


—I ::r







in nearly every World Barista Championship since the

inaugural event in Monte Carlo in 2000. I served as a coffee

judge at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW single-estate

espresso competition and as the Chairman ofThe Australian

Coffee & Tea Association. My travels have taken me around

the world countless times to learn about espresso coffee and

to visit some of the world’s best coffee farms in Guatemala,

Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Australia and

Papua New Guinea.

Duringm y journey,I experiencedm y fair shareo f frustration

in the searchf or a sublime espressoI.t is a common frustration

for all of us who desire a simple, repeatable, good espresso

coffee. However, in my quest, I was very fortunate to meet an

intuitive espressog enius who was able to reducet he complex

dynamics of making a humble espresso coffee down to a

simple process. It was this chance meeting that acted as a

catalyst for me to continue my quest for my ultimate espresso.



I firstm et GeorgeS abadosa t an AustralianC offeea ndT eaA ssociation

meetingw heren ationals tandardsf or espressow hereb eing hammered

out. Aftera yeara nda halfo f passionated ebates,a ndm anyc upso f espresso

later, we finally compromised on a set of guidelines, which have since

been adoptedn ationallyb yg overnmentb aristat rainingc enters.

Coffee has always enjoyed local variations, and there is no doubt that these guidelines will incite

further vigorous debate. There are few hard and fast rules as to what is considered a standard espresso,

and this is evident in different parts of the world. Fast-maturing espresso markets such as Sydney or

Melbourne, and Seattle or Vancouver in North America, each define the perfect espresso differently.

This is true within a single city as well, much like it has been in Sydney for some time (although it

may be changing). In my hometown the harbor where the world-famous opera house sits, divides

the city in two. On the north side of the harbor, espresso tends to be a bit milder than the fullbodied

and powerful Robusta-blend espressos found closer to downtown on the southern side

of the harbor. Regardlesso f where espresso is enjoyed, the indispensable rule is: Alwaysle t your

taste be your guide.

For centuries, coffee has incited numerous controversies and passionate discussions around

the world. I believe that this is healthy as long as it leads to the gathering of wisdom. Unfortunately,

wisdom is so elusive because it is one step beyond knowledge. Knowledge comes from learning

the information, facts, ideas or principles. Wisdom comes from actively applying knowledge

to a practical test. Someone once said that wisdom is 90 percent hindsight. There is a lot of truth

to this. Through experience, a person learns the tricks of the trade to avoid common pitfalls,

and in the process gains wisdom.

George came from the sensory-inspired European school of espresso, whereas I came from

the scientific-based analytical school. This so-called European (or Italian) approach involves more

of the senses, whereas the scientific school is more about measuring grams and liquid volumes in


an attempt to try to record the myriad variables

involved in creating an espresso. Both of us,

however, were united in testing our ideas

through practical experiments.

George and I instantly joined forces. I paid

for him to fly to Monte Carlo and compete in

the inaugural World Barista Championship in

2000. We jumped on the plane together and

proceeded to have a lot of fun as we passionately

discussed our differing views about espresso.

The one thing that united us, in spite of our

different approaches, was that we both always

let our taste guide us.

Being near the Italian border in Monte

Carlo, we came upon many seasoned Italian

espresso drinkers. Upon trying my coffee blend

at our practice sessions they would refuse to

believe that it had been roasted and blended

in Australia. They told me it tasted too good,

therefore it must be Italian. It was a wonderful

compliment. I felt assured they were letting taste

be their guide!

The European school of espresso is evident

in the old school Italian baristas, who can still be

found in large cities around the world, although

you may have to go a long way to find one.

Sadly, I have heard reports that the

professional barista is in decline in Italy. These

good baristas know what an appropriate grind

feels like. They know what a good pour looks

like. They know how used coffee grinds should


smell. They can tell if the water is too hot,

the coffee too stale or too fresh, just by the way

the crema looks. Armed with a basic sensory

appreciation, they can produce a sublime

espresso that beats one prepared by a so-called

scientific barista time and again. Unfortunately,

these baristas seem to be a dying breed, as they

are increasingly replaced by fully automatic

machines. Why won’t a fully automatic machine

produce a more consistent espresso than an

imperfect human? We’ll touch on that later.

Regardless of which school the barista

comes from, in the end, good baristas must be

good tasters of coffee. The barista must be able

to recognize how variables in brewing affect

the flavor in the one place it counts- in the cup.

There is no getting away from it. The barista

must be able to taste. Otherwise they are merely

dressing a window. And the customer will never

find what they are looking for in their cup.

The best baristas combine a few common

characteristics. They are curious about what

they don’t understand. They take care to present

their coffees with a unique signature style.

They understand they are performers and their

customers are the audience to whom they

project their personality and passion. Always

strict and severe with their coffee standards,

they communicate this dedication and passion

to their audience through their character, as

well as through their beverage. They can be

Traditional cupping requires

the removal of’crema’ after

stirring and prior to tasting

as it tends to taste a little

harsh and distorts the flavor

profile ofthe coffee being

tasted. Unlike espresso where

the presence of ere ma is seen

as vital to the integrity of

the flavor.

(Le~ to right, top to bottom)

– Roasted beans

Coarse ground coffee for

a traditional tasting.

Traditional cupping (water

poured straight onto the

coffee grounds)

-Tasting spoons await their

coffee tasters


flirtatious, merely hospitable or a downright Coffee Nazi. But most importantly, they always love

tasting their espresso coffees.

Taste is as important for the barista as it is for the customer. When interviewing potential

staff for a position in one of my espresso bars. I quickly learned to ask the hopeful employees if they

liked coffee. Without liking the material you are working with, it is very difficult, if not impossible,

to have a sympathetic understanding of the product and the customer who purchases it. This is one

of the unspoken things customers pick up on. And often without even realizing it, customers will

gravitate towards the cafe that is staffed by baristas who are passionate about their product.

On the other hand, there are also those baristasw ho canc reatef ancyp atternsw ith milko r chocolate

mixed with crema, but sadly they don’t have a fundamental understanding of, and sympathy for, the

brewing of coffee. Their passion for excellence is lacking, which is an essential piece in a larger puzzle.

Without passion, the so-called” Espresso-XF actor,”i s missing. This passion combined with hardheaded,

good organizational skills, is the key to many outstanding and successful businesses and is

the true Espresso-XF actor.

Mys cientifica pproach to espresso came from my training. I learned to carefullya nd laboriously

weigh and set a commercial grinder to dispense a precise weight of coffee grinds, accurate down to a

tenth of a gram. What I have since come to realize is that the trouble with this method is that different

roast colors and blends will have different densities. So, once the grinder is set for a particular roast,

it will need to be reset forone that varies even by a couple of points on an Agtron spectrophotometer

scale. (A spectrophotometer, which measures roast color, is as essential to good coffee roasting as

a thermometer.)

What I have found during my extensive experimentation, is that beans that look exactly the same

to the naked eye, can taste extremely different depending on how those beans have been roasted. The

spread of difference between the color reading of the outside of the bean and the coffee inside, is also

criticalt o good flavord evelopmenta nd can only be measureda ccuratelyw ith a spectrophotometer.

J also learned during my scientific training that the speed at which the lever on the side of the

grinder is pulled will vary the amount of coffee that drops into the porta-filter. This too will vary

according to the coarseness or fineness of the coffee grinds. Dosing by weight rather than volume

reveals a lack of understanding of the ‘coffee press,’ which is absolutely necessary in order to make

a succulent espresso. This small, but important element, can make the brewing of espresso coffee

a very inexact, frustrating. and elusive science.


In addition to precise portioning of the coffee, the scientific approach also involves setting

an espresso machine to dose a precise volume of water. Once you have locked in the two variables

of coffeew eighta nd liquidv olume,t heoreticallyt he next step is to adjust the coarsenesso r finenesso f

your coffee grind, which will regulate the flow of water as it passes through the grinds in the portafilter.

Howeverd, espite the flawsi n this scientifica pproach, it is better than using no guidelinesa t all.

And so my exodus from scientific captivity began.

For now, I come to my first Godin M yE spresCsou pe xperience.


Screening trays. Each number

represents a different hole

size in a screen which allows

corresponding size beans

through and is referred to

as a ‘screen-size’.

An espresso that has been

waiting a bit too long for its

drinker. Note the crema has

subsided slightly.



I have had a handful of experiencesw here I have seen Godin mye spresscou p.

The first one I can remember was when I was working for my brother

Rob Forsyth in Naremburn, an inner suburb of Sydney.

I was on holidays from my studies in psychology

and Australian history at Macquarie University.

I figured he needed a hand, so I began selling

coffee for him. I had very little experience in

the coffee business, so when I didn’t know

are used to denote where a grape is grown,

coffee is referred to by the place it comes from.

In this case, coffee from these three countries,

which are considered the cradle of world coffee

production, used to be shipped through a port

the answer to a potential customer’s question, called Mocha. Coffee shipped from this port

such as “Why is coffee from Ethiopia known eventually came to be known by this name.

as mocha?” I made it a point of finding out the Today, the word Mocha is often used to

answer. (The answer to this is below!) Without refer to a mixture of coffee and chocolate.

realizing it, my coffee knowledgeb egan to grow. (Technicallys peaking, this version should be

Today I am still learning, and I realize how much

more there is still to learn.

When I walked into my brother’s shop

there were many different coffee sacks lying

open against the wall. He would ask me to

go and get some Mocha, for instance, for the

next roast. I would spend the next five minutes

looking for a bag with” Mocha” printed on it.

Of course, I ended up having to ask him which

one it was, because not one bag had the word

“Mocha” printed on it.

He was, in fact, referring to coffee grown

in Ethiopia, Arabia and Yemen. Much like wine

appellations such as Champagne and Burgundy

spelled moccaA.) sm y brother tells the story, a

French king asked his pastry chef to bake him

a new pastry. He came up with a new mixture

of coffee-and chocolate-flavored topping and

called it moccaI.t had little if anything to do with

the origin of the coffee itself.

It was the early 1980’s, when espresso was

still relatively new in Australia, and Seattle had

yet to be considered a coffee destination, that I

tasted a pure Ethiopian Mocha. It happened. It

hit the spot. It was smooth, rich and complex.

ActuallyI, had flukedi t. In spite of my ignorance

ofbarista skills, and coffee in general, I saw

Godinmyespressofworpth e firsttime. ltstands


out in my memory, and to this day I still have a

preference for this kind of Mocha.

One of the other features of these early days

was that the standard coffees we used included

Kenya Regal AA, Papua New Guinea Sigri A, and

Colombian Supremo along with several others that

todaya re regardeda s specialtyT. hisi s my brother’s

coffee legacy.W hat is considered specialttoy day,

was our normal, eve1ydayc offee back then.

I loved coming into the factory in the

morning and opening the sealed coffee bins

that contained the coffee roasted the previous

day. The aroma was so intoxicatingly sweet

much sweeter and more delicate than the

aroma of freshly ground coffee. The marketers

among us know that freshly ground coffee is the

most alluring of all retail aromas, with freshly

baked bread following close behind. But both of

these don’t come close to the fleeting, yet heady,

finesse of whole bean aroma in a sealed bin just

eighteen hours after being roasted.

Coffee aroma is a natural wonder of

God’s design. It is incredibly complex. With

approximately 2,000 compounds, it is

virtually impossible for mankind to replicate.

Unfortunately, too many coffee growers

these days are aiming to maximize yield while

sacrificing aromatic complexity.

I recently experienced the absurd contrast

of roses that had no perfume. When I went to

throw them out, I opened a new plastic garbage


bag, which surprisingly had a fake rose scent.

Garbage bags that smell more like roses than

roses?! What a wonderful development! For all

our progress in the modern world, it has come

down to such an absurd point as this. I hope and

pray the same doesn’t happen in the coffee world.

In the early 1990’s I began investing in

coffee prices on the New York Futures Exchange

to see what I could learn. Looking at long-term

graphs, I could see coffee was at a 20-year low.

To my uninitiated brain, I figured the market

couldn’t remain low. I was right. Eventually

there was a reported worm infestation in

Colombia and the market took off This meant

my options quickly became worth enough to

pay for a new bathroom for my wife. I was

satisfied, and to be prudent, I bailed out.

Then I had a dream. In the dream I was

surfing a fast-moving wave. I was having trouble

maintaining control of the surfboard. At the

same time, I was taking advice from some

friends on the beach who knew little about

surfing. One was a tea salesman, the other was

a real estate agent. Good guys, but why would I

take advice from them on a subject which I knew

more about anyway? I interpreted this dream

to mean that I had been paying attention to the

wrong ideas. Instead, I should get back on the

wave and ride it even if it was a little scary.

After having this dream, I clearly remember

driving home along the Pacific Highway and


wondering whether to get back in to the market.

Just as I was about to get on the freeway, I called

my broker and bought a couple of new coffee

call options. Soon a double frost hit Brazil and

coffee prices went ballistic overnight. I rode the

wave a 11 the way to the end. It was a revea Ii ng

experience. One moment the market moves up

forty cents and you feel invincible, like you’re

King Kong. The next night, when the market goes

down 30 cents, you lose $30,000 and you feel

like a complete loser. Why didn’t I get out the

night before? Why was I so greedy? Of course

this loss is nothing compared to the hardship

caused by natural disasters in coffee producing

countries. Yet, even for coffee producers, events

like these can be learning opportunities. For

instance, I have heard that growers who live in

particularlyf rost-pronea reas of Brazilw, ho after

experiencing crop losses, have modified their

planting methods to minimize the effects of frost.

I have since come to understand, through

my father-in-law who was a futures broker, that

because of the nature of the business, with all

it’s ups and downs, it is ve1y hard to remain

objective with your emotions. It is a wonderful

exercise in understanding and knowing yourself

under pressure. Learning how to trust your

instincts and back your own judgments, makes

for an exhilarating ride through life at the ve1y

least. In the end, I was fortunate to make enough

money to repay some of our debts and take the

kids out of school to travel around Australia

for eight months. This was my first sabbatical

in fourteen years.

When I came back to my wholesale coffee

business eight months later, I started the first of

my espresso bars. The year was 1995. There was

an existing specialty coffee business in Neutral

Bay, Sydney that offered about eighteen different

single origin and blended coffees in hoppers

on the main wall. On the opposite side was a

tiny La Pavoni single-group espresso machine.

They also sold a nice range of fine confectione1y

and Belgian chocolates, in addition to coffee

equipment and fine bone crocke1yA. s emi-retired

former airline employee ran the shop. A nice

man, but he, and the business, were ve1y tired

and it showed. I was familiar with this business

since I had tried selling my wholesale coffee

to the owner before him. It was a thriving

enterprise back then. Now, I could feel, and

almost taste, the potential.

My parents had been in retailing before

me, having run a successful small haberdashery

and craftss hop in SydneyT. heyo ften complained

that their shop tied them down too much even

though the business itself was a roaring success.

What I did realize was that my father had a flaw.

He was too close to his business. He compulsively

overstocked his small change every day and

insisted that I count every last one-cent coin

each evening as I helped him close the shop. It


used to drive me crazy. But, there is a lesson here. To be successful in retail you have to be very focused

and committed to every detail. A bit offlair, which my mother had in spadefuls, and continually

experimenting and testing new ideas, helps too. I later learned that being too tied down to your

shop is really poor management. Instead, by training other people to perform the time-consuming

tasks of opening and closing the store, you can focus more on building the business in ways that

others cannot do for you. Because I had not yet learned this while on the road wholesaling coffee,

I had a slight aversion to being tied down to retailing.



Despite all this, I threw myself into the new challenge with all the

refreshed energy I had at my disposal after my sabbatical. To my surprise

I loved it. I loved the immediacy of it.

I would play with placing stock in different

places to see what would happen. It never ceased

to amaze me how, if priced and presented

attractively items would fly out the door, even

products that I sometimes didn’t particularly

like myself lfl got feedback from customers,

I would try and implement their suggestions and

change the store immediately. It often worked.

I ust by taking some shelves, which blocked

customer views, out of a window, our brewed

coffee sales jumped by 25 percent. By putting

in a new three-group machine to replace the old

second-hand, two-group machine, sales shot

up another 25 percent. By putting two tables,

chairs and a sign on the footpath outside, sales

jumped up 50 percent. In retail, the results of

Success at retail is really pretty simple and

comes from following a couple of basic rules.

First, be pleasant and do whatever it takes to

make the customer return. Second, always aim

to exceed customers’ expectations. I was amazed

to find out how true this was. Four years after I

had sold out of the Neutral Bay shop, a former

employee told me a customer relayed a story

to him. It was about how I had installed an

expensive hand-beaten copper jug made

specificallyt o dispense the exact quantity of

coffee beans from the hopper to their retail

pack. I had this jug made specially for the

purpose of showing customers how precious

coffee was, and that it shouldn’t be stored in

grimy plastic containers. It worked. Customers

my efforts were realized immediately. To me, can sniff out sincerity and expertise like a drugthis

was far easier than wholesale where it was sniffing dog at an airport. Customers love it and

a victory justto get in the door and talk to a will go out of their way for it. And pay extra for it.

decision maker. Nearly everyone who walked There is true satisfaction in that.

into my shop was already a customer. And they I like the ancient proverb, “Do you see a man

paid me to sample my coffee. I used to have to who is diligent in his work? He will stand before

give it away as samples when I was wholesaling. kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”


This constantly reminds me that it doesn’t

matter how humble our craft may be, repairing

shoes or se1ving coffee, the richest, most

powerful and important people in the world

want someone they can trust and who

is dedicated to excellence. As we all should.

In 1997, I went to the Specialty Coffee

Associationo f America( SCAAa)n nual conference

and participated in their Espresso Training Lab.

This is where I began to gather experience with

different espresso styles. In the next two years,

my staff and I raised the amount of coffee sold

as espresso by almost 1,000 percent. This is

not an exaggeration. Yet, despite the fantastic

increase in sales, I kept on being made aware

there was something I was missing out on. I still

wasn’t satisfied with the flavor of my espresso

shots. As a result, I continued down the trail of

seeking to improve my espresso coffee.

A few milestones remain in my memory

from my time at Neutral BayT. he one that was

the most profound occurred early on when

I brewed an espresso from a lightly roasted

sample. It tasted like I had just bitten into a

lemon. The high acidity of the light roast was

accentuated even more because it was brewed

as an espresso. It could have been drinkable as a

drip filter or French press coffee, but as espresso

it was undrinkable. This made me realize how

pi-ofoundlyd ifferent brewing espresso coffee is

from drip or French press coffee.


Espresso is far more complex and

demanding. By subjecting the coffee grounds

to nine bars of pressure, instead ofone bar

(i.e. gravity), as is the case with drip brewing,

it exposes much more of the bean to the

extraction process. Consequently, the flavors

that may not be apparent in a drip filter or a

French press coffee ( or even in a professional

cupping), will suddenly appear in an espresso.

Sometimes this can be a bad thing, other times

it can be good.

Soon thereafter, a near Godi nm ye spressColi p

experience occurred. I roasted some Wallen ford

Estate Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on my

newly acquired Deidrich 2-kg tabletop in-store

roaster. I made a straight espresso shot in a

relatively new machine and it was flawlessly

smooth. It didn’t transport me to places I

have since been, but it was excellent and still

stands out in my memory. What this experience

taught me was that I am more likely to get

an exceptional espresso out of a brand new

espresso machine. Once the espresso machine is

quickly seasoned, you get smooth sweet espresso

very early on in the life of the machine. And that

is exactlyw hat I brewedt his near Godin 1 11_Yespresso

rnp experience in.

It does seem hard, however, to capture this

clean taste lateron in the life of the machine.

Regardless of how fastidious the cleaning

procedures are, in the long run, the coffee oils

left behind after brewing will go rancid and

adversely affect the flavor of your espresso. It is

essential to use an espresso machine cleaningpowder

like Cafetto, but in my experience,

near Godin m ye spresrsnop e xperience repeatable.

If we are patient enough, we can be

rewarded and surprised by people who annoy us.

I remember going to the annual coffee festival

there is only a ve1ys hort time in the life of an in SydneyT. here, a leading barista trainer was

espresso machine when the machine is perfectly making coffeea nd being aggravatinglya rrogant.

seasoned and can produce a perfect espresso.

In addition to the machine, I began to

investigate how the roast affected the taste

of the espresso. Occasionallya, good customer

of mine would sincerely tell me about a cafe in

another part of town who had a better tasting

coffee than I did. I would always go and t1y them

out. In comparison, my espresso coffee was

still not smooth enough nor did it have enough

body to avoid being drowned out by the large

volume of milk being added to it.

At the same time I was running the Neutral

Bay espresso bar, I was still wholesaling coffee

and I was asked to match up a competitor’s

blend of coffee. It was a Northern Italian style

roast, which was slightly lighter than the one

I was roasting at the time. I found I couldn’t

match the good body of the coffee and retain

the smoothness. I had to retreat to the darker

Northwest American-style roast in which I

would sacrifice some smoothness, but the

body would stand out through the milk.

A new avenue of exploration beckoned. I

had to find out how I could recreate a Godin m y

espresrsnop e xperience again. .. or at least make a

He made an espresso for me. He didn’t use a

tamper, which is something we always insist

upon in our scientific training. Instead, he used

the attachment on the side of the grinder. This

is something that any supposed self-respecting

professional barista would never do. Yet the

coffee tasted ve1y good. It tasted much better

than the average coffee I was making.

He understood, or perhaps he had

stumbled upon, a key component in the art of

making great espresso. He properly dosed the

coffee into the handle and adjusted his grind to

suit the strength of his tamping. The brewing

process itself performed part of the tamping as

the coffee expanded while brewing. We’ll get

more into the technical part of this later, but the

fact remained, it was a great tasting espresso.

I had a similar experience during my

daughter’s birthday party that was held at a fivestar

hotel overlooking beautiful Terrigal Beach

north of Sydney. Expecting to be disappointed,

I was served another ve,y good espresso. This

time I noticed the smooth texture of the crema.

It was silky fine. Something you don’t achieve

with a coarser grind and hardertamp.


I suspected that this barista had been trained was no added sugar. I almost cried out loud. It

by the same arrogant trainer who produced such was fantastic. I wanted a bucket full of the stuff.

a delicious espresso for me at the coffee festival

festival as it was the same brand of coffee.

Unfortunately, the barista and trainer must have

moved on, because I’ve been back several times

since and have had terrible espresso coffee.

