London Coffee Scene 2011: Summary, PART I

Wow ! Wow ! That’s what I have to say about the London Coffee Scene in 2011. A few years back, whenever I went to London, I headed straight for SOHO, and to be precise, order a flat white at Flat White on Berwick Street, and stop for an espresso at its sister shop, Milk Bar on Bateman Street, also in Soho. If I wanted a little tasty snack to accompany an espresso or a piccolo, I would go to Fernandez and Wells on Beak Street, Soho. In fact, that’s what I did when I last visited London in July 2009 – head to Soho for great coffee. BUT, in the space of just 18 months, the speciality coffee scene in London has literally mushroomed, so that on my visit in April 2011, I had to carve out London just to check out the coffee scene. First up, I wandered into unknown territory for me, East London and more specifically Clerkenwell. I had lived in London for many years but I had never been to this part of London before – OK! I knew this is where Jamie Oliver’s famous Fifteen Restaurant was located, but that was it. Now to the coffee.

Clerkenwell, East of the Centre of London, Hangout for the Legal Types, etc – Get off at Chancery Lane Tube Station

This has to be the new hot spot for coffee with three choices, Prufrock Coffee, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (the coolest name) and St Ali UK. I headed first for Prufrock Coffee on Leather Lane, 2009 WBC Champ, Gwilym Davies, spot. This is a must for all serious coffee lovers, with a brew bar hosting almost all forms for brewing coffee (hario woodneck, hario siphon, hario V60, aeropress, espresso machines, uber boiler, prototype grinder, a slow brewer and probably more). I had an espresso and a piccolo on my first trip and on my second (yes ! I had to go twice despite the distance) I had probably one of the best espressos of my life, using Square Mile roasted Colombian Pomorroso arabica beans.

I plan to do a separate post on Prufrock, so the above is just a taster.

Almost opposite Prufrock on Leather Lane too, is Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, which only opened in December 2010.

I went around lunchtime as it was rapidly getting packed with office workers looking for something tasty to eat to accompany their great cup of coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that for a cafe that had only been opened for about 4 months, there were streams of people coming in and out of the Department. Hmmm ! perhaps I should have opened up my cafe in London’s East End and not Cape Town, but better weather and better cost of living in Cape Town won the day. With the lovely display of sandwiches on display, I’m not surprised that people were pouring in for lunch to fill their tummies with these tasty delights;

I met with Chris and sensing that I wasn’t just a normal customer, all the way from South Africa and with a hint of coffee knowledge, he gave me a complimentary piccolo and Spanish anise biscuit.

I really loved the space, which reminded me off my own (they even had the same La Marzocco 3 group linear machine I have at escape caffe), but a little more rugged and with little spaces to work. I really liked their Globe bicycle, pic below.

So, finally, St Ali – UK. If you are an international coffee buff, raise your hands – me, me….. okay I’ve got to keep writing this, you’ll have heard of St Ali, who are one of the most famous coffee establishments in Melbourne, Australia. They are like crazy about coffee – a destination in their own right. So, when I heard they were opening a cafe in London, I kinda went berserk, especially as they were going to be open before my trip. They are located at 27 Clerkenwell Road, almost hidden, but as you enter, there’s a coffee roaster in the window and their signage is lit up, so you’ve got no excuse in missing it.

I really loved their decors, which was a bit similar to mine at escape caffe, with exposed brick, but a bit darker and hence cozier than mine. As you enter, there it is, the famous Slayer Espresso machine (see below) greets you – sort of letting you know that although they serve food, they are serious about coffee. If that wasn’t enough, once you pass the Slayer and wander tot he back of the cafe, they have a gigantic coffee roasting machine.

