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Laser particle analysis again: comparing some top filter grinders.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 10:13 PM - 6 days, 5 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
Laser particle analysis again: comparing some top filter grinders.
I’ve had grind samples from some of my coarse/filter grinders at home and at work analysed a couple of times over the last year, via laser particle sizing, and have just submitted a new batch of samples which focus on some areas currently of interest to me. This is made possible by @mathewsmith1 who is absolutely awesome for taking the time to make this sort of analysis available to me. I’ve posted in the past more detail about the specific nature of the particle sizing conducted, and the reasons for it, and this is available in previous posts on the blog. I find the whole process both fascinating (fun!), and illuminating. This time around, I wanted to hone-in on a couple of grind settings on my filter grinder at home, a Mahlkonig Tanzania (which I’ve modified with a weighted hopper to minimise and counteract the effects of ‘popcorning’ when single dosing). Specifically, I wanted to look at a couple of settings around a medium drip grind that I use for some pourover brew methods, and several settings close together right up at the coarse French Press end of the scale. And, I wanted to assess and compare the particle size and distribution curves of a sample from the plan cafe’s fairly new drip and FP grinder, our Bunn G3, with my Tanzania. The Bunn is a well known drip grinder that is widely used within modern speciality coffee circles, especially in the US, and it’s pretty highly regarded. Admittedly, the stock, pressed, burrs are not nearly as handsome as those on many other top-end modern coarse grinders, such as the Tanzania, etc, but, there are certain features with the Bunn that help to mitigate and overcome this. I suspect the Bunn might display a less ‘optimum’ curve than the Tanzania in some ways (I could be wrong). But, the Bunn does make very tasty coffee all the same (which raises other questions about what is actually optimum). Then, a local coffee enthusiast Mukhtar approached me with news of his newly acquired Hausgrind Made by Knock hand grinder, and expressed interest in having the grind laser analysed. I had already heard about the Hausgrind. They are one of a few new hand grinders coming out recently (like the OE Lido and Lido 2 for instance) that have been specifically crafted to produce exceptionally uniform grounds in the medium to coarse range used for filter and FP methods – and which are potentially comparable to the top commercial electric grinders, like those mentioned above (along with the likes of the Uber, EK43, Dittings and other Mahlkonigs). The samples I’ve seen, and tasted, from his Hausgrind seem really very good indeed. So, now, this has happily developed into a nice little comparison of some of the top coarse grinders out there, both commercial, and domestic hand-driven! In the end, we almost coincidentally selected the exact same bean for our samples, and, we’ve followed pretty much the same protocol, to standardise our samples, which has worked out brilliantly, as this will now make for an even more direct comparison between the grinders. Some of my (edited) notes regarding my samples from the Tanzania and the Bunn: Suke Quto washed Guji light filter profile from JGC. Roasted 27/03/14 Samples ground on 6th and 7th April 2014 (1 additional sample added ground on 13/04/14) All samples 20g, in order to accurately replicate the grind profile/distribution produced by the grinders for an actual small batch size. 5g of Suke Quto purged through on each new setting before taking sample. Samples ground directly from Tanzania into the press-seal plastic sample bags. As per my standard practice, with Tanzania, beans loaded onto static burrs, weighted mod applied, then burrs switched on. For Bunn, beans are dumped into already running burrs, again as per my standard practice for this grinder. Matt mentioned he might even run analysis on a sample from his own Hario Skerton hand grinder as well, which will be great to compare alongside the others as well. In other news, my recent espresso selection at the plan cafe has been: JGC’s Naturelle (composed of Santa Maria natural and Daterra organic Brazils, with Suke Quto washed Guji), and also Formula 6 (30% Fazenda Samambaia, Brazil 100% yellow bourbon, 30% Fazenda Sertaozinho, Brazil, 16% Guatemala Conception Pixicaya Lot #1, 16% Guatemalan Finca Cuxinales, Genuine Antigua, 8% El Salvador Finca Suiza Micro Lot). Filter profiles available for beans and French Press at the cafe have been JGC’s Finca Zarcero Costa Rica, Fazenda Samambaia, Tanzania Blackburn Estate Pick of Harvest SUN, and a personal favourite, Suke Quto washed Guji filter profile. We’ve also seen two coffees from pioneering coffee agronomist Graciano Cruz’s Panama farms, Los Lajones and Emporium (Caturra), via Union Hand Roasted’s light roasts. Both natural process, and exhibiting variations on lovely ripe fruit, like strawberry, blueberry, orange, pear, and wine, translating into various fruit sweets (like Starburst!). Very well processed, ‘clean naturals’, as you’d expect from Graciano’s designer coffees. The Emporium Caturra microlot is currently available, right now. I’ve also been enjoying some filter profile samples of new Colombians at home, like Primavera, and look forward to seeing more of these soon! I’ll add a glut of (more or less!) relevant recent pictures onto this post over the next couple of days, to embellish it with some descriptive prettiness..! Oh, and yes, it’s true: The Bean Vagrant and better half have had an amazing, bouncing, beautiful baby bean of a boy, Tom! Welcome to the world! 8-D

Laser particle analysis: comparing some top filter grinders.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 10:13 PM - 6 days, 5 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
Laser particle analysis: comparing some top filter grinders.