I also enjoyed an outstanding coffee at a

trade show at Sydney’s Darling Harbor. It was

from another competitor, Illy, and the coffee

had so much body it tasted like a solid, strongbodied

wall of coffee flavor hitting my taste

buds. Dr. Ernesto Illy truly backs up his talk.

His coffee ‘walks the walk’ when made properly.

Whilet hese were only near Godin 1 11yespresso

wp experiences, they were enlightening. My

true epiphany came one day at the Marrickville

Michel’s Espresso when I had one for real.

A barista by the name ofTony Safar was making

the coffee on a three-group commercial

espresso machine. He had European-style

training and an instinctive feel for producing

verys hort Lavazzav olume ristrettos of about

a half ounce (15 ml). We were sampling a

new blend that had been selected by a coffee

committee. Because the majority of customers

in Australia drink milk-based espresso coffees,

he made a cappuccino for me. I was suddenly

transported. The combination of the silky milk

and the ristretto shot was immaculately, almost

unnaturally, smooth, creamy and sweet. There


To this day, I have never enjoyed a cappuccino

as much as this one. The only one that has

come close was served to me by the inimitable

showman, and extraordinarily dedicated, threetime

Canadian Barista Champion and inaugural

World Latte Champion, Sammy Piccolo, while

I was working with him at 49th Parallel Coffee

Roasters in Vancouver.

My next coffee epiphany occurred in

nearby Ashfield another suburb of Sydney.

I was with George Sabados at his home when he

made me a double ristretto using an old $300

home espresso machine. He ground the coffee

on an even older wooden hand grinder. The

coffee was a fresh sample of a new, Ian Berstein

Belaroma blend. As the coffee poured out into

a wide mouthed colorful demi-tasse, I once

again saw Godin 1 11yesprewsps.o I was astounded

that a basic home espresso machine could make

a coffee that had such an infinite complexity,

depth and richness to it. I had sold these kind

of home machines to retail customers through

my espresso bars by the hundreds. They were

similar though not as good as the current

Ci)fe Series home espresso machines. I had

conducted training courses on them, but never

had I been able to get one to produce a coffee

miracle like this. What did he do that made such

a profound difference? If it could be done using


such basic home equipment, it surely could be bitterness. It was all smoothness, richness,

replicated using the best commercial equipment and a liquid chocolaty coffee sweetness.

worth tens of thousands of dollars. Couldn’t it? It was espresso coffee made right. It also

There have been plenty of times since, has a lot to do, I suspect, with a slightly lower

when I have enjoyed very good espressos at brewing temperature curve. But that epiphany

Bill & Tony’s and Bar Coluzzi in Darlinghurst in had yet to come.

Sydney, where they produced consistently good

old-world espresso coffee. These experiences

reminded me of the time I was setting up

another old Bezzera machine for the wholesale

customer Passalis & Sons. The coffee that slowly

oozed and trickled out resembled the texture

of thin strands of dark honey, curling in the

rounded bottom of the cup with the lighter

swirling crema mixing in. There was no undue


I had to know what the difference was.

What were these other baristas doing differently,

and seemingly so effortlessly? I suffered many

ashy-tasting espressos that were produced in

machines I knew to be clean, and from coffee

that was freshly ground. These other espressos,

no matter what blend or brand, never suffered

from that.


One recurring theme in all this is the training of the barista. If baristas can

be trained to consistently produce good espresso, then we will all be a lot

better off Ifw e don’t quite experienceG odin oure spresscou pst,h en at least

we can be a bit closer to a continual sublime state.

On the training side I saw a revelation. I was

reviewing a training course in Sydney conducted

by one of the city’s leading specialty coffee

companies. The ubiquitous Ian Berstein, now

a renowned coffee author, was sitting next to

me. During the training demonstration, he

leaned over to me and said, “These students

won’t learn how to make a decent espresso

this way in a million years.” Ironically, it was a

demonstration of the same scientific principles

I had been schooled on. I had to silently agree.

But I also realized that it lacked a vital piece of

the espresso training jigsaw puzzle, which had

yet to become apparent to me.

Not more than twelve hours later, George

and I were at my own training facility where

George was being photographed for a training

video I was producing. I had my nine-year-old

son Melchizedek in tow, and in between takes,

Mel asked George ifhe could show him how

to make a coffee. I am not sure why he didn’t

ask me. Maybe he instinctively knew it would


be more fun if someone other than his father

trained him. (Not that I would have made him

count one-cent coins). Maybe he just knew

where the espresso jackpot really lay.

In between photographs, George spent

a distracted half-hour training Mel. The next

day at home, my wife asked for a coffee. Mel

piped up and said he would make it. My wife

shot me the despairing parental look that says,

“I really wanted to relax with a beautiful coffee,

but I know I am going to have to sacrifice what

I want in order to develop the self esteem of

my offspring.” Low and behold, Mel carefully

packed his handle, re-evaluated it (at which

point my wife heroically restrained herself

from offering advice), then topped it up slightly

and poured a magnificent doppio. He regularly

repeats the feat on demand.

This truly highlighted the difference

between the two schools of thought. On the one

hand, an expensive professional barista training

course witnessed by hard-core coffee geeks

and hopeful professionals, was conducted by the scientific coffee textbook and yet found to be

unhelpful and over-complicated. On the other hand, a cursory half-hour practical demonstration

resulted in a nine-year-old child producing a product, which puts a multi-million dollar, five-star

international hotel chain to shame.

What exactly is this missing jigsaw piece? It is my belief that it has to do with dosing coffee

by volume, not weight. I have studied many variables, from the machine to the grind, and have

since come to realize that the volume of coffee used is a much more reliable measure than is the

weight of the grinds. Many hardened coffee professionals resist this, and I have had to fight tooth

and nail on technical committees to champion this cause. More recently I took the fight to coffee

competitions in Australia,n ot to mention the WorldB aristaC hampionship and the SCAAT. hey

are all doing a fantastic job with their annual coffee competitions and training, but still there are

professionals who resist this approach. They are not letting taste be their sole guide when it comes

to espresso. But, I believe, once I realized this, my revolution had begun!




When I first started in coffee in 1981, cheap drip-filter machines were

flooding the market. People actually gave them to other human beings

as gifts. A startling fact of history, I know, but true nonetheless.

Prior to this, you could savor a scalding cup of produces a very faithful espresso.

instant coffee with a dash of milk throughout I can remember the overwhelming body

most of Australia. There were a few trendsetters, and oiliness of this French mix my dad used

outside the newly arrived European immigrants, to brew, which the milk could not mask, and

who braved a new coffee world. My father was my young pubescent palate did not like much.

one of them as he proudly ground his coffee Although some thirty or so years later, while

beans in a Moulinexc hopper. (I still can’t bring stayingw ith an acquaintance,G eoffB abcocko f

myself to call them grinders even though today Zoka Coffee in Seattle who passionately prefers

many well-intentioned consumers are using this this kind of dark roast coffee, I did enjoy it as

single-blade, mini-food blender to attack their a drip-filter coffee. Somehow it hit the spot in

coffee beans.)

(Ahh the subtleties of coffee grinding

to follow).

The old Moulinex and Dad’s preferred

French mix beans, ground coarsely for the oldfashioned

electric percolator had a certain cachet

in comparison to the seemingly all pervasive

instant blend No. 43. (One number away from

the GalaxyH itchh iker’s meaning of life, but it

may as well be an eternity from great tasting

espresso!) Having said this, Nestle obviously

realize espresso is different too, as they have

developed a great system with Nespresso which


Seattle. Perhaps it suits the very moist, cool

climate that seems to prevail there.

The old percolator in our home, however,

soon went by the wayside and was replaced by a

Moulinex drip-filter machine. This was not such a

bad development, as the old percolators re-boiled

the coffee over and over again. The old percolator

was definitely not a good way to highlight the

subtle nuances of the delicate array of coffee oils

contained within any given coffee bean. In fact, it

is essentiallyg ood coffee’sa ssassin.

For the next decade or so, the drip-filter

machine reigned supreme in Australia. At least




it would produce an acceptably faithful cup, even press extraction, not the least of which is to

though many of the domestic brewers took thoroughly stir the coffee grounds before

almost eleven minutes to deliver the hot water plunging your infuser because, as someone

for brewing a SO-ounce (1.5 liter) jug of coffee. once said, “A bit of foreplay is a good thing.”)

Commercial machines, which I was placing in I am deliberately skipping over many details in

the leading corporate offices of Sydney at the all this because the real passion and intensity

time, took a more respectable four minutes to lies up ahead in the tiny demi-tasse.

deliver 60 ounces (1.8 liters) of coffee. But there After the French Press came the stove-top

was a dark cloud on the dripping horizon. Drip espresso, as it is known in Australia. In Italy it is

filter was OK but… the Caffetiere. In North America it is known as

The French press arrived, or the plunger, the moka express. (Here is yet another variant

as Australians prefer to call it. Thanks to the spelling of Mocha to further confuse the theme.)

Australian preference for ruthless efficiency These handy little units can brew anything from

(although some mean-spirited critics prefer to a single demi-tasse to 16 cups of coffee. Because

call it our inherent lazy casualness), the French they rely on steam pressure alone to force the

press started to gain popularity in the mid to late water through the coffee grounds, you can’t

l 980’s. The French press not only looked more grind the coffee nearly as fine as you can for

trendy for magazine photographers, it was, and

is, much more convenient. No mucking around

with filter papers. Boil the water just like in the

good old instant days, pouryourwateron the

grinds, and in a few quick minutes you have a

palatable brew.

Because of this convenience factor,

the French press will always have a place in

the world of good coffee. For me, a little too

much sediment gets through the fine wire

mesh and creates a slightly muddy texture that

I don’t particularly enjoy. (However, if you

talk to Carl Staub of Agtron fame, he has some

interesting thoughts on maximizing French

a pump espresso machine. However, you can

get a reasonable result. Good body, much like a

drip-filter coffee that has used copious amounts

of coffee grinds. But there are no blinding

transfigurations to speak of here either.

Now we enter the Formula One class of

the coffee world: The pump-action espresso.

In our home we use a single group espresso

machine daily to entertain friends and neighbors.

It gets a workout every day. It is now as much a

part of the family and as indispensable as our

television or our computer. It has definitely

delivered an excellent return on investment in

a vety short span of time. This is both in terms



of physical satisfaction and the amount of usage

per dollar invested. No other piece of furniture

in the house, with the possible exception of the

kitchen bench and the dishwasher, comes close.

Without dwelling on minutiae, there

have been a couple of significant signposts in

the development of the commercial espresso

machine. When Mr. Gaggia added a reliable

mechanical pump to the basic hand-pumped,

glorified stovetop machine in about 1946, this

greatly increased the reliability and repeatability

of a decent espresso. Then Mr. Faema introduced

his heat exchange system in 1961, a principle

still in use today. It involves running a separate

pipe through the boiler so that the hot water in

the boiler heats the fresh water passing through

the pipe straight to the brew head. La Marzocco

and others took this a step further in recent

years and created a machine with two separate

boilers, one for steaming or frothing your milk

and one for brewing coffee. The idea behind

the multiple boiler systems is to try and deliver

a more stable temperature while brewing. It

is a good idea, since brewing temperature has

a large bearing on the flavor of the espresso

coffee in a cup. Still, there are machines in

development I have heard about that wi II further

revolutionize this area of the coffee industry.

In a few short years we will be using espresso

equipmentthat will be as different from the

current equipment as the modern day Formula


One racing car is from the Model T Ford.

Yet for now, once we have secured a fully

commercial espresso machine and grinder

we are ready to get serious. We are on the grid.

As fledgling baristas, this is where most

of us begin our quest for the ultimate espresso

coffee. We wrestle with a grinder and espresso

machine to perfect the espresso shot and steaming

of milk. Up ahead, we will venture into the two

lesser-known variables, growing and roasting,

without which there is no espresso in any cups.

Coffee roasting is my main game. I have

been involved with it in some way or another

over the last 26 years. Coffee growing is a newer

field of exploration for me, as it is for most

professional roasters. But both these areas have

a huge impact on the flavor that is experienced

in an espresso cup. And in the end, all three

areas growing coffee, roasting coffee and

making coffee are actually parts of the one

whole world of espresso coffee. They are all

interdependent. For those of us who merely

enjoy a well-made espresso coffee at home,

and who will never venture into the professional

coffee industry, it is worth knowing something

about growing and roasting so that maybe, just

maybe, many of the frustrating pitfalls that

bedevil the enjoyment of espresso can

be avoided.

And so let us begin.

Ladiesa nd gentlemen start youre spressoe ngines.



Having worked in the specialty coffee roasting industry for

some time, the cool breezes and green calm I experienced

on the coffee farm are in great contrast to the heat, oil,

smoke and mechanized noise of the industrial coffee

roasting facility,w ith which I am more familiar.

The coffee farm’s na’ive, idyllic appearance belies

the complex bearing it has on the flavor of the miraculous

elixir that so many of us crave. It is true that the potential

flavor of roasted coffee is determined by a skilled roaster,

and the final flavor of the espresso coffee once extracted

is dependent upon the barista who pulls the shot. But,

if a skilled roaster doesn’t have a good quality coffee to

workw ith, then the result may be lesst han exemplaryT. he

potential of the raw material that the coffee roaster works

with is determined a great deal by what goes on at the coffee

farm. Therefore, the flavor of the espresso coffee, once

extracted, ultimately depends on what goes on at the leafy

green coffee farm.












It is a shame that the humble coffee grower is the mostneglected

part of the espresso coffee world triumvirate.

The middle part, roasters like me, get some attention,

while the glamor “show ponies,” the baristas, or the third

part, get most of the attention. I suppose this is perfectly

understandable, because as we move through our daily

world, dealing with the normal struggles oflife, we rely on

a brief, sweet stopping place where a friendly face serves us

a delicious,i nvigorating,b rave-heart-startetro help us face

life’s challenges. It is no wonder that the people who serve

us this magic elixir are looked at much like a man diagnosed

with cancer looks to the hand of his doctor.

As the world of specialty coffee changes, increasingly,

farmers are beginning to understand their role in the flavor

of the final cup, and are gaining recognition for their efforts.



The first time I stood on a coffee farm in Nicaragua was when I had just

finished evaluatingt he NicaraguanC upo f Excellence®in 2003.

This is an exhaustive competition in which

coffee growers throughout the country submit

a sample of their coffee to be evaluated. It is

roasted and each sample is blind tasted by a

national panel who evaluates it according to

preset parameters. Of the sometimes hundreds

of samples received for the competition, the

national jury narrows that number to the top

forty or so. These top coffees are then set aside

and re-evaluated by an international panel

of professional coffee cuppers.

As part of the international jury, I tasted

each of these Nicaraguan coffees multiple

times, scoring them in a way that is similar to

fine wines. It is a most rigorous and demanding

procedure that requires a lot of slurping,

spitting and evaluating. When the final winner

is announced, it is quite a humbling experience

can participate. This process of buying has

proven to be a successful alternative method

for roasters to access coffees directly from the

grower. Essentiallyit, allowst hem to bypasst he

traditionalc ommodity-basedN ewY ork” C’ futures

contract, which typically has often garnered

them prices well below the cost of production.

The Cupo f Excellenceis a program that is a

descendent of Dr. Ernesto llly’s efforts to create

coffees in a way that is similar to a winemaker.

To do this, he set out to tame variables associated

with the flavor quality of his coffee by going to

where it was grown to ensure that the grower

produced the best coffee possible to suit his

style of espresso. He ran his own company

competitions in Brazil, and worked with key

growers to improve their agronomy practices

to ensure they would produce quality coffee.

to see the exhilaration of the growers and their This is exactly what good winemakers do.

families who have spent countless hours tending, They work with the plant to gain an intimate

harvesting and processing their precious coffee

trees and cherries.

The winning coffees that score above

84 percent are then sold through an Internet

auction in which buyers from around the world


understanding of the plant’s development.

They take a look at plant variety, soil type and

other factors, just as winemakers have done

for centuries.

Just imagine Max Schubert, the creator

of Penfolds’ Grange Hermitage, trying to

create the wonderful wine he had in mind by

asking a whole lot of middlemen (importers

for instance), to talk to another group of

middlemen (exporters), who in turn talk to

some more middlemen (the beneficio operators),

who buy the stuff that happens to look red from

growers. No one involved has any idea what

the initial competition in Brazil in 1999, it has

proven to be a successful way to bring growers

and roasters together to discuss taste profiles.

After three solid days of tasting Nicaragua’s

best, some of us decided to visit the local market

on the other side of Managua city. It was late

afternoon by the time we had finished our

souvenir shopping in the colorful. humid and

type of wine he has in mind or how it is even sweaty open-air market. I was extremely hot and

made! I think it is fair to say that it would have thirsty. There was a rustic open-air concrete bar

been impossible. This is unfortunately the way in one corner of the market where drinks were

in which many coffee blends that we commonly sold. It seemed to be a place that Jack Kerouac

experience are developed. There is no doubt that might have frequented ifhe had travelled this far

Dr. llly’s method truly proved to be innovative south of the border. The sun was setting, giving

within the coffee industry. These first coffee

competitions in Brazil evolved into what is now

known as the Cupo f Excellencep rogram. Since

off one of those inimitable romantic auras that

seem to coincide with the end of a lot of hard

work, adventure and concentration. I bought a


Freshly picked coffee cherries

pouring out of the harvester.

The coffee cherries ripen at

different rates depending

on the micro-agronomy of

angle of exposure to sunlight.

This always requires diligent

sorting at the wet-mill.

deliciouslyc hilled Coca-Colaw, hich was served in an old-fashioned glass bottle with a flip-top lid. It

fit the scene perfectly. As I savored the moment by myself, dreamily watching the street urchins and

dusty, tattered vehicles passing by, with the sun in my eyes, beads of sweat ran down my back under

my shirt. It was one of those wonderful moments in life you wantto savor as long as possible. The

unusual sweetness of the Coke perfectly matched the scene. I was later told that in Nicaragua,

natural sugarcane is used in the cola. Even though I had tasted a hundred coffees filled with caffeine

overthe past few days, the caffeinated cola hit a magical spot with its surprising sweetness. I have

never enjoyed a Coca-Colas o much before, or since.

What we perceive when we taste something has an enormous amount to do with the context

in which we taste it. Wine, coffee, and for that matter, cola, are no different here. When wine or coffee

are enjoyed in pleasant company, complemented by a cozy ambience and soothing music, it seems

to taste better. It is well documented that external stimuli affect how we taste. That is why coffee

professionals seek to cup coffees in a neutral environment with little or no distractions. And I suppose

that is why the Godi1 1yo11resprwesps eox perience stands out so profoundly for professional tasters.



The next day I ventured up to the award winning Nicaraguan farm along

with Henrik the local coffee exporter. He was a Danish guy with detailed

coffee knowledge and who was seemingly comfortable with the machinegun

toting guards on his coffee processing plant who were there to

protect his coffee.

We haven’t been able to find

the cherries this little guy ate

and there are no plans that

I am aware ofto sell coffee

that has passed through a

kangaroo digestive tract.

This farm was located atabout3,300 ft (1,100 m) above sea level. By climbing up this far, the

temperature and climate changed dramatically. It was much cooler and more temperate, and as

I stood beside a natural water storage pool in the middle of the farm with a cool and gentle breeze

blowing, it struck me how similarthis climate was to that of another coffee farm I had been on

thousands of miles away on another continent.

That farm, known as Mountain Top Coffee®c, an be found on top of what might be considered

a hill elsewhere in the world. It is located at just under 1,000 ft (300 m) above sea level. But because

it is about 600 miles (1,000 km) south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the climate is extraordinarily

similar to a coffee farm located near the equator, which because of its elevation, isn’t affected by

the sweltering, seething humid heat found below. Mountain Top Coffee is in northern NSW on the

east coast of Australia.

Many of the poor farmers in coffee growing countries, have little or no control over how

their coffee is processed, let alone understand how the intrinsic flavor of the bean is developed.

This is because they lack the sufficient knowledge and capital to take processing into their own

hands. Once the coffee leaves their front gate, it is often taken to large cooperative beneficios,

or processing plants, where their coffee is mixed with others from the area. This results in an

indistinct coffee that cannot be traced back to the specific farm from where it originated. There are,

however, a growing number of enlightened coffee growers, such as Mountain Top, who are taking

on the responsibility for processing their own coffee so that they can take a greater role in the final

flavorofthe bean.



These enlightened growers are utilizing

a lot of science in their work instead of what

I call, Data Free Observations (DFOs). Hmmm

Data Free Observations. This reminds me of

a lot of various barista superstitions that are

put forth as facts but are profoundly free of

data. For instance, there is the insane idea that

you throw away the first few precious drops of

espresso that come out, to make the coffee taste

better?! Or, the obtuse, yet equally misleading

observations of a world-renowned coffee

authority who I have heard on many occasions

repeat that the only way to make a perfect

espresso is to extract it in twenty eight seconds.

Pllleeaase. .. give me a break! So, there are some

common denominators between the far-flung

parts of the coffee world already and they include:

Data Free Observations! But I get ahead of myself.

We will get deeply into the minutiae of espresso

extraction when we explore the third pillar of

the coffee world: the barista




Water is a vital and precious

key all along the coffee trail

and not just in the cup. By

modifying irrigation methods,

up to 40% of water can be

saved and the coffee tree can

have a better yield. It is also

possible to produce better

flavor by manipulating the

water now.



Before I continue my musings, I should explain why, for a considerable

part of the remainder of this book, Mountain Top Coffee farm will weave

constantly through this story.

Since meeting Andrew Ford a fellow Australian

in 2001 in Miami, Floridaa t the SCAAsh ow I

have been able to frequently travel to his coffee

farm which is only a one hour flight away from

my coffee factory. This has given me access to

a coffee farm which is not encumbered with

generations of history and social pressures that

inhibit innovation. Many other traditional coffee

farms around the world suffer from constraints

which hold back innovation. Andrew’s approach

to achieving quality in the cup as a grower has

wonderfully complimented my parallel quest

as a roaster. It is like having a ‘green field’

plantation driven by a like-minded companion.

It has been and still is a unique collaboration in

the espresso coffee world.

There seems to be a phrase used

throughout all three segments of the coffee

world: I do the world’s best coffee. For the most

part it is a transparent and hollow statement,

much like the shabby corner hotdog stand that

claims they serve the “Best hotdogs in town!”

Their claim has no substance and most people

walk by without hesitation, knowing the boast

is a meaningless exaggeration.

Unfortunatelyt oo many coffeep eople

take their own propaganda too seriously.

