Diagnosing Espresso for Better Extraction

April 9th, 2014

After the last blog post on the different techniques to use to prepare for a shot of espresso we’ve been contacted by a few people asking for more information on diagnosing problems with their espresso extraction. So I’ve decided to do a follow on post.

Pulling Espresso by Sight is Really Hard

Before I get stuck in I just want to emphasis that using sight alone to pull consistently tasty shots of espresso is a really hard skill to acquire. You need to know your machine and the coffee you’re using intimately to make accurate judgements.

under-extracted, correctly extracted, and over-extracted espresso.

Left to right: under-extracted, correctly extracted and over-extracted espresso. It's easy to see the difference when they're lined up side by side, but in isolation it would be much trickier to diagnose the problem.

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Dosing, Distribution and Tamping – The Basic Techniques for Tasty Espresso

March 18th, 2014

So you’ve recently brought a new espresso machine or have upgraded from one with pressurised baskets to non-pressurised baskets and the coffee you’re making doesn’t taste quite right. You’re finding that the espresso has one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. Pale blonde crema or no crema at all
  2. Watery thin texture
  3. Sour taste

Your problem is most likely down to poor technique. To make a tasty espresso you need to get the following basic elements right: dosing, distribution and tamping.

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Handloom Blog

February 17th, 2014

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet on this blog the past couple of months. Unfortunately, Christmas and other projects have got in the way of fresh posts. Speaking of other projects, you should check out the new blog on our sister website: www.handloom.co.uk.

The first post is called: ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Brewing Tea – how to make the perfect cuppa’ and is full of great information for those new to brewing loose leaf tea.

the best way to brew tea is with a teapot

New Products – Cafelat Knockboxes and Tamp Mats

December 9th, 2013

We’ve just taken stock of some brilliant new products from Cafelat. These fantastically designed knockboxes and tamp mats will make a great gift for someone (or even yourself) this Christmas.

cafelat splat mats and tubbi knockboxes

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Should you drink coffee in the evening?

November 26th, 2013

Some of you may have read headlines like these: “For a restful night, stay off the coffee after 5pm”; or “Drinking even one strong coffee in the afternoon can knock an hour off your sleep”, a couple of weeks ago. The reports were advising us to avoid all caffeinated beverages for at least 6 hours prior to sleep.

Daily Telegraph - for a restful night, stay off the coffee after 5pm

The reports are based on a small study carried out by researchers from Henry Ford Hospital, Wayne State College of Medicine in Detroit and Zeo Inc. Researchers tested the effects of a 400mg caffeine pill taken either at bedtime, 3 hours or 6 hours before sleep. They found that the caffeine dose appeared to disrupt sleep even when taken 6 hours before bedtime; reporting that participants slept an average of 41 minutes less.

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Need help buying a surprise gift? Try our Coffee Lover’s Christmas Gift Selector

November 11th, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts to get a little worried and stress about finding the right gifts for loved ones this Christmas. So we’re here to lend a helping hand by coming up with ‘The Coffee Lover’s Christmas Gift Selector’.

christmas gift selector - picking the correct gift for a coffee lover
Click on image to enlarge

If you want to find out more information on the products featured here, check out our handy Buying Guides.

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How to clean a teapot

October 25th, 2013

Even with regular washing, teapots still accumulate stains on the inside of their walls and spout (and the tea infuser if you make loose leaf tea). These brown stains are caused by tannin which occurs naturally in tea.
Tannin stains on the inside of this teapot

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Kopi Luwak – Is it time to flush away this novelty coffee?

October 10th, 2013

Kopi luwak has featured in the news recently because of yet more revelations of unethical practices in the production of this novelty coffee. An undercover investigation by the BBC found serious issues of animal cruelty behind the “world’s most expensive coffee”.
Luwaks are kept in small, dirty cages
Picture credit: BBC

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What’s different with the new Clever Coffee Dripper model?

September 30th, 2013

We’ve just taken stock of the all new model of the Clever Coffee Dripper. It’s a bit more expensive than the old one so I thought I should talk through what’s different; what you’re paying extra for on the new model.

Firstly, and probably most significantly, the new Clever Coffee Dripper is made from a different plastic. It’s no longer constructed from polycarbonate, which some studies have shown can leak a chemical called ‘bisphenol A’ (BPA) into beverages and subsequently been linked to health risks. Instead it’s now made from a BPA free, copolyester known as Eastman Tritan.

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Conical Vs Flat Burrs – Which one’s best?

September 5th, 2013

We’ve recently updated our ‘Buyers’ Guide to Coffee Grinders’. If you’re thinking about buying a new coffee grinder then we strongly recommend reading this article first.
conical vs flat burrs - which one's best?
There’s one part of the guide which we wish we could have wrote more on, but as we wanted to keep the guide fairly concise we decided not to (we didn’t want to bore you with too many details!). So I thought I would take this opportunity to write a blog post to expand on the issue.

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