Friday, September 5, 2008

Reg Barber Ripple Tamper Evaluation

Just last week I have received a new tamper from Reg Barber and was very anxious to put it to the test. As you might know, I have given Reg’s tampers a thorough evaluation on bases and diameters. This interesting tamper has a ripple cut in the stainless steel, a very appealing to the eye, but is it practical well here are my thoughts …

There are 2 different types of ripple tampers, c-ripple and flat ripple. I am playing around with the flat ripple base. For me, the biggest interest in this design was to see if the ripples create any form of channelling, resulting in inconsistent or uneven extractions. As the ripples are perfectly spaced apart the surface after tamping is very much cohesive and even, so as the puck expands onto the showerscreen evenly. Unlike the curved tampers the expansion is almost resemblant to that of a flat base. As I explained in my previous evaluations, curved tampers play a big advantage in my style of tamping and I much rather prefer them.

The pros of this surface is definitely its look, after tamping the puck looks fantastic with awesome wavy patterns, however apart from its look it acts no different to a flat tamper. I would imagine that the c-ripple would be similar to c-flat tamper.

I have found that the more you use the tamper the likelier the chance of coffee getting stuck in the ripples, so I end up wiping the tamper almost every time on my apron to avoid the clogging. It has happened on few occasions especially in the middle of the base.

This tamper is perfect for those who prefer flat tampers; it has a very good appeal about it and is a very attractive tool to have. I would love to thank Reg for kindly donating this tamper for evaluation.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beans Leaves and Love ... and lots more

Just this past weekend J&N had a mini festival at their roastery. Lots of their customers distributers and friends were invited to spend time and meet new people. A very kind gesture! That same weekend I was working for J&N at the tradeshow, looking after a coffee machine and making a thousand lattes, so missed out on all the activities that the guys put together, but still got to go to the party on Friday night.

Congratulations to David Haugaard for winning the first ever AeroPress competition, his claims his success was hidden in the amazing water imported from Wales. David made me a cup of his amazing misty valley coffee that I felt in love with there and then, just superb!

I would love to congratulate everyone at J&N for putting on a great show. For me it was a great time to see all the people that I’ve met at exhibitions and trade shows. I was very surprised and delighted to see Conal from espresso warehouse, everyone had a great time drinking together and shaking it on the dancefloor.

Thank you J&N ...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

'09-'11 WBC machine and grinder sponsors are ...

As from last night the new sponsors of the WBC were announced, congratulations to Nuova Simonelli and Mahlkönig for securing sponsorship rights for 2009 – 2011. The official machine will be the Aurelia and K30 grinders. Both of the manufacturers will have their hands full for next couple of years I hope that they do a good job at living up to all the expectations.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Complete Summary of Changes to WBC Rules & Regulations for 2009

The changes to the WBC Rules & Regulations, WBC Score Sheets, and WBC scoring system were proposed by, discussed among, and agreed upon by members of all of the WBC committees as well as the WBC Board of Directors. The changes have incorporated feedback from competitors and judges around the world. The changes can be characterized as providing competition baristas with more options and creating less stringent guidelines for WBC requirements in performances, with a greater emphasis on coffee presentation and coffee quality, while continuing to advance the craft of baristas and specialty coffee.

“The Grinder rule”

No change has been made to the grinder rule. Competitors retain the option to use the provided WBC sponsor grinder or bring their own grinder.

Previous Version (2007/2008)

New Version (2009)


Shot times within 20-30 seconds range

Shot times within 3-second variance.

Competitor earns point if extraction times are within 3.0 seconds of each other.

(Shot times of 20-30 seconds is still recommended.)

Tech judges visually evaluated espresso for cappuccino and signature beverage.

Tech judges do not visually evaluate shots. Item removed from score sheets.

Understands Grinder

Score 0-6 points

Station Management

Score 0-6 points

Tech judges award points based on competitorʼs workflow during performance including management of station, equipment (grinder, espresso machtools and movement around station.


Sugar required as an accessory.

Sugar no longer part of service.

All 4 beverages served simultaneously.

Simultaneous service of beverages no longer required. Competitor may serve beverages to judges when ready. Judges will evaluate beverages when served.