They are blinded to the fact that on their farm,

in their factory or attheir espresso bar, what

they claim and what they serve are worlds apart.

While many of these businesses use the slogan,

“Serious about coffee,” those of us who know

better joke that they should claim, “Half serious

about coffee.”E mphasizingt hat point, many of

those businesses aren’t around any longer.

But, of course, there are businesses that

are serious about coffee. That is how it is with

Andrew Ford. When I first met Andrew in Miami

during the world’s largest coffee conference

run by the SCAAhe was a young, clever,t otally

driven and seemingly endless party animal. He

has since calmed down now that he has three

kids, yet he remains extremely dedicated to

his profession and is an unusual specimen

of a grower. He has a true global focus.

In his view, his customer is not the local

beneficio’s truck that passes his farm gate

(if, in fact, there was one in his neighborhood).



His customer is the world, and several times a

year, he circumnavigates the globe speaking

to his customers and brokers in Japan, North

America, the UK, Norway, Denmark, Spain or

France. Wherever there is a roaster or broker

who understands the dynamic, newly emerging

global specialty coffee market, and the demand

for consistent quality, Andrew is there.

He practices relationship coffee where the

grower and roaster meet face-to-face to swap

notes on what is required in order to develop

a unique flavor profile for the roaster’s unique

customer. Andrew has an entrepreneurial spirit

that has enabled him to create his business

from scratch and become a leader in the young,

reborn Australian coffee growing industry.

On a historical note, the Australian coffee

and downloads all the data on how much

water the plants have used. He then modifies

his irrigation program to coincide with the

results of his research on how different patterns

of irrigation affect the cup flavor and quality.

By doing so, in a land where water is so precious,

he has saved enormous amounts of water,

improved his yield per tree, and improved the cup

quality of his coffee by preventing water logging

of the root system which can stress the trees.

He has installed a climate controlled

storage building nextto his processing plant so

that after the coffee is processed it can be stored

at an ideal 60° F (l 6°C) and at 55 percent relative

humidity. Very few coffee roasters or traders

store their precious raw (green) coffee in these

ideal conditions. In fact, for the most part, green

growing industry was at its peak towards the end coffee is still counted, stored and transported in

of the nineteenth century, when small lots were 132 lb. (60 kg) burlap bags, the same way it has

exported to Europe. Labor laws enacted in 1901 been for the past couple of centuries. That is why

made the coffee growing industry unviable. It

wasn’t until the development of mechanical

harvesters in the mid 1980’s, that there was a

resurgence of coffee growing in Australia. Now,

there are coffee growers springing up like mold

in used espresso coffee grounds.

Andrew undertakes some unique

approaches to farming. For instance, he uses

computer probes in the root systems of the

coffee trees to measure water intake. Literally,

he walks into his field with a laptop computer


global production is measured according to how

many 132 lb. bags are produced, although in a

few places bag size differs.

The burlap bag is quaint and rustic. From

time to ttme I have even framed the bags in

which certain outstanding lots I purchased

came in, such as the winning Cup of Excellence

coffees I bought from Guatemala in 2003 and

Brazil in 2005. Now they were great vintages!

However, the question remains as to whether

burlap sacks are the best way to store and

The ill-fated burlap sack. Are its days numbered like the wine

cork? Coffee is still mostly shipped around the world using

this centuries old technology. It allows green coffee with 11 %

moisture content to ‘breath’ i.e. avoid mold build up, but it can

result in ‘baggy’ tasting coffee.



Harvesting coffee can be fun.

The latest harvestersu se

delicate fingers that rotate

in a harmonic figure of eight

pattern to tease the coffee

cherries off the trees.


transport green coffee. It is amusing that one

of the faults or taints attributed to coffee is that

it can taste baggy. What do you expect if you

store coffee in bags? That it won’t taste … baggy?

Interestingly enough, up to 5 percent of wine

uses is one that is still quite novel in the specialty

coffee world; a color sorter. Many people have

heard about it, but few roasters or growers use

the color sorter to help improve the quality of

their coffee. Basicallyt, hey sort and remove

bottles are spoiled due to corks making the wine discolored beans that contribute to poor flavor in

taste corked. Again, the obvious answer! In that the brewed cup. The full spectrum light spectrum

case, why not use Stelvin screw tops and totally sorters are better than mono-chrome color

eliminate the corked flavor in wine. I know it sorters, or for that matter the best naked eyes,

is not very romantic, but neither is bad tasting and can uncover additional flaws and faults in

wine, or bad tasting coffee, when it could so the coffee. Then, I have also seen green coffee

easily be avoided. There are now some brave exposed under an ultraviolet light, which reveals

pioneers who are vacuum-packing raw coffee extra flaws that exist in every coffee. Ahh the

in large 20 kg foil bags in an attempt to preserve, enticing areas of investigation as yet unexplored

as much as possible, the integral coffee flavor. by the coffee hordes all shouting and proclaiming

There also are those who are experimenting “I do the best!” The most important part of this

with freezing raw coffee in an attempt to retain research is that it reveals how defects can affect

the same good flavor. the flavor of the coffee in the cup, instead of

Another newer technology Mountain Top leaving it to those DFOs!




Forg rowers,i t is imperativet hat they learn how to taste coffeea nd havet he

abilityt o distinguishb etweeng ood coffeef lavorc haracteristicsa nd bad ones.

It is in the pursuit of this where the very best growers are meeting the very

best roasters, and increasingly,t he very best baristas are doing likewise.

This is of enormous significance for good

quality coffee. In the past, it was pretty much

a universal practice for coffee from various

farms to be mixed together at the local processing

plant, regardless of quality. So, if a

coffee farmer was producing great coffee and

the farmer down the road wasn’t paying much

attention to quality, it didn’t really matter

too much because they were both lumped in

together receiving the same price from the

buyer (which was based on the commodity

based New York ‘C’ market price). Today, with

the emergence of ecommerce and programs

such as the Cupo f Excellencew, hich reward

farmers for their efforts, there are now further

incentives for them to continue to improve

the quality of coffees they produce.

It also means a small coffee roasting

company in Australia can build a direct

relationship with a grower on the other side

of the world in Nicaragua, Brazil or India.

Similarly, a small grower in Australia can build


a relationship with roasters in Tokyo, Chicago,

or Oslo. These relationships are the key for a

successful specialty roasting business and a

successful specialty growing business. Previously

only a roaster enormously dedicated to quality

and of sufficiently large size, had the buying

power to conduct growing competitions and

secure the best coffees for themselves, bridging

the gaps between many of the middlemen (the

exporters and importers) who dictated to the

roaster the quantity and the quality of coffee

thatthey could receive. There is sti II the need

for the role of the exporters and importers (Or,

gree11iaess t hey are known in the trade), but it is

emerging as a service role.

Under the previous system, an exporter

might promote a specific coffee to an importer

or broker simply because he happened to have

an abundance of that type of coffee. The broker,

in turn, would promote that same coffee to

the roaster, who would more often than not,

accept the coffee without roasting and sampling


The humble coffee tree and

its fruit. Once the coffee is

picked, it is important to get

the coffee cherries direct from

the field into the bin and off

to the wet-mill as soon as

possible; otherwise it will

start over-fermenting and

going off.


it before buying. Just like there are good and bad used car salesmen, so too are there good and bad

brokers and roasters. Given the number of steps that coffee travels between the grower and the

consumer, it is truly a miracle that anyone experiences a great-tasting coffee.


The commodity-based system of trading coffee requires a laundry list of participants as the coffee

travels from source to the lover of espresso coffee.



Because much of the coffee industry is based on this out-moded model of trade, so much

coffee in the marketplace tastes very ordinary. Butthis is beginning to change. Now the roaster can

communicate directly with the grower, and tell his broker/importer to tell the exporter/shipper

that he must have only the exact lot of coffee from one specific grower purely based on the quality

he has tasted for himself and wants for his customers. Now, for the first time in history this chain

of coffee relationships has been systematicallyd emocratized in favoro f good quality and good taste

as opposed to the anonymous commodity-based system which focuses more on price.

For too long, the grower had little knowledge of how to consistently produce quality coffee.

Much of that can be attributed to the fact that many growers never tasted their own coffees and had

no idea of how quality was defined. At the same time, roasters worked indirectly with farms instead

of communicating directly with farmers, or even visiting them personally. Efforts throughout the

specialty coffee world, such as those by the Specialty Coffee Association of America and programs

such as the Cupo f Excellence,h ave done wonders to bridge this fundamental gap between growers

and roasters. There is still a long way to go, but those growers who remain focused on improving

both the quality of the coffee they produce and the quality of relationships with their roasters,


can consistently receive higher prices for their coffee. As I have said, one of these brave new-world

growers is Mountain Top and others that I have come across including Merthi Mountain in India

and Santo Antonio in Brazil. Happily, there will be many more in the future, I am sure.


Everyc offeep ickedh asf ive layerso f protectivem aterialt hat needst o be

removed in order to reveal the bean inside and ready it for roasting.

First comes the outer skin, which when ripe,

can be red or yellow or even pink depending on

the variety of coffee. This takes with it the pith,

which is much like the pith in an orange. Next

is the sticky, sugary and syrupy-like substance

called mucilage, followed by the parchment,

a hard casing that needs to be hulled from the

bean. Finally comes the silver skin, or what the

roaster calls, the husks or chaff

Each of these layers can be removed in

different ways, at different times with varying

effects on the flavor quality. (And that is not to

mention the optimum time for actuallyp ickingt he

cherries off the trees, which we’ll get into shortly.)

In most coffee reference books you will see

that the two basic coffee processing methods

are wet and dry. The wet process involves the

use of water to move the coffee around and to

ferment the sugar away. Usually the cherries

have their skin removed and are placed in


holding water tanks. After approximately

24 hours, someone sticks their hand into the

watery mix and when the coffee is no longer

slippery,b ut rather has a gravel-likef eel, the

coffee is removed from the water.

In the dry process, cherries are dried with

their skin on. They are then put into a huller

which removes the skin and the parchment.

Each of these processes is aimed at

removing the five layers of protective material

to reveal the green bean, which the roaster

receives. The process used has a great effect on

the final cup flavor of the coffee. For instance,

in Brazil, the traditional dry process typically

used by growers, involves simply waiting until

all the coffee cherries have become over-ripe

and turned black on the trees. They are then

strip-picked and dried on patios until their

water content reaches about 11 percent. The

dried cherries are then hulled. The challenge

(Leftt o right,t opt o bottom)

The bags of cherries are

delivered to the holding bin

direct from the field.

The conveyor takes it from

the holding bin to the set

processing equipment.

· Partially pulped cherries.

Hands inspect the progress

along the way.

The cherries keep coming.

The wet mill starts the



Partially pulped cherries

Water-the ongoing lubricator


Fermentation tank

The workers are always in

the background

. Pre-dryer.


A real worker’s hand holds

some precious parchment

coffee still sticky with mucilage.

This parchment coffee will be

dried and stored in a climate

controlled storage space to

stabilize the movement of

water inside the green bean.

with this dry-process method is that it is very but the cleaner cup profile of a coffee that is

difficult to separate unwanted, poorly developed washed thoroughly. At Mountain Top they

cherries from the ripe ones. If too much of create different bins or lots from every day’s

this under-developed coffee is present, it will processing, including washed, semi-washed,

taste excessivelya stringent and even dirty and natural and double-pass. Eachh as its own

unpalatable. There are still growers, however, separate flavor profile. It’s a matter of which bin

who are locked into commodity-based coffee

and who will include any green under-ripe

cherries, or anything that can be classified as

‘pure’ coffee, as long as they can sell it mixed

in with everything else and get away with it.

On better farms, color-sorting machines will

grade and sort out the good beans from the

discolored bad ones.

More recently,t he Braziliansd eveloped

what is knowna s semi-washedo, r pulpedn atural.

In this method, the coffee is pulped using the

wet process, however the fermentation stage to

remove the mucilage is omitted. The result is a

coffee that retains a flavor profile that is a mix

of wet and dry processes.

Now,a new process, called doublpea ss,i s

being pioneered by Mountain Top. The double

pass process sorts over-ripe or raisin cherries

(something similar to a grape-raisin) into

soaking tanks where they remain for about an

hour. This allows the black raisins to re-hydrate

and swell up. The result is that it allows you to

wash and clean fruit in a way that is similar to

a semi-washed coffee. This produces a coffee

that has the extra complexity of a natural raisin


number you prefer, rather than which origin or

which estate. Now we are getting somewhere!

Within each process, there are an infinite

number of variables which can be introduced to

alter the final results. For instance, the amount

of sugar left on a bean prior to drying can affect

the sweetness of the processed bean. This is,

in fact, of particular importance for Holy Grail

espresso hunters. Again I am introducing a little

textbook information here, but it is worthwhile

to understand the complexity of the grower’s

input into flavor development.

I was surprised when I attended a Roasters

Gui Id retreat some years ago, that for the first

time, a couple of good espresso machines

were made available for everyone to use.

I wasn’t surprised that the machines were

finally introduced as a part of the Roasters

Guild, but rather that so few roasters could

actually pack a portafilter properly to make

themselves a halfway decent espresso. It was

kind of embarrassing to watch these coffee

professionals, and they are professionals in

so many other ways, fumbling and struggling

to make a simple espresso. To their credit,

they were open to learning how to do it properly. In my opinion, if a roaster cannot properly make an

espresso, it is an indication that that roaster is not tasting the coffee that is intended for their espresso

customers. Therefore, the roaster cannot truly develop an excellent espresso blend!

Like many roasters, for a good decade and half, I was more focused on drip-filter than espresso,

so I am not making out that I am any better. But I do take pride in the fact that after nearly fifteen

years of roasting and wholesaling coffee, I put the effort into being a professional barista in an

espresso bar and I now understand how difficult it is to make a halfway decent shot.

There is an extraordinarily complex amount of detail required in growing and processing coffee,

and each part must rely on the other. On one hand every good roaster needs a good barista and on

the other hand a good grower. Likewisea good grower needs a good agronomist on his other hand.

To complete the picture, the barista needs customers on his other hand, joining everyone together.


DaveP easleyi s an agronomistw ho deservesm ost of the creditf or pioneering

coffee growing in the region around, and including Mountain Top. Over a five

yearp eriod, he tested approximately7 0 differentc offeec ultivarsg, rowing

test samples and taste-testing them for things like cherry yield, cherry-togreen-

bean ratio, bean size and, of course, cup quality.

He did so to narrow down the field until he chose For instance, I find the Bourbon variety has

the K? variety of bean, which came from a French a little less body than a Caturra. But it is very

mission in Kenya. hard to detect these minute differences when

There are many cultivars or varieties of

coffee plant derived from Arabica and Robusta.

In fact there are about 360 types and each

reveals slightly different taste characteristics.


a few seconds of espresso over-extraction

or a few small grams of under-dosing can

completely obliterate and mask any of these

potential subtleties.

This is one of the reasons why espresso

is so tantalizingly elusive and perhaps similar

to a sport such as golf. To use an analogy, it is

the roaster who turns the green beans brown.

The barista then takes the roasted beans, grinds

them and converts them to liquid. All three are

extremely satisfying when you are in the zone and essential to the final flavorof the brewed espresso.

everything comes together for you. Yet, there are

so many elusive subtleties that need to be worked

on to make your game better. In any case, it is

critical to get your espresso dosing and extraction

exact so these subtleties can be enjoyed.

Within the specialty coffee world, it could

be argued that different processes at the mill

have a greater affect on the final taste than the

differences in coffee varieties. For instance, a

Caturra that is picked too early and is processed

using the traditional washed method, will not

have as much body as a double pass processed

natural Bourbon. In this example, the coffee

processor has more affect on the flavor than

the grower, much like the winemaker has more

affect than does the vineyard. A grower using

a good agronomist can leap ahead of other

growers by enjoying the benefit of a select variety

more uniquely suited to his or her climate or for

optimizing harvest timing.

From time to time in my travels, I run

across growers who are embracing their role

in transforming the bean into a beverage. In

Bolivia I visited several coffee farms, tasting

each of their coffees. One farm was situated

at about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level

and the other, Cafe Takesi, was possibly the

highest coffee farm in the world at over 9,000

ft. (2,800 m). The first coffee I tasted had

intensely rich aroma, and powerful citric acidity

combined with outstanding sweetness. It would

have stacked up against the finest Ethiopian

Yirgacheffey ou could find. The second coffee

also had outstanding crisp acidity, although not

quite as much as the first one. But as a result of

fermentation, it had an added fruity complexity.

Two others I tasted were mild and pleasant with

low acidity. One was dull and flat, which was a

result of a processing or storage problem, and

the other was very earthy with a powerful body.

Whereas the winemaker is responsible for This is a great example of how a grower can

taking the raw material and transforming it into make a difference in the final flavor, and how

wine, within the coffee world, the coffee grower, going the extra yard can help a roaster find a

who also does his own processing is actually one better coffee than all his competitors.

of three people who take part in transforming Another example of a grower making a

coffee into a beverage. First, the grower takes difference is the time a young Indian guy by the

the cherries and passes on dry green bean to name ofNithya Somaiah came into my factory



Parchment coffee bouncing

around in the pre-dl)’er; this

allows the coffee to be gently

heated to remove excess


Coffee cherries continue on

the conveyor belt forming a

pretty pattern like wallpaper

while they continue to get

sorted. There are now more red

cherries and less black ones.

to sell me some of his green coffee. I was busy wines, I went to a wine store and bought a

and he left me some samples which I didn’t get dozen bottles of wine. Four bottles each from

around to tasting before he called back a couple three different wineries. My wife and our friends

of weeks later. I did challenge him by asking if enjoyed them to a greater or lesser degree over

he could create semi-washed Rob us ta for me. the next couple of weeks. In particular, the

He went away and I thought that would probably Mission Hill wines stood out from the other

be the last I would see of him. To my surprise,

he came back a couple of weeks later with a

sample of coffee that was simply extraordinary.

It was a true semi-washed Robusta. It was not

aqua-pulped, a form of controlled washing,

which results in more of a prized sweetness and

soft body. Instead, once the skin was removed,

the parchment was placed on raised beds and

then dried with the all important sugars still on

the outside. The flavor was smooth unlike the

majority of Robustas and it had a viscous body

to it that seemed almost chewy. As a result it is

fantastic for espresso. In fact, I later found out that

he had employed extra farm workers to rub the

coffees with their hands every three hours orso for

two wineries we tasted, with the flavor of all

four bottles selected being much better than

the other two wineries. During our Canadian

holiday we visited Mission Hill, which proved to

be an incredibly impressive business. The level

of detail to attention reminded me of Mountain

Top. They had virtually rebuilt the whole hill that

the winery stood on, including dynamiting half

of the hill, then placing the appropriate rocks,

and subsoil for correct drainage while leaving

room for cavernous cellars; they used a particular

variety of topsoil and grass to ensure there was

no competition with the vines for nutrients, and

then selected the right kind of vines for the area.

The thing that really struck me was that this

several weeks in order to make sure the parchment winemaker wanted to make the best possible

dried evenly without undue fermentation. This was wine he could. This is a sentiment that is also

very humbling indeed and their efforts did not go expressed with the most outstanding coffees

unrewarded.I think it is possiblyt he world’sm ost in the world. The first statement the young

expensive Robusta coffee.

These are two good examples of how the

winemaker made was that at Mission Hill they

should strive to own their own vines so that

growerc an makea differenceB. utt here iss tillm uch they could control the entire quality chain.

research that needs to be conducted on coffee. For, if they depended on procuring grapes

Recently, I was staying with some friends in from various sellers, they would not have full

Canada. Not knowing anything about Canadian control over that part of the flavor development.


As a result of this, you can definitely taste the


(Interestingly enough and purely

coincidental, Mission Hill Winery sought out

coffee for their restaurant that is roasted by

Vince Piccolo of 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

who comes into ournext pillarofthe espresso

world: the roaster. I guess like minds are all

attracting one another.)

With coffee, this is very hard to do in

many parts of the world because of the lack of

knowledge and skills on the part of the growers.

The improvement of skills and knowledge at

the growing level is essential everywhere, even

in one of the remotest and often overlooked

producing countries in the world like Papua

New Guinea. This is where I met growers in

their tiny thatched villages who were extremely

hungry for information about how to improve

their quality and add value to the coffees they

grew. One grower in Siherini, for example,

modified his processing so that instead of

washing his coffee in a nearby river using a

polysack (a high-density polyethylene woven

plastic-sack), he built raised tables and semiwashed

his coffee. The coffee tastes far more

powerful yet smooth with great sweetness. As a

result, he produced a coffee that is much better

suited to espresso. Fully understanding your

product is the starting point for any successful

businesses regardless of the field you are in.


As a coffee agronomist, Dave Peasley

evaluates the exact time to pick the coffee using

a meter to measure the pull force required to

pluck the cherry off its stem. Under-ripe cherries

take greater force to pull off the trees than do

riper cherries. He systematicallym easures every

tenth tree in every tenth row and the driver

makes adjustments according to the harmonic

tension on the harvesting machine to delicately

pluck only the desired ripe cherries. This is

repeated two or three times during a season as

the fruit ripens, until all the fruit is picked at the

right point of ripeness.

Other agronomic practices at Mountain

Top include stressing coffee trees. This process,

which requires starving the tree of water to

produce a greater concentration of flavors in

the bean, occurs naturally in places like Ethiopia

where the most amazing flavors can emerge.

It is a bit like Van Gogh’s paint pallet on your

tasting palate. Striking, powerful and intense

lemon-citrus, blueberry and orange marmalade

flavors emerge but combine so beautifully that

the overall result is artwork.


One of the main reasonsD aves electedth e particulars itew here

Mountain Top is located is that it is situated in a frost-free climate that

hasu nbelievablyri ch, fertile soil.A t the top of itsv alley,M ountainT op

is covered and cooled by the mist as it rises from the valley below

throughout the morning. This extra coolness also allows for a slower

and longer ripening time.

A long ripening period is vital for developing the sugars which produce a natural sweetness in

coffee. If coffee cherries mature too quickly from green to prime red, the sun doesn’t have sufficient

time to convert starch to sugar, therefore the coffee will not develop as much sweetness. Even though

you can grow a coffee with good sweetness, much ofit is actually contained in the sticky mucilage

and is separated from the bean itself by two protective layers: the parchment and the silver-skin. It

is ironic that after going to so much care to grow a coffeew ith this universallya dored natural sugar,

it can all be washed away by the washing process. Water processing coffee makes it easier to process

coffee. The mucilage is sticky and difficult to manage and by soaking the beans in water for a period

of time, the sugars ferment and are transformed. Fermenting can add some complexity, but it has

to be carefully controlled so that you don’t get too much fermentation otherwise the sugars end

up tasting like sickly,c omposted, fruity,c otton candy( if it is possible to imagine that). Eitherw ay

washing removes some vital sugar and body, the two most desirable characteristics for espresso.

