Fantasy Flight Games recently began its Wave IX Expansion previews. The first ship in the expansion they took a closer look at is the ARC-170.Ever since the release of the original Core Set in 2012, the Rebel faction has relied heavily upon the synergies between its pilots, their unique abilities, and their upgrades. Pilots like Biggs Darklighter and Jan Ors have proven to be Rebel mainstays. Astromech Droids like R2-D2, R5-P9, and R3-A2 have held their ships together through many tumultuous battles. And ships like the Millennium Falcon have traditionally benefited from the contributions of such talented crew members as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and C-3PO.
LEGO has announced its latest approved LEGO Ideas submission — a set of eight build-able characters based on Cartoon Network’s hit animated series, “Adventure Time.” The set includes the bricks and instructions for Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Lady Rainicorn, Marceline, BMO, Gunter and the Ice King.
The “Adventure Time” set began as a Lego Ideas submission from Ludovic Piraud, a diehard fan of the “Adventure Time” series. The submission was a hit with the Lego Ideas community, garnering more than 10,000 supporters.
In an official press release Piraud had this to say “I didn’t think at first that what started as a fun little challenging pet project would receive so much support so fast, I was even afraid at some point that I would not have the time to submit the last update before the 10,000th vote hit! That was really thrilling and I started to think that I may have a chance to tell my kids one day ‘See this LEGO set? Your dad made it!’”
Check out a preview of LEGO’s “Adventure Time” set below:
LEGO Ideas is the brand’s user submission portal for new LEGO set designs. An idea for a new LEGO must be submitted through the site, then go through a community voting period. If the set gains enough traction, the LEGO company then reviews it and, if approved, the set goes on to be sold in stores.
Piraud’s “Adventure Time” LEGO set will be available for purchase on January 1, 2017.
The CW has released its first look at Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West as Kid Flash, who will make his speedster debut in “Flashpoint,” “The Flash” Season 3 premiere.
During the final episodes of “The Flash’s” second season, Wally and Jesse Wells were both knocked out by the force of the second particle explosion, but neither showed any speedster abilities before the season ended. However, it seems that will change when the show returns this fall.
It’s also worth pointing out that, in the Season 2 finale, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen went back in time and prevented his mother’s murder, triggering a famous linchpin event from the comics. While we’ve yet to see how this massive change in the show’s timeline will affect the series as it moves into its third season, “Flashpoint” — the title of the Season 3 premiere episode — gives fans a major, major hint.
The major DC Comics event from 2011 of the same name saw Barry Allen trying to navigate a totally altered world — one wherein his mother Nora was alive. As such, it’s unclear if Lonsdale’s Kid Flash will be a fixture of the world as Barry Allen knows it, or a byproduct of this alternate timeline. Kid Flash will definitely appear in Season 3’s debut episode, but it’s another question entirely if he’ll continue to play the speedster for the rest of the season.
From yesterday, people visiting Disneyland can get a glimpse of what the upcoming Star Wars-themed lands will have in store.
Disneyland have released a piece of concept art which can be seen posted on the fence along the Big Thunder Trail in Frontierland.
The image shows off a bustling port with an X-Wing flying over head, and if you look a bit closer, you’ll see the Millennium Falcon nestled away next to some rock spires. We know at least one ride will have a virtual reality version of the Millennium Falcon.
Disney says the new land will be 14 acres, making it the largest single-themed land expansion at Disneyland Resort. Construction of the new land began in April, but isn’t expected to be completed for a few years.
Comic Book Resources have compiled all the information know about season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow so far. Please note that this post contains spoilers for the end of season 1.
At the end of season 1, just when the team regrouped to find a new adventure, the new adventure found them: A Waverider from the future came crashing down onto the dock where they stood, and a man they had never met before emerged — Rex Tyler, aka Hourman.
If Hourman sounds familiar, that’s because The CW intended him to be the subject of his own television series, which never quite got off the ground. While it looks as though that “Hourman” show isn’t coming to fruition quite yet, The CW has plans for him on “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Although we haven’t met any of his friends, Hourman assured the Legends he wasn’t acting alone — and his group will be familiar to DC Comics fans: the Justice Society of America, an elite group that has counted among its members Jay Garrick, Power Girl and the original Sandman. In fact, there are plenty of heroes that could fill the television roster when the team appears in Season 2.
Hawkgirl, Hawkman & Captain Cold Depart
Before “Legends of Tomorrow’s” first season reached its conclusion, the show lost some series regulars: Hawkgirl and Captain Cold.
Wentworth Miller, who plays Captain Cold across the “Arrow”-verse, has signed a contract to appear on “Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Flash” and potentially other DC TV series in a recurring capacity — all despite the fact that Cold met his untimely end in the penultimate episode of “Legends of Tomorrow” Season 1. However, the “Arrow”-verse has a penchant for resurrecting dead characters, and death is always up in the air when there’s time travel involved. So it’s possible for Cold to make a comeback, just not as a series regular on “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Captain Cold wasn’t the only one to bow out, though. Ciara Renee’s Hawkgirl also left the team, although this was a decision she made willingly. As to why the Hawks were written off the show, Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim explained, “We went through the team, made a list of all the characters and started to think of stories for them. When we got to Hawkman and Hawkgirl, we had trouble coming up with stories. The bow was tied so tightly and neatly with their story in the finale, that everything we thought of felt very forced. After 4,000 years, they were no longer under the specter of Vandal, and we felt they need some time off. Bringing them back to the team as soon as the beginning of Season 2 felt premature.”
