Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Relocating blog

I'm relocating my blog from here to


I'll continue to publish posts here for a while (for those of you too lazy to update your rss readers), but the main site will be the one mentioned above.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Rancilio Z9 Lever Espresso Machine

I'm very excited to have recently obtained a restored lever espresso machine for the cafe. It's around 35 years old and has been given a great overhaul by an excited little tinker-er in New South Wales. Eventually this machine will run alongside a Synesso Cyncra in the cafe and will be set up in such a way so as to allow any budding coffee enthusiasts the opportunity to pull a few shots.
However for now, it resides at my place and provides the perfect morning cuppa, not to mention a steep learning curve which is great fun explore upon.
Here's the new (old) baby in action:

Bar Nine Espresso on Vimeo.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Coolest little barista ever!

Here's some footage of my son, Noah, making me a coffee just before his second birthday. And just for the record, the coffee tasted awesome!

WARNING: Some explicit music present so turn down your speakers if easily offended

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Ghetto Drip/Pour Over

Inspired by a conversation with prolific blogger, Luca, and a forum poll started by yours truly, I have decided put out a challenge to the four or so people who read this blog, to see who can create the best (or maybe worst) ghetto drip station.

So here are the rules. Who can find the best/funniest/cheapest/most ingenious piece or pieces of crap to either
A) Chuck Norris (read, brake beat or crush) or
B) McGuyver (read, manipulate or engineer in some way) into a Drip station.

Single drip is okay, bonus points awarded for multiple cup drip/pour-over station, as well as practicality or sheer impracticality.

Now for those of you who don't know what this is (particularly those living in the espresso dominated market of Australia) here's one example of a finnished product.

So basically it's a fairly simple device that holds a filter (usually paper, metal or cloth) in place above another vessel designed to catch the brewed coffee, ground coffee and hot water go in the top, simple.

So get your thinking caps on, and just to help get you started here's my first design.

Or check out Koffee Kosmo's fantastic (and far more practical) effort here.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Espresso royale organic cafe.

Well in the slow moving town of Adelaide it's not often a new cafe of passionate owners, that's worth heading out of your way for springs up. But that's exactly what you'll find at 357 magill rd, st morris, at "espresso royale".
It's a bit hard to spot as the name of the cafe almost doesn't appear on the site at all, instead lookout for a big "organic coffee" sign.  A good landmark to watch out for is the green, organic meats butcher across the road.
The small, quirky cafe boasts a shiny new la marz fb70 in the front which is a welcome site in a state overrun by cheap and nasty heat exchangers. Unfortunately no Robur to go along with it but they manage what they have very well.
The coffee is roasted on site so you know it's always fresh. They have a huge emphasis on organic fair trade coffee and food, offering a selection of three different single origins though no blends (They run an Ethiopian Sidamo as their 'house' coffee).
I had an espresso (which they make as a double) and a flat white and both were well made, though not perfect, but easily some of the better coffee available in south Australia.
The owners here really seem to care, which is fantastic as there is currently only a very small handful of operators in South Australia that operate with any sense of passion for what they do.  So I thoroughly recommend heading out to St Morris and please put forward any comments as to your experience.

Friday, 29 August 2008

New WBC Machine sponsors

Well this will pop up around the world on just about every blog and forum but here it is for the sake of it anyway ;P

The new machine sponsor for the 2009 to 2011 WBC are...

Grinder: Mahlkonig K30[vario and twin]
Machine: Nuova Simenelli [aurelia]

Big suprise about the mahlkonig, but i thinks it's equally as interesting to see the favourite [Nuova Simenelli] up there for the espresso machine sponsor.


Monday, 18 August 2008

Perth for Comp-time blending

With the South Australian Barista competition coming up again (12th and 13th or September at the Royal Adelaide Show) it has proved to be the perfect time to head back to my favorite capitol city in Australia to team up with the crew from Five Senses and nut out a blend.
So after a couple of decent cups of coffee at tiger tiger and velvet it was off to the cupping lab for some lengthy tasting of god knows how many coffees. I'll keep it brief, but basically at the moment the blend is using two exciting direct trade coffees, one from PNG and the other from some very excited farmers in sumatra. The next couple of weeks we'll be playing around with the roast profiles the the optimal aging of the beans to present them to the judges. And I may just squeeze a little Rwandan coffee into the mix but we'll just have to wait and see.

