Posts Tagged ‘expert coffee advice’

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Who decides what the customer wants?

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What does a customer remember about a coffee they drink? Is it the latte art, the café atmosphere, the conversation they shared with the barista or the origin and farm the coffee came from? Chances are it’s one of the aforementioned, but what a barista is trying to share and what a customer takes away is probably rarely the same thing.

The experience that a customer treasures from going for coffee or visiting a cafe is often the same reason they were attracted to go there in the first place – and it is different for everyone.  Of course there is no right and wrong when it comes to defining this interaction although for the most part a feeling of trust and respect between the customer and the café must exist.

Specialty coffee baristas love what they do. We’re passionate, dedicated and in most instances educated quite thoroughly and specifically about the coffees we roast, dial in, pour and serve every day. We know the region and district it was grown, in some instances we’ve met the farmers and workers and touched the trees that produce the cherries. We care about the supply chain and the integrity of our product, and, we want you to understand it’s true value. Despite our competing businesses, as a collective this is our common goal.

So why is this a topic worth discussing? As I mentioned earlier, the problem occurs when the goals and the outcomes don’t line up.

The biggest question currently facing the specialty coffee retailer is how to better engage customers to share our passion. Because more often than not, it seems, that customers just aren’t that into it. We have, I believe, as an industry, accepted that in the past that sometimes our interactions have been less than ideal. In the push to share our cause we’ve come across as patronising, soap-boxy and preachy, and not actually stopped to find out what people are looking for. Customers end up dissatisfied and then disengage, no longer paying attention to what we’re trying to share.  What we need to do as an industry is recognise that not every person who walks through the door is looking to know the whole story…. (yet!) Equally, customers need to recognise that coffee isn’t just coffee, hopefully through the quality of experience and relationships that can be developed between a café and its patrons.

As an industry we’re in a unique position. Our clients visit regularly (daily in most instances) and the frequency of interaction we are offered is far greater than that of most other hospitality industries.  Specialty coffee needs to share with customers our product and our story, because the coffee we serve is undervalued by the general public. Because of this, people are not willing to pay what coffee is worth, or understand why in fact, we actually need to pay more.

How we better spread this message is still being debated, but at the very least communication needs to be improved. Baristas need to adapt to respect the needs and wishes of their customers and understand that everyone is looking for a different outcome from their interaction. Hopefully from this basis, a new dialogue can open up. Equally, customers need to be willing to engage a little more and begin to understand that when it comes to coffee, things can only get better.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Singles or Blends?

Not so long ago I had a minor squabble with Neil Perry via twitter on the pros and cons of single origins vs. blends in espresso beverages. Even as one of Australia’s most recognised and successful celebrity chefs, his mis-interpretation of the merits of each had me perplexed. As I attempted to explain how each performed generally as espressos the conversation got split into tangents and inevitably came to a halt, but it left me wondering how many people are confused by what ‘single origin’ or ‘blend’ actually means and how they can best be used.

The term ‘single origin’ can be a little confusing. Essentially it means coffee from one single place – either one country, one region or one single estate. It is not mixed or blended with any other coffee, be it from another or the same, country, region or farm. It is alone, one bean from one place.

A blend is anything other than that. A blend can be coffees from various countries, from various regions, or even two varying roasts of the same coffee mixed together (usually referred to as a ‘single origin blend’– just to things!).

So, why do we offer both? It’s hard to establish how blending coffees together began, but it is easy to explain why it became popular. By putting together coffees of various taste and depth, a roaster can develop flavours and textures that might not be possible in a single origin bean. When done well, a blend can bring out the best in coffees as individuals, while complementing each other to create balance, the desired taste or other aspect most sought after. Blending can sometimes hide faults in coffees and add volume as fillers, or perform better (than single origins) when mixed with milk.  Traditionally, over decades, coupled with the limited technology for quality control from the growing and production of green coffee and roasting, blends produced a better outcome for espresso coffees.

