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The cost of hearing
Monday, December 16, 2013 - 08:53 AM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Last week saw the arrival of my delivery of coffee from Bolivia. Bolivia is a special place for me, somewhere I have visited more than any other non european country, and somewhere I love the coffee and love the people. I have a very long blog post in me about Bolivia (I plan to lock [...]

My First Coffee
Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 02:27 PM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
My First Coffee
A couple of months ago I spent some time at the cafe with Johan and Norbert from Holland as part of Johan’s film project, My First . The little film they made of me is now completed and up on the site . I love their films - they make for pretty addictive viewing for any coffeegeek! In other news, next week sees a couple of lovely coffees becoming available in the cafe for French Press: Rwanda BuF Cafe Red Bourbon, and OCR Worka Woreda washed Yirgacheffe..! These are also available (on request) already as 250g beans if you want some lovely, fruity, floral, fresh coffee at home for Christmas filter!

Christmas Shipping
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 04:16 PM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
We just wanted to send out a quick blogpost to our lovely web shop customers regarding shipping over the holiday and Christmas period. Our last roast and ship day for the year will be Thursday the 19th of December, meaning all orders to be included in the days roast will need to be in before midnight on Wednesday the 18th. The first roast day in the New Year will be Monday the 6th of January with all accrued orders over the Holiday period being roasted and shipped on this day. Subscription wise, if you have an espresso subscription with us, the last instalment of the year will be roasted and shipped on Thursday the 19th of December. Filter subscriptions will be roasted and shipped on the 2nd of January, and the January espresso following on the 16th. Please be aware that Christmas is a very busy time for Royal Mail, and ordering early and allowing as much time as you can for delivery will hopefully avoid any disappointment on Christmas Day! Remember last minute shoppers, you can always grab a gift card to print off and give the lucky recipient as there is no need for postage…

Coffee Blogs I’m Reading
Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 10:39 AM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Coffee Blogs I’m Reading
There was a question on twitter the other day asking what coffee blogs I’m reading, and I think the answer probably requires a blog post. In the past I’ve posted enormous, long lists of blogs that I subscribe to but that probably isn’t helpful if you want to add a couple more to your reading list or go back through the archives of a couple to learn some stuff. I’m going to presume that most people are following both Sprudge and Dear Coffee, I Love You . Cafe Owners: I would recommend following along with Kaffeine’s blog, a cafe in London whose weekly menu blog post has evolved into an ongoing insight into the world of running a busy, successful cafe. Colin Harmon’s blog straddles this and as well as wider industry stuff and should be followed too. Maxwell at Colonna and Smalls also writes often about the ideas and challenges of communicating and serving great coffee, so subscribe to this. Coffee Industry: After a brief hiatus the Coffee Lands blog is back. Subscribe . Learn. Kevin Knox’s blog is great, because it is opinionated and challenging. Do I agree with everything he writes? Actually a surprising amount, but calling it Coffee Contrarian wouldn’t be the best name for it if everyone was supposed to agree with it. Reviews: I also enjoy the rants in between the trip reports over at TheShot , I disagree with him a lot, get exasperated and annoyed by it occasionally but what’s the point of reading things that simply confirm your views rather than challenge them? On the review front – a different approach and a stunning blog worth following or hunting through if you’re travelling is frshgrnd . An eye for design, great photos. Finally I’d recommend following Mike White’s tumblr , which contains simple reviews and brutal honest about the coffee he drinks each day. What did I miss? I miss the days of google reader, which would allow me to organise my list by how regularly they posted and then I’d unsubscribe from dormant blogs. These days my list of blogs in the RSS reader has dropped massively from the days of 150+, but it feels like there just isn’t that much being written out there. If I missed something then tweet me a link! My only request is that you link active, not dormant, blogs that write interesting stuff. If I have missed someone painfully obvious then I will update the blog post and apologise profusely… Related posts: Complete Blog links page Here is a list of coffee blogs I currently subscribe to. It is by no means exhaustive, and is exported out of Google Reader. The list has been trimmed down,... WBC 2011 Sparked by Cindy’s tweet about the WBC accepting Event Hosting proposals for 2011 I thought I’d quickly post about something I’d love to see: WBC held in a producing country.... Blog’s list The complete blogs list has now been updated...