Vixen Roars onto Season 2
Hourman and the JSA won’t be the only newcomers in Season 2. Vixen will be a series regular, but she won’t be Mari McCabe, the incarnation played by Megalyn E.K. in “Arrow” Season 4. Instead, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” actress Maisie Richardson-Seller will play Amaya Jiwe, McCabe’s grandmother and holder of the Tantu Totem.
According to the character description, “Amaya Jiwe — better known as Vixen — is the newest superhero to board the Waverider and join the ranks of the ‘Legends of Tomorrow.’ Like her granddaughter, Mari McCabe, Amaya’s powers are derived from the mysterious Tantu Totem, which allows her to magically access the abilities of animals.”
E.K. played the DC Comics heroine first in animation, in the CW Seed short-form series “Vixen,” and then in live-action on an episode of “Arrow.” Due to her schedule, she’s unavailable to return as the character, so while “Legends of Tomorrow” will have a Vixen , she’s a different, earlier incarnation of the character, which fits with the show’s time travel-heavy motif.
Enter Citizen Steel
Citizen Steel will also enlist with the Legends, but it’s unclear whether he’ll don the stars and stripes straightaway. “Minority Report” alum Nick Zano will play Dr. Nate Heywood, the historian who becomes the hero Citizen Steel in the comics.
The show’s producers are tight-lipped about whether Heywood will become Steel on the series — but, based on the trajectory of the show after the Justice Society reveal at the end of Season 1, we can guess he’ll be wearing the star-spangled armor in no time.
In the comics, Nate is the third person to hold a “Steel” mantle, after the WWII-era Henry Heywood, who was a member of the original Justice Society, and his grandson Hank Heywood III, who was a member of the Justice League. Nate was created in 2007 as the other grandson of Henry Heywood, who assumed the identity of Citizen Steel during Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham’s run on “Justice Society of America.”
Season 2’s Slow Burn of a Villain
Even before “Legends of Tomorrow” premiered, we knew exactly who Season 1’s big villain was and what he wanted. However, that won’t be the case in Season 2.
“What we’re going to do in Season 2 of ‘Legends’ will be more similar to what you’ve experienced in the first three seasons of ‘Arrow’ or the first two seasons of ‘Flash,'” Guggenheim explained, “where it’s more of a slow reveal and a little bit of a mystery.”
“The season two big bad is actually not going to be the [alien race of] Thanagarians,” he added.”It’s going to be something else entirely. All I’ll really say about the nemesis in season two is Vandal Savage looks like a walk in the park compared to what the Legends will be facing. This will be a much, much bigger threat. I’m going to leave it at that because when we do reveal it, it’s going to be pretty big. People will be asking, ‘Vandal who?’ once they get the full picture of what our team is up against. It’s going to be way bigger than what you can even imagine, I can guarantee it.”
But that doesn’t mean you should count the Thanagarians out entirely. In an interview about the Season 1 finale, Guggenheim added, “The Thanagarian threat is a threat that is very far out in the future. Vandal Savage presents the clear and present danger… The Thanagarians are certainly something that are relevant, and will remain relevant in Season 2.”
The Return of Jonah Hex — And More?
Saddle up, partner! Jonah Hex will be back for more in Season 2, at least according to Guggenheim.
“I also think that Johnathon Schaech was an incredible Hex, and we were talking last night about doing another episode with him already,” he said as recently as May. “We really — when it comes to something like having Jonah on the show, we didn’t look at it as something that would thrill the fans — we look at it as a bucket list. We wanted to do Jonah.”
And Jonah Hex may not be the only DC Universe character to make a small-screen debut on “Legends of Tomorrow.” “We love the idea that the show is a gateway to the whole of the DC Universe, and we have an actual opportunity to go to every corner of the DC Universe, any time or any place that the story makes sense,” Guggenheim said. “I will say that you’ll see even more DC characters in Season Two. By a large margin.”
Expect a Visit from Albert Einstein
The Legends will pay a visit to another famous figure in Season 2, but he isn’t someone explicitly tied to DC Comics. This year, the team will run into none other than Albert Einstein.
A “disillusioned” and “snarky” version of the real-life physicist will appear in one episode of “Legends” Season 2. According to the report, “The Legends of Tomorrow crew will cross paths with a circa-1942 Albert Einstein in Season 2, but they’re disillusioned to discover that the legendary scientist is a snarky, brusque skirt-chaser. Needless to say, he proves to be quite a handful when they attempt to save his life.”
Casting for the Einstein role has yet to be announced.
Crossing On Over
With “Supergirl” joining “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” on the network next season — all shows under the purview of executive producer Greg Berlanti — the time is ripe for a massive crossover. And “Arrow” star Stephen Amell predicts that the superhero team-up will air across one single week as a four-night extravaganza.
“I think what we’ll end up seeing is one giant four-night crossover. This is kind of an unprecedented moment in terms of the history of network television. To have four shows [with the] same showrunner,” he explained, referring to Berlanti.
