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A few things I learned writing the atlas
Monday, September 15, 2014 - 02:06 PM - 5 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
A few things I learned writing the atlas
The experience of writing the book was an interesting one, and not always pleasant. The process involved finding as much information as I could, trying to pare it down to what I considered important and then doing my best to fact-check what I found. There were moments when there would be little epiphanies, though these weren’t always good feeling ones. I came into coffee at a time when speciality was on the rise. I came to know coffee through stories of direct trade, relationships with producers, trying to pay premiums and to push quality forward. What didn’t make sense to me were certifications like Fair Trade. I was dismissive of them because I couldn’t see how they fit into my world of speciality. They didn’t focus on quality at all! How ridiculous! What was worse, so many of my favourite coffees came from single estates – and when I learned that a single estate couldn’t ever be Fair Trade certified it seemed even more laughable to me. (Ah, the arrogance of youth…) Writing the history of each coffee producing country brought my foolishness and shortsightedness into sharp focus. What I wanted to do was look at the history of each country to understand how it had ended up with the level of traceability it had: why was coffee in Central America so much more traceable than coffee in Papua New Guinea or Ethiopia? The Europeans Each and every chapter could likely have contained a sub heading of “That time the Europeans were complete b*stards” because, invariably in every country there was such a time. The English, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Belgians (especially the Belgians – who were often utterly evil and no one seems to take them to task about this any more) did atrocious, unspeakable things – from a place of greed, ignorance and a callous belief in their superiority. It got to the point during the research that I was just waiting, as I worked chronologically through the local coffee production timeline, for the bad things to happen – I was never disappointed… The locals That doesn’t mean that all the terrible things were done by colonists. The painful past and guilt of land ownership, of theft and displacement, of abuse and slavery, belongs to a great many people in each and every country. This doesn’t mean everyone who owns a coffee farm is a terrible person, or that every person who owns a coffee farm has some historical skeleton in the closet – it just means it’s all complicated. Certainly more complicated than I can deal with in this post, or within the book. Fair Trade When you look at the past the actions of those who set up schemes like Fair Trade make more sense – and the idea that it was designed to support cooperatives, rather than those whose families had acquired land at some stage, makes a great deal of sense. This side of coffee’s history is rarely on display, and while the price crashes of the past are well known I don’t think many people in my coffee generation are particularly aware of this stuff. I’m sure it isn’t just me Like I said – the history of coffee and land ownership raise incredibly big, difficult issues, and I didn’t really look to tackle them in the book. I hope people who read through the chapters are inspired to read a little more on the subject. For a quick overview, and a starting place on the subject, have a look at the Wikipedia article on land reform by country. Why I won’t buy anything from Chiquita Banana Writing about Guatemala was one of the most depressing chapters for me. You can read plenty about it online, but the summary would be that 10 years of progressive land reform between 1944 and 1954 didn’t sit well with US owned United Fruit Company. Their big, very profitable business, owned 42 percent of arable land in Guatemala (how they got it is another story) and it was threatened by this reform. In short, they convinced the USA government to have the CIA stage a coup d’etat, which spiralled into a civil war – the longest and bloodiest in Central American history. 100,000 Guatemalans would be “disappeared” during this war. United Fruit Company is now known as Chiquita Banana. This is the same company that had apparently urged the Colombian military to fire on its striking banana workers in 1928 – estimates of the casualties at the time range from 47 up to 2,000. (In case you were wondering where the term “Banana Republic ” came from…) Bananas or coffee? On one level this has nothing to do with coffee. However, in so many ways it has everything to do with coffee – with our relationship with those who produce the crops we import, with the attitude we’ve inherited towards trade with developing countries, and how our history has shaped our present. As a species we like to demonstrate a complete failure to learn the lessons of our history. I confess that I had been in coffee a surprisingly long time before I really dug into its history. It was revelatory, saddening and also inspiring. I’d like to do better, for us all to do better – and I am more driven to that end than I have ever been. World Atlas of Coffee 1 - Amazon UK – Amazon USA I hope to have a website up showing all resellers as soon as possible, if you’d like to shop with independents ↩︎ I hope to have a website up showing all resellers as soon as possible, if you’d like to shop with independents

Book Review: The Coffee Roaster’s Companion
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 03:01 PM - 6 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Book Review: The Coffee Roaster’s Companion
