There is no other almond milk for Melbourne cafes 

Milk Lab almond milk is by far the most popular almond milk and fast becoming more prolific than Bonsoy.

Busy inner CBD cafes will go through 20 boxes of Bonsoy per week, 10 boxes of milk Lab almond and 3 boxes of coconut milk per week.

Almond breeze and other brands such as Almond Milk CO do not satisfy the discerning coffee drinker.

When people come and ask “Which Almond Milk do you use?” 5 times a day it’s always Milk Lab.

This is not an advertisement for Milk Lab. I hate the stuff. It’s against my nature to consume milk with added sugar and corn starch, but it sells.

Cafe owners must respond to demand but this is more than demand it’s an epidemic, a social phenomena. Almond Milk Lab is like the 1920 Colgate or more recently, and more coffee centric analogy, like the rise of Bonsoy in the 90s.

Almond Breeze smells and tastes like Vanilla essence and Almond co simply doesn’t steam well.

The intersection of coffee, business and technology beckons us to move towards Milk Lab and be discerning cafe owners and coffee people.

Having milk Lab almond milk in the window is like a free Billboard that not only draws customers but rips them from your customers grasp. Do it. Because…..

Quality speak and…the customer has spoken.


Australia Cafe Market Situation 2018

Specialty Coffee Industry in Australia has reached peak maturity and saturation evident by an array of niche offerings exhibiting high end market fragmentation.
New innovative retail concepts, coupled with creative nuanced food and beverage offerings combine with social media to maintain growth in a highly competitive market.
Complimentary to this are end to end supply chain innovations where we are seeing milk producers, coffee producers and equipment producers also take chase and innovate.
We are at risk of confusing the customer with the plethora of offerings. However for the time beinh customers are benefiting the most.
Extreme competion virtically has afforded the consumer more choice than ever before at more locations and at lower prices. However upward pressure in the rental market coupled with downward pressure on retail spending is pushing the industry to a potential crisis point.
Wages are high in Australia and while interest rates are low and households are able to maintain their lifestyle spending retailers are able to break even with cost cutting and innovation, however a small interest rate rise may dry up the discretionary spending of most consumers in 2018-2020.
Email me for an industry SWOT analysis.

A moment of awe with – Blonde Food and Coffee 

Today I enjoyed my seventh consecutive sublime coffee at Blonde Food and Coffee. A new, pop-up style Cafe at the deserted end of Brunswick Street aims to please coffee aficionados and foodies alike.

The message is clear, a custom, beautiful Slayer espresso machine, two pots of ready-made batch brew, a Mahlkoenig EK grinder and choice cakes. All the trimmings of a European, Japanese or Melbourne espresso bar.

This is complete coffee.

I do not know where these two baristi came from however the work is masterful. As a coffee consultant, professional, career barista, Australian International Coffee Awards Judge, coffee roaster and former ST Ali trained and raised wholesale manager I know full well how many obstacles have to be overcome to win the favour of the bean. These guys are bringing the best beans in the word and bringing in they have to offer. There is no where else in Melbourne that can expose the heart and soul of a bean in the way that Blonde boys can do.


Coffee Training

Coffee Training

Promised Land Coffee

Espresso Training 101

Promised Land - High Res-11

Introductory Course to Espresso

Course Duration

2.5 Hours

by Jonathon Sciola Guest Frounder @promisedlandcoffee, coffee judge, barista trainer.


