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Monthly Archives: May 2012

  • Defining "Single Origin" Coffee | A Response to Several Questions

    Posted on May 7, 2012 by Venia Coffee Roasters | Keith

    Single Origin Coffee | What Is It Exactly?

    I have received several questions over the past few weeks about what "Single Origin Coffee" is exactly.  I also just read a post from the Barista Exchange asking the same. Is it strictly coffee from a single farm, co-op, township, region, or country?  I have always held my specific conventions as to what a Single Origin (SO) coffee should be, but over the years this has more and more become a grey area.


    Regardless, this is an interesting question, and as far as I am aware there is no authoritative keeper of this vocabulary (ask 10 people get 10 different answers). So here goes my attempt to answer briefly tackle the SO question, and to no doubt start a broader conversation.


    "Single Origin today...what does it mean? It should be as simple as a single varietal from a single farm...."(from


    The heart of the question seems to highlight the underpinning desire to trace each coffee we drink back down to the farm/farmer.  But, I think the response to this idea needs to be grounded on how coffee is grown, processed and sourced around the world (which could easily take volumes of books to give the topic justice).  Geography, politics, culture, environment, war, poverty, corruption, etc, all pose challenges to the traceability of a coffee.


    For example, it is fairly easy for a hypothetical company to "travel to origin" (kind of a catch-phrase these days) to partner with a farmer in Guatemala; to invest in infrastructure, farming, education, processing...essentially forming a symbiotic partnership of sorts that improves both the quality of the final coffee and the community at origin.  A single origin coffee from this area of the world could easily be traceable down to the farm, plant varietal, processing type, fertilizer used...


    Move focus to Ethiopia, and tracing a coffee to an individual farmer is near impossible under their nationalized industry.  The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) seems to constantly be changing the rules and have quashed most "direct trade" style traceability models requiring farmers to supply their beans to the exchange to be blended and sold in larger regional lots.  Traceability of most Ethiopian coffees is now Continue Reading

    This post was posted in Coffee Review, News, Coffee Education and was tagged with Single Origin, Coffee, Yirgacheffe,,,, SO, Traceability, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, ECX

  • New Coffee & Espresso Gear | SCAA Event Portland 2012 | Steampunk, Hey Cafe, Slayer Espresso

    Posted on May 7, 2012 by Venia Coffee Roasters | Keith

    Alpha Dominche Steampunk Coffee Brewer

    I didn't get to spend nearly as much time as I wanted on the exhibition show floor this year and admittedly missed perhaps the one machine I wanted to see the most, the Alpha Dominche Steampunk Coffee Brewer (I saw it sitting idle, however, just not in use).  I didn't even get to snap a photo of the Steampunk, so I am using the press release image below:

    Alpha Dominche Steampunk Coffee Brewer

    Immediately visible are the four brewing chambers, called crucibles, that are clearly designed to give a visual coffee brewing performance to the customer.  These brewing chambers are a combination of both a french-press and coffee siphon. Brewing parameters such as time, water temp, agitation, and steam aeration are programmable, and each program and can be recalled on any crucible. Contained within the beautifully designed body is a whopping 20 liter boiler.

    The Steampunk is designed to to automate what is important in the brew cycle while at the same time leaving as much of the process as possible in the hands of the skilled barista to bring out the beauty of each coffee.

    Last year a similar machine hit the market to much fanfare and applause, the Bunn Trifecta.  The Trifecta, while lacking the design and visual appeal of the Steampunk (but quite capable of brewing a knockout cup of coffee), has been slow in gaining traction into cafes.   The Steampunk's ability to brew in 4 crucibles at any given time might earn the it a steadfast position on your local coffee bar's counter. posted this discussion with Khristian Bombeck of Alpha Dominche from the SCAA Portland show floor.



    Word on the street is that the Steampunk will appear in Seattle and Portland cafes later this Summer.


    Hey Cafe Coffee Grinders

    Hey Cafe has been producing a coffee grinder, the HC-600, which seems un-ashamedly a Mazzer Super Jolly knock-off.  While in the Hey Cafe booth, the representative seemed to proudly make note of this.  While until the past few years most coffee grinders have been very close in design from a functional standpoint (and most patents have surely expired), the HC-600 treads dangerously close to the intellectual line.

    I was, however, pleased to see Hey Cafe's diversion from the knock-off market and their experimention with new grinder designs.  Most notably is the grind adjustment design on the new Titan Dispensing Grinder (not pleased on the aesthetics, however)

    Most grinders on the market adjust grind size by moving a stationary upper burr up and down by means of a rotating threaded collar.  The new approach here is to keep the upper burr fixed and use an adjustable bearing to raise and lower the motor shaft, thus changing grind adjustment (note the grind adjustment knob on the lower left of the body in the above pick, as apposed to the usual rotating collar design).


    Above is a photo of the motor, note the adjustment knob on the bottom (black knob on black background, sorry for the poor photo).

    Hey Cafe is also building a new home grinder that may hold some promise.  It looks to be a belt driven unit that dosing is controlled by digital key pad.  We will see if this hits the US market in the next year and if it is a worthy product for our lineup.

    The unit is still in the design & prototype phase and only the on/off function was currently programmed.  Here, the design is a bit nicer than some of their other products, but hope the production model is a bit more refined.


    Slayer Espresso

    While not new to the market, this was my first hands on experience with the Slayer Espresso Machine.  Let me say I was not in any way disappointed.

    Two Group Slayer Espresso Machine

    Speak about innovation in a market that seems to be filled with a race to re-create what the other guy is doing.  While the paddle handles may seem similar to a Synesso or La Marzocco MP Strada, the comparison ends there.  Instead of pursuing the pressure profiling market, the Slayer maintains constant pressure throughout the espresso Continue Reading

    This post was posted in Uncategorized, Review, Espresso Machine Review, Accessory Review, News and was tagged with New Product, #SCAA2012, Slayer Espress, Steampunk, Alpha Dominche, Hey Cafe, First Look

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