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Help Me ! I'm a Coffee Moron


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I need some advice and a little help. I have been asked to help open a small coffee bar in an art gallery. The owners of the gallery would like a place like the two famous espresso bars in Rome. So the concept is to be focused on everything italian.

The espresso we could be selling is illy. After a little reading here, it seems to me that I might find a better product than what illy has. What espresso should I also be looking at, that is Italian ?

I have also been having some difficulty in finding out any info on espresso bars in Italy that I can look at or what they sell. Where else can I look ?

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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I would suggest calling some coffee or food service wholesalers or suppliers in your city and ask for estimates. They may have some sort of service or package they make available to restaurants who want to serve espresso.

I hate to ask obvious questions; but, are the owners aware that opening an espresso bar is more complicated than plugging in a coffee machine? It will most likely require a sink, refridgeration, new electrical and water lines, at least one full time employee who knows how to make espresso and other coffee drinks, cash register, some sort of city permits, health inspections, etc.

A lot of times a good dose of reality is all that is needed to change people's ideas about what they really want.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I need some advice and a little help.  I have been asked to help open a small coffee bar in an art gallery.  The owners of the gallery would like a place like the two famous espresso bars in Rome. So the concept is to be focused on everything italian.

The espresso we could be selling is illy.  After a little reading here, it seems to me that I might find a better product than what illy has.  What espresso should I also be looking at, that is Italian ?

I have also been having some difficulty in finding out any info on espresso bars in Italy that I can look at or what they sell.  Where else can I look ?

Your a better man than me, Gunga Din. You are in way over your head. However persevere and move forward, make sure the checks are good. Experience is the best teacher. Remember that in every venture the man with the money has the experience and the man with the experience gets the money.

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Fly to Italy on their dime so you can see first hand what they want. :raz::raz:

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I would love to fly to Italy to see what all the fuss is about. On their dime too. Ha Ha.

I don't think I am in way over my head. I have opened two restuarants, one which failed but another that is still open. So I know what I am doing. That is why I am involved but what I do not know is anything about coffee bars and espresso.

What I need to know is whether or not, illy espresso is the espresso for this venture.

I have contaced Alistar at Elysain Room and I will probaley get in touch with the guys at cafe Artigiano.

Thanks for the link.

Edited by Junior (log)

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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Check out the Coffeegeek forum, too. http://www.coffeegeek.com

They have lively discussions and much arcane knowledge of espresso.

Personally, I prefer a cup of brewed coffee by one of the 2 reasonable cup-at-a-time methods: the french press or the filter cone.

My advice, though is buy good beans, store them properly, grind them yourself, and don't let them go stale.

Treat your coffee well and you will be well-known. Treat it poorly, and you will be have an uphill battle.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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There are some fundamental questions to be answered: what's the overall budget, how much can you allow for the espresso machine and grinders and what's the anticipated volume of business (in terms of espresso drinks per day)?

As for Illy, it's generally thought to be a far better espresso blend in Italy than it is here, partly due to the freshness factor and possibly because they may use a slightly different blend for the Italian market than what they offer here in the US.

But the biggest factor is freshness. Roasted beans in general and espresso blends in particular are typically at their optimal state beginning about two days after roasting and stay in that sweet spot for another week or so if properly stored and handled. After that the quality declines rapidly. It's totally impractical to use a bean that's roasted in Italy and expect to get stellar results here.

Cafe Artigiano actually brings in the Black Cat blend from Intellegentsia Roasters of Chicago and gets it frequently enough to have optimal quality beans all the time. Other US specialty roasters whose beans are used in a variety of areas include Counter Culture Coffee, Caffe Vivace and Terroir. There are a number of others offering outstanding quality but that short list is a good place to start when looking for samples and seeking a reliable vendor who ships fresh. I think you'll also find that even with freight costs from the US the wholesale prices from these vendors will make them cost competitive with Illy.

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I'm still working on the overall budget, I would like it (w/o espresso/grinder machines) to about $15,000 CDN. So we are going with no tables or chairs but with a large stand up bar area that is adjacent to the working space.