There are other theories, including how variations between day and night temperature

improve body or mouthfeel, although I don’t have any data for this. So one DFO hypothesis is that

the variation between high and low temperatures contributes to this effect and helps produce

buttery body, also ideal for espresso. But even something as simple as planting the trees in north/

south rows as opposed to east/west rows can have a bearing on flavor. If the trees are planted in

an east/west pattern in the southern hemisphere, one side of the tree will mature more quickly

than the other because of the angle of the sun during the ripening period. As a result you will


Rain causes the buds to set.

These buds in turn flower

and become next season’s

cherries. World coffee

prices can fluctuate greatly

depending on whether there

is enough rain in Brazil each

year to produce these tiny

little buds.


Red ripe cherries on the tree.

By leaving the cherries on a

little longer than this when

they start turning more of

a purple color, the sugar

content can increase from

16% to 22%. This is great

for espresso.



A cherry ‘gives birth’ to a

seed covered in parchment

and mucilage. Coffee does

grow on trees. Note the mold

beginning to form on the

black cherries beneath the

coffea Arabica leaf.

have inconsistent ripening and inconsistent

sweetness development; something that is

much harder to control when picking.

Once while I was riding on a coffee

machine harvester, I noticed that the driver was

completely aware of these kind of challenges,

and had modified the equipment so each side

could be adjusted independently to suit the

variations in the tree, thereby only the desired

cherries were pulled off. This guy is prized for

his skill much like the guy who shapes the best

half-pipes in the world for snow-boarders.

I have found that tasting the coffee cherry

right off the tree is a good indicator of the

type of flavor that will develop. I believe this is

similar to the winemaker who measures grape

development by tasting the grapes in the field

as he walks through a vineyard. Winemakers

will also carry out more detailed scientific tests

with brix meters to more accurately measure

sugars and sweetness, much as a good coffee

agronomist does with coffee cherries. By

comparing sugar content in what most people

refer to as ripe red cherries to an over-ripe or

late harvest purple cherry, sugar content can

increase form 16 to 21 percent. Bring on the

natural sugar baby! This helps enormously in

our quest for a cup of espresso that doesn’t need

sugar added to it. Indeed, later in the harvest is

a preferable time to pick coffee for our needs.

Straight off th~ tree, it is very easy to pick

the difference between a fully ripe red cherry

in comparison to an over-ripe black cherry. For

those who haven’t tasted coffee cherries off a tree,

a good parallel would be to taste the difference

between a fresh table grape and a raisin.

When I first started testing coffees this way,

Dave was with me and immediately questioned

whether it was possible to tell the difference

or not. Because of his scientific background he

likes to make sure opinions can be verified. He

hates Data Free Observations, so he immediately

conducted a field test (literally!)s tanding on the

grass next to the trees on the coffee farm. He

made me and my companion, Gerard, the farm

manager at the time at Mountain Top, close our

eyes and guess whether it was a red or yellow

cherry he was giving us to taste. We were right

about 80 percent of the time, which wasn’t bad

given that not every yellow one tasted the same.

I have found that to some extent the flavors

I experience by tasting the cherry can also be

discerned in the brewed cup.

Having the knowledge of flavor in the cup

is something growers must realize is essential,

because it allows the grower to find a buyer

for the specific flavor profile of his coffee.

One grower who realizes this is is Henrique

Dias Cambraia, who is from the town of Santo

Antonio, Brazil. He is cut from the same kind of

good entrepreneurial cloth as my friend Andrew

Ford is, even though they are an ocean apart.


(Left to ri9ht, top to bottom)

• Brazil produces great coffees

ideally suited to espresso.

· Santo Antonio, one of

Brazil’smallest and best new

style co-ops.

· Henrique Cambraia one of

Brazil’s new breed of high

quality growers sends a

sample to a roaster to be


While I was attending a Cupo f Excellencec ompetition in Brazil,H enrique kindlyo ffered to take

me to Santo Antonio to show me around a group offarms that are plugging into the international

grower-to-roaster direct-supply model. He has adroitly and pleasantly built direct relationships with

specialty roasters in Japan, the United States and Australia. He is looking at how he can improve his

quality via planting different varieties, among other things, and at the same time he is extending

his relationships around the world.

He is, in fact, functioning like a good winemaker. He sees the importance of selecting the

right coffee for a specific customer. It is important in selecting coffees- or grapes- to first understand

what your target market wants, and then in response to that, add your own individual interpretation.

Great winemakers though, just like successful coffee growers, are imaginative and don’t

necessarily only give their customers exactly what they want because that would become boring.

They are original and creative, aiming to exceed their customers’ expectations. By surprising them,

they establish a very loyal and successful business. This is one of the key reasons why some

businesses boom and others don’t.



In termso f customert astep referencest,h ere are regionald ifferencesa ll

around the world. Some areas in Italy prefer a darker roast coffee, which is

the preferredr oasto f manyW estC oasta nd Seattler oasters.I n the Eastern

U .5., a lighter roast with more acidity is preferred. In northern Europe and

Scandinavia much lighterr oasto f coffeei s desired,w hile Australians

and Japanesep refera more subtlem id-roasts tyle,t hat retainst he gentle

and delicatea romatics,w hile still enhancingt he bodya nd sweetness.

These differences even reveal themselves through

the World Barista Championships. In five out

of the first seven championships, Norway and

Denmark dominated the competition. Not to

take away from the baristas themselves, I believe

this may have had something to do with the

fact that the competition format was originally

devised in NorwayT. herefore the judges, who

were trained largely out of a Scandinavian

tradition, tended to be dominated by this way

of thinking: a very light espresso, that is less

discernible when milk is added as a cappuccino.

But even though this can be pleasant, one style

does not reflect the whole range of world tastes.

Once you know your particular customer

preferences, it is possible to then select coffees

that lend themselves to the particular roast


style for which you are aiming. Then, it requires

a grower, processor and a roaster who are all

carefully attuned to helping create that final

flavor profile.

So who has more effect on the flavor

of espresso coffee, the grower or the roaster?

As it happens it is probably neither. It is more

likely to be the third pillar of the espresso coffee

world, the barista who may not know anything

about the technical aspects of growing and

roasting coffee, but who has a wonderful handson

knowledge of transforming the roasted

coffee into a sweet elixir. But watch out there

is a growing number of good baristas who are

following their passion and exploring all the

factors that affect the taste of their espresso

shots, and who are entering into the roasting

business. It will not be long before they also venture into the growing world and start exploring its

effects on taste, as many roasters now do.

The long and short of all this is that, there is a need to keep exploring the wonderful areas that

beckon and to remember that as coffee growers, roasters or baristas we may never fully resolve any

debates. But along the way, if we keep our minds open we can become better coffee professionals.

Which leads us into the next part of the coffee world …



Just like the champion barista or the really outstanding

grower, so too must the coffee roaster taste coffee.

Undoubtedly, tasting is the guiding light through the

long and winding search for the ultimate espresso.

Unfortunatelya, nd sadly,t oo many roasters don’t taste

or sample enough coffees to fully understand the nuances

in flavor that can be achieved through proper agronomy.

I have been guilty of this often, but no longer I hope. The

consequence of not tasting coffee is that it perpetuates

some pre-existing notions of good or bad tasting coffees.

One example of this is the debate surrounding Arabica

versus Robusta (i.e. is one better than the other?). It is this

single debate that will serve as a useful guide for exploring

many of the ills, myths and joys of the coffee-roasting

culture around the globe.


As any garden variety coffee textbook will tell mantra emerged because there is some truth

you -Arabica and Robusta are the two main to it. Also helping support this notion were

species of coffee grown around the world. In these pioneering specialty coffee roasters,

the specialty coffee world it has become part particularly in the 1970’s and 1980’s, who were

of a professional mantra to parrot thatArabica trying so hard to differentiate themselves from

is good and Robusta is bad! Most likely this the multi-national, institutional roasters who


sought to maximize yield and profits by using low-grade Robusta. In the process of doing so, they

would bastardize coffee flavor quality and create a taste profile that was barely discernable as coffee.

Of course, it was still labelled as pure l 00 percent coffee. This reminds me of the horrifying thought

of the trash can liners that smell more like roses than do roses. (But please, don’t start licking your

garbage liner bags in coffee desperation just yet). These large companies often sourced the plentiful

Robustas because they had such huge requirements for large volumes of coffee. The low-grade

Robustas were, and continue to be, available in correspondingly large quantities at cheap prices.

For nearly twentyy ears I happilyp reached the specialtym antra “Arabicag ood: Robustab ad.”

I did so mainly because I hadn’t tasted many Robusta coffees, and the ones I had tasted, were a part

of under-roasted Italian espresso blends. To me, this taste and aroma is much like that of the old,

moldy rubber found under the carpet when it is ripped up from the floor. It is not pleasant. (By the

way, I am not referring here to Italian roast which is a North American dark roast coffee, but the

large coffee companies who under-roast their coffee). What the under-roasting does is minimize

weight loss during roasting, while turning the raw coffee beans brown enough so they can be

recognized as coffee beans. It obviously improves profitability for these large companies.

It is interesting to note that the darker a coffee is roasted, the more weight it loses in the

form of water and organic material. Correspondinglyt,h e more profit you literallyb urn up in smoke.

This actually shatters the belief that a large global coffee company, like Starbucks, is purely profit

driven. If they were purely profit driven, they wouldn’t roast their coffee as dark as they do. Anyway,

we’ll get to profile roasting in a little while.

When it comes to Italian roasting, I am reminded of the time I was in the warehouse of an

Italian coffee importer who imported a well-known Italian coffee brand. I twas renowned for its

under-roasted Ro bus ta blends. The owner offered me a coffee, which, of course, meant a straight

espresso. I hesitated, thinking I was going to be served an unappealing, under-roasted Robusta

Roasted coffee beans tumble

through yet another conveyor.

blend. Surprisinglyh e offered to make me a

coffee from his 100 percentArabica blend. I

accepted his offer and was pleasantly surprised.

It was smooth, full-bodied, and well rounded. It

was a little flat, which I guessed was because it

was a little stale, but overall I would have been

happy to have served it as if it had been my own

blend albeit a bit fresher. When I asked him

why he didn’t sell more of it, he told me that

he didn’t like selling it because baristas had too

much trouble getting a consistent crema when

using it. As a result, he tended to promote only


his Robusta blends, which produced more crema

and which contained different percentages of

Robusta from 10% up to about 50%.

I actually found these undrinkable as

straight espresso with the light roast they

had undergone. These blends featured a high

percentage of Robusta, which provided not

just more crema, but also more body to punch

through the milk. For customers who add a lot

of sugar and or milk to their espresso, perhaps

it is palatable enough though, as they sell a lot

of drinks served with milk.


These flaws that appear in

roasted beans also show up

in green beans but only under

ultra-violet light and are

invisible to the naked human

eye in green coffee.


Cremias a seeminglym ysticawl ord, yet it is Italian for the simpleE nglish

word creamS. implyp ut, it is bubbleso f CO2 gast rappedi n the coffeel iquid.

If coffeep articlesa re agitatede noughw hile in contactw ith water,t hey

produce a kind of foam, or a whole lot of tiny bubbles, that can look like

a layer of cream on top of your coffee.

You can get crema when brewing in a French of its higher lipid content. Apart from appearing

press coffee simply by stirring the coffee grounds in greater volume (when using a Robusta blend),

that float to the top after the hot water is poured the crema has a slightly different character and

in. Similarly,w hen cupping coffee, hot water is seems to almost clump up it is so thick and dense.

poured on coffee grounds in a cup. The coffee

is stirred three or four times to get consistency

and sufficient flavor extraction. The little layer of

foam that forms on the top, and is immediately

thrown away, is another version of crema.

As the water winds its way down between

the ground coffee particles when espresso is

being made, it agitates the grinds so that by

the time the coffee liquid pours out into a cup,

it brings with it a very fine mixture of foam

comprised of bubbles that rises to the top of

the liquid. The finer the grind, the smaller the

bubbles. This finely textured foam can actually

appear to be like a cream on top of the coffee.

What has been known in the espresso culture for

quite some time is that Robusta produces more

crema than does Arabica. Perhaps this is because


The crema on espresso helps baristas create

artwork in their cappuccinos and caffe lattes.

If you pour your hot steamed milk into your

espresso shot quickly enough, the crema will

also flavor the foam that is created by steaming

and heating milk with the nozzle on the

cappuccino machine. So, instead of white milk

foam, you have pale coffee-colored milk foam.

And if the espresso has been prepared well, a

delicious coffee flavor from the top of the milk

foam to the bottom of your cappuccino or latte

cup can be enjoyed. Of course, crema is also a

pretty sure guide as to how the espresso will

taste. I fit is too light, the espresso will taste thin

and astringent. Dark flecks in a pale background

may indicate too high a brewing temperature

causing the espresso to taste hard and metallic.



And if you have a nice, dark brown crema, a flavor-point rather than a price-point.

it should taste rich and chocolaty. Reaching a flavor point can be tricky

In Italy, a cup of coffee (which about 80-90 and requires that the roaster taste the coffee

percent of the time means a short black or constantly. Too light a roast and a grassy, hempstraight

espresso cup of coffee), has a retail price like flavor is revealed. When roasted too dark, it

that is so competitively regulated that many of

the coffee companies try to squeeze extra profits

out ofone of the few remaining areas they can

through roasting. They do so by roasting to a

price point as opposed to a flavor point. It is,

I believe,a nother reason a true Godin m ye spresso

wp experience is hard to come across. Roasting

companies still try to get away with it (for a

while), hoping that most people, as they do in

Italy and France, will put a spoonful of sugar in

to help it go down. But espresso is not meant

to be some kind of bad-tasting, Mary Poppins

medicine. Coffee actually has its own natural

sugars (mainly sucrose), and during the roasting

process these natural sugars are broken down

and can either be developed to the point where

you don’t need to add any sugar yourself, or

they can be distorted like some strange parody

or mutated Frankenstein version of coffee that

is another ugly being altogether. When this

happens, instead of tasting sweet, the coffee can

again have a hard, metallic and even medicinal

taste to it. This has to do, in part, with the roast

profile again. So, our aim as roasters who seek

to create a Godin m ye spreswsop experience, is to

produce coffee that has been roasted to

will lose its natural sweetness as the sugars are

caramelized. If it is roasted darker still, it will

actually turn the natural wood-fibre (cellulose)

into charcoal and will taste, not just charred,

but ashy and very unpleasant as an espresso.

This is not to say dark roasted coffee

doesn’t have its place as a refreshing beverage.

As I mentioned previously when I visited Geoff

Babcock in Seattle, I enjoyed the dark roast he

prefers, even though it was reminiscent of the

French mix coffee my father used to bring home

when I was a teenager.

There is, in fact, a mid-point in roasting

where the flavor is developed sufficiently to

create a complex balance of body, intensity and

a bitter-sweet chocolaty character. It is a point

when it loses the hemp-like, grassy underroasted

flavor and has not yet developed the

carbon, burnt, diesel oil-like character of overroasted


After I had been roasting coffee for nearly

twenty years, one of my green coffee suppliers,

a third generation coffee broker by the name

of Scott Bennett, pleaded with me, “I know

you don’t like Robustas but just t1y this one!”

Finally I agreed to try his sample. I gave it to


‘Godin m ye spresscou p’.T his is

what a good espresso shot

looks like in the bottom of

a cup. Notice the fine microbubbles

and the lovely rich

chocolate brown color.

my roastmaster at the time, Geoff Hutchings. He roasted it a little darker than I had requested,

but of course, as is my habit, I always taste mistakes. So I tried it anyway. As it turned out, it tasted

extremely good. It was smooth, rich and powerful, just like a successful Hollywood movie star (I am

not sure why Hollywood keeps coming up in this story, although I was pleased to see an A-list star at

long last drinking a ‘real’ espresso coffee recently, when Brad Pitt had straight espresso in a ‘proper’

demi-tasse cup in Oceans Twelve.) I was stunned. How could a single origin l 00 percent Robusta

taste so good? This was a near Godin m ye spreswsop experience, and was definitelya revelation. When

discussing the espresso with Scott, he patiently told me about the estate in India that diligently and

carefully tended and processed their Ro bus ta coffee. It was a single estate coffee that was not mixed

in with all the other poorertasting Robustas, allowing it to stand out as a good clean l 00 percent

unblended Robusta coffee. I bought the remainder of their crop for that year. It simply tasted too

good to let twenty years of my own propaganda stand in the way. Since then I have ceased repeating

the mantra about “Robusta bad and Arabica good,” and I leave it to others to argue about. My taste

buds decided the issue for me.

We must keep in mind there are good Ro bus ta coffees and bad ones. And, too much of the

low-grade Robusta on the market has caused an imbalance in the coffee world. On a global scale

the demand for Ro bus ta coffee has been sufficient to see the rise of a new coffee growing country.

In the past l O years, Vietnam has grown from obscurity in the coffee world to become the world’s

second largest producer of coffee, mainly due to its production of Ro bus ta coffee. I have heard that

the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (or both), went in to Vietnam when the country

was trying to rebuild their economy following the end of the Vietnam War. Based on advice they

received from some coffee guru (maybe a large price-point based, multi-national roaster?!), they

invested in the development of the Vietnamese coffee growing industry to help give the country’s

economy a boost. I suppose it worked for the Vietnamese to some degree, because they jumped

ahead in producing large volumes of coffee, to the point where they are now ahead of all traditional

growing countries in volume, with the exception of Brazil. So maybe it helps their balance of trade,

but at the same time, it has destabilized the whole coffee-growing world. It has resulted in global

production that outpaced global demand, causing the price of raw coffee to plunge dramatically.

This has been catastrophic for many traditional coffee-producing countries around the world as

coffee prices have, in many cases, dropped below the cost of production.

In places like Brazil where much of the production is grown on huge flat plains and gently



rolling hills, harvesting can be mechanized.

This allows them to compete on a price level

that is extremely cost-efficient for coffee

producers. However, in many other Central

American, African and Asian countries, coffee

is high-grown in hilly and mountainous regions

where a mechanical harvester can’t reach. The

only way to harvest the coffee is to do so by

hand. Of course this is not cost efficient since

it involves the employment of a lot of people.

When worldwide coffee prices declined, the

labor-and cost-intensive practices of hand

harvesting strained the farmers’ earnings. As

a result, we have heard of the tragic stories of

coffee pickers and growers walking off their

farms in Mexico and dying in the burning heat

of Death Valley as they search for a new way of

life. In other countries like Colombia or Bolivia,

the low prices farmers received for their coffee

has driven many to a more profitable, yet illegal

drug crop, which is often forced upon them

by a drug lord.

Some roasters will get all self-righteous

and refuse to use certain coffees, like Brazil

or Robusta on a purely ideological basis. But

without wanting to get too much into this

debate, I believe this practice may be a bit like

robbing Peter to pay his brother Paul. Are the

poor growers of Brazil or Vietnam any less

deserving than those of Nicaragua, EastTimor

or Rwanda? It is always important to look after

people in the coffee industry and ifwe keep

resolutely to the object of letting our taste buds

guide us, in the end we will reward those who

do the best job.

The wine industry with its wonderful rich

history of viticulture is perhaps slightly better

at letting taste be their guide than the coffee

industry. As an interesting sideline, viticulture

had a rather inauspicious beginning, when

Noah ( of the ark fame) who was possibly the

first recorded viticulturalist, found himself blind

drunk as a result of tasting too much of his first

vintage. When his sons woke him the following

morning he was lying naked in his tent. In

spite of the bad press he gets, God definitely

isn’t a killjoy.I n fact,e ven though I am sure he

doesn’t condone alcoholism or drunkenness, he

designed the elements of wine to “gladden the

heart of man”. Even the Pope, (Clement VIII),

who when he was told coffee was a drink of the

devil, had the good sense to taste it and declare,

“Something that tastes this good can’t be from

the devil!” or words to that effect! I guess he

must have fluked it with a good Italian barista

even back then!


The ‘stirOex’ spins the coffee

in the roaster’s cooling tray.

(Topto bottom)

The coffee beans empty

into the de-stoner

. Beans about to go down

the hatch. The small yet

significant holes in the

cooling tray are vital for

the rapid air-cooling of the

roasted coffee. Many roasters

lose sweetness here because

these little holes aren’t

kept clear or the fan which

sucks air through them isn’t

powerful enough.



To the uninitiated, roast profiling sounds kind of important, and can

at first appear simple. By slightly varying heat input- more heat in at

the start, middle or the end of a roast-you can get what you need.

Roasting too short a time will maintain more

acidity in the coffee. This will work for drip

or French press coffee, but doesn’t work for

most lower acid style espresso coffees. Further,

roasting too quickly can give the coffee a kind

of astringent, straw-like taste that is sometimes

unpleasant and woody.C onverselyr, oasting for

too long will flatten the acidity and complexity

of the coffee, making it taste a bit lifeless and

dull. So, a roast time somewhere in the middle

is desirable, as that is where the most pleasant

flavors can usually emerge.

Of course, there is enormous room for

flexibility.I n terms of time, I have had one of the

most outstanding espresso coffees I ever tasted

when I was tuning a roaster for 49th Parallel in

Vancouver,C anada.W ew ere working out the

burner power required for the new roaster I was

installing, and the Brazil roast went for more

than twenty minutes, something I wouldn’t

normally do. Yet with the lower rpm of the

drum (36 rpm), the result was like pure cocoa.

It lingered for ages, and the aftertaste was

deliciously rich. Again, this was another near

Godin m ye spresswop experience,a nd a revelation

about the hidden flavors locked mysteriously

within the coffee cell walls of a bean just waiting

to be teased out by the patient taste hunter.

Roasting requires a bit of scientific knowhow

and a bit of experimental spirit to find the

best approach to unlocking the flavor within

the beans. For instance, as cold beans are placed

into a rotating drum roaster, they will cause the

air temperature inside the drum-roaster to drop.