(All four beverages within drink category must be served before moving on to next category.)


Total score calculated by averaging tech scores and adding tech score to each sensory score sheet.

Total points possible: 1012.

Tech points: 356 points (35%)

Sensory points: 656 points (65%)

Scores from each of the six judges are simply added together. Sensory scores weigh more heavily towards total score.

Total points possible: 870.

Tech points: 154 points (18%)

Sensory points: 716 points (82%)

In the event of a tie score, competitor with the most number of 6ʼs on score sheets (sensory and tech) wins tie. If no 6ʼs, then 5ʼs, etc.

In the event of a tie score, competitor with the highest total sensory score for espresso evaluation wins tie. If still tied, moves to cappuccino score, then signature beverage.

Additional Changes

  • Sensory judges will follow a new protocol for evaluating espresso and cappuccino. (These procedures are detailed in the Judgeʼs section of the WBC Rules & Regulations document).
  • Additional language has been added to the Judgeʼs section about “Presentation: Professionalism/Dedication/Passion,” encouraging competitors to create a more engaging presentation with a focus on coffee information.
  • Competitors may not use the space below the workstation for storage of wares used during the competition.
  • No liquids, of any kind (water, ingredients, etc.) may be placed on top of the espresso machine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

2009 WBC Rules and Regulations

WBC committee has published Rules and Regulations for 2009, I will read the rules in details tomorrow to find out what the changes are. Please feel free to share your opinions on the new changes ...

[edit: 20/08/08]
Few noticeable changes are:

The sugar is no longer needs to be served at the judges table

2.2.1 - H "Espressos must be served to the judges with a spoon, napkin and water."

There is no specific time in which the shots "should" be extracted
2.2.1 - E "
Extraction time is recommended to be between 20 to 30 seconds; however not mandatory."

Judges MUST stir the espresso before drinking, unless stated by barista not to.
17.2.3 - "Using a spoon, the sensory judge will give the espresso shot THREE stirs"
"Competitors may override the evaluation criteria by giving the judges specific instructions ..."

Score sheets are now added up in one lump sum, rather than average scores

There have been rumours that only WBC sponsor grinders will be allowed, those speculations are false. Barista will be able to bring their own grinder with any modifications.

Extraction of both partafilters at the same time is still allowed, so as Stephen did last year you can grind the first one and sit it aside for as long as you want.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Caffè Latte Splash

pictures describe a thousand words ...

Monday, July 28, 2008


Not long ago I had visited Switzerland and finding a good cup of coffee is almost impossible. Never the less the “trend” of espresso is very much alive and starbucks seems to be a cool and trendy hangout place for tourists and natives alike. Another trendy thing to have and drink is Nespresso, the famous espresso brewer in the whole of Europe and perhaps the most publicised and criticised piece of coffee machinery. Almost every household has a Nespresso machine and a vast selection of different pods. I got to use one every morning myself and had found out why people like it and if it actually makes a good cup of espresso coffee …

Ever since Nordic Barista Cup 2007 I’ve been a little sceptical of this machine and its capabilities, but “in theory” this machine is holeproof. It’s clean, its easy and believe it or not the taste is actually half decent. They appeal to an upper class crowds with their clean and sharp designs. This ferry tail success story really is a great example of superb marketing, however people do not buy a Nespresso machine for the taste in be cup, but for its convenience and cleanliness.

The taste of the pods is ranked by strength, acidity and bitterness, so the stronger/bitter the coffee the darker the colour of the pod. In other words higher dose of nasty robusta, stronger the taste. They do however make an 100% Arabica blend which I have grown to like. The name of the pod is Volluto and the capsule is gold in coulour. The espresso shot is far from perfect but it is more than drinkable and not a bad introduction to decent espresso. Having said that there are still few minor skills required in order to pull a decent shot.

Due to the low dose of coffee in the pods (5grams) and the low bar pressure of the machine the coffee is extremely easy to over extract. There is no restriction and very little infusion time at the start of the extraction, so the coffee comes down like a waterfall, it is very important to visually judge the espresso and cut the shot at an appropriate time. I have found that a 25ml shot would come out around 15sec but the end product actually tastes nice; sweet and chocolaty with a good amount of crema.