I am looking at espresso machines now, as we only have one dealer in the city but he has several different makes.

I like the Rancillio series and will probaley go with a S10 3 group, either semi automatic or a manual. I would like to lease the espresso machine and grinder, the lease rate is very good and is affortable for the anticapated budget.

Since we are on the edge of the downtown core, I'm not sure how I'm going to figure out volumes. I hate to say it but with one customer at a time. I am going to market like crazy to attract people. We will also be selling take out sandwichs, pastries, fresh juices, and etc. I've spent some time in other coffee shops in the downtown core to gauge how busy they are so I have an idea of what our volumes could be.

I think the city is ready for good espresso and coffee, there are many coffee shops here but most sell generic brands, we only got our first Starbucks here a year ago.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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I would think to really do espresso you need fresh beans that are are blended and roasted well. Illy may be Italian but it's not fresh, nor will any Italian coffee be fresh. Find a local roaster that knows what they are doing and you will be amazed at the difference. Whether it's espresso, Frech pressed or drip, good fresh beans are a big factor in making good coffee. Now as far as being sucsessful that's another issue. Starbucks doesn't make great coffee but they sure know how to market it to people that only thinks they are savy to what good coffee is.

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A quick point: while I understand and appreciate the appeal of a bar-only espresso joint a la Italia, even here in Providence on Federal Hill or in Boston in the North End there are no (to my knowledge) espresso bars without at least a few small cafe tables and chairs. I don't know about Saskatoon, but down here the lack of places to sit and drink would have a seriously detrimental effect on business.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I don't know what kind of suppliers you have in Sask. (I assume that's where you're opening). Deluca Bros used to sell a range of Italian machines and coffees - you could check them out.

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Cafe Artigiano actually brings in the Black Cat blend from Intellegentsia Roasters of Chicago...

Not for long.

Do tell... are Vince, Sammy and company going to start roasting or are they moving over to Counter Culture or some other supplier? I'm curious (some would call me nosy).

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I'm a Illy fan but sure when in Rome do as the Romans. Do they have as big a following as in the UK in Italy would be my ?. But I would say if Harvey Nicholas says it's good enough that should be the bench mark surely. But you're catering to an Italian Market I dont know, would not some one like Lavesse be the market leader?

As far as know Illy patented there technique and check there beans caffeine content as far as I know no one else does. That is why the difference, also you get there collection of cups(Send me a set, I will start that collection one day :raz: )

Stef

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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pam R: I have talked to Marco at Deluca Bros. They are the illy dist. for both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. If we decide to go with illy, we will be getting it from them.

As for tables and chairs, I think here in North America, people expect to sit down for a coffee, so I am going to try and have a few tables and chairs or if that does not fly, I'll try for chairs at the bar. The bar is set up against the windows which are about 25 feet long and they curve around the front of the building. We'll see.

We have one roaster in the city but I am not sure if they sell outside their own 3 shops, so I will have to see.

We have to market very aggresively, as our location is on the edge of the downtown core. My mother in law works in the Federal building which is close to the largest set of office buildings, she eats out enough to be a gauge of how far people are willing to walk for coffee or sandwichs. We are on the edge, it's about 3-4 blocks.

For our start we plan on being open only from 7 am to 6pm. The downtown core becomes a ghost town after 6.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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As far as know Illy patented there technique and check there beans caffeine content as far as I know no one else does. That is why the difference, also you get there collection of cups(Send me a set, I will start that collection one day :raz: )

Stef

Their caffeine content is lower than many of the other popular Itlain brands because they use all arabic beans in their blend. Arabica is significantly lower in caffeine than robusta - most Italian coffee roaster/blenders add about 10% - 15% robust their blends to increase cream and add a slight bitter undertone to the flavor profile.

As for patented techniques... Dr. Ernesto Illy, the family patriarch, literally wrote the book on coffee (his time is a standard industry reference along with a book written by Michael Sivetz). That said, I think the patent is for a particular package system that pushes all oxygen out of the package by flushing with nitrogen. It does help preserve freshness but make no mistake - it's not a substitute for fresh roasting.