Also at the back and next to the coffee roaster, there’s a green plant wall and an atrium of about three floors (I promise a pic summary of the London coffee scene later). I met with Baptiste (a French barista who worked at their Melbourne establishment, but has been relocated to London) and Tim Styles, formerly of Intelligentsia and more recently Square Mile Coffee and who has been recruited to oversee their coffee roasting operation. I had a flat white with my brother, looked around and on my second visit, bought their Cult of Done espresso blend. From what I’ve been reading, St Ali is becoming extremely popular with the London fashionista, featuring in Vogue, with queues outside on Sundays and their hiring like crazy already as they prepare to operate from 2 floors, offering both coffee and food.

In summary, head down to this part of London for a great cuppa (very English lingo) and as I observed, all cafes had a Mazzer Robur E grinder, which hints that each one is making hundreds of cups of coffee per day, so expect a queue at busy times.

For PART II, I’ll take you to central London, so watch this space.


Serra do Bone @ home

Serra do bone @ home by Lameen
Serra do bone @ home a photo by Lameen on Flickr.

Serra do bone @ home… why ? It’s our number one coffee at Escape Caffe, but always wanting to test parametres, I decided to take some spare beans home to use on my Isomac espresso machine and lets say, not as expensive conical grinder at home. After all, it was at home that I honed my barista skills, studying the bean and writing about different coffees and roaster profiles. At Escape Caffe, we have a La Marzocco 3 group Linea with a built in PID set at 93.6C and we use the becoming popular Anfim Super Camiano grinders – machines way superior to what I have at home, BUT nevertheless I’m thrown back to what Mark Prince (Coffeegeek extraordinaire for those who don’t know) said about preparing espresso “if you follow the rules, you can make a really good espresso at home using a great home grinder and semi-pro espresso machine” (not exact quote but along those lines). In any case, if you follow the rules, you can make better espresso based drinks at home than the vast majority of cafes in the World. I’m not going to get dragged down into the detail of the rules, but in summary they are (i) fairly freshly roasted arabica coffee beans, i.e. within 10-20 days (ii) a decent burr grinder, costing at least US$250 (iii) a semi-pro espresso machine with E61 group head, with lots of brass and heavy metal – this will cost around US$600 (iv) ability to tamp at around 30 pounds of pressure and (v) a very good idea of how to be a home barista, so that you know for example what grind to use so that you get about 25ml of espresso in 25 seconds when you extract coffee, etc, etc.

OK ! so how was Serra do Bone at home ? Pretty nice but with different taste profiles. First up, a bit about the bean – it’s an organic arabica coffee bean, winner of the Cup of Excellence in Brazil, used by Intelligentsia as their organic espresso, displaying taste profiles such as candied apple, cocoa, raspberry, cherry with a medium body and soft acidity. Secondly, don’t be misled by all the taste notes as you are unlikely to taste everything in one cup, because different brewing techniques, as well as temperature and moisture affect the eventual taste of the coffee, but that’s another blog. So in summary, was I disappointed ? NO ! because I stuck to the hard and fast rules. So, at the caffe, we kind of pick up the cherry cocoa elements and when mixed with milk, you get a chocolate berry taste with a hint of caramel, but at home I got a sweeter cocoa caramel taste, which is still very yummy. One reason for the slight difference could be environment, a hihger brewing temperature as my Isomac doesn’t have a PID, as well as the obvious, my Isomac is no La Marzocco, BUT if we follow the “rules” the main taste parameters remain the same. I would love to run a home barista course one of these days, so that people don’t get scared by the prospect of investing in a decent espresso machine and good grinder.

So Serra do Bone at home last week got me to practice my latte art skills, as well as sample a very tasty coffee, and get a good pic of my cappuccino, YUM !

Before I go, apologises for the long delay in blogging – I promise to be more frequent in 2011 – also this is officially my 100th post, yipee !

