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Space Coffee


Space coffeeAstronauts are getting a fancy new espresso machine and they also don't have to sip coffee out of Capri Sun pouches any longer.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) get 15 or 16 sunrises per day, but, for a long time, they didn’t get to wake up and smell the coffee.

That’s because coffee is distributed and consumed like all other beverages in space—freeze-dried and served in a pouch that has much more in common with a Capri Sun than with a steaming ceramic mug.

But that situation is finally improving, and the only thing it took was hosting more Italians from orbit. The SpaceX Dragon rocket scheduled to launch on Tuesday will carry a new kind of espresso machine to the ISS, called, fittingly, the ISSpresso.

Manufactured by Lavazza and the Italian aerospace firm Argotec, the ISSpresso uses standard Lavazza espresso packets to make coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. It also uses water the same temperature as in a standard Lavazza—167 degrees Fahrenheit—and mimics a real Lavazza’s water pressure. But, writing about the machine last year, the Space.com journalist Elizabeth Howell noted that very little else about the mechanism is the same. We also have very little idea as to how some of the ISSpresso’s internal mechanisms work. An Argotec spokesman has said the machine is adapted to prevent water leakage and spillage, a real risk in the orbiting laboratory’s microgravity.

The first person to try the fruits of the new Lavazza will be Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian flight engineer from the European Space Agency who’s been on the station since late last year. She wasn’t the first Italian to note the poor quality brew on the ISS, though: A week into his 2013 flight on the station, another Italian astronaut, Luca Parmitano, said the thing he missed most was good coffee.

And Cristoforetti won’t even have to suck down the espresso from a pouch, too. Instead, she’ll use one of NASA’s new space drinking mugs. Called the Capillary Beverage experiment, these can be held like a cup, and drunk out of like a cup too.

Lavazza and Argotec say that findings from their experimental ISSpresso will inform future Earthly coffee machines. And NASA says the success of its new-fangled mugs will lead toward improvements in not only drug delivery on Earth, but also the design of future spacecraft.

And espresso may be a particularly fitting choice. Espresso is the quintessential coffee of the industrial age: One of the first patents for an espresso machine was filed in 1884, in Turin, the modern-day home of Argotec and Lavazza. Espresso sped up a normally tedious process through the sheer power of machinery and steam. It’s fitting that it should now join the space age.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

Review: A Film About Coffee


A Film About Coffee"A Film About Coffee" is a love letter to, and meditation on, specialty coffee. It examines what it takes, and what it means, for coffee to be defined as "specialty." The film whisks audiences on a trip around the world, from farms in Honduras and Rwanda to coffee shops in Tokyo, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and New York. Through the eyes and experiences of farmers and baristas, the film offers a unique overview of all the elements-the processes, preferences and preparations; traditions old and new-that come together to create the best cups. This is a film that bridges gaps both intellectual and geographical, evoking flavor and pleasure, and providing both as well.

If you are in the coffee industry or just wildly passionate about coffee then this documentary is for you. You won't be dissapointed.

Italian Espresso the Best?


Coffee Shot GlassesA true Italian espresso cup is made from thick porcelain with a narrow curved bottom. This is not just because it looks stylish, like something Sophia Loren might have drunk from in Rome in the 1970s. The shape helps the crema, the velvety top layer, to rise, giving the espresso a more satisfying texture.

In many modern coffee shops "espresso" is served in straight-sided cups with a wide base. Hopeless! This is just one of many grievous errors being perpetrated against Italian coffee, as I learnt at the Espresso Italiano barista championships, which for the first time were being held outside Italy, at the grand Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall. Three hefty coffee machines – each weighing 80kg to 90kg – had been shipped from Italy for the occasion, because – obviously – there was no machine in London authentic enough.

The competition was hosted by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano (INEI), whose mission is to "protect" true Italian espresso against imposters. Espresso, explained Carlo Odello, its communications manager, has "mathematical parameters". The beans are a careful blend – never the single-estate roasts favoured by hipster cafés. The coffee must be ground to a certain fineness. It is "extracted in so many seconds" to yield a potion that is neither too acid nor too bitter but redolent of citrus and almond: Italy in a cup.

Most of the so-called espresso drunk around the world is nothing like as purist as this. Either it is drowned in milk or served as a double – which doesn't exist in Italy – or experimented upon by "tattooed bearded artisans", as one Italian at the event complained to me. The INEI offers certification to cafés that still make the "original" espresso. But how can you "protect" something as universal as espresso? It's like trying to recork a bottle of champagne.

I like "bearded artisan" coffee, myself. And yet the INEI is surely right that there is something lacking in the paper buckets sold by the chains. I've noticed that in Britain, ordering a single espresso and a glass of tap water often provokes raised eyebrows, even though it's a far more controlled way to ingest caffeine than a giant mug of latte.

Author:  Bee Wilson


Coffee Culture


Coffee Culture Book SmallCoffee Culture is the latest publication from MapStudio, the publishers who brought us the fantastic Farm Stall to Farm Stall – a book mapping all the interesting and some fairly unknown farm stalls, including what they have to offer, along the roads of our gorgeous country.

Coffee Culture, the book about coffee for those of us that can truly appreciate excellent quality coffee and want to learn more about where we can get our hands on these cups of coffee, is now available at leading book outlets. Apart from pointing out where to find great coffee, coffee philosophy and brewing styles of establishments are also discussed.

MapStudio compiled this gem of a book, because as they put it, “Coffee has become more than just a ‘cup of filter coffee’ it has become a culture, and finding a good cup of coffee, is that much more important to many of us”.

Some light is shed on the history of coffee, cultivation, brewing equipment and methods as well as cleaning and maintenance of equipment.

Well done to Peter Primich and the Mapstudio team on a great publication!

Espresso in your pocket


For people who need a caffeinated kick in the morning or crave a cup of strong coffee when they are far from a kitchen or coffee shop, there is now a unique handheld espresso machine.

MinipressoUnlike other portable coffee systems, the Minipresso doesn’t use batteries or a plug and instead relies on users pumping the device to brew the coffee to their liking. It uses coffee grounds or capsules along with precisely 2.4 ounces (68ml) of hot water, which is poured into its main chamber.

The Hong Kong-based company behind the design – which also includes a cup – says: ‘you won’t find better gear to travel light and enjoy a quality espresso away from home.’ The Minispresso machine creates coffee at 116 psi, which is the same pressure produced by traditional espresso machines.

It doesn’t use compressed air or coffee cartridges because experts say they blow cold air into hot water. Instead, the device uses a semi-automatic piston to inject small quantities of water into the coffee adapter. After a few pushes, the optimal pressure for extracting the coffee is achieved and ‘a rich and bold espresso is extracted,’ the company says. Users can pump the machine 13 times for a tiny shot of coffee, 18 times for espresso and earn a double espresso by pushing the pump 28 times.

There is minimal distance between the water tank and coffee chamber, to avoid losing hear during water displacement. ‘As a result of our cares to build the perfect device, Minipresso produces at ambient condition 24°C (75°F), an espresso at perfect temperature 67°C (152°F in cup) with a nice compact and persistent crema on top,’ the company says. The pump can be easily locked in place and pushed to release and the whole device has been designed to be as compact as possible, measuring 9.7 inches (25cm) tall and weighing 0.8lbs (363g).

‘Minipresso has been designed to be the smallest, lightest and most versatile handheld espresso machine. It's also the first of its kind to integrate an espresso cup,’ the company says. The makers of the machine recommend that users clean the cup and coffee adapter after each use, but stressed that the device will not be dishwasher proof.

Source:  dailymail.co.uk