Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What types of coffee machines do you recommend?
A. After a lot of researching different brands and models we have decided that our top choice for Espresso machines is Conti and for Instant & bean-to-Cup machines it's our CM Prime. We highly recommend that you talk to us about your requirements before purchasing a coffee machine though because there are so many different types on the market but the right one for you depends on your needs. If you don’t want to talk in person please email us as the machine must meet your needs. People often spend either too little or too much on a coffee machine and this is an area where we can help and guide you.
Q. I don't understand the difference between green coffee beans and brown coffee beans? What does GREEN coffee beans mean?
A. Green coffee beans are the industry name for raw, unroasted coffee. You need to roast these beans before they smell and taste like "coffee". Green coffee beans are undrinkable; roasting green coffee beans is what brings the aroma and flavour that we associate with the coffee drink. However, once beans are roasted, they begin the process of going stale.
Q. Could you tell me which of your coffee blends can be used for espresso?
A. Any of our blends would make a very nice espresso. It comes down to personal taste as to which blend to choose. Contrary to popular belief, espresso is not a coffee bean or a type of roast. It is a way of making (brewing) coffee. Consequently, any coffee bean can be used to make espresso. The only restriction on making espresso, because of the added pressure and quickness of contact between water and coffee grounds, is that you do not use light-roasted coffee or very dark (oily) coffee. However, the better the coffee bean you use, the better your espresso will be. I prefer our Super Crema blend (moderately dark roasted coffee) for my espresso.
Q. I like a very strong coffee - are these strong coffee beans?
A. Strong coffee does not solely depend on the degree of roast or type of beans, but more on the amount of ground roasted coffee that you mix with water. The stronger the coffee you want, the more ground coffee you mix with the same amount of water. I would recommend a double shot of our Super Crema blend if you like really strong coffee.
Q. I’ve heard that robusta is higher in caffeine than arabica. At the risk of sounding crass, one of the reasons I drink coffee is for the caffeine. Does some arabica coffee have a high caffeine count also?
A. Yes, on average, Robusta coffee beans have twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans. Some Arabica beans (also depending on the processing method) show more caffeine than others, but not to the order of magnitude when compared with Robustas. The problem with Robusta beans is that they also don't have much flavour. They have a good body, however, and are mainly used for inexpensive, ungraded commercial coffee, but also often for espresso blends because they help produce nice, thick crema.
Q. Does it matter what pressure I tamp to?
A. If you tamp too hard, then you restrict the flow of water through the coffee often resulting in a bitter-tasting coffee. If you don’t tamp hard enough then water simply rushes through and doesn’t pick up the flavours on its way through. It is thought that 30lbs of pressure gives the best results however this will depend on personal taste and the grinder used to grind the coffee.
Q. How important is a good grinder?
A. Very!!!! A high-quality coffee machine will produce great coffee but if the ground coffee has been damaged by an inferior grinder then the quality is decreased. A cheap grinder can burn the oils in coffee before you’ve even brewed it. Blade grinders are an absolute No-No!!! These simply destroy any flavour and must be avoided at all cost. Burr grinders are recommended and if possible, flat burrs produce a better flavour than conical burrs (unless it’s a large commercial grinder). The burrs contain a set of a bottom and top plate which have groves. These spin against each other and depending on how far apart they are set will depend on the texture of the grind. The bigger the burrs, the more they disperse the heat created during the spinning so when greater quantities of coffee are required, the bigger the burrs should be. Grinders are also determined by whether they are a “stepped” adjustment for the coarseness or micro-adjustment. For high-quality machines, the latter is required as it gives more control over the timing of the extraction. Please note that we ONLY sell good grinders - we simply refuse to stock sub-standard ones as it’s crucial to serving great coffee!
Q. How long should an extraction be?
A. It depends on how you like your coffee and what machine you are using. As a general rule, it should take between 15 and 25 seconds.
Q. What are the gauges for on a coffee machine?
A. If there is one gauge on a machine and this display a number up to two or three then this is the “boiler gauge” and it tells you what the pressure is reading in the boiler. If a machine has a second gauge and the number go up to approximately 12, then this is the group head gauge and tells you what pressure you should expect in your group head. It’s important to know that most group head gauges measure the pressure from between the pump and the solenoid so it’s not an accurate reading at the group head, this can only be achieved by using a manometer connected to a blanked off porta-filter handle.
Q. What is a porta-filter handle?
A. This is the handle you put the ground coffee into, then lock into the coffee machine. There are various parts to the handle, the actual porta-filter handle, then there is the porta-filter basket and a spout/spouts. As a general rule, there are three types of handles, single, double and naked.
Q. What is a puck?
A. A puck is the compacted coffee left in the portafilter handle after you’ve made a coffee.