The CW President Mark Pedowitz would tend to agree with that. “Our annual crossover event this fall [will] be the biggest one ever,” he shared.
However, Amell draws the line at a musical crossover: “No. I’m out! I’m the first one. I get to draw the line, and I draw the line at musical.”
Meanwhile, “Legends” star Brandon Routh wants a smaller-scale crossover — for himself. “I hope to be on ‘Arrow,’ ‘Flash,’ and ‘Supergirl’… make the trifecta!” he said, adding, “I wish [‘Supergirl’s’ Superman Tyler Hoechlin] the best and hope to meet him if Ray gets to crossover to ‘Supergirl!'”
In an article published by Fantasy Flight Games they look at the recently launched Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack. So plot your bombing runs, unleash torrential volleys of cannon fire, and rule the skies with Imperial might…
Designed to maximize the impact of the TIE bombers and TIE defenders, the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack introduces two new TIE miniatures with alternate paint schemes – one grey TIE bomber with the Gamma Squadron’s signature white stripe and one TIE defender with the bold red paint scheme shared by Countess Ryad and the Glaive Squadron.
Additionally, the expansion features eight new veteran pilots and an impressive arsenal of thirteen upgrades that expand the capabilities and versatility of the TIE bomber and TIE defender.
Bold New Paint Schemes
Both the TIE bomber and TIE defender feature bold new paint schemes that lend them an immediate air of distinction.
Used widely throughout the Galactic Civil War, the TIE bomber excelled at destroying larger ships and delivering devastating payloads of explosive ordnance with pinpoint precision. It was slower than the standard TIE fighter but featured stronger hull plating and a distinctive dual-hull shape. Two hulls sat side-by-side, and one served as the cockpit while the other carried a pair of general purpose warhead launchers as well as a store of munitions tailored to the ship’s mission.
Among Rebels, the TIE bomber earned the nickname “sitting duck” due to its lower speed and maneuverability, but a limited number of pilots, such as the elite veterans of the Gamma Squadron, were able to outfit their bombers for air superiority, pilot their ships perfectly, and take their foes by surprise.
Meanwhile, where the TIE bomber was hard-pressed to establish air superiority, the TIE defender was arguably the strongest dogfighter of its era, and only Imperial veterans who had successfully flown at least twenty combat missions were given the opportunity to pilot one. Unlike most TIE designs, the TIE defender featured both shielding and a hyperdrive, and its appearance was every bit as distinctive as the TIE bomber’s, owing to its three quadanium steel solar array wings, which were mounted around a pilot module similar to those found in most TIE designs.
Already an easily recognizable and fearsome fighter, the TIE defender from the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack receives a bold new paint scheme that ensures your foes will see it and be aware of the threat it poses, no matter where they are on the battlefield.
New Pilots and Upgrades
Of course, if you want your starships to make an impact in battle, you need pilots to fly them. And if you want your starships to rout your foes, you want them flown by the best pilots possible.
The two new miniatures represent only the beginning of what the expansion has to offer. It also introduces eight new ship cards and thirteen upgrades that dramatically reshape the possible roles that the TIE bomber and TIE defender can play within your fleet.
For example, with their mid-level pilot skill values and elite pilot talent slots, the two relatively inexpensive and non-unique Gamma Squadron Veterans from the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack can make good use of ship-to-ship ordnance and may very well allow you to take a good number of opponents by surprise, especially if their ships are outfitted with the new Long-Range Scanners modification.
In such a case, your Gamma Squadron Veterans can acquire target locks in the first round, long before you and your opponent have maneuvered your ships into firing range. Then, as they draw closer to their foes, they can perform focus actions and fire their missiles or torpedoes. The fact that they have elite pilot talent upgrade slots means they can equip cards like Predator to enhance their attack dice or Crack Shot to negatively impact your opponent’s defense dice.
Similarly, the TIE defender gets a boost from four new ship cards and two different Title upgrades, which introduce two dramatically different ways that you can fly the ship:
The TIE/x7 Title introduces a rare negative squad point adjustment and allows you to more fully incorporate your TIE defender into your squadron as a straight dogfighter, complete with the free evade tokens it grants you for tearing across the battlefield at breakneck speeds.
On the other hand, the TIE/D Title allows you to link your ship’s primary weapons to a cannon upgrade of three or fewer squad points. Whether this is a Flechette Cannon , an Ion Cannon , or some other weapon, the TIE/D Title introduces the potential to both deal extra damage and burden your opponents with stress or ion tokens.
No matter which of the two TIE defender Title upgrades you choose to equip, it’s bound to help you refine your strategy, just as its new pilots are bound to help you crush the Rebellion more swiftly and more brutally than ever before.
If you are interested in ordering a copy of the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack then email one of our Imperial Officers here
Bethesda, publisher of DOOM, has 3D printed a life size replica of the B.F.G. and given it away to a talented fan.
They ran a competition for fans to create their own paint job for the iconic weapon, and the winner, John Allen, got the B.F.G. to keep.
The replica itself was created and crafted by, ironically, MyMiniFactory. Instead of working from reference images like normal, id Software shared in-game files with the designers so the gun would be as accurate as possible.