In the past I’ve written up lists of recommended reading, and there is always one question that comes up that, I have struggled to answer: “What book should I buy on coffee roasting?” Until today the options have been limited to Ken David’s book , or the harder to find little books like Gerhard A. Jensen’s “Coffee Roasting” . Neither are likely to make you an better at roasting, whether you roast at home or roast commercially. Roasting is a tricky business, and learning to roast feels more like trial and error than anything else. Many companies consider their roasting techniques and approaches proprietary, and have traditionally been unwilling to share. I’m actually a believer in proprietary information, and when I found out Scott Rao was going to write a book on coffee roasting this inspired further action for me at work. I had little doubt that this was going to be a book that was going to make coffee, across the whole industry, significantly better. I have not been disappointed. Writing about roasting chemistry is difficult, and I think Scott has done an impressive job in cutting to the chase and presenting the important stuff in a way that seems real and accessible. While we understand the Chlorogenic acids are important, the whole discussion of them in roasting or brewing often feels abstract – here they do not. What most people will want to read straight away are the practical roasting sections. Scott himself acknowledges this, but I would heed his note: “I implore the reader to study the entire book and not focus solely on the “how to” chapters. Experience with my previous books has taught me that readers who cherry-pick the parts that appeal to them end up missing some of the big picture, leading them to misapply some recommendations” I’m not going to cover the practical information in the book, other than to say that it is valuable and I definitely learned a good deal on my first couple of read throughs. Discussion of Rate of Rise (RoR), development, and things like ΔT are important, useful and ultimately very helpful. Scott has a very practical, methodical approach and I have no doubt that we’ll be looking at how we can implement his advice in a variety of places at work. I’m also delighted to see a section on sample roasting – something that it is almost impossible to find any good resources on. Some people will reject what is in here, as it is contrary to their practices or beliefs. We’ve presented roasting as an art, as a personal expression of a roaster, so opinions that don’t validate what some people do can feel like criticism. They’re not – they’re opportunities to get better. Scott is cautious throughout to state that he’s trying to open up discussion. I think he’s given coffee roasters a base language that will allow us to better express the green coffees that we love, that we want to share and showcase to their full potential. I don’t think I absolutely agree with everything Scott writes, but I feel in a much better place when it comes to discussing that, arguing my point, and pushing my understanding of roasting to achieve the cup of coffee that we have in my heads. You can buy the book direct from Scott. If you have any dealings with roasting coffee then I suspect this may be the best $45 you’ll spend. The Coffee Roaster’s Companion – $45

Distributing/Selling The World Atlas of Coffee
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 11:35 AM - 6 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Distributing/Selling The World Atlas of Coffee
After the last blog post I received a lot of emails and tweets from various people asking about selling the Atlas in their cafe, in their online shop etc, from around the world. So – if you’re a coffee business of any kind then hopefully this will be of interest to you… I should be clear that I’m just the author, not the publisher – so I have limited control over somethings. However, it would mean a lot to me to have cafes supporting the book and I definitely want to do whatever I can to enable this and get distributors access to good pricing, to make this worthwhile. I want this to be useful to any coffee business in every way possible. Worldwide the English language edition will be out in October. Translations won’t be out until June next year, though the English version will be available via distributors. There are currently translations planned (but not confirmed) for French, Spanish, Dutch, Czech, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Hopefully more to follow! To help make all this easier I had a quick chat with the publisher and figured I would start with collecting the information of companies that would be interested. I can hopefully work with distributors and my publisher to sort out direct access to books. There will likely be a minimum order to get wholesale pricing, but I don’t know what that is yet. There are a couple of boxes to check, relating to potential events. Nothing is confirmed yet, but I travel a lot and (while most authors tell you to avoid book signings) there may be a chance to do something creative if I am a town or city where people are stocking it. I am also working on an idea for a launch event that I’d like to try and coordinate nationally (and internationally if possible) that could be a more interesting way to do a book launch, and also get consumers a little more excited and curious about the possibilities of coffee. Nothing below is a commitment of any kind – just collecting contact info at this stage. Thanks again to those who’ve gotten in touch, the response has been lovely and I’m grateful that so many people want to support the book. Loading…

Coming Soon: The World Atlas of Coffee
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 08:16 AM - 7 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Coming Soon: The World Atlas of Coffee