As for Illy in the UK - I had Illy at about a dozen places in Paris this past wintewr and even at the best one, a small Italian cafe in Marais, it was not close to the quality I've gotten here in the states form regioanl and local roasters - it just wasn't fresh enough.

Have you looked into Matthew Algie as a source? He has a good reputation and when I was in Ireland a few years ago the only good espresso I had during the entire visit was his product (and I had a good A/B comparison as I'd had a properly pulled shot of Illly just ten minutes before trying the Algie shot).

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Have you looked into Matthew Algie as a source? He has a good reputation and when I was in Ireland a few years ago the only good espresso I had during the entire visit was his product (and I had a good A/B comparison as I'd had a properly pulled shot of Illly just ten minutes before trying the Algie shot).

http://www.illy.com/Illy_En/Science/Production/default.htm

This mentions about electronic selection but I bow to your better knowledge, though interested in your comment about Algie, would like to add that surely it comes down to the turn over of Illy coffee the more you sell, the fresher it is. Also how can they say on the tin less than 1.5% caffeine

I've never had Algie and enjoyed it though I'd like to add I'm not a big fan of Robusta, (If that the African instead of Columbian can never remember which way)also dont recall Algie espresso, note to self find Algie espresso!

I know! how can I call myself a coffee fan :wacko: I'm learning one day all my coffee maybe black, instead of just my little cups and the days when the milk has run out.

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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Well, best of luck. I have worked in five coffee/tea houses and am passionate about all things barista-ish....but don't have as much experience as maybe some others, so here are a couple of truly random observations:

I like Lavazza. Why? At my first coffeeshop I called them to ask about whole espresso bean prices for maybe switching our house espresso over to them. They took our address and said they would get back to us. Within a week this white van with "Lavazza" printed across the side in what I have come to think of as "Lavazza blue" pulled up out front and these two old Italian guys jumped out. (true story...) they came in, muttering in Italian to each other and in slightly broken English to us, tweaked our machine, set up an espresso grinder (we didn't have one at the time, were using our Ditting on the finest grind, if you can believe that) full of Lavazza beans, and proceeded to pull some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. They were tasty, too. Now that's service. THO, I don't know which of their blends is all-Arabica. This is too important, as Robusta beans are basically mass-market crap. The difference is the difference between Folger's and any good coffeehouse's coffee. Fiero vs. Ferrari.... Check on this.... Epilogue: My manager decided she didn't want to switch. Sigh. Oh, and I think Lavazza will give you all sorts of Lavazza cups, umbrellas, etc.

On the other hand, finding a local roaster may be an even better idea. I have no experience with this. Just taste, taste, taste their product. It does you no good if it's fresh but doesn't taste special at all. I know this is obvious and sorry if I seem like I'm being pedantic or something but many places I have worked don't seem to want to go that extra mile to find truly great products/ingredients.

Never call it "expresso" in front of a customer.

Use Torani/Monin/Sterling syrups. And don't be afraid to mix and match. My barista-buddy shane and I did a lot of taste-testing and one line's vanilla would be better than the other, but the other's hazelnut would be better, etc.

Ditto with your whole bean supplier (if you can't find a local roaster). We used I think three diff. suppliers. Just come up to their shipping minimum to get free shipping, if you can support the volume. And don't get suckered into buying their tea line, too. My instincts are that it would be a rare company that did a fantastic job with both, tho I could be wrong. (see below)

ALWAYS beat the competition on price, across the board, especially Starbucks. Because you will be in a museum/downtown you might begin to think people can afford to pay a lot, but people will notice if you beat 'em on price, and word will spread. That is, as long as your place doesn't seem ill-put-together/depressed (more on this in a sec.), and they think you are cheaper because you might have an inferior product. This especially applies if you are serving a capuccino in the classic 6-ounce up. For goodness' sake, don't charge $3.50 for the thing!