Single origins coffees, whilst always having existed, have had somewhat of a renaissance in the last decade or so. This is primarily because of the rapid increase in the quality and traceability of coffees, as well as a renewed interest in single cup brewing. Even when I started in the coffee industry 17 years ago we sold the generic Colombia, Brazil or Mexican coffee. Now, we can trace our coffees back to the region, farm or estate and get a much higher quality cup.

Singe Origin coffees are however individual in their taste and not for everyone. In fact, the point of them, more often than not, is to highlight the individuality and nuances of a region, variety or processing method; aspects of flavour that can get lost if mixed with other coffees. As an espresso, single origins are most often softer in milk than a blend or sometimes a little confronting with unusual or unique characteristics as a black coffee. They are not for everyone and are almost always limited when it comes to repeating a flavour profile.

Both blends and single origins are valuable elements, especially for specialty coffee, as an avenue of sharing just how good quality coffee can taste. Blends are a fantastic way of introducing people to better coffees but ironically, as people explore coffee more and more they are inevitably drawn to tasting the distinct and diverse range of single origin coffees now available to the market. Regardless of what you prefer, if it’s a good coffee bean to start with you will almost always enjoy the experience.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Domestic Grinder Review

So you love great espresso?

We do too – that’s the whole reason for Crema Magazine’s existence. So is it all about spending $2,000 + on a fancy espresso machine? Well it may be, but before you go shelling out all that money on a fancy espresso machine, think about your grinder. In fact, one of Australia’s leading espresso authorities maintains that you should spend almost as much on a grinder as you do on your espresso machine – it’s that important.

Why is this most important piece of equipment so often overlooked and its importance underestimated? Well, it’s just not sexy, is it!

 

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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.

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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, April 15th, 2011

Brisbane’s Best Cafes 2011

Cup Specialty_Brisbane_webLike any large Australian city, Brisbane has a wide range of cafes from the simple ‘mom & pop’ café to those where the focus is on excellent business lunches and great food. However, Brisbane has a large coffee purist element that is bubbling underground and is beginning to show itself to those who are seriously interested.

And the good news is this: from an espresso coffee point-of-view, the Brisbane espresso ‘scene’ rocks, supported by many enthusiastic young professionals eager to share their coffee knowledge and passion. One quick note: it’s not in necessarily in the CBD itself, but in the inner suburbs that you find the best coffee… suburbs like West End, New Farm, Spring Hill and even the formerly seedy Fortitude Valley! (more…)



Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Coffee Profile – Brazilian Daterra Cerrado

Coffee_homepage boxby Rob Stewart


I have often wondered what would happen to the world if Brazil stopped producing coffee – perhaps a catastrophic melt down! The price for coffee per kilo would go up, making a cup of coffee cost more than a cocktail at a night club, sounding the death knell of the majority of cafes and coffee companies.  Shift workers, parents, students, productivity, and Italy would all come to a grinding halt. It would affect our economy and our way of life, leaving everyone with one giant headache.

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Coffee and Health

One moment coffee’s a healthy option; an espresso later, it’s bad for you. Crema Magazine tries to help you separate the fact from the fiction…

atomica_coffee_pouring1_lowEvery day, 70 million skinny lattes, cappuccinos, double espressos and plain old black coffees are consumed in the UK. But for each of us who savours that freshly ground taste and feels confident that it’s providing us with antioxidants and improving our concentration, there’s someone else growing increasingly paranoid that their daily cuppa joe might be leaving them dehydrated or addicted to caffeine.

Hardly a month goes by without a contradictory report on the health issues surrounding caffeine, so it’s no wonder the drink that many of us rely on is woefully misunderstood. This confusion was highlighted in a recent survey by the British Coffee Association.

It showed that 61% of participants didn’t realise that each cup of coffee counts towards daily fluid intake; three out of four people had no idea that scientific research has demonstrated that drinking moderate amounts of coffee may help protect against a range of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s; and a whopping 63% of us have tried to reduce the number of cups we drink each day because we’re worried that coffee might be bad for our health.


Hydration

It was long thought that caffeinated beverages were diuretics (which speed up the elimination of bodily fluids), but studies reviewed last year found that people who consumed drinks with up to 550mg of caffeine – or the equivalent of al least eight cups of instant coffee – produced no more urine than when drinking fluids free of caffeine. However, above 575mg, the drug was classed as a diuretic.

