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Domestic Espresso Machines

This is not a phrase you hear that often among friends (unless you are a tradie, or a golfer, or a …) but let’s talk about your equipment.  What do you use to maintain the caffeine component to your blood stream when all the good coffee shops and cafes have closed (or you just can’t be bothered going out)?

My first coffee machine was purchased with a voucher that my wife and I received at our wedding.  After purchasing copious amounts of tupperware and knives, she graciously allowed me to get a ‘cheap’ machine from Target (I know, I know – I look back in shame) and so I came to have a semi-automatic DéLonghi with an inbuilt milk frother tub on top.  It served me very well for a few years while I learnt more about the wonders of coffee, but I knew that as I wondered from kitchen to kitchen, that my little old DéLonghi (a precursor to the current ECO310W) was only holding my coffee appreciation back.  So, when the milk frother packed it in – in the words of the Lion King’s Rafiki the monkey “It is time!” [As an aside, I sold my old espresso machine for $1 on the weekend at our Moving In Sale]

When not in a cafe, here I can be found

I consulted with Choice Magazine, and joined the forum over at and even consulted my  coffee guru for his sage advice and for the money that I had available (which wasn’t much) they all agreed that I couldn’t go past the Sunbeam Café Series® EM6910.  I did my research, and found the unit I wanted at nearly $100 less that the RRP that also came with a free  Café Series® Conical Burr Coffee Grinder EM0480. That was two years ago this month, and we couldn’t be happier.  What I like about my machine is that with the trademarked “TPTT™ System of twin pumps and twin thermoblocks” which ensures stable water temperature, it allows me to texture of milk and pour an espresso shot simultaneously – my only criticism of the machine is the lengthy amount of time it takes to texture the milk from fridge temperature into the lows 60s.  Read the rest of this entry

Roasting your own beans?

James Vyver from ABC 666 in Canberra (never knew it was that obvious…) has written a short little article, based upon an interview for their drive program with Louise Maher and posted it on the local ABC website titled “Feast: the dark art (but of course – ABC 666) of coffee roasting” – while you will find more indepth and better information with a quick Google search – it is an informative little article with a 35 second clip showing Martin Smith’s (Wagonga Coffee) Roaster in action.  In the article, which is basically an quasi-interview come infomercial for Martin, James writes:

It’s one of the most traded and most consumed products in the world, but exactly how does coffee go from plant to cup?

Getting the bean from its raw state into your latte requires a skilful and precise process. There are many chapters in each stage of the coffee production story and indeed many endings – the adjustable variables along the production line can give a multitude of flavour profiles to the finished product.

“Hazelnuts, walnuts, carbonised, raisins, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom…these are the descriptors of the aroma you can get off of coffee” Martin Smith described, owner of Wagonga Coffee which is a local roaster.  It all starts with the coffee plant, where the ripe beans or fruit have a different appearance to what you might imagine.”There’s two main varieties; cafe Arabica and cafe Canephora…when they’re growing the fruit goes from green to yellow to a bright red and that’s when they’re picked”

To read more, click HERE

editorial note:

On the right is the cafe Arabica bean – from which we get most of our good quality coffee – and on the left is the cafe Canephora, or as it is commonly know Robusta – which is where lots of the mass produced coffee comes from because it is easier and cheaper to grow with a high yield.  Robusta, while coming from the home of coffee Ethiopia, is now grown in huge quantities in south east asia,  gave rise to the post world war 2 boom in instant coffee….

Instant tan, instant coffee or both?

Apparently, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in America, drinking moderate amounts of coffee or even applying coffee to the skin has been shown to help prevent non-melanoma cancer.

“Using mice that had been genetically altered to suppress a protein called ATR, researchers showed the rodents were able to fend off cancer even when exposed to ultraviolet light…The altered mice eventually did develop cancer, but three weeks later than normal mice. Previous studies have suggested that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee per day has the effect of suppressing ATR and triggering the die-off of cells harmed by UV rays. The altered mice eventually did develop cancer, but three weeks later than normal mice.

The team were able to confirm their hypothesis that caffeine – when consumed or applied to the skin – works by inhibiting ATR. Now they say more studies are needed to see how it may work on humans.

Cosmetic brand Cucina Cosmetica already supports the benefits of caffeine as a beauty product, and has developed a cosmetic range from 100 per cent recycled coffee grinds collected from restaurants and cafés across Australia.  The natural, food-based products such as the Body Grind Rejuvenating Body Polish and Espresso Repair Natural Skin Moisturiser are infused with caffeine and high levels of anti-oxidants aiming to reduce cellulite to de-toxify skin and reduce puffiness.”