Some roasters like to give the raw beans a lot

of heat at the start and then towards the end of

the roast they will reduce the temperature when

the beans start to generate some of their own

additional heat. This will more easily control the

color and appearance of the bean. The opposite

approach is to apply less heat at the start and

more at the end. This will make it a little more

difficult to get a consistent result simply because

when the coffee starts generating its own heat,

temperature can be difficult to control. Then,

of course, you can try to put more heat in the


middle, rather than either end. For what it is

worth, I have found the best results in terms of

flavor with the second method, which is what

we call ramping.

There is, however, a bit more to roasting

than that. For instance, there is a relationship

between air temperature in the drum and the

bean temperature. Therefore, you must decide at

what point you begin ramping as well as and how

long you maintain the ramping. It all makes a

difference. (In fact, a second temperature probe

measuring the air temperature within the drum

roaster is probably more important than having a

bean probe measuring just bean temperature.) If

this air temperature climbs above the maximum

point 520°F (270°() recommended by Carl Staub,

even though the bean temperature may appear

fine, the flavor will be horrible. The coffee will take

on an aggressivev, enomous and harsh character.

Roasting equipment is becoming more

sophisticated with computers that track the time

and temperature of the roast in the drum. But

metal in them which is a very good conductor

of heat. It adds a gentle amount of radiant heat.

(Think about the efficiency in transferring heat

in a frying pan. Those made out of aluminium

or cast iron transfer heat well. However, those

made out of stainless steel, must have a copper

bottom incorporated into them, to give the

stainless steel pan better ability to conduct heat.)

Many of the old roasters have lots of good

cast iron in them. New ones that have more

stainless steel can be harder to work with.

However, regardless of the equipment

used, the best option seems to be a slightly

higher mix of convection heat, then a good

amount of radiant heat. This means you must

have some, but not too much, conductive heat.

Too much conductive heat and the beans begin

to scorch. This is one of the problems with

stainless steel because the metal temperature

must be too high before a good amount of

radiant heat is produced. As a result, the beans

are more likely to get scorched. It is also good

many of the current small roasting machines to control the volume of convection heat let

actuallyc ome with little flexibilityo n them. These into the rotating drum which holds the coffee,

standard off-the-shelf roasters sometimes don’t and the rate at which it is allowed to come

allow you to adjust the amount of heat you apply, out. This example is true when using a drum

or the amount of air you let flow through the roaster, because with a fluid bed roaster you

coffee. Or, they don’t allow you to adjust the type basically only have one type of heat- hot air,

of heat you want to apply. The roasters that I have or convection.

consistently enjoyed better espresso coffee from, This tends to cook the coffee very quickly,

have a good amount of old-fashioned cast iron causing the coffee flavors to develop differently

The humble weighing

machine works the same all

around the world regardless of

differing measurements.



M-BA at the end of the roast. The free water molecules that are sti II present towards the end of the roast

can mix into the chemicale quations and adverselya ffect the polymerd evelopment and crucial

flavor molecules for espresso.

Now the word polymer sounds a bit like something from a boring school lesson, but in order

to develop the universallyd esirable, natural sweetness of coffee, we need strings of chemical

reactions to form a myriad of combinations of molecules. It has been reported that there are over

2,000 flavor compounds in coffee, however, the chemical reactions that go in inside a coffee bean

when it is being roasted are so complex and dynamic that scientists have not yet tracked them all.

It is good to still have some mystery to it all, isn’t it?

In the end, a roast-profile is simply a graph of temperature in relation to time. But because

every coffee will vary in density and moisture content, and because the barometric pressure which

affects the amount of oxygen available for the burners and ambient temperature vary throughout

the day, this will affect how the green coffee develops in the roaster. It could then be argued that

roast profiling is useless because each batch will absorb heat slightly differently thereby requiring

its own individual profile. To some extent, this is how the Agtron roast-control system works. It

responds individuallyt o each and everyb atch of coffee based on the rate at which it absorbs heat.

It then calculates the best rate at which to achieve the desired drop result, so no two roast profiles

are the same! I definitely have had some very good espresso coffees roasted this way.


(Le~ to right, top to bottom)

The spectrophotometer

measures the grinds or the

inside of the beans which is

vital to understanding what

has happened to your roast


Roasted coffee beans

continue their journey

through the weigher


• … and down yet another chute

and through yet another pair

of hands into a bag that is

impermeable to oxygen and



What is a coffee blend? Is it simply two origins mixed together as some

people would argue?

Ano riginis coffee jargon for a ‘country.’ Brazil

is one coffee origin. Costa Rica, Guatemala,

and Nicaragua are all referred to as separate

origins and they are also referred to collectively

as Centralbse cause they all come from Central

America. Using this definition, an arbitrary

line on a map determines an origin. Therefore,

coffee mixed together from two neighboring

farms on either side of an invisible line on a

map, can qualify as a blend on this basis. Yet,

if another two neighboring farms elsewhere

within one single country don’t happen to have

this arbitrary, invisible line separating them,

they can’t qualify as a blend, because they would

not be classed as separate orgins.

As an aside, I have heard it said on several

occassions, that it is impossible to make a good

espresso with one single origin. In fact the firsttime

I met Mark Prince, founder of,

he argued this very topic with me. However, the

work being done at Mountain Top could change

his view.

of the parts can equal less than the individual

parts. For instance, if you are aiming for a sweet

acidic coffee you may be disappointed, because

when a sweet solution is mixed with an acidic

solution, rather than getting a more complex

interesting coffee, they tend to cancel each

other out. The resultant mix tastes rather

neutral and boring.

Also if you keep some acidity in your

espresso blend, keep in mind that when it

is mixed with milk, it will combine to form

a sweeter tasting cappuccino, caffe latte or

caffe macchiato. It is more delicate because

it won’t have as much body, but it is worth

experimenting with just for the fun of it!

To better understand blending, it is more

helpful to refer to terroira,s the wine industry

does, rather than originsT.e rroir refers to the

composition of the soil where the coffee is

grown in combination with the micro-climate.

It is possible to achieve a very different result

within one small farm due to the varying

Blending, like so many things to do with terroirs found in a given area.

coffee, is not as simple as it at first appears. Similar to Penfolds Wines’ release of

Blending can be tricky, since oftentimes the sum limited wines from block 42 or bin 60A, so


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Papua New Guinea is one

of the world’s final coffee

frontiers, they too are

now linked to the global

espresso world.




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too does a single batch of coffee from one section of a micro-climate on a single farm, produce

amazing complexity and depth offlavor. Research into these differences is exactly what is being

conducted at Mountain Top. Any coffee that comes from many other farms in the world is blended

automatically with other batches and other blocks from within the farm, therefore it is automatically

blended right from the start.

Usuallym ost roasters blend a fewd ifferent origins, or countries, in an attempt to create some

extra complexityi n their coffee.S o a smooth, sweet body from a semi-washedB razilc an be blended

with the intense fruitiness and tang from a strictly high-grown from Guatemala. Add to this some

earthiness with a Sumatra Mandheling (and some extra crema) and maybe a little winy touch from an

Ethiopian Mocha, and the result is a very complex, well-rounded, deep and rich flavored espresso.

It is possible, however, to create these differing characteristics from one single farm by

manipulating the processing. Unfortunately there are not many coffee farms in the world that will

enable you to do it. Instead, most roasters stick with their tried and true broad-brush blending and

recipes as if they are some kind of unique trade secret that only they know about. Too few roasters

have visited coffee farms at all, let alone ones that have developed the ability to manipulate their

processing techniques to achieve different flavor outcomes. Fortunately this is an increasing trend

among up-and-coming young roasters. They are passionate about understanding everything that

affects flavor in the coffee cup. A lot of these guys have at some point, been a barista and are aware

right from the start that there are an enormous number of factors that can affect the final coffee

flavor. This is a healthy trend for the coffee industry.



Perhaps a bit like alcohol tolerance, everyone seems to have a different

tolerance to caffeine. With this in mind, why shouldn’t people who

are sensitive to caffeine be able to enjoy great tasting espresso as well?

They can enjoy it. I have tasted great decaf espresso myself, and no one

ever needs to feel inferior for drinking and enjoying decaf.

This leads to another taste epiphany I experienced

while in Vancouver when I was experimenting

with getting my own coffee decaffeinated. What

I have come to learn is that decaf coffee doesn’t

have to taste bad. If you start with good quality

coffee, you can get good quality decaf. In the

process of playing around with some SWISS

WATER®D ecafc offees, I had one that was a Fair

Trade organic coffee from Peru. My expectations

weren’t high, but when I tasted it, there was no

Roasting and brewing decafrequires a

greater understanding of the decaffeination

process and the affect it has on the bean. We

regularlyr oast our SWISSW ATERD®e caft o 25

whole-bean on our Agtron scale, with a 25

point spread. Even though this appears darker

than normal coffee, it is largely because the

decaf raw bean is darkerto begin with. So in

reality, the roast itself wouldn’t be much darker

than a regular espresso roast we might create.

denying it was a fantastic espresso. Much like my We use the same basic roasting approach,

Robusta thinking, I had to discard another long- gently teasing out the moisture in the first

held prejudice. This decaf coffee just tasted too five minutes or so, bearing in mind there is

good to deny it. I guess up until this point I hadn’t slightly less than the usual 11 percent moisture

tasted enough decaf, and like many people, I

formed an opinion that decaf somehow wasn’t

real coffee. That’s the beauty of letting your taste

guide you. Unexpected surprises turn up where

you least expect them and your hidden prejudices

are increasinglyc ast aside.

content in decaf green beans. We use the same

ramping approach as regular coffee to maximize

the development of sweetness and we drop

the roast about four degrees hotter at 4 l 7°F

(214°(). But by roasting it to this degree, you

will need to adjust the flow rate in your espresso


shot by adjusting the grinder a fraction finer and tamping as normal. This is probably because there

usually is a greater difference in the roast spread (the difference between the Agtron number for the

inside of the bean and the outside) for SWISSW ATERD ecaf Most likelyt he spread is due to the fact

that the decaf beans end up a little more dense than regular coffees after the SWISSW ATERD” ecaf

process. But again we’ll get into extraction and flow rates in more detail in the next section.


This is a scale where 0 = coffee roasted so dark it is like black charcoal and 80 = virtually uncooked coffee. A spread or delta

of around 15 is an indication the coffee is nice and medium-rare inside.





27.9 48.2 42. l

52.7 63.9 57. l

24.8 15.7 15.0

What this table really tells us is that the inside of the decaf bean is not too far different from

the regular bean even though the outside may look different. Certainly the roast times aren’t too

different. Typicalr oast times for SWISSW ATERD” ecafw ould be 15.30 minutes for decaf versus

14.55 for Brazil and 15.50 for Nicaraguan.

We drop the Brazil roast at about 413°F (212°C) and the Nicaraguan at about 410°F (210°C)

and put them all in at about the same temperature of 410°F (210°C). This is based on a 60kg drum

roaster and will vary for other types of roasting equipment. We prefer using our drum roaster for

SWISSW ATERD” ecafe spresso just as we do for our regular espresso.Thec olor of the crema may

look a little lighter than a regular coffee, but in the end it is always about the taste. Despite the

difference in crema, the SWISSW ATERD” ecafc an taste sweet and smooth with great body.

Blending for decaf is pretty much the same as for a regular blend too. Natural coffees and


o<¥ .. c. s~~ i:.1.

100 ~ @{,(,\us ·oRGAN~IC

.co-FF EE

washed coffees both work well with the SWISSW ATERD ecafp rocess. In fact there is no reason

why decaf can’t be enjoyed every bit as much as regular coffee. What is the most reassuring thing

about this unique process is that it only uses water and a carbon filter. There are no chemicals,

unlike most other decaffeination processes. Sweet! Just go for it and test and taste it for yourself!

Have some fun and forget the coffee snobs!

But beware. We have had many customers becoming quite upset because they refuse to believe

that decaf coffee can taste so good. I don’t mind these kinds of complaints in the least. It proves

that customers do notice what they taste, and it is always worth giving them something better than

they expect. The better the job we do with our decaf, the better our sales have become too. There is

nothing wrong with exceeding customers’ expectations.

By the way, a DFO I would like to dispel right here and now is in regard to the idea that darker

roast coffee has less caffeine than light roast. We already know that the darker coffee is roasted,

the more organic matter is burnt off Some caffeine is lost at the same time, but not as much as the

amount of organic matter that is lost. As a result, the caffeine is more concentrated and the bean is

lighter. Consequently, using approximately the same weight and volume of dark versus light roast

coffee will result in more caffeine in your dark roast cup. This can amount to a significant amount.

In one simple test of two espresso shots measured in a High Pressure Liquid Chromatography

(HP LCm) achine there was 45 percent more caffeine in the darker roast cup. Beware,t his is a

significant difference!


SWISS WATER Decaf do their

diligent hard work to keep

the caffeine out and to keep

great Oavor in the coffee bean.

Decaf drinkers don’t have to

feel like second class citizens.

It can taste great and that is

what coffee should be all about.


Cooking( o r roasting)c offeea t first seemsd eceptivelye asy.P uts ome

raw, green coffee into some heat, and after a while it pops out brown and

roasted.M uch like the coffee-growingw orld, understandingh ow to fully

develop the flavor potential of a coffee bean in the roaster is an underdevelopeds

ciencea nd far more complext han it at first appears.

A little bit of subtle wood flavor can add

complexity to wine, but over the years, since I

have been so programmed to reject woodiness

in coffee, that ifit is too pronounced in wine, I

almost automatically reject it as unpleasant and


Cooking (roasting) coffee too fast is similar

in some ways to cooking a steak too fast. The

inside is still uncooked, even if the outside

looks done. With coffee, you’ll experience the

uncooked woody flavor even if the outside of

the bean looks well cooked. Mind you, some

people like their steak charred on the outside

and raw on the inside, so this comparison isn’t

exact since I have yet to find anyone who likes

coffee cooked in such an extreme way.

But the comparison does have some

parallels. For me, cooking that perfect mediumrare

steak maximizes flavor complexity, with all

the various levels of cooked meat combined.


This is how I picture a well-roasted coffee. But,

instead of using one form of heat like you do

when cooking a steak (say, for instance, via

conduction heat on a metal hotplate), with

coffee roasting you introduce two more forms

of heat-convection (fan-forced heat) and

radiant heat (the heat that radiates off the hot

metal). Then the baffles, or walls of metal inside

a turning metal drum, bounce the beans around

inside, so that at some points all three forms

of heat get through them. No doubt this would

be a very complex way of cooking a steak, and

yet this is what happens with coffee beans in a

drum roaster.

Roasting requires a delicate balance of

variables. You have to regulate the speed of the

drum. If it’s too fast, the beans will stay in direct

contact with the metal for too long and get

scorched by the conductive heat. This reminds

me of when I was a little kid and I would visit

Luna Park in Sydney, and go on a ride called the

RotorGravatron. In this ride, you would walk in

through a door that would take you into a large

circular room, kind of like an empty swimming

pool. You would stand with your back against

the wall and when the ride would start to rotate,

the floor would drop away from underneath

you and you would be stuck against the wall

suspended, with the floor seemingly miles

beneath you. Centrifugal force pins you against

the wall and keeps heavy objects suspended.

Even the disgusting vomit of the overwhelmed

dizzy kid next to you.

It is also like the old bush pioneer days in

Australia, when billy tea was made by using a

little metal pot attached to a wire handle, then

heated on a campfire. Once it had reached

boiling point they threw in some tea leaves,

grabbed the handle and spun it around over

their head a few times. Of course it had to

be spun fast enough so that the boiled water

didn’t fall out. Likewiset, he drum in a coffee

roaster can move so fast that the beans become

pinned to the metal wall of the drum. When

this happens, the outside of the bean will get

scorched. Too much scorching and the bean will

taste charred. Unfortunatelya, s I mentioned, it is

not a pleasant charring like a char-grilled steak.

Converselyi, f the drum turns too slowly,

the beans will slide around on the round metal

of the drum, sliding over the baffles instead of

bouncing around in the hot air. You can get too

much charring this way because the hot air is

not evenly distributed amongst the individual

beans. Ideally the coffee should stay in the left

third of the drum in a clockwise turning drum,

and the angle of the baffles will determine

how much the coffee is pushed forward. You

need the baffles to do this, otherwise when

the roaster door opens, the coffee won’t

come out. But the baffles also compact the

beans inside the drum by pushing the beans

up against the front plate of the drum roaster.

So the relationship between the angle of the

baffles and the speed of the drum is also critical

because the faster the drum turns, the more

the coffee is pushed forward and compacted in

the drum, inhibiting the convection heat from

evenly heating the beans. So, as you can see, it

is a delicate balancing act between finding the

right speed to ensure the beans fall through the

air sufficiently to get heated by the hot air, while

keeping the beans from scorching on the hot

metal. At the same time, you must keep in mind

that as hot air rises, it is hotter in the top half

of the drum. So some hot air is a good thing as

long as it is the right mix of hot air. This concept

is illustrated easily if you line three ovens up side

by side ( one fully fan forced, one partially fan

forced and the third one with no fan), and cook

the same size chicken inside each of the ovens,

the fully fan-forced oven will brown the chicken


Roasted beans in a

dish awaiting their

spectrophotometer analysis.

This machine can detect

differences which the human

eye can’t perceive.

much quicker than the other two. The one with

no fan will tend to bake the chicken, yet take

much longer. We are looking for the middle

kind of air flow, with some fan-forced hot air

but not too much.

I know what I have said above has upset a

lot of coffee roasters, some of whom are good

friends, and they are very good coffee guys who

use air roasters instead of drum roasters. I am

willing to admit that maybe it is just like my

Robusta experience and I haven’t tasted enough

coffees roasted this way, but let your own palate

decide and lead the way. Don’t let the Data Free

Observations rule.

Now, ifwe have our three different forms of

heat, we have to tune the different proportions

of each properly. This can take quite a while.

With one machine I helped to tune, I tasted

every roast as espresso until we got it right.

This meant I averaged up to 20 espressos every

morning for nearly two weeks. Now that is hard

on your palate. After every espresso, we would

change something on the roaster. One time it

may have been the distance of the burner from

the drum, the next time the rpm, the next the

fan velocity, until we tuned the roaster properly.

In addition to the human mouth, good

coffee roasters use a spectrophotometer.

Here we touch on another debate. The DFO

crowd would have you believe these measuring

instruments are some kind of equivalent to


a medieval witch and that the world must be

purged of all such wicked creatures. Maybe

this is because it helps to support their Data

Free Observation belief system that scientific

instruments like spectrophotometers take

away from artisan roasting.

The spectrophotometer enables a

roastmaster to evaluate what is going on with

both the inside and outside of the coffee beans

far more accurately than the human eye can ever

do. You can taste the difference, for instance,

on an Agtron scale when there is a read-out

difference of two on the meter. But to the

human eye, it is impossible to tell any difference

from the outside appearance. What is more, it

is actually not so much what the outside of the

bean looks like that determines the flavor of

a bean, but what has gone on the inside. The

outside may look the same, but inside, it may

be rare, medium rare, medium or well-done.

When we order a steak at a restaurant, we are

asked for our preference. The first thing we do

when we receive the order is cut open the steak

to check if it is cooked to our specifications.

This is equally important for coffee beans.

Getting a number reflecting the roast

development of ground coffee is sort of like

the equivalent of mincing a cooked steak to

see how pink or brown overall the meat has

ended up. It is where most of the overall flavor

is determined. Yet we still have some so-called



artisan roasters maintaining that the only way

to roast is by the senses: sight, smell, touch

and even hearing. This is another debate on

science versus the traditional school in coffee,

as with baristas, roasters can be closed minded.

Even these so-called artisan roasters will use a

thermometer to give them a guide as to how

pressure of gravity ( one bar of pressure) used

with drip-filter brewing, most commercial

espresso machines have nine bars of pump

pressure. In order to extract the optimum flavor

components, the coffee grinds are much finer

than with drip-filter or French press coffee.

This smaller particle size, multiplied by the extra

the coffee is going. So they are not complete bars of pressure means that you can reduce your

Luddites. (Ah, at least I can indulge my passion optimum extraction time from around four

for histo1y!) Unfortunately some artisan roasters minutes for drip-filter or French Press coffee

who laboriously check the color of their coffee to around 25 seconds for espresso, depending

beans using a tryer, or sampler, never check the

inside of the bean accurately.

Al I a spectrophotometer does is act as

another guide to test how the roast flavor has

developed. It enables you to increase your

chances of replicating an excellent roast and in

turn, it increases the chances of experiencing

God in an espresso cup. In the end, the sense

of taste is one that I believe must always be

applied by us all as coffee professionals and

lovers. Like the Robusta versus Arabica and

decaf stories above, I guess the best kind of

roasting is a combination of science and

artisan methodology always guided by taste.

With espresso, just like the light roast I

tried at my own Neutral Bay espresso bar for

the first time so many years ago, any flaws

are magnified and exposed a hundred-fold.

This is because the espresso brewing process

is intensified. Instead of the comparative lazy

on your shot volume. It also means the margin

for error is narrowed enormously. Any mistakes

made when brewing, or any roasting flaws in the

coffee itself, such as woodiness, and they will be

brutally magnified and exposed.

As I have said, roasting darker usually

means less profits. But sometimes roasters who

buy cheap, low-grade coffees will have to roast

darker to burn out some of the flaws in the

coffee. This is why when coffee is roasted for

sampling, it is usually roasted much lighter than

the lightest espresso roast, because the intrinsic

flavor is more noticeable and is not masked by

the darker roast profile. So, regardless of how

good or bad a coffee may be to start with, by

roasting until it appears black, will result in a

certain uniformity of taste chany burnt toast.

When it comes to profits, I am not

anti-profits. Any charity, environmental

organization, business, count1y or household


has to have more money coming in than going out, or we all will get into a huge mess. That is

all profit represents- good management of money in versus money out! But greed is not good!

So, if some of these larger institutional roasters have crossed the greed line by sacrificing

quality for money, then so too have hundreds of smaller roasters. But the one difference is that

the smaller guys simply haven’t given flavor consistency the priority it needs by investing in the

resources necessary to improve it. Whereas the really big guys who have crossed the line, have

invested in the resources to improve quality. But for some reason, just like a mad scientist, they

have used the equipment to actually reduce the flavor quality. As I mentioned, I don’t include

Starbucks in this group because they roast to their own particular flavor profile rather than a price

point, and they have actually done a lot of good for growers by forcing up the price of specialty

grade coffees. In fact, the guy I purchase high-grown semi-washed coffee from in Papua New

Guinea told me he could get the same price from the Starbucks buyer with less effort, so I had to pay

more. I was already paying above the going rate and way above the fair-trade price but it is great coffee,

so I happily paid the extra. Of course roasters have to bear in mind that there is a point where their

customers in turn will only pay so much or they may lose them.