Coffee News…. WBC, Cup of Excellence et pui…

OK ! So, I wish I was going to London…. WHY ? It’s WBC time or in full World Barista Championship time. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever…. as always. This time the WBC will be held in London from 23-25 June and it will held in conjunction with the ever popular Caffe Culture Event, which I had been going to since it’s inception in 2006. But, typical, just when I move away from Europe, I miss out on such a wonderful opportunity, but such is life. In any case, if you can and haven’t booked your flight yet or better still if you live in London, log onto the caffe culture site ( and you can attend for free, yes ! for free. This year, they’ve got a special treat, the launch of the new La Marzocco espresso machine, the Strada – the first La Marzocco machine that would let the barista to have absolute and direct control of pressure at any point during extraction, Wow ! Also, there’s a whole load of guest speakers like David Schomer (if there was a phd in espresso, he would have one), Latte Art and Coffee Tasting competitions. Let’s not forget the Caffe culture event too, where there will also be specialist workshops, like how to run a cafe.

Also happening in the coffee world at the moment are the auctions for the Cup of Excellence (CoE). I blogged about the CoE a while back in 2009, but in short it is a process where the best coffees in a country are selected by both national and international cuppers to determine which is the best coffee. After which, the selected coffees are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence award and auctioned off through the internet. Today, they had the CoE for El Salvador and redcherry coffee roasters of Cape Town were hoping to get some, even though I was lucky to taste some just last week, brought back by redcherry coffee roaster, Audrey (more on that experience later).

All over in Melbourne, Australia, I have to let you know that Market Lane in Prahran Market, Commercial Road is up and running… well it’s been operational for about 6 months and from the reviews and pics (see market lane review ) I can’t wait to buy a ticket and see the place for myself. For more about Market Lane see for more and if you are in that part of the World, you’re very lucky… get down there and buy some coffee.

Still on new ventures, Square Mile Coffee Roasters have just opened up a new coffee shop in London, Penny University. The name might sound strange but it is based on London coffee history, where people visited coffee shops so often that they use to learn a lot about life, so for example each coffee shop was known for the professions that visited it, whereby if you went to a coffee shop frequented by physicians/doctors, you could learn a lot about medicine just by hanging out there for the day. The famous insurance company, Lloyds of London was created in a coffee shop frequented by insurers of course. OK ! so what’s penny university ? It’s actually one of the first modern coffee shops not to offer espresso based coffee – don’t scream ! They are of course offering top quality coffee using different methods like the HarioV60, Woodneck, etc. For more see square mile coffee, link on my blogroll, and if you are in London for the WBC or just in London, get down there for a different coffee experience.

As for me, I’ve joined twitter and I have been learning a lot about coffee and roasting, which is always very exciting for me. You can tweet me on atastyescape

Last but not least, as you know, I moved to Cape Town about 6 months ago to pursue my dream of running a coffee and cake shop and just this week I’ve finally signed a lease. You can follow check up on updates on my new blog related to the caffe on

Ciao !

London Stopover: A Flat White & A Double Espresso

The final leg of our journey was in London and as soon as I could, I rushed over to Flat White Cafe in Soho, flying through the door and spotting Cameron, the main owner of Flat White, I practically belted out, “A flat white please…” For me, it was like – I haven’t had really good coffee for almost 2 weeks and I need it now and wow ! wasn’t it worth waiting for – almost too good looking to drink.

A flat white @ Flat White, Soho (London)
A flat white @ Flat White, Soho (London)

A beautifully poured “rosetta” on my flat white. Even Cameron was impressed by the very kind lady who poured this beautiful rosetta (I’m so embarrassed I didn’t get her name so that I could have mentioned it on this post, sorry !), and here it is one more time, up close and personal, so that you can almost taste it.

After my “flat white experience”, I rushed off to have a quick lunch and of course I needed a good espresso to finish off my lunch experience and no place better than Milk Bar (Flat White’s second shop), still in Soho. As there wasn’t much time to catch our flight, I ordered a double espresso in 25C heat outside, took a picture to share the experience and gulped it down.

To finish off, I took a picture of their custom made Black La Marzocco FB70 espresso machine. What a nice stop over in London to satisfy my espresso cravings.

Ciao !