Why we require Reverse Osmosis in London
Monday, December 02, 2013 - 03:41 PM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Why we require Reverse Osmosis in London
We wanted to write a little bit about why we now require wholesale customers in hard water areas to use reverse osmosis, because we believe there is a little confusion out there. Our goal, as a roaster and supplier, is for our customers to have successful and sustainable businesses. If they’re succeeding then we succeed too. Water provides a two fold challenge to cafes in the South East of England and in other hard water areas: Scale Imagine leaving a kettle boiling 24 hours a day, think of how quickly it would be coated in scale and residue. This is what the steam boiler on an espresso machine is doing, often 24/7. Hard water rapidly damages equipment if it isn’t treated properly. 95% of service calls we’ve dealt with in the last 5 years have been due to the build up of scale. We have no interest in profiting from scale, and when it does affect a machine it can often take the machine out of service for a period of time. To descale and repair will cost a lot of money and, combined with a loss of earnings, the bill can be large enough to place a painful pressure on a coffee shop business. We desperately want to avoid this happening. Reverse osmosis certainly costs more initially, but if taking a long-view of the business then it will save money (even with water wastage factored in). The build up of scale inside a Synesso steam boiler… Coffee Quality Poorly demineralise and softened water makes less tasty coffee. Our customers work with us because they are driven by serving great coffee. Water has an enormous impact on taste, and working with hard water or excessively mineral water, makes coffee brewing extremely difficult. We roast and QC against good water, and customers who are using reverse osmosis find it much easier to brew better coffee. Cafes with great reputations for coffee in London, more often than not, are using reverse osmosis. Inline Filtration Cartridges We’d worked in the industry before starting Square Mile Coffee Roasters, and believed that traditional inline filters were sufficient. Once we began to work with them often it became clear that they simply weren’t good enough. Generally the better will soften the water for a relatively short period of time (busy customers ended up changing XL sized filters 4–6 times per year!), but you still have water with a high mineral content. In our experience we’ve seen them fail to adequately soften water (essentially run out) well before the manufacturers claimed they would. After years of paying close attention to hard water we feel that in almost every circumstance that reverse osmosis is the only sensible solution. The Financial Implications These are some very rough figures but let’s compare reverse osmosis to filter cartridge systems. Cost of Reverse Osmosis: £1500-£2000 New membranes and filters over the next 4 years: approdx £800. Total: £2,300–2,800 Cost per year:£460-£560 Cost of Filter Cartridge: Approx £150–200. Total (4 changes per year): £3,000–4,000 Cost per year(based on 30kg/wk etc): £600–800 In addition you’re looking at some substantial servicing costs with filter cartridges. At the very least you’re looking at around £400+ for a simple descale, that may be required every 12–18 months. We’ve seen far higher bills as badly treated water can contain chlorides that can damage boilers irreperably. If you have to replace brew or steam boilers, along with other parts, then bills can quickly reach £2,000+. (Reverse osmosis is the only viable way to remove chlorides from water). Add this in and the cost of water treatment can end up being double what it would be to use reverse osmosis. We want to avoid this. We do sometimes sell reverse osmosis units, but we absolutely do not require people buy them from us. We don’t want to profit from descaling equipment. Sadly many companies do see an opportunity to make money here. We want our customer’s equipment to work well every day so our they can serve great coffee, and have their customers enjoy the coffees we’re all working so hard to source, roast, brew and share. What Reverse Osmosis Is Not We should make it clear that reverse osmosis is not a perfect solution. There is currently no better way to treat tap water to use for coffee brewing, but over time you should still expect to see some accumulation inside a machine and there may still be problems over time – though obviously way, way less than you would have without them. Equally – they are not intelligent units. They must be monitored and used properly, or else you will likely have problems. Check For Yourself If you are in London you can enter your postcode into the Thames Water website here , or better yet use a test kit. (We recommend using a proper water test kit on your specific water). You can then take that data and put it into the wonderful water calculator put together by La Marzocco here . You’ll find that La Marzocco would recommend a reverse osmosis for their machines in London, and rightly so. In Summary We wish all of this was easier. We wish the water in London was perfect for coffee brewing, but it isn’t. It needs both treatment, and a modicum of our attention. We need to built little systems into checking on our water the same way we check fridge temperatures or anything else. This will save us money in the long term, and make our customers happier in the short term when we serve them great coffee. If you have questions then let us know, or speak to your equipment supplier.

Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 11:52 PM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Merry Christmas, its that time of year again. We have turned on our Christmas decorations, we hope you approve. So its the last of the guest blends, we have had 12 months of fun, and it seems only right to thank you all for that fun. The Christmas Present Blend is a gift. Its a [...]

December Guest Blend
Friday, November 29, 2013 - 04:31 PM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
The final edition of the guest blend series. 12 months 12 coffees So we launch this at midnight Saturday 30th to Sunday the 1st of December, its a big surprise, but its on a first come first served basis, and it will be massively oversubscribed, you are going to want to be part of this. [...]

Christmas Gift Guide
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 07:22 PM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Christmas Gift Guide
It is that time of year again, what to give friends and family for christmas? Coffee and coffee related things are obviously the answer, so we thought we would put together a bit of a gift guide. First up a couple of nice gift packs: We have a new complete V60 brew kit to get someone into coffee, including the Hario red V60 cone, slim grinder, filters and the griffin mug to brew straight into. Available here . We also have the griffin mug gift box. Purchase a bag of coffee through the website and the gift box, and you have the perfect stocking filler for someone keen on coffee! Grab one here . Not sure what to give? Bit late on your Christmas orders? How about the easy option of a gift card. Available in £25, £50 and £100 denominations to suit all budgets. The lucky recipient can then choose some coffee, equipment, stock up on filters or grab a t-shirt. Have a look here . Our most popular gift is always the subscription option in either espresso or filter. Every month the lucky recipient will get a tasty new coffee It could be a new micro-lot we have secured, an unreleased new single origin or in the case of espresso a new red brick or sweetshop blend! Look at your options here .

