The VCA Team
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You can't beat the smell of great coffee in the Studio. We take our coffee making seriously, it's both a science and an art. Firstly, you need to start with a quality bean, the fresher the beans and the smaller the producer, the more exciting the flavour. That's why we'll only use beans that have been sourced and roasted by local coffee roasters Heartland, who also happen to be a client. Happy days!
Recently our Gaggia machine died (it's worked very hard over the years!) and needed a suitable replacement that was up to the job. After a careful amount of research we opted for the Sage Barista Expresso machine by Heston Blumenthal, which came highly recommended by a client.
It will probably come as no surprise to you that there are plenty of dials and buttons to experiment with, since it’s got the name of the most adventurous chef on TV on the box. This is one of those products that’s hard to put into words, so we’ll focus on the main features here.
The Barista Express allows you to grind the beans right before extraction, and its interchangeable filters and a choice of automatic or manual operation ensure authentic café style results in no time at all.
Firstly, there’s the speed. While some bean to cup machines will spend three or four minutes grinding down the beans, and making enough noise to raise the dead, the Barista Express espresso machine is notably fast, completing the job in less than sixty seconds and doing the job quietly.
While a couple of minutes saving doesn’t sound much, it’s the difference between hanging around or going spending the time doing something else (thinking about the project you're working on) or spending the time unloading the dishwasher!
We’re not going to pretend we really understand the science behind this bit, but Heston’s range make frequent reference to the pressure of the brewing process. All we know is that the beans infuse with a low pressure cycle and then go through a high pressure phase to make the coffee, and out comes the brewed drink. What we do understand is we love the coffee, so that’s good enough for us
The steamer arm on Heston’s machine is quite good fun once you get it under control. It’s described as high pressure to get the desired frothing effect, and that’s certainly no exaggeration
The list of features include:
Dose-Control Grinding. Integrated conical burr grinder with dose control delivers the right amount on demand, ensuring maximum flavour. Its fully adjustable grind size and dose, lets you customise to suit your taste.
Precise Espresso Extraction. Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction. The Sage Razor™ dosing tool trims the puck for a consistent dose and extraction.
Micro-foam Milk. The steam wand performs at the level that allows you to hand-texture the micro-foam necessary to enhance the flavour of the coffee and create latte art.
It also has a cool hot plate on the top to keep your cups nice and warm.
Okay, so we need to spell out the obvious, no matter how good the machine is, it's only as good as the beans you put in. We buy our coffee from a local north wales roaster called Heartland Coffee, which freshly roasts onsite everyday, with over 20 different blends to choose from. Our favourite is the Mexico Altura Reserva, which our clients seem to love.
Although we dont confess to be trained Baristas, it's the best coffee we know though, come along and check it out.