To read about this via the BeanScene Magazine click HERE – to via the Herald Sun click HERE

Now, being of the fair hair (whats left of it) and fair skinned variety this really doesn’t hold much hope for me – just sitting here at my computer and thinking about the sun has caused my skin to develop some sun burn – but I wonder – could rubbing coffee grounds into your skin actually negate the need to go out into the sun at all?

Stay with me here.

For those who use an espresso machine at home will have experienced the occasional coffee stain that develops on your hands after a messy pour, or a wiping away the afters from an overly ambitious tamp – so I suggest that just by rubbing the use grounds onto you skin, you could perhaps develop an instant coffee tan!  No need for the sun at all!

Can’t you just see it now?  A romantic Nescafé add which ends not with drinking their horrible so called coffee – but with the leads rubbing each other down with coffee to develop that healthy caffeinated glow – or perhaps the new Vittoria Coffee ad with Al Pacino getting his yearly espresso tan, ready for his next close up Mr DeMille? The instant coffee tan could come in Long Black, Short Black, Cappuccino, Latte and Ristretto(for those who want a really sweet looking yet very temporary tan).

As an aside – did you know that Billy Connelly used to go into coffee shops and order a Robert De Niro?  He used to forget the name of a cappuccino but knew it has something to do with a great actor with Italian heritage….


Beanscene and CaféSmart – everyone wins!

Beanscene and CaféSmart – everyone wins!

By now you will have all heard about the CaféSmart initiative and about Friday August 5th being the day to buy a coffee from a Café with a conscience?  Yes – if not, check the archives for the articles in November – or click HERE.

In support of CaféSmart, my favourite coffee magazine – Beanscene – are offering a great subscription deal. BeanScene magazine will also be donating the funds from the first 100 subscriptions sold on the day. If you know someone who doesn’t yet subscribe to BeanScene, encourage them to sign up that day at

I’m going to subscribe on Friday, anyone with me?

BeanScene vs. Crema

For me and mine, BeanScene is the way to go as it is nicer looking publication with a greater depth of information on coffee and associated paraphernalia.  If I had to use a coffee metaphor, I would say that BeanScene is a full, robust single origin coffee with a depth of flavour that is enhanced with each sip, and with a lingering aftertaste that beckons you to return, while Crema is a good quality swiss water decaf.

On the plus side for each of them, is their web presence – with Crema coming out on top here.  Crema puts forward a very professional looking website, with easy to navigate menu bars all situated within an attractive theme. Their site is also the genesis of the Best Cafes website, which allows you to review your favourite place and let everyone know where the best beans are to be found  – this is not to be confused with the Best Aussie Coffee website which is the same, but is more user friendly – both have a free iphone app for those who of that cult. BeanScene Magazine website looks like a blogspot or wordpress blog – but contains plenty of good information and links, just lacks the style of Crema. Interestingly enough though, BeanScene has a Facebook page with a dedicated following, while Crema seems to be mysteriously absent from the social networking phenomena.

Magazine Winner = BeanScene Magazine

Website Winner = Crema

BeanScene – A World Class Coffee Magazine

Cover Price – $8.95

Editor: Christine Grimard
Prime Creative Pty Ltd
11-15 Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne, VIC, 3205

This review is based upon the June 2011 edition, of this bi-monthly magazine.  BeanScene magazine is a larger, much more substantial looking magazine, then its interstate rival – coming in at 100 pages inside cover to inside cover – which more than compensates for the additional $2 at the news-stand. The  contents page doesn’t easily allow for an apples with apples comparison with Crema, as there is no indication of regular features verse special features – but based purely upon the cover information and the three key pictures in the contents page, this edition features especially:

  • The story of Coffee Icon Toby Smith, and his journey from selling beans from his mother’s garage to having stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Singapore and New York.  [What’s wrong with Adelaide? Reviewer wonders – no need for comments on thing ;)]
  • Christchurch – how the shattered but not broken Coffee industry is supporting the region as it gets back on its feet after a disastrous 2011.
  • Domestic Bliss – a great couple of pages on the latest and coolest coffee gear out there – from the AeroPress [] to the La Pavoni espresso machine [] to the tampers of Espresso Gear Australia []
  • Giotto: the untold story – how a couple of New Zealand coffee entrepreneurs rescued the iconic brand.
  • Celebrity Chef – Guillauame Brahimi
  • Fairtrade – the story behind the label

The magazine, according to the contents page is divided seven components all focussed upon coffee:

  1. Upfront – which includes an Insider Insight into trade, Coffee News in brief, and New Products on the scene;
  2. Industry Profiles – whos who and whats what – did you now there was a Cappuccino Price Index?  This never gets a mention during the news on breakfast television!
  3. Product Profile – which includes an article on the various methods of processing coffee beans, and an article on a Tasmanian initiative to help Rwandan genocide survivors;
  4. Personality Profile – which interviews industry people from international judges, baristas (sounds all legal doesn’t it?), and bean traders – it also highlights a couple of members of the Coffee Snobs website and forum;
  5. Technology Focus – pretty self explanatory;
  6. Café Scene– what is happening around the place – plus a review of a cafe in every major Australian city, and Singapore – this edition they look at:
    1. Single Origin Roasters – Surrey Hills, NSW
    2. Nook Espresso – Burleigh Heads, Qld
    3. The Cupping Room – Hobart, Tas
    4. Limes Café – West Perth, WA
    5. Caffe Buongiorno – Modbury, SA
    6. Brother Baba Budan – Melbourne, VIC
    7. Black – TripleOne Somerset, Singapore
  7. Skill Base – which teaching us novices some of the barista skills for our home coffee nooks – including how to make the ‘Elephant Sketch’ latte art by current Australian Latte Art Champion, Kirby Berlin.

To quote Molly Meldrum – “Do yourself a favour” and get into BeanScene Magazine. If you are a serious coffee nut, then this is the magazine for you. If you like to keep your magazines, to refer back – then likewise, this is the magazine for you as it is well presented, with a solid well labelled spine. I was concerned about BeanScene when I saw that it was published by a publishing company in Melbourne, and not by Coffee people in Adelaide, but their content proves that they have staffed well, and have even made the effort to provide a good cross section of the coffee geography of our region – including New Zealand and Singapore. Certainly not for the casual coffee drinker, but a must for a conscientious coffee connoisseur.

Crema – The Café Lifestyle Magazine

Cover Price: $6.95 inc GST

Editor: Libby Brooke
Crema[TM] Magazine
PO Box 402 Unley BC, Unley, SA, 5061

This review is based upon the Autumn 2011 Issue of this seasonal coffee magazine. Crema is a light easy to read magazine, with 47 pages from inside cover to inside cover, with this month featuring a rich looking rosetta on the cover, while plugging ‘Brisbane’s best cafes.’ Other special features from this edition include:

  • Latte art – a five page article (three pages of photographs) featuring the work and passion of Habib Maarbani, a former NSW Barista Champion and now NSW Sales Manager for Mocopan Coffee.  Some great shots of a ghost, a sea dragon, a land dragon, and an Angel fish.  What this article lacked is some step by step instructions on how to attempt these creative pours, although it does point you towards ‘Crema TV’ on their website (not reviewed).
  • Ken gargett on wine – an article about the wine and food of New Zealand’s Marlborough region
  • Car Review of the Mini Countryman ALL4

Regular features of the magazine include:

  • Book reviews – this edition looks at three cook  books which do not seem to be connected to coffee in anyway;
  • Crema Kitchen – with a recipe for Ricotta Pancakes and a sidebar article on matching coffee and food from Adelaide’s own Ian Callahan from Bar 9;
  • Roast & Ground – which is a roundup of coffee related news from around Australia, and a chance to throw in more advertising [there is plenty in this small magazine];
  • Coffee profile – which I found to be the most interesting article in the entire magazine, in that it profiles a coffee growing region of the world – in this case Chiapas, Mexico – and gives you a sense of what to expect from beans grown here – for example – they would have the fragrance and aroma of hazelnuts, honey and vanilla, yet have the flavour characteristics of stone fruits, with an aftertaste that is sweet and short;
  • Industry Comment – highlights something from within the coffee industry – this edition they highlighted the Coffee Common, which was part of TED [Technology, Entertainment, Design] 2011.  From what I have read here and elsewhere, this would have been coffee heaven!!

Overall, my impression of Crema is that it is a good try – but is not what I am looking for in a coffee magazine.  For example, I would suggest that approximately 50% of the magazine was directly about coffee, while the remainder is wine, travel, food – and if I had wanted to read about them, I would have purchased a magazine in that field.  I was also disappointed by the distinct lack of anything South Australian in the magazine (with the exception of the publication location and the sidebar from Bar9) which also extends to the website. I wonder if this is a conscious thing to gain acceptance in the eastern states who still firmly believes that there is nothing past Ballarat but desert. If you want an easy to read, light coffee table (or smallhouse) magazine – then Crema is fine – and despite what it says above – it is made in South Australia, so go local!!

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