I’ve had grind samples from some of my coarse/filter grinders at home and at work analysed a couple of times over the last year, via laser particle sizing, and have just submitted a new batch of samples which focus on some areas currently of interest to me. This is made possible by @mathewsmith1 who is absolutely awesome for taking the time to make this sort of analysis available to me. I’ve posted in the past more detail about the specific nature of the particle sizing conducted, and the reasons for it, and this is available in previous posts on the blog. I find the whole process both fascinating (fun!), and illuminating. This time around, I wanted to hone-in on a couple of grind settings on my filter grinder at home, a Mahlkonig Tanzania (which I’ve modified with a weighted hopper to minimise and counteract the effects of ‘popcorning’ when single dosing). Specifically, I wanted to look at a couple of settings around a medium drip grind that I use for some pourover brew methods, and several settings close together right up at the coarse French Press end of the scale. And, I wanted to assess and compare the particle size and distribution curves of a sample from the plan cafe’s fairly new drip and FP grinder, our Bunn G3, with my Tanzania. The Bunn is a well-known drip grinder that is widely used within modern speciality coffee circles, especially in the US, and it’s fairly highly regarded. Admittedly, the stock, pressed, burrs are not nearly as handsome as those on many other top-end modern coarse grinders, such as the Tanzania, etc, but, there are certain features with the Bunn that help to mitigate and overcome this. I suspect the Bunn might still display a less ‘optimum’ curve than the Tanzania in some ways (it should do anyway, although I could be wrong). But, the Bunn does make very tasty coffee all the same (which raises other questions about what is actually optimum, and how this affects brewing …another topic). Then, a local coffee enthusiast Mukhtar approached me with news of his newly acquired Hausgrind Made by Knock hand grinder, and expressed interest in having the grind laser analysed. I had already heard about the Hausgrind. They are one of a few new hand grinders coming out recently (like the OE Lido and Lido 2 for instance) that have been specifically crafted to produce exceptionally uniform grounds in the medium to coarse range used for filter and FP methods – and which are potentially comparable to the top commercial electric grinders, like those mentioned above (along with the likes of the Uber, EK43, Dittings and other Mahlkonigs). The samples I’ve seen, and tasted, from his Hausgrind seem really very good indeed. So, now, this has happily developed into a nice little comparison of some of the top coarse grinders out there, both commercial, and domestic hand-driven! In the end, we almost coincidentally selected the exact same bean for our samples, and, we’ve followed pretty much the same protocol, to standardise our samples, which has worked out brilliantly, as this will now make for an even more direct comparison between the grinders. Some of my (edited) notes regarding my samples from the Tanzania and the Bunn: Suke Quto washed Guji light filter profile from JGC. Roasted 27/03/14 Samples ground on 6th and 7th April 2014 (1 additional sample added ground on 13/04/14) All samples 20g, in order to accurately replicate the grind profile/distribution produced by the grinders for an actual small batch size. 5g of Suke Quto purged through on each new setting before taking sample. Samples ground directly from Tanzania into the press-seal plastic sample bags. As per my standard practice, with Tanzania, beans loaded onto static burrs, weighted mod applied, then burrs switched on. For Bunn, beans are dumped into already running burrs, again as per my standard practice for this grinder. Matt mentioned he might even run analysis on a sample from his own Hario Skerton hand grinder as well (which is not really meant to be in the same league as the other grinders, but which is still a very nice little hand burr grinder), which will be great to compare alongside the others as well. In other news, my recent espresso selection at the plan cafe has been: JGC’s Naturelle (composed of Santa Maria natural and Daterra organic Brazils, with Suke Quto washed Guji), and also Formula 6 (30% Fazenda Samambaia, Brazil 100% yellow bourbon, 30% Fazenda Sertaozinho, Brazil, 16% Guatemala Conception Pixicaya Lot #1, 16% Guatemalan Finca Cuxinales, Genuine Antigua, 8% El Salvador Finca Suiza Micro Lot). Filter profiles available for beans and French Press at the cafe have been JGC’s Finca Zarcero Costa Rica, Fazenda Samambaia, Tanzania Blackburn Estate Pick of Harvest SUN, and a personal favourite, Suke Quto washed Guji filter profile. We’ve also seen two coffees from pioneering coffee agronomist Graciano Cruz’s Panama farms, Los Lajones and Emporium (Caturra), via Union Hand Roasted’s light roasts. Both natural process, and exhibiting variations on lovely ripe fruit, like strawberry, blueberry, orange, pear, and wine, translating into various fruit sweets (like Starburst!). Very well processed, ‘clean naturals’, as you’d expect from Graciano’s designer coffees. The Emporium Caturra microlot is currently available, right now. I’ve also been enjoying some filter profile samples of new Colombians at home, like Primavera, and look forward to seeing more of these soon! Oh, and yes, it’s true: The Bean Vagrant and better half have had an amazing, bouncing, beautiful baby bean of a boy, Tom!! Welcome to the world! 8-D

