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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Problem: The roaster will not light or the flame goes out during the roast.

Troubleshooting roaster ignition

Originally From Diedrich's old site:


Key locations for cleaning are:

  • The lower chaff compartment
  • The drum chaff tray
  • The cooling bin screen
  • The blower impeller
  • The rear chaff collector duct
  • the chimney (from the down pipe of roaster to the top of the chimney)

Tools Needed

  • One small Flathead Screwdriver
  • One small Philips Screwdriver
  • One Wire Brush
  • One Putty Knife
  • One small Pipe Cleaner or Paper Clip
  • Electrical meter


This is a classic symptom of an airflow issue. With this sheet you will be able to determine whether or not the symptoms are related to compromised air flow.

If your machine does not light, try making an air adjustment. With your machine turned on, move the air flow control from the cooling bin position to the 50/50 position. If the gas ignites you have proven there is an air flow or cleaning issue.

The burners going out during a roast and long roast times can also be signs of airflow problems.

With the burners lit, open one of your burner access doors. If this has either a positive or negative effect on the burners such as brighter burners (or dimmer) it is definitely airflow related.

From the roaster to the top of the chimney, all of these separate components combine into a balanced air flow system. Residue built up anywhere in the roasting system can affect the roaster’s function. This build up of residue will cause the airflow to be diminished, shutting the gas flow down to your burners. There can be a build-up of residue on impeller blades, air flapper, exhaust ports, etc.

Foreign objects in your chimney can also hinder the correct amount of air flow. Check for water dead birds, or other animals that may have got in there anything that impeeds airflow causes this problem.

Problem: Roaster Thermocouple or High Limit failure

Taken from the old Diedrich web site, which has been replaced:

If the roaster goes out and can be relit by resetting it; locate the Watlow high-limit. It is a small, black plastic molded box approximately 4 inch x 2.75 inch. In a manual roaster, it is located behind the switches in the electrical box. In an automated roaster, it is in the automation lectern.

Tools Needed: 
Electrical jumpers
Voltage meter
Flat head screwdriver
Phillips head screwdriver

REMOVE the red and yellow wires that are attached to the thermocouple terminals. Place a jumper or loop between the TC (+) and TC (-) on the high limit in place of the wires. If the roaster lights and stays lit, the cause is either a bad thermocouple or a loose connection between the thermocouple and the high limit. Check the connections before replacing the thermocouple.

If the roaster continues as before, goes out but relights upon resetting now you ll need to check the high limit.

Find the normally open or NO terminal and common or COM terminal. Put a jumper between those 2 terminals WITH the wires in place. If the roaster now stays lit the high limit has failed and needs to be replaced.

WARNING! Remember that this is a trouble shooting guide ONLY. Do not run the roaster with the high limit disabled. It is a substantial, safety hazard to do so and Diedrich Manufacturing, Inc. cannot be held responsible if damage occurs as a result. Be sure to reconnect the high limit before using the afterburner.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Collaboration before Competition

I remember watching a documentary on why the Neanderthals had not survived, when Homo sapiens had. There where all sort of theories, one saying it was because of the common cold, others talking about weapons, etc. One of the people interviewed spoke about collaboration. How Homo sapiens collaborated with other settlements, and that they had found bone and skin from faraway places in Homo sapien settlements that were from animals from very faraway places, too far for settlements to get to regularly. While in Neanderthal developments they had found little to no evidence of this kind of collaboration at all. 1000 faces This month roast magazine (November / December 2013 edition) has an article in it written by Benjamin Myers  from 1000 faces Coffee, in which he speaks about how pre-competitive collaboration has helped growers and roasters alike and how the future looks great if this sort of collaborative effort is  maintained.

Einstein in his collected essays  collated in the book The World as I see it, says the curse of the western society is the over valuation of the individual. We should appreciate is how we are dependent we are on people we are likely to never meet. We eat food, wear cloths and live in house whose raw material is grown, harvested, processed, packaged and distributed by nameless people. These people mean more to our lives and our day-to-day living than the loud politician or the famous movie star.

Sorry I digress. Let’s get back to pre-competitive collaboration. As a coffee roaster based on the Southern tip of Africa, we rely on the collaborative efforts of many individuals before we get our green unroasted coffee.  Perhaps this is a lesson to learn from. If we as roasters want to have access to the prime coffees of the world then surely it is time to collaborate before we compete. Through collaboration we can source greater coffees and have greater purchasing power than we do as a single standalone roaster. Our biggest competition is not the roaster down the road, but the bulk importer of coffee both whole bean, instant, pod or capsule based coffees. This type of convenience coffee belongs in the same market as the boxed wine. It has a market, but should not dominate the market. With over 70% of South Africans drinking instant coffee on a daily basis this is the market we need to look to for growth, until we get that number down to the world average of 48% we cannot consider ourselves a success.

Virmax And the only way to do this is through collaboration. In the article I have mentioned the establishment of Virmax between Alejandro Cadena and Giancarlo Ghiretti. Virmax assisted setting up collaboration between the growers and this has helped strengthen relationship to the final market of their product. Virmax in only 13 years young and already has 100 people working for it. They work directly with over 2,000 family farmers. They have 19 receiving warehouses, where coffees are cupped each day. They own a dry mill in Armenia and a number importing businesses in the USA, Europe and Australia.

In 2010 Virmax created Caravela Coffee to handle their imports into North America, as a vertically integrated export-import company. Caravela builds relationships between roasters and producers, allowing roasters a more direct relationship with the producers. The coffees from this relationship are called relationship coffees.

Virmax is the company that we at Quaffee have had the fortune of working with since 2008, and their collaborative efforts have shown increasing reward. With each crop of coffee we have had the fortune of roasting and selling being better than the last one. In fact our current crop we have just landed we think is some of the best coffee we have ever tasted.

Other roasters in Northern America have been collaborating on sourcing direct lots of coffees together, travelling to source and identifying coffees they love, and securing the complete produce through collaboration.