To create such a gun was a mammoth task. It took Kirby Downey, lead designer at MyMiniFactory, 35 hours to design each piece of the weapon, 70 in total, and then it took 1,000 hours to actually 3D print it all. The final B.F.G. is three feet long, 18 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and weighs 36 pounds.
Story originally reported on IGN
The Dynamic Duo battles the Clown Prince of Crime in this incredible LEGO diorama that looks so much like a comic book cover that you’ll either want to read it or frame and hang it on the wall.
Called “LEGO Batman vs Joker Gotham Theater Showdown,” Paul Hetherington’s incredibly detailed piece uses as its backdrop an appropriately ornate Art Deco theater. “I absolutely love Art Deco-style buildings,” Hetherington explains, “so building this was an excuse to indulge myself and create my own Art Deco Theater.”
But wait, he didn’t stop there: The diorama includes a classic Batman logo, to give it the feel of a comic cover, as well as moving parts.
Hetherington even crafted a story for the piece:
Once again that Mad Harlequin of Hate, The Joker, brings menace to the citizens of Gotham. Beware as the Streetcar named Destruction advances into Gotham, and the Joker’s henchmen unleash horrible Joker Gas! Listen to the eerie dreadful laughing — has the Joker taken control of everyone?!? Wait — look above — that symbol of justice descending from the sky — The Batcopter! Piloted by the plucky Robin, The Boy Wonder and the courageous Batman! Are the tornado team of crime crushers in time to oppose the Grim Jester in the gripping tale of — Gotham Theater Showdown!!
See details of the diorama, as well as more of Hetherington’s work, on his Flickr account.
“Arrow” star John Barrowman has signed a deal with The CW that will make him a series regular across all of the network’s superhero shows. According to TVLine, he will add “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” to his resume, following in the footsteps of Wentworth Miller, who struck a similar deal in May.
When news of the deal broke. executive producer Greg Berlanti said “What it really emulates to us is the comic books themselves, where there really are a cast of characters.”
We take tea and coffee seriously at Dark Matter Cafe! Here’s why.
What’s in it? 40% Guatemala Campo Alto
40% Costa Rica San Bosco Reserva
20% Kenya Gethumbwini
How does it taste? Mouth-wateringly rich, strong and buttery.
Proudly our supplier Ringtons, a fantastic heritage brand in the North East of England, also serves the Queens, Fortnum and Mason, as well as been the brand behind Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose own branded teas.
The following information is provided by Ringtons Beverages about the types of coffee available and the current used, and how we use it in our stores.
Good Coffee, Bad Coffee
When it comes to making coffee drinking an enjoyable experience it is important to remember that everyone’s tastes are different. Just because your favourite may be a full-bodied Gethumbwini doesn’t mean that everyone will like it. Some may prefer the milder Colombian La Ceja, or perhaps the gutsy, less acidic Monsooned Malabar. People should enjoy whatever they are drinking in whatever format suits them.
W hat is import for us to do is help educate people about the world of coffee and steer them in the right direction, if they so desire. What we can do is provide technical advice on which coffees to choose and how to achieve the best results when brewing them. At Ringtons Stores we have a wide range of top quality coffees that vary wildly in appearance, aroma and taste. No two coffees that we sell are alike; they all have their signature ‘cup profile’ and unique characteristics.
For us, good coffee means high quality, flavour, aroma, mouth feel, after taste, acidity (the good kind), sweetness, strength (of flavour, not bitterness) and even the clarity of the taste. Our Speciality coffees all score highly in these categories and this is a direct result of the careful growing, harvesting, processing, shipping, roasting, (grinding), and packing. Nothing is left to chance and every control necessary is put in place to achieve the very best from the raw materials that we are provided with.
Many things can make a coffee ‘bad’. It could simply be the case that the bushes are grown in unsuitable climates or conditions. It could be careless harvesting, processing or roasting. The packaging could be detrimental to the freshness and longevity of the coffee.
Most coffees in the marketplace are just average. They fit into a range of ‘acceptability’ and that is what most consumers perceive to be the norm. Most are blended for price and the marketplace has become flooded with very cheap, low quality coffees that are used as ‘blenders’ to reduce overall blend costs and increase margins. This is, of course, at the expense of quality.
Most coffee is traded on the commodities markets. This is where farmers simply grow their crops for yield and sell to large mills where all the coffees are bulked and sold under a standard name. You may have heard of Brazil Santos coffee – this is not a specialist name but simply the name of the port where it is shipped. Absolutely any Brazilian coffee can be sold under this name.
Sadly, most coffee shops and restaurants are happy to sell these products and most consumers have not had the chance to try anything better… this is where we come in. By offering a range of the finest speciality coffees to our customers we can give them choice and a real passion for something that is far, far better than the norm.
Where Do Our Coffees Come From?
Coffees can vary widely in taste from country to country, and indeed the differences in flavour can be considerable between regions within a country. Altitudes, soil type, amount and intensity of sunlight and humidity are a few of the many factors that influence the overall taste.
With such a wide range of flavours it is important that we can describe, record and accurately communicate what each coffee’s profile is. Coffee can possess in excess of 1000 aromatic volatile compounds and special coffee-related vocabulary is used to describe them.