The machine itself is inexpensive, that is another reason why people want to purchase it but the pods are pretty expensive and the costs add up, but I guess it is much cheaper than getting an espresso at a coffee shop. Each pod is gas sealed immediately after grinding so the coffee keeps much longer. As there is no one way valve, the pods tend to puff up due to release of gasses.

I have come to the conclusion that ordinary people still drink espresso just because its fashionable, they are not interested in origins and don’t recognise fine flavours. Many like the strong taste, many don’t and that’s the bottom line. In that regard Nespresso is going a horrible job at education people about coffee as a product. You never see people buying a bottle of red wine just because its made out of a red grape, peoples general understanding of wine is much higher, many even understand the appellation system. Nespresso could reveal the origins and blend breakdowns, so people can start associating different tastes and profiles.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Coffee in Berlin

visited : 25/06/08
Straight after WBC I headed to Berlin for a couple of days. As I was in Berlin for a brief amount of time I managed to squeeze one espresso bar into my busy schedule. I would have loved to do a proper espresso run of Berlin, but perhaps next time.

Bonanza Coffee Heroes (Oderberger Strasse 35) was recommended to me by few Berliners that I met in Copenhagen. This small coffee shop is perhaps the most geekiest espresso bar I’ve ever been to. They have a Synesso machine with few Mazzer grinders but that’s not what makes them geeky. Believe it or not, they have a special scale underneath a tamping mat and measure the tamp pressure every time. I guess it gives them more consistency but a barista should be able to feel the pressure naturally every time. As well as all the cool gadgets in the shop they own a brand new clover, when I visited them they were in the middle of installing it into their store. I think that it will be a very good introduction.

Ok lets talk coffee … they use naked portafilters so you get a double shot every time. The espresso blend is on a rather dark side, so the coffee tasted a little ashy and very chocolaty. Personally I didn’t like it as I struggled to find the delicate balance of espresso in my double ristretto, having said that I strongly believe that their espresso is one of the best in town, if not the best. The majority of the clientele drink lattes and cappuccinos so the espresso blend is designed that way and does taste great with milk.

The shop attracts a lot of international guests from all over Berlin. The Barista behind the bar is a really cool Aussie guy that has a lot of passion for coffee. I credit the owners for doing the right thing, they truly have created an awesome barista playground with serious and seriously expensive tools.

I strongly recommend going to this espresso bar, as it simply is the greatest in Berlin. Once the clover is up and running I hope that they will serve some special single origins. Although I wasn’t in love with the coffee I was in love with the passion this place carries out, a great asset to Berlin! A must visit!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wonderful Coffee - Copenhagen 2008

This was my second coffee trade show, but first ever World Barista Championships. I was extremely excited to be part of it all and had been counting down the days.

I arrived to Copenhagen on Thursday (the first day of the exhibition). As soon as I dropped off my bags at the hostel I rushed over to the venue. I’ve been in Copenhagen before, so getting around the city wasn’t a problem at all considering that the exhibition hall was in a very central location. On the first day the event seemed a little disorganised especially the WBC area. The competition area was extremely hot with no airflow and hardly any sunlight. The stations were well orgonised though. Machines were well tuned and had no technical issues. The organisation had improved on the second day and the weather got a little cooler for the weekend.

All the competitions were held in conjunction with the Wonderful Coffee exhibition so the whole event attracted a mixed bunch of visitors, both local and international. Over the course of 4 days there would have been close to 2000 visitors, so it is safe to say that the show was a great success.

I would like to congratulate all the winners but in particular the Australian competitors that did so extremely well. Massive congratulations to Con for winning The World Latte Art comp and to Dave for coming 2nd in the World Barista Championships, a really outstanding effort boys! The Aussie support team was as strong as always cheering for the boys!

I would also like to congratulate Stephen on taking out the WBC title. Massive congratulations to James and Anette for getting Stephen over the line, you guys are amazing and should take the credit!