Don't use the mediocre mass-market tea brands that everybody else uses, e.g. Tazo, etc. Republic of Tea is alright (even tho they are a bit mass-market, but tasty!). I would go the extra mile and use Harney and Sons www.harney.com. They are cream of the crop in the U.S.; they supply a ridiculous list of top hotels in the U.S., and yet one of the sons (I forget which) spent about 30 min. on the phone with me once answering technical questions. Righteous!

Have real ceramic (or whatever) espresso and cappucino cups and saucers, as well as to-go cups, especially if you will have chairs and tables (or booths!). Many people will really appreciate this. Especially in a possibly high-tone downtown museum environment, I think.... Keep 'em on top of the espresso machine to keep them hot, as they do in Italy. Andy they look GOod up there. So buy an espresso machine that has a flat top so you can do this. And maybe get those cute little spoons for stirring in their sugar might be nice.

Not everybody likes dark-roasted coffee. (Esp. in hot areas?) Give your people a range of choice.

If you are gonna sell whole beans and are not sure how much you are gonna sell, you might buy them from the roasters in 1 lb. bags, instead of 5 lb. bags, a la' Starbucks. This will save on display space (you won't need all those poly display bins and associated costs of buying all those bins, not to say cleaning em!), and your stuff will sell fresher. Tho you will pay the roaster more, maybe....

Clean your espresso machine/steam wand with Urnex every night (that is, the portafilter [the thing with a handle you put the ground espresso in] and group head [the part of the espresso machine you stick the portafilter in], and the steam wand). Also do not let people stick the steam wand in a cup of water to soften up the dried milk (below). As the wand cools, it will draw scummy water back up into the line and maybe into the boiler. BAD news! Only do this at the end of the night with a cup full of Urnex water, as per the Urnex directions. Keep a damp towel on the machine or next to it in a sani-bucket around each steam wand and have your people /wipe/ the damned thing /every/ time they use it. Even during a rush. Nothing grosser than an icky steam wand. For crusted up milk, keep a green srubbie on had.

Never take a brillo anywhere near an espresso machine. Embarassing story: When I was very green, but eager, I scrubbed out the inside of a portafilter with a brillo to get the old accumulated espresso off--had never heard of Urnex (below). Well I scrubbed off the nickel plating too. Right down to the brass. And don't you know those shots tasted like pure brass. Luckily we had other portafilters, and my boss didn't yell at me; she just dropped the 80$ for a new one.....

Portafilters (below) with two spouts are not /necessarily/ for double shots and single spouts for singles. What determines how many shots you should pull from a particular portafilter is which interchangable brew basket is inside it. The double spouted ones are usually for pulling into two diff cups at once.

You could always be environmental and use unbleached, or better yet metal coffee filters (if they make 'em for store machines), recycled napkins and cups, etc. Good karma....

Keep a few glass gradiated shot glasses around for pulling shots into, esp. for measuring output. I think the ideal shot is b.w 1 - 1 1/2 oz in 17-21 secs. It is probably better to pull shots directly into the cup you are serving in, but with tall cups this is impractical. Don't pull into metal.

If you sell thermos cups, IMHO the ones that are all-metal make the coffee taste like metal. Maybe you could find enamelled-inside ones or something?

Even if it is a super-small operation, don't brew coffee into glass carafes on a heating unit. Coffee stays fresh about 20 minutes in those things. I like best the big clunky Bunn (or other) rectangular metal carafe-thingies. Food for thought: Starbucks throws out their brewed coffee every four hours, and starts over. That's about how long it is supposed to stay fresh, anyways. For this and for brewing tea, french presses, etc. have several cheap digital timers on hand.

To measure out how much coffee to brew, have a digital scale. I think the brewer manufacturer can help you w. how many ounces of coffee to brew, and you can experiment with the grind... just put the beans on the filter on the scale, then grind them back into the filter. Presto. This is prob. /very/ bad advice re: freshness, but when anticipating a rush, you can make a few of these filter in advance and store them in a tupperware.

