Posts Tagged ‘best coffee’

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

History of the Espresso Machine – Part I

Confusion and error still plague the history of the espresso machine and its inventors. Coffee expert Ian Bersten has gone further than anyone else in getting to the true story in his book ‘Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks’.
We publish the first of a three part piece comprising edited extracts from the chapter entitled: ‘The Espresso Coffee Machine Revolution’.
From the first days of brewing coffee, inventors were confronted with the interplay of grind size, water temperature and brewing time, the interaction of which they never fully understood. These critical factors had to be just right for a complete extraction of the coffee flavour.


Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Best Cafes of Melbourne 2011

Proud Mary_Cup_webWhen we started up, and we’re just about to celebrate our tenth anniversary, we floated the [then slightly sacrilegious] notion that Melbourne might not, after all, be Australia’s coffee capital – in fact the things that were happening in the Sydney coffee scene were rather leaving Melbourne in the shade. Since then, however, coffee in Australia has taken many leaps forward and we’ve enjoyed riding the wave as coffee in Melbourne, in particular, has surged forward.

We have recently concluded a coffee-hopping trip [including the erstwhile capital of modern world espresso - Seattle] and we now firmly believe that Melbourne takes its place – not just as Australia’s but pretty much the world’s, coffee capital – and as you’ve probably guessed, we don’t make that sort of statement lightly!

However, coffee has got to such a stage in Melbourne, that there may not be much further you can go with espresso. The ‘third wave’ in coffee has seen more emphasis on brewing with different methods – syphon, pour-over, chemex, french press and clover – to the extent that some roasts are optimised for these brewing methods & may actually not be quite so good for espresso… a quandary that probably no other city in Australia may be experiencing.


Friday, July 15th, 2011

CafeSmart 2011

cafesmart logoCafeSmart will take place on Friday 5th August, during National Homeless Persons’ Week (1-7 August 2011), and will bring together cafés and their customers, to create change for some of our most disadvantaged Australians. Part proceeds, from each cup purchased on the day, will be put towards charities that tackle homelessness in Australia. The initiative is StreetSmart’s most recent project called CafeSmart whereby participating cafes have generously pledged to donate $1.00 per coffee sold to fund local grassroots projects.

Cafe Customers – is your favourite local cafe participating? If not, ask them why they haven’t signed up yet? For a list of participating cafes visit the StreetSmart website

Cafe Owners – Why sign up your cafe? For lots of good reasons, (more…)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011


DeClieu_webOn the corner of George and Gertrude streets (part of the Gertrude Street boutique/shopping strip) is a smallish café which is part of the Seven Seeds stable [run by Melbourne coffee don Mark Dundon] curiously named De Clieu. Not so curious perhaps when you look into the taxonomy of Mark’s other café names [Seven Seeds, Brother Baba Budan] and see that they derive from the colourful history of coffee and its discovery.

The original De Clieu was a french naval officer who is celebrated for his claim to have introduced coffee to the French colonies of the Western Hemisphere in the 1720s. According to l’Année littéraire of 1774, he arranged to transport a coffee plant (or perhaps several) from the greenhouses of the Jardin Royal des Plantes [which had originally been given to the French King from Holland] to Martinique in 1720.

The story goes that water was rationed on the voyage and De Clieu was so dedicated to his mission that he shared his ration with the seedlings. The story may be apocryphal, but most sources do in fact credit De Clieu with the introduction of coffee to Martinique & thence the Caribbean.

But enough of history – De Clieu is a funky spot where everyone seems to hang out in black jeans [& black jackets, shoes or whatever] but this belies its class – it’s trendy, but it also serves good coffee and very good food.

The menu reveals an elegant simplicity as would be expected from the kitchen of Steven Carr (previously of the Healesville Hotel) and offers a slightly exotic take on otherwise prosaic items – our Pork Neck Roti [sweet roasted pork neck on a spring onion roti, with a fried egg and hoisin-flavoured BBQ sauce] was exquisite.

And the coffee – we had one shot which was excellent and one which was [only] good, which given the general state of espresso coffee, is still very good overall! Definitely recommended.

De Clieu
187 Gertrude Street
(03) 9416 4661

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Coffee Profile – PNG Sigri AA

beans.homeboxBy Rob Stewart

By now I guess you have heard the term ‘third wave’ in coffee. It refers to a worldwide movement whereby specialty coffee roasters and boutique cafes are devoting their efforts to exploring the pure flavour of the single origin coffee and it’s something that the coffee industry and its consumers in Australia have embraced. The movement is also about innovation and patience which is seeing brewing systems like the Clover, Siphon and temperature controlled espresso machines such as the Synesso and Slayer becoming commonplace in our cafe strips. We are also seeing the green bean standard raised with access to Cup of Excellence, micro-lots, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and roasters creating direct routes to the farms. One such country I believe has always been able to deliver coffee to the standard we are demanding today is Papua New Guinea. (more…)

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Room 10

Room10_webWith the increasing tendency of hip new cafes to use ‘boutique’ coffee brands to make their coffee, it’s probably no surprise that Room 10 uses Mecca [see Sydney’s Best Cafes 2011]. It’s a compact space with no separate kitchen – the kitchen is actually a dedicated area of bench space on the right [as you walk in]of the café. The space is dominated by two things – one a bicycle curiously mounted on the wall at the rear and secondly a shiny La Marzocco espresso machine at the front. It’s not always guaranteed, but it’s usually a sign that they’re serious about their coffee and in this case, the coffee didn’t disappoint, although there was some variability, depending on who was behind the machine. They offer a limited food menu and in spite of the size of the kitchen [or lack of it!] the food was actually pretty good, and if you can get a seat [especially in Summer] the little outdoor tables are a nice option. Room 10 brings a new dimension to otherwise ‘good-coffee-denuded’ Kings Cross.