Coffee @ Woolworths Cafe, Cape Town

As a follow up from my last post on drinking coffee in Mauritius. you’ll be pleased or jealous to know that our way back to Europe, it was just too tempting not to stop over in my favourites foodie city of the moment, Cape Town, to delight my palate (OK ! another word for taste buds…), so I gave into temptation and we stopped over in Cape Town for a very short while. On the day I dedicated to the family, we stopped over in a massive mall, about 20 minutes drive from downtown Cape Town, Century City. Of course, after the usual late lunch, I was not scanning the place for a decent cup of coffee and after pacing up and down past numerous places offering coffee, I decided to try my luck at Woolworths, which has no resemblance to the UK Store that went bust last year or the US version of a bargain hunters paradise. No ! Woolworths in South Africa is almost a spitting image of Marks & Spencers in the UK or the equivalent of decent high quality clothes store, which offers food of really high quality. So in summary, they should not compromise on anything food related and they haven’t to an extent. I actually first visited Woolworths Cafe in the summer of 2006, when I spotted a La Marzocco FB70 machine in the store in another city, Durban, but the coffee wasn’t that great. However, since then, Woolworths have put more effort into their coffee venture, by first sourcing organic and fair-trade coffees from within the Africa continent and secondly by paying closer attention to the training of their baristi (plural for barista – some Italian lessons), so much so that in 2009, one of their baristi won the South African Barista National Championships – not bad, plus of course they seem to only use La Marzocco espresso machines, hmmm !

So on approaching the Woolworths Cafe next to the food section inside the store, noticing a La Marzocco GB5, I went up to the barista and after introducing myself, asked him if he knew how to use a GB5, he looked at me amusingly like “what kind of coffee machine nerd is this” and said “Yes !”, so I told him, I was a bit of a coffee expert (well aspiring to be one between me and you) and I ordered a double espresso, sat down and watched.

Not bad – the crema was present, the coffee a bit bitter and slightly hot, but not bad for an outfit that doesn’t offer coffee as its primary product. I’m also going to go out and say that this is the best espresso I’ve tasted in a mall, for what it’s worth. In any case, being a place that strives to offer high quality food, I was tempted to try a piece of cake, and went for a Pear and Almond Tart, delicious and worth every crumb.

So in summary, if you’re shopping in a mall in South Africa that has a Woolworths Cafe in it, or there is one near by and you need that coffee fix and don’t know where to get it, try an espresso, a filter coffee or a cappuccino @ Woolworths Cafe.

Yemeni Mocha Espresso

Sometimes you think you know about coffee and then you try something and it just surprises you and you think “Let’s through that theory out”. If you are a keen follower of my blog, you’ll have read my ranting and raving about Yemeni Mocha in my post of 3rd June 2009.

Now usually when a coffee has what I call a really special taste that wraps around your mouth and has solid tones like Yemeni Mocha, Costa Rica El Portillo and many East African arabicas, extracting this coffee as an espresso I find makes you miss out on some of the really fine tones and tastes of the coffee. However, when extracted using a French Press, you really get to experience different tastes in your mouth and it really goes down well (your stomach). Now, just last week, I had run out of “espresso” coffee – Yes ! that’s right, there are some coffees that are better extracted as espresso than in using anything else (French Press, Filter, Moka, etc). I was now in a dilemma. Should I just drink French Press coffee all weekend using my Yemeni Mocha, or should I try it as an espresso. With nothing to loose, I used my precious Yemeni Mocha for espresso and….. Wow ! What an experience. Just look at that colour and yes it does tastes like it looks, dark, mysterious, smooth and delicious.

The common characteristic of this bean is definitely chocolate – and it isn’t lost when drinking it as an espresso. It’s like dark chocolate and the colour is amazing. Perfect for latte art as you can see below, as it displays different tones of brown as the coffee blends in with the milk.