Heart disease

Patients with heart problems, especially high blood pressure, are often told to avoid caffeine, a known stimulant. But an analysis of ten studies of more than 400,000 people found no increase in heart disease among daily coffee drinkers, whether their coffee came with caffeine or not.

“Contrary to common belief,” concluded cardiologists at the University of California, there is “little evidence that coffee and/or caffeine in typical dosages increases the risk” of heart attack, sudden death or abnormal heart rhythms. In fact, among 27,000 women in Iowa who participated in a study for 15 years, those who drank one to three cups a day reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24%.

Hypertension

Caffeine induces a small, temporary rise in blood pressure. But in a study of 155,000 nurses, those who drank coffee for a decade were no more likely to develop hypertension than non-coffee drinkers. But a higher risk of hypertension was found from drinking colas.

Pregnancy
A study by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology found more than 200mg of caffeine a day doubled the risk of miscarriage. But British Medical Journal research found no difference between women who drank moderate amounts of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The Food Standards Agency advises an upper limit of 300mg during pregnancy – the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day.

Cancer
In an international review of 66 studies in 1997, scientists found that coffee-drinking had little, if any, effect on the risk of developing pancreatic or kidney cancer. In fact, another review suggested that compared with people who do not drink coffee, those who do halve the risk of developing liver cancer. And a study of 59,000 women in Sweden found no connection between coffee, tea or caffeine consumption and breast cancer. Some studies have found coffee drinkers have lower rates of colon and rectal cancers.

Liver disease
A 2006 study suggested coffee could reduce the risk of alcohol-related liver disease. The US research found a 22% reduced risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis for each cup of coffee drunk per day. But tea was not associated with a reduced risk, suggesting an ingredient other than caffeine may be the active factor.

Weight loss
Although caffeine speeds up the metabolism, with 100mg burning an extra 75 to 100 calories a day, no long-term benefit to weight control has been demonstrated. In fact, in a 12-year study of more than 58,000 health professionals, those who increased their caffeine consumption gained more weight than those who didn’t.

Cellulite
Despite the widely held belief that coffee is a toxin which causes cellulite, there is no scientific research to back this up. In fact, one Brazilian study found that skin creams made with caffeine can help combat the appearance of cellulite.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Probably the most important effect of caffeine is its ability to enhance mood and performance. At consumption levels up to 200mg, consumers report an improved sense of well-being, energy and sociability.

Caffeine improves alertness and reaction time. And in the sleep-deprived, it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks. The Department for Transport advises drivers to ‘stop for a 15-minute break and drink two cups of coffee every two hours’ to alleviate fatigue. For the active, caffeine enhances endurance in aerobic activities, and performance in anaerobic ones, perhaps because it blunts the perception of pain and aids the ability to burn fat for fuel.

Recent findings add to coffee’s popularity. A review of 13 studies found that people who drank caffeinated coffee had a 30% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. Another review found that people who drank four to six cups a day, with or without caffeine, had a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

How to kick the habit

Palpitations, irritability, insomnia, tremors in your hands and an inability to concentrate are symptoms of too much caffeine, but be prepared for more irritability, nausea, tiredness and headaches upon withdrawal.

Cut down slowly rather than going cold turkey. Drink plenty of (non-caffeinated) fluids to prevent headaches. Take painkillers to help with headaches. Massage, acupuncture, reflexology or any other stress-busting activities are also recommended.

Coffee and Health

One moment coffee’s a healthy option; an espresso later, it’s bad for you. Crema Magazine tries to help you separate the fact from the fiction…

Every day, 70 million skinny lattes, cappuccinos, double espressos and plain old black coffees are consumed in the UK. But for each of us who savours that freshly ground taste and feels confident that it’s providing us with antioxidants and improving

our concentration, there’s someone else growing increasingly paranoid that their daily cuppa joe might be leaving them dehydrated or addicted to caffeine.

