Search This Blog

Blog Archive

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Quick notes on Pressure Profiling

What is it

Pressure profiling has been all the buz since 2010. What is it?

Essentially it is the ability to apply different pressures to the espresso pump, and hence to the coffee. Typically commercial espresso machines run at 9 bar (your tyres are typically around 2 bar). A pressure profile machine is able to change pressure during the brew depending on the barista's requirement, or whoever sets up the machine.

One thing worth nothing It does appear that it can be used to facilitate extraction of particularly lighter roasted coffees, since the pressure at particular stages in the brew can affect how soluble the grinds become, or how well you extract the coffee.
pressure profile graphs from perfect daily grind
Here are some quick notes from my experience and reading blog posts and various web pages:

Stage 1 – pre-brew/pre-infusion

First contact is very important. Too much pressure causes channelling (for those American people this is spelt with a single "l" for some reason), which results in uneven extraction. Too little pressure for too short a time cause extraction to be delayed.

So for the pre-brew 2-4 bar is recommended. For how long is the debate and dependent on grind and coffee, however a range of between 4-9 seconds seems to be a good place to start.

Remember that during pre-brew / pre-infusion no coffee pours out of the machine. The pre-brew is essentially allowing the coffee to swell and take enough water to be at its best to extract coffee. The aim of the pre-brew done is to limit the migration of fines. If they migrate too much they end up at the bottom of the basket which slows the flow, and makes the coffee bitter. The longer the pre-infusion (to a point) the faster the flow rate. A recommend recipe of 20g puck is 8 seconds at 2 bar. We found for a 18g puck 2 bar needed about 8 seconds, and 4 bar needed about 7 seconds.

Stage 2 – start extraction

If the pre-infusion is successful the flow of water through the cake or puck will be controlled. By controlled we mean it will flow gently then slowly accelerate. This is worth considering when setting the pressure at this point. After the pre-brew pressure is increased, to the maximum for the brew and normally held there for a few seconds at full pressure.

Once again reduction of channelling is the aim, increasing extract of the essential characteristics of the coffee. Too long at this pressure the stream will run to fast, especially if the pre-brew was long. We used 9 bar at 5-7 seconds, for our one coffee.

Stage 3 – the finish

Final phase is to ramp down leading to the end of extraction. Since the puck density has decreased significantly at this point, the rule of thumb is: the longer the ramp up at the beginning of extraction, the more dramatic the decrease in pressure should be now.

If the flow is accelerated too much then the pressure is too high. You want the flow to still be controlled, but perhaps a little faster then it was at Stage 2. Too much flow destroys the good work in extracting the characteristics of the coffee.


If you use pressure profiling you are able to get your grind finer than with a traditional machine. The calibrated laser cut baskets may cause inconsistent extraction. There is some discussion about the rule of thirds, where each stage determines the success of each successive stage. So something going wrong in the first start will affect the flow in the third. From Home Barista “Scott (Guglielmino of La Marzocco) mentioned during our discussion was that they had observed that the biggest factor in determining how a shot would flow in the last 2/3 of the shot was the pressure profile of the first 1/3 of the shot (roughly). Perhaps counter-intuitively, a gentle pressure ramp tends to yield a faster flow rate later in the shot, whereas a swift pressure ramp tends to yield a tightly restricted flow during the last 2/3 of the shot.

It does appear that the type of basket you use can cause varying results. So try a few including the factory fitted one.

Having spent a bit of time setting pressure profiling up, this is a very valuable tool. If you know what you want out of your coffee, getting it is possible with various grind sizes and doses. The control you have over how the water extracts the flavours and body from the coffee is quite an experience. Since water is different everywhere this sort of control really opens the world of coffee up in ways that are almost hard to fathom.

Bunna Pressure Profile M100


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fair Trade and Direct Trade - our perspective

The FairTade debate is a long a hard debate, especially when it comes to something as complex as coffee.

FairTrade’s objective was to increase the living wage of the farmer / grower and their staff. In a first world country that is a great objective. However in a coffee that is heavily dependent on a complex system of 6 to 8 middle men before a product is produced, this vision becomes hazy at best.

So how does Fair Trade in coffee work? Or should I rather say how is it supposed to work. Let us assume that the Fairtrade you are talking about the Fairtrade international (called FLO) or the Word Fair Trade Organization, which are similar. Rather than the US Fair Trade or as they call it Fair World Project.

FLO in coffee is an end user to producer program. Coffee has essentially sold at a speculative price (or C market price) or a processor/producer set price (which we will get to later). FLO is a levy applied to speculative pricing, or pricing fixed to speculative pricing. A roaster or importer can elect to pay a levy, let us work on 50c, to the Europe based exporter (almost all coffee in South Africa is sourced via these agents), who to be certified then pays 5c to the FLO and 45c to the exporter, that is local to origin. They then pay 5c to the local FLO and 40c to the regional agent who then pays 5c to the regional FLO and 35c to the mill, the mill then pay their 5c to their FLO certifier and 30c to the processor of the coffee.