  • Basic Introduction to Espresso Equipment
    • Grinders
      • Electric Dosing Grinder
      • Manual Chamber Grinder
      • EK 43
    • Espresso Machines
      • Volumetrics vs non-Volumetrics
      • Heat Exchange vs Dual Boiler
    • Espresso Machine Parts
      • Works as a whole
      • Hot Clean and Dry
      • Portafilter, baskets, screens, groups.
      • Drip Tray, underneath drip tray.
      • Steam wand
    • Beverage Sizes (See Handout)

PART 2cropped-kef7828_hres.jpg

  • Setting a Coffee Recipe
    • Dialing in for taste
    • Dialing in for strength
    • Dialing in for extraction percentage


  • wp-1475352114813.jpgACTIVE COACHING
    • 30 minutes of COACHING making SHOTS of espresso
    • 30 minutes of COACHING steaming milk
    • Introduction to EXTRACTION
    • Strength cupping session
    • Pairing tickets
    • Workstation “reset”
    • Milk “dosing”
    • Multitasking / talking with customers
    • Cleaning and restocking


Read more about specialty coffee cafes…
    • An opportunity to make a complete beverage
    • Optional: Coffee Competency Audit
    • Advanced: Dialing in in 2 minutes.
  • Further reading will be given to take home

LATTE ART20130824-193611.jpg


Perception, quality, hireability

Milk quality



My preference




Milk Patterns (as opposed to latte art)

Practice in your own time.



1. WHAT – heat, stretch, mix, texture, split, pour.

2. HOW

a. Portion according to beverage                         

b. Position                       




c. MIX



1. Start with great milk of the required portion

2. Start medium distance

3. Maintain steady medium speed

4. When cup half full (stop)

5. Come in close with spout almost touching (wiggle optional)

6. Pour into the BULLSEYE of the cup at a high angle.

7. When just almost empty, raise the lip of the jug to thin out milk stream and SWIPE through FAST





● Practical:

⌧ 2 Lattes in 2 minutes

⌧ with equal head and good temperature (60-65C)


  • Optional:

⌧ Dial In coffee in 10 minutes with assistance

⌧ Program volumetrics

⌧ Program Grinder

⌧ Tasting shots

  • Milk Texturing

⌧ 3-stage Process

⌧ Splitting Technique

⌧ Temperature

  • Latte Art

⌧ Heart in centre

⌧ Crema intact

⌧ Integration

  • Cleanliness

⌧ Porta-filters

⌧ Backflushing

⌧ Grinders

  • Workflow and Efficiency

⌧ Dose Consistency (checking grinder)

⌧ Checking Volumetrics Setting for Coffee (according to espresso recipe)

⌧ Taste Espresso ( use spare shot)

⌧ Minimise milk wastage ( steaming from a small jug)

⌧ Clean workstation

Promised Land Coffee





  • Short Black / Single Shot
  • Single espresso as standard
  • (approximately 20 grams of coffee)
  • Served in a demitasse
  • Must be served quickly



Long black

  • Double espresso on a bed of hot water
  • Served in a 160ml cup
  • 50-60ml of hot water
  • Must be served quickly


Short Macchiato

  • Single espresso
  • Served in a demitasse
  • 20ml hot milk with contrast on centre


Long Macchiato

  • Double espresso
  • Served in a 160ml cup
  • 20-40ml of hot water
  • 20ml hot milk with contrast on centre



  • Single espresso
  • Served in a 160ml cup
  • Thickest milk texture achievable without visible bubbles
  • Slightly “domed” or convex dill level
  • No chocolate dusting OR light dusting of chocolate on the espresso base


Flat White

  • Single espresso
  • Served in a 160ml cup
  • Milk must still have reasonable texture


  • Single espresso
  • Served in a glass
  • 1 cm of head/foam depth (filled according to order)


An Intuitive Guide To Coffee Solubles,

Extraction And TDS

5 Reasons Why Work  Coffee Sucks 

1. Workplaces continue to provide commodity coffee whereas outside the office on the streets speciality coffee has taken over. Staff will not drink from a pod machine when theres incredibly goood coffee  outside! That costs the office in downtime. Big time. We estimate around $8k per employee per year. Bad coffee at work is the new “smoking” cost economically. 

2. Espresso machines at work are never clean, never maintained, and no one usually knows how to use them properly Espresso. When a staff member does know they create a waterhole experience of 20-30 minute ling waits while the barista makes coffees. Benefits of espresso is that it’s ground fresh. 