As a milk based espresso it tasted like…. come on, you can guess right ? Yep ! Milk chocolate. You don’t really need to add sugar to this drink and you can rest be assured that you won’t regret it. However, before you rush out and serve this in your cafe, there might be one reason you won’t find many places offering Yemeni Mocha as espresso based drinks – it’s relatively more expensive than other single estate or blends. Sure, roasters like Andronicas (where I ordered this coffee from) who have a cafe in Harrods – one of the most prestigious and expensive stores in London, can get clientele to pay about the equivalent of $5-$7 an espresso, but some people especially during these trying economic times might scream daylight robbery at you. So, my advice, spoil yourself and use your precious Yemeni Mocha for both types of coffee, espresso and filter, not forgetting that the same amount of coffee used to extract a double espresso will make two good cups of coffee if using a French Press.

Espresso French Toast

This is for those who want to have their espresso and eat it – it might sound strange, and I must confess it does, but I’ve thinking for a while, “there must be something I can eat, apart form coffee cake, that I can use espresso as a key ingredient”. So here it is, merging my passion for coffee and cooking together for what I call a “tasty” experiment, I wish to introduce Espresso French Toast. Before taking you on this journey of sensual pleasure, what exactly is French Toast, for those of you not into cooking and baking. In short, French Toast is actually the posh word for bread dipped in mixed egg and fried until well done. It is usually topped with something sweet like strawberry jam, maple syrup or honey. I’m also guessing it was devised in a French kitchen many years ago.

So, to work then. The good thing is that this is a really simple recipe if you know how to use a frying pan, extract good espresso and fry eggs of course. So you need;

Fresh arabica coffee

Good espresso machine

Frying pan

One egg

Two bowls

Fork to mix the eggs

3 slices of small brioche (measuring 7cm by 6cm)

Two spoons of caster sugar

Sliced strawberries, mascarpone and honey/maple syrup (optional)

An appetite, but of course.

Luckily, I’ve managed to capture the whole experiment visually to make it easy for you to follow. First up, break one large, preferably organic egg into a bowl, mix and set aside. Extract one double espresso into a shallow bowl and put two spoons of caster sugar inside and mix to dissolve. It is crucial that you extract good espresso – as you can see from the pic below, the crema is ever present, and after all this is a blog about coffee and there is no compromising when it comes to coffee. I used my Andronicas Signature Blend arabica coffee, which has nut and chocolate like qualities with a vanilla twist – this is important as you’ll see later.

Get your slices of brioche and place very quickly into the espresso mixture as you don’t want the slices drenched in coffee.

Quickly take it out and place straight away into the egg mixture, making sure it is nicely coated in egg.

Place into a hot frying pan with a knob of butter and fry each side for about 2 minutes each.

Take out and place on a plate, top with something sweet like honey or jam, or if you are flashy like me and love sweet fattening things, top with a dollop of mascarpone, slices of strawberries and maple syrup.

So what does it taste like then ? Well ! you’ll be pleased to know that the coffee elements have not been drenched out because of egg and butter. It actually had a vanilla and chocolate taste, almost like a dessert. Note that if you are going to drench your bread into coffee, the coffee should be good, displaying as much of the good qualities of a well extracted espresso as possible, so that the lovely taste is captured in the bread. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised, if not, let’s face it, I won’t be blogging about it.

Don’t tell too many people about this recipe as I would love to serve it in my trendy cafe, if I ever get the opportunity to open one up before I die.

Enjoy !

A Day of Triple Espressos….. Hmmm !

I was on my travels again, which usually means in most cases, no espressos for at least a week. So, you won’t be surprised to learn, if you have been an avid reader of my blog, that as I had the opportunity to pass through London for the day on my way back to Vienna, I made a beeline (an English slang for “going straight/directly for…”) for Flat White in Soho. I bust inside, gasping for a flat white of course and thought, “I really need espresso”, so I ordered a triple espresso flat white, made with a bottomless portafilter. The barista looked impressed and went to work and as there was no queue at 10am on a Friday morning, I didn’t have to wait long. I got my camera out so that I can share the experience with you, at least a pic.


Caution: Triple Espresso Flat White
Caution: Triple Espresso Flat White

Before heading out, I snapped up a couple of bags of coffee beans (Flat White blend made by Square Mile Roasters of course) – what else can you ask for when you visit a cafe, triple espresso and some good bag of beans to take home – more about tasting these in the next post God willing.  