Through collaboration the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) or Cup of Excellence (CoE) programs have been put in place offering direct financial benefits to the producers of the coffees selected in the program.

Roasters in Northern America have been able to cross reference information and share customer feedback on the coffees and roast profiles used. Through getting together and sharing experiences the knowledge based of information can grow and the winner is the industry and the consumer, as well as the roaster, who benefits from a growing market of knowledgeable coffee drinkers.

I end this summary and these thoughts quoting directly for the article:

“Will pre-competitive collaboration increase the value of our work? Coffee is a product that has been historically undervalued, and its global workforce has borne the brunt of this economic paradigm. Who is to blame for the fact that the majority of those in the industry work hard for little money? For many of us, the low return on investment might be the single most pressing problem. Let’s assume that the key to solving the problem and making a good decision is not finding the one right answer, but one simple step: participate. As more people begin to participate in the revolution of the coffee workplace, there will be a profound benefit; the better we understand how this machine works, the better we’ll get at operating it.”

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mexican COE Transparency - coffee lovers to choose price

About the coffee

Gilberto with his family
We participated in the Mexican Cup of Excellence (COE) auction 2013, bidding on Lot 15, from Finca Tres Tetas. The coffee comes from an allotment established in 1978 and that originally belonged to Gilberto Garcia Romero’ parents. When he got married, in 1992, his parents gave him this land. Since then he has managed the coffee plantation in a traditional way. There are no agro chemicals applied in the coffee plantation, the soil remains intact and the coffee is shade grown. Pruning, shade control and soil are all owner managed, and have been improved as and when they can.

Receiving the Cup of Excellence is acknowledgement to Gilberto’s hard work and it has meant a lot to him. The great price achieved for the coffee (U$D6.6 per pound, over U$D4 per pound more than the speculative sector would pay) has provided the opportunity to improve the life of his family and pay the people that work for him and his family better.

So what did it cost us Quaffee, to bring it all the way to Cape Town South Africa? Well we partnered with Virmax / Caravela in the auction and they charged us $1.00 a pound to represent us on the auction. We therefore paid 7.60 USD per pound. We bought a total of 120kgs, which is 264.55 pounds of coffee

Breakdown for Raw Costs

Here below, is a total of breakdown of the costs to get the coffee here, in raw green form:

First the USD price in total:

Item Amount
Mexican COE Finca Tres Tetas   2,013.60
Freight to Cape Town 651.00
Phyto certificate (included in agency fee)   0.00
Total USD 2,661.60

Rand pricing

Rand Dollar exchange paid 10.42, so in South African Rand:
Item Amount
Total USD to ZAR   27,733.87
Clearance and transport to roastery   3,755.05
Total Price in Rand 31,488.92

So that means that a total price was R31,488.92. We had a total of 120kgs but it has taken us 6.5 kgs to identify a roast profile so we only have 113.5 kgs left.

That brings the total price per kilogram to R 277.44.

Further considerations

On average we lose about 19% in weight when we roast. We anticipate that the average weight will will roast is 4kgs. Each roast we use about 800ml of gas, at the moment, when we have our afterburner installed I suspect this will double. This means we have a total of about 28 roasts left of this coffee and then it will be gone.

We calculate our roast cost per kilogram on this coffee we anticipate to be about R35 / kilogram including gas, labour and operating costs. This means with lose and roasting cost it will cost around R350 kilogram to produce the coffee.

Question to Coffee Lovers

We want our client’s to purchase this coffee, so that we can bring other remarkable coffees in of this standard. So we are asking the clients how much they are prepared to pay.

We are running a survey to let the coffee lover choose a good price.

To vote or contribute, please go to, and complete the questionaire.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Some quick links added to the website

Some quick links added to the Quaffee site:

Link points to: actual link
Ena 1 coffee machine Jura Ena 1
F7 coffee machine Jura F-7
Xs9 One Touch coffee machine  Jura Xs9 OT
Yellow Bourbon from Sertãozinho info  Brazilian Sertãozinho info
Info on the Mexican coffee from El Triunfo  Mexican Biodiverse El Triunfo

Will add more later.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Quaffee Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 6

With most of 2013 gone, we are in a fortunate position where once again we have shown growth. This year we are on target for over 17% growth, thanks to you our faithful clients.

The experiment we started in 2009 to try and source more coffees from estates, we believe has afforded us the opportunity to offer some great coffees. So in the newsletter we will have a quick summary of the coffees landed and available, then discuss the new coffees coming and give details on our open day 2 November 2013.

Our latest estate coffees

Of the four coffees we have landed in the last 5 weeks, 3 are from Café Imports. They are a pleasure to deal with and they work with a number of coffee grower and growing communities throughout the world, ensuring they can produce consistently good coffees. The two we have made available so far are:
  • Triunfo from Mexico. Which is grown in a Bio-diverse environment and is organically and fair trade certified. The coffee has more body than is expected from Mexican coffees, and has already developed a following. It is also a small portion of the Wildly Organic blend, which too has become popular. Read more on Triunfo here: Mexican fair trade coffee
  • Sertãozinho from Brazil. This is the first pulp natural yellow bourbon we have done, and we love it. Subtle fruit and rich body make it excellent in almost any coffee preparation. We have already gone through 1.5 bags in the first 3 weeks, and only bought in 21, so we expect it will go soon. Read more about it here: Brazilian yellow bourbon.
The other coffee we have been able to source is through a new South African importer called Bespoke. They work with one of the large coffee export import companies. This company has been given access to small lots of estate coffees and Kiamabara comes from them, it offers great value and has great deep mocha and chocolate tastes.