At this point the process stops. Since the processor is then supposed to distribute the money to the people they get the coffee from. But the people that bring the coffee are either cherry transporters, or are the 100s and sometimes thousands of farmers that they work with. You need to process a lot of coffee before the 30c that is paid as a levy can actually be in a divisible enough amount to make it into the farmers pocket. And the research on the ground has found that in fact it never does. Even if the farmers form a co-operative and the co-operative then raise money to make their own processing plant, and sometimes even a mill, this small levy really only helps build infrastructure, with the hope that it will increase sales, and hence increase money in the pocket of the grower.

Now let’s get to the point. So we as Quaffee took about 2 years to figure out that Fair Trade was not really assisting the people that actually grow and process the coffee as much as it was assisting the FairTrade organization itself. And we are not alone, others have figure this out.

So how do roasters, like ourselves, that are passionate about sustainability and rewarding the grower get past this? Well we source as close to the processor and hence co-operative and grower as possible, or use a direct trade model (see picture below). We work with people that are local in the countries, that reward farmers producing a quality product with a higher price. To explain that further the coffee futures market (a publicly traded market mentioned above) sits at around $1.40 per pound at the moment (25 Nov 2015). The Fairtrade levy on that coffee is currently about 50c.

We work with the local agents and they add 20-30c to help source the coffee on their price, and we pay them from $3.20 (yes more than double) to our latest order which is $20.15 per pound. Thus rewarding the farm with a better than liveable wage. We also publish the prices we charge for the coffee online for the people we work with, and the end user to see. We publish costs online (see: our blog post: so that the farmers can see what we land the coffee at, and we included all the costs associate with importing. Where we can we work with grower and producer crop and production cycles telling them 4 -6 months in advanced what we need. In some cases this is a year before they pick so they can allocate coffee for us. The Colombian coffees we have are sourced using the relationship model from Virmax who are the Colombian agent, that is why we have a blend called relationship which is a blend of those coffees.

So what are our direct trade coffee? Well actually all of our 4 star and above coffees, with the exception of our Cuban coffee.
Bird rock direct vs Fair Trade

Basic steps in calibrating a grinder for espresso 

Calibrating a grinder so that you can pull a relatively regular espresso should be done as often as possible. Depending on the grinder and the espresso machine, calibration should be done at least three times a day, ideally. Before the morning rush, before the lunch rush and before the evening rush are good times. It should also be done as a roasted coffee ages, when the coffee blend or origin changes, and also if it is a new roast. However this is in an ideal world. If any espresso station aims to calibrate at least once a week, this will go a long way to improve the quality of the espresso being pulled.

Before you begin

Before you start this is what you need:
  • The coffee with which you're calibrating the espresso grinder
  • Assuming it is a doserless grinder with a timer, then an understanding of the grinder, viz. how to adjust its grind size from coarse to fine, and how to adjust the timer setting (get the manual from the internet if required).
  • A scale that can fit the filter basket that is being used in the espresso machine. Ideally one that can fit the portafilter as well.
  • Ideally a second scale to measure the dose of the brewed cup. You can use one scale but this takes longer.
  • A timer (a phone is fine usually).
  • You also need to understand the capacity of your filter basket. If it is a calibrated basket it will have a grammage written on the side of the basket (or a code you can look up). If not then you need to assume that it is an uncalibrated basket. A double basket takes 14g and a single takes 7g. A double is about a thumb knuckle's depth from top to bottom. A single is either shallower, or has two parts in the basket -- one for the grinds, and one for stopping the tamper. This is a generalization, however.  It is best to use a calibrated or precision basket like a Strada, VST or IMS for accuracy of extraction.
  • Preferably standard items like cups and tamper, a mat if possible etc.
Portafilter with an 18g Portafilter with an 18g IMS calibrated basket and a 7g or single uncalibrated basket

