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Have you heard about the Varia Multi Brewer? This unique device is one of the most versatile brewers on the market, with the ability to brew your favourite caffeinated beverage in six different ways! This gives you so many options to change up your brew style and go from cold brew to stovetop whenever you like. Let’s take a quick look at the different functionalities below.

1. Filter Coffee

A filter or pour over style coffee is pretty self-explanatory – you simply pour the water over the coffee to brew. Unlike immersion methods (we’ll get to that soon), the water only has a short amount of time in contact with the coffee bed before it drips out through a paper filter into your server. This short contact time provides a clean, delicate cup full of intricate flavours. To brew a pour over with the Varia, simply add the filter cone to the top of the jug, and the base cap to the bottom of the jug. Add your paper filter to the cone and follow your favourite recipe for brewing. (For some handy tips on recipes, check out the included manual.)

2. French Press Coffee

3. Cold Brew

Another great option for brewing on the Varia is cold brew. This brew method has a higher coffee-to-water ratio and brews with cold water instead of hot, which means you’ll need a longer brew time to get the perfect extraction. The result, however, is a strong, clean coffee concentrate which you can serve over ice, with milk, or just on its own. To make cold brew using the Varia, you’ll use the French Press plunger with the cold brew filter basket attachment. With the base cap attached to the jug, fill the jug with cold water and add your coarsely ground coffee beans to the filter basket. Add the plunger with the filter basket to the jug (pressed down so the coffee sits in the water), and leave it in the fridge to brew for anywhere between 10-12 hours.

4. Moka Pot (Stove Top)

5. Tea

Just need a nice cuppa? As well as a refreshing cold brew, the filter basket attachment for the plunger can also be used to brew your favourite tea! Add the boiler to the bottom of the jug, add some water to the jug, place the lid on top and boil the water on your stove. Add your tea leaves to the filter basket and replace the lid with the plunger component. Ensure the plunger is pressed down to steep your tea and enjoy.

6. Kettle

Not only does the Varia do a fantastic job of brewing your coffee and your tea, it can also be used in the kitchen as a normal kettle. The boiler base is super versatile and can be used on electric, gas, and induction stovetops and is crafted from high-quality stainless steel for durability and everyday use.

Varia have designed their Multi Brewer to be incredibly user-friendly, durable, and compact so you can use it in your kitchen or even take it with you as a travel brewer. With multiple brewing capabilities, a sleek design and quality parts, you won’t be disappointed with the Varia and will no doubt want to use it everyday, in every way.

Check the Varia Muli Brewer, the Varia Hand Grinder and the All-in-one Varia Bundle for the complete experience. Di Bartoli Coffee recommends the Sweet Maria blend for Stove top, Brazil for plunger and the Ethiopian Sidamo Filter for Filter coffee.

We hear the words ‘Ethical Coffee’ often in Specialty Coffee, but what does it actually mean?

The idea of ethics in coffee was developed around 2 main issues:

  1. Farmers who are being exploited and paid unfair prices which leaves them in poverty
  2. Farmers who in order to survive, undertake cost cutting, often unethical practices like cheap labour, misuse of the land to increase yield and the use of cheap pesticides. Good reason to avoid supermarket coffee – not only it tastes bad but the farmer gets a bad deal and the environment is impacted

The past ten or so years have seen the emergence of specialty coffee roasters, who have worked tirelessly to raise industry standards and to improve the public’s understanding of what’s involved in getting coffee from the farm to the cup. With the development of programs such as Fairtrade and Direct Trade and increasing education, it is becoming much easier to choose coffee that has been ethically grown and processed.

Many people choose to purchase a certified coffee like Fairtrade or Direct Tarde. Through these programs, specialty roasters’ desire for quality coffee is passed on to the farmers, who come to understand what cafes are looking for. As the roasters and farmers work together to improve the quality of the coffee, the coffee attracts a premium price. Everyone wins, with farmers receiving prices that are well above the Fairtrade minimum price and roasters receiving high grade beans. The farmers also learn how to continue to produce a high quality product that people will continue to buy, thus breaking the poverty cycle that many farmers face.

But just because Fairtrade guarantees your coffee has been ethically produced, this doesn’t then mean that all other coffee is unethical. How can you be sure to support ethical farming practices and a fair return to the growers without certification?