3. Pod machines are bad for the environment, use PREGROUND coffee which is never okay, and really don’t cut it using 4 grams only per pod. They are actually more similar to filter coffee than espresso. Benefits of pod machines is they are very consistent and very fast. 

4. Filter coffee options have classically been steeped, percolated low quality coffee,  and often sit on hot plates baking all day. This is all bad. 

5. Milk at work is usually poor quality and often UHT. If you go to a specialty cafe outside they will have high quality biodynmaic milk. 

Here’s the solution:

Promised Land Coffee delivers Melbourne’s best Batch  Brew to workplaces a daily basis. You don’t need milk because filter coffee is sublime balanced and sweet in its own. It has superior quality to pourover at a cafe. Superior consistency to a pod machine. The speed of a pod machine and is environmentally friendly. 

What is a weak coffee anyway 

In the light of objective coffee the definition of “weak” becomes problematic.

I was talking with a barista who said they do a ristretto for weak and a normale for normal. They do this for consistency. 

I argued a ristretto is exactly as “strong” as a normale. Look at this:

Ristretto dose 20g, yield 30g, TDS 11.5% = 4.5 grams of coffee dissolved into final cup. 

Normale dose 20g,yeild 50g, TDS 9% = 4.5 grams of coffee dissolved into final cup. 

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is the objective scientific measure of strength. The ristretto is technically as STRONG as the normale. 

The problem is with the definition the request. When a customer ask for a WEAK  coffee they could be asking for 

  • Less caffeine 
  • Less bitterness 
  • A lighter roast 
  • More watery flavour 

We don’t know what they want when they ask for weak. The customer doesn’t know what they want. Are they asking for less coffee in their coffee? Perhaps. However that won’t achieve any of the above outcomes. In fact a ristretto will achieve the opposite of the above in most cases. 

As baristas and owners  in the coffee community we have to move away from subjective coffee. 

I prescribe using a fixed recipe for a balanced espresso and pouring out half the shot –  after mixing – to create a “weak” coffee. That way the balanced full espresso that is extracted evenly will be mixed and when you pour out half you  will have half the amount of a great espresso rather than the first part of a bad espresso. 

The thing about steaming milk 

What many people don’t realise is that espresso machines were invented to make coffee not steam.

Steam was an afterthought and when you study the invention of espresso machines it was around the time that metal fabrication met steam creation. Prior to around 1900 metal quality was so poor that machine made espresso was dangerous. In fact lethal!

wp-1475535010516.pngAfter people stopped dying from exploding coffee machines – due to improvements in metal welding – the first safe espresso machines came out in the 1940s and 50s. Below you will see the first pre-infusion patent for the 1961 Group. (The group operates as one part when the portafilter is inserted the two parts form a consistent temperature together. That’s why it’s important to leave them in!)

Steam was an afterthought…

espresso is usually attributed to Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy, who was granted a patent in 1884 for “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage.” The machine consisted of a large boiler, heated to 1.5 bars of pressure, that pushed water through a large bed of coffee grounds on demand, with a second boiler producing steam that would flash the bed of coffee and complete the brew. Though Moriondo’s invention was the first coffee machine to use both water and steam, it was purely a bulk brewer created for the Turin General Exposition.  Read More

They were created to make espresso. So we enter 1950-1990s in Australia and espresso machines such as San Marcos for example were imported from Italy where they were being used to make 400 short blacks per day. These machines were never designed to make 400 lattes! The heat exchange system that worked in the European culture – where 9 out of 10 coffees are black – weren’t coping in Australia.

In Australia 9.9 out of 10 coffees are white so the system fails.

Heat exchange systems in an espresso machine heat up cold water as the pipe travels through a boiler. That is why WEGA don’t suit the Australian coffee market. At. All. Neither do San Marco.

This is why LaMarzocco and Synesso (originally from LaMarzocco) and Keyvanderwestern (originally from LaMarzocco) use dual boilers. One is dedicated to steam. One is dedicated to coffee.