OK ! so the title of this post is “A Day of Triple Espressos….Hmmm !”, so I’m not finished, however, there was an exception, and that was on my visit to Milk Bar (Flat White number two). Well ! I had to have another espresso (actually a double ristretto) after snacking on a delicious roasted falafel sandwich from my favourite sandwich shop in London, Pret-a-manger. I digress, but I headed to Milk Bar, had a chat with the supervisor, Max, about the lovely black La Marzocco FB70 espresso machine and the grinders (tekky talk), ordered an espresso and walked round the back to take a pic of the other barista pouring a latte.

Anyway, whilst talking to Max, he told me that there was a new Fernandez & Wells coffee shop, around the corner at St. Anne’s Court, so I was off, at least to look. St. Anne’s Court is in Soho, sandwiched between Wardour Street and Dean Street on a little pedestrian alley way.

Initially, I just went in to chat and see the new concept – Italian style, without chairs and a minimal coffee menu – but I was intrigued when I saw the menu board and said “What is a Stumpy ?” “it’s like a triple espresso mini macchiato…” Well ! I had just had an espresso at Milk Bar, so I decided to break my “no-milk espresso drinks in the afternoon rule” and went for one, or should I say three. BUT, hang on a minute – it’s actually not a triple espresso, but a triple ristretto – Wow! and if you look carefully at the board, all espresso drinks at this new shop are triple ristretto – now that’s what I call an espresso lovers dream. Anyway the Stumpy was nice, worth a try.

Still on a tekky drive, I was lucky to meet with Jorge Fernandez himself – one half of the Fernandez and Wells company. Jorge is really into his coffee and he shared with me that they were trying out a new Monmouth Guatemala espresso blend for 2 weeks at the new shop, took me round to the back of the Synesso Cyncra machine and pulled another triple ristretto. There was tons of crema, but being a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to pictures, my small digital camera (my D60 was at home) couldn’t handle the light, so I just snapped the extraction instead.

After 68 grammes of fresh coffee (i.e 1 triple shot of 21 grammes, 1 Fernandez and Wells triple shot of 33 grammes and 1 double shot of 14 grammes) I went straight to the airport, before I got carried away on more caffeine and instead fly to Vienna on Caffeine Air. In any case, I am so glad that there is another new quality cafe in Soho/London and please visit when you get the chance.

The Naked Portafilter

I just can’t go out like this and I’m ashamed to say that it is almost the last day of 2008 – my first full calendar year of blogging – and I have not posted a blog on my number one discovery of the year, the Naked or Bottomless Portafilter holder, You what ? You may say, but take a look below and don’t be shy to ask, if you are a novice of course, what is this ?


OK ! I’m going to make this quick and as exciting as possible because although this looks straight forward, it can be quite complicated explaining what this tool of tools is. Luckily for you, I’ve ploughed through a few articles, blogs and discussions to try and summarize what this little invention is all about. Traditionally, you have the normal portafilter holder, with two spouts (for making 2 espressos at once) or one spout (for making one espresso at a time). Anyway one day, someone wanted to know, what goes on if there are no spouts and you can see right through, hence the terminology, “naked” or if you go with the more simplistic terminology, bottomless. In this way, you can see how the coffee begins to come out through the little spore holes in the filter and approximately how many seconds the coffee beings to emerge at what bar/pressure level to make the exact quantity – Are you still with me ? I hope so, because I cannot make it more simple than that. In any case, the next step was to cut off the spouts, so that you have two types of portafilters like below.

The traditional one is below and the bottomless one is above. You will be glad to know that to make your portafilter “naked” or bottomless, you don’t have to get your chainsaw out or find a local mechanic who will really think you are crazy but who will nevertheless take your money – you can order one form the best, La Marzocco, of course. OK ! it might not be that cheap, mine cost about 60 Euros ($75 now), but it will be cheaper in the States and you can get one for about $60, made by another company like Rancillo.

