Predictions for 2011

I can’t work out if these posts are getting tired or becoming a nice traditional thing. My success rate certainly hasn’t improved over the last few years! Nonetheless here are this year’s predictions:

1. Scales in drip trays

I’ve been going on about weighing espresso for a while, as have many others in the industry. This year we are going to see busy retail operations implement scales into drip trays for use with every drink. I also think this year a manufacturer of espresso machines will start to take this seriously and start R&D on building them in a standard.

2. C-market will peak, but won’t drop back too far

A lot of people are watching the C market, aware that it will have a frustrating impact on coffee quality as producers may have less incentive to pick/prep the highest quality when the prices are high for “ok” quality. There are certainly a number of factors at play in the high prices beyond the straight supply/demand relationship. Brazil’s entry into the C will probably have some effect, but I think we’re likely looking at small crops from places like Kenya and Colombia again which will help keep prices relatively high.

3. The WBC Prediction

This is going to be hard to quantify, but I think holding the WBC in a producing country will have a rejuvenating effect for those involved in the competition. I think it will be a great event and I hope people take full advantage of it being in a coffee producing country. Also I think the Scandinavians will be back in contention again.

4. A focus on service

We’ve had some focus on one cup brewing for a while now, and I don’t think the cycle is coming back round to espresso yet. I think there will more focus than before on the practical side of customer service in coffee. More discussion, some actual techniques and ideas being shared. The coffee industry will start to pay more attention to other industries. The winning routine at WBC will drive this idea home too.

5. More brewed coffee in the UK

I think that brewed coffee will continue to grow its market share. I say this without knowing what its current market share (if anyone has any data I’d love to see it.) Starbucks have long been the only chain in the UK to really do it properly. I think that the chains will join the independents in helping grow this market, though I think they’ll likely use it as a low cost, recession focused item whereas independents will be using it to produce higher value drinks.

Thoughts, comments and your predictions always very welcome in the comments!

One final plea

This is one last humble request on a topic I know I’ve ranted on about before.

It would be really good, when talking about how we are brewing espresso amongst professionals, to start by talking about the weight of the espresso.  We need to stop using volume.  It is useless. Utterly useless.  Saying 1.5oz is like saying “about a basket full of coffee”.  It gets me in the vague ballpark, but it doesn’t really help if I am trying to dial a coffee in.

I’ve been really enjoying the reviews of various blends over on Home Barista, but I’d have really loved to know how much people’s great/amazings shots weighed (especially with Vivace’s Dolce where unusual crema volume is reported) – it would have made the reviews a lot more interesting and transparent.  I am sure it would also have been useful for people following along with those coffees and similar machines at home.

I know Andy Schecter posted about this on Portafilter less than two months ago – and now I just sound like a broken, whining, complaining record.  But weighing espresso is just so useful.

Alright.  That was it, no more posts about it.  This was the last (hopeful!) try.  We shall now return to normal service….

UPDATE: It was in error that I used the Home Barista thread as an example as some of the reviewers were indeed using both mass and brew ratios.  Apologies!