Coffees about to arrive

The coffee that is part of our latest experiment should be here in the next week. We participated in the Mexican cup of Excellence awards and were able to one the one lot with an Australian roaster. This is the first time we have bought coffee on a Cup Of Excellence (COE) auction and are very excited about it. Since our calculations tell us that the raw unroasted coffee will probably cost in the region of R300 a kg, we are going to have our own survey to help us decide at what price people they will purchase the coffee, so if you are keen to participate, look at our facebook site http:://

Open day

We all have families and things to do on weekends, but we have had a number of requests for an open day. We have decided to have our next open day on the second of November at Buitenverwachting. It will be from 09:30 until 12:30, and we will have at least 3 coffees to taste, and will be doing brewing demonstrations of various brew techniques. We will post this event on our facebook site in the coming week.


Thanks once again for reading the newsletter and your fantastic support, we look forward to hearing and seeing more of you. [polldaddy poll=7480940]

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Coffee Assesment and Quality Control

This is a summary of 2 posts that I was sent by Zane.

Coffee Assessment

To control the quality of roasted coffee you produce a formal assessment process is recommended. There are many ways of assessing coffee, but to start off here are some of the forms commonly used for assessing coffee:
They all need require assessment of to say something about these things:
  1. Smell; beans, grinds and brew
  2. Taste; brew/drink
  3. Texture or umami; brew/drink
These are now covered below:


Smell should be divided into 4:
Definition Description
Fragrance Is the smell of the dry grinds, specifically the intensity of the fragrance.
Aroma Is the smell directly from the cup and is assessed before swallowing. This we are score as we sniff and break the crust when cupping.
The Nose Of a coffee is the gases it emits as we drink and swallow. Gases are pushed up to the top of the palate as you swallow. This is why we aspirate (slurp) when cupping. Remember coffee is the universal solvent and also dissolves gases. The aeration of coffee through slurping changes the vapour pressure in the coffee and forces many gases that have dissolved to turn back into gases.
After-taste Is an aromatic sensation. You have residue of coffee in your mouth and throat and this residue emits gases minutes after after you swallow. The tendency is for heavier molecules to leave more residue. This means there is a tendency for after-taste to include more dry distillation smells and less enzymatic ones.
Smell can be divided into three types:
Definition Description
Enzymatic Aromas have survived the roasting process without converting into something else. They smell of the living coffee plant and cherry.
Sugar Browning caramelization stage giving us smells of nuts, caramel and chocolate.
Dry Distillation is burning, most dry distillation aromas to be undesirable, they are either by design or accident. If a roaster seeks to reduce acid levels in coffee this will come at a price. Imagine your coffee tastes very smoky. There is a point in roasting where coffee pops like popcorn. This is called the first crack. If you continue to roast for another minute or two the coffee pops again: second crack. After this point is reached there is no enzymatic material left and the aromas will be all the product of caramelization and burning.


Which can be divided into:
Definition Description
Sweet Sweet refers to the presence of some caramel flavours developed, an overall pleasantness and balance achieved by good roasting that is sensitive to the varietal character of the bean. Sweet might also refer simply to a varietal characteristic, also called soft, mild or mellow
Acidic or brightness Seven principal acids found in coffee - 49 listed on the coffee research institute’s web page. Most mention malic acid, while Chlorogenic acid is the most abundant (it represent 7% of a typical dry weight of grinds). There  are basically two families of these acids:
  • mono-caffeoyl - which readily decompose during roasting
  • di-caffeoyl - remain almost unchanged and have been reported to impart a metallic-bitter taste (Robustas, which exhibit a similar metallic taste, contain a larger concentration of these acids than Arabica beans.)
Bitter Typically caused by the Alkaloids in coffee. Alkaloids (see below) are a plants natural defence against pests. Caffeine is an alkaloid, as is Chlorogenic acid. Chlorogentic acid breaks down into Quinic acid during roasting. Quinine acid is what is found in tonic water. Over roasting causes higher concentrations of Quinic acid
Sour is normally caused by too much Citric Acid in the final roasted product. Roasting plays a role in optimising levels in the cup.In low concentrations it is a positive sensation, in general medium roasts contain about half as much citric acid as green beans. Unripe coffee will have higher levels of citric acid. In a fruit, citric acid converts to sugar, so if coffee cherries make it into the washing station unripe (assuming they are washed), you can expect sourness in the cup. The extreme of unripe is visibly blonde in colour and these are referred to as quakers. They are sour and smell of peanut and should be picked out of the final product. Coffee scoring 85% and higher, as per the SCAA scale, should not contain more than one quaker per kg. Another cause of sourness is Acetic acid (most commonly found in vinegar).If beans have fermented or been allowed to dry on the tree then a much larger quantity of a familiar acid is normally found in the bean. This is the fourth most concentrated acid usually found in brewed coffee. There are higher proportions of acetic acid found in washed coffees and very light roasts. It moderate proportions it can add a positive winey taste to coffee but it can certainly taste like ferment and in high concentrations is a fault. Many coffee roasters are tempted to roast darker to evaporate off this acid to reduce sourness. Ideally a coffees an imbalance of acetic acid is not desired.


The texture or feel of coffee, is the 5th taste or umami. Some may call it body feel, others finish. MSG is the most well known stimulant of this sense of taste. SCAA Flavour wheel The strength of the body is what

Further considerations

Further to the trio of Smell, Taste and Texture


Alkaloids are a family of (usually) naturally occuring molecules containing nitrogen - includes quinine (in the tonic in G&Ts), ephedrine, morphine and nicotine. Most alkaloids will act as bases (react with acids). Bases are a more general class of chemicals that react with acids to form salts e.g., hydrochloric acid HCl + sodium hydroxide (NaOH, a base) react to form NaCl (table salt) + water. the above explanation courtisie Dr N Marshall

Flavour Taints 

A taints wheel allows you to work backwards. You identify a taste, say it’s earthy. Then you locate a similar descriptor on the SCAA flavour wheel. Work inwards and you notice it’s moved towards fats absorbing odours. Towards External Changes. Imagine butter left open in the fridge next to some smoked mackerel also uncovered. Fats tend to absorb odours. Coffee beans can contain up to 17% fat. The only time coffee was likely to be left near soil is on the farm or at the mill. Many farms lack the infrastructure to build raised drying beds or concrete patios so the beans will have been dried on the naked earth.