The best way to buy ethical coffee is to buy it based on quality and transparency. An increasing number of cafes and roasters provide information on the farms where their coffees are grown. They can speak directly to cultivation practices and the ethical values behind their product. They can also guide you toward a bean variety that best suits your needs and tastes. Here are few tips to help you identify ethical coffee:

  • High grade, best quality Arabica coffee is almost always grown ethically, to attract a higher price
  • High quality coffees are almost always picked by hand. This is a laborious process, as cherries don’t ripen at the same pace, and pickers must return to each tree several times over harvest
  • Look at the farming practices, what are the provisions for workers?
  • The best coffee is grown in shade. While farmers selling low quality coffee will clear native trees in order to grow as many coffee plants as they can, farmers growing high quality coffee keep the native trees in place to provide shade for their coffee trees, which encourages a slower maturation of the cherries, leading to a more complex flavour — and again, a higher price

Farmers growing high quality coffee will almost always be operating ethically. Look at the company roasting the coffee. What are their ethics, are they supporting the push towards higher quality products, assisting and educating farmers? Specialty coffee roasters are all about paying a generous price for high quality coffee, grown in the best conditions, by people who are treated fairly.

At Di Bartoli, we are committed to promoting ethical farming and processing practices wherever possible. We only source high quality Arabica that is mainly picked by hand, grown at high altitude, and often shade grown. These days, 2 of our Ethical standouts are Burundi Agahore Bugendana Microlot and Brazil Caldas Royale Microlot.

The Burundi’s farmer produces the best speciality coffee of Burundi, while making an impact at the community level. Starting from how he involves the community in the process: using local building material, employing local workforce, respecting the topography and its environment. He also buys coffee from the surrounding farmers and processes coffee cherries from each cooperative’s plantation. As in many East-African countries where coffee is an “easy” cash-crop, changing the mindset of the farmers makes a real difference when producing specialty coffee. Not only did he  involve the community and the farmers, he also distributed coffee seedling and natural shade trees.

And it doesn’t end here. While 450 goats have been given to farmers in order to support the production of organic fertilisers, coffee farmers of another station were given a cash bonus after an exceptional season, as well as a three-year health insurance (sponsored by a roaster).

Our Brazil Caldas Royale Microlot is another example of Ethical coffee. It is a Direct Trade Relationship Coffee.
3 Brothers Australia
 is both the importer and the broker on the ground in Brazil. Their coffees are carefully selected directly from the best producers, truly passionate and focused on innovative processing methods and improving quality. They wanted to make a difference to the people producing coffee and to those who appreciate quality and full traceable produce. Their mission is to find and develop the most consistent coffees supporting the Better Trade model so as the consumer you can have the confidence of the traceability, transparency, relationship and ethical practices that are going in the cup.

Our friendly support team would love chatting with you to share their knowledge of the various Single Origins and Blends, and help you choose a coffee that not only tastes best to your palate but also aligns with your values.

We’d love hearing from you! Contact us here.

You’ve been following up on all the right advice. You’ve got the right machine, the right grinder, freshly roasted beans roasted for espresso and a little bit of a know how to operate your new set up.

Then why is it that you can’t get consistent quality with your espresso? It may be too thin, sour, bitter, it might taste medicinal, dull or just too watery. It’s surely not tasting balanced, presenting round body or lingers with a pleasant aftertaste with each and every cup. Sounds familiar?

This can be frustrating, especially if you follow the routine you were taught and still can’t get the results you want.

Let’s troubleshoot your espresso, shall we?

To understand how to troubleshoot our espresso shots, we need to understand what it is we are looking for. Here is an industry benchmark, common definition of espresso, but take it with a grain of a salt and figure out for yourself if this is what makes your palate sing. At the end of the the day, your own palate is the judge!

What is Espresso?

Espresso is a full-flavoured, concentrated form of coffee that is served in 30ml “shots.” Espresso is made by forcing pressurised water through very finely ground coffee beans, at 85-95 degrees Celsius, extracting in that process the aromatic oils, the sugars and the soluble out of the bean. Ideally, espresso should have a thick, reddish-brown crema, a potent aroma and balanced in flavour between sweetness, bitterness and sourness, leaving a lingering aftertaste on the tongue minutes after drinking.

Now that we know what we look for, we wonder, how to be get there easily and consistently?