In around two months time, on October 6th, my first book will be released. I’m very excited, and maybe just a tiny bit nervous too. The book is titled “The World Atlas of Coffee”, and I want to talk a little bit about how this happened and what it is. I remember a moment, very early on in my time in coffee, when I had been cupping coffees and was trying to understand exactly where they were from. I remember the coffee that triggered the question, something from Kalossi. More than that, I remember the feeling of being both stunned and annoyed when I asked which book I should buy to look up where this coffee came from and being told there was nothing. This was astonishing to me, considering how rich the world of coffee was and is. While I always wanted to be the person to write that book, for a long time I never really felt it was my place to do so. (And I expect to hear that criticism in the future too.) What changed was very simple: I was approached by a major publisher, already well known and respected for books like “The World Atlas of Wine “, and have a reputation for producing beautiful, high quality titles. They asked if I would be interested in writing this book, and I thought I would be a fool to pass up such an opportunity. So I jumped at it. What followed was full of all the necessary clichés, best summarised by Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” I don’t mean to be dramatic but this book is undeniably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. (I know people say that, but there’s a good reason they say that. Listening to Oliver Strand talk about how difficult it is on the portafilter podcast was hugely reassuring.) I had one unusual challenge in writing this – focusing on exactly who I was writing this for. I wanted to produce something valuable to those coming into the industry who want to learn, and also something that’s a useful reference for those of us who’ve worked in coffee for some time. More than both of this, I wanted to write something for all our customers – the people who go out and buy, brew, drink and enjoy coffee every day. I believe that understanding something more can make it more enjoyable, and I wanted to make more of coffee accessible rather than make it more mysterious and exclusive. I want to help people to understand what they like, explore what they don’t know yet, and feel more confident in the somewhat intimidating world of specialty coffee. The book isn’t about me, or about Square Mile Coffee, but just about coffee. The book is divided into three sections: an introduction to coffee in general, a section on brewing techniques (aimed at making professional standards accessible and worthwhile to home users) and then the atlas section, with individual countries divided by continent. This third section was the killer. Finding accurate, credible information and facts that can be double checked felt nigh on impossible sometimes. I’m aware that the moment we publish the book some facts will be wrong, or be disputable. This is why I am hopeful this does well enough for a second edition (which will also be out of date the moment it is published!). What I have tried to do for each country, in writing a summary of its history of coffee production is to try to explain why its past makes it the way it is. The existence of smallholders and garden coffee in Ethiopia is the result of a very different history than that of Brazil – with single estate businesses that can produce more coffee than all of Bolivia put together. So along, with the history I’ve tried to explain where a customer’s expectation of traceability should be. I’ve done my utmost to get harvest times, altitudes and typical varieties for each region within each country that I’ve covered. Inevitably a source of some contention – there are some very basic guidelines for how coffees from a producing country may taste. (I’m aware that this seems reductive and negative but please wait to judge me until after reading them.) I haven’t covered every single country that produces coffee. I’ve covered those with a focus on arabica and the capacity for speciality. In some cases I’ve decided not to include a country because I don’t feel the data available is accurate enough. (Haiti, for example, is a difficult place to write confidently about post earthquake.) Equally, this is not a project without constraints of size and word count. If it is successful then it will be expanded in future editions, and the work is already done on some additional countries. My greatest hope for this book is that it becomes a genuinely useful tool for us to communicate better with our customers, to help make coffee more engaging, and more valuable. I’m proud of the work I have done, I’ve given it my best, and I hope that you’ll either enjoy it, support it – or both! I’m going to promote the book as widely as I can, and I will be working hard to do it in an interesting way – rather than just ramming it down people’s throats until you unfollow me on twitter and block me on Facebook! I am going to post more about it in the next couple of months – about its availability around the world (Including various translations), about reselling (if people/cafes/roasteries/coffee businesses around the world are interested), to say thank you to those that have helped me, and about any events I may be doing to promote it (come and say hello!). It’s actually available to preorder on amazon already (and has been for a month already, despite the fact that I’ve yet to hold a physical copy – such is the nature of modern publishing). While I’m deeply conflicted about amazon, I can’t deny it is probably the cheapest place to buy it and if preorders are decent the price actually drops (which is why the US price is already lower than RRP)! The book will only be available as hardback (the digital version I dream of requires some physical sales first) and it is both fabric bound and without a dust jacket! (I just really, really hate dust jackets so this makes me very happy!). Here are some links: The World Atlas of Coffee - Amazon UK The World Atlas of Coffee – Amazon US

Barista Guild of Europe – Camp 2014
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 02:16 PM - 8 months, 4 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Barista Guild of Europe – Camp 2014