If you pick up a smoky carbon type taste in what appears to be a very light roast. Your also determine that beans are not perfectly round. Tipping is when parts of the roasted bean are darker in some places than in others. Even the best roaster cannot prevent some slight uneveness in the roasting of beans as they are marginally different sizes and pointy at the tips. At origin beans are sieved through screens to help make them a more uniform size, but screen size is a guide not a rule.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Coffee Roasting Notes on Turning Point in a roast

Examining our own preconceived ideas on roasting?

We at Quaffee are forever testing our own roasting knowledge boundaries, we love roasting coffee and love looking at ways to improve and or understand how we can improve our roasts. With the change in temperature and weather recently we have been looking at charge and turn around temperature of a each of our roasts.

The charge temperature (or starting temperature) is the temperature you want the air in the roaster to be when you drop the coffee into the roaster (at that point the coffee is at room temperature). At the point that the coffee is introduced to the roaster the air temperature in the roaster drops and equalizes with the temperature of the beans. When it has equalized the temperature again starts increasing. This point this happens is called the delta point or turning point of the roast.

And so the games begin

So we started play with these turning and charging temperatures trying to see what the results were. What we found was that it affected the way you kick started and controlled the roast from there, but we were looking for a point at which the coffee may change in taste.

So off we went to do some research to see what others had found and discovered that there has been quite a lot of debate regarding this issue however there are also some commonalities:
  • Charge and turning point are roaster specific
  • Flame level at drop is coffee and roaster specific
That said there seems to be an agreement that most important consideration is what happens after chemical change starts. This is when the beans change from green to yellow and then onto brown. roasting profiles linked at yellow browning
Roasting Profiles linked at Yellow Browing


What tends to be the agreement is that if you roasted the coffee so that the roast profile from the yellowing stage is more or less the same, than no matter what the charge temperature is and the turnaround temperature is it is difficult to distinguish the difference when the coffee is tasted afterwards. A sample of the graph showing these differences is above.

The forum post that I found worthwhile is:

You can a summary of this discussion on youtube, where we got the original image:

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Traditional Coffee Roasting in Indonesia

The Dutch bought coffee to the Indonesian islands. At one stage it was very sought after, especially the coffees shipped from Java. A lot of the best coffees where destroyed in the coffee rust epidemic in the late 1800's and now 70 percent of Indonesian coffee is Robusta. There are still a collection of Arabica farms, and the most popular Quaffee has sold is the Mandheling. My sister was recently travelling there and was lucky enough to see some traditional open pan coffee roasting. She sent us the pictures and thought perhaps this would be interesting. The coffee is roasted and "ground" the way it was traditional done, and is still done in many places in the world, especially the cradle of coffee Ethiopia.

Open Pan Roasting

Here a lady is roasting here is using a fire and open pan. These to pictures show you her roasting on the open pan, then increasing the heat by blowing on the fire.
Roasting in an open Pan
increasing heat to the roast
Adding heat to the roast

"Grinding" / Preparing the grinds

Once the coffee is roasted it has to be "ground" this is the method that has been used for hundreds of years. A standard method of crushing the beans so that when added to liquid it can expose the coffee.
Indonsian grinder
A traditional "grinder"

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 2 Issue 5 - Aug 2013


A year of roasting out of Buitenverwachting is behind us. This newsletter is mainly about landed and anticipated coffees.

Coffee News

In the last 6 weeks we have been assessing a number of new harvests, and some other offerings we have had.


We finally got our Yirgacheffe, which we ordered November last year through Kiama. Kiama found us the Kenyan coffees we do, which we are happy with. The Yirgacheffe comes from a processing plant in the Yirgacheffe town of Ethiopia. Even though it costs us a little more than the previous Yirgacheffe, which we got from a bulk importer, we have kept our price the same.

Most Ethiopian coffees are actually sourced through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange and there have been rumours for a while that are they are watering down the classic coffees like Limu and Yirgacheffe with other coffees. We have suspected that the Yirgacheffe was not quite Lemony enough for a few years and hence where excited to get involved with Kiama in sourcing Yirgacheffe from Yirgacheffe. You can read more about Yirgacheffe here:

Coffees on the Sea

We have also secured three additional coffees from Café Imports, who are American based agents that work direct with the coffee farms buying lots that they like. We have learnt from experience that we can get great coffees from agents like these and they end up being a reasonable price. When we have gone direct to the farms the transport cost has represented up to 40% of the coffee landed price. So some of the farmers are now referring us to these types of agents.

The coffees we have on the water that we liked of these are:

Guatemalan Huehuetenango

This is a coffee from about 350 small-holding farmers, that are part of the Highland Coffee Presidium Slow Food consortium. The coffee is balanced, juicy and tangy with chocolate, cranberry and lime. The Limited Edition Cup of Excellence winner we are selling, is from the same Huehuetenango region of Guatemala. We selected this coffee from 4 other Guatemalans we tasted.
PulpNatural Process
Pulp natural process

Brazilian Pulped Natural Yellow Bourbon

We must admit that we have been bursting to do a Yellow Bourbon. The Bourbon varietal is named after the Bourbon Island, where the horticulturists developed it by letting an Arabica typica plant pollinate itself. This varietal of Arabica is very popular in South America, and it has a two sub species that produce a yellow and orange cherry when ripe rather that the classic red cherry. We first heard about these varietals in 2008, and have not been able to source any yet. When we got our samples from Café Imports (which we taste blind, not knowing their origin at all), the Yellow Bourbon stood out without us even knowing that, that was what we were tasting. The pulped natural process means that the coffee is dried on the cherry and then either de-pulped manually or semi automatically using a depulper. The result is when it is done properly there is a distinct body to the coffee, and strong fruit. In this case the coffee is citric and heavy with fruit tones.