Have generic empty squeeze-bottles full of simple syup (sugar-water) on your cream and sugar station. Iced-drink people will REally appreciate this. Trying to use crystallized sugar to sweeten an iced drink is a true exercise in frustration.

When somebody orders iced coffee, for the love of God don't fill a cup with ice and then dispense hot coffee over it. Brew a few different flavors (or just one, pref. unflavored) double-strength, and keep it in a big tupperware with a spigot, or a big pitcher, in the fridge.

This is an obvious one, sorry, but use real whipped cream. The best texture comes from a stand mixer. Failing that you could buy a nitrous-driven reusable cream whipper (the ones that look like a can o whipped cream with the NO2 [?] capsule sticking off the side). Don't know if that is cheaper than buying the cans. But avoid guar gum, etc.; buy the real, unadulterated stuff.

Ditting grinders have been in every place I have worked. They seem really solid. It is highly advisable, tho not life-and-death to have one for flavored coffee, and one for unflavored. THo I just read in K. Davids (below) that if you use a burr grinder for a flavored coffee, the grinder will taste of that flavor for the next few batches. He recommends blade grinders. Not sure what to say about that.... Talk to Ditting (below) or other grinder maker.

Following this have two espresso grinders, one for decaf beans.

When it comes to selling flavored coffees, try to find ones with natural flavoring s in. We had a pecan coffee from either First Colony or Superior, I forget, that had big chunks of pecans in. The pecan oil that resulted in the ground coffee lent incredible body and texture to the brewed stuff. You could always experiment with blending your own flavored coffees, haven't tried that, tho I know many dedicated coffeeshops do it with some success.

The best chocolate I have used so far for mochas is powdered Ghiradelli. Don't know why but the powder seems to lend a better texture to a mocha than any syrup. Then you put a big sign up: "We use Ghiradelli!" or something :laugh: "American made!" :laugh:.

If you sell whole beans, keep a few French presses around (Bodum; avoid Bon Jour) for people who will want to try something that is not the coffee of the day. Esp. if you have Jamaican Blue Mountain or Kona or something--sell it by the press, just for a special treat.... Or just for those people who prefer press coffee. And don't charge an arm and a leg for cafe' presse', as one place I worked for did. Goodness' sake! They're actually a snap to clean, once you get used to it.

Read, read, read! Try: Coffee, a guide to buying, brewing, and enjoying, by Kenneth Davids. I don't like his writing style but he has some good info. Example: Also the Republic of Tea book on Tea is a good starting point. And Start and Run a Coffee Bar by Tom Matzen, Marybeth Harrison, which is pretty good. Also there is How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso & Tea Shop by Elizabeth Godsmark, Lora Arduser, Douglas R. Brown, which I haven't read, and ESPRESSO! Starting and Running Your Own Specialty Coffee Business by Joe Monaghan, which I haven't read either. I got a supscription to Fresh Cup for Christmas, but the writing is not what I had hoped for. You might also try Specialty Coffee Retailer magazine.... I guess they are good for supplier's 800 numbers and new product ideas. I also found this, and I am sure there is much better stuff on the web....

On your knockbox (the thing you bang the portafilter on to get out the spent espresso grounds) make sure the bar had a rubber tube around it. One place I worked didn't, and the brew baskets on our portafilters were all bent up.

If you sell pastries, please don't get the crap from Sysco, etc. Find a pastry store in town, taste their stuff, and work out a deal with them. Even Toaster Strudels :rolleyes: are better than that Sysco stuff and most of the junk they serve at Starbucks, etc.

If you are going to sell Chai, taste around. There is a lot of gross stuff out there (Big Train). Ditto with frozen blended drinks (Big Train) :angry: . And for the latter, get a blender with a noise-dampening hood (like Vita-Mix blenders have). You could brew your own Chai fresh.... H & Sons has a whole leaf spiced Chai, but I thought it was a little strange (my one disappointment from them, tho maybe it was truly authentic and that was how it is supossed to taste).