Positive words used to describe a coffee may include pure, caramel, honey, refined, citric, lively, creamy, rounded, velvety etc.
Negative comments can be vast and may include sweaty, dirty, off-fruit, immature, astringent, tart, vinegar, unbalanced, insipid, sour, gritty etc.
Our taste buds are on our tongues and pallets, but we also experience aroma through our sense of smell. So part of any good coffee cupping will always include smelling the coffee (usually in three different ways!).
We have tried to include as many positive taste sensations in our range of coffees as possible. This is partly achieved by sourcing the best coffees available from the best producing countries around the world…
Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and is probably the world best-known coffee producer. As mentioned previously, when people think of coffee and Brazil the name Santos usually comes to mind. Yet this is not a coffee growing region, but the biggest coffee export port in the world.
Brazil produces 85% arabica and 15% robusta coffees and the vast majority of all coffees produced in Brazil are made using the dry processing method.
Brazilian coffee is generally quite mild, with high sweetness and low acidity. It is a very useful coffee to use as the base in blends and the best coffees are rich in sweetness and have a rounded, full-bodied taste.
We use the following Brazilian coffees in our Store’s range:
Brazil Speciality Coffee Association (BSCA) Fazenda Lagoa
Pocos de Caldas
Santos (Flavoured Coffee Only)
Colombia produces the world’s largest amount of arabica coffee. Where Santos is synonymous with Brazil, Excelso is synonymous with Colombia. Excelso denotes the most common bean size from Colombia.
Colombian coffee grows on the slopes of the Andes Mountains in areas that are typically 900-1800 meters above sea level.
Colombian coffee tends to be quite lively and has noticeable acidity. Poorer quality Colombian coffees can often taste sour but higher quality coffees will have rich fruity flavours such as blackcurrant. Colombian coffees do not tend to be as fruity as Kenyan coffees but do tend to be more rounded.
We use the following Colombian coffees in our Store’s range:
Colombia Supermo Huila La Ceja (pronounced: “La Se Ha”)
Costa Rica possesses idyllic climatic conditions for coffee cultivation. The consistently warm climate, with cool nights and high levels of humidity make for perfect coffee berry growth.
The Costa Ricans are famous for being fanatical about their coffee’s quality. In-fact in 1989 a law was passed in Costa Rica making it illegal to cultivate robusta coffees. SHB is a term that is often used when describing Costa Rican coffees. It stands for “Strictly Hard Bean” and is synonymous with the famous Tarrazu growing region.
Costa Rican coffees tend to be full-bodied, intense, rich and have a well-balanced sweetness and acidity.
We use the following Costa Rican coffees in our Store’s range:
Asociacion Cafes Finos De Costa Rica (ACFCR) Certified San Bosco Reserva SHB
Guatemala is fairly unique in that most of their coffee bushes are a sub-type of the arabica bush called Bourbon. Bourbon bushes are renowned for their high quality and populate the famous Antigua and Atitlan regions.
Guatemalan coffee tends to be rich, well-balanced, and has a distinctive, complex acidity and sweetness that produces trademark notes of chocolate, nuts and spices.
We use the following Guatemalan coffees in our Store’s range:
Guatemala Campo Alto
Guatemalan Maragogype (pronounced Ma-ra-jeep)
Kenya sits proudly on the equator and produces some of the finest coffees in world in its highland regions 1500-2000 meters above sea level. The consistent climate, high altitude, and small-scale careful farming combine to produce gentle, consistent growing conditions.
Kenyan coffees are sold through auctions run by the Coffee Board of Kenya and samples are tested in their designated laboratory. The auction system has sharpened the focus on quality and consistency in Kenya.
Universally loved, Kenyan coffee sits at the top of the range and the very best lots have rich acidity producing thick fruit flavours and often not dissimilar to full bodied red wines.
We use the following Kenyan coffees in our Store’s range:
Kenya Gethumbwini Estate AA
Kenya Gethumbwini Estate AB
Ethiopia is regarded as the true origin of coffee and hence the coffee-growing tradition is well established.
While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century. It was from Ethiopia that it travelled to Yemen about 600 years ago, and from Arabia it began its journey around the world.
A mong the many legends that surround the discovery of coffee, one of the most popular accounts is that of an Abyssinian (Ethiopian) goat-herder named Kaldi, who lived around AD 850. He was curious as to what was causing his goats to behave so strangely. They were skipping, rearing on their hind legs and bleating loudly – almost like dancing. He noticed they were eating the bright red berries that grew on the green bushes nearby.
After trying a few him self, he found that they gave him a strange sense of elation. After filling his pockets he ran home to show off his new discovery to his wife. “They are heaven-sent” she declared, “You must take them to the Monks in the monastery”.
Kaldi presented the chief Monk with a handful of berries and related his discovery of their uplifting effects. The monk exclaimed that the berries were “Devil’s work” and hurled them into the fire. Within minutes the monastery filled with the aroma of roasting beans and the other monks gathered to investigate. The beans were crushed as the monks extinguished the embers. The chief monk ordered that the grains be placed in hot water to preserve their flavour – thus the first brewing of coffee.