Massive shout outs to Casper, (you are a rockstar man!!!) for winning the Cupping comp! Casper took out the comp with sheer style, he is the coolest cupper you will ever meet and I am so damn proud of him! Big congrats to The Coffee Collective crew, yet another trophy to the bookshelf along side your roaster!

Huge congrats to Daniel!!! You make Sweden very proud, great result! I look forward to meeting you again shortly! Swedish support team … YOU ROCK!!!

And how could I forget the Dutch support team, awesome, just awesome!!! Without you the event would have been very dull! You make the whole place shine orange, my condolences about the Dutch football team, but I say no more I know that it’s a very touchy topic for you! Thanks for making this event memorable for everyone! Big Congrats to Liesbeth for putting on a massive fight and coming 3rd in the world!

I was very fortunate to meet so many interesting people, if I haven’t already sent you an email I dearly apologise, it was an honour meeting each and every one of you and I hope to see you all again in the nearest future.

Huge thanks to espresso warehouse (Gary, Conal & Dave) for everything!!!! I am forever grateful!

Thank you Emily for hooking me up with all the volunteer work. It was a bless helping out behind the scenes and making wonderful coffee at the WBC café! Huge congrats to Michelle on keeping everything under control backstage, and good job on sticking it to the mic. guy hahaha!

I really do hope that this WBC is a first of many for me, I cannot describe how much fun and enjoyable everything was. Great job to everyone making it possible, especially the sponsors. If you haven’t already seen the pictures you can find them here … see you all next time!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Coffee Collective

visited: 21/06/08

I would like to make a very important addition to my previous “Copenhagen Espresso Run” blog post.

Since my last visit The Coffee Collective (Jægersborggade 10) have opened a new roastery/café in the suburbs. This espresso bar is an absolute asset and must be visited by everyone. Peter, Klaus, Casper and Linus do all the right things and they do them so damn well! They strive to achieve a lot of balance in their complex and well thought out espresso blend and nail the shots every time. During my Copenhagen stay their espresso was the best, hands down and experience was priceless.

This new sight has topped my Copenhagen Espresso Run chart.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wonderful Coffee Pics

I finally have some time to post all the pictures from Wonderful Coffee 08 … much to write about in upcoming weeks, so keep reporting back .

Wonderful Coffee Copenhagen 08 sets:

Set 1
Set 2
Set 3
Grand Barista Party

I haven't had a chance to look for other photos on the internet so if you know of other galleries or are willing to share yours feel welcome to post a comment with the attached link.

It was great meeting everyone, hope to see you all again soon ... enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Amsterdam Espresso Run

visited: 16/06/08
I am back in Europe to continue my coffee journeys, so expect few more espresso runs. My first journey has brought me to Amsterdam, a beautiful city full of rich history and amazing architecture. There are tons of “Coffee Shops” here, but do not be mislead as they sell weed rather than coffee. Good coffee is hard to come by, but never the less, after doing my homework I have found few gems around the city.

My favourite espresso was at a very small and intimate espresso bar called Coffee Connection (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 33) not far from the central station in a great location. It’s a one-man governed shop, so the social interaction feel with the barista is great. David, the man behind the machine is always keen to talk coffee and takes pride in what he does. The coffee is roasted locally in Amsterdam by a lady, that use to own the coffee shop prior to David. It’s a full city roast of Arabica coffee. David has a La Marzocco Linea that he takes good care of and cleans regularly. He grinds his coffee on demand every time. Espresso was very rich with no complexity due to its roast profile but never the less had a great amount of crema and a lingering chocolaty aftertaste. The good thing about this espresso bar is the consistency as only David handles the coffee machine and on both occasions my coffee was exactly the same.
The place itself is not very big, but they have a cosy little upstairs sitting area with a great view over a busy street. A pet cat also resides in the building keeping the mice out. You might bump into her upstairs, as the wooden bench seem to be her favourite resting place.

The Coffee Salon is an amazing espresso bar with an absolute eye candy of a machine facing out onto a street. The main focus of the whole place is that Kees van der Westen design mistral. As you can see on the picture it is a piston machine giving it a very manual modern look.

