Espresso offerings at the plan July 2010

Just a brief mention about the coffees I’m using for espresso now. They’re altering less from day to day than they were a year or so ago… Not because we (or rather, I) are getting lazy, or uninterested – FAR from it – the opposite is true!

Since we installed our great new espresso machine last year, and twinned it with the awesome Anfim Super Caimano grinder earlier this year, it’s become more possible to really focus on more fine attention to detail, consistency, skills, and the attempt to best represent the great coffees we use (as I had anticipated). This has led to the realisation that just one great seasonal blend, or SE espresso, for longer periods at a time, holds within it a complex balance of depth, variance and elusive greatness. Appreciating and attempting to pinpoint these qualities is now possible in a way that it was not before (which was partly why I previously just threw caution to the wind and tried as many different coffees as possible through our old machine!) and is often enough – without constantly switching from one coffee to another. All our coffee (except house filter) is still from our roaster, JGC, as I feel it is so important to have a firm relationship with just one primary roaster who is of this exceptional level of quality. The coffee from just this one roaster is varied and amazing enough to never need to look elsewhere. All this said though, my belief in serving frequently changing coffees for espresso at the cafe is still VERY much alive. Last week, I put El Salvadorian La Fany on for a day, and within the next two weeks, I hope to put Kenyan Miroroma on for a day as a single origin espresso too. Maybe we might even have guest espresso from other artisan roasters sometimes too. This sort of thing helps me and us to learn more about coffee and our craft, and offers interest and excitement to the customer and all concerned! But, in-between times (and with only one grinder for espresso), I am currently tending towards attempting to offer fantastic (and still transient) seasonal blends that we  have a more intimate knowledge of like Bold Red espresso, or Caffe Naturelle (a blend which is more ‘permanent’ but still seasonal), as mainstays, amongst the wider exploration of different coffees as well.

Attention to detail with all things espresso has also recently included for me the implementation of a little personal project to manage the freshness and supply of our stock much more carefully – walking a tightrope to really keep freshness in the zone where I most like it (although there is much debate about this subject), and where I feel we can develop the best degree of consistency (you wouldn’t order fresh cakes only once every two or three weeks, so why treat fresh coffee differently?). The aim is that it should never be too fresh, but equally never usually past a certain target period from roast. The difficulty is you have to try to predict the future (busyness), which is …interesting! Otherwise you either have coffee that is outside the ‘window’ …or NO coffee at all!!

One other thing I’m toying with over the next week or so is the possibility of a VERY low-fi mod to our Anfim. Great as it is already, a little tweak could create more subtle grind adjustment that would mean less dramatic jumps here and there …if I can get it to work..!

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