The word “coffee” probably his its roots from the Kaffe region of the country, where coffee bushes still grow wild to this day.
Ethiopia only produces arabica coffee and has several famous growing regions that include Djimma, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe.
Ethiopian coffees can vary from region to region. The most distinctive, and our Store’s choice is the best crops from the Yirgacheffe region. These coffees have an intense floral aroma, a distinctly unique richness and are widely regarded as the coffee that is most similar to tea!
We use the following Ethiopian coffees in our Store’s range:
India produces a mixture of grades, qualities and species of coffee. Their coffees tend to be shade grown, i.e. shaded from the sun by larger tropical trees, and hence the berries ripen more slowly, adding to fructose levels.
The diversity of our Indian coffees is quite remarkable and the Monsooned Malabar is a unique technique used to totally altering the characteristics of green coffee beans.
Indian coffee, in its normal form, tends to be milder and more edgy than other growing countries. Acidity levels tend to be low and sugars are more refined and smoother. ‘Dry’ and ‘bittersweet’ are terms that are often used to describe Indian coffee. Monsooned Malabar is entirely different. It has almost no acidity and quickly develops a rustic, thick, oily character.
We use the following Indian coffees in our Store’s range:
Indian Bibi Plantation Peaberry
Indian Bibi Plantation AA Monsooned Malabar
Jamaica is famous for producing Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Jamaicans tend to believe that it is the “Champagne” of coffees, but this may just be a little over-exaggerated! However, it is quite unique and has a strong following…who are not put off by its more-than-hefty asking price (Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is typically as much as ten times the price of the very best Kenyan coffees!).
It is grown in a very limited area and Jamaica’s Coffee Industry Board monitors the quality that is produced. The uniqueness of Jamaica Blue Mountain is not just limited to the cup profile – most coffees are exported in burlap sacks whereas Jamaican Blue Mountain is exported in wooden barrels.
Jamaican Blue Mountain has a smooth, velvety sweetness and acidity. It is mild and delicate with an intense aroma.
We use the following Jamaican coffees in our Store’s range:
Jamaican Blue Mountain Flamstead Estate.
Indonesia produces a mixture of robusta and arabica coffees. They are often defined by the name of the Indonesian island that the coffee comes from, though this is not always true. Java coffee can come from Sumatra, as well as Java itself. You may have heard of Blue Java – this is simply named because the beans have a blue tinge to them!
Java coffees are slightly unusual and often have a strong acidic taste that can be overpowering. They tend to be blended with sweeter, milder coffee to balance the flavours and dark roasted to reduce the levels of acidity.
We use the following Indonesian coffees in our Store’s range:
Nama Baik Mill’s Indonesian Mandheling
Peru has produced coffee for some time but is still considered a newcomer to the global coffee market. The beans are typically organically grown on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. Most of the beans are wet processed arabica variety.
Peruvian coffee is generally smooth and well-rounded, the ideal middle ground for no nonsense coffees and blends.
We use the following Peruvian coffees in our Store’s range:
Organic Peru El Guabo
Decaffeinated Organic Peru El Guabo
Australia is relatively unknown as a coffee producer, and this is a fantastic reason to offer it as part of the range. The uniqueness of this coffee is not just because of where it comes from but also how it tastes. The pack description states that the Australian Skybury Plantation “sits on top of the great Australian mountain range and the resulting beans is a real reflection of the landscape it comes from; wild, earthy and bold this really is something a little bit different.”
We use the following Australian coffee in our Store’s range:
Australia Skybury Plantation
Roasting, An Art
After green coffee beans have been selected, and possibly blended, they are roasted. The flavour and appearance of the desired final product will always determine what the roasting time and temperature will be.
The art of roasting comes from being able to roast each coffee to its “sweet spot”, where it has been roasted for the right time and at the right temperatures. If it is under-roasted it will taste raw and insipid. If it is over-roasted it will taste burnt and bitter.
Generally speaking lighter roasted coffees have a lively acidity and more fruit varieties. Darker roasts lack sweetness, have more bitterness and lower acidity, as well as loosing some of the beans original characteristics.
There are several key elements to successful roasting and these are summarised below:
The roast is just one step from bean to cup but it is probably the most important one in terms of developing the flavour of the coffee.
There are a number of nuisances that occur time after time, which have a direct effect on the ultimate flavour of the coffee. These include temperature profiles, airflow, time and colour.
There must be a real connection with, and feel for, the machine – but should not be a robot.
Determining the Roast
Temperatures, smell, sight and sound!
No coffee tastes good before 1st crack (the point at which the internal moisture pressure exceeds the resistance of the structure of the bean). Too lighter roast will produce nutty, grassy or bread-like flavours. Also, the beans will be very hard and difficult to grind evenly.
Any time between 1st and 2nd crack (the point at which the internal pressure of the gas trapped within the bean structure exceeds the resistance of the structure of the bean) is a normal roast.
Around, and more normally just after, 2nd crack the roast will be bittersweet. This is not necessarily unpleasant.
Beyond the 2nd crack the coffee becomes carbonated. Carbon – ashy – burnt – perhaps even rubbery. Almost industrial-like.
Coffee roasted for too long at a too low or stagnant temperature will have a baked flavour.