Today was the day the Barista Guild of Europe launched, at the SCAE show in Rimini, and they started selling tickets to the first event organised under the BGE banner: Barista Camp in Greece. I’ve been a fan of barista camps since I got to attend one in the USA a couple of years ago, organised by the Barista Guild of America. While I’m obviously a fan of barista competitions, they are expensive affairs that don’t necessarily have an even distribution of value to all involved (this is the nature of competition of course!). Barista Camps are interesting to me because everyone who attends can have an amazing experience, you can’t really “win” a barista camp… I’m a little bit involved in this event, I’m the chair of a working committee, but I’m not for a second claiming any credit for making it happen. Isa Verschraegen is doing all the very hard work, with great support from people like Dale Harris, Kalle Freese, Andrew Tolley and others from the working group. You can read a bit more about the camp on the website here: www.baristaguildofeurope.com (You can buy tickets there too!) I just wanted to post a few things about the ideas behind the camp: - We wanted it to be as accessibly priced as possible. For food, drink, accommodation and education (with certification too) it starts at €400 right now. I think that is great value, and I hope this price point encourages some cafes to buy a ticket for a staff member – or at least support them financially if they want to go. - There are three different education tracks available, but also group lectures for everyone. I think it is going to be great to mix up more specialised education with moments where everyone comes together to learn and taste things. - There are opportunities to volunteer. You can offer to volunteer on the website. You’ll need to get yourself there (which isn’t too expensive at that time of year), but otherwise you won’t pay anything. We expect to get more offers than we can accommodate, so don’t be afraid to sell yourself a little bit if you’re applying. - The full program isn’t published yet, so keep an eye out as we announce various speakers and other fun stuff! I hope I’ll see a lot of people there. The opportunity to get together always results in great things. I like the idea of 150 baristas going back to 150 shops afterwards, and then making better drinks and giving better experiences to hundreds of thousands of people across Europe. Grab your ticket here! Tickets with more info about each track here .

Video: Back to the Moka Pot
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 02:15 PM - 9 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Video: Back to the Moka Pot
This video was uploaded a few days ago, and is worth watching if you use a Moka pot (or have customers who do). I appreciate the tiny little hat tip at the start, and who doesn’t love modding coffee brewing kit to have 4 thermocouples in it for logging data…? I also learned a few interesting things! Worth just under 8 minutes of your time:

Introducing Longberry Magazine
Monday, May 19, 2014 - 10:22 AM - 9 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Introducing Longberry Magazine
Today I’m proud to announce that a project ,that has been in the works for some times, has come to fruition – Longberry Magazine. A small group (myself, Ben Szobody and Jacob Forrest ) felt that coffee was fascinating, but that most publications were more focused on the trade side of things rather than trying to tell the stories we have to the interested members of the coffee drinking public. We decided we’d try our hand at creating a magazine and I’m excited to say that we’re now taking pre-orders. The magazine has actually been printed but we’re splitting the distribution between the US and the UK, so right now half of the (very small) print run is on its way to the USA – having been printed here in the UK. Philosophy There were a few key ideas behind the magazine that I’d like to share: - No advertising. We know that this is how the magazine business actually makes money, but we didn’t want that to be part of what we did. We intend to remain ad free. If it stops being financially viable then we will stop printing magazines. - We will pay authors. We will pay authors a share of the revenue from each edition (physical or digital) sold. The initial print run is very small, so we hope people will also embrace the digital editions. - We want to tell stories you haven’t heard. We hope to find authors new to much of the speciality coffee world, who aren’t writing for most magazines out there. We’re challenging ourselves to find the best stories we can, to share with an interested audience. - It should be a beautiful thing. We’ve produced a pretty limited run of physical magazines, printed on high quality stock and they’re lovely things to own. These two things mean that we have to charge a fair price for the magazine. We believe £7 plus shipping is a fair price and good value. The digital version is priced at £2.50 or an additional £1 if you buy the physical copy. We hope to publish more in the future, though we aren’t going to promise to release a magazine per quarter. We’re calling it “an occasional journal of coffee”… Where can I get it? If you are in North America then we’d recommend buying it from the Longberry Website , as that will be distributed from the USA and the cheapest. If you are in Europe, or the rest of the world, then we’d probably recommend buying it from the Square Mile Webshop . (Square Mile are helping with distribution – but this is not a Square Mile Coffee project). If you’re buying just digital then please buy direct from the Longberry site. Both websites are charging in GBP, because the company (and its bank account) are based in the UK – but you can buy it with any credit card, and Stripe’s conversion into other currencies isn’t painful. Can I write for Longberry? You can! You can email a pitch to Longberry at editors@longberrypress.com (though I would kindly request that you read the magazine and have an idea of the kind of stories we want to publish before getting in touch).

