Capsule machines: one good thing – apart from the stupid-easy operation – is that they are consistent. The coffee always comes out the same: dense crema, airport-espresso flavour, thin body, toasty finish.
"Same funnel," I often think, borrowing the phrase a friend in the early 1990s used when I asked him about the art-making possibilities of the then-new PhotoShop (he was an X-Acto knife-wielding guerrilla from Sydney's underground mail and photocopy art scene).
The latest coffee to get the "same funnel" treatment comes in Sourced Coffee Pods from local specialty roaster Veneziano: Australia's first speciality pods, the company says.
There are two problems for roasters preparing coffee for pods: the tiny amount of coffee they have to work with – just 5.5 grams – and the "same funnel" principle of the machines' push-button system. There's none of the adjusting grind, extraction time or water temperature that professional and obsessive home baristas do: every capsule gets the same treatment.
In testing, the Sourced pods made a short black with a dense crema, a flavour more caramel than dark chocolate, with a hint of specialty fruitiness and a clean, nutty finish.
How do they compare with other locally roasted capsules? Shots by Genovese produced a bold, classic espresso-style cup with hints of dark chocolate and a toasty finish, while Piazza D'Oro's L'Or Espresso Superiore had a toasty nose, hints of bitter chocolate and a flavour that was just a little espresso-generico.
All three produce a dense, pale honeycomb-coloured crema that gives a much fuller mouthfeel than a stovetop espresso, even if the flavour gamut is still quite narrow, especially compared with specialty coffee extracted on a high-end espresso machine.
One thing you can say about Veneziano's pods is that their sourcing is pretty transparent.
The company's Craig Dickson proclaims rather boldly in a press release, "We can tell you which farm and even which paddock it's from."
So, Mr Dickson, which paddock (or lot) is it from? In an email, he explains that the blend will vary depending on seasonal availability, but the flavour profile will stay the same. At the moment, the pods contain coffee blended from four different farms: Brazil Sertaozinho Estate (lots 57 and 50); Colombia San Fernando Estate (lot 538); India Muntane Estate (a lot called Halasu); and India Sethuraman Estate (a lot called Jenumara, or "honey tree").
You can't get much more sourced than that – especially in a capsule.