Setup of grind size

Once you have all your goodies, set up your grind for fineness or coarseness.
  1. Using your grinder, grind a portion of coffee at least at the dose size your basket recommends. You can do this into the basket in the portafilter (if your scale can take both), or you can do this into the basket or a separate container.
  2. After taring your scale, adjust the grammage (with a spoon) within an accuracy of about .1g or 100mg.
  3. Tamp the coffee. Get ready to pull a shot.
  4. Place the scale on the espresso machine, tare it with the cup (or as the scale recommends) and then insert the portafilter and pull an espresso. You are aiming to pull between 1.5 times the dose and 2 times the dose, in 25 seconds ideally, not shorter than 15 seconds,and not longer than 45 seconds. Anything over 60 seconds adds no value to the brew.
  5. You want to see slow infusion. Within 4 seconds the coffee should start running out of the portafilter into the cup.
    1. If nothing comes out after 10 seconds, your grind is too fine.
    2. If it runs too quickly, your grind is too coarse.
    3. If it begins slowly, accelerating a little as it extracts, creating almost a gentle "S", what some call mouse tails, you have hit the spot.
  6. If you nailed it, feel free to try it again. Otherwise continue to Setup of timer on grinder. If not, adjust the grinder (grind out remainders from the previous grind so as to avoid mixing) and repeat the above steps until you are happy. This requires patience and concentration.
mouse tails in espresso Example of mouse tails in espresso

Setup of timer on the grinder

Now that you have your grind size setup, you need to set the timer on the grinder to make sure it is dosing the correct grams as per your calibration. You may need to check your manual. Some grinders are not as precise as others and dose more or less. As long as it is within 100mg, you can settle for this. Increase the timer to increase the dose and decrease it to decrease the dose. Save between settings. Once set, check the espresso again. Remember the ideal dose of the final espresso and timing.

Some notes

This is a basic guide and it does not cover the various tweaks you can make to extract more or less. It does not cover the solubility percentage or ideal end dose. You can read more about this on the Barista hustle blog. You can read more here:; >/espresso-recipes-understanding-yield/; /analyzing-espresso-recipes-strength/. Or watch the video that summarizes these:

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 4 Issue 4 Nov 2015

What a year! We hope you’ve had a good one and with six weeks left, enjoy the rest of it. It’s been a good year for us, one of change, a year in which we are happy to have been able to increase the quality of the coffee we source and produce. 

We have tried to reduce the content this time, since our last newsletter was long, and we received a number of suggestions to make it shorter. We have now included links for items for further reading. 

News from the Coffee Industry

It’s tough to summarise all the developments that have taken place over the last two or three months. We have continually posted coffee new updates and articles of interest on our facebook and twitter feeds, so like and follow us.

A short summary of the year is that there has been a general surge in scientific approaches to improving coffee in the high-end and specialty side of the industry, with important research looking at planting, growing, processing, packing, roasting and brewing.

To share this information, and hopefully add to the pool of knowledge ourselves, we have co-founded a podcast called Coffee Brewmance – which you can follow on Twitter or Facebook and listen to on the website or via Podcast on iPhone or Sticther on Android . We have a total of over 20 interviews lined up which we will release as and when they’re done.

We’ve put up a recommended reading and listening list as well on the Coffee Brewmance site for those of you who’d like to go deeper into this sort of thing.
Limu Kaffa forest

Quality Improvement

At Quaffee we continually try and improve the quality of the coffee offering. Quality is relative so what you believe is good today, may not cut it tomorrow as you may tasted and sampled better. As we sample and are offered better and better coffees, what we consider a minimum standard of quality takes a step up the rung in the ladder of quality. Of course each rung of quality does come with a price premium, which we believe is worth paying. As we source coffees closer to the producer we are able to access these higher quality coffees. Working with agents and producers that give back through education and living wages helps to promote the full cycle of production and this takes a premium.
As testimony to our conviction, we’ve posted a full summary of all the coffees we’ve imported this year, read more here.

Since our last quick update newsletter, we have released the Honduras Erapuca and Brazilian Pântano. We have also made updates to our Bunna and Wildly Organic blends, improving their quality. Next year we’ll run out of the current Serena grade of Antigua from Guatemala and do not plan on sourcing it again. We believe the current coffee is a rung lower than we are happy to offer so have not sourced this coffee again. We are also considering dropping our Armonizar blend (at least on the website), since it includes a coffee we feel is of to lower a quality.

Remember our latest list of coffees is always available online at

Growth in Domestic Market

The domestic market has been our biggest source of growth. This sector of our client base is driven to choose something they enjoy, prepared to pay the extra R1 a cup premium for a better tasting cup, that a café or office may not be comfortable with.

Our sales to the passionate self-brewer have almost doubled this year. And some are consuming this coffee at work too, shunning the low quality stuff their company hand out. This is an exciting market to find growth in and we receive a lot more feedback from the sophisticated domestic user, and they keep us on our toes, which we love.

Pour over

Over the last six months we have seen an increasing interest in the manual filter brew, also known as pour over. Our most popular are the Hario V60 and the Chemex. We have now published a web page dedicated to these methods, and will be holding stock for those who would like to try them. These methods are great to use. It is easy to play with dose and water quantities and achieve different tastes from the same coffees. We recommend a scale for accuracy in your playing.