Will defintely keep you updated as things progress =D

The new Pullman barista

Every now and again a new toy comes on the market for all us coffee heads to tinker around with. Some are useless little gadgets, some are basically something old with a few new features, some are genuine improvements and sometimes, just sometimes something new comes out that actually has some worth. This is definitely one of those toys that really does hold some worth.
In the lead up to the last Australian Barista competition I had the opportunity to trial and test the prototype of this tamp and offer some feedback to the creator, Greg Pullman. What has followed is numerous modifications and new models each just a little bit different from the last. Culminating in the final, commercially designed, Pullman Barista.
This, in my opinion is truly the best commercial tamper on the market today. It's makeup gives the tamp a really natural feel, and really feels like and extension of your arm while tamping. Amongst it's key features is
#1: the workmanship and quality of tools and materials used. This thing really is built to take the punishment of a 100+kg p/wk cafe and last. And with seven separate parts to this little unit, should something happen, replacing the damaged or lost piece is simple and relatively inexpensive.
#2: Being centrally weighted, and with the guide of the true tamp rings, it makes it really easy in high volume to to ensure a flat, even dose and tamp. (I should also note that for those who prefer a bottom heavy tamper, acetol or wooden handles are available instead of the anodized aluminum)
#3: There is a soft, cushiony rubber thing that your fingers rest on. And while at first I was worried about this potentially pinching your skin during constant use, after working with the tamp in very high volume, I have found it to be a very comfortable addition to the tamp, which makes it that much more appealing to pick up and tamp another shot in.
#4: Did I mention that this unit can really take a beating. I "accidentally" dropped this tamp a number of times and it just keeps on bouncing back ready to take another pounding.
#5: Individual spacers allow you to customise the tamp to your individual hand size/tamping method. Those that like to really get behind the tamp and put their shoulder into it will love using the smallest spacer, or removing the spacers altogether. While those with large hands, or those that like the "radical pro" approach to tamping will appreciate the larger spacing. Personally the mid sized works perfect for me.
Final thoughts: I absolutely love using this tamp and really can't think of any improvements or negative points to say about it. I think the price is around $109 but I can't quite remember so check the website or your local dealer.
Anyone else used this please feel free to post a comment.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Trends in Melbournes Top 5 Coffee Haunts

For those of you who are not yet aware, Crema Magazine has just released their picks of Melbournes Top 5 Cafe's (judged solely on the quality of the coffee, not things like ambiance, food etc.).

The list reads as follows:

1. Brother Baba Budan
2. Liar Liar
3. Maling Room
4. 7 Grams
5. First Pour

All of these cafe's are superb and if you haven't been, are well worth checking out!!  But I thought I'd post a few things I noticed between the five.
*This one's obviouse but still, top 2 cafes both using a Clover

*Top 3 cafe's all use a synesso espresso machine (with both the others using a LMZ Fb80)

*A good spread of roasters with only Veneziano being represented twice (7grams and first pour)

*A good mix of roaster (machinery) talent, with renagades used for BBB and Liar Liar, a Probat for the Maling room, and a wierd custom job that was build for and later adapted by Peter wolf roasting for 7grams and first pour

*Another interesting thing (for me anyway) was that there was no trend in terms of food service. Some of the cafe's in the top 5 do little or on food, while others have fairly in depth menu's and in fact serve some of the best breakfast in Melb (IMO).
I know food was not a pre-requisite, I only mention this as it's always going to be harder to manage a dedicated coffee bar and a dedicated kitchen, than just a dedicated coffee bar

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Blazin' to a ghetto near ya'alll - now this is badass!


Dare you to send back yo' s'pro for being too short from deez bad azz g's. Keepin' it gangsta all da wheeey! Fo shiz aiiight!

And just in case you loved that background tune so much, here are da boyz in all their glory!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

What to do with bags of leftover coffee husks?

