ST. ALi // Specialty Coffee


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 23, 2009

Our new baby BAT is in ACTION! Justin and Toshi stayed back after the assembly was complete… some say they slept next to it with one hand on each barrell….img_0124

ST. Ali_Custom Tampers

Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 23, 2009


Sexy St. Ali custom tampers from ‘Pullman’ – $160 clams to all…


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 19, 2009

St Ali’s king roaster Justin Miles will be presenting a slide show night which will be held on Tuesday March 31st at 6:30pm.  We’ll also be putting on a bowl of spaghetti and beer for 10 clams for those in need a feed.  Justin will be educating us on his adventure overseas in detail.

Some of the things he’ll cover will be the Panama Esmeralda and research into heirloom varietals, the Nicaraguan coffee project and the push for traceability to small lot owners whilst providing a coherent rundown on the processing of green beans. Look forward to seeing you there and please RSVPby the 27th.dsc01143


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 18, 2009

Well It’s been a wild week what with the wicked Sunday and all but it’s time to give a little update on the trip in Nicaragua!

It was a trip funded by the Spanish Government to promote speciality coffee in the region of Jinotega, Nicaragua. Thrown together with eight other speciality coffee fiends and our ring leader / international woman of mystery, Claudia, we were there to check out the new “Coffee Project” of Nicaragua which involves small farm owners wet processing their coffee for the first time in order to get a much higher price at the dry mill. Allow me to elaborate, if a farmer picks his coffee cherries, pulps the cherry from the coffee, ferments the seed and dries the coffee in parchment they will get a much better price for his parchment than just selling the cherries.  More to the point, if a small coffee grower sells his parchment to the dry mill it becomes traceable and can be divided into single estate coffee.  Beyond that, if there is some good results coming from this one farm they can take a selection of their best plants and create a micro lot that can sell for very high prices and are good contenders for the Cup of Excellence program.

So this is why we were there but of course we got a whole lot more.  First of all we were greeted with such warmth as every farmer was excited that people were taking interested in their coffee.  Secondly they showed us first hand all of their processing facilities which was a great education process for the roasters and barristers involved. Third, it is customary in Nicaragua to get your guests pretty liquored up on the pride and joy of their country, “Fleur de Cana”, then drag you out on the dance floor and shake you around until you can’t shake no more, then put you on the bongos and provoke anglo saxon rhythm whilst falling down to baritone at the local discotech for Friday night Karaoke. Photos withheld.

While we were there it was our role to share our knowlage of coffee tasting and two course intensives were held.  One by Ben Townsand of the London Coffee School in the art of Espresso making, the other by Jose Aguilar from Mercanta who lead an elaborate class on the finer points of cupping.  After this we all took part in a cupping based on the Cup of Excellence specifacations that would give the farmers an idea of the quality of their coffee and how it would peform on the speciality coffee market.


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 18, 2009

One of the more noteable visits to the coffee farms was “El Socorro”, just outside Jinotega. El Socorro is part of a cooperative that placed second in our cupping sessions and was my personal favourite.  I got to speak with co-owner Danny Chavarria who runs the farm together with her Uncle and little brother (perhaps the youngest farm owner in the world).  They are raising the profile of their Farm by putting their name out there, entering their best coffee to the Cup of Excellence, caring for the land with other rotating food crops, planting at higher altitudes, fairtrade registered with a strong focus in trading in the speciality coffee market as a single estate.  A really beautiful farm doing all the right things such as more regular pickings (5 passes a season), clean washing facilities and all their own drying on the traditional african beds.

The last leg of the trip was a visit to the coffee estate El Quetzal. This is where I learnt the difference between words Finca and Hacienda.  Roberto Bendana owns a farm that by no means is in an early stage of development, it is in fact more like an institution with modern facilities, a school nursery for the children of the pickers includung a small libary and internet access.  Roberto is also investing in cultivation of new varietals of the region including Java which seems to be making waves in the area at the moment. Did I mention his training room… he has set up his Probat sample roaster along side a Clover, 3 group FB80 and a little GS3 in an office ten stories up overlooking the Managua skyline.  Probally beats any other training room I have ever been to, and then Nicaraguan Barrista champion put on a grand party for us… with karaoke.


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 18, 2009

Check out this syphon coffee demonstation in toyko….


Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 17, 2009

Wicked Sunday was a massive success, smashing 22 kgs through the machine alone! Our architectual champion Lisette Malatesta pulled off a miracle in two weeks with the shipping container conversion being one of the highlights of the event. Great interest was shown at the Japanese Syphon Bar with Toshi, Justin & Luke working the crowd and Lucy, Dusty and Chris shakin it in the cargo container. Thank you to all that were part of the event!

Bean there done that! A review by food critic Matt Preston

Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on March 4, 2009

We recently received a review in a local rag by food critic Matt Preston that we weren’t too impressed with. To be blatantly honest we had to re-read it a few times to get the gist of it. Hey if you don’t like our coffee then that’s cool and if you think it could be more of this or less of that, send in a comment on this blog. We’re all pretty open & would love feedback but we feel that if you’re going to review our coffee we would like to know that it was being critiqued by someone who has a reasonable knowledge of coffee.

Here is an extract from the review…

“My perfect coffee has thick dense crema on the top thats robust enough to support a spill of sugar, a velvty texture to the hot (but not too hot) milk and a smooth rich complex flavour of coffee that lingers with the barest hint of tang rather than bitterness…

The coffee comes quickly. Its far better than anything we’ve had in the preceding weeks, yet its not quite the stuff of dreams. My strong latte lacks the required caffeine oomph, and both this coffee and a regular latte are a little texturally lacking – they are more silky than satiny. They are also served cooler than we both prefer”

You want your latte hot, cool! You want to put a sugar in, sweet as! But how can you truly review a coffee if all your tasting is the sweet sweet taste of sugar baby. An analogy to compare the sugar on crema(what Matt calls froth) would be that of seasoning a juicy Wagyu Rib Eye with Kecthup.

Okay so we all take pride in what we’re doing here. We would like to think that each month that passes we’ve all gained a little more knowledge on how better to roast and make coffee.

In a nutshell we are all commitment to moving in the right direction – which is to keep the quality high and consistent.

So thanks for article Matt, if you would like to post a reply please feel free to do so, we would love to hear from you.

Below is commentary from Steve Agi(Melbourne Coffee Review) in relation to the article which echoed our own words….

“In your first paragraph where you describe the ‘thick dense crema on the top that’s robust enough to support a spill of sugar.’ I blushed when I realised you are referring to a cafe latte.

Crema is the dense caramelly coating on an espresso(short black), it is there where we can conduct the ‘sugar test’.

You are referring to froth or foam, which is milk that has been textured. This is not crema Matt, sorry to be a party pooper but if you’re going to criticise what is in my opinion one of the best coffees anywhere in the country, you had better get your terminology right, at least………to talk about the milk being robust enough to support a spill of sugar is not really relevant to anything”