From an academic view point, if we want to scare you off even more and bring in words that remind you of school, like the word “academic”, the bottomless filter is a good training tool. For example, if you can see what is happening from a “naked/exposed” view point, you can correct your mistake and improve your espresso shots. I can’t get away with this, but I’m going to have to go into “Lesson” mode for this tool, so that you really appreciate what I’m trying to share with you, so here goes. 

Assumptions:You are an espresso freak and you know the essentials about making an espresso using a really good grinder and good heavy brass espresso machine (upwards of $500). So you know that you buy relatively fresh beans, grind and then tamp them with 30 pounds of pressure, so that the 30 ml of crema top espresso coffee comes out in about 23-27 seconds. OK ! so you are a coffee geek or coffee snub, that’s settled.

Lesson 1: If you don’t tamp properly or use too little coffee, assuming you are using the correct grind, then some of the coffee will be under less pressure and your espresso cup will fill up more quickly, violating the 23-27 second pour rule for approximately 30ml of coffee. In short, if using the naked portafilter, you will see a blondish type cone pouring into your cup, which will be flowing with bad tasting coffee. Furthermore, the coffee will be spitting from the outside all over the cup and your coffee machine, making a right mess. It’s like the coffee is saying, if you can’t handle me right, then I’m going to spit on you. In any case, the spitting occurs, because the coffee has not been tamped well or is too little in a particluar area of the portafilter and hence the pressure pushes it out with a lot of force. I don’t have a picture of this for you, but trust me, it has happended to me, when I used less than the recommended 14-15 grammes of freshly ground coffee for a double espresso – I was in a rush to get the kids to school. Also, in this spitting scenario, if you attempt to take a picture, you might get coffee all over your lenses.

Lesson 2: If you tamp properly but the grind is too fine, your coffee will take ages to come out and will taste sour/burnt. In this case, using the naked portafilter, you will see that when you get to 18 seconds, drops of honey like espresso begin to pour out – it may look good, but it isn’t going to taste good, trust me and of course you are not going to get 30ml of espresso coffee into your cup between 23-27 seconds, but much less. Again this has happened to me when I got a new bag of coffee and wanted to test for the right grind. Seeing this scenario, I quickly loosened the settings on the grinder to avoid wasting anymore precious coffee.

Lesson 3: If you do everything right, this is what you should see (below)

Now, doesn’t that look lovely ? You can see a few colours here. The darker ones have a higher concentrate of well extracted coffee and you will notice that the coffee seems to be flowing right, without any gushing.

If you are feeling brave, hold a single shot espresso cup carefully over the naked portafilter, making sure you watch the extraction closely so that you don’t burn your hand with free flowing 93C degree coffee and you can also make a ristretto, with should display excellent crema as evident by the dark brown bits, which dominated this cup of ristretto (i.e half a cup of espresso).

Conclusion/Analysis: Using the naked portafilter helps you to (i) estimate very quickly if you have the right grind (ii) improve your tamping technique, especially in making it more even (iii) know very quickly if you used to much coffee or too fine a grind (thick honey drops) and (iv) look good, if you invite your friends to show them a perfect extraction, but practice beforehand.

What Else ?According to some experts, because the extracted coffee comes into less contact with metal, because it basically flows from the portafilter into your cup, you should get a more “purer” taste of coffee. If you notice, there will be very tiny bubbles in your cup.

In any case, I usually use mine when I get a new bag of coffee from a different roaster or a different type of coffee. When I got my naked portafilter, I used it for several weeks, because I just liked the way it flowed into the cup. Serious coffee shops like Origins Coffee Roastingin Cape Town have naked portafilters, like the one below, extracted on their Synesso Cyncra machine.

Also, my favourite coffee shop in London, Flat White have them, as evident by my request for a triple espresso, using a naked filter (see my post of 25 March 2008), but you will have to make a request for it.

My advice, go on experiment and enjoy, HAPPY NEW YEAR !

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