The Return of the Secret Blend
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 02:06 PM - 1 week, 2 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Colin's Dublin Barista Blog
The Return of the Secret Blend
Anyone that was one of the 20 odd people that turned up for the first day of 3fe would know that Bodytonic’s very own festival “The Beatyard” started on the very same day. Over the years 3fe and the Beatyard have grown in their own wonderful way and 4 and a half years later we […]

Easter Holiday’s
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 12:01 PM - 1 week, 2 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Just a quick blog post to let everyone know we will be closed over the Easter bank holidays for both Good Friday and Easter Monday. Essentially what this means, for you, our lovely webshop customers is that our normal roast and ship day of Monday will move to the Tuesday (after Easter Monday). Hopefully this added day without coffee won’t effect people too much. Enjoy the break!

Introducing Coffee Jobs Board
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 04:05 PM - 1 week, 5 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Introducing Coffee Jobs Board
About 5 years ago I set up a website for coffee jobs in London. Today I’m launching both a redesign of that, as well as a global jobs board hub. If you want to skip the explanations and ideas behind then feel free to explore the site here: COFFEE JOBS BOARD History I originally created a site because I’d get a lot of emails from baristas looking for work, and lots of emails from shops looking for staff. I felt like my inbox probably wasn’t the best place to connect people. So I built a simple site, and left it be. It covered its costs, and slowly grew. People seemed very happy with it, the biggest complaint being people outside of London who wanted something similar. A while ago I decided to start saving up to do something bigger and this is the result. How the site works I wanted to build a site full of little hubs, so people could see jobs relevant to them and not worry about what was happening elsewhere (the way craigslist works was a source of inspiration). For each country or city there is a board that you can bookmark, a twitter account you can follow and an email sign up for alerts. I didn’t want to build lots of individual sites, but if there is just one then there’s the problem of when you’re looking for a job in Paris, but a job in Portland isn’t really of interest. You can apply for jobs through the site, and look at employer’s profiles to find out more about them. I’ve tried to make sure as much of the site as possible has been translated into other languages, though there are some technical constraints I don’t have the budget to overcome – I hope to improve it in the future. Advertising jobs There are three different jobs categories available: city-wide, country-wide and worldwide. For the rest of the month city and country jobs will be free to post. (I don’t want to make worldwide free in case people abuse it and boards get littered with jobs from other countries). In the future the pricing will be: City – £10. This will appear in that city board, and also the country board. (i.e. London and the UK) Country – £15. This will appear in the country board, and every city board in that country too. Worldwide – £100. This will appear in every single job board. It is priced high to discourage use, because I think very few companies need to advertise worldwide. I wanted to keep it pretty accessibly priced to post – the people part of coffee is hard enough. London Coffee Jobs Hopefully most of the existing site has migrated across – including logins etc, so if you’ve posted there in the past you should have an existing account on the new site. If you don’t then I’d recommend signing up again, as it would be great if employers could add a little more detail to their profiles. If there are issues then drop a line to the support email . Unfortunately if you posted a job in the last couple of days it won’t be allocated to your login, and any changes will have to be done manually by me – just drop a line to support . Where’s my city/country?! It wasn’t possible to launch with every part of the world covered, but I am open to requests. If there is sufficient demand then I can create a new board for people to use. Please bear with me if translation is required. You can request a board by emailing request@coffeejobsboard.com Help me spread the word? It would be great if people shared the site with friends who may be looking for work, or with business who may be looking for staff. I hope it becomes a useful and valuable hub for people in coffee. Again – it is free to use to post jobs on for the rest of the month. And if you’ve made it all the way here and haven’t had a look yet – please check it out! COFFEE JOBS BOARD

Job update