(Top to bottom)

Green beans on their way to

being roasted.

Roasted beans get caught up


Cup ofExcellence stickers.

You’ve got to turn the burner

on to create the magic.

• Heat isa factor the whole way

through the espresso process.



(Top to bottom)

·A worker counts his coffee

packs. Yet another human

hand along the coffee chain.

•Vince Piccolo enjoys a shot in

the warehouse

( Oppositpea 9e)

•A worker inspects his sample

roast in the ubiquitous blue

tray designed especially to

display coffee beans.


Of course Kaldi the mythical goat-herder who reputedly discovered coffee

almost a thousand years ago, wouldn’t have roasted his beans like we do

at all. He would have heated and brewed the coffee cherries with the seeds

and mucilage still inside completely unroasted, and poured it out looking

nothing like the dark liquidw e call coffee.T his brew calledq ahwaihs still

served in a few remote parts of Middle-Easternc offee-cradlec ountries.

But we are pursuing something different, something almost ethereal.

As we have seen, the longer a coffee bean is

heated the greater the number of things that

happen. More body is produced, acidity is

reduced and bitterness increases. The trick

is to reduce the acidity sufficiently so that it

doesn’t adversely affect the cup flavor after the

heightened espresso extraction has taken effect.

Also, if you add milk to your espresso shot, you

need to reduce the acidity even further so the

coffee flavor doesn’t get drowned out by the

milk. You don’t want to roast it too much or you

highlight too much bitterness. There will always

be some bitterness in coffee and this is not a bad

thing. Caffeine is bitter and contributes some of

the bitterness we taste. But if there is too much

bitterness, then it becomes unpleasant.

What happens with our palates is that they


mature and become more tolerant towards

bitterness. When we are children, we taste like

children and generally prefer sweetness. Take

chocolate for instance. Most children prefer

sweet milk chocolate, whereas adults usually

prefer darker chocolate with a little bit of

bitterness, but not too much just enough

so that there is a nice balance between sweetness

and bitterness. Soda pop, or soft drink mixers,

are another good example. As kids, we universally

prefer the sweet stuff As adults we start to enjoy

the complexity of tonic water, for instance,

which is a balance of bitter quinine and sweet

sugars. In nature virtually all serious poisons

taste bitter. (As an Australian, I should know. I am

constantly being reminded as I travel the world,

how Australia is home to the top ten most deadly

, I


,. (

·t ,/

~- ;: ..

l ,~, ,.

. /r :, . . :”” . ~

,-• ,


Spot the odd bean out.

The bean second from the

right in the middle row is a

peaberry. Actually every bean

is completely different.


It’s OK to enjoy milk with your

espresso.I n yearsg one by they

used to add other weird stuff

to coffee as well, like eggshells

or salt. Milk complements

espressow ell and addst o the

mystique behind the espresso


venomous snakes in the world, not to mention the box jellyfish and the funnel web spider).

Ash umans, we are generallyp rogrammed to reject bitterness, especiallyw hen, as children,

we are not as mentally discriminating. I am not saying that the level of caffeine in coffee is

poisonous, although in combination with the rest of the particles that go to make up coffee, it

has been accused of causing all kinds of dangerous diseases down the ages. For instance, in England

several centuries ago, coffee was accused of causing impotence in men and dropsy in the general

population. Throughout the 1970’s and l 980’s it has also been accused of all kinds of debilitating

diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Fortunately, in recent years, the tide has turned again

and common sense is prevailing as more balanced scientific studies show that there are many good

health benefits in consuming coffee. In any case, with good coffee there will be a nice balance

between bitter and sweet.

The avenue of exploration that beckoned loud and clear all those years ago when I opened

my first espresso bar, was how to achieve enough body without too much bitterness. This led me

to a man who knows about roasting coffee for espresso Dr. Ernesto illy. I attended every SCAA

show I could, particularly when he was speaking. One thing I learned from him is that by using

natural-processed coffees in an espresso, you achieve more essential body. This difference in body

was quantified in the quintessential book, EspressCoo ffeeT:i leC /JemisnyofQ11aBliyru ys.i ng coffees that

are processed this way, the coffee need not be roasted as dark to achieve good body and avoids

too much bitterness. Bear in mind that Dr. lily’s prime home market is Italy, where, as we know,

the overwhelming percentage of coffee is consumed as a straight espresso. If you want even more

body than this to cope with the added milk that more than 90 percent of North Americans and

Australians prefer mixed with their espresso, then you’ll have to wait until the research at Mountain

Top coffee regarding a completely new way of processing and storing natural coffees is finished.

Have I tempted you yet???




As we have seen, tasting coffee for espresso is different than tasting for

other coffees. I learned this when I attended my first Cup Of Excellence

tasting competition.

Just like the Italian guy before me, I seemed to closer together. Recently I was involved in a

be out of step. I was marking those coffees that vertical coffee tasting where raw coffee in the

had low acidity, very highly; whereas eve1yone form of parchment had been stored in climate

else seemed to mark them down. That Italian controlled containers. These were coffees that

guy was one of the main tasters for the Italian were harvested over about seven years and each

company, Lavazzaa, nd tasted the coffees, just vintage was stored separately.E vent hough this

as I had done, with espresso in mind. One thing is a common occurrence in the wine world it

about most coffee professionals from Italy, is is very rare in the coffee world. As it happened,

that they do know espresso, so I didn’t feel so some of the older vintage coffees tasted better

bad about my marks. than the more recent ones. There is so much

Whereas, some professional tasters dilute more to be done in this area.

their espresso shots with a little hot water, Whichever way you look at it, espresso is

I always prefer to taste espresso as straight all about tasting and there is no tasting espresso

espresso because when you see God in that tiny without the barista. Which leads us to our final

cup, it is worth the thousands of other inferior pillar of the espresso world

ones. Professional olive oil tasters apparently

only taste about six oils at a sitting because

the oils are so powerful on their palate, that

they desensitize their tastebuds. So don’t be

surprised if you can’t taste too many espresso

shots before your taste buds become jaded.

As coffee professionals and drinkers become

more aware of the breadth of tastes associated

with coffee, the wine and coffee worlds come




So what is the definition of espresso coffee anyway?

We’ve come this far and still haven’t actually defined it. Is it

a particular grind, as an aging wine-tasting authority once

pronounced prior to a coffee tasting competition? Or, as a

leading barista trainer for a very large coffee company boldly

pronounced during this same competition, is it a particular

roast color? Or, as a barista once earnestly told me, is it

coffee made through an espresso machine that has simply

been pressedth,a t is to say,t he coffee grounds are so tightly

packed that they are pressed together as they expand during

the brewing process?

Espresso is defined as a single cup of coffee that is made

expressly for you. (For the purpose of this discussion, I am

putting the Maka espresso pot to one side for the moment.)

In other words, it is definitely not a 15-cup pot of filter

coffee that has been sitting on a hotplate for an hour or

more. It is a coffee that is extracted, in most cases, relatively

quickly (in about 20-30 seconds). This certainly is an express

train in comparison to the four or five minutes it takes to

brewa Frenchp ress or standard drip-filterc offee. Finallyi,t

is coffee that is extracted using more than one atmosphere

of pressure( gravity)A. ndt hat is about as far as I’ll go. You

can get more technical definitions from a textbook.



When it comes to making great espresso, the barista must have a feel

for it. I often get frustrated when making espresso for myself because the

results are often disappointing. For this reason, it is always nice to have

someone else make the espresso for me because that way, I haven’t risked

any of my own mental and emotional capital. Then, if it isn’t quite perfect

there is less disappointment. By the same token, it will inevitably occur

that some baristas will always seem to make a consistently better espresso

than others, even when using the same coffee and same equipment.

One barista who always seems to do a better

espresso is a guy by the name of MickK ielyH. e

is a young barista who came to me wanting to

learn more about coffee roasting, and has since

become responsible for making all the espresso

shots for testing every batch of coffee we roast.

It turns out that in Mick’s thirst for more

coffee knowledge he does what he feels is right

for a particular coffee. He has never competed

in a competition or received an award. He just

does his thing behind the espresso machine.

He doses less or more and plays around until

he feels he is getting the best out of a particular

coffee. By doing this, he consistently makes

a better coffee than some of the more longstanding

espresso people I know. This is surely

a case of blending a bit of science with the oldschool

intuitive traditional barista approach of

evaluating what looks and feels right. It involves

continually experimenting with different pour

times, different roasts, different coffees and

different machines. He uses a bit of the scientific

approach as well in that he builds an empirical

data base of what works and what doesn’t

work. Unfortunately so far the data remains

in his head, since he has yet to be published in

any scientific or coffee journal. This, I believe,

represents the resurgence of the European or

traditional Italian barista approach. By contrast,

the barista who just stands behind one machine


and only makes coffee one way, by pressing one button, is taking a completely different path.

A path that may work at a large chain, but the barista may have no true idea of what goes into

making the perfect espresso or have an understanding of the product and how different

varieties, and different processing and roasting methods affect the brewing.

This habit of tasting coffee as soon as it comes out of the roaster is a great fast-track way

to learn about espresso. I first started doing this way back when I opened my first espresso bar.

Immediately after roasting the coffee I would have a barista brew it while I was roasting the next

batch and the roast profile was fresh in my mind. The barista who first started helping me do this

was Emily Oak. She now has her own espresso company and is the Asia Pacific Coordinator for the

WorldB arist a Championship.T here’s no telling where the hunt for great espresso can lead you.

Even at the World Barista Championship, there are baristas who have just learned one routine.

Almost like a robot, they repeat the performance while describing all kinds of wonderful taste

sensations you can expect to experience. Sadly, too often they don’t seem to appear in the cup.

Fortunately all the baristas who have gone on to win the World Barista Championship have gone

the extra step in striving to achieve a better tasting espresso by searching, experimenting and

tasting. There is no doubt this has helped to set them apart from the rest of the field. All these

winning baristas have since gone on to become coffee professionals, gaining knowledge well

beyond the barista field by exploring the coffee roasting and growing fields as well. This is a very

healthy trend, and a breath of fresh air in comparison to the old school commodity based nature

of the coffee industry.



Amongst baristas, there are those who continue to put forward their own

DFOs; many of these I have come to question through the years. One that

I am particularly perplexed by is the one that an aging barista trainer once

proudly proclaimed about throwing away the first few precious drops of

the espresso pour. I also question why some insist that the best extraction

time for an espresso shot must be exactly 28 seconds, not a second more

or a second less.

Why are there so many Date Free Observations clean, the best tasting espresso is in the first few

in the barista world -especially when you can let drops. Test it for yourself. Because I have never

taste be your guide and can easily disprove many

of these observations as ridiculous so easily?

Actuallyi, t is no different within the

growing world, where unknowledgeable

tasted an exception to this rule ever!

So, instead of throwing away the first, few

drops of espresso, which are inevitablyt he best,

try cleaning your machine properly instead. That’s

growers are unaware of how their actions affect where my friends at Cafetto come into theirown.

the flavor of their coffee. And, it is no different (They are a specialist manufacturer of cleaning

to coffee roasters who try to determine the flavor products for espresso brewing equipment.) They

potential of their coffee by biting into a roasted are as passionate about great cleaning products

bean rather than using a spectrophotometer.

The only explanation I can surmise for

throwing away the first few drops of extracted

for espresso machines as the most passionate

barista is about getting his or her extraction right.

In fact, just like the best baristas, Cafetto are

espresso coffee is that initially, sometimes continually exploring how they can improve and

espresso can taste bitter when it is tainted by develop their products to make espresso coffee

the rancid oil build-up in a dirty machine. But taste as good as it possibly can. I actually believe

that doesn’t have to happen. If your machine is that one of the greatest issues facing the global


(Top to bottom)

Cafetto espresso cleaner is

essential for clean tasting

espresso. You can taste the

rancid build-up in a machine

very quickly unless it is

thoroughly cleaned.

-The machine ‘tooth’ brush

cleaning out the coffee

grounds that get stuck in the

group-head seal.


Scottie Callaghan World Latte

Art Champion 2006 pours one

of his unique milky coffees.

coffee industry (and holding back sales), is dirty coffee equipment. Sounds pretty simple, but too

many baristas neglect the fact that coffee oils go rancid very quickly, and a day’s build up at a busy

cafe is enough to spoil the next day’s coffee for sure- or even the afternoon’s flavor.

As for a 28-second extraction time, it is ridiculous to insist on one extraction time to suit

all coffees just because it is linked to the volume you want to end up with. If you only want a halfounce

(15 ml) shot, it will take less time than a 2/3-ounce (20 ml) shot and less time again than a

standard 1-ounce (30 ml) classic espresso shot.

Some coffees, like Mountain Top Coffee, taste better when they look like they are almost

being over-extracted that is, it drips really slowly- taking much longerthan is usually accepted

for most other espresso shots to brew. My hypothesis on this is that it may have to do with an

increased wood fiber content due to its unusual growing environment. The wood fibers within the

coffee grinds have to be squeezed harder than normal to extract the oils trapped within. When this

issue was mentioned to a second-generation green coffee broker in Trieste, Italy, he dismissed it as

unacceptable. This was because, he believed that all coffees should behave according to the standard

formula that he and his espresso colleagues insisted was correct. Therefore, all espresso coffees

should pour in the standard time allocated. (It is important to remember that the intrinsic coffee

can be very different from bean to bean. As a result, one universal extraction time will not allow

the intrinsic flavors of the varying coffee beans to emerge.) This is a classic example of not tasting

widely enough and not letting taste be the sole arbiter of standards, because interestingly enough,

in this case, you don’t taste any woodiness. Instead you taste the rich, viscous coffee oils that seem

to get extracted out of the wood fibre.

If a coffee bean is 80-85 percent wood fiber, it will normally show up in your espresso cup

eitherthrough a roasting fault or if you let your espresso pour too long. Not only that, it will taste

like you have squeezed watery sap out of a tree. It will taste increasingly astringent and thin. (Not

that I have ever squeezed watery sap out of a tree, but that is how I imagine it anyway). Surprisingly,

despite the wood fiber found in the Mountain Top bean, you can’t detect any woodiness in the cup.

Once again, taste is the guide.



I have had a great tasting espresso coffee that has taken up to 40 seconds

to pour and I have had great tasting espresso coffee that has taken as little

as 20 seconds to pour. (This is the time from when the button is pressed

to when the coffee finishes pouring). So forget about that 28-second

extraction time.

The time I experienced the 40-second pour, it

was a Nicaraguan Maragogype that was lightly

roasted for espresso, yet had a particularly nutty

taste them separately you will never do a lungo

(long) pour again. Hardcore traditional espresso

drinkers will always prefer this part of the shot

character. What I have come to understand is that simply because it tastes better.

coffee that is more lightly roasted also seems to But once you have got your espresso shot

be able to stand a slower, more dripping pour and close to perfection, you will find it is simply not

a higher brewing temperature. This probably has enough. I mean not enough liquid. A half an

something to do with the extra-extraction that

occurs in a longer pour. It is, in effect, cooking

or burning the coffee grinds slightly more.

The surprising thing is that, in order to

make a short black espresso, we instinctively

seek increasingly powerful machines and pull

a shorter espresso shot. But one of the helpful

things I learned years ago at the SCAAE spresso

Lab, is how to break up a single espresso shot.

Once you dissect it into three parts (i.e. 3, halfounce

parts), you will only desire the first third.

This relates to the issue of the first few drops of

espresso from a machine tasting better. If you


ounce (15-20 mis) of espresso and crema,

tastes great, but it is not a very satisfying

volume. Consequently you will very quickly

gravitate straight to a double or doppio shot

in order to achieve a slightly more satisfying

volume. So there we have it. A doppio ristretto

if you please! The standard shot for fellow,

coffee Holy Grail hunters …

However, some people will argue that a

double shot (or two half-ounce shots) is a waste

of ground coffee no matter what the pour time

is. I am not quite sure what the logic is behind

their argument. For me, this issue begins and


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ends with what tastes great. If it tastes better

by using more coffee, then use more coffee.

I am sure the coffee roasters and growers will

love you for it anyway. And even though there

are some guidelines for extraction times,

such as the World Barista Championship’s

25-35 ml in 20-30 seconds, or lily’s 30-second

( +/-5 seconds), there is enormous room for

variation way beyond these normal parameters,

depending on the coffee. In the end, I say ifit

tastes great, drink it, and forget the rules.

Even though straight espresso has

become my preferred drink of choice, it

is worth considering what happens for the

majority of espresso drinkers who enjoy their

espresso mixed with milk. Outside Italy, the

majority of espresso drinks, as we in these

markets know only too well, involve buckets

of milk. Who knows what other added flavors

are used to disguise the often, bitter swill

commonly served as a form of espresso coffee.

It is, of course, just as essential to get your

basic espresso shot right so that you enjoy the

full potential of the milk-based espresso drinks

as well. I am definitely an anti-snob when it

comes to how people enjoy their espresso

drinks. As I have found with decaf and Robusta,

I am completely open-minded now, and if

someone enjoys a decaf soy latte, then they

should not be treated like a second-class citizen

because of their preference. Also bear in mind,

that over the centuries, really weird stuff, not

just sugar and milk, has been added to perfectly

well-extracted coffee. Things like salt, eggshells

and fish bones have been earnestly added to

coffee. Interestingly, there may have been sound

reasons why such weird stuff has been added.

Salt will mute bitterness. If you surf for a couple

of hours (in saltwater obviously) and afte1wards

you have a drink of unadulterated plain water, it

will taste quite sweet even though the drinking

water itself is quite neutral. The salt alters how

your palate perceives another simultaneous taste.

Eggshells and fish bones are alkaline, and

alkalinity reduces the effect of acidity on your

palate. If you’re like me, and you don’t enjoy

excessivea cidity,m aybey ou should try eggshells

and coffee. Now that is going to really raise a

barista’s eyebrows. “Hey I’ll have my espresso

short, my eggs over easy and don’t hold back

on the eggshells.” But really, if someone enjoys

their espresso with additives like plain sugar

or milk, as long as it is not making up for bad

tasting espresso, it should still be a world free of

Taste-Nazism aking people feel uncomfortable

for liking their coffee in a way that is different

from a perceived norm. I am all for coffee

diversity and I would like everyone, myself

included, to be able to more consistently enjoy

the full potential of the natural espresso flavor

that lies locked away inside the mystical bean

-and then add whatever stuff you like.


It is sad when people say they don’t bother ordering coffee because they don’t want to be

disappointed. The most common cause again of this dirty-tasting espresso is simple unclean and

poorly maintained equipment. It’s definitely a worthwhile challenge to keep your machine clean and

get your basic building block right for all milk based drinks: the espresso shot poured right!


On the subject of crema and volumes, many coffee aficionados, as I

have mentioned, can waste vast amounts of time talking about angelson-

pinpoint type of subjects. Whether you measure your espresso shot

including the crema or not, is yet another one of these subjects.

For what it is worth, I always include the crema

in my measurement now, even though I was

trained not to do so. This is always going to

be problematic because the amount of crema

will va1y between different coffees. Sumatra

Mandheling will produce significantly more

crema than many other Arabicas. Robusta, of

course, produces more crema than Arabica.

Crema that is produced from coffee that is too

immature less than four days from roasting

will be uncontrollably volatile. It will surge up

to the top of your little cup, only to rapidly fade

away to almost nothing. During the brewing,

this volatility will also cause the over agitated

tiny suspended coffee particles to be burned in

your portafilter. As a result, the crema will have


large bubbles and a darker burnt appearance.

This also adversely affects the flavor and makes

the espresso taste a little harsher.

There are all sorts of practical problems

when programming standard liquid volumes in

espresso machines with or without the inclusion

of crema. The older ( or more stale) the coffee,

the less depth of crema wi II be produced. If your

machine is programmed with older coffee, your

cup will run over when the portafilter is filled

and coffee brewed with a more immature roast.

Conversely, if you program it with fresh coffee,

your volumes will be lower when you brew with

older coffee. From day to day we never brew with

coffee at the same point of freshness or density

since it changes on a daily basis. Herein lies a

problem for consistency; that is, unless you relax

a little and eyeball your volume.

Crema quality has another interesting

aspect. As I mentioned before, the arrogant

own, as most baristas do, when I first tried to

perfect the pouring of a rosetta. By heating

milk to a temperature no higher than 140°F

(60°(), milk becomes sweeter. The first time

barista from my introduction, trained people in I tasted this I was amazed that milk could be

such a way that they produced an excellent fine enhanced so dramatically and pleasantly. Any

crema by using finer ground coffee and a lighter hotter than this, and the milk starts to change. It

tamp. When coffee beans have been aged slightly becomes wate1y and declines in taste quality. This

in optimum conditions, this will also contribute becomes painfully evident if you t1y producing

to a finer textured crema. So, fineness is related

to particle size as well as freshness. A coarse,

French press grind, for instance, will produce a

coarse or large bubble crema once it has been

thoroughly stirred.

Once it is in the cup, the crema gives all kinds

ofother clues to the trained barista’s eye. For

example, if it is too light, the brewing temperature

may have been too low. Or if it disappears too

quickly, the particle size may have been too

large, thereby allowing the water through the

coffee grinds without enough resistance to

sufficiently agitate the precious coffee oils and

particles. If there are distinct dark streaks, it

could mean that there is too much coffee, too

fine a grind or too hot a brewing temperature.

Even when you get it right, properly

prepared crema will usually taste slightly

more distinct than the coffee liquor below it.

Another revelation worth mentioning

is the relationship between milk-steaming

techniques and crema. I learned this on my

any beautiful advanced latte art patterns with

overheated milk and crema. You simply won’t

be able to get clearly defined patterns. Another

lesson I learned along the way is that if the milk

is poured in too quickly, the crema will break up

and be dispersed throughout the coffee. This

tends to make a sweeter milk-based drink than

one where the crema hasn’t been integrated

into the milk.