I was thoroughly disappointed with the coffee. They use falombini coffee beans from Italy, which are simply not fresh. A dose of nasty robusta was very distinct, giving the coffee a rough edge that I wasn’t very fond of.

They occupy a very large space and have a great feel inside with very alternative art around the place. They also attract a much younger crowd. This espresso bar has a very good potential to make outstanding coffee, but at the moment they are lacking in many departments. I recommend going there just to see that amazing coffee machine, it will blow your socks off! I really wanted to get my hands on it.

Brandmeester (Van Baerkestraat 13) is a very interesting espresso bar with rostery as well as a big showroom full of espresso machines and interesting coffee gadgets. A very nice open space with different coffees on offer for purchase. In the far courner of the shop you have a very clean probat roaster. I didn’t get to meet the roastmaster but from the look of the roaster they take good care of the roasting side of things.
The coffee itself wasn’t all that great, very overextracted and pale. The barista had no knowledge of how to pull a decent espresso shot. The cup was very bitter and burnt, I don’t think that their faema machine is tuned well.

There is a chain of coffee shops called the coffee company, it is not worth your time and I recommend avoiding them if possible. I think they are best described as Dutch answer to starbucks. They do carry beautiful Kees van der Westen machines so feel free to have a look at them through the window.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Amsterdam and definitely hope that the coffee scene will improve over next few years. I was amazed at how many Kees van der Westen machines there are in small coffee shops around the city. I had an opportunity to meet up with one of the great coffee historians and collectors Robert Vriesendorp. He has an amazing collection of vac pots and various coffee brewers. I recommend checking out his website. He roasts his own coffee and to be perfectly honest the best espresso in Amsterdam that I had was at his house, it truly was spectacular. Next time you are in Amsterdam drop him an email and he will update you on the current scene. Robert has great knowledge about coffee and is a very inspiring individual.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Smoking coffee chaff

As the coffee roasts and expands in the roaster, it emits a particulate matter which is discarded thorough the ventilation. Of cause I am talking about the coffee chaff , roasters often collect it into a waste bucket or simply let it float out of the window. It seems like a waste but perhaps it isn’t?

On the weekend I have tried smoking the chaff (YES, SMOKING). This cigarette was rolled up exactly the same as a homemade cigarette with a filter. I myself never smoke, so not exactly sure what profiles I should be looking for but it wasn’t unpleasant, very flavoursome. If you enjoy a fine cigar than you might find this interesting. I found that the smoke carried out a light coffee note as well as dried straw and grassy taste. I didn’t feel any side effects, but I only took a couple of puffs. You might get a little dizzy if you smoke a whole one but don’t quote me on this. I am not exactly sure about any other side effects so if you decide to try it, you may do so at your own risk.

I don’t hope to spark some freaky phase here, wouldn’t want roasters rolling “Dat fine Columbian shit …” during roasts!
Care to feedback or even give it a shot yourself?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Esmeralda Special 2008 Ends

As expected the early harvest batches have sold for a very high price. Batch 2 got extra attention from the bidders selling for $105.25 USD per pound. The winner with the most ambitions was Stumptown. As a matter of fact they ended up buying first tree batches including 6 bags of peaberry. All together they spent $135,372 USD for 680 kg of coffee.

I question if this great coffee worth all this money, it probably isn’t! For Stumptown it is a gesture to show off in the market and flash their cash among the public and competitors. Is that doing any good in the speciality coffee industry? I certainly don’t think so. I am glad that Intelligentsia didn’t bid big, they certainly have the money and have no need to be buying reputation points. They only got 6 bags of Jaramillo and pulled out of the peaberry auction. I guess this coffee will be treated for pure pleasure, it is certainly not enough to go around Midwest.

Enhancing the spice

This week I’m concentrating on enhancing certain elements and aspects in the espresso. Apart from the most obvious characteristics such as sweetness and acidity which are found in many full-bodied coffees; I often get hints of spice that linger at the back of the throat. In many ways you could associate spice as aftertaste as it is a lingering sensation, so I wanted it to come through as more distinctive initial taste.

First thing that came to mind was pepper sauce, so without hesitation I dropped few drops of Tabasco in to the cup. NOT A GOOD IDEA! After drinking this combination my thought was on fire, the sauce itself is pure vinegar and this combo doesn’t work at all.

