Thursday, 27 October 2011

How hot should coffee be?

How hot should coffee be?

We occasionally get requests for coffee hotter than usual, but what is usual?

I'll restrict this discussion to coffee with milk - cappuccino, caffé latte and that peculiar Australian invention 'flat white'. At Cactus we aim to produce foamed milk that is at 67˚C. This is poured over an espresso shot extracted into a warm glass or cup. This is the ideal temperature for milk based espresso coffee. The milk is still luxuriously thick and full, and you can start to drink it almost immediately.

If you ask for your coffee 'very hot' we aim for 72˚C.

You may wonder why not a higher temperature? Milk boils at roughly the same temperature as water 100˚C, but the difference is that milk begins to deteriorate at around 75˚C. This is because at over 75˚C the proteins in the milk begin to curdle and this affects both the flavour and the fineness of the foam. A second effect of overheated milk is that the fats become much thinner, just like when you heat olive oil in a pan it gets thinner. The thinner the fat, the less it coats your tongue, what you will miss is that luxurious creamy feel that correctly heated milk provides to milk based coffees. Aiming for 72˚C gives a little latitude so as to avoid ruining your coffee.

For those that want much hotter coffee try a long black with milk on the side. A long black (also called, caffé lungo and caffé americano) can be served at up to 95˚C.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cactus recommends - Gary Abkin - new paintings showing at 'the Swich Contemporary Art Space', Ipswich

Highly recommend a visit, Gary is a remarkable painter - his work is vibrant, colourful and full of life. These newer works are less figurative and more abstract. There are references to the landscape, or more accurately the artists views of the landscape, but here it is a landscape obscured. The colours are rich, heavy mustard yellows and deep blacks. They are neither sombre nor bright, presenting as even, almost matter of fact statements of the artists view.

The works reminded me of Paul Cox's film 'Man of Flowers'. In the film an eccentric old man loves to paint and play music, he attends an art class where a nude young woman is posing for the students. He paints in a very concentrated manner and it is obvious that his teacher is annoyed because the old man is painting flowers, the teachers says 'why don't you paint what you see?' The old man replies 'I am.'

The photograph shows Gilbert Burgh opening the exhibition.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Cactus recommends - Henri Cartier Bresson - The man, the image & the world

Now showing at the Queensland Art Gallery. A comprehensive exhibition of one of the worlds most influential photographers. If you are familiar with his work then you will not be diassapointed, all his iconic images are present. I find the french and spanish images the most compelling, but there is so much great work on show that it is hard to choose. One of my all time favourites below.

Friday, 30 September 2011

How to store coffee beans.

We are often asked what is the best way to store coffee beans?

The factors that make coffee beans deteriorate are exposure to heat, light, and air. Thus, the best way to store beans is in a cool, dark place in the same package they were sold in. Transfer to a new container exposes all the beans to air, and this will increase the rate of deterioration.

After coffee is roasted it releases carbon dioxide, this as called degassing. The coffee we sell comes in a pack that has a one-way valve. This enables the coffee to be packed immediately after roasting before degassing has finished, the carbon dioxide can escape the one-way valve and air is prevented from entering.

How long do roasted beans last? About a week, beyond that the loss of flavour becomes increasingly noticeable.

One of the reasons why there are coffee roasters in each major city and even in many country towns is that coffee goes stale fast. It is impossible for foreign suppliers to get freshly roasted beans to Australia fast enough to compete with local roasters before their coffee has gone stale!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Burr grinders - flat versus conical

Just to make things a little more complex, there are not only two types of grinders - blade and burr - there are two types of burr grinders - conical and flat. There is some evidence to suggest that conical burr grinders are superior, they work more slowly and can provide a more even grind. Conical burr grinders used to be only used in high volume cafés but now they are also used domestically. This where it gets a little confusing, a good flat burr grinder will produce a better grind than a poor conical grinder. This is because prices and quality vary so much between manufacturers and models. As a rough guide expect to pay at least $500- for a good quality electric conical grinder to grind coffee to home espresso standard. If you do not need such a fine grind a cheaper grinder can produce good results for plunger coffee. An industry benchmark for high volume cafés is the Mazzer Robur grinder, at $3400 they are not often used domestically but I have seen one in an office. Recently I have been using a Kyocera (Japanese) hand grinder for espresso coffee with very good results. Don't know the exact retail price yet as this was suppled as a sample for us to try, but I expect it to be about $100- . It does great espresso and the exercise is free!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Burr grinders.