Read more here: maybe an elusive year end gift can be found here.


With the Rand having lost almost a quarter of its value this year, as a result of the dip in emerging markets, we anticipate price increases in the coming year. This will affect the Jura range first since there will be a price increase effective 1 Jan 2016.

New Site

In partnership with the Vineyard Hotel, we will be opening a new roasting site, scheduled for the 15th of December. We will have a small space at the front of the hotel and they’ll be opening a specialty coffee focused café as well. Stay updated through our Facebook and Twitter.

Closing Times This Year

Our last scheduled delivery for the year falls on the 21st of December. Thereafter, we’ll be doing half-days at Buitenverwachting while setting up the Vineyard. We will still dispatch coffee from the 22nd December to the 4th of January via courier. Standard operations will resume from the 5th of January 2016.


We’d like to give a big thanks to everyone. Everyone who helps spread the word about great coffee, all those moved enough to support us and the people who place quality in the cup above everything else. Our next event will be next year, and after the success of the last one we have some hands on brewing planned.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Price Transparency for Quaffee's Coffee Imports Year 2015

Full transparency of imports 2015

Full transparency disclosure for Quaffee's coffee imports 2015:

Embeded Sheet below

OR see Quaffee Imports 2015

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Exciting news about Limu

If you have been receiving our newsletter, you would have read that we have been sourcing higher quality East African coffees. One of these coffees we are very excited about is Limu. We have not had access to a high quality Limu for a while, and so Limuhas not been as Quaffable as our other coffees. Limu is the area where most heirloom Arabica varietals are found in the world, and to not have a great coffee from this region is - to be frank - an embarrassment. We had been forced to offer a coffee that we do not consider Specialty Grade, just run of the mill commercial grade coffee.

So after tasting a few we selected the Limu Konjo from Falcon Specialty (we hope to be visiting the area later this year or early next year). This coffee has cost us almost 3 times the price that we have paid in the past, but we believe it is worth it.

It is a great coffee, and we it will be available from the middle of next week, when we will also publish info on the coffee (tasting notes and more details on its processing).

Remember that our latest coffee prices and offering are always to be found at

We will be tasting this coffee at our event on the 10 Oct, so if you are keen to taste it book here Book for Coffee tasting and education event 10 Oct.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

New Colomiban microlot available

Jaime Casallas with his parabolic drying beds.

New microlot

Jaime Casallas now available

We have a very limited amount of the a new microlot from Huila, Colombia. Rather than wax lyrical about it, read more at: - and you can read about it there too.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Event Survey Results

We had a great response from our survey and decided to publish these results.

Event time

It seems Saturday is a winner here, we are very limited with space at Buitenverwachting, and can really only do Saturday events while there is still low season. This means essentially we can only do Saturday events from May until mid October. So our first event will be 10 Oct 2015 - RSVP here if it is not already booked.
We did not that very few people selected events at their place of work.

Preferred Event Type

We were surprised to see tasting so popular, so we will include this at all our events, and perhaps even include our new tasting sheet, and methodology that we have developed.

Coffee Brewing Events

For the coffee brewing focused events it appeared most people just want to observe, we will honour that but feel it is important that people get involved, so will be guiding people through the brewing processes we will do at an event.

Coffee Tasting

We were very surprised with this result that most people would prefer to see a standard coffee cupping. these are quite time intensive so we are going to do our best to included these at each event.


In summary we are going to try and run events that combine a little of each option, and see how that goes. If people then would prefer specific event than we will see how it goes. As already stated we will be running our first event in 3 weeks time. We have to limit the space so RSVP soon.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Monthly Notes from Market Reports released in Aug 2015

Below are just a few notes from the latest coffee news articles we have access too.

The coffee C-market price moved an a narrow range this month, starting at $120.46-142.60 and ending at $114.70-137.80. However all developing world currencies suffered, good for the exporting countries bad for the importing countries (like us). this price as we know is way below most producers cost, with only Brazil and Vietnamese markets being able to bulk produce at these prices at a small profit.

Perez-MolinaWith Brazil exports being largely flat year on year, there is a lot of resistance to the current C-market price, and many farmers are requesting bail outs, and refusing to sell at the current prices. The decreasing Real has helped them, but the crop of 2014 is basically complete, and it is anticipated that there will be resistance in getting the C-Market grade coffees to market.

In Guatemala while coffee news has been slow the President Otto Perez Molina has been forced to resign in response to a customs fraud scandal. Many believe it is good news for the country, but sometimes the devil you know... How this will affect the coffee price, is not clear at this point. Their exports have around 9% higher year on year so far.

