May 2022 – KB90

We have a new shiny! Specifically it is a new espresso machine in our Spa Terminus shop, and it is ace.

Since we started making espresso-based drinks in the early 2000s we have used espresso machines made by Florence-based company La Marzocco. La Marzocco were established by Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi in 1927. They created the first horizontal boiler machine in the late 30s, the dual-boiler system in the 70s, and launched your writer’s all-time favourite machine in the early 90s – the Linea red series.

The KB90 Espresso Machine being used in our Spa Terminus Monmouth Coffee shop

Espresso is one of the brew methods that requires a bit more gear than is available in the average kitchen. The number of boilers and how the temperature and pressure is controlled throughout the brew process are important factors in bringing out the very best from any single origin or blend coffee. Different manufacturers have different ways of trying to achieve this so choosing a machine supplier to go with comes down to personal preference and priorities.

We have been big fans of the Linea Classic series that La Marzocco started producing in the mid 1990s. The design has stayed true to its original styling and the interior mechanics and electronics have become more sophisticated over the years. La Marzocco have always prided themselves on their machines’ thermal stability and consistency. Espresso needs a stable temperature and repeatable brew pressure to develop the intensity of flavour and crema, so anything that helps achieve this is welcomed.

Back to our new machine in our Spa Terminus shop. This is one of the more recent models that La Marzocco has developed – it is the KB90. This machine is the first from La Marzocco that has ‘straight in’ portafilters. The portafilter holds the basket into which the ground coffee is loaded. Once loaded and tamped, the portafilter is locked into the machine and then the extraction starts. Usually the portafilters are loaded into the machine with a bayonet type fitting and they need to be securely fitted against the rubber gasket to create a seal between the machine and the portafilter. There is a bit of a knack to this and it takes a bit more than an effort to load the portafilter to create a successful seal, and then unload again to release the spent coffee and start again. The KB90 has a different action to achieve the same result – the portafilter is loaded straight into the group head and lifted up slightly to click into position. This is a terrific advancement – it makes absolutely no difference to the flavour of the coffee but all the difference to the barista working the machine. There is no more twisting of the wrists with effort or needing to hang off the handles to swing the portafilter in and out of position.

The KB90 has some other advancements in common with La Marzocco’s latest machines, but it is the usability that really stands out here, and it is why we have chosen to replace our very aged and well-used fleet over the next few months with the KB90. We started this project pre-pandemic so it is super to finally be getting them installed!

Keep a lookout for the new machines as we install them in our Borough Market and Covent Garden shops. They are identifiable from your side of the counter with their sith-red illuminated, three-button controls. Like any developed skill there is a lot of muscle memory involved in making coffee so if you see a few of us seasoned pros fumbling around with the machines, you will know why.

See you with your reusable,

Monmouth x

April 2022 – Colomba!

It’s about this time of the year your writer gets a real hankering for panettone. Crazy, but maybe not so crazy after all, as Italy must have been feeling the same way at some point and came up with Colomba di Pasqua – the traditional Easter bread. Colomba is made to a very similar recipe… Read more »

March 2022 – reusable cups!

It’s happening! From this month we are no longer using paper cups for take away drinks. Your options are – 1. Bring your own reusable – this can be anything from your favourite office mug, to the reusable you got for Christmas, or the Thermos you’ve had since forever. We don’t mind as long as… Read more »

January 2022

As we come into what is the third year of the-time-of-Covid it is tempting to dwell on the situation. We are in winter, the lack of light, the cold, and the general uncertainty can feel overwhelming. But this month, your writer is focussing on silver linings, and we are going to start the year counting… Read more »

December 2021

Oh yes! Here we are! Christmas is here and we have all the good things out on the counters, online and in our shops. Panettone and chocolate are both in, coffees are tasting awesome, and it is good times all round. The counter has taken its Christmas shape, and back by popular demand is the… Read more »

Panettone 2021

Panettone from Pasticceria Triestina Ulcigrai has arrived and it is as toothsome and fluffy as ever! We have been buying panettone from this fifth generation bakery for a number of years now through Leila’s Shop and are always pleased with its full flavour from the long fermentation time and beautifully prepared dried fruit. Preparation for… Read more »

October 2021

We talked last month about roast profiles and how we go about describing the level of roast on our coffees. This got your writer thinking about the machinery itself and how we went about deciding to use Loring roasters. You may remember the brief history of our roasting machines last October – it seems it… Read more »

September 2021

Pandemics, frosts, and shipping shenanigans. Let’s talk this month about something we have more control over – roast levels and how we describe them. By the time a coffee arrives at the roasting arch we have already tasted it numerous times, from buying samples to the arrival sample and everything in between, and we have… Read more »