Well apparantly if you live in south australia the thing to do is roll em up and smoke them.
Anyhow, a rather annoying by product of roasted coffee is the amount of coffee husks that split off from the bean (they're the yellowish flakes in the photo above), and how these then need to be collected from around the drum and discarded. Without roasting with the aid of an afterburner, there can be quite an amount of this stuff to be getting rid of on a weekly basis.
On a sunny morning's roasting (at a coffee roaster who, for now at least, shal remain nameless) a small particle of coffee husk lodged itself against a heating element and a perculier smell gave way.
Now i'm not sure what prompted this (probably a curious persona and living in SA was enough), but the nameless roaster felt the need to roll up some husks into a cigarette and smoke them.
What's followed is a small following of folks who are really enjoy this "disgusting habit". And so with the absence of nicotein and the other 52 chemicals added to regular cigarettes (of which i'd never personally touch) i thought i'd give it a shot.
The flavour is quite clean and very smooth. Mildly earthy, and actually (dare i say) quite enjoyable. Around 2 mins later you're met with a slight head buzz, not unlike the kind of head buzz after drinking a little bit too much coffee, which fades soon after.
While this is not something i'd do again, it was certainly an interesting experience all the same.
It does make you wonder though what was going through the persons mine who first lit fire to tobacco and put that in his mouth.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Microwaved Coffee Roasting pt.2

So after a quick revision of the rum used, i've switched to a thicker plastic container, which has been used many times for heating up my sons baby food, and therefor shouldn't melt (should it?!)

This time the whole was placed in the base of the container with the lid affixed after the raw coffee is inserted.  Don't know if you can see them, but i've also cut small holes into this container.

This time I roasted for 2mins checking the roast every 30 seconds.

I hit the first crack at around 1:30 and finnished the roast at 2mins exactly. This is what came out.

By no means perfect, but no too bad for a second attempt. This however, is what the container looked like.

Clearly some more work is needed here, but the coffee didn't look all the bad. So I removed the obviousely scorched beans and ground the rest in the k10, set for a cupping.

As the coffee was some really old green beans that had been lurking in the back of my coffee cupboard, i'll save you from any tasting notes as they'd really be of no use, suffice to say that the coffee tasted like coffee. Just as it should. Nothing deeply culinary about it, but not too bad at all.

The next step will be getting some fresh green whose profile I understand, and so will be able to compare against. And yet another revision of the drum. It seems that it was the direct heat from the actual beans that melted the plastic, and not the ambiant heat of the atmospere or gas. Consequently i think the next revision will be cutting out some silicon based bakeware to fit into the plastic drum/container and thus, remove any direct contact with the plastic. Hopefully this'll help distribute the surface heat more evenly and result in less scorching of the beans, but only time will tell.

Microwave roasted coffee (it was only a matter of time) pt.1

Spawned by an interesting thread at a local forum, and after being unable to find much on the topic, I thought it might be interesting to investigate the possibilities of roasting coffee in a microwave. Really it doesn't seem that crazy an idea (to me anyway), and after a quick wiki search the following description is found:

"A microwave oven, or microwave, is a kitchen appliance that can come in many different sizes and styles employing microwave radiation primarily to cook or heat food. This is accomplished by using microwaves, almost always emitted from a magnetron, to excite water (primarily) and other polarized molecules within the food to be heated. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being heated everywhere all at once (except in thick objects), a feature not seen in any other heating technique."

Hmm, sounds promising, so it's off to the drawing board to figure this out.
In order to roast coffee you need heat, and aggitation.  Obviousely the heat comes from the microwaves, and the only form of aggitation available (without shaking the whole microwave) is a small rotating wheel at the base of the Microwave.
The answer seemed simple, turn the microwave on it's side and rig a small 'drum' to the rotating wheel.  The 'drum' in this case is a small sour cream tub (with a few divets cut into it to further agitate the beans and allow for some air flow) with the lid attached to the base wheel.

Now beans in the container and the whole thing is fixed onto the lid in the microwave.

I shut the door, set the timer to 8mins and away we go...