In Australia the espresso machines which are making milk (Boiler temperature required is 120 degrees celsius) also have to drop down to 93 degrees for espresso. What happens with Wega and other heat exchange systems is that the boiling water is TOO HOT for espresso and TOO cold for steaming milk – so both lose.

10-12 kilograms of coffee per week is the MAXIMUM an Australian cafe with a heat exchange coffee machine can produce well.

The Upside Down of Coffee 

Filter coffees versus Espresso. Rules and Realities. 

Now this is a blog post to read carefully! 

The main difference between filter coffee and espresso is time and that is related to water weight. 

When brewing espresso the longer the shot (time) the weaker the coffee. This is because the amount of actually coffee grinds (dose) is fixed and does not change. However the amount of water that goes along and travels through is ever increasing. 

For example a 20 gram dose tamped into a Portafilter and inserted into an espresso machine at a certain grind size (for arguments sake say 400 median microns) will take. 30 seconds to our a 30 gram espresso (yeild). That yield is probably around 10% coffee grinds (Total dissolved Solids or TDS) and 90% water. 

You have therefore an extraction yield of 15% (you have carried 15% of the beans potential into the cup). That’s a VERY STRONG ristretto. 

If you  change the TIME (this is where filter coffee is the opposite later in the post) to 1 minute (60 seconds). You will find that the dose doesn’t change but the yield (final espresso volume) increases exponentially. 

In this same example the 20 gram dose with a 60 second shot time yields 120g of VERY WEAK espresso. Here’s the extraction yield:

Yield divided by Dose Times TDS

80/20*6.6 = 26% extraction yield. This coffee would be much weaker and not necessarily tasty. 

Filter coffee is a totally upside down graph. (We’ll show this all graphically at the end). 

The brew weight (yield or water) is FIXED as well as the dose. The time is the main factor you will be playing with. 

If you pour an aeropress there is only so much water you can fit. The brew time and strength then depends on how long (TIME) you spend before filtering the coffee. This time cannot be extended in a pourover or chemex other than by grind size and agitation because the water will flow through the paper and into the cup freely. In terms of inverted aeropress or French press you can steep the coffee indefinitely HOWEVER the water weight (yield) will always be fixed. 

This creates an inverse relationship between filter (drip) coffee and espresso. The longer you brew espresso the weaker it gets, whereas the longer you brew filter coffee the stronger it gets! 

Doesn’t this tantalise your mind? Are you being mentally undressed? Do you feel the need to study more? I hope so. 

Here’s me judging Siphon at 2016 Australian International Coffee Awards 

Workflow in Specialty Coffee 

You’ve all heard the story of the man with a utility vehicle. He’s always the one asked by everyone for help when they move house.

The same sad fate comes to the designer who is asked to design a brand or logo for a business when everything is finished.

The right time to involve a designer is before anything is done. The designer wants to influence elegance and efficiency to the entire business from the name  to the colours and style of lighting.

Similarly once a cafe is built and the espresso machine holes are cut into the bench it’s too late to help. The sad coffee consultant (like myself) is asked to come and supply coffee or install a machine in a tiny space where there is no chance of speed more efficiency.

I think many would agree with me when I. scream  IT’S TOO LATE!

Often, if not always, the bar is built or installed with complete disregard for science and reality. This is important because it costs thousands of dollars a week in wastage, lost sales and inefficiency.

When a customer sees a queue of 10 people they will likely opt for another cafe with a shorter wait time rather than stay and wait for a coffee they prefer. Every cafe has a point where people bail. This costs money. This is one of the primary benefits of having batch brew ready and serving one in place of a long black (why have a diluted inconsistent double espresso when you have a complete balanced coffee and not wait?).

Workflow is the primary design consideration for the bar and is interrelated to the rest of the cafe ecosystem: kitchen, cashier, foot flow and so on.


