Good Food and Coffee

The best of Cusine

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Coffee origins

The late 1950s saw the resurgence of the coffee drinking trend of which had all but died out. It reinvigorated the love of “the syrup of soot or essence of old shoes” as it was described in the 18th century. England’s first coffee house was established in Oxford in 1650 but it was only two years until a Greek servant named Pasqua Rosee began running a coffee house in Cornhill, and soon there would be dozens of coffee houses in London.

In these coffee shops men would meet, discuss and conclude deals, it could be argued that these establishments sowed the seeds that would put London on course to become Europe’s leading commercial centre. By 1675 a thousand coffee houses were to be found in London and soon became the exclusive clubs of the influential. But by the 1700s England abandoned coffee as the East India Company pushed the domestic market into tea.

It was after the Second World War in 1945 that Gaggia altered the espresso machine to create a high pressure extraction that produced a thick layer of crema that signalled the return of the coffee culture. It was soon to be christened cappuccino for its resemblance to the colour of robes worn by Capuchin monks.

E_PellicciItalians already had a large community around Saffron Hill nicknamed ”Little Italy” but many after being interned during the war drifted westwards, setting up cafes with the distinctive Formica tables and Art Deco chrome Vitrolite exteriors. One of the last examples is E. Pellicci to be found in Bethnal Green Road. From the yellow and chrome Vitrolite exterior to the warm wooden interior this is an unbelievable Deco classic. Every part of this superb cafe should be held in trust for the nation.

It wasn’t long before the boys from Seattle arrived offering their milky concoction far removed from a real Italian cappuccino. Their largest coffee cup at 916ml holds more liquid than a human stomach. So weak is this brew many of their customers have been asking for an extra shot and they have recently announced they intend to put coffee in their coffee. But if a Dark Chocolate Cherry Mocha is your thing – enjoy.

Soho once a French district was to become the centre for Italian coffee culture. By 1953 coffee bars had sprung up. The first was The Moka espresso bar at 29 Frith Street opened by actress Gina Lollabrigida but soon many would follow with their distinctive trend of Formica and real coffee. Only a few doors down from where The Moka opened and just celebrating 60 years in Soho is that most famous coffee bar of all Bar Italia.

So here is the way Italians make their coffee:

If you ask for a “caffè” in a bar in Italy, you would be given an espresso. If you ask for a “latte” in an Italian coffee bar, you will be given a glass of milk.

“Capucco” (“Cappuccino”) is the breakfast drink – Italians can’t understand why you would have a drink containing milk with food later in the day; it doesn’t help your digestion. The perfect cappuccino is served in a cup no bigger than 6fl oz. A third would be coffee, a third steamed milk and third silky-smooth foamed milk. You then drink the black coffee through the steamed and foamed milk. The water hitting the coffee should be between 90°C and 95°C, you should never use boiling water to produce a coffee; using water at 100 °C would smash the flavours.

The shape of the cup is very important. If you have a square-shaped cup with a flat bottom and right angles, when the coffee hits, the crema (the nice golden brown foam on top of an espresso) is dispersed. What encourages the crema to rise to the top of the coffee is the cup shape. If it’s curved-based, often with a nodule at the bottom, it encourages the cream to creep up the sides and on to the top of the coffee, which is where it should be.



Britains Hidden Hobby.

The secret is out. I didnt realise it. Only a few were privvy. It was only by accident I discovered it. Im still reeling from the knowledge. Who would have thought.

More so than America, More so than Europe combined, More so than Australia. The U.K. has a furtive little hobby that no one admits to, certainly does not discuss, and is not mentioned in public. BritishCoffeeScene is going to lift the lid right now.

Home Coffee Roasting. Its a spreading hobby throughout the British Isles. Its true. In talking with Artisan Coffee houses, and doing the sums, I can state that between 35% and 45% of bean sales are the raw green beans!

That means approximately half of all sales from specialist coffee Houses are going to individuals who, in one form or another, roast their own. Yet… there is no mention of it, no discussion, no contact through on line forums, no interchange with the supplier about roasting. The beans are sold, the beans arrive at the solitary destination and then… silence. A little while later, the coffee house gets another innocuous order for some more green beans. Noting that the customer has previously bought green beans, the supplier will include a little information pack with references to online forums that discuss coffee roasting, or offer for the customer to take advantage of advice the coffee house gives freely, and…… nothing.

Britain, what gives? Coffee roasting is a proud and noble art. It contains elements of innovation in equipment making, it requires a modicum of skill to bring all the elements together, and it has the capacity to be turned into a full scale home roasting production utilising computers, logs, thermometers, roast times and bean preferences. Around the world, there a clubs and chat boards and people who have never seen each who exchange information and equipment and test results. In Britain? there is a just a request to purchase green beans on the Coffee House Paypal site or Amazon ordering. It stops there.

Although I have use of a professional Toper roaster, what do I use for small batch testing? I have small home made hot air units. I have air guns. I have Stainless steel bowls and wooden spoons. I have adapted breadmakers. I have popcorn poppers. I have Halogen cookers. I have heavy pans. Ive used a lot of the commercially available home roasters too.

My favourite home roaster is a Russell Hobbs “Breadman” breadmaker. I use it weekly making a kilo of coffee in 18 minutes including pre heat time. This is my own machine with a test lid of 2 nonstick roasting pans cut down to size, with the viewing tempered glass sandwiched between them and pop riveted to hold. I drilled the hole tight for the air gun and later will add another hole for a chaff removal system Ive thought of. I will be making a more professional lid for this once my testing is complete with this prototype. I have a the unit linked to my computer via a thermometer.

So why dont I just spend a couple of thousand pounds or more on a “mini” professional system? First, I dont want to. Second, for less than 60 smackers, with this setup, I have the ability to produce equal if not better roasted coffee than most large scale coffee houses.

If you have a computer, and purchase an inexpensive Victor 86c thermometer..and couple it to an amazing FREE software for Roast logging and charting (No, Im not going to tell you where it is unless you come out of hiding and ask for it!)

Perhaps when you home roasters realise its Ok to come out of the closet, and that what you do is fine and wonderful and that there are some of us out here who want to share and learn from each other, you might join in some discussions and forum groups to further information.









When you finish your Roasting. Your coffee should look like this and taste amazing. You will never settle for less.



Coffee Machine Designs for the home.


 Designer Alisson Wilson Ströher has released a new folding concept coffee maker for the home market. Although right at the moment it is nothing more than a concept, there already are plans to market this awesomely looking caffeine producing shot machine (*grin*) at $130.

folding coffee maker 1 Concept Folding Coffee Machine


folding coffee maker 2 Concept Folding Coffee Machine


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