Mexican El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve

As much as we believe there is a place for the Fairtrade and organic movement, we try purchase as many coffees in a way that the farmer benefits most. We want to be the change we would like all to adopt. It is for this reason that our packaging is fully recyclable and locally made.

Last year we imported 2 Mexican coffees and they were very popular. This year after tasting a few we selected the one from the El Triunfo Biosphere reserve, not knowing that this coffee is a Fairtrade and organic certified coffee, so that is a bonus. The coffee is rich, with caramel, raisin and sage, and we loved it.

More coffee things

If you are a regular visitor to, you will see a few new coffees, and some are gone. Some have sold out, but we have also removed 2 regulars Excelso and Sul da Minas. We have remvoed these two since we have decided the quality of these products is unpredictable and since we only sell what we can drink we have removed these coffees. We have added and good El Salvador (which we are receiving positive feedback) and the Nicaraguan Tesoro is doing well too.

We participated in the Mexican Cup of Excellence auction partnering with an Australian and South American company trying to win lot 15. The cost of the auction is USD1 per pound, and then the actually price of the coffee is what the farmer gets. We will only get this coffee near the end of the year, and will release it under our limited edition range. Once we know all the costs on this coffee, we will be posting all of the costs on our blog, and will welcome any comments on how much people believe we should sell it for.

Machine News

There are a number of new machines in the Jura range, you can view an updated summary here: There is also a special where the Baby Jura Ena1 is now coming free with its own standalone frother. Not a bad offer for those that drink no more than 5 cups a day at home.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Drinkability rating, how do you rate your coffee?

Sept 2012 Honduras cupping Over the years of drinking and assessing coffees I have been exposed to a number of guides of tasting coffee. At the end of all of this the essence is down to enjoyment. Does it really help if the coffee has mocha, or nuts or lemon. The most important thing is how much you enjoy it.

So I have been pondering a rating. In music I rate a song as how much I want to listen to that song, if I love a song can I listen to it on repeat for 5 times, 3 or perhaps I would rather skip it. This give the song a rating of 0 (no thanks next) to 5 (hell yes play it again and again SAM – some audible music)

This is how coffee should be rated. I call it a Drinkability rating. If you taste a coffee and want to spit it out then it gets a rating of 0, if you drink half a cup before saying well that warmed me up but I cannot drink another sip. Or you finish the cup and then you do not feel like another, or You have another etc. Let us say we can have a maximum of 5 in a sitting.

So that is my rating: 5 for I can drink it until I get the shakes and cannot hold the cup, 3 is great coffee I will have 2 more, 1 is it barely deserves to be called coffee, and 0 means give me another beverage if that is what you are offering. So how do you rate your coffee on this scale?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Which one? Coffee, coffee or coffee

There are all sorts of coffee available to coffee drinkers, how than can we broadly tell the apart. This post categorizes them into four main categories.

Like with many other beverages most coffee drinkers get introduced to coffees through blends. They may then come across single origin coffees. Since the 80's there has been additional access to other coffee identified as regional, estate and even single crop or micro-lot coffees.

What do all these things mean and as a coffee drinker does it help to know these identifications? We believe it will?

Blended Coffees

Blend of coffees
A blend is what it says, a blend of typically at least 2 and sometimes up to 11 coffees.
Why blend? Well here are some reasons:
  • Masking of Quality: Although this may sound a little cynical, the most common reason coffee is blent is to hide the lower quality coffees used in a blend. Then adding a small percentage of an above average to good quality coffee helps mask or hide the foul taste. This is especially the case with pre-ground coffees, instant coffees and convenience coffees. These types of coffees we believe are responsible for the obsession of adding milk and too much sugar into coffee. And there is a long history of this type of blending that has its origins in scarcity of good quality coffee due to wars and trade route problems.
  • Problem with Volume: Some coffee companies look at blending at a way of producing something out of rather ordinary coffees. Most of the large brands are almost forced to do this. The reason for this is that their volumes demand that they use coffees that are available in bulk, and as we will see later this is a problem when sourcing really good coffee.

    Almost all commercial heavily branded coffees stick to this model. They use chemists to produce a good balance and predictable taste. They also generally resort to aging their roasted beans and ground coffee to flatten the top notes of coffees.

    The two large commercial Italian brands, blend over 9 coffees, and normally age the beans over 16 days to reduce the highly reactive acids in the coffee. Some think that tastes great, to us this makes the coffee a little flat and uncharacteristic. The largest coffee company in the world blends up to 32 coffees to get the generic taste they believe their consumers want. They then sometimes introduce aroma into the packaging so that your senses are hit when you open the bag.
  • Good Coffee: A blend of up to 4 high quality coffees, can produce a great balance of sweetness, brightness and body, and still be unique and seasonal. As soon as you go past using 4 coffees you start losing uniqueness and the blend becomes a little ordinary. In our experience using 3 coffees to dominate the blend and an extra 1 to add a little something to complete the blend has been a good rule of thumb.
Although blends continue to be popular with the general coffee consumer, we have seen that the real lover will slowly migrate away from blends, at least occasionally, to enjoy the unique flavours of the other coffees that are available.

The same is normally the case with a wine lover that starts with blends then may prefer a Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. For Whisky lovers (or if you are Irish: Whiskey) they will eventually try single malts, and then may decide on say Islay origin as their preference.

Single Origin Coffees

This is a phrase that has been connected to coffee for decades. It means a coffee from a single country. It is quite common practice to use country of origin to determine typical flavours. So a Brazilian single origin coffee should be very nutty, with walnuts or almonds. A Honduran coffee will be fruity with cherries and subtle nuts. A Kenyan will be bright (or sometimes called acidic, although we hate that word, since it is like calling the sea blue, there are well over 600 acids in coffee, calling coffee acidic makes people think of what they add to their pool).

While Single Origin can create a good anticipation of the flavours and aromas a coffee should produce, it is not that precise, and can also cause a coffee that is special from a country to be discounted by tasters.