The Failure of First
Monday, May 12, 2014 - 04:00 PM - 9 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
The Failure of First
There is an obsession with being first in our culture that I find increasingly troubling and frustrating. This isn’t just coffee specifically, I find it throughout various industries and professions. Journalism has long chased the scoop – the story that no one else has. In the past a scoop wasn’t simply a story that no one else had – it was also revelatory, bringing something hidden to light. Today it is mostly just saying something (or posting a photo of something, or claiming something) before anyone else does. Journalism has undeniably changed because of the internet. The frustration with the internet is its revenue model – we’re all eyeballs to advertisers. It’s not that we were in some golden age of journalism before, tabloid journalism has always been a horrible thing – and certainly no better than Gawker. The incentives in journalism have changed to writing something that gets as many eyeballs as possible, skewed through a world of analytics of page views and headline optimisation. Nothing gets eyeballs like a “first”, and as a result (and I’m not talking about coffee specifically here) accuracy and truthfulness have gone out of the window. Poorly researched inaccuracies, or salacious claims, can be retracted quietly on the same webpage once the wave of traffic dies back. It isn’t damaging because those eyeballs have moved on, and only the very few that care will revisit the story to see if it has been updated. There was a period of time where you’d often see people try to comment “first” first on a particular article, contributing nothing – simply attempting to claim some non-existent internet points. We all hoped it would go away, but I don’t think anyone wanted it to drift from the comments section up into the content itself. Linkbait , the now omnipresent listicles , compendia of Buzzfeed-esque gifs, it’s all very…. amusing, but I miss being treated like an adult who might actually want to do some thinking. More information, less titillation. Sadly, there’s a reason why the Daily Mail’s website (which I will not link to) is so appalling well trafficked. I am aware I have crossed the line into “shut up old man” territory. I’m aware that things change, that newspapers are dying, and there is no moral obligation to save them. I’m aware that the profession of journalism now exists in large part to see how far it can get away with stealing from those who still want practice it, or at least try to get them to work for free. You can argue that if people really wanted great journalism then they’d support it and champion it. The fetishization of longform writing is perhaps a counter to this, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about either. Enough about writing though… Typically in coffee, we love a “first” when it comes to equipment, something I’ve never really understood. Being the first one in a town, state or country to carry a certain new piece of equipment seems to have gained a perceived value that I don’t believe is being realised or returned. I don’t believe that paying a premium in cash (or time without a fully functioning machine if you bought in beta) generates matching revenues. I don’t think enough people buy coffee because of the machine’s novelty to cover its costs. The difference with technology is that there is a long precedent of “first” not really winning. This doesn’t stop technology companies launching very average products, barely out of beta, in an effort to be first to market. (I’m not talking about coffee specifically – just technology generally) Being first may give you something of an opportunity, but there is a better opportunity if you enter with a superior product later. The same is true of ideas. We all want to be able to claim we were the first to do something, though in truth almost every interesting idea in coffee is derivative in some way (this is no bad thing) of another. There is no real ownership of a great idea, but there are definite advantages to executing a good idea well. In coffee it isn’t unusual to see an older generation roll its eyes (in either frustration, exasperation or amusement) as the younger generation “discovers” something or “invents” something that they’ve seen or done long before. My biggest worry is that the world of the “first” is very shallow indeed. Ideas aren’t really dug down into because everyone just wants to move onto a new one, rather than work towards a better iteration of an existing one. That is perhaps cultural, and on the upside I believe it leaves enormous opportunities for anyone willing to stick with something to really explore it. This isn’t a universal problem – some of the most interesting businesses and people to me in coffee are doing this: digging down, exploring and taking their time to work something through. I believe they’ll see continued success from this approach, and I look forward to seeing what they learn and where they end up. I’m not really sure I’m going to make a definitive point here, it is just something that my brain has been chewing for a little while and writing for here is as good a way of any to start to process it a little more. I’ve missed writing on here recently, as most of my creative energy had to end up somewhere else for a while. I’ll share more about that in the not too distant future…