Thirty seconds later I open the door (the smell tipped me off) and discover this

Hmmm, clearly this drum has some flaws ;P Here's a shot of the beans to illustrate the consistancy and roast level at 30 seconds.

Clearly some work is needed, but at least we've seen that it is posible to use a microwave to roast beans.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Pura Milk Jugs

Now I know these aren't new, but I haven't seen much posted about them so I thought I'd comment my two cents worth.  Now these have been designed with the aid of David Makin (the current Australian Barista Champion) and so when I first heard about these I was very excited.  However, to be fair, these have been design for the masses, and not specialty coffee nutters so I have to keep my judgment fair.

The first thing I noticed about these (besides how colourful they are!)  is the damn size of them.  AFAIK they only come in 1ltr, which is absurb, even for those 16oz buckets of coffee.  And though they are fairly forgiving in terms of different quantities of milk to be textured, they do work best foaming 600mls at a time.

The next most noticable thing is definately the shape (for which many jokes can be made).  This shape does however make it almost impossible not to create a fantastic tornado effect while texturing your milk which is fantastic for awesome microfoam.  The spout here does let the whole thing down however.  It makes precise latte art hard, but for traditional cap's the foam falls into the cup quite well.

On to the 'ergonomic' handles.  Hate them!  I've seen these on quite a few different milk jugs aimed at the domestic market and personally find better control of the jug with a closer hugging handle.  Personally I don't see what positive function these handles achieve, but it's probably related to minimising RSI.

On to the overview;  They make suppurbly microfoamed cappuccino milk, aided by the shape of the jug and and sheer volume of the milk being heated.  However, I would have loved to have seen these jugs with a phat, alessi stlyed, pouring lip to aid with the latte art, and smaller sizes available.  But they certainly serve their purpose well, and I think they're a great step towards to the systematic genocide of the old school westfields/90's/sea froth that we're all down right scared of.

Here below are some pictures of the jug in action and the quality it produces plus a short video (I must apologise for the quality, i shot the whole thing on my phone with one hand while trying to do the rest with the other ;)


Take that, Soy decaf latte!!

Sorry the pic is so small. Just snapped this pic and blogged it from my fone while eating breakfast.

Source: the advertiser, page4

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Happy 3rd birthday Simply Coffee!!

Last saturday marked a milestone 3 years roasting and trading at Simply Coffee, located in rundle st, kent town. Passionate owners Peter and lucy's boutique and very hands on approach to coffee roasting have made this place a favourite coffee haunt of mine and countless other regulars for many years now. In fact, it was the very first place we went to from the hospital when my son (pictured above celebrating) was born, even before going home!!
I wish peter, lucy and sally all the very best in the future and urge you all to pop in and wish them well.
While you're there check out peter's panama, kenya or yirgacheffe which are all big on my list of favourites, or ask them nicely to blend you up some 'champion blend'. Which I used to to serve up my espresso's at the 2008 state comp.

Once again congratulations and well done on 3 exciting years of roasting, and here's wishing you many many more!!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Png robusta

Just a quick little post about this little gem i tried the other day at the Coffee Barun .  This robusta from PNG (i'm unsure of the exact region but feel free to ask/comment if you're really interested and I'll find out) shows suprisingly clean flavours and poises itself as a great alternative from the monsooned malabar we're all used to.
I'm not usually a big fan of robusta's (in any percentage) though they do have their place, and by no means does this change my oppinion greatly (perhapse widens it slightly though).  However i was suprised by the slight sweetness and defined acidity this brought in the cup.  Initially I was even getting some soft berry notes with a lingering cocao finnish though this was all but lost as the coffee aged just a few days.
So added to a blend fresh off the roast, it can bring a fantastic touch to an already great blend of coffee, and certainly boost it's profile through milk, but without the harsh or very abrupt flavours that can exist within this varietal.
Another greatly suprising coffee.

Friday, 16 May 2008

R miguel meets the aeropress.

Finally the coffee I ordered from r miguel in minnesota has arrived, and with a cheeky little bonus of around 150gms of ka'u from hawaii. So it was straight out with the aeropress to get buzzing. At 8 days off the roast and without aust customs manhandling my coffee like they did last time i was very excited to get grinding and start brewing.  Method of choice for today, the aeropress, a very simple coffee brewing device that i love for it's ease of use, cleanliness and ability to imitate (not replicate) many different styles of coffee brewing.