If a single coffee has gone through the bulk grading, then that is normally how it is identified. Every country seems to name their higher graded coffees differently. To name a few higher grade coffee names, higher graded coffee from Columbia will be called Supremo or Excelso, while one from Kenya will be called a grade AAA or AA, and an Indian coffee be called Plantation A; and an Ethiopian grade 2. This normally just represents the size grade of the coffee, the larger the bean the higher the rating. These standards vary for each country, just as they all seem to do their own thing in naming and applying their grades.

There is a general rule of thumb that is applied here: the higher the grade the bigger the bean the better the coffee should be. There is one exception to this rule though, and that is a grade called Peaberry, and in fact some coffees species are interbreed to promote this grade. The good news about Peaberry is that it is one of the few grades that are embraced world-wide. A Peaberry grade should mean that it is the pip (coffees beans are the pip of a fruit) of a fruit that has no sibling. Peaberry coffee is normally equivalent to the highest grade of the country, and normally these coffees are at least as good as the highest grade offered in a country.

Single origin coffee represents coffee that could be from multiple regions, multiple farms, multiple processing plants, you get the picture. It is a cooperative of coffee from farms from a single country. Hence a single origin coffee is essentially a blend of coffees from the same country.

Regional Coffees

Coffees from a distinct region of a country are classed as a regional coffee. This type of coffee will have more dominant characteristics than a single origin coffee would.

There are many “famous” regional coffees from different parts of the world. To name a few:
  • Yirgacheffe; from the Northern highlands of Southern Ethiopian region, well renowned for its lemon citrus
  • Limu; from the western forests of Ethiopia. Many believe this region of the world to be the origin of coffee, although recent evidence has suggested that it may be Southern Sudan. This coffee is celebrated for its mocha flavours.
  • Antigua; from Southern Guatemala (not that island in the West Indies) is a bodied coffee with subtle brown sugars. This region has its own organization promoting regional coffees now.
  • Mysore; from Western India. Typically an earthy coffee with strong body.
These coffees are normally processed centrally, within the region they come from. Each region is slightly different in the way they process coffee (perhaps we will go in to the processing in a future post, since this is whole separate discussion). Also regional coffee represents a number of farmers, or at least identifies the more localized area that the farms are based.

Some countries, like Ethiopia and Columbia, harvests are done by micro farmers that harvest less than 1 acre of coffee. Each farmer’s harvest is then pooled by a regional processing plant, that processes the coffee and rewards the farmer by weight. A regional coffee is typically a co-operative of farms that are processed in a regional way and plant.

This category of coffee has slowly become a more popular choice in coffee, preferred over the single origin coffees. Single origin coffees and regional coffees are often intertwined or linked, depending on whom you are speaking too. When people mention a single origin coffee, regional coffees are often incorporated in that grouping.

These coffees deserve to be separated from the coffees identified as coffees of single origin. Accessing these coffees at a single processing plant before it goes to a large auction floor is becoming more and more feasible, making it possible to source these coffees direct. A coffee purchased off an auction floor at a countries bulk auction is really more a single origin than a regional coffee, since these lots are normally pooled together by the bulk buyers that purchase these coffees. This is changing, since over the past 2 decades there has been a trend where single origin coffees fetch lower prices than regional coffees. And that is good news for those that are looking for something a little more distinct, and good news for regional farmer too.

Estate, micro-lot or single harvest coffees

This category of coffee represents the cream of the industry (should perhaps be called the crema of the coffee industry). They have to be extraordinary to be recognized at this level, since for an estate to run its own auction or its own process means that the grower is starting to take pride and care in what they do.

These coffees produce some unbelievable flavours, since they normally represent a limited number of varietals if not a single one of Arabica (although on some level you can probably apply this to other genii of coffee). A quick summary of the differences:

  • Estate: Means that a coffee is from a single farm or farming area (consider there are a number of community based farms world-wide).
  • Micro-lot or single harvest: this is a single harvest from a single region of a farm. It could be one days harvest or one week’s harvest. But it normally represents the best harvest from that farm it can offer.
Some things to keep in mind here, many estates and farms will share processing and specifically drying plants, however they will separate their harvest from the other estates or farms (also called fincas in Central America).

Only estates that produce remarkable coffee will be able to sell their coffee as estate coffee. An estate that produces a remarkable single harvest will also offer the micro-lot or single harvest option too. Some farms run their own auctions, even online. The farms or agent that run these auction allow coffee roasters can pre-purchase samples and then put in a public or private bid for the coffee. More commonly though, there are agents that handle the selling of these coffees, sometimes employed by the farm or the processing plant. As you can gather from this process only really good coffee is sold this way, otherwise they would not sell.

These auctions lots sell at pricing that is sometimes astounding, with some of the most sort after coffees fetching prices of over R 3,000.00 a kilogram – un-roasted or green bean. But typically they are sold at between $6 and $20 a pounds FOB.

Coffee always finds a home

If an estate does not sell their coffee through their own drive, they will normally take it to a regional centre, who will try selling it as a regional coffee. If that coffee is still not sold, it will go to the countries bulk auction (where it may be re-graded). If the coffee is not sold at auction it will then be blended as a discount lot, and sold as a bulk blended lot (by the way this coffee will still be called single origin at this point). The bulk blended lot is the coffee that makes its way to the bulk blends and grades that will then make a deal. Although we have seen this coffee sold as single origin too, except the origin is then normally just identified by the port where the auction took place.