For milk-based espresso drinks to retain

some semblance of coffee flavor, there must

be a correct ratio of coffee to milk. What many

coffee companies will do is recommend a darker

roast to achieve a perceptible coffee flavor under

the buckets of milk. Unfortunately, the darker

the roast, the more bitter the coffee flavor will

be, due to the natural sugars in the bean being

increasingly caramelized. If you want a smooth

milk-based espresso experience with good

coffee body, go for a lighter northern Italian

espresso roast, (approximately 48 on the wholebean

Agtron scale). This roast is also referred to


Rosettas and hearts are

now basic patterns that any

self-respecting barista can

pour freely.

in other parts of the world as a medium, high or continental roast. Then stick to the ratio of one

part coffee to four parts milk/froth (i.e. one ounce of espresso coffee shot to four ounces of milk

and froth). So there we have it- The traditional five-ounce (150 ml) cappuccino. If you want a 10-

ounce cup, use two shots of coffee. For a l 5-ounce cup, use three shots, and so on.



When it comes to water, the most basic building block for making any

coffee,I wasa mazeda t how muchd ifferenceit canm akea fterc onducting

testsw ith Cirqua®C ustomizedW ater while in KansasC ity,M issouri n 2004.

We tasted the same coffee in a French press pot with three different types of water. One was the

local tap water (which would be different in every city in the world), another one was the ideal

formula recommended by Cirqua (3-4 grains of hardness and 150 mg/L total dissolved solids)

and the third was the reverse of the recommended formula. I could have sworn that I tasted three

completely different coffees. One was bad, one was OK, and the other was really good. The bad

one was the reverse water, the OK one was the tap water, and the really good one was Cirqua ideal

formula water. There is no doubt that it is extremely important to start with quality water. And that

requires much more than putting a simple filter underneath your sink, because it will depend on

your local area as to how hard or soft the water is and how consistent. That is why water systems

such as Cirqua are essential in the quest to consistently repeat a desirable espresso flavor.

Water with some mineral content tastes more complex and interesting than pure or distilled

water. Distilled water tends to taste flat. This is reflected through the coffee as well. I have heard of

some espresso companies recommending up to 6 grains of hardness, but of course this results in

machine cleaning issues as scale build-up will be greater. That is why an espresso cleaning company

like Cafetto is so important or otherwise your espresso machine will very quickly under-perform.




The next piecet o get right is the grind, and that requiresa qualityc offee

grinder.B uyinga n espressom achinew ithout a grinderi s like buyinga car

without a steering wheel.

It is imperative that the coffee is ground just

prior to brewing to ensure freshness, and that

the coffee is ground consistently. This is nonnegotiable,

and is definitely essential. Anyone

who buys coffee pre-ground for espresso is

kidding themselves. This is simply because

within a two-hour period after the coffee is

ground, a large percentage of the volatile carbon

dioxide and flavor aromas will have dissipated.

Not only that, but it will be almost impossible

to properly adjust the critical flow rate to

produce a great espresso. This is because coffee

grounds are hygroscopic, and once they absorb

moisture, they quickly swell up, thus altering

different porta-filters in relation to the level

that the spray-head protrudes down. But once

you have established that, adjusting the grind

is a bit like turning on a tap. The coarser grind

is similar to turning the tap on and increasing

the flow of water, while the finer grind is like

gradually turning the tap off. When the coffee

grinds are too fine, there is no space for the

water to flow through. As a result, nothing

flows out. By increasing the coarseness of the

coffee, the water will flow more quickly through

the coffee grounds and into your cup. But it is

always a juggling act to tweak the grind to get

the right flow of water to extract the maximum

your extraction rate. You will forever be chasing flavor of each coffee. As a guide, the espresso

phantoms trying to get it right. It is hard enough liquid should start flowing within four to five

as it is without making it even more difficult

than it needs to be.

It is essential to work out the correct

volume of ground coffee required in your

particular filter-insert. This is done by filling it

until the coffee grounds just touch the sprayhead

when the porta-filter is locked into place.

Keep in mind that different machines will have

seconds after activating your machine button,

not allowing for any pre infusion setting in the

machine. Grinders come in all shapes and sizes,

from huge commercial roller grinders that cost

as much as the average house, through various

cafe style grinders, to the tiny little antique hand

grinder. What is most important with grinding,

apart from getting the grind correct, is the heat


Grinders do their important

work allowing the release

of elusive navor molecules

as well as the volatile aroma

genies. Coffee aroma is one of

the most universally attractive

aromas for human beings.

(Opposiptea ge)

A grinder burr which allows

a slower RPM thus avoiding

overheating the precious

sweet coffee navor molecules.



Grinding; dosing; levelling

and tamping.

Don’t be afraid of using as

much coffee as it takes to

make a great tasting coffee

just like an artist would with

his or her paints.

that is generated. The big industrial roller grinders work like a waterfall. As the beans fall between

two big opposing rotating rollers they begin to crack. They then fall through another set of smaller

rollers to further crush the cracked coffee. Finally, the coffee passes through another set of even

smaller rollers to produce a consistent fine espresso grind. These machines can be very expensive,

but this design is aimed at avoiding heat and maximizing the uniform size of the ground coffee

particles. The reason heat is bad for coffee is that it causes the flavor in the coffee to deteriorate.

In most successful cafes they use conical burr grinders since Paul Bassett won the 2003 World

Barist a Championshipu sing one. Conicalb urr grinders (like the CompakK lO)a re used instead

offlat blade grinders because they spin more slowly and produce less heat, which allows the coffee

to taste better. Roller grinders produce less heat than conical grinders, but they are too expensive

for cafe or home use. By using the old-fashioned antique grinders, as long as the burrs are well

enough machined, even less heat is generated! So grandma actually got something right! The worst

thing you can do with grinding coffee is use really cheap electric blade grinders. These grinders

have a single blade that spins like a food processor. These will chop the coffee rather than grind it,

and will produce an uneven grind. You’ll pull your hair out trying in vain to get a consistent grind

for espresso and you will never win. They are OK for the French press pot or drip filter, but not

for Formula One pump espresso! In any case, using whole coffee beans and a good burr grinder is

essential in the pursuit of great espresso coffee.



How to keep coffee fresh until ready to use, has been the subject of many

discussions. Some people say coffee beans should be stored in an airtight

containeri n a cool darkp laces ucha s a cupboardO. therss ayy ou musts tore

yourc offee beans in an airtightc ontaineri n a refrigeratorM. osts ayn ever

to freeze coffee. At least everyone agrees that coffee should be kept airtight.

The theory behind storing coffee is that when

you heat a chemical reaction, it will speed up

the reaction, and when you cool it you will slow

the reaction. The loss of CO2 gas from coffee

is in effect a chemical reaction. The CO2 takes

with it volatile coffee aroma and vital flavor

characteristics.T hisp rocess begins the moment

roasting is completed and will be accelerated

by the greater amount of heat and oxygen that

are present. Everyone agrees too much heat is

bad for storing roasted coffee and that a cooler

temperature will slow up the loss of vital coffee

flavor components. However, the fundamental

question is how much cooler?

Blind taste tests I have conducted with

my team in our roasting factory revealed that

coffee that has been stored for up to ten weeks

in a refrigerator, will taste remarkably better

than coffee stored in a cupboard at an ambient

temperature for the same period ofome. I have


even had coffee that has been frozen for five

weeks and when thawed, tasted better than

coffee stored in an airtight pack in a cupboard.

Let’s start with freezing coffee. The main

arguments against freezing are ( l) there is no

aroma in the coffee when it is frozen, (2) smells

from other items in the fridge affect the flavor

of the coffee, and (3) condensation forms on

the beans and adversely affects the coffee oils.

There is definitely less aroma from frozen coffee

beans immediately after removing them from

the freezer. But that is because the release of CO2

has been slowed down dramatically. Once the

coffee is allowed to thaw for an hour or two, the

aroma is there to enjoy.C ertainlya, s I mentioned

above, the taste can be there too. After all, isn’t

that what we are chasing?

Further, if the beans are in an airtight

storage container, then they can’t be affected

by smells from other items in the fridge.


So that eliminates argument number two.

When it comes to condensation, it may become

problematic if the coffee is being taken in

and out of the freezer repeatedly. But as I say,

in the taste test we conducted, it was better

after allowing for thawing. In regards to

refrigeration, the same arguments apply.

If you are storing coffee in unsealed bags,

however, it will lose flavor regardless of where

it is stored the cupboard, refrigerator or the

freezer. And if coffee is sealed in a pack with

oxygen, likewise, it won’t matter where it is

stored. I twill still deteriorate rapidly.

Some roasters de-gas the coffee beans prior

to packing them. To me, this is a euphemism for

saying the coffee is made stale before packing.

If coffee is sealed immediately after roasting,

the CO2 from the coffee will flood the pack to

bursting point unless there is a one-way valve on

the pack. The one-way valve is designed to allow

the CO2 out so the bag doesn’t burst, and it stops

any oxygen from getting in to stale the coffee.

My practical preference is for coffee that

has been packed immediately after roasting and

aged between one to three weeks in an oxygenfree

pack in a constant air-conditioned room

at around 75°F (24 °C). To me, this allows the

crema to stabilize and taste less harsh. Likewise,

it allows the coffee flavors to synthesize and

become smoother and more integrated. Perhaps

this is not dissimilar to aging a wine.

Degassing, or staling the coffee slightly

prior to packing, will enable the espresso to be

a little more stable when it is being brewed up

to seven days afterwards. What some roasters

try and do is deliver the coffee within a few days

of the roasted date, claiming that this is the

best way to experience fresh coffee. I believe

this maybe okay when it comes to drip coffee,

but it opens a Pandora’s Box when it comes

to espresso. One of the problems is that if the

coffee has only been heat-sealed without any

vacuum or inert gas inserted, the pack will

contain 20 percent oxygen. As a result, the

coffee actually stales in the pack and you lose

the full potential and intensity offlavor.

The other problem is that the ambient

temperature where the pack is stored, will

actually affect the volatility more than the

number of days since roasting. This is because,

as we know, when we heat a chemical reaction,

we speed it up so a higher ambient temperature

will accelerate the release of CO2 . As a result, the

coffee will stale more quickly. On top of this,

regardless of how it is packed, coffee will be

adversely affected if the temperature fluctuates

too much. The ideal way to store coffee is at a

constant temperature so the oils don’t move

around too much in the coffee bean and

become rancid. Maybe this is why some people

recommend putting it in a cupboard to try and

even out the temperature fluctuations.


A coffee ‘cake’ or ‘puck’

should be nice and firm when

you finish so you can break

it like a cookie. This is a sign

that the flavor has been well

extracted and ‘pressed’ out

into your cup.

A coffee ‘cake’ or ‘puck’ up

close and personal. The steam

is still rising and hopefully

someone is simultaneously

enjoying an espresso made

expressly for them.

I believe to alleviate this problem ideally, a constant air-conditioned temperature should be used.

Dr. Illy developed the pressurized can so that the pressure around the bean inside the can stops

the CO2 from leaving the bean and seasons the coffee. In other words, this method allows the oils

and volatile aromatics to stay within the bean, thus enabling the flavor to become better integrated.

This is also a way to extend the shelf life, maximizing flavor for the extended time between when

the coffee is roasted and when it makes its way to his customers’ palates around the world.

The volatility of the CO2 affects crema, and therefore flavor. There are baristas who dose coffee

differently according to the number of days since roasting. According to them, each day will get its

own respectived ose volume. Basicallyw, hat this does is allow more head space between the top

of the coffee grinds and the spray head in the machine where the water comes out. The amount of

head space is related to how much CO2 gas is released. If there is more gas, they leave more space.

Certainlyif y ou everg et your handso n ScottC allaghan’sd osingt ools (whicha re a serieso f 30, rounded

scrapers that range from a flat edge to almost a semi-circle), and systematically play with the

dosing, you will find a huge difference in flavor from cup to cup. I have had plenty of espressos that

have tasted good when the coffee is less than seven days since roasting and the dosing has been

lower to allow more head-space for the volatile CO2 . A coffee that is only a couple of days old, can

taste better when it is slightly under-dosed. But to me it doesn’t reach its fullest potential, which,

I believe, can only be realized if it is kept longer in the right conditions. In my opinion there is even

more potential flavor to be gained by aging coffee correctly.

Most of the best espresso coffees I have tasted have had a more integrated flavor when the

coffee has been stored in an oxygen-free environment, in either a vacuum pack or inert gas-flushed

pack, and has been allowed to mature for a couple of weeks at a stable cool temperature. The

flavor becomes more smooth and rich, avoiding the harshness and hardness that more volatile,

immature espresso coffees display.

So, it is not a simple case of fresh being a few days from roasting versus stale coffee being

older. It is probably better to think of it in terms of volatile coffee versus mature coffee. In the

factory, we taste coffees immediately after roasting to ensure quality control. The trouble with this

is the crema is very volatile and won’t taste as it would when it is more stable later on. The only

other way coffee can be fresh, is if it is stored in a completely oxygen-free environment at a low

and stable temperature. A stable room temperature of75°F (24°C) would mean the coffee would

be mature, with a more stable crema and a more integrated, smooth flavor between one to four


weeks. If the coffee is refrigerated, it will

further extend the volatility by slowing down

the chemical reactions and CO2 release and

these time-frames will change accordingly.


Too much coffee oil pressed

out in your filter-insert after

knocking out the spent coffee

can be a clue that the coffee

has been over-extracted.

A thermo-block is a bit like an

engine block with channels

in it to heat the water quickly.

A very cost effective home

version machine.



One of the reasons the espresso industry attracts an extremely eclectic

mix of personalities is that, unlike wine where anyone can open a bottle,

a relativelyc omplexm achine is needed to convertb eans to a liquidd rink.

Given the vagaries of extraction, and the intricacies of the brewing process,

people with a very high engineering intelligence seem to gravitate towards

espresso equipment. There are continual developments when it comes to

espresso machines, although sometimes it seems we go around in circles.

One of the recent developments with espresso

machines has been as a result of a focus on

a stable and constant brewing temperature.

Unfortunatelyw, hat I havef ound with machines

that have a very stable brewing temperature,

is that the coffee flavor tends to become rather

hard and metallic. My theoty on this is that too

constant a temperature actuallyh as a negative

effect on flavor. Here’s why …

If you look at coffee grounds under a

microscope, the particles will appear very

different in size. The variation in size creates

a seemingly random matrix which enhances

flavor. I have heard it said that when coffee

grounds are too uniform in size, instead of

improving the flavor it actually declines. When I

combined that thought with the idea that coffee

with a good variation in roast color inside the

bean seemed to have a more complex flavor, I

thought of all the outstanding coffees that I had

ever enjoyed and that perhaps what helped was a

temperature curve where the temperature varied

from start to finish rather than staying constant.

When this was put to the test using the

Scace measuring tool, which is possibly the most

accurate espresso tool for measuring espresso

brewing temperature, it appeared some machines

known for their constant brewing temperature

actually increase in temperature throughout 20

30 seconds of extraction. The ones that tasted

the best, were the ones where the temperature

steadily declined a few degrees from start to finish,

and did so consistentlyT. hat is, the same brewing

profile repeated itself consistently. Many new


( I

~ •., . ,

.. fl. •· (‘


•• . .

~- . ..


machines will brew at constant set temperatures throughout the brewing cycle. At each respective

set temperature, different flavors will emerge. By having a varied temperature during extraction, it

follows that you can bring out more of the delightful variations and complexity in flavor that only

become apparent through the different degrees. This is a bit like my preference for a medium rare

steak where there is a different range of cooked meat within the steak that creates more complexity

in the overall flavor.

Now perhaps it is more apparent given all the complexity of espresso, why it might be so

difficult to get an automatic espresso machine to do a great job. It is very difficult for an automatic

machine, even with all their adjustments, to adapt to the enormous and ever-changing number of

variables and volatility that our complex little coffee beans produce. For the moment, it is a matter

of accepting the limited range of adjustments that can be made on an automatic machine. I am sure it

won’t be long before an automatic machine will be developed that can help achieve a great extraction.

Until that happens, we must rely on a good barista.

At times, I have experienced a good barista who can make up for a mediocre machine, but even

an expensive, high-tech machine cannot make up for a poor barista. So regardless of the equipment

you may have at your disposal, keep it really clean and start experimenting. Maybe you will find the

limits of your equipment and feel the need to upgrade, but above all, experiment and taste always.


Coffee exploding out of a

‘naked portafilter’ where

the spouts have been cut off.

There is mind-blowing action

going on with espressoc offee




To be a champion you have to know more about espresso coffee.

More than the judges who are judging you.

The good thing about the World Barista

Championship competition is that it is inspiring

many young people around the world to explore

what it takes to make a great espresso coffee.

There are many different styles of espresso

flavor: mild, light and acidic; tangy and fruity;

heavy-bodied and earthy and syrupy and

chocolaty. And at the risk of over generalizing,

in different parts of the world, there are some

broad brush international styles: traditional

Italian espresso tends to be heavy bodied, low

acid and syrupy; Nordic espresso tends to be

preferred as a very light acidic style; America,

like Australia and New Zealand, tends to be

more varied with some dark roast espresso

styles thrown in for good measure. It is very

hard to appeal to all taste preferences of the

judges who come from varied taste backgrounds

from all around the world. My advice is to get

yourown style, the one you really like, and stick

to it. Hopefully it will increase the chances that

you will succeed. And if you don’t, at least you

will stay true to yourself.

A barista who wants to succeed at this level

really needs a good roasting company as a partner.

A bit like Fl racing teams except the barista is

substituted for the driver. This is what Paul Bassett

did after he failed to reach the finals in Oslo at the

WBCin 2002. Hec ame to me and asked me to help

him put an espresso blend together that would

help him win. The next year in Boston in 2003 he

became the World Barista Champion.

It is extremely important to learn as much

as possible about all aspects of coffee, including

factors affecting the development offlavor.

One barista Sasha McGinleyw, ho worked for

me for a couple of years, did just that, and went

on to become a state barista trainer looking

after 50 stores. From there she has gone on to

managing the harvest program for Mountain

Top. Her desire to learn as much as she could

about all aspects of coffee has put her in the

fast lane to becoming one of the world’s

most well-informed baristas. She has helped

Brazilian experts manage a harvest, organized

old farm hands, neighboring farms’ programs,

done sample roasting, conducted professional

cuppings and analysis. Sasha has achieved all this

at the tender age of 21.

The espresso bug is catching. A lot of young


baristas are being drawn into the search for an understanding of what makes a great espresso.

As a result they are beginning a potential life-long pursuit in the world of coffee. I should know,

because here I am looking back after twenty-six years as I write this section in Sao Paolo airport on

yet another trip to Brazil, still searching for the improvements that I know are there to be unlocked.

One of the things my tenure as Executive Director of the World Barista Championship Ltd.

did provide was a glimpse into the truly global nature of espresso. It is not just an Italian drink

anymore. India, China and Asia have a huge percentage of the world’s population, and as their

standard of living continues to increase, they are increasingly embracing espresso coffee too. But

it doesn’t matter if you visit Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia or North America, the presence

of espresso-based coffee is appearing more and more. And, if it is anything like the changes I have

seen in my own home country, it is not going away.

What I have learned in the past twenty-six years, is that the moment you stop seeking to

improve and change what you do, you diminish the chances of seeing Godi1 1yo11respwreps.s Wo hether

it involves formal scientific analysis or not, by continuing on the path of tasting everything you can

and letting your taste be your one and only guide, even if it means breaking all the other rules, then

I am sure you will enjoy yourown Godi1 1yo11respwreps esxop eriences.


Beauty and elegance can be

found in the most unlikely,

everyday espresso cups


Finallyf,o r the budding barista, I present to you insight into how to keep

your espresso simple, and how to maximize the chances of enjoying the full

potential of all the hard work of the agronomist, the grower, processor, and

the roaster- not to mention increasingt he chanceso f experiencingG odin

youre sprescsuop :

Keepy our machine veryc lean! (Alwaysu se Cafettoc leaning powder). Put enough coffee in

your porta-filter so it is full right up to the dispersion screen. Once you press your brew button,

it should take about four or five seconds before you see the coffee liquid start coming out of the

spout. It should then take about twenty to thirty seconds to see about l . ounces ( 45 mis) of coffee

liquid in your cup if you are making a doppio. This includes crema. And when you knock outthe used

coffee grinds afterwards, they should fall out in one piece, like a hockey puck. There you have it.

But these simple instructions will either drive you mad, or make you want to start out on your

own espresso quest like the one I have undertaken for the last two and a half decades. Hopefully it

will inspire you to understand more about the aspects involved in creating a great-tasting espresso,

including the knowledgeo f the grower, the roaster and the barista. Theya ll go into making a Godin

mye sprescsuop e xperienceo ccur consistently.M ayG od be with you!

‘Godi n mye spresswo p’.

This single espresso shot was

made on a home Diamond

Italia machine using a small

Compak 1(3 grinder with coffee

that was 13 days ‘old’ (i.e. 13

days since it was roasted).

I twas stored in an airtight,

impermeable pack with a

residual oxygen of 0.8% at an

average temperature of75°F

(24°C). Barista Scott Callaghan

used dosing tool No. l 0. Let

me assure you, it not only

looks great, ittasted sublime!



Albert Subira and Compak Coffee Grinders

Bob Weagle and Frank Dennis at Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co

Charles Stephans at ECA

Chris Short and Cafetto

Henrique Cambraia and Santo Antonio Estates

Mike Del Zoppo and Diamond C Services

Natalie Risotto

Paul Jackson at Danes Gourmet Coffee

Paul Geshoz and his baristas

Rob Forsyth

Scottie Callaghan

Scott Jones

Sean Edwards Cafe Magazine

Vince Piccolo and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters


During the printing of this book Dr Ernesto Illy died. References were not changed to

speak of him in the past tense out of respect to a man who was a true espresso pioneer.

He was also a humble gentleman who remains an inspiration to all of us who now

follow in his espresso footsteps.




















lnstaurator has been Chairman of the Australian Coffee & Tea Association where he was instrumental

in establishing national barista training standards currently used by Government registered training

organizations. He has also been ExecutiveD irectoro f the WorldB arist a Championship Ltd,E xecutive

Director of what is now known as Danes Gourmet Coffee and Founder and CEO of Michel’s Espresso.

He bid a record US$49p er pound for Brazilianc offee in ‘Cupo f Excellenceauctions. He has helped

set up coffee roasting businesses in North America, japan and Australia. His passion and global

insight provide a unique view into the intense world of espresso coffee. He currently works as an

international coffee consultant and can be contacted at [email protected].