If you are going to sell tea, insted of teabags you could do as Tealuxe (bleh) does and buy little filter bags that you put loose tea in and then wedge the top flap of the bag between the lid of the cup and the cup. And you could have teapots with the inserts for sit-down people.....

Speaking of tasting around, 90% at least of companies will send you boucoups free samples of their stuff to taste, before you commit to buy/sell a product. Take advantage of this....

You will probably not be selling smallwares in a museum location, but if you sell teapots, include the classic "brown betty" teapot in your stable.

The first place I worked at had a La Pavoni machine that insted of being push-button, had a little lever that you pulled down to start the extraction and then you pushed it up to stop. It was 100% more satisfying to work with than push-button kinds, kind of like the diff. b/w driving on an automatic transmission and a manual. Or b/w chopping your own garlic or using a garlic press? You were def. more connected to the process, and you had to pay attention and stop the shot when it was time to stop it, instead of just hoping that the grind/humidity/etc. was all in line and that the machine was set for the appropriate time. That said the machine was mostly run by people who didn't care so much about the coffee, and they seemed to have no prob. managing it. Don't be sold by suppliers who tell you you need a fully automatic idiot-proof machine. I assume you won't be hiring idiots, anyway.... :raz:

RE: your espresso grinder. As the ambient humidity, etc. changes through the day, you will need to adjust the grind on your espresso grinder to keep getting good shots in your ideal 17-22 second window. Therefore buy a grinder where you can adjust the grind easily. And don't grind a full hopper's worth of beans all at once, b/c when the conditions change you will want to get to the new grind-stuff right away. And don't be a crazy manager like one I had and only insist that the head barista adjust the grind. Teach your people why and how to do it. It will give them more of a sense of ownership in the process and lead to more careful and better shots.

Following this: since you are a self-professed coffee moron, hire people who know what they're doing or are willing to learn with you and be listen to them....be flexible....

I read somewhere once that the most pop. flavors are hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate, and I think almond and irish cream. And prob. cinnamon....

IMHO, If you have a chocolate-flavored coffee featured at Valentine's Day, DOn't call it "Valentine's Day Blend". After Valentine's Day, what on earth are you going to do with it all? :wacko: Call it maybe "Lover's Blend" or something :laugh:

Most importantly: find true (experienced or potential) coffee enthusiasts to run your place. Just like you wouldn't hire somebody who didn't give a damn about food to be a line cook, if you were smart, there /are/ people out there who do actually have a deep passion for coffee/tea. They are the ones who will make sure every mocha that goes out will be a revelation to the person who drinks it. Put out many ads, maybe? They /are/ out there. And please pay/treat them well. And if they won't mop a floor or wash a dish without making a face, you got the wrong person. That said, the best managers I've had got their hands dirty twice as often as I did, and I consider myself real a dish dog, or something.

Well, I'm sorry if I have been lecture-ish at all, please excuse the spelling mistakes, etc. Any questions feel free to email me or post 'em and I will reply to my best. I would /love/ to hear from you.

Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"
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This mentions about electronic selection but I bow to your better knowledge, though interested in your comment about Algie, would like to add that surely it comes down to the turn over of Illy coffee the more you sell, the fresher it is. Also how can they say on the tin less than 1.5% caffeine

I've never had Algie and enjoyed it though I'd like to add I'm not a big fan of Robusta, (If that the African instead of Columbian can never remember which way)also dont recall Algie espresso, note to self find Algie espresso!

I know! how can I call myself a coffee fan :wacko:  I'm learning one day all my coffee maybe black, instead of just my little cups and the days when the milk has run out.

Unfortunately that link took me only to the main Illy home page - I was unable to view the information you reference about "electronic selection" and I don't know what it is. As for caffiene content I don't pay much attention - I just know that Arabica beans have far less than Robusta.

It's useful to note that not all Robusta is bad. There are some high quality Robustas, particularly from certain regions of Africa, India and Indonesia. These are used mostly (but not excusively) in espresso blends and for very specific and worthwhile reasons. Don't mistake these with the unpalatable Robusta beans that make up the majority of supermarket coffee.