And soon some coffee will make it to your home, will knowing all this help? Well perhaps it will just help you be more informed next time.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Quaffee Newsletter v2 I1 - April 2013

Quaffee Newsletter

V2 I 3 April 2013

Welcome to the third Issue Quaffee Newsletter for 2013. Once again a very eventful month, ending with the good news that the Buitenverwachting grape harvest was very successful, and now we can make plans to move our roaster back to the little roastery we have come to call home. In the second week of March we had a record week of all time, and this we are sure is a positive sign, with our month on month growth strong. We are having a tasting opening on Sat 20th April, from 10am to 12am. Pop in taste some coffees, stay for a picnic, or lunch at Buiten. Regards, The Quaffee Team


Buitenverwachting event

We held our first coffee and food pairing event, and this was very successful, we have a little write up for those that want to read more, go here: Coffee and Food Paring April 2013. In summary we followed a world wide trend in pairing coffee with food, as most people do with wine, and the results were positive.
With the Sao Judas now sold out, we are soon offering the Cup of Excellence winner from Guatamala, El Injerto. We are slowly determining the ultimate roast profile that tingles our taste buds, and this should be finalized by the 20th. The good news is that we have 130kgs so this Limited Edition Coffee may last a little longer.el injerto The coffee from Finca El Injerto, is grown surrounded by a thousand-year-old virgin forest. This gives the farm its special climate and adequate conditions to have clean water that springs directly from the mountains. The coffee is grown between 1,500 and 2,000 m and has been placed high up in the Cup Of Excellence awards four years running, winning it in 2012. On Saturday 20 April, we will have 2 ways to taste the new coffee, between 10am and 12am at Buitenverwachting. So pop in.

Limited Edition Coffees

Crown Coffees

Although we do not sell any coffee grown in South Africa we were introduced to Crown Coffees. They will also be selling and allowing for tasting on the 20th April at the tasting day between 10am and 12am. Chad will be on hand to answer any questions. crown coffeeThe coffee in general is naturally sweet and has a rich caramel taste; this general taste has a lot of variants as the flavours vary according to the day on which the cherries were picked. There are now seven thousand trees in the orchard that were grafted from the mother tree, which was found growing naturally in the forest on the farm and is suspected to have arrived when the area was being used to grow tea and farmers experimented with coffee this means the mother plants genes would have been quite pure as they would not have been as mixed as the coffee trees of today.

Machine news / Open tasting day

This weekend I am off to a Jura event, and will have information for anyone that pops in on the 20th. We will have 3 Juras at the event, a filter machine and of course the Rancilio espresso machine and grinder. We are looking at doing 3 coffees using the Jura, one of the 3 brewed using the drip filter, and one via the Rancilio Espresso. The CoE winner will probably be available on the Rancilio.No RSVP is required, since it is open to all, but we will post the event onfacebook.


Thanks for reading, and you support. 2013 has started well and we appreciate all the good will you are spreading. You are our most important marketing assets, as we believe we prefer to spend money on the product rather than marketing, since our product is our marketing through our clients.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Coffee and food pairing at Buiten April 2013

We recently where involved in a coffee and food pairing. The pairing was run in partnership between the Coffee bloC at Buitenverwachting and the premier Buitenverwchting restaurant who supply the food to the Coffee bloC.

Coffee pairing event at Buiten April 2013
Coffee pairing event at Buiten April 2013

Quaffee roasted the coffee and paired it with the foods that Edgar the chef prepared.

The first pairing was a filter coffee brewed Yirgacheffe and a mini croissant with a mild cheese and quail egg.

The brew and coffee was selected to bring out the cheese and egg combo since the citrus in the Yirgacheffe would highlight this. Quaffee's Yirgacheffe had a mild lemon on the nose and hence this pairing worked well. The subtle tastes of the quail egg and cheese where complimented by the mild lemon.

People were asked to try the coffee sans milk and sugar with this combo to start, and results were successful.

The next pairing was a Burundi from Bututsi prepared as a cappuccino paired with a Sacherwürfel, which was small but rich. The pairing is a little more tradition as far as coffee is concerned and a comforting break. People could choose their way of enjoying the Burundi and it prepared the for the next Savoury pairing.

A Mexican from Coatapec Rösti with Mushrooms & crème Fraiche. This coffee was also served as a filter coffee so that the mushroom and creme fraiche was highlighted in the dish. This pairing was like a wine pairing style like the first pairing. Once again the newer concept of Savoury pairing created a lot of interest and feedback was positive.

Although we do not believe you need a time to drink grappa. The next pairing may have been a little early in the day for some. Buitenverwachting's grappa was pairing with Quaffee's Los Idolos served as an espresso. This combo was a classic and the Los Idolos made a great compliment to a well made grappa.

All in all it was a great day with very positive feedback. We will consider being involved with this kind of thing more often.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 2 Issue 2


Welcome to the second Issue Quaffee Newsletter for 2013.
We have had quite an eventful month, so this newsletter will get you up to date, and introduce some plans for the year.
Regards, The Quaffee Team



Our IR12 on the move
Firstly the big news is that we are roasting out of a temporary home. The wine harvest started and after concerns were raised about the possibility of the roasting affecting the wine, we moved our roaster up to where the old farms dairy was. All is relatively well up there, we just have a small extraction problem, but roasting continues on a roast to order basis as before, just Mzukisi has to clean his hair once a day ;).
We have in the meantime had the pleasure of our de-smoker arriving. Which we will be testing up at the old dairy, and once we are happy (and the wine makers too) we will move the roaster back home.
However we are also remodelling the roastery to have a more effective production area, and be a little more client facing. This however has resulted in us not being able to offer an open day this month at Buitenverwachting.
Next  month, we are looking at opening on most Saturdays even if it is only for 2 hours between 10am and 12am.

Wild Clover / Stellenbosch Morituri

During March we will be also opening the little roastery at Morituri based on the Wild Clover farm near Stellenbosch on a more permanent basis. They are already brewing beer on premises and also make good food. We aim to run that roastery at least one day a weekend, probably Sunday. Carl will be there and you can pop in say hi and get some fresh roasted coffee from him.
We will also be having roast your own days there. If you are interested in this why not edit your profile to make sure "Home roaster" is selected, and we will invite you out there, when we are having these. The idea is,  you can purchase a kg of green, and use the roaster to roast it, under supervision. Simply make sure your preferences are set, if you have not done so already

Limited Edition Coffees

The last of the Sao Judas is available, and the we are next going to offer the Cup of Excellence winner from Guatamala. We will send details of this coffee to those that have selected that they would like to be notified of Limited Edition coffees. Also on this note, we have some exciting news that we are looking at adding to the success of the Limited Edition range. Once of the partners we work with, is identifying a collection of very special coffees. They will need to score a minimum of ninety on the Speciality grade, and then will be sold in 20kg lots on a first come first serve basis, we hope to get in quite a few this year.