I decided to brew using both the standard method (as per the instructions that come with the unit that everyone seems to have a problem with) and mark prince's preferred aeropress method (see here) which we'll call the inverstion process.

First off, the inversion method and Wow, what a cup!  On the nose you're immediately met with a lush, tropical fruit salad and a very interesting background aroma of macadamia (something i've never experienced with such certainty in coffee).  Its flavour is filled with lots of sour, ripe tropical fruits that meld together to create a great melange of flavour, dominated by mango.   This was an exciting coffee that i'd love to enjoy for breakfast with a big bowl of fruit in summer time, maybe even iced.

Now on to the standard method;  What i found here was a much more rounded fruit (still very tropical) flavour, very lush and mouth watering.  All nuances of macadamia were lost, but a very pronounced mango still remained, bringing with it a very pleasant but bright sweetness.

To compare the end result of the two brewing methods, i'd have to say that i found the inversion method a lot more interesting, with greater clarity of flavour in the cup.  Though with the increased intensity of flavour brewed here it bordered on being almost sickly.  I must say that I enjoyed the result from the standard method a little more.  While some nuances were lost, or at least subdued, the final result was a great deal more balanced and enjoyable.

The Next step will be espresso and i can't wait!!

Monday, 5 May 2008

And the winner is... ABC'08

Huge day today!! Between the extremely high level of competition and the havoc caused by my son, it was an exciting but exhausting day all round!!
For me, the real standouts were
1) hazels performance; immaculate, with so many creative ideas
2)David Makins purpose built...well...everything was pretty crazy to watch. A very purposful and well thought out performance.
3)Jen's Sig drink, so delciousely porty, such a fantastic post dinner drink. 4)the passion and dedication of everybody here on the day!
5) Anne's table setup, my wallet felt empty just looking at it!
Check out the photo's here, they're pretty impressive.
After a bit of controversy and a whole lot of fun it was the Big favourite, David Makin who took the title with a huge score of 848!! Con (Vic) came in second with Jen (WA) in a very deserving third (only half a point separated the two!!). I'm somewhere down the line which i'll post about soon, but for know i'm busy enjoying the lingering aftertaste of a well made comp.

And the winner is... Open heat

After a day of impressive performances it was con who stole the show and came up on top for the open heat. That means two competitors from Vic in the Nationals tomorrow. A great performance from habib maarbani and catherine ferrari for their winning performances at the latte art and cupping comps!!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Keeping it gangsta', david Seng.

Looking very shmik in his 1950's gangsta two piece. David scored very highly at the melboure regionals and has certainly paved his way well for a great competition career to come.

Con, the definate favourite today

Huge latte art, though looking a little thin on the cap's. A very polished routine, it'll be interesting to see how the judges place him.

Opens under way!!

Here is vanessa from epic in perth showing the judges how they roll in wa. A great competitor, many more to come

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Epic, so jealous!!

Tiger Tiger pic2

Tiger Tiger pic1

The scene in Perth

Sorry bout the lateness in writing this, just been so cought up training, working and getting things set for the australian barista comp.
First off, it's amazing to see so many cafe's doing things right. And by that, i don't mean perfect, but i do mean that it's really not that hard to find a cafe serving a decent cup, made by a decent barista, on decent machinery. Compared to Adelaide's swill (with a couple of exceptions) it's absolutely amazing.
The quality coffee scene over here is really being driven by two quality roasters, Five Senses (standout store, Epic Espresso in west perth) and Fiori Coffee (Tiger Tiger). It's really quite common to see Synesso's, LMZ fb80's and lineas. While generally i didn't find the customer service to be friendly at all, it was usually attentive, speedy and delivering a good quality product.
Some really creative uses of space have been created here and i found that on the whole,the average cup (a flatwhite, latte cap or whatever ordered from random cafe's) was quite pallatable. Some real standouts though were definately Epic, Velvet Espresso, and Liar Liar. Also had a fantastic coffee from cimbalino in cottesloe and ristretto back in the city. For me, if i had to pick, i'd say i enjoyed my espresso from velvet the most.
Epic and Velvet both have the feel of a very polished, bustling corportate coffee haunt. Tiger Tiger on the other hand is very 'melbourne esque' with a huge charming gritty character.
A few things worth staying well clear of are the coffee chain "domo" (think, gloria jeans) and pretty well anyone using brasiliano coffee (note: i obviousely didn't go to every cafe using coffee from this roaster, but there's only so much punnishment a fella can take).
All in all, it's pretty easy to got excited about coffee over here, and going out on a limb can easily grant you huge, coffee-related rewards. Perth has it's own unique coffee culture over here, and i dare not compare it to melbourne, but is definately very developed (by australian standards of specialty coffee) and well worth a visit.

