Tag Archives: espresso

Sweet Shop Espresso Blend by Square Mile Coffee Roasters

My coffee order of Sweet Shop Espresso blend arrived today in the mail while I was at work. This is a new blend by Square Mile Coffee Roasters in the UK, and as they say “this isn’t about balance, it’s about cramming as much fruit into the cup as possible!”  I like it! I was super excited to try this blend as I have fond memories of some really delicious coffees at Notes cafe in London who use Square Mile and had a shiny new Marzocco Strada. The Sweet Shop blend is designed to be a super fruity, overtly sweet blend – almost the polar opposite in some regards to the Breakfast Bomb by HasBean.

After making an espresso, I can report that the two Colombian single origins used in the blend really do work wonders together and results in a truely remarkable brew.

Sweet Shop Espresso blend currently contains:

  • 50% La Buitrera (Colombia)
  • 50% La Serrania (Colombia)

As you can see from the photo below, the roast level is bang on – well developed, definitely what i’d consider a light espresso roast and could even be brewed for filter, although it’s probably closer to the espresso side of things. Of course there are some people who don’t believe in roast levels for a particular brew method, and I get that one roast can work well for espresso and filter, but I also think some coffees work better with two unique profiles.

Roast Level - Sweet Shop Espresso
Roast Level – Sweet Shop Espresso

Dry aroma is absolutely stunning – sweet and clean. In the cup, expect waves of clean sweetness that continue long after the last drop.

This blend is definitely up there with the recent Autumn espresso blend by Ministry Grounds Coffee here in Australia. Check out Sweet Shop over here. I’ll have some interesting new HasBean coffees arriving next week – posts on those to come.

Roast log: Kenya Muchai


Kenyan coffee is always such a joy to roast! It’s still amazing to me that coffee such as this Kenya Muchai are so affordable yet such high quality. The processing and picking in the Muchai is not far from perfect. Sizing is so uniform, how do they do it!? I’d love to go to Kenya and find out.

I dumped this Muchai in at a high heat around 200 degrees celcius. An aggressive ramp up to 140 then slight back off on the heat up to reach first crack at 10:00 at 190 degrees. On towards 197 degrees at 12:30 and dumped into big cooling trays.

VST La Marzocco Filter Baskets for espresso

A few thoughts about why you should jump on board and at least try the VST Precision filters, developed with La Marzocco.

First of all, as with all innovations i expect there will be a few detractors who will claim the filter basket manufacturing makes no difference to the flavour in the cup. They will probably task anyone to be able to tell the difference. Well, i will hold judgement on that one until the VST baskets arrive, but the fact that many well respected espresso professionals have already tested them and claim they are seeing an improvement in consistency, is enough of a reason for me. If La Marzocco deem them to be an improvement then i think that is enough for us to all sit up and take notice. Will they make espresso coffee taste better? If so, i believe they will do it through increased consistency more than anything else. Consistency across the filter during an extraction and consistency across multiple VST filters.

Have you ever noticed that some holes in your existing filter baskets get blocked by fines, while other remain clear? And that different baskets of same type extract at different speeds? That could be due to the variance in hole size. VST and La Marzocco have set about to change that, creating a basket which extracts more evenly across the bottom surface area of the filter, with much less tolerance built into the manufacturing process for holes size and shape variance.

These filters have a flatter bottom than some, and flat sides. This should be a good thing, but you may have to adjust your tamping technique slightly if you have been used to using a basket with curved sides. More on that once they arrive.

At 25 bucks a basket, not including shipping, it doesn’t make sense not to use (or at least test) something that could eliminate one of the many variables involved in the espresso brew recipe!


Since each VST filter basket is trackable via a 2D code printed on the side, and each VST basket is measured and has its own unique profile recorded (presumably somewhere at VST?) there is also potential for baristas to compare baskets to some degree. Although, given the now much smaller variance in basket manufacture, these baskets should prove to be a lot more consistent, both shot to shot and when comparing two VST baskets.

Secondly, these VST Precision filter baskets should fit any standard portafilter, so that includes e-61 machines owned by coffee hobbyists such as myself. You might need a naked portafilter to fit the triple 22g mother VST basket, but i can’t be sure on that until it arrives in the post. Expected delivery is currently forecast for beginning of May.  I will be testing the 18g and the 22g VST basket.


The list of features according to the VST filter basket brochure include:

  • New Micro-Machining Fabrication Process Consistent Uniform Extraction
  • Reduced Sediment Warranted Zero Defects
  • Filters Matched To Ensure Identical Performance
  • Every Hole Measured On Every Filter
  • Each Filter Marked With Unique 2D Reference Code
  • Improved Structural Integrity Available in 3 Sizes

Update 17/7/2011: You can now buy VST filter baskets in Australia direct from Ministry Grounds web store.

Buy VST filter baskets in Australia …

Written by Richard Manley

Richard Manley lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Senior Digital Producer, having worked for businesses in a wide variety of industries including financial services, health insurance and telecommunications. You can find him on and Twitter.

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence blend – 3 x winning lots, 1 roast

Just a quick update to show this lovely roast of three different cup of excellence winning lots from the 2010 Nicaragua competition. Since samples are only about 150 – 200g each i’ve combined three different samples here:

  • Lot #12 Los Jilgueros (cup of excellence jury score 87.50)
  • Lot #16 El Recuerdo (cup of excellence jury score 87.00)
  • Lot #21 Santa Gema (cup of excellence jury score 86.67)

Weight of roast was 530g all up. FC at 11:50, dumped at 15:00 at 213 degrees (well before second crack).

Can’t remember a three-bean blend coming up this even for a long time. Smells sweet. Looks like one of these was a pacamara variety.



Home roasters take note, you can get these bag sealers on ebay for about 50 bucks delivered. Mine has lasted me over a year now and they come with a spare element. Definitely a must have!