10 Llankelly Place
Potts Point NSW 2011

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011



In a great little space in one of the buzziest and trendiest parts of Surry hills, Anakin from Toby’s Estate has created a real gem. A natural café spot, Anakin has taken this space over from Coffee, Tea or me, and created a café that is a true coffee lover’s hangout. And what a hang-out it is – with great food and tables on to the street, it’s the perfect place to watch the passing bustle of humanity on cosmopolitan Crown street.

But it’s the coffee that the aficionados come for – the house blend combining a wet and a dry processed Ethiopian, a Java and a Brazil – sweet on the tip of the tongue, with an earthy middle palate and a hint of saltiness on the back palate. Delicious.

536 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

T: (02) 9332 3191

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Best Cafes of Sydney 2011

WorkshopRGB_webMake no mistake, Australia is at the peak of espresso coffee on the world stage with a number of barista champions, past and present hailing from our shores and many of our top cafes cresting the ‘third’ and even ‘fourth’ waves in world espresso.

Sydney is no exception to this and boasts a number of truly world-class cafes. Many of our reviewers have travelled, or even lived in Europe and their reviews attest to the increasing dominance of antipodean coffee on the world scene; let no-one doubt – these cafes are at the peak of their game and are of a world class standard.

So it is with pleasure that we bring you Crema Magazine’s Best Cafes of Sydney for 2011…


Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Espresso Coffee: a Complex and Fragile Beauty

davids_13by David Schomer

Often during my twenty years spent in hot pursuit of this elusive espresso, I have come back to the words of Piero Bambi, the owner of LaMarzocco espresso machines: ‘In espresso we are trying to preserve the fragrance through the brewing process’. And really, isn’t that what anyone wants from coffee, to taste as good as it smells?  But to achieve this is to control several complex factors from the green bean selection, roasting, and blending to the sensuous performance art of brewing and pouring. Let’s follow our barista as she performs her graceful dance to lure this delicate beauty into a cup. It starts when she (we are tagging along with Linda Cleckler) hits the button on the grinder. Heavy conical upper burrs pull the beans down, compressing them until they shatter into smaller fragments to enter the flat burrs, to be sheared into the final grind…  
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Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The 7 Basic Steps to Great Home Espresso

It has many guises…espresso, cappuccino, café latte, macchiato, ristretto, doppio, flat white – that bitter sweet pleasure which is a way of life for so many of us. Sure, the active ingredient caffeine is found in other beverages, such as tea and soft drinks, but there’s only one true pure form: coffee.

But there is an art to making an espresso and all its variations. Even that simple long black demands respect for the espresso machine, and attention to the packing of the ground coffee beans. Without that ‘rat’s tail’ spiralling into the demitasse, your coffee is going to be sub-standard.

Seven steps to the perfect home espresso

Step 1 – Select your favourite coffee blend. You can either use pre-ground coffee or grind your own just before you make your espresso. If you are using pre-ground, make sure it is freshly opened and espresso blend [not filter]. If you prefer, as we do, to grind your own, make sure it is finely ground.

Ensure your espresso equipment is clean and hot, this includes the filter holder and filter basket, where your coffee grounds go. Preheat your cups – espresso cups should be approx 60ml capacity, cappuccino cups about 200ml capacity.


Step 2 – Place coffee grounds into the filter basket using a spoon or preferably a coffee scoop. You must place the right amount of coffee in the basket in order to get a good, strong espresso – one scoop in the smaller (one cup) basket; two scoops in the bigger basket (two cup) one.




Step 3 – Level the coffee in the basket and tamp (compress) the grounds. This will slow the flow of the water through the coffee, so that it can pick up all the flavour (oils & aromas) from the grounds. Check your machine instruction guide as to how hard or soft you should tamp.

Step 4
– Ensure the rim of the filter holder is clean before inserting it into the machine. Activate the water to flush  out any grounds from the inside of the machine.



Step 5 – Insert the filter holder into the machine. Immediately place warm cups underneath and start the flow of water through the coffee. The extracted coffee should pour in a fine stream (the proverbial ‘rat’s tail’).






Step 6 – The result should be 30ml of espresso (in around 25 seconds) with a 2mm golden, hazelnut-coloured crema on top. (The crema is an important indicator of the quality of your espresso.) and…Taste!

Note: If you get little crema, make sure your coffee is fresh for a start. Try again making sure you have the right amount of coffee, the right tamping pressure and that your machine has been properly warmed up. You may need to experiment with different grinds (particle sizes) – remember you typically need a very fine grind for espresso coffee. As a general rule with domestic espresso machines, make your espresso before preparing the milk.



Step 7 – Steaming your milk. Place fresh, cold milk in a small stainless steel jug (fill between a third and one half of the jug). Activate the steam button so that your espresso machine increases in temperature to produce steam. Once the ‘Ready’ light on your machine goes on, turn the steam on and off to expel any water.

Place the tip of the spout just (about half a centimetre) under the surface of the milk and positioned near the centre of the jug. Turn on the steam wand to full power. You should see and hear air being drawn into the milk, creating a whirlpool effect, making it foamy. When the milk reaches 65°C turn off the steam and wipe the steam wand clean.


Pour the steamed milk to produce the drink of your choice and enjoy!