Using freshly ground pepper seemed to do a trick. You will find that black peppercorns are a little too overpowering, but white peppercorns are just right. The idea is to freshly grind a little dash of white peppercorn into the espresso cup and run the extraction over the top. The most important thing is to mix it really well to achieve the balance. I encourage you to try this and report back.

I will further continue with spice tests perhaps roasted garlic is the next big thing, I guess we just wait and see … :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Best of Panama 2008 Ends

As expected Café Granja La Esperanza got the highest bid going for $47 USD per pound. That makes one bag worth $2,350 USD (which still is a pretty good price for what they get) ... making 5 bags worth $11,750 USD. The lucky winner was 49th parallel coffee roasters.

you can see the final results here

As you can remember last year Hacienda La Esmeralda sold for $130 per pound, that still remains to be the record.

Esmeralda Special 2008 auctions are on tomorrow, so all eyes peeled on that one. I am tipping Intelligentsia taking out most of the batches.

Best of Panama 2008 Auction

As the auction opens the bids are starting to slowly float in! This is one of the highly regarded auctions as previously green sold for a lot of green ... interesting to see who will flash the most cash this year ... wouldn't surprise me if we see bags sold at over $600

The eyes are on: Café Granja La Esperanza from Jaramillo Arriba which was voted the best geisha and scored 93.16 in the cupping.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Australian Barista Comps 2008

As many of you know, I competed in Open Heats for the Australian Barista Competition in Melbourne just past weekend. I placed 7th out of 18 people and am pretty pleased with my result.

The open heat was extremely competitive with big guns blazing for the title. In the end Con Haralambopoulos took the title, although few things went wrong and he ended up going a little over time. I am not going to cover the event in full detail as guys from cafe grindel blog have covered it in full detail but I will give some reference to the pics from the open heats.

and great photography by Sydney Law

On Day 2 we had a new Australian Barista Champion, David Makin. His routine was something out of a move, simply flawless and amazing. I congratulate Dave on winning and will be cheering for him in Copenhagen. Here are some pictures from day 2.

Having seen Australia’s best in action makes you realize how much level of attention and attenuation goes into 15 minutes of competition time. I am not too sure when I will be completion next but I will be more confident and more aware of what to expect. Cant wait to watch worlds best baristas battle it out in Copenhagen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Filtering the Crema

All this week I’ve been playing around with crema, lots of different experiments and a lot of failed results. I did however find something interesting and definitely worth mentioning. So in regards to my previous post I am still trying to eliminate crema without physically removing it with a spoon.

I’ve been trying to filter out the crema during the extraction using various filtration methods. All but one, have failed. I have found that filtering through filter paper will give a very unpleasant cardboard taste in the cup. The best filter turned out to be a single (9 gram) filter basket. Let me break it down a little bit. The espresso runs straight into the filter basket sifting through but the crema stays on top and filters out almost completely. The end result gives you the espresso liquid with slightly thin pale layer of crema (resemblant to that of aeropress). I guess the advantage of removing the crema this way is that it doesn’t mix in the cup during the initial stages of extraction.

After filtering out the crema I then compared both filtered and unfiltered espresso. This is what I found:

I am using a very sweet espresso blend rich and full of body with distinct dark chocolate notes.

Regular espresso (crema mixed in with a spoon thoroughly)
The smell carried out a subtle hint of berry and chocolate notes. The espresso was well balanced with smooth rich mouthfeel, slight bitterness and a distinct chocolate note.

Filtered Espresso
A very sharp oaky smell with hints of chocolate. Espresso was very sharp and clean with absolutely no body. Distinct taste of chocolate remained.

The conclusion that I have established indicated that the main characters of espresso (with crema) will carry out through filtration. In this instant the distinct chocolate note was very much present although the overall espresso lacked body. I personally prefer the espresso for what it is today a smooth, creamy, well balanced drink and all those aspects are tied in by ONE essential ingredient, crema. I also found that filtered espresso is good for picking out the main flavours and raw (bold) character out of the bean to more accurately describe its main taste.