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 12:23 AM - 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Simon James' SdotJames
Job update
In August 2012 I moved on from Retail Food Group as their Senior Barista Trainer to join the Melbourne institution that is Genovese Coffee. It’s a pleasure working with a passionate, 3rd generation, genuine espresso focused family, and it’s brought me back to the basics of good espresso as well as the fundamentals of consistent, practical […]

Virmax Colombian Cupping
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - 10:01 AM - 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Virmax Colombian Cupping
On Tuesday 25th March, we had the pleasure of hosting a cupping session of the 5 Colombian microlots we have purchased this year, in conjunction with our Colombian importing partners Virmax. Alejandro and Badi were kind enough to make some time in their busy schedule to come by the roastery and conduct a Q&A session for a group of our lovely customers! The 5 lots which we have secured this year and are very excited to release are: El Mirador El Cadillo Las Brisas Agua Regada La Gloria A topic of much interest and discussion was the way in which Virmax help farmers to improve standards by offering incentives. Virmax grade each coffee on a point score, and to qualify for selection, the coffee needs to score a minimum of 83 points. A coffee that scores 83 or 84 points are given an A grade, 85-86 are AA, and anything above 87 is given a AAA grade score, the highest possible quality. A premium is paid for coffees which reach a certain cup score, and the farmers are paid for the quality grading which they have been given. Once a coffee roaster has purchased one of the coffees, they may believe that the coffee is in fact higher than what Virmax has scored. In this instance, Virmax will then pay an additional premium to the farmer. Unfortunately over the past few years, Colombia and much of Central and South America have been badly affected with leaf rust (Roya in Spanish). Unfortunately rust is here to stay, and is not something which can be eradicated easily. Through a mix of better farm management and new coffee varietals which are not susceptible to roya, they can start to mitigate its effects, but unfortunately it is going to take time. Some varietals which are starting to show some positive results are Colombia and Catimor, but only if blended with other varietals. When cupping 100% Catimor, they lack the desired flavour and structure that speciality coffee buyers are searching for. How long does it take to improve quality from an 83 to an 86/87? Does it take a couple of harvests or is it quite dramatic and quick? You can see changes very quickly, depends on farmer. If they are really passionate and taking advice, within two months can be a dramatic difference in quality. Is there a training facility to help them? There is no training facility as such, but we manage a farm called San Luis where we are now in our 4th year. We have learnt a lot of things which we can put into practice on other farms. We also have an experimental farm in Popoyan, which we have 10 various varieties and they are constantly learning about processing and drying. For the normal farmers, we have PECA (Programa de Educacion Calficultores) which translates to Coffee Growers Education Program. Managed by an agronomist with many years of experience with coffee, who overseas a group of 30 producers who are either coffee growers who sell to us, or sons of producers, who have to visit 30 farms each month. They look for cleanliness of the infrastructure (cherry hopper, fermentation tanks, the dryer) and the processing techniques. We try to encourage farmers to do a dry fermentation for 24 hours, as in Colombia it is normally only 12-14 hours. We found 22-24 hours is the sweet spot, and it just so happens El Cadillo and Mirador are doing 24 hours. This is because they have been working with us for a long time and have embraced the 24hr concept. The problem with 24hrs is that the farmers run into two processes at the same time. You have to stop the fermentation process in the washed coffee, but you are also receiving the new cherry from the next day, so a lot of farmers haven’t been able to do it previously, so they need to hire more people. We also look at the drying, and we have found it makes a significant improvement in quality. We are encouraging farmers to use shade drying, or at least pre-shaded drying – which means a couple of days with no sun at all, only air flow and a very small layer of coffee on the raised drying beds, so it receives a lot of air and any moisture falls. After the first two days, they slowly introduce sun to the drying process, which in total takes 15-20 days. A lot of farmers are doing the slower drying process. The main struggle with that is cash flow, as they pick every 15 days, and if it takes 20 days to dry coffee, they won’t be able to deliver the lot to us, so they won’t have enough cash to pay the pickers next week, so we are trying to resolve these issues. The benefit of the shaded drying? We are seeing at least two points higher in grading. Coffee is a seed, and if you dry it too fast you are killing the embryo, and the embryo has all the proteins which