18th November 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013 - 08:15 PM - 4 months, 4 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
18th November 2013
Our current selection for cafetière at the plan is a bit of a twist on the norm: an all Costa Rican selection. In fact, the 3 coffees on the blackboard for French Press right now are all grown by the same family (the Aguilera family) on their three farms, in the same region of Costa Rica (Naranjo), using the same arabica varietal (Villa Sarchi), the same processing, and (presumably) the same general cultivation and harvesting practices. So it’s a case of spot the difference, or even, rather, spot the similarities! Whereas we normally have 2-3 completely different origins on the board, often with wildly different flavours, these are all quite similar – just lovely, clean, juicy, balanced Costa Rican coffees. There are just slight leanings more towards the fruit, nut, or chocolate elements, depending on which farm you try - brought about in this instance solely by the individual micro-geography and soil of the particular farm. JGC have also deliberately kept the roasting as similar as possible across the three lots, to further allow the subtle differences, and similarities, to speak for themselves. It’s about a year since I introduced the new system for the cafe that allows me to change our selected filter profiles for cafetière much more fluidly and frequently. With the previous system, menus were still seasonal, naturally, and the coffees changed every few months, but they were more fixed, for more extended periods. As such, we got through a smaller range of coffees, and it was easy to keep track of what coffees we had experienced, as I only had to look back at my menus. Whereas over this last year, we have (very happily!) now been able to change more frequently, as soon as the newest and most exciting coffees come into the roastery, and as such, we have tried rather more coffees within the same time period than we would have under the previous system. This is great, of course. But I do like to look back over the coffees I’ve experienced, periodically. To remember the flavours, the highlights, the experiences (highs and/or even lows), the variations between ‘vintages’, the developments and experiments that each individual coffee might have brought about with brewing techniques and parameters, etc, etc (at home and at work). But without trawling through all my daily brewing notes, or blog and Twitter posts, it’s been hard to see at a glance what coffees I’ve worked with. And so (purely for my own peace of mind!), I think I’ve rounded up the majority of what we have had from my main craft roaster, James’ Gourmet Coffee, over this last year. There have been others too though; another benefit of this new system is that as well as having Guest Roasters occasionally for the Espresso of the Day, I can now also throw guest roasters into the mix for our filter line-up here and there too – and we have had several (light roasts) from Union Hand Roasted recently, for instance, as well, such as the Konga washed Yirgacheffe that I’ve been enjoying at home on my day off this weekend through both the Chemex and ceramic filter cone. So this list is by no means everything that we’ve offered, or tried, in recent times (and one or two of these are samples that I tried but which were not available for service in the cafe), but it’s most of it: Finca Providencia Guatemala Kenya estate blend: Makwa and Ngutu Rwanda BuF Cafe bourbon Kenya Ngunguru Guatemala Conception Pixcaya lot 1 Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Idido natural El Salvador COE Miravale Aricha Tchembe Yirgacheffe natural Beloya Special natural Yirgacheffe Bolivia Julio Gonzales farm El Salvador Suiza 2012 and 2013 Manco Kapac Bolivia Colombian Finca Santa Barbara La Joyeria Lot #238 Rwanda Koakaka Kenya Kirimahiga Fazenda Serra Dos Crioulos 2012 CoE lot #9 Habesha filter blend (two versions) Finca San Andre Esquipulas Southern Guatemala Kenya Thithi Giiki Finca Cirri Knots family washed OCR grade 1 Yirgacheffe Worka Woreda Suko Quto washed Guji Oromia Kenya Karimikui 2013 Finca Vara Blanca Costa Rica Aguilera family farms Naranjo Costa Rica filter selection (Fincas Beneficio, Angelina, and Tono). …Not including various coffees for espresso, which have included Samambaia, Sertao, Passeio topiazo, Aricha natural, Finca la Paz, Winter Hoards circa 2012 and 2013, and various (many!) new seasonal versions of the Naturelle and Formula 6 blends!For me, being able to work with wonderful coffees like these still continually feels like a real privilege. And a responsibility – to represent them as best I can. I guess I have this deep respect and appreciation for these coffees (more so than others on our team), not only because speciality coffee is my obsession, and I know how good the coffees are, but also because I know how much has gone into personally cultivating this situation. It’s not been easy to get to this position, where I can select, brew and serve coffees like these, in the environment that I/we have created and nurtured, with the systems I’ve put in place for the cafe as a whole, and with the quality equipment that I (now) have available (at work and also at home). It’s taken many years of patience and hard work to gradually advance to where things are now (in both these environments), and for it to be a success. And, additionally, this has been in a region where there are few others doing anything quite like this… But it can always be better too (and what we do is admittedly very humble, by some standards). Therefore, attempting to always better understand and do more justice to these quality coffees, with (hopefully) increasing consistency and experience, is a continuous endeavour and focus, that is ever challenging, surprising, rewarding, and exciting in equal measures. Speaking of gradual improvements, I’ve spent the last 6 months or so making even more than usual. Some bigger, some only small - but lots and lots of little changes and alterations and additions to what we do (and not just with the coffee!), in an effort to continually improve and fine tune what we already do, whilst not messing around with what works. And whilst remaining inclusive and unpretentious about what we try to offer. I’m currently busy training the newest batch of staff members as well. At some point I might progress them onto coffee, but they’re not there yet, even after several weeks - I train all the more straightforward, non-coffee, elements of service in the cafe first, and only once staff are proficient with this, might we potentially go further with espresso training if they seem suitable and ready. Some never do. I put a lot of time into training! But it’s necessary, to continue to do what we do. And we are altogether busier than ever before! And so now, we hunker down for the very busiest time of year..! New burrs into the Anfim Super recently. Every time these go in, I relish witnessing and documenting the changes and results that occur immediately, and then also over the coming many kilos, until fully seasoned. Infrequent perennial events like this with the equipment, etc, give unique and fleeting opportunities to try to understand various processes better…

Monday, November 11, 2013 - 09:10 PM - 5 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
It is believed that the first coffee seeds arrived on the American continent thanks to the French and Dutch. The French introduced them to their colonies (Guyana and Martinique) at the end of the seventeenth century, while the Dutch introduced them to Surinam in 1714. Coffee was first introduced to Colombia in 1723, thanks to [...]

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