Let’s start with the basic “4 M’s” of Espresso:

● Miscela (in Italian: blend, the organic product)
● Macina (Espresso machine)
● Macinino; Macinadosatore ; Macinacaffe (Grinder)
● Mano (hand: you)

There is a debate among coffee professionals and home users alike as per what percentage each component plays in the equation, but it is clear that without even one of these ingredients, you can’t create a good espresso. This article assumes that your espresso equipment is capable for maximising espresso flavours, that your beans are roasted for espresso and are fresh (less than 3 weeks from roasting) and that the only area to focus on troubleshooting your espresso is the Mano – You.

Is Espresso Art or Science?

To produce great coffee, science and art must come together. Espresso production might be considered a science: if t!a number of variables such as grind, dosage and tamp are taken into account, you can produce a good espresso.

We like to see the art in coffee in 2 areas: in the flavor and in coffee presentation but if you struggle with consistency in your routine, you would struggle with consistent flavour and presentation later on.

Professional baristas may spend months just perfecting speed or crema as understanding the relationship between all the variables and applying quickly the right adjustments to maintain the same quality each cup is vital.

So make friends with  science first!

But what happens if it doesn’t come out the way it should?

  • Espresso pour is much slower or much faster than 25ml in 25-30 seconds
  • Espresso pour is thin with little body or bubbly, gassy and unstable
  • Espresso has non or pale, thin crema instead of caramel color or red-brown
  • Espresso is watery instead of having a rounded mouthfeel and good body
  • Espresso isn’t balanced, it presents too much acidity or bitterness, could also taste rancid, rubbery, medicinal or astringent

Over-extraction

If we get 30ml slower than 30 seconds, if it takes a long time for the first drop to come out, if it has a dark colour throughout, thin crema and burnt, astringent and unbalanced taste, you are over extracting the coffee. We have created too much pressure that results in prolong contact of the hot water with the grinds thus burning it.

Solution: adjust your grind to be coarser

Under-extraction

If we get very fast pour of 30ml in less than 20 seconds, the crema pales quickly, it gushes, out, thin and with fast dissipating crema, acidic or sour taste, thin and unbalanced mouthfeel, than we need to increase resistance.

Solution: adjust your grind to be finer

Distribute The Grind

Uneven particle size can be a result of a grinder’s design fault or clumping. Clumping can be attributed to the grinder’s chute design or slow speed, as well as to changes in the weather (humid day results in more clumps) and the freshness of the coffee (the older the beans are, the more it will ‘sweat’). As the grinds clumps, water will flow faster through the air pockets created in between the particles, while the water flowing through the clumps will meet higher resistance and will flow slower, this will result in uneven extraction.

If the beans and grinder are a fixed factor, you can try and avoid ‘channelling’ or uneven extraction by paying attention to your distribution. After dosing as recommended below, you can choose any distributing technique known to you, as long as you keep it consistent. You can choose the North, South, West, East technique, or the twist technique, aiming at breaking clumps and distributing the grind as evenly as possible in the basket.

There are some great tools in the market that assist in even distribution, like the Scottie Callaghan Tools or the ONA Coffee Distributor (OCD)

Updosing

Updosing (loading more ground coffee than what is specified for the basket) seems to be a very popular practice with Australian baristas. Whether or not you can updose will be determined by how low your shower screen hangs down the group. lf it’s possible to updose with your group design, whether or not you wish to updose will depend on your taste preference in relation to the blend, grind, the extraction rate, etc.

Other Valuable Tips

  1. Always wipe your basket dry before loading coffee
  2. Use consistent dosing technique. The most popular one is:
    a. Fill basket 3/4 high with ground
    b. Tap twice the portafilter on the bench to settle the grinds
    c. Refill basket with ground coffee until a mound forms on
    d. Level by brushing off the excess coffee grinds with a dosing tool or your finger
  3. Tamp in a consistent pressure maintaining level tamp. The right tamping pressure is the one you can repeat over and over

If you find this still quite confusing, we’ve got just the pill for you. Invite our home barista trainer to your kitchen through Zoom, and allow them to guide you step by step through troubleshooting your espresso. At the end of the session you will have a consistent routine to apply time and time again and you will understand how and when to adjust it to achieve the flavours you desire in the cup.

BOOK YOUR ZOOM ESPRESSO TROUBLESHOOTING HERE

© 2020 Ofra Ronen and Di Bartoli Coffee