adds the jamminess and body to a coffee. By drying too fast, you are also evaporating the water too quickly, so you lose the florals and aromatics. By establishing a slower drying process, you are protecting the seed for a longer time and you get a lot more aromatics and flavour. Which way around did the idea happen – the loss of aromatics so farmers tried shade drying, or from shade drying they found better results? It was pure coincidence. In 2007/2008, we started cupping seeds and found consistently the seeds were cupping out 3-4 points higher than their own production, and seeds are always processed under shade. We went back and asked why seeds are cupping better, and we said – ok shade! We started experimenting, and replicated results on a larger scale, so found out shaded coffee was improving cup quality. The water activity was also a lot better, generally we want activity to be 0.5, which is the equilibrium, so the longevity of the coffee was also longer. We now have farmers doing a 3 stage drying process. 1 – total shade, 2 – introduce a little bit of sun with a shaded mesh, 3 – last two to three days of full sun. By drying in this way, the parchment looks beautiful, white and fully closed, and was looking a lot better than Central American coffee at the time. Most farmers do not have a lot of room, so they created three storey dryers to take advantage of the high altitude. The farmers start with the wettest parchment at the bottom, and slowly move the coffee higher which will then be exposed to the sun at the end of the 20 days. This helps with the lack of space farmers have on their land, as they want to utilise space for trees and not for drying. Rust prevention is a major thing we work with the farmers. We have developed ways to control rust, and to use as little chemical processes as possible, farmers don’t want to spend a lot of money on chemicals. We looked back at the last 50 years to find out how rust was controlled, as it has been around since the end of the 19th century in Sri Lanka and devastated their coffee industry. Copper phosphate has been embraced for many years, and we also found something called calcium sulphate, which is all organic and is actually pretty good. These are the 3 focuses of the grower education program, and at the moment 400 farmers are now part of the program. The FNC (National Federation of Coffee in Colombia) also does an excellent job of teaching producers how to grow more coffee, as this is in their interests. The funding comes from tax from all coffee which is exported, but they don’t teach how to improve the quality of the coffee, so this is where we step in with the education program. To try and increase volume and quality as well, we need a balance. Colombia seems different to everyone else, in that they dry parchment themselves compared to most other countries in the world. Seems to be a high density of small holders who are in control the process post harvest, which is interesting. I wouldn’t go as far as saying a whole lot, as we work with 1200 farmers, and there is half a million farmers in Colombia. I would say the quality producers would be no more than about about 5000, so a very small percentage of the total, but it is slowly growing. Unfortunately, it is only the small ones which are embracing it so far, there are only a small amount of the big farms which are focusing on quality, the rest are focusing on volume. With high prices, people tend to do less work. What we are seeing when the price has gone up fast, the producers are selling their coffee in wet parchment, which means they are letting others dry the coffee for them. They receive a good price for wet coffee, and also have the benefit of receiving money the next day – it means that there is no infrastructure, no hassle and the prices are also pretty good, so it is a good proposition. When prices go down though, they are trying to look for more value. They obviously know what coffee they are buying though? When you buy wet parchment, there is no way of telling what the quality is. You don’t know what you are buying. You cannot grade it as it is full of water. It could be 70% water, this is why the traditional Colombian separation is based on bean size. Usually when they sell wet, they blend everything together to receive a good price. A lot of the time, the parchment is full of water, so the mills started to pay a very low price as they were not able to know what they were purchasing. It is so difficult to buy wet parchment, but it is a very big business. If you discount a lot, you may receive some good lots of coffee, but it is a gamble. Instead of discounting 20%, you discount 40%, so you can make a lot of money. Who typically buys it? Big parchment buyers, and some of the bigger ones own their own mill as well, who do 70,000-80,000 bags a year. They just buy from the smaller guys and blend everything together. Some producers will go to the buyers when the prices are good, but otherwise they try and do as much as possible themselves to make more money. It is a very low margin business, so the least amount of manual labour they have to do, they better. All the blending, or when the “magic happens”, is afterwards. They mill the coffee, cup it, and if a coffee