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An Analysis of Nespresso – Part I
Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 07:59 AM - 2 days, 21 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
An Analysis of Nespresso – Part I
This is the first in a little series of posts looking at how and why Nespresso works the way that it does. There’s a few things I think when it comes to Nespresso: 1). We continue to underestimate their success, and their ability to leverage technology to overcome hurdles of quality. 2). Speciality coffee roasters share more customers with Nespresso than they’d like to believe. 3). There’s a lot of speculation about the technology they use. Lots of it is clearly proprietary, so I wanted to dive into it a little bit more to try and understand what is happening. So this is the first of the experiments (there’s more to come) and it is a pretty simple one. I wanted to look at how tolerant the pods were to variance in how user’s want to brew their espresso. This is a pretty simple experiment to conduct. I’m grateful for the assistance of Sang Ho Park in helping with some of the work. For testing I purchased the cheapest machine directly from Nespresso: A Magimix Inissia in black. They’re painfully easy to use. Fill the removable tank with water. Plug it in. It heats up in under 30 seconds. You put a capsule in and push espresso and in 12 seconds you have an espresso. The first experiment I Chose one particular capsule (in this case I chose Livanto ) and brew it at a variety of brew ratios, and measure the extraction. Different Nespresso capsules actually have a range of dry coffee weight in them (I think from about 5.5g up to about 6.3g – but I haven’t tested them all). These particular capsules had 5.7g of ground coffee in them. This means you’re pretty much instantly going to brew at a totally different brew ratio to traditional espresso. I might favour a 1:2 ratio (e.g. 19g ground coffee, 38g liquid espresso). A Nespresso capsule works on a totally different flow rate, and I was at a 1:2 ratio in under 9 seconds! I tested a range of beverage weights, from 15g of espresso liquid up to nearly 75g. Here’s a chart showing the extractions: Now, I think (based on a few different factors) that **what is being aimed for here is extractions above 20%. The pre-programmed espresso button produced a 30-31g shot that hit 21%. This is pretty impressive work for 12 seconds of brewing. If you’ve played with things like the EK-43 then your target extraction range probably moves from 18-22% of the Gold Cup standards, up towards maybe 20-24%. If this is your window then a Nespresso capsule hits that window regardless of where you pull it, between about 25g of liquid and about 60g of liquid. The next thing to do was to test this with a capsule designed for their Lungo setting to see how this varies. For this second experiment I used two different capsules, both with a heavier dose of coffee – 6.2g. The preset button on the machine produces (quite repeatably) 95g of liquid in the cup. What surprised me was the difference in extraction between the two lungo capsules I used. The first clocked up at 25% extraction (The Vivalto capsule) while the Ethiopian lungo came in a little lower at around 21.49%. The second of these was much lighter roasted, and tasted distinctly like coffee from Ethiopia. Absent-mindedly I decided to throw a lungo of the Ethiopian capsule (Bukeela ka Ethiopia ) through a paper filter to see how it tasted without crema. This also seems like a good time to remind you what Nespresso have shared about crema. There’s a lot of speculation about how Nespresso achieves the crema it does. I have a few theories, but they’ll come later. For now, watch this video: Back to my experiments: What surprised me was how quickly the coffee drained through the filter paper (if you’ve filtered a lot of espressos or lungos then you know this is weird). What surprised me even more was how few fines were present on the paper afterwards: So – you’re probably going to think the first thing I thought when I saw this: they’ve gotten rid of fines! There’s a lot of speculation about the grind profile in Nespresso capsules, and suddenly it looked like there was evidence of something interesting going on. I can’t do much in the way of grind analysis, but we do have a few sieves at the roastery. These, I thought, would give us a little bit of insight into what was happening. We took 50g of coffee ground for a lungo, and we shook it through the sieves we had. There’s limited data here but still interesting: Trapped in the 500 micron+ sieve: 39.3g Trapped in the 350 micron+ sieve: 4g Trapped in the 150 micron+ sieve: 6.5g Smaller than 150 microns: 0.2g That’s clearly bimodal, and there are also clearly fines present. I then did what any sensible person would do: I put 12g of Nespresso coffee into a portafilter and pulled a lungo of a corresponding brew ratio. I then tested the extraction (it was higher – approximately 23%), I tasted it (worse than from the Nespresso machine) and then I poured the rest through a filter paper. The results were again interesting. This is a filter paper after filtering a lungo using Nespresso grounds pulled through a portafilter: This is a filter paper after filtering a lungo using Nespresso grounds brewed in a Nespresso machine: So – a pretty notable difference. There are fines in the capsules, they just don’t end up in the cup when using a Nespresso machine. This leads us to two possible theories: the machine is filtering out the fines or the pod itself is filtering out the fines. This needs more exploration and this is going to happen in Part II of this blog post. But wait… What I haven’t really talked about here is how it tasted. I didn’t really like how the shots tasted, but I have a very different preference for many aspects of coffee and espresso compared to the typical (Nespresso) consumer. I’ve repeatedly tried to make the point that thinking we are somehow safe from the dominance of Nespresso, because we can make coffee taste better, is not a smart way to think. Should Nespresso want to make their coffee taste better – perhaps selling more than 6 billion capsules a year doesn’t feel like enough – then they face a technical challenge. No company is better positioned than Nespresso take on such a technical challenge, and while I’m not a fully paid up member of the Clayton Christensen school of “Disruptive Innovation ” this does look like a pretty classic case. They have a business model where they can buy whatever coffee they want, because their selling it at high prices. They’re selling their Ethiopian coffee at £53.23 per kilo (delivered of course…). Am I trying to scare monger? No. I am trying to pay a little more attention to a serious competitor. Here we have an option where you can put a capsule in a machine that is switched off, and in under 50 seconds have a shot of espresso better than most coffee shops around the world (accepting that most coffee shops are not good coffee shops). Our counter proposal: Spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, dial in a grinder for a while once the machine has spent 30 minutes getting up to temperature, then eventually pull a good shot. Drink it, then start cleaning up. Nespresso might be shockingly expensive, but so is a morning espresso pulled at home if it took a couple of goes to dial it in just right. Pulling shots of espresso is huge fun, if you want it to be. It’s a massive inconvenience if you don’t. Speciality coffee doesn’t offer anything to the consumer who wants to drink great espresso at home, but doesn’t want a new hobby. Whether or not I consider them a true competitor, or even if I don’t think they’re a threat to my business, there’s plenty to learn from them. I look forward to picking it all apart a little more and sharing it here in the future. If you’ve got questions or suggestions then let me know on twitter .