Enhancing Patient and Staff Experience in Hospitals with the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In the healthcare sector, where comfort and care are of utmost importance, hospitals are constantly seeking ways to improve the experience for both patients and staff. The integration of the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine presents a unique opportunity to elevate the hospital environment, offering a comforting and high-quality coffee experience to everyone within its walls. The BW4, manufactured by Thermoplan – the same company that equips Starbucks with their espresso machines, stands as a symbol of quality and reliability in coffee brewing technology.

A Diverse Range of Coffee Options for Everyone

Hospitals serve a wide range of individuals, from healthcare professionals to patients and their families. The BW4 caters to this diversity with an extensive selection of coffee beverages. Whether it’s a strong espresso to reenergize a doctor during a long shift or a gentle latte for a visiting family member, the machine’s versatility ensures that all preferences are met, providing a small but significant comfort in a hospital setting.

Consistent Quality for Comfort and Care

In a hospital, where stress levels can be high, the consistency and quality of coffee served can offer a much-needed sense of comfort. The BW4 ensures that each cup is of the highest standard, providing a reliable source of solace and refreshment. This consistency is key in maintaining a comforting atmosphere in the hospital.

Efficient and Reliable – Suited for Hospital Needs

The non-stop operation of hospitals requires solutions that are efficient and reliable. The BW4’s superautomatic functionality means that quality coffee is available 24/7, meeting the needs of staff and visitors at all hours. This efficiency is crucial, especially during peak times or in high-stress situations where quick and comforting refreshments are needed.

Operational Benefits for Hospitals

1. Ease of Use for Staff: The BW4’s user-friendly interface allows hospital staff to easily operate the machine, ensuring that they can quickly serve themselves and visitors without needing specialized barista skills.

2. Sustainable and Economical: With its automated portion control and efficient ingredient usage, the BW4 helps in reducing waste, aligning with the environmental goals of modern healthcare facilities and aiding in cost management.

3. Durability for High Demand: Designed to withstand high usage, the BW4 is ideal for the busy hospital environment, offering dependable service with minimal maintenance.

4. Compact and Space-Efficient: The BW4’s compact design makes it suitable for various spaces within a hospital, from staff break rooms to waiting areas, optimizing the use of limited space.

Creating a Supportive Environment

1. Enhancing Patient and Visitor Comfort: Offering quality coffee can significantly improve the experience of patients and visitors, providing a comforting touch during potentially stressful times.

2.  Supporting Staff Well-being: Access to high-quality coffee can be a morale booster for hospital staff, offering them a quick respite and appreciation for their hard work.

3. Building Trust and Care: The association with Thermoplan, known for supplying Starbucks, adds a layer of trust and quality to the hospital’s amenities, reflecting the institution’s commitment to providing the best care and comfort.

Conclusion Incorporating the Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into a hospital’s facilities is more than just an enhancement of its coffee services; it’s a step towards improving the overall experience for patients, visitors, and staff. The BW4 offers a reliable, efficient, and comforting element in the hospital environment, aligning with the healthcare sector’s commitment to care and comfort. With the BW4, hospitals can provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere, contributing positively to the well-being and satisfaction of everyone in the facility.

Elevating the Hotel Experience with the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In the hospitality industry, where comfort and luxury are paramount, hotels continually seek innovative ways to enhance the guest experience. The introduction of the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine represents a significant leap in this endeavor, offering a sophisticated coffee experience that can become a hallmark of any hotel. Notably, Thermoplan, the manufacturer of the B&W4, is also the trusted maker of all Starbucks’ espresso machines, a testament to their excellence and reliability in the coffee machine industry.

A Symphony of Coffee Flavors for Every Guest

Hotels cater to a global clientele with diverse tastes and preferences. The BW4 addresses this beautifully with its extensive range of coffee options. From the intensity of a classic espresso to the smoothness of a cappuccino, the machine’s versatility ensures that every guest finds their preferred beverage. This array of choices not only delights guests but also adds a touch of personalized luxury to their stay.

Consistent Excellence In Every Cup

In the world of hospitality, the consistency of service is key to guest satisfaction. The BW4 delivers this by ensuring that each cup of coffee is of the highest quality. This reliability enhances the overall guest experience, making the hotel’s coffee service a point of pride and a reason for guests to return.

Efficiency Tailored for the Hotel Industry

Hotels operate around the clock, and the BW4 is perfectly suited to this environment. Its superautomatic nature means that delicious coffee is available at any time, day or night, catering to guests’ needs with speed and efficiency. This is especially valuable in busy periods such as breakfasts or after dinner, where the ability to serve multiple guests swiftly is crucial.

Operational Benefits for Hotels

1. User-Friendly for Staff: The intuitive interface of the BW4 makes it easy for hotel staff to operate, regardless of their barista skills. This ease of use ensures that all staff can provide guests with high-quality coffee, enhancing service efficiency.

2. Sustainable and Cost-Effective: The BW4’s automated portion control and efficient use of ingredients not only reduce waste but also contribute to the hotel’s sustainability goals and operational cost management.

3. High Durability for Continuous Service: Designed for high usage, the BW4 is ideal for the hotel industry’s demands, offering reliable service with minimal maintenance requirements.

4. Space-Efficient Design: The compact design of the BW4 is a perfect fit for hotels, where space is often at a premium. It can be easily integrated into various settings, from guest lounges to breakfast areas.

Enhancing the Hotel’s Ambiance and Services

1. Creating a Luxurious Atmosphere: Offering premium coffee elevates the perceived value of the hotel, enhancing the luxury experience for guests.

2. Versatile for Various Hotel Spaces: Whether in the lobby, dining area, or executive lounge, the BW4 can adapt to different spaces within the hotel, providing a consistent coffee experience throughout.

3. Guest Engagement and Satisfaction: A superior coffee offering can significantly enhance guest satisfaction, turning a simple coffee break into a memorable part of their stay.

A Mark of Quality and Trust

The fact that Thermoplan is the manufacturer behind Starbucks’ espresso machines speaks volumes about the quality and reliability of the BW4. This association with a globally recognized coffee brand adds an extra layer of trust and prestige to the BW4, making it an even more attractive addition to hotels aiming to offer the best in guest amenities.


Incorporating the Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into a hotel’s amenities is not just an upgrade to its coffee offerings; it’s an investment in guest satisfaction and operational excellence. The BW4 brings a new level of sophistication and efficiency to hotel services, enriching the guest experience and reinforcing the hotel’s commitment to quality and luxury. With the BW4, hotels can offer a distinctive and delightful coffee experience, leaving a lasting impression on guests and elevating the hotel’s reputation in the competitive hospitality market.

Transforming Convenience Stores with the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In the dynamic world of retail, convenience stores play a crucial role in providing quick and easy access to a variety of products. To stand out in this competitive market, embracing innovative solutions is key. This is where the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine comes in, offering a transformative solution for convenience stores looking to elevate their customer experience.

A Spectrum of Delightful Coffee Options

Convenience stores attract a diverse clientele, each with their own unique preferences. The BW4 meets this challenge head-on, offering a wide range of coffee beverages. From robust espressos to smooth lattes, the BW4 ensures every customer finds their favorite brew. This variety not only caters to different tastes but also turns the coffee section into a highlight of the store, encouraging repeat visits.

Consistent Quality In Every Cup

For convenience store patrons, time is of the essence, but so is quality. The BW4 guarantees consistently high-quality coffee, quickly and efficiently. This consistency builds customer trust and satisfaction, making the store a go-to spot for a quick coffee break.

Efficiency and Speed for the Fast-Paced Environment

Convenience stores are synonymous with fast service. The BW4 aligns perfectly with this need, speeding up the coffee-making process without compromising on quality. This efficiency is crucial during peak hours, ensuring that customers are served swiftly and are on their way without unnecessary delays.

Operational Excellence in Convenience Stores

1. Ease of Use: The BW4’s user-friendly interface is ideal for the fast-paced convenience store environment. It allows staff to easily operate the machine, ensuring that even those without barista training can produce excellent coffee.

2. Eco-Friendly and Cost Effective: In an era where sustainability is increasingly important, the BW4’s efficient use of ingredients and automated portion control helps in reducing waste, benefiting both the environment and the store’s operating costs.

3. Durability for High Demand: Designed to handle a high volume of use, the BW4 is perfect for the busy nature of convenience stores. Its robust build minimizes the need for frequent maintenance, ensuring a continuous and reliable service.

4. Compact and Space-Efficient: Given the often limited space in convenience stores, the compact design of the BW4 is a significant advantage, allowing for optimal use of the available area.

Enhancing Customer Engagement and Store Appeal

1. Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere: A high-quality coffee offering can transform a convenience store into a warm and inviting space, encouraging customers to linger and explore other products.

2. Community Hub: Beyond serving great coffee, the BW4 can help convenience stores become local hubs where customers meet, share stories, and enjoy a quick respite from their busy lives.

3. Promotional Opportunities: The coffee area can be used for promotional activities, like loyalty programs or special offers, further driving sales and customer engagement.


Introducing the Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine in convenience stores is more than just an upgrade to their coffee offerings. It’s a strategic move towards enhancing customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and overall store appeal. With the BW4, convenience stores can provide not just products, but an enjoyable experience, fostering customer loyalty and setting themselves apart in the competitive retail landscape.

Elevating Conference Centers with the Thermoplan Black&White 4 (BW4) Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In the world of modern events and conferences, the venue itself plays a pivotal role in shaping the experience for attendees. To create a memorable and welcoming atmosphere, integrating cutting-edge technology can be a game-changer. Enter the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine – an innovation poised to revolutionize conference center settings. Whether you’re envisioning a brand-new coffee haven within the conference center or seeking to elevate an existing setup, the BW4 brings an array of benefits, perfectly aligning with the communal ambiance and networking opportunities at a conference center.

A World of Flavorful Choices

Just as conferences draw diverse groups of individuals, the BW4 caters to a multitude of tastes with its wide array of coffee options. From bold espressos to creamy lattes, this variety is pivotal in a conference center setting. Offering a diverse selection of high-quality coffee beverages can become a focal point for fostering connections, sparking ideas, and stimulating engagement among attendees.

Consistency In Every Cup

Creating a space that’s reliable and comfortable for conference-goers is essential. The BW4 ensures that each cup of coffee served maintains the highest quality, nurturing a sense of trust and satisfaction among attendees. This consistency can turn the conference center coffee corner into a preferred spot for networking, collaboration, and relaxation.

Swift and Efficient Service

Much like conferences themselves, conference centers often witness a surge in visitors within a short timeframe, especially during events, seminars, or meetings. The BW4’s superautomatic functionality accelerates the coffee-making process, ensuring prompt and efficient service. This not only minimizes waiting times but also enhances the overall experience, allowing participants to stay focused on the conference agenda.

Operational Efficiency in Conference Centers

1. User-Friendly Interface: The BW4’s intuitive interface makes it accessible for volunteers or staff to operate, regardless of their barista expertise. This feature ensures that anyone can serve up high-quality coffee with minimal training, a valuable asset in a conference center setting where efficiency is paramount.

2. Waste Reduction and Cost Efficiency: In today’s eco-conscious world, minimizing waste is a priority. The BW4’s automated portion control and efficient ingredient usage lead to reduced waste, benefitting both the environment and the conference center’s budget.

3. Durability and Reliability: Designed for high-volume usage, the BW4 can handle the demands of busy conference events without frequent maintenance requirements. Its reliability guarantees uninterrupted coffee service, keeping attendees refreshed and energized throughout the day.

4. Space Optimization: Conference centers often have limited space available. The BW4’s compact design is ideal for such settings, allowing for efficient utilization of communal areas.

Fostering Community Engagement and Outreach

1. Creating Connections: A quality coffee hub within a conference center can serve as a gathering place for fostering connections, networking, and idea exchange among attendees.

2. Extending Outreach: Beyond conferences, many conference centers also host community events. Offering exceptional coffee can serve as a valuable outreach tool, attracting participants and providing a welcoming environment for community engagement.

3. Fundraising Opportunities: The conference center coffee corner can be utilized for fundraising, with proceeds directed toward various initiatives, projects, or charitable efforts. This not only amplifies the impact of the conference center but also contributes to broader community outreach endeavors.


Incorporating a Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into conference centers presents a unique opportunity to elevate community engagement, operational efficiency, and outreach potential. It goes beyond a simple coffee upgrade; it’s an investment in cultivating a more welcoming, connected, and vibrant conference center community. With the BW4, your conference center can offer an exceptional coffee experience that leaves a lasting impression on attendees, nurturing a sense of unity, collaboration, and innovation in your event space.

Faith Meets Flavor: Transforming Church Gatherings with the Thermoplan Black&White4

Introducing the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine into church settings, whether for establishing a new coffee shop within the church or upgrading an existing setup, offers a plethora of benefits. This machine stands as a beacon of quality and efficiency, aligning perfectly with the communal and welcoming atmosphere of a church.

Enhanced Community Experience

1. Diverse Beverage Options: The BW4 caters to a wide range of preferences with its array of coffee choices, from strong espressos to smooth lattes. This variety is vital in a church setting, where the congregation comprises individuals with varied tastes. Offering a broad selection of high-quality coffee beverages can make the coffee shop a gathering point for fellowship and engagement.

2. Consistent Quality: Consistency is crucial in building a community space. The BW4 ensures every cup is of high quality, fostering a sense of reliability and comfort among the congregation. This consistency can help turn the church coffee shop into a preferred spot for socializing and relaxation.

3. Speed and Efficiency: Churches often see a high influx of people in a short time, especially around services or events. The BW4’s superautomatic nature accelerates the coffee-making process, serving the congregation swiftly and efficiently, reducing wait times, and enhancing the overall experience.

Operational Benefits for Church Coffee Shops

1. Ease of Use: The BW4’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for volunteers or staff to operate, crucial in a church setting where the operators may not be professional baristas. This feature ensures that anyone can make quality coffee with minimal training.

2. Reduced Waste and Cost Efficiency: Automated portion control and efficient ingredient usage lead to reduced waste, which is environmentally and economically beneficial for churches mindful of stewardship and budget.

3. Durability and Reliability: Built for high-volume use, the BW4 is robust enough to handle busy Sunday services and church events, ensuring continuous operation without the need for frequent maintenance.

4. Compact Design: The machine’s compact footprint is ideal for church settings, where space can be a premium, allowing for more effective use of the church’s community areas.

Community Engagement and Outreach

1. Fostering Fellowship: A quality coffee shop can become a hub for fellowship and community building within the church, providing a warm and inviting space for members to connect.

2. Outreach Opportunities: Offering excellent coffee can also be an outreach tool, attracting non-members and providing a welcoming environment for community engagement.

3. Fundraising Potential: The coffee shop can serve as a means for fundraising, with proceeds going towards church missions, projects, or community aid initiatives.


The integration of a Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into church coffee shops or cafes provides a unique opportunity to enhance community engagement, operational efficiency, and outreach potential. It’s more than just an upgrade to a coffee setup; it’s an investment in building a more welcoming and connected church community.

Brewing Success in Catering: The Thermoplan Black&White4 Advantage

Incorporating the Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine into catering services can significantly enhance the quality of service and operational efficiency, offering a superior coffee experience to clients.

Elevated Catering Experience

1. Diverse Beverage Options: The BW4 provides a wide selection of coffee beverages, from classic espressos to creamy cappuccinos, accommodating the varied preferences of guests at catering events. This variety ensures that every guest can enjoy a coffee beverage that suits their taste, adding a personalized touch to the catering service.

2. Consistent Quality Across Events: Consistency is crucial in catering, where reputation is built on reliably excellent service. The BW4 guarantees consistent quality in every cup, ensuring that guests receive the same high standard of coffee at every event, enhancing the caterer’s reputation for quality.

3. Speed and Efficiency in Service: Catering events often serve a large number of guests in a short time frame. The superautomatic nature of the BW4 speeds up the coffee-making process, enabling caterers to serve high volumes of guests efficiently, reducing wait times and enhancing guest satisfaction.

Operational Advantages For Caterers

1. Ease of Use and Training: The BW4’s user-friendly interface simplifies operation, which is particularly beneficial in the catering industry where staff may need quick training for different events. This ease of use ensures high-quality coffee service even with temporary or rotating staff.

2. Reduced Waste and Cost-Effectiveness: Automated portion control and efficient ingredient usage of the BW4 minimize waste, which is both environmentally responsible and economically beneficial, helping caterers manage costs effectively.

3. Durability and Reliability for High-Volume Use: Designed for high-volume output, the BW4 is robust and reliable, essential for the demanding and varied environments of catering events. Its durability ensures consistent performance, event after event.

4. Portable and Compact Design: The compact size of the BW4 is ideal for caterers who often have to set up in different locations and limited spaces. Its portability does not compromise on functionality, making it a versatile option for various event types.

Marketing and Business Growth

1. Enhanced Brand Image: Providing premium quality coffee with a machine like the BW4 can significantly boost a catering company’s brand image. It positions the caterer as a high-end service provider, appealing to clients who seek luxury and quality.

2. Increased Client Satisfaction and Revenue: Offering superior coffee options can lead to higher client satisfaction and the potential for increased revenue. Clients are often willing to pay a premium for exceptional food and beverage services, including high-quality coffee.

3. Flexibility for Themed and Specialty Events: The flexibility of the BW4 allows caterers to offer custom or themed coffee beverages, aligning with specific event themes or client requests, adding a unique and personalized aspect to their service.


Integrating a Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into catering operations presents significant benefits. It enhances the catering experience with a variety of quality coffee options, ensures operational efficiency with its user-friendly and durable design, and contributes to business growth through enhanced brand image and client satisfaction. For caterers looking to elevate their service and stand out in a competitive market, the BW4 offers a compelling solution.

Crafting Excellence: The Thermoplan Black&White4 as the Ultimate Choice for Cafés

The Thermoplan Black&White4 (BW4) superautomatic espresso machine stands out in the competitive café industry for several key reasons, making it a superior choice over other machines in the market. Its unique features, such as modularity, advanced milk frothing system, and the prestigious reputation garnered by being the chosen manufacturer for Starbucks, place it in a league of its own.

Exceptional Features of the Black&White4

1. Modularity for Minimal Downtime: One of the most compelling features of the BW4 is its modular design. This innovative approach allows for individual components to be easily replaced or serviced without the need to dismantle the entire machine. For cafés, this means minimal downtime and disruption. If a part needs servicing or replacement, it can be swiftly exchanged, keeping the machine operational and ensuring continuous service. This reliability and efficiency are crucial in maintaining a steady flow of business.

2. Advanced Milk Frothing System: The BW4’s state-of-the-art milk frothing system is another distinguishing feature. It delivers consistently high-quality, perfectly textured milk foam, essential for a wide range of popular coffee beverages like lattes and cappuccinos. The ability to produce barista-level milk frothing automatically not only enhances the quality of the drinks but also allows for more intricate latte art, adding a touch of sophistication and craftsmanship to each cup. This level of quality can elevate the overall customer experience and satisfaction.

3. Starbucks’ Manufacturer of Choice: The fact that all of Starbucks’ espresso machines are made by the same manufacturer as the BW4 speaks volumes about its quality and reliability. Starbucks, a global leader in the coffee industry, requires equipment that meets its high standards for consistency, reliability, and efficiency. The B&W4’s association with such a reputable brand serves as a testament to its superior performance and durability. For cafes, using a machine that is trusted by a coffee giant like Starbucks can be a significant selling point, reassuring customers of the quality and reliability of the beverages served.

Competitive Edge in the Market

The combination of these features gives the BW4 a competitive edge over other espresso machines in the market:

Reliability and Efficiency: Its modular design ensures that cafes experience minimal operational disruption, which is critical for maintaining customer service and satisfaction.

Quality Assurance: The advanced milk frothing system guarantees a consistently high standard of coffee beverages, which can help in attracting and retaining a discerning clientele.

Brand Prestige: Being associated with a brand like Starbucks adds a level of prestige and trustworthiness, potentially drawing in customers who are looking for a high-quality coffee experience.


The Thermoplan Black&White4’s unique combination of modularity, advanced milk frothing capabilities, and its status as the espresso machine of choice for Starbucks, positions it as an exceptional option for cafes. It’s not just an espresso machine; it’s a comprehensive solution that addresses the critical needs of efficiency, quality, and reliability in the café industry, making it a standout choice over other machines on the market.

Elevating Airport Experiences: How the Thermoplan Black&White4 Transforms Travel

Integrating a Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine in airports can significantly elevate the travel experience for passengers while streamlining operations for airport vendors.

Enhanced Traveler Experience

1. Diverse Beverage Options: This espresso machine provides a wide array of coffee choices, from robust espressos to smooth cappuccinos, catering to the diverse tastes of global travelers. For passengers, especially those in transit or dealing with flight delays, access to a variety of quality coffee beverages is a comforting amenity.

2. Consistent Quality: The Black&White4 guarantees consistent quality in every cup, an important factor for travelers seeking reliable and familiar tastes amidst the stress and unpredictability of travel.

3. Speed and Efficiency: Airports are high-traffic environments where time is of the essence. The superautomatic nature of this machine expedites the coffee-making process, reducing wait times significantly, which is crucial for travelers rushing to catch flights.

Operational Advantages

1. Ease of Use: With its user-friendly interface, the machine is easy for staff to operate, an advantage in airports where quick training of diverse, often multi-lingual staff is required.

2. Reduced Waste and Cost Efficiency: The machine’s automated portion control and efficient ingredient usage reduce waste, leading to environmental and economic benefits – crucial in the context of sustainable airport operations.

3. Durability and Reliability: Designed for high usage, the Black&White4 is robust enough to handle the continuous demand of busy airport locations, minimizing downtime and maintenance needs.

4. Compact Design: Space is a premium in airports. The machine’s compact size allows for efficient use of space, fitting well in various airport settings, from lounges to fast-food counters.

Marketing and Revenue Generation

1. Brand Enhancement: Offering high-quality coffee can improve the airport’s image, associating it with premium services. This can be particularly appealing to business and luxury travelers.

2. Increased Revenue: Premium coffee is often a profitable item. By offering high-quality coffee, airports can see an increase in per-passenger spending, potentially boosting overall revenue.

3. Seasonal Promotions: The versatility of this machine supports the creation of seasonal or themed beverages, which can be synchronized with holidays or cultural events, adding to the airport’s marketing initiatives and enhancing the passenger experience.


Incorporating a Thermoplan Black&White4 superautomatic espresso machine into airport operations can significantly improve the passenger experience by providing convenience, quality, and variety in beverage options. In addition to operational benefits like ease of use, reduced waste, and efficiency, this integration also offers potential for increased revenue and brand enhancement, aligning well with the dynamic and diverse environment of airports.