Sainsburys Continental Blend Upgrade

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Sainsburys Continental Blend Upgrade

Postby col » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:02 pm

Alright don't snigger! We've been using these beans for a couple of years now and we quite like them. We've tried all the usual supermarket standards; Illy, Lavazza etc, but always return to the Sainsburys beans. We find them dark, rich and full-bodied (and surprisingly good value - currently 2 x 250g for 3 quid!).

However........... having just invested a not insubstantial amount of dosh on some reasonable equipment, I thought I should do the right thing and sample some decent beans. So (eventually!), any recommendations for a suitable upgrade would be welcome please.

cheers,

col
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RE: Sainsburys Continental Blend Upgrade

Postby quoad » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:25 pm

Hi Col :)

Firstly... Can I ask what type of equipment? Out of curiosity, like? A grinder...? If so, what variety / make / model of grinder? Is it for french press, or espresso, or something else?

Secondly, the fresher the roast, the better the coffee's going to be...

On that, you really really can't go wrong with Steve: http://hasbean.co.uk/

Or Square Mile coffee: http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/

Or - hmm - James' gourmet coffee: http://www.jamesgourmetcoffee.com/

[though I'd... add... that last time I ordered from James' Gourmet, I was deeply disappointed to find the 'roast on' date had been replaced by an undated batch number... And the time before that, the 'roast on' date was approx. 5 days before the date I'd ordered on. Which I wasn't best pleased with. Steve and Square Mile - I believe, and IME - always roast on the day of order / shipping).
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Postby col » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:45 pm

Hi Quoad - sorry, thought it was all in my sig. Gaggia Classic + MC2. I'm really looking for specific tips rather than just suppliers,

cheers,

col
Gaggia Classic Coffee (but already lusting after an Izzo Vivi). Iberital MC2. Coffee Been Knock Box. HD Metal tamper and mat. Motta 0.5 ltr jug. Where's it all going to end?
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Postby quoad » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:16 am

WELL.

Anything's going to be an improvement on Sainsbury's continental blend. I don't mean that to be harsh... It just will be. Unless something goes horribly wrong ;)

I haven't bought much pre-roast recently so don't feel incredibly well positioned to offer an opinion. If you're after a single origin (well worth exploring at some point), several are being touted / loved on the main page of this forum ;). There are also some solid staple blends...

Square Mile's winter espresso blend is absolutely blinding... Really complex, berry-fruity, and deep: http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/produc ... r-espresso

Steve's Perfetio blend has a thunderingly good reputation, and was absolutely corking (and beautifully tolerant / forgiving) last time I tried it: https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/Braz ... -Crop.html

Tolerant may be A Very Good Thing if you're new with the Gaggia. Steve's Perfetio is an incredibly solid workhorse in that respect. Temperature tolerant, very friendly, very well balanced. The Winter blend is more of an explosively interesting blend (IMO), but you might struggle to get the best out of it (and might have a steeper learning curve).

AND James' Formula 6 is a traditional favourite. Though - as mentioned above - given the choice, I'm personally choosing to stick with HB / Square Mile at the mo. Or - at least - until I hear more outrageous praise for James.
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Postby espressomattic » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:54 am

STev's Breakfast Bomb is a great kick in the nuts type blend. Try some Beans from Union Roasters too in London. Their attitude stunk a couple of years ago, but the coffee was great. Happy Donkey also stock some great blends too.
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Postby Carl » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:07 am

I've had good stuff from James Gourmet recently [agree with quoad though that it would be more reassuring to have roast dates.] For espresso-type blends, as well as Formula 6, also worth trying is the Caffe Naturelle. I also enjoyed their Ethiopian Sidar and Cachoeira Farm Bourbon both of which seemed to work well as espresso in my setup (and if you get through as much coffee as we do, their flat rate for courier delivery is a bonus.)

If you are impatient, Hasbean has fantastic service. My last order was placed 2am Wednesday, the four different types were roasted that day and they had arrived in my mailbox by Thursday afternoon - all on the standard cheapo delivery option! The Mokha Matrar is really good.
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Postby quoad » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:11 am

Carl wrote:I've had good stuff from James Gourmet recently [agree with quoad though that it would be more reassuring to have roast dates.]


Not just reassuring...