Their southerly neighbour Honduras, is waiting for its new crop but this month the Economic Development Ministry in Honduras announced plans to encourage coffee farmers within districts hardest hit by the Roya or Leaf Rust infestation, to look to start replacing coffee with cocoa trees post new crop harvest and during next year. We did post a story on this on our twitter and facebook accounts, read more here...

 One of our favourite origins Colombia, is in fear of the El Nino effect hitting the country before Feb next year. The demand for Colombian coffee in the local market has slowed, and perhaps this is what spurned the Private Coffee Exporters Association of Colombia (which represents exporters of in excess of 60% of Colombian coffee exports) to voice its opinion that the Government should lift some of its restrictive rules on the export of coffees. Presently there is a ruling that only quality fully washed arabica coffees can be exported from the country, with all other qualities restricted to domestic consumption and the production of exportable value added soluble coffees. This would not really affect us, since we only source the higher quality Arabicas from Colombia.

In Peru, which is normally impeded by transport issues, the unusual rains have prevented harvesting, and associations have had to pay way above the C-market price to get coffee at all, since coffee stocks are low.

 Mexico, El Salvador and other Central American countries are also being affect by the unusual weather, which is delaying the development of ripe cherries

 Over in Africa, the origin everyone loves to love Kenya prices have been increasing with various auctions. Spirits are probably still high after the Obama visit in late July. However the coffee industry is slowly representing a smaller amount of total exports, and only accounted for just over 5% of the combined value of the top ten foreign exchange earners of the country for the year. We are okay with our current Peaberry lot which has been selling well.

The largest exporter in Africa: Ethiopia  (and largest consumer) has been building on a solid reputation, and the increase in channels to market has assisted producers with the low C-market price preventing the ECX from releasing to much coffee at the low prices, despite the large volume of coffee that appears to be available.

 Otherwise besides Asia there is little news out of Africa.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Comment on Excerpt of article on CoE

Most of us coffee drinkers do not really appreciate how we get our favourite brew at prices that are only sustainable in a world that accepts the poverty that the coffee is grown in. To use Konrad Brits words "grown by the poor drunk by the rich".

Although we at Quaffee  have only been just dipping our toe in the relationship and coffee direct trade market, we believe that the price even we pay only covers basic costs. The C-Market is a joke, the only countries that are able to produce bulk coffee at that price are Vietnam and Brazil and even there wage increases are putting pressure on the large growers.

While we all pat out our back about how well we can pull an espresso and pour milk, and even how well we can manipulate a roast curve, there are very few organizations out there that are driving this sort of competition for the producers, so that they can get real rewards. The Alliance for Coffee Excellence program that is best known as CoE or (Cup of Excellence) has been driving this quality on an origin level, and we do support the program. We plan to always carry at least one CoE coffee at a time. (btw: To become a basic member is $250, without samples, we have been piggy backing off other members to get our coffees, perhaps it is time for us to take the plunge :))

Any way this post is about an article that appears in the latest Roast Magazine (September/October 2015). This article is on the CoE reward and auction and its real impact on the producers. Just take a look at the graph they have in the article (I hope the do not mind we dumping it here, if they do I will have to remove it). The graph compares Honduras and Brazil average prices achieved in the CoE auctions and it is quite staggering the difference in prices being achieved. The dotted line is the traditional commercial or C price.
CoE vs Market

It is time for us as coffee drinkers to be more responsible and support programs like these.

Get the magazine and read the article it is a good read, in fact if you love coffee and coffee roasting there magazine we believe is a de facto requirement.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Quality Coffee - consumer perception study.

What an interesting video of the consumer perception of Quality Coffee. A number of interesting facts in this video.

 The conclusion lists these points, but make your own conclusions:
  • Low Quality (LQ) Coffee is consumed faster than High Quality (HQ) Coffee
  • HQ environment (cafe) had a higher preference for HQ than consumers
  • HQ does not diffuse passively to consumers
  • Half of the consumers who identified HQ vs LQ preferred LQ
  • Differentiated barriers for HQ preference
Interesting there is a belief that continued exposure to HQ coffee will scue this result, and they are going to do a study on that.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 4 Issue 3 Aug 2015

Our newsletters have always discussed our offerings, viz. coffees, products and events. While this is great, our passion for all things coffee does not come through in these newsletters. So every time we have news from now on we will make an effort to have something that is more informational, that will have relevance to the rest of the news. This will mean those that are just interested in coffee can also get benefit, without having to feel the newsletter is driven by marketing language.
So this newsletter will start with a discussion on how the coffee system works in Ethiopia, or how coffee actually gets out of Ethiopia. Then there is an update on our range and an introduction of a new concept we are working on. It will make the newsletter a significantly longer, but we hope you prefer this format, and anyway we only produce a handful a year.

We are always try to improve our offering, looking at the coffee we like least in our offering and tasting coffees, either from the same origin or a different one to replace the coffees that no longer excite us.