Roland’s other last day in Costa Rica
Monday, May 18, 2015 - 07:22 AM - 5 days, 21 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So Roland sneaked in an extra day before his flights home, so here it is. I kept up the busy pace for my last day in Costa Rica. Francisco, our exporter, arranged to take a group of jury members out to the West Valley to see some of the farms and mills that had […]

Roland’s Diary. the last day ……
Sunday, May 17, 2015 - 08:57 AM - 6 days, 20 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
The last day of Cup of Excellence Costa Rica 2015 started as early as the others, but this time we only had one cupping session. By this point, we had selected the top 10, so our task for the day was to give them final scores and descriptions for use when they are put up […]

Roland’s Diary, Day 7
Friday, May 15, 2015 - 03:41 PM - 1 week, 1 day ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Roland continues his travels in Costa Rica. He seems to be making lots of friends, but not getting much of a tan Time has flown in Costa Rica – it doesn’t seem like my seventh day here, with less than two days before I head back to Britain. Today was the second round of […]

Rolands Diary, Costa Rica Day 6
Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 03:30 PM - 1 week, 2 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So the diary continues, he hasn’t been taken by bandits or tied up and held hostage, he’s still cupping My time in Costa Rica has really flown, with today being my sixth day and also the end of the first round of the Cup of Excellence competition. Very much as Day 5, today we […]