I guess there's a part of me that likes buying into a model of service, as well as a product... OK, I might be able to have a reasonable guess at how fresh the batch roast is... But not having a roast-on date militates against the way that good, fresh, quality roasters seem to be going. And militates against what - IMO - good coffee should be about. JGC used to have a roast-on date. Then (IME) a slightly older roast-on date, plus batch numbers. Then just a batch number. Given I can get outstanding blends elsewhere from roasters who seem to be selling in a more open / authentic way - and a way that I want to buy into... I feel kinda hesitant about buying from JGC again. I'd rather my money went somewhere that recognises the fairly fundamental importance of freshness of roast, and is willing to advertise just how much effort they're putting into that freshness.


If you are impatient, Hasbean has fantastic service. My last order was placed 2am Wednesday, the four different types were roasted that day and they had arrived in my mailbox by Thursday afternoon - all on the standard cheapo delivery option! The Mokha Matrar is really good.


I love the fact that I often find myself leaving Steve's coffee for 24hrs to degas after it arrives, because it just gets here too damned quickly :D
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Postby Carl » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:37 pm

JGC used to have a roast-on date.

I was not aware - before my time!

In fact, my coffee enlightenment has been quite recent so I'm really not used to seeing roast dates on the bags. Frankly I was amazed to see the dates when I got my first delivery from Hasbean - how does he do it??
Did you try to get an explanation from JGC when it happened? I think might drop them a line :?
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Postby Bren_D » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:50 pm

Frankly I was amazed to see the dates when I got my first delivery from Hasbean - how does he do it??


By magic? There isn't another obvious explanation especially as bog-standard 1st class post pays such a large role in it.
Gaggia Classic, Iberital MC2, Dualit grinder, a rather sexy Reg Barber and a collection of various press and moka pots. Oh and an Aeropress :)
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Postby col » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:39 pm

Thanks for the tips folks!
Since the original request we've tried Happy Donkeys Italian blend, and, whilst it yields a good consistent crema, it's a bit too smooth for our taste. I think that we're probably after something very dark and gutsy.
We also received a couple of bags of HD Brazilian blend along with the Italian, so thats next on the tasting journey.
Gaggia Classic Coffee (but already lusting after an Izzo Vivi). Iberital MC2. Coffee Been Knock Box. HD Metal tamper and mat. Motta 0.5 ltr jug. Where's it all going to end?
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Postby Carl » Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:24 pm

something very dark and gutsy.

Very dark's not usually my cup-of-tea (I prefer coffee to "roast" :wink: ), but I really enjoyed the Monsoon Malabar I had from HB, which is dark and spicy. Gave heaps of crema too.
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Postby col » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:56 pm

Carl wrote:
something very dark and gutsy.

Very dark's not usually my cup-of-tea (I prefer coffee to "roast" :wink: ), but I really enjoyed the Monsoon Malabar I had from HB, which is dark and spicy. Gave heaps of crema too.


Point taken :wink: I've dialled in the grinder pretty well now on the HD Italian blend and the strength has improved considerably. My only criticism now would be that the crema is a bit 'foamy' and not particularly long lasting. ( Hark at me! a couple of weeks ago, I would have been happy with any crema, let alone moaning because it wasn't of perfect consistency)

The Italian blend is nearly finished now and I'll be starting on the HD Brazilian blend soon. I'll report back.
Gaggia Classic Coffee (but already lusting after an Izzo Vivi). Iberital MC2. Coffee Been Knock Box. HD Metal tamper and mat. Motta 0.5 ltr jug. Where's it all going to end?
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Postby quoad » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:16 pm

Great to hear you're having fun, Col!

DO give some Hasbean or Square Mile beans a shot some time too, though!

Srsly!
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Postby Gadders » Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:21 am

Good stuff col :)

you'll have crema like this in no time!...
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Postby col » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:58 am

A quick update. 2 x 250g HD Italian blend consumed. Makes a nice cup with consistent crema. The only real difficulty I had was with dosing. Even with the MC2 on max time it would barely fill the PF. Ground a bit too fine maybe?

I've sidestepped the HD Brazilian blend and moved on to Has Bean Brazilian Pre-blended Perfetio 2008-2009 (should that really be [i]'Perfeito' which is Brazilian for 'Perfect' or 'in perfect condition' I keep asking myself?). Whatever.... It was roasted on Thursday, delivered yesterday, and I started it this morning. Wow, what a fabulous aroma when I opened the bag!

I'm still dialling in, but the dosing volume has shot up! I've already turned the timer back a couple of seconds and slightly coarsened the grind. Tasting good so far. Smooth but rich and, even for my sweet tooth, only needs about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar to make it perfect!

The quest continues :)
Gaggia Classic Coffee (but already lusting after an Izzo Vivi). Iberital MC2. Coffee Been Knock Box. HD Metal tamper and mat. Motta 0.5 ltr jug. Where's it all going to end?
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