So get a cup of Quaffee and settle down to read.

Ethiopia and Coffee

History and Geography

Ethiopia has the oldest coffee culture in the world. Although Arabica coffee has its roots traced to Southern Sudan and Eastern Ethiopia, it is widely accepted that the Ethiopian’s were the first to consume coffee, probably originally as a fruit but then the seed in animal fat, and eventually roasting or toasting it.

Ethiopia is a large land locked country (only slightly smaller than South Africa, 1.13 million km² vs 1.22 million km²). Like South Africa it has diverse geographical subregions, from dry sandy desert in the north (lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, is in the northwest where the river flows south and then towards Sudan before heading north to meet the White Nile) to the lush tropical jungles in the South West. Most of Ethiopia comprises of mountain ranges, plateaus and high valleys between these mountains. It is the only country that was never colonized and has over 80 different languages of which Amharic is predominantly used.

Interesting Facts

Some interesting fact about coffee in Ethiopia:

  • A large portion of the coffee produced in Ethiopia is consumed by the local market, making them quite unique as a coffee producing country.
  • There are more Arabica varietals in Ethiopia than in the rest of the world. They are normally just grouped together as either typica or heirloom varietals.
  • Since the coffee production has a long history, the coffees are also processed differently in each region. The more arid region in the north process using the dry method, while the south prefers a wet method. That said, recently there has been some mixture of production, especially in the south where you can get both wet and dry processed coffees
  • Most farmers are small lot farmers, some just pick from the forests.
  • Large estates exist but most of them are state owned.
  • While Ethiopia is only the fifth largest producer of coffee, and the largest in Africa, it is the third largest producer of Arabica.
  • Ethiopia and Colombia are widely regarded as the two most preferred origins when it comes to coffee. They are the only origins that Quaffee always has multiple coffees from.

How is coffee sold in Ethiopia to the rest of the world

Besides the local market coffee is also sold to the rest of the world, thank goodness, since there is so much good stuff grown here. There are only three ways Ethiopian coffee is sold to the world:

  • Through the ECX
  • Through unions
  • For large farmers direct to the worldwide market


Most of the coffee in Ethiopia is sold through the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange or ECX. The basics of how it is sold is shown below:


The major advantage for the ECX is to protect the traditional farmer by providing a single platform for all produce to be sold. The major problem is that although the ECX knows all the details of the coffee, it is designed to sell all commodities, not just coffee. As a result important details like where the coffee comes from, is not released to the purchaser. Also, most importantly, beans from high quality growers and regions or processing plants are not singled out even though it can be cupped the day before, it is just sold as a commodity, graded normally on size and shape, like all other commodities.

Traditionally we have had no choice but to purchase Ethiopian coffees that were originally sold using the Commodity exchange. As you can imagine we would prefer to purchase using a method that reflects coffee quality, and gives back properly to the grower and producer that is driven by quality.

In 2010 under the ECX there is a newer coffee specific solution called the DST (Direct Specialty Trade) auction, which sell traceable coffee via the ECX. So far very little coffee is sold this way, but we have gotten access to some.


Due to the problems around quality and reward with the ECX, coffee growers are allowed to form Farmer’s co-operatives and unions, so that they can choose how to process (importantly), grade and sell their coffees. This has allowed higher quality coffees to be sold directly, and for farmers and processors to be rewarded for the coffees they are able to produce that are of extraordinary quality. Although it has similarities to the ECX system you can see the differences below:


The main difference is that the unions have a vested interest in producing higher quality coffee, since then they will sell it to the Private Exporters. If they are not producing a quality product that can demand top dollar then the coffee just ends up back in the ECX system.

Ethiopia and Quaffee

As far as Quaffee is concerned we are driven to purchase as much coffee as direct as possible. We want the quality of the coffee we source to always improve. This means that for us we a driven to work with systems that give us traceability to the farmer, so we can be assured of the quality, and reward it financial. Yes we taste the coffees first, but we have learnt over the last almost decade that the best coffee is traceable. The logic is simple: if the coffee is to be bought as direct as possible, traceability is a requirement. And traceability means accountability and this drives quality.

This means, as far as is possible in Ethiopia, we would prefer dealing with Exporters that deal with the Unions or the new DST system. We have already had huge success with the Yirga Cheffee that we were able to source directly earlier this year, and now we are happy to say that we have two more coffees we are getting using this system.

The results have been mainly positive, with about 5% of our clients preferring the old style that we used to offer. We suspect that this has been due to the packaging and bulk blended nature the ECX uses, which tends to result in a more undistinctive pre-blended taste. For those that like last year’s crop to taste like the years before and the years before, this is a way that this can be achieved. The ECX packaging has traditionally used the old simple hessian bag with no extra seal between the coffee and the world, so that when the coffee travels the most volatile compounds in the coffee are naturally diminished.