Hardly a month goes by without a contradictory report on the health issues surrounding caffeine, so it’s no wonder the drink that many of us rely on is woefully misunderstood. This confusion was highlighted in a recent survey by the British Coffee Association.
It showed that 61% of participants didn’t realise that each cup of coffee counts towards daily fluid intake; three out of four people had no idea that scientific research has demonstrated that drinking moderate amounts of coffee may help protect against a range of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s; and a whopping 63% of us have tried to reduce the number of cups we drink each day because we’re worried that coffee might be bad for our health.

Hydration

It was long thought that caffeinated beverages were diuretics (which speed up the elimination of bodily fluids), but studies reviewed last year found that people who consumed drinks with up to 550mg of caffeine – or the equivalent of al least eight cups of instant coffee – produced no more urine than when drinking fluids free of caffeine. However, above 575mg, the drug was classed as a diuretic.

Heart disease

Patients with heart problems, especially high blood pressure, are often told to avoid caffeine, a known stimulant. But an analysis of ten studies of more than 400,000 people found no increase in heart disease among daily coffee drinkers, whether their coffee came with caffeine or not.

“Contrary to common belief,” concluded cardiologists at the University of California, there is “little evidence that coffee and/or caffeine in typical dosages increases the risk” of heart attack, sudden death or abnormal heart rhythms.

In fact, among 27,000 women in Iowa who participated in a study for 15 years, those who drank one to three cups a day reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24%.

Hypertension

Caffeine induces a small, temporary rise in blood pressure. But in a study of 155,000 nurses, those who drank coffee for a decade were no more likely to develop hypertension than non-coffee drinkers. But a higher risk of hypertension was found from drinking colas.

Pregnancy
A study by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology found more than 200mg of caffeine a day doubled the risk of miscarriage. But British Medical Journal research found no difference between women who drank moderate amounts of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The Food Standards Agency advises an upper limit of 300mg during pregnancy – the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day.

Cancer
In an international review of 66 studies in 1997, scientists found that coffee-drinking had little, if any, effect on the risk of developing pancreatic or kidney cancer. In fact, another review suggested that compared with people who do not drink coffee, those who do halve the risk of developing liver cancer. And a study of 59,000 women in Sweden found no connection between coffee, tea or caffeine consumption and breast cancer. Some studies have found coffee drinkers have lower rates of colon and rectal cancers.

Liver disease
A 2006 study suggested coffee could reduce the risk of alcohol-related liver disease. The US research found a 22% reduced risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis for each cup of coffee drunk per day. But tea was not associated with a reduced risk, suggesting an ingredient other than caffeine may be the active factor.

Weight loss
Although caffeine speeds up the metabolism, with 100mg burning an extra 75 to 100 calories a day, no long-term benefit to weight control has been demonstrated. In fact, in a 12-year study of more than 58,000 health professionals, those who increased their caffeine consumption gained more weight than those who didn’t.

Cellulite
Despite the widely held belief that coffee is a toxin which causes cellulite, there is no scientific research to back this up. In fact, one Brazilian study found that skin creams made with caffeine can help combat the appearance of cellulite.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Probably the most important effect of caffeine is its ability to enhance mood and performance. At consumption levels up to 200mg, consumers report an improved sense of well-being, energy and sociability.

Caffeine improves alertness and reaction time. And in the sleep-deprived, it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks. The Department for Transport advises drivers to ‘stop for a 15-minute break and drink two cups of coffee every two hours’ to alleviate fatigue. For the active, caffeine enhances endurance in aerobic activities, and performance in anaerobic ones, perhaps because it blunts the perception of pain and aids the ability to burn fat for fuel.

Recent findings add to coffee’s popularity. A review of 13 studies found that people who drank caffeinated coffee had a 30% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. Another review found that people who drank four to six cups a day, with or without caffeine, had a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

How to kick the habit

Palpitations, irritability, insomnia, tremors in your hands and an inability to concentrate are symptoms of too much caffeine, but be prepared for more irritability, nausea, tiredness and headaches upon withdrawal.

Cut down slowly rather than going cold turkey. Drink plenty of (non-caffeinated) fluids to prevent headaches. Take painkillers to help with headaches. Massage, acupuncture, reflexology or any other stress-busting activities are also recommended.