Tamper Tantrum Talk: Bourbon
Friday, May 09, 2014 - 03:03 PM - 10 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Tamper Tantrum Talk: Bourbon
I was asked by Colin Harmon to give a talk at the Tamper Tantrum event at the UK Barista Championship. He gave me a one word topic, so I thought I’d have a little fun with it. I hope you enjoy the talk, I’m sure there are a few factual holes that people will pick up on. (I really struggled with the pain from a back injury that day, so it isn’t quite as coherent as I’d like – but no excuses!) If you haven’t explored the amazing library of talks that they’ve built up so far – then this is what you should do with your weekend! You can subscribe in iTunes too.

Reverse engineering espresso
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 11:31 AM - 10 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Reverse engineering espresso
Typically when we think about brewing espresso it all starts with a dose of dry coffee going into a basket. We might start out with our 19g of coffee, and think about what we want to do from there. We might try a ratio that we enjoyed with another coffee, and taste it and measure it and make adjustments from there. I’m not making a criticism of the way we think – when you make coffee you feel like everything starts with the raw materials, and this isn’t a terrible way to think. At the end of all this you’ll end up with a recipe, but different coffees will need to be treated differently (even if you want to confine them within the same parameters). Technology exists, however, for us to start to think about it from the end point backwards, to reverse engineer our product. Why does this matter? If we start from the end of the process, we start by clearly defining the customer experience and then using our techniques, equipment and understanding to create and craft that. This means that we might have to make some pretty critical decisions that aren’t used to making. Let’s start with a topic that’s always a little tricky for us: How strong should my espresso be? This is a fun place to start, but it does mean you’ll need some experience in measuring the strength of espresso and have been paying attention enough to know what you like. As a reference point – I rarely enjoy espressos that exceed 12% strength. At this point the shot certainly have a tonne of texture, but I find the flavours too concentrated to be easily discernible and enjoyable. I really enjoy espresso in the 9–10% range. This is simply my own preference, and by no means a recommendation. Lots of people have strong, positive responses to very strong espressos. How much espresso do I want to serve? This feels like a particularly strange question, but it is worth considering. How much liquid do you want to put in a cup? Is 32g of espresso worth the same as 36g of espresso? Either way, for this to work you need to make a decision. Personally, again all preference, I don’t really want more than 50g as a double – generally I prefer a double to be 36–40g of coffee. What about extraction? Enough’s been said about extraction to spare too much in-depth conversation. You like what you like, either as a cafe or a roaster – and certainly as a roaster you should be targeting roasts against a specific level of extraction. I like espresso, from conventional flat burr grinders, at around 20% extraction. So now I have a recipe. I know I want 40g of coffee, at 10% strength that is a 20% extraction. Fire up VST Coffee Tools and plug it in. By adjusting dry coffee dose until I hit my desired extraction then I can see that for this recipe to work I should start with 18.6g of coffee. I can then start with 18.6g to 40g and adjust grind until I hit my desired espresso – presuming my water, grinder and baskets allow me to do this. I would pretty much ignore time (though from experience I know it will likely end up in the late 20s/very early 30s). I wouldn’t dial in against time though, I’d be pulling on scales to hit my shot weights. Is this how I should make all espresso now? The idea of this post isn’t to change the way you dial in, but instead to present an alternative way to think about how we generate our brew recipes. I think it is pretty healthy to change it up sometimes, to start with what our customer will drink (and how we want that to taste) and to work backwards from there.

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