This has convinced us to invest in the higher quality products, when we can. At the moment we have 3 coffees in the older style hessian bags. And one of them we are replacing with the new style higher quality product, Limu.

Our new coffees

We have a number of new coffees, some on their way and some just about to be released.

To be released soon

  • New Microlot – we have a new microlot to replace the Franco Garzon. Also from Colombia, this one comes from Jaime Casallas, and it represents the best pickings of 2014’s crop on Finca El Prado which is based in the Huila Department in Colombia. It is a great coffee and since we only have 35kgs of this so we expect it to go fast.
  • Rwanda COE – While we did not participate on the auction we have been fortunate enough to source this through Charlie at Cultivar coffee. We will only release this Cup of Excellence lot once we are sold out of the current Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence we have from Genaro Herrera

On its way

  • Brazilian Yellow Caturra – We have done the Sertãozinho for almost three years now. We were unable to secure this year’s crop so we were looking around for a Yellow Bourbon we felt was as good if not better. We believe the Brazil - Fazenda Pântano - Paraiso - Pulped Natural suited us well. This will be the first of the new releases to make it on to the offering list.
  • Coffee from Cuba – We will release this in September. This is the first coffee we have ever offered from Cuba, and we were relatively impressed with this coffee. We have a single bag on its way, and full details will be available once we have developed a roast profile we like.
  • El Salvador Santa Leticia – To replace our current Las Delicias from El Salvador we selected the pacamara from Santa Leticia, it will probably only be available towards the end of the year.
  • Ethiopian Guji Liya – We have never done a coffee from this region of Ethiopia, when we tasted it we just had to have it. We only have 2 bags and it will only be available as a single origin.
  • Ethiopian Limu Konjo – We are finally getting a Limu we are happy with. We have been fortunate enough to be introduced to Falcon specialty coffee, which have amazing direct contacts with the producers. This Limu comes direct from Woreda in the East Welega zone of the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The coffee comes via the DSP model and is fully traceable. It is called “Konjo” which means beautiful in the local language. Once this coffee arrives we will no longer offer the older bulk ECX Limu.
  • Honduras Finca Altos De Erapuca – We are excited about this coffee. All of us loved it. With our Marquez coming to an end, we will replace it with this coffee. Look out for it in future posts

One of the coffees we also have on its way is our very popular Decaf. We used to sell 90kgs of decaf a year, since offering the La Serrania, our decaf sales have tripled. A natural processed decaf processed at source is rare, and one that tastes as good as the La Serrania is even rarer.


The Bunna blend is on its 6th generation. The blend consists of 4 of our best African coffees. Currently the blend is a good deal, with only one of the coffees being a three star complexity coffee. With the new Limu coming the coffee will be a four star complexity blend and will therefore increase in price. However it will really be the best of Africa we have.

We will be introducing another entry level blend to take in the price bracket Bunna used to be. The new blend will be called Changanya (which means blend in Swahili), and will have one of the quality Africans, and two other coffees that come in the traditional hessian bags.

Brewing labs/training

Geoffrey Brink has joined us and he will be running brewing labs / training. We will be doing 1 hr labs on a single brewing method on week days or week nights (depending on demand). They should start in September. Drop us a line if you are interested in attending.


We are now open on Saturdays at Buitenverwachting from 10:30 until 13:30.


The information in the section about of Ethiopia is a collection of particulars from conversations with Mike Riley from Falcon Specialty coffee (where the new Ethiopians are being sourced from), documents available on the ECX website, an article on Ethiopia coffee published by William boots, and information expressed in Has Bean pod casts from Steven Leighton. General information was also provided by the ICO web site and Wiki for the geographical information.


Thanks once again for reading the newsletter and your fantastic support, your support has enabled us to offer great coffee to you and fellow coffee lovers.

If you want to make sure a friend gets these invites and newsletters, then forward this newsletter to a friend: *|FORWARD|*

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Green coffee Chemistry - Graphic and tabular summary

The source of the this information is Scott Roe's book and Coffee Recent Developments. Averages used as a guide, no one coffee sticks to these numbers:

Item Low % High % Ave What they do
Sugars / Sucrose 6.0% 9.0% 7.5% becomes fructose / glucose and acetic acid
Lipids 15.5% 16.5% 16.0% Retain aroma and produce mouth feel
Protiens & free amino acids 10.0% 13.0% 11.5% interact -> Maillard reations
Alkaloid: Caffeine 0.9% 1.1% 1.0% 10 % of the coffee's bitterness and majority of simulant effect
Alkaloid: Trigonelline 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% Greatest contributor to coffee's bitterness
Moisture Content 10.5% 11.5% 11.0% Higher the value slower the heat transfer
Organic Acids 7.0% 10.0% 8.5% Coffees acidity / sourness / astringency and bitterness (acids: cholorgenic, citric, quinic, caffeic, malic, acetic and formic acid)
Others 49.0% 38.0% 43.5% What is left


The above table of green coffee chemistry is represented on a pie graph

Friday, 13 March 2015

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 4 Issue 1 2015

True to our promise we only send out newsletters when there is enough news. Well actually there has been a lot of news, and we need to catch up a bit. We have been posting many items on twitter, facebook and pintrest. So here is a consolidated version.