My experience with the Matthew Algie Coffee was limited - one short latte in one unlikely location (an Internet cafe in Kilkenny). I agree that freshness is the biggest issue and proper preparation and process control is a close second. You simply cn not make good quality espresso without fresh beans but even the best and freshest beans can be hopelessly screwed up by lack of care and control in the shot preparation process.

I suspect that one of the problems with the Illy I tried in Paris was the fact that no one was "grinding by the shot". Not once did I ever see a grinder in operation - the barista just walked over to a doser chamber that was already half full of ground coffee to fill the portafilter and pull the shot. Grounds that have been sitting in a doser for ,ore than ten minutes or so will deliver a flatter and less satisfying cup - those that have been there for a few hours are hopeless. In Paris we went for coffee at about 10 AM most days - long after the morningrush and at a point where they all seemed to be working from an old batch of ground coffee.

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"electronic selection"

I think he's referring to the picture. It's an "electronic eye" sorter, also known as a bi-chromatic or tri-chromatic sorter. It uses different wavelengths of light to find defects, like "high chlorophyll", or "mold". It sees some defects that aren't always visible to the eye, and even defects deep in the core of the bean that can't be seen on the surface. With a burst of air, it shoots these defects out of the batch.

Definitely a great tool. But, being defect free is only a prerequisite.

Edited by SL28ave (log)
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Ahhhh... the color sensitive sorter. I worked on a tomato ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley back in the summer of 1976 and they were testing an early generation of such a product. At that time it was far too immature a technology to be of much use but like all else... I'm sure it's evolved to the point of being a good tool.

Your comments about sorting to eliminate defects are significant. That's one of the primary criteria differences between coffee cuppers who are selecting coffee for huge roasters that serve a mass market and those who cup to supply the more selective specialty artisan roasters.

We're not talking about the Robusta beans that are used by the food conglomerates for supermarket coffee but rather we're referring to the better quality Arabica beans. Cuppers who seek to buy on price to supply the big roasters are typically cupping for the absence of defects in the flavor profile. But the cuppers who serve the artisan or true specialty market are cupping for the presence of unique and desirable characteristics in the flavor profile. For these more selective cuppers the absence of defects is already a given factor in the beans they assess. They're not by definition more skilled than the other cuppers but have a different agenda due ot their purchasing requirements.

I don't know what Illy's practices are and have no reason to speculate but they are indeed a huge commercial roaster... perhaps one of the largest "specialty" roasters apart from Starbucks (although they both serve the higher end of the mass market rather than being true specialty roasters).

I suspect they're well equipped to scan and process to ensure an absence. This will typically ensure a consistent and predictable flavor profile of decent quality but rarely offer a truly stellar and remarkable espresso. The highest graded beans, often those from individual estates rather than large co-ops, are in some cases substanitally better than most other beans but either too pricey or not available in large enough quanitities for the really big guys to justify pursuing them.

Admittedly.... analogous to what I understand the case to be with wines, there are certain blends by given vintners that offer predictability and consistency from year to year and crop to crop. But the price one pays is the opportunity to capture some of the elements of terroir that may be discernible in more carefully selected grapes (or lots of coffee beans as the case may be). So, as some have already pointed out, Illy can indeed offer a decent and predictable espresso experience IF one is able to get it in a very fresh state but here in North American that's rarely if ever the case - artisan roaster, even the larger ones, will consistently win out when it comes to quality of the beverage.

I'm completely uninformed and clueless as to the state of micro-roasters and artisan roasters in the UK. Perhaps some here can update us on that scene and its status?

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Thanks afn33282 for all the great info. I will be passing that info along. sadly we are not going to be going ahead with the venture, the lease agreement wasnot signed in time and was lost to another group of people.

I still think that we will be looking for another spot to this idea in.

News on the street is that Starbucks will be opening it's third shop in Saskatoon by fall.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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I still think that we will be looking for another spot to this idea in. 

Thanks for the thanks. Good luck with everything. Any questions, tho I am no expert, I would love to hear from you. :smile:

Chris

Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"
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