We recently were forced to provide espresso to an event over 3 days serving 2000 milk-based drinks on a two-group linea classic. If that doesn’t sound like a problem, then add this to the equation: all 900 delegates would be released on to the cafe in 30 minute to 1 hour breaks so the entire 2000 coffees were made in less than 2 hours over the three days. Luckily I had designed the bar for efficiency however I needed more MacGyver than that:

  1. We restricted the menu to 1 size of cup. 6 ounce. Takeaway only. This allowed us to make 4 “strong” coffees at a time dispensing 25grams of espresso into 150grams of milk.
  2. This also speed up the ordering process and allowed the baristas to pretty much make every coffee the same.
  3. Batch brew tea – We had 6 Litres of English Breakfast on tap. This saved concentration of the baristi so they could push out a tea in less time than a coffee.
  4. Baby chino’s were steamed in cup – We poured 50 grams of cold milk directly into the takeaway cup and steamed the milk inside the takeaway cup. Easy!

If you want consulting before of after you start a cafe call me 0466418990.

I hold a Bachelor of Business a Certificate IV in Business Management and I am passionate.

Here is some further reading on workflow:

Is the tide is pulling back on 3rd Wave

I’m a speciality coffee barista, enthusiast and I thank The Pioneers who built the Third Wave coffee movement. Such proponents as Intelligentsia in Seattle and St ALi in Melbourne created direct-trade coffee (ever increasing returns on quality paying “at least 25% more” than Fair-trade) for the first time back in around 2004 when coffee farms were at one stage receiving 42 cents per pound.

Through education of both the end consumer and the farmer the bounty and glory we enjoy today was created. Fuelled by passion and vertical integration of the supply chain for the first time Third Wave coffee plagued the earth like a zombie virus of passion and tastiness.

The third-wavers created the market, often roasting on 1 kilogram roasters and roasting small batches of estate coffees that were so rare they only appeared and disappeared like a vapour. The huge success of this early entrants in to the Melbourne, Sydney and now global markets created an unquenchable thirst for growth and the inevitable competition.

I could give a business lesson in maturing markets and how economics of growth, supply and demand work (I am first of all a businessman and then a passionate coffee enthusiast after-all) however suffice to say…

The success of the early pioneers of the Third Wave movement created an overwhelming surge in competition.

Now we have far too many cafes (see my earlier post here) and I predict 30-50% of them will close in the next 2 years, especially those not selling restaurant priced meals.

While we created Third-wave and enjoyed and imbibed in the quality – better for everyone – we did not add many more customers to the market. The fact is (and this is probably another blog post) Second-wavers like Starbucks and Gloria Jean, and Coffee Club are the ones recruiting and discipling and conditioning the average Australian (and American) to drink specialty.

Australian coffee consumption is 75% instant coffee and we rank 42 in the world for only drinking 3 kilograms per year per person which is quite low – The Article, SMH

The fascinating development (excuse the pun) is that Third-wave pioneers like Veneziano and St ALi and Di Bella and others are acting more Second-Wave again.

  • They are roasting darker (more soluble) moving back towards a traditional Italian profile and away from single origins only in blends.
  • They are expanding into International and Interstate Markets to maintain declining market share due to new entrants, rather than focusing locally.
  • They are diluting their distribution to include the sale of Pods for Nespresso type machines and a plethora of other products
  • Many are being acquired by massive multinational corporations and FMCGs rapidly.
    • Veneziano acquired by Minor DKL (Malaysia) is now supplying ALDi, Coffee Club and is said to be roasting a massive 40,000 kilograms per week.
    • There are rumours of a Malaysian buy-in of another prominent roaster. Di Bella sold recently for $47million to a FMCG retail umbrella company.
    • There are many more in the States.

While all these decisions are good for business, and are adding value in their own way, they are moving away – miles away – from the pioneering values of traceable micro lots, intimate education of the end user, a  hands-on small business approach to growth and passionately discipling a new generation of coffee drinkers all the while feeding value back up the supply chain. It seems Third-Wave is becoming more Second Wave again. Which may not be a bad thing!

Larger companies are able to recruit and train a new generation of coffee drinkers with larger bank accounts and promotion opportunities. Asian