A short summary of what is covered in this edition:
  • Yirgacheffee / Yirga Cheffee?
  • New coffees being released
  • Discount / Loyalty
  • Update on Jura range.
The newsletter is quite long, so we hope you can put some time aside to read it all.

Thanks to all for the positive feedback, it is appreciated, and all the well wishes regarding the fires.

Yirgacheffe / Yira Cheffee?

Yirgacheffee or Yirga Cheffee (depending on who you talk to) was the original coffee that started Frog Quaffer's Quest (re more here). So to say we have a soft spot for the coffee from this region of Ethiopia, would actually hit the nail on the head.

Two years ago we were fortunate enough to source coffee direct from the region / Town, and this left such a great tingle on our tongue that when this source dried up we were unhappy to say the least. Our 4 star complex Ethiopian coffee we gone. Since then we have been trying Yirga Cheffee from a number of sources and have not been that impressed, except by the one offered by Bespoke and recently Café Imports.

So it is with great cheer that we announce that the coffee we really liked, is almost here. We are hoping to have it in our offering list from the end of March. We do currently have a grade 2 Yirgacheffee but it is barely great. We have driven to distraction with the number of roast profiles we have tried to get some characteristics out of it that make it good.

The new Yirga Cheffee is Very Good. the price is a little higher, but we believe it will be worth every cent. The coffee is a grade 1 and is from the Addo region which is a favourite of many Yirgacheffee lovers, watch the twitter updates for final release.

New coffees released

Franco Garzon (microlot)

Although we mentioned this last year it is now available, and impressing most people that try it. If you love South and Central Americans then this is a coffee you have to try before we sell out (we only had a small allocation). We are aware that we do a lot of Colombia coffees, and we love them, so having something that is a sample of the best an estate can offer, is always something we are excited about. You can read more about the coffee on the franco garzon page.

Our new Cup of Excellence

Cup of ExcellenceIf we could we would purchase more of these coffee and offer a wider variety. ACE's Cup of Excellence Program (CoE) recognizes and rewards great lots of coffee being produced by passionate farmers.

These coffees go through 5 rounds of tastings (called cuppings) by Qualified coffee graders. Hence only the best coffees qualify and then those coffees are sold on an auction in Lots. We were able to get 10% of the one Lot from the Nicaragua 2014 program.

The Coffee comes from the farmer Genaro Herrara, whose finca La Cascada we are also going to be offering a new coffee from in April. The CoE lot of coffee is one of the best examples of Nicaraguan coffee we have tasted. You can read more about the coffee here: Nicaraguan CoE Lot 21.

A new El Salvador

Also released is a coffee from El Salvador - Las Delicias, which we have released to replace the La Palma. We have not finished publishing information on this coffee yet, but on first tastes we think this is as good as La Palma, if not better. Watch twitter and facebook for its information release.


Our website is a little old, but one of the reasons we are struggling to move to a new shop based one, is that our current website offers a of flexibility. We are not forced to have coffee in fix weights, all coffee prices can be the same independent of the weight ordered, and our online order form can be easily used for quotes and orders.

If you receive this newsletter there is a strong chance that you are a regular client. If you order your coffee using then you will automatically be given our loyalty discount. However on the website to get this discount you need to select "We have an account". This gives you a discount; and since you are a regular client you have an account with us, so you only need to settle on invoice or even on statement.

This means you get a discounted price and you can pay us on more flexible terms. So if you are using the online order sheet please select payment type: "We have an account" and get the loyalty discount you deserve.


Jura F9The Jura range of automatic coffee machines has always been a favourite of ours. The range is properly built, and Jura don't just make kitchen appliances they make coffee machines. Over the last year or two there have been rumblings of a price increase, and this may very well happen. But at the moment the main news is that two of our popular sellers are no longer available to South Africa. The Jura F7 and the Jura F50. The new Jura F9 is available as well as the Ena A9. We are not fans of the A9 so will not be offering it.

The F9 is essentially an all in one good looking machine, and does all the bit and bobs you may want for an okay price, you can read more here.