Roasting Different Beans
Different beans behave differently through identical profile curves.
Each type of bean will taste different at different roast heights.
Water evaporates faster in low grown, dry processed, aged and elephant (large) beans. This is due to less solid cell structures and wider centre cuts. Colour changes will be faster and more even.
Denser beans are typically higher grown, washed, fresh and peaberry and hence require different roasting techniques.
In order to achieve high quality origin characteristics in dark roasted espresso beans it is essential that the densest, most acidic and highest quality green beans.
Changes As a Result of Roasting
Physical changes are clearly recognisable and relatively easy to measure. These are colour, size, shape and weight.
Chemical changes are more difficult to monitor. However, they can be analysed and controlled via observations and experience over time.
The Three Phases of Roasting (Drying, Roasting and Cooling)
The Drying Phase is ENDOTHERMIC (external heat is absorbed).
The beans begin to absorb heat from the environment (the roasting drum) the instant they are entered. The water within the beans acts a conductor and eventually reaches 100C and begins to evaporate, cooling the bean’s surface.
As moisture evaporates the rate of heat transfer from the environment to the bean is impeded; this is due to the increasingly hollow cell structure.
At approximately 130C the colour of the bean changes from green to yellow and the beans enter the:
Roasting Phase, which is EXOTHERMIC (heat is emitted from the beans).
The internal pressure of the beans increases due to water vapour.
Colour of the bean changes from yellow to light brown.
Cell walls within the beans dry out and become less elastic.
Sucrose (sugar) levels start to fall.
Proteins and fats begin to decompose.
1st crack occurs at approximately 160 – 180C and the centre cut opens.
True pyrolysis begins (the decomposition of the bean due to heat).
Size can increase by up to 100%.
Weight loss occurs up to 5%.
Silverskin blisters and is shed from the surface of the bean.
The Maillard Reaction occurs. Proteins, peptides and free amino acids react with reducing sugars to form volatile aromatic constituents and browning pigments.
Colour changes from brown to darker brown.
Aroma development begins and the traditional “coffee smell” becomes more evident.
The chemical composition of the bean is continuously changing.
As beans approach 200C the sugars begin to caramelise.
The internal gas pressure builds, as the cell matrix becomes brittle.
2nd crack occurs at approximately 200 – 220C.
Gases and volatile aromas are released.
Internal bean oils equalise across the whole bean structure and are evident on the bean’s surface.
After a short endothermic stage the process becomes exothermic once more.
Further roasting results in carbonisation of cellulose (i.e. the beans become burnt).
Bluish grey acrid smoke appears as the oil burns.
Fats and oils become less viscous and spread more evenly over the surface of the bean.
Further carbonisation will leave the beans charred and ashy.
Organic matter is reduced by up to and above 12%. Lighter roasts are typically 1-5%.
Total waste can be as much as 20% due to loss of water, silverskin, carbon dioxide and aromas.
There are several points at which the roast can be terminated within the roasting phase. Whichever point is chosen the beans must enter the Cooling Phase:
The coffee beans must be cooled quickly so not to over roast with their own heat.
Beans can be cooled be either air or water quenching.
Water quenching is fast and reduces (or eliminates) the amount of smoke produced from the beans. However, the water tends to shock the beans and open the pores. This can expose the beans to the atmosphere and make them go stale more quickly. It also allows the oils within the beans to equalise and spread more easily across the beans. The oils are therefore prone to attack from oxygen.
Air quenching is preferable in terms of retention of quality, as it is a more gentle process. However, it is not as effective at cooling the beans and stopping the roast. It also creates a health and safety issue as it releases large volumes of smoke into the local atmosphere.
Once cooled the beans are still unstable and continue to release carbon dioxide for several weeks. One kilogram of coffee can release 6 – 10 litres of gas.
The Flavour of Coffees
Coffee flavours are both inherent in the bean and are developed by roasting.
Coffee flavours can be categorised according to the aspect of growth or process that has brought them about.
Cherries with green beans are living organisms and hence organic flavours can develop. These typically include floral notes (such as coffee blossom and tea rose), fruits (e.g. lemon, apple, apricot are common but some of the more special coffees have more exotic or rare fruit flavours), vegetables (e.g. peas, potato, cucumber) and naturally sweet substances such as honey.
Alongside these organic, or natural, flavours can be some aromas of earth, straw, leather, rubber, meat or smoke. These can become unpleasant if they are too strong.
During the pyrolysis of roasting, spicier aromas can be brought forward (and destroyed!). These typically include maple, malt, tobacco, pepper, cloves, coriander, blackcurrant and cedar.
The browning process enhances notes of caramel, butter, nuts, chocolate, vanilla and toast.
Storage, before and after opening
During the roasting process all coffees naturally produce carbon dioxide inside the structure of the beans. This gas will naturally evaporate within a week or so, taking with it the fresh, flavoursome aromas of the coffee – loosing its freshness and aroma, unless it is correctly packaged of course!
Coffees can be stored in various packaging forms and we use the following formats for our Store’s coffees:
Valve Bags – Arguably the best way to store roasted coffee – beans or ground. The bags feature a non-return valve, usually located towards the top of the bag. The bags are filled with the coffee immediately after roasting. The Carbon Dioxide that is produced during the roasting process is released from the beans and slowly fills the bag with the gas.