is great – it is classed as speciality, but if the next coffee is average they send it to the commercial buyer. This still happens today as it is easy and doesn’t cost much. This was the whole marketing of the FNC back in the 80’s, when Colombia was the world’s richest cup of coffee. You would blend all these amazing lots in with everything else, and of course it raises the average. In general, the average of Colombian coffee was better than most other countries, and it was constant. The marketing was always Cafe De Colombia, so it was singular. If you look at the marketing of other countries – Cafes de Guatemala, Cafes de Brazil, they are selling different things. The marketing in Colombia is wherever you buy, whenever you buy and from whoever you buy, it all tastes like Colombian Coffee. This is still today the marketing of Colombian coffee, something you can trust all year around. This is not what we are trying to do, we are trying to sell as much diversity as we can. If you look at statistics, we reject about 40% of what we get, and most of this is because of ferment. If our statistics are representative of the whole industry, that would mean that 20% of the coffee in Colombia is fermented. Yet everything is exported, so what do they do, they blend and blend and blend. This is the beauty of blending, and most exporters are very good at it. Thanks to everyone involved, and we look forward to inviting you to the roastery soon for upcoming events!

The price of espresso in London 2014
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 07:59 PM - 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
The price of espresso in London 2014
A little less than a year ago I wrote a short piece about the price of coffee in London . For that post I’d used the London Coffee Guide produced by a company called Allegra , (who do a lot of research) which launches at the London Coffee Festival which starts tomorrow. Very kindly, and out of the blue, they forwarded me the data from this year’s book, and in a spreadsheet no less! (Meaning I didn’t have to put the prices in manually this time.) I thought I’d write about where things are now, what has changed and what hasn’t. Espresso pricing 2013 Vs 2014 Year 2013 2014 Lowest Price £1.30 £1.50 Highest Price £2.60 £2.60 Average Price £1.89 £1.99 Mode Price £2.00 £2.00 A few small changes: those charging the lowest price for espresso have either increased pricing, or those businesses at the bottom end of pricing are no longer in business. At the top end there has been little to no change. However, the change in pricing distribution has moved the average and the mode to be essentially the same. Overall the price of espresso in London has increased, by around 5.3% which is above the rate of inflation (2.4-3.0%). Pricing distribution looks very similar to last year except that the number of cafes charging £2.00 (the mode) has increased from 35% to 42% of the cafes listed in the guide. I should note at this point that prices for a double espresso were used when two prices were listed. Price distribution by neighbourhood One rather lovely addition to the data shared is that each cafe had been tagged with its neighbourhood in London. This allowed me to look at the distribution of price across London. Here it is with the average price for an espresso and a flat white, and where they rank from most expensive (1) to cheapest (11): 2013 Vs 2014 Region Espresso (£) Rank (11) Flat White (£) Rank (11) East London £1.89 10 £2.51 9 Farringdon/Clerkenwell £2.07 4 £2.56 6 Holborn/Bloomsbury £2.09 3 £2.66 3 Inner East/Shoreditch £1.96 7 £2.63 4 North London £1.94 9 £2.50 10 Soho £2.11 2 £2.63 5 South East £1.79 11 £2.33 11 South West £2.02 6 £2.56 7 The City £1.96 8 £2.76 1 West End £2.17 1 £2.73 2 West London £2.03 5 £2.55 8 While this is interesting, it is hardly revelatory – but there are a few notables. The most expensive retail rent in London (the West End) comes with the most expensive coffee – I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised by this. The South East is also considered a relatively cheap (in comparison to the rest of London) place to do business, but it is interesting to see how much cheaper coffee is down there. I was surprised to see espresso in the City was cheaper than the average (even if it is just a little under). Amusingly milk drinks are the most expensive in London, so either bankers are buying bigger cups of coffee (I used the highest price for a flat white listed for each cafe) or the cafes are recouping their expensive rent costs with their most popular drinks. On principle they should probably be more expensive… I’m not exactly sure why, but I was quite surprised to find the standard deviation across the prices to be so similar – 11p for espresso and 12p for flat whites. To me I would say that this indicates that cafes pay attention to each other’s pricing a lot (probably more than customers) – but I’m aware that I’m stating the obvious again… I didn’t do the data analysis on milk drinks in 2013, so hopefully I can keep it up from this year onwards. This post is just a presentation of data, and has nothing to do with what I think cafes should be charging for espresso drinks – simply what they are charging right now.