Sorry this post doesn't have any pics, i'll post some as individual posts soon after.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Brewing on the fly

I had to brew some coffee to make up some more of one of the components of my sig drink. The problem, it's 10.30pm, i've sent all my coffee stuff back to adelaide with my wife and this kitchen is almost bare. So i managed to rig this up from a glass and some viva towel. Using pre-ground coffee(ground for drip) and spring water boiled in a pot on a stove, this little pour-over actually delivered a decent, well balanced cup. Next time maybe i'll do a comparison with toilet paper.

Wa barista academy

What a setup!! That's a gb5 in the background, a syncra in the middle and a linea in the front pic. Roburs, kony's, k10's, it's all here- they're so spoilt in wa. The only i haven't seen much of here in perth is a solid e61 heat exchange.
Trainings been full on, though i wish i had more time here to polish up. A great pool of judgess have made themselves available over the weekend, which is fantastic. There's so much stuff the SA judges have been telling me that I have to 'unlearn'.  Having a few problem's with my sig drink though, so there's still more trial and error in that field than i'd like to have at this point. I'll keep you all informed of any new revelations.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Boozy Little creatures!!

This little gem is worth making the trip to wa on it's own. While not coffee related in the slightest, this place is worth a visit to anyone with any culinary interest at all. The beer is brewed to the left of the photo, then transported via a couple of pipes into three massive keg's for the freshest tasting beer ever!!! In the back is a huge kitchen and wood oven that do everything from fantastic pizza's to steaks and tapas and what not. Eating the skins on fries, sitting back with a house pale, overlooking the marina is an absolute must!! And this from a non-beer drinker.

Cupping at the factory

The fivesenses factory here is a giant. So many fun and exciting toys to play with. Not least of which is their new renegade roaster, which allows you to toy with an incredible array of roasting variables, from simple time and temp right through to the exact drum rotation speed you're after. They are currently attempting to collect their own data on how each of these variables effect the flavour in the cup and so, cup twice daily to measure the results.
As the majority of their coffee is for espresso, the method used is dropping two ounces of espresso into a controlled amount of temp regulated water. And this is repeated three times for every coffee being cupped. There's always a monsooned malabar and kenya aa to compare the body and acid to, and two or three other coffees that they're actually testing. And with a sabre/swift combo pulling shots is as regulated as it gets.
Today i sat in on a balinese coffee that was being cupped against an organic el salvador which the perth champ is representing with at the nationals. Both there coffees are very exciting and well worth trying if you get the chance. We also cupped a two month old brazil that was as you would expect. With old soggy leather coming to mind frequently ;-)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Arrival in perth

I write this as i'm about to depart back home for adelaide, but things have been just too busy to take up moment out to write. Straight from set down it was off to velvet for a taste at wa's offerings. I'll post a little later about the coffee, as then it was off to the wa barista academy to meet the perth champ and pull a few shots. After that, just a bit of a lazy day with the family at the zoo and back to the wonderful 3bedroom townhouse fivesenses hooked us up with for our stay. Tomorrow it's down to the factory for some more fun!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Getting prep'd

Getting prep'd for the upcoming national basista comp! Off to perth next week for some training with the boys at fivesenses. Can't wait!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Noah, king of coffee

For those that haven't met him, this is my son Noah