When settled, Carbon Dioxide sits in a layer below Oxygen because it is heavier. It is the Oxygen in the air that attacks the coffee, oxidising it and making it taste stale. As more and more Carbon Dioxide is released the pressure in the bag increases forcing the layer of oxygen out of the valve.
The Carbon Dioxide that remains forms a protective ‘blanket’ around the coffee until the bag is opened.
Caddies – Our in-store caddies do offer some protection but it is always best to use the coffee FULLY up before replenished from a fresh valve bag. The valve bags used to store the bulk coffees for the caddies keep the freshness of the coffees in the same way as the small 250g valve bags on shelf.
We will be serving from the caddies directly into ‘Kraft’ bags in-store. The bags do not offer the same level of protection as the valve bags and they are mainly designed for easy opening and re-sealing. Customers should be advised to buy in smaller quantities so that coffee stays fresher.
W e are also selling our coffees in Selection Packs. These packs are ideal for holding a selection of smaller portioned coffees bags. The foil bags provide protection from the atmosphere until they are opened and are ‘gas flushed’ with Nitrogen before being sealed. The Nitrogen acts as a protective cushion in the bag and forces any Oxygen out of the bags before they are sealed, allowing the coffee to stay in a protective atmosphere while in the bags.
Many coffee producers pack their coffees into vacuum-packed blocks. We choose not to do this because it removes all of the aroma and natural gas from the coffee before it is packed.
Coffee has a limited shelf life, that can be greatly extended by good quality packaging. Once a coffee pack has been opened it will loose freshness and flavour, and become stale very quickly, unless it is stored in an airtight container or re-sealable bag. Follow the instructions on each pack to achieve best results.
Coffee can also absorb tastes and aromas from other foods so extra care must be taken when storing in kitchens, fridges etc. If it is stored in a warm, humid atmosphere the coffee will deteriorate even faster.
The best way to stop coffee from going off is by keeping the coffee in its original bag for as long as possible before opening. Then try to prevent contact with air as much as is possible.
There are some golden rules that apply to making any coffee, regardless of whether you are using an espresso machine, a cafetiére or a filter (or anything else for that matter!).
Learn to use your equipment properly – whether it is a grinder, a machine or even something even as simple as a cafetiére. Read the manufacturers instructions and set up the equipment as required. The simplest of things can lead to improper brewing of coffee (e.g. a temperature difference of just 1C in an espresso machine can alter the flavour of the espresso produced).
All equipment must be immaculately clean! Even though coffee is virtually calorie-free it does contain fatty substances that can leave deposits on your equipment. These can soon become rancid and will add highly unpleasant flavours to any newly brewed coffee.
Use Cold, Freshly Drawn Water. This is a common mistake. Many people will re-boil water, use hot urns or water that has sat for long periods of time to make their coffee. Water that has sat for a long period of time, or has been previously heated, will have lost large quantities of oxygen that is naturally dissolved in the water. When water boils, it bubbles. These bubbles are oxygen escaping from the water. The exact same thing happens with warmed water or water that is allowed to stand for a long period, but the effect is not as rapid.
Water that is depleted of oxygen is stale. Stale water does not taste good. Coffee is made up of around 99% water. If you use stale water to make your coffee it will taste bad. Simple.
Always use the correct grind size for your purpose. Coffee is ground to make it easier for the water to extract the desired flavours from it. The finer the grind, the shorter time it takes to extract the flavours. The time taken is determined by the ‘drip time’ of your coffee making equipment.
An espresso machine requires a very fine grind because the contact time between the coffee and the water is very short (less than 30 seconds). A filter uses a much courser grind because the contact time is much longer (5-6 minutes). If over-extraction occurs (too finer grind/too longer extraction period) then undesirable compounds, such as bitter tannins, are released into the liquor.
Use the right dose of coffee. People always ask “how much coffee should I use?” Well the beauty of coffee is that you can use as much, or as little, as you like. A good starting point is to use 7g of ground coffee for every person, whether that be for a single espresso or when using a six-cup cafetiére, and take it from there. If you like it stronger, use more coffee. You should never leave coffee brewing for a longer time period to make it stronger, as this will release the undesirable flavours that were mentioned earlier, increasing bitterness but not strength of flavour.
Only use water at the correct temperature (92-96C). If the water is too cold or too hot, the resuktant coffee will be weak or bitter.
Serving: Milk, Cream, Sugar???
Simple… it’s up to you.
Coffee and Health
Literally thousands of studies have shown that coffee drinking in moderation is perfectly safe and indeed can even be beneficial to health. Moderation is generally considered to be 4-5cups of coffee a day.
Coffee helps to improve alertness, attention and wakefulness. Research also suggests coffee can lessen the risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and gallstones as well as act as a powerful antioxidant and increase physical endurance.
So just like tea, coffee can play a contributory part to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
What are Organic coffees?
Coffee that is organically certified must bear a label showing that it has been so by one of several independent monitoring and testing agencies. The labelling system ensures consumers that the coffee has been grown according to organic principles, meaning that it has been produced free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.