El Cadillo
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 10:53 AM - 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
El Cadillo
Another exciting single origin espresso is in the webshop now! Following on from some other great examples of Colombian coffee we have the El Cadillo from Omar Anacona in the Huila region. Expect plenty of crisp green apple, white grape and red currant notes, honey sweetness and little cinnamon quality to the finish. We think this is a great addition to our offerings from Colombia and hope you will enjoy it too! Available now here .

Hipsters, coffee and authenticity
Monday, March 24, 2014 - 07:53 PM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Hipsters, coffee and authenticity
I don’t really like the word hipster, nor do I condone its usage (despite occasional indulgence), but I did spend some time recently trying to work out what it meant and what we mean when we use it. It isn’t really a cultural label the way “goth” or “mod” were and are. I think the word has ended up being many things to many people, but I think when you use it there is, at its root, one key idea: you are saying “I don’t believe you.” It is the label given to those who posture, whose cultural, sartorial or intellectual pretence is painful to see. This is why no one self identifies this way – we are believe we’re telling the truth, or at least getting away with looking like we do. Hipster gets thrown at coffee a great deal too. Half the time to describe the people behind the counter, half the time to describe those patiently queuing to buy it. The aloof barista, with a carefully cultivated sense of ennui and the vaguely disguised disgust at the coarseness and ignorance of customers, is perhaps the arch trope of coffee today. When we see such theatricality, perhaps we assume that every aspect is a performance. Caring about coffee, being interested in it and deeply involved in it, all of this must be part of the act. How can we, as a customer, tell which part is genuine and which some sort of pretence. I read a piece on coffee consumption that brought me back to this Frank Bruni piece from a few years ago in the New York Times. This particular sentence was highlighted (emphasis mine): “In these food-mad times, have the economically privileged among us gone too far in turning simple acts of nourishment into complicated rituals of self-congratulation?” Have we offered up coffee as a way to define who we are as customers? Is this something modern or is this simply the next step after coffee’s position as the epitome of the Fair Trade movement, the next step in the evolution of our relationship with a product thats complexity is slowly starting to seep into the public sphere. While I don’t really see coffee in London, or the UK, being regularly used by consumer’s to really define themselves (outside of those for whom coffee is a passion) – I do see a great deal of inauthenticity within the industry. Part of this, I think, is a byproduct of the homogeneity that can develop in a market or a result of tapping into the hive mind of the coffee industry online. London is home to what others have described as the “chain with no name”, independent cafes that look and feel very similar to each, offer very similar products at similar prices, with similar service experiences, but have no shared ownership. In a situation like this, it seems pretty obvious to anyone that each of these business is unlikely to be the honest expression of an individual, and can end up looking like bandwagon-jumping or an attempt to profiteer from a trend someone doesn’t truly understand. I understand that conformity offers safety, and I see that the industry doesn’t often encourage the kind of risk taking we want to see. This part, however, may in part be because we’ve struggled to work out how the risk/reward model could really offer something compelling. Authenticity comes from honesty, from transparency. Cafes are great canvases, for the expression of ideas about service, about taste, about design, about community, and about coffee itself. All too rarely are they any, let alone all, of these things. When they are clearly the result of someone’s considered, and personal, vision I think they’re compelling, and I believe consumers can tell and respond strongly to it. My limited experience within my own market supports this. The cafes around London, past and present, that I have formed the strongest bonds with all have a genuine identity, from their owners and founders, that I find strongly appealing. I deeply hope to see more of this in the future, because I believe it will make talking to people about why coffee is worth their attention, their money and their time so much easier.

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