The Coffee bloC at Buiten has now received 3 rave reviews from different publishers. We have a coffee of the week there, which is always one of our special coffees, and this seems to be quite popular. So pop in have a snack and try the coffee of the week, they way you like it.

Machine news



For those that do not follow us on facebook, we are now selling Ms Silvia, the Rancilio home espresso machine that is as good as a standard commercial machine. We are selling the machine and the doserless grinder, plus all the extras that make it a home Barista's dream.
Also for a little more you can get Barista training on it at home, so you can make the perfect espresso, and even do your own latte art if you are interested in that sort of thing.


The Jura range's price has been the same for over 3 years now, but with the rand losing as much as it has these prices are set to increase by 10% on March 18 this year. So if you are looking for an excuse to take the plunge, then look at and choose.


Thanks for reading, and you support. 2013 has started well and we appreciate all the good will you are spreading. You are our most important marketing assets, as we believe we prefer to spend money on the product rather than marketing, since our product is our marketing through our clients.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Quaffee Quality Coffee - Newsletter Vol2 Issue 1 Feb 2013

Welcome to the first Issue Quaffee Newsletter for 2013.<br />
<br />
With 2013 well on it way, our news is all about what is in place for the year.<br />
<br />
Regards,&nbsp;<span style="color:#008000;">The Quaffee Team</span><br />
<hr /><br />
<h2 style="text-align: center;">By Invitation Only</h2>
<h3 style="text-align: left;">Open Days</h3>
<img align="right" alt="Cupping at Quaffee Buitenverwachting" height="241" src="" style="height: 241px; line-height: 14px; color: rgb(0, 0, 238); width: 250px; margin: 4px;" width="250" />
<p>Next Saturday 9th February 2013, will be our last <span style="color:#00cc99;"><em>free</em></span> of charge Open Day. We have decided to start charging from March so that
we can invite guest speakers, and provide each attendant one of the coffees we taste. Also we will be only sending out invites for open days to those that want to receive
them. We will post the event on our Facebook page too. Since our newsletter only goes out when there is news we will just mention the next open day in the newsletter.</p>
<p>So how do you request to receive the invite. Simply make sure your preferences on this news letter list are set to be invited, if you have not done so already. If you
are a big fan of letting Facebook notify you about events then make sure you like us on Facebook here: <a href="">like</a>. </p>
<br /><h3 class="null" style="text-align: left;">Limited Edition Coffees</h3>
Also by invitation only will be notification of our limited edition coffees. In the middle of Feb we will release our second Limited Edition coffee. This coffee was
2012 winner of Cup of Excellence (CoE) from Guatamala. Once again <a href="">update your profile or subscribe to our news letter</a>, to make sure you
get notification of the limited coffee, and also check the our <a href="">currently available coffees list</a>, which we update regularly.<br />
<hr />
<br /><h2>
<span style="float:right"><img src="" width="100px" /></span>The Coffee bloC at Buitenverwachting has been selling our coffees in bean for a few months. We make sure that the stock there is never older than 8 days. In January we purchased a separate grinder for them so that they can have a coffee of the week. This lets you taste that coffee in the preparation&nbsp;method you prefer. Then you can order it to take home. We also are happy to announce that Wezo is working there, he is a talented Barista, and produces each coffee to an exacting standard.<br />
<br />
The Coffee bloC, is to the left of the wine tasting, or follow the <a href="" target="_blank">find us link </a>to find the roastery and just before you get to us you will see the entrance to the Coffee bloC on the right.&nbsp;Buitenverwachting&nbsp;is near the top of Klein Constantia Road, Constantia.<br />
<br />
<hr />
<br />
Jura News</h2>
<a href=""><img align="left" alt="Jura C90 One Touch" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 100px;" width="100" /></a>The Jura C9 has been replaced by the Jura C90. It is basically the same machine, with an upgraded grinder and now the professional frother comes standard. The good news is that the price is the same.<br />
<br />
We are also expecting 2 new Juras the XJ90 and the replacement to the Z7, which will be called the Z9, which add a Video screen to each. The XJ90 is a commercial machine for canteens and offices with the look of the J9. There are some service offerings around it, however these will only be available in April 2013<br />
<br />
<hr />
<br />
Thanks for reading, and you support. 2013 has started with a bang for us. We had a near record week in week 3, and believe that from a great base, great things come. We anticipate continually sourcing the best coffees we can, and will probably have some exclusive coffees during 2013. You are our most important marketing assets, as we believe we prefer to spend money on the product rather than marketing, since our product is our marketing through our clients.</div>
<br />
<a href="">update your profile or subscribe to our news letter</a>
<a title="Constantia's Coffee Raostery" href="">Constantia's Coffee Roastery</a>

Monday, 28 January 2013

Veld fires claim Telkom cables - repaired

We love going local. However sometimes there is a risk. The Veld fires in the Drakenstein destroyed communication cables and now our web site and email have no way of telling the outside world how to find them.
This means that until further notice Quaffee's web site is done and their emails wont get to them. The good news is that their phones still work, and their administration email is working, so you can email them there.

As soon as the website and email are up we will update this post.

email at:
tel: 021 794-2988

Update: Date: 28 Jan time 15:35 WE ARE UP again, all services have returned to normal.

Update: Date 29 Jan 2013 13:00 We are down again, not sure if the problem with temporary solution. Will update if we are up again.

Update: Date 29 Jan 15:45 - We are back up again.