Burr grinders are the most commonly used grinders in cafés. They are also gradually taking over from blade grinders in the domestic market. The advantage with burr grinders is that the grind can be regulated to suit the kind of coffee you are making. For plunger coffee you need a coarse grind for filter and espresso a finer grind. Beyond that gross distinction between the kinds of coffee making there is also the importance of getting the grind for your particular coffee machine just right. In a café the barista may reset the grind several times a day to keep the coffee extraction perfect.

Below a picture of a typical burr grinder - the bodum bistro. This is similar to a commercial grinder except that all the parts are smaller and lighter and it is not designed to run continuously in a commercial environment.

The daily grind.

These ladies have the whole thing down pat, the grinder breaks down the coffee into small particles, the sieve allows only the correct size to pass through. The only difference between now an then is that we do everything fast.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Current Exhibition - Leanne Vincent

Leanne's images are of Ipswich, both familiar and unfamiliar locations. Beautiful saturated colours depicting a complexity of contrasting architectural styles.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Anita Murray - Photographs - current exhibition

Above one of Anita's travel images.
Below Anita and friends - opening night.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Eswood undercounter dishwasher - UC25 - review

We bought our Eswood undercounter dishwasher new. We previously had an old Hobart that we bought at auction which, though very good, slowly became more and more expensive to repair.

The first thing we noticed about our new Eswood was that the dish tray is higher than our old Hobart's was. This is good because you don’t have to bend as far. The second thing we noticed was that the amber coloured shell around the ‘cycle indicator light’ fell off. It was poorly adhered so we stuck it back on with sticky tape, looks crappy but its still there.

I realised straight away that the quality control at Eswood was not much good. We have had the unit for about two years and that has been a pattern ever since. Poor quality parts that are expensive, not repairable, and break easily. The first item to go was the main switch that controls the cycles, a tiny piece of plastic broke off and we had to buy a new switch. The most recent problem is that the drain pump leaks, it is in two parts and they no longer fit together properly.

Parts are not readily available, each time a new part is required we have to wait for at least two days.

Now you may be thinking that we are twenty four hour a day 7 day a week café with hundreds of cycles each day and that breakdowns are to be expected. But this is not the case we open only for breakfast and lunch 6 days a week and breakfast only on Sundays. I would say that we have provide the machine with a medium load. The machine is rated at 500 plates per hour, we only haves seats for 34 and part of our business is take away (no washing up).

In summing up my experience is that if you wish to support your local dishwasher repairer and enjoy washing dishes by hand for a couple of days each time something goes wrong, then the Eswood is for you.

The unit we have is the Eswood compact under-counter dishwasher model number UC-25.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Diana Love and Holm Sohn - photography

Diana Love

Holm Sohn

Holm Sohn - is a visiting german photographer see his website

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Gluten Free Breads

We now use gluten free bread for those who have are gluten intolerant. For people who prefer a gluten free diet, or those that don't have a choice our Toasted Turkish bread sandwiches are now available on a gluten free alternative.

Xmas 2008

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Our current exhibition by Andrew Spark

Andrew Spark is currently showing at Cactus. His large installation is tailored to the space and looks great.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Our fifth birthday cake

This marvellous cake was made for the cafés fifth birthday by REBECCA LEWIS. The café opened on 3rd March 2003.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Current exhibition by Kevin McMahon

Kevin McMahon’s art education started in Perth, going onto a fine arts degree at RMIT, Melbourne. After completing two years, he deferred to take up study at the Stadel School of Art, Frankfurt (Germany) and completed a three-year program of mentoring with various professors of art. On returning to Australia in 1994, he then completed a Graduate Diploma in Sculpture from the Canberra School of Art. Since then he has been exhibiting his work and has been involved in a number of site-specific art projects and public art commissions.

Sunday, 7 October 2007