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Sequestering Carbon

Sequestering Carbon

Coffee grows natively under forest trees, and it is well adapted to growing under shade. ‘Agroforestry’ refers to a system of cultivation in which coffee is grown amidst forest trees. These may be native forest trees or they may be …

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Burning Down The House

Burning Down The House

Establishing the coffee plantations in Brazil that made it the world’s biggest supplier of coffee came at a huge environmental cost. Huge swaths of tropical rainforest were felled and burned to clear the land for coffee seedlings (M Pendergrast, 2010). The fertile soil, enriched with humus …

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Espresso Crema Experiment

Espresso Crema Experiment

What happens if you take coffee grinds and put them in the oven at 70° C to disperse roasting gases, and then make an espresso? The answer is surprisingly little. Heating the grinds clearly accelerates the ageing process, resulting in faster shots, less crema, and stale-tasting espresso.

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Carbon Footprint of Coffee Processing & Milling

Carbon Footprint of Coffee Processing & Milling

The major contribution to the carbon produced at the wet mill is the methane and other greenhouse gases released in the wastewater. In Kenya, where traditional washed processing uses large amounts of water for fermentation …

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Water Hardness

Water Hardness

Hardness is a measure of the amount of certain minerals in water. The amount and proportion of minerals in your brewing water can have a dramatic effect on the flavour of your coffee, as well as affect how likely your espresso machine is to get scaled up, so it’s worth trying to understand …

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Measuring the Carbon Footprint of Coffee Cultivation

Measuring the Carbon Footprint of Coffee Cultivation

At the farm, the major input, from the point of view of the carbon footprint, is the fertiliser. According to Killian et al.’s study in Costa Rica, it accounts for around 94% of the carbon footprint of this stage of coffee production. By contrast, fossil fuel …

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The Rao Spin

The Rao Spin

The Rao Spin is a technique in which the barista swirls the filter cone during brewing, to make the slurry spin. It’s named for Scott Rao, who popularised — but did not invent — the technique.1 It’s thought to increase extraction, reduce channeling and make brews more consistent. But how does it have this effect?

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Cascara Banned in Europe

Cascara Banned in Europe

Cascara has been regularly hailed as the next big thing in coffee. Once a rare novelty in speciality coffee, in recent years everyone from Starbucks to Stumptown has jumped on the trend for cascara-infused drinks. In 2018, demand for cascara became so high that the price far outstripped that of coffee itself …

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Carbon Sequestration and Land Use Changes in Coffee Farming

Carbon Sequestration and Land Use Changes in Coffee Farming

This approach overcomes one of the major limitations of an LCA, which is that it can be very expensive to conduct in full. ‘Gathering the data can be problematic, and the availability of data can greatly impact the accuracy of the final results’ …

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App – Pressure & Flow

App – Pressure & Flow

This app simulates the pressure and flow inside an espresso machine while a shot is running. To view the effects of these changes in real time during a shot, click on ‘Graph’ and then ‘Start’, and the app will simulate an espresso being pulled, showing you how the pressure and flow change as the resistance …

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Commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We have engaged consultants and are devoting concerted time to examine all aspects of our business and to identify areas of improvement. This process of consultation will critically examine our hiring of freelancers and employees, our workplace …

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Bench-top Roller Mill?

Bench-top Roller Mill?

Industrial grinders, of the sort used to produce espresso pods or supermarket packs of pre-ground coffee, are more or less exclusively roller mills. The most sophisticated of these grinders can grind coffee without significantly heating the grounds, and in the process produce very narrow …

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A Few Minutes Of Foam

A Few Minutes Of Foam

If you leave a latte for a few minutes on the countertop, sometimes the foam starts to break up — but sometimes it doesn’t. Why? No matter how long you’ve been slinging shots, sometimes a latte will go bubbly after pouring. If you’ve ever had to remake a coffee because it was sat on the counter …

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Wheels of Steel

Wheels of Steel

The coffee tasted vibrant and clean, and the salesperson showed me how easy it was to wipe away the residue from inside the portafilter — no more scrubbing away with a Scotch-Brite at the end of every day. The steel was a big selling point: easy to clean, more environmentally friendly …

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Aroma and Aftertaste

Aroma and Aftertaste

Aftertaste, in coffee, refers to the tastes and aromas left in the mouth after swallowing. Compared to other drinks, coffee flavours hang around for a long time: the aftertaste of an espresso can last up to 15 minutes (RJ Clarke and OG Vitzthum, 2001). Depending on the coffee, this may or may not be a good thing.

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Espresso Headspace

Espresso Headspace

Received wisdom in coffee says that if you put a nickel, or a penny, on top of your puck after tamping, and lock the portafilter into the group and remove it again without brewing, you should just be able to see a slight impression in the puck from where the coin was pressed into the coffee.

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The Coffee Footprint Analyzer

The Coffee Footprint Analyzer

One of our aims in producing this course is to provide the information and tools you need to analyse your own carbon footprint. This will allow you to see which changes will have the biggest impact and help you determine which interventions will be most cost effective. At the core of this …

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What is a Life-Cycle Analysis?

What is a Life-Cycle Analysis?

A defining characteristic of an LCA is that it includes the impact of raw materials, production, use, and disposal, simultaneously. For example, a change of material could reduce the CO2 footprint from the manufacturing stage, but result in higher maintenance requirements or shorten the lifespan …

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Course – The Decision Tree

Course – The Decision Tree

I would like to start this course with a short story. A confession of sorts. Come with me, as I go to my local cafe. I have forgotten to bring my KeepCup again, but I see they use compostable takeaway cups, so I don’t feel so bad ordering my coffee. While I’m there, I pick up a box of beans …

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Temperature’s Hidden Effect

Temperature’s Hidden Effect

In our most recent instalment of the Advanced Espresso course, we discussed a surprising finding in the scientific literature: that increasing the brew temperature makes espresso shots run more slowly. We set out to test this for ourselves, and discovered that the truth is more subtle …

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Coffee Grinder RPM

Coffee Grinder RPM

In the last few years, a small number of grinders have hit the market that boast an adjustable grinding speed. The best known of these are Lynn Weber’s EG-1, Victoria Arduino’s Mythos 2, and most recently Ceado’s Hero E37Z. The marketing material for each of these grinders claims that being able …

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Changing Grinder Burrs

Changing Grinder Burrs

If you’re looking at your grinder, asking yourself this question, then it’s probably time to change them. While grinder manufacturers may claim that their burrs can grind hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilos of coffee, the truth is that, after they are seasoned, burrs wear out gradually over time …

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