Paramount Coffee Project Takeover
Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 11:29 AM - 1 week, 2 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Paramount Coffee Project Takeover
Opportunities like this do not come around very often, so when Mark and Russell got in touch with Anette last year about coming to Sydney to hold a residency at Paramount Coffee Project, we jumped at the chance. For those of you uninitiated, Paramount Coffee Project is a collaboration between Mark Dundon of Seven Seeds Roastery in Melbourne and Russell Beard of Reuben Hills in Sydney. The cafe is housed on the ground floor of the old Paramount Pictures building on Commonwealth St, which also incorporate a cinema, bar and florist/food market on the weekends. The previous residencies looked and sounded amazing, so we had a lot to live up to – the series kicked off with Klaus and Peter from the Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, and followed with Kyle and Charles from G&B in LA. Both brought their unique style of service and coffee choices to the table, with Coffee Collective having both experience in roasting operations and retail while G&B showcased their multi roaster concept and critically acclaimed special drinks menu from their bar in Grand Central Market in downtown LA. For the first time, the residency would be taken over by a company who does not have direct experience in the day to day runnings of a cafe, since we do not have a retail space to showcase our coffee. Head Roaster Sang Ho and I were given the task of deciding on and implementing how the cafe would be run for the week, as PCP like to give absolute artistic freedom to the residences so that their customers can fully experience how coffee tastes and is served in other parts of the world. On one side of the cafe, the espresso service comes from a Linea PB and twin Mazzer grinders where they would normally pre-grind a la G&B, while the other side has a seated filter bar which serves mainly batch brew during the week, with a hand brew menu offered at weekends. As we are big fans of grinding to order, we decided to swap out the Robur-E and pre-grinding for a Victoria Arduino Mythos One to help improve consistency. We also moved the EK43 from the espresso bar to the filter bar, as it had previously been used to grind for single origin espresso as well, and offered daily batch brew and hand brew options so as to be able to showcase 3 coffees at a time. We decided on Santa Lucia from Brazil, Los Monjes from Colombia and Wonago from Ethiopia – all great coffees showcasing each of the processing methods. On espresso, our seasonal blend Red Brick took care of all regular drinks, with Sweetshop and El Meridiano from Colombia being offered as additional choices. The menu remained mainly unchanged, offering your usual mix of espresso and milk based drinks but with the addition of a one+one – split shot of espresso and single 5oz cappuccino, and a tasting flight to try all 3 filter coffees. We set the team the hard task of sourcing a slushy machine to hopefully play around with, and they came through with the goods! Since the weather was still warm, our coffee slushy went down a treat – an icy mix of Sweetshop espresso, Santa Lucia bulk brew, condensed milk, sugar syrup and a bit of extra full cream milk for mouthfeel. Paramount employs some wonderfully talented people who run things daily, so we tried to not mess up their flow too much or be too demanding. Sang Ho helped out on the brew bar and kept things tasting delicious, with most of the staff wanting to spend a shift with the brew master himself to learn from his experience. Since we changed from pre-grinding back to grind to order, the staff and I had to adjust our workflow, and it took a full day for us to feel comfortable with changing up how drinks would be prepared, but once in full swing became really productive and increased workflow. It is inspiring to see a team of people who can adapt so easily, while still retaining such a positive attitude and professionalism. Cupping and quality control are such big parts of our daily lives, so we decided to put on afternoon cupping sessions which showcased our current filter coffees and gave people an opportunity to taste coffees we are excited to work with. Each session invited 12 people around the cupping table, where we replicated our cupping protocols and had a great mix of baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike. To give people an insight into Square Mile, we held an informal meet and greet where we spoke about our philosophy over a few beers, with Sang Ho making his take on an Irish Coffee for everyone in practice for Coffee in Good Spirits Competition. There were many interesting questions about how the company started and got to where it is today, along with our viewpoints on wholesale and how Sang Ho and Pete worked their way through the coffee industry to finally having the chance to work for a coffee roaster. On the Friday, we held an intensive 3hr workshop incorporating Philosophy, Quality Control and Sensory Perception. This was aimed at coffee professionals who wanted to understand the way we maintain quality at all levels of what we do, and looked at Sang Ho’s study into the cupping sheet and ways that we can try to rework it to be more objective rather than subjective. Sensory perception showcased that our surroundings can greatly affect how we taste on a day to day basis, and challenged us to think about the choice of music, lighting and colour of cups we use in a cafe environment. We can’t thank Dylan and the team enough, they were so inviting to us and made the residency interesting and fun. The team at Paramount Coffee Project have so effortlessly combined great coffee, creative and tasty food and charming hospitality that it is easy to see why they continue to be a force to be reckoned with. We only hope we can one day repay the favour and host you all in London. With special thanks to Dylan, Koby, Laura, Jo, Julia, Anador, Annika, Hugh and the whole kitchen team for feeding us everything on the menu!

Ronald’s diary day 5
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 07:16 AM - 1 week, 3 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Rolands blog take over continues with his day 5 diary My 5th day in Costa Rica was the start of the real work – the International Jury’s first round of cupping coffees to find the Cup of Excellence winners. The week before, the National Jury found 78 coffees that were eligible for going forward […]

Rolands Diary day 3
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 02:39 PM - 1 week, 4 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
In this Roland Glew take over of has blog he tell us (very briefly) whats going on. I think he is having to much fun to share with us but heres his short paragraph from day 3 After spending day 2 at Cafe ARBAR, I got day 3 pretty much to myself – it […]

Roland day 2 continued
Monday, May 11, 2015 - 08:44 AM - 1 week, 5 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
The Roland Glew takeover continues with more fun and frolics in Costa Rica After an enlightening and beautiful drive, Weiner and I arrived at Cafe ARBAR – the farm of Carlos Arrieta and his family. Carlos, his wife and their children Karen & Jose Ignacio came out to welcome us and he began to […]

Roland day 2 of Costa Rica
Sunday, May 10, 2015 - 06:19 PM - 1 week, 6 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
As you know, this is my blog, but for this week Roland takes over with his tales of Costa Rica and his first origin trip, please enjoy………………… I’ve been given a day off, but yesterday provided plenty for 2 posts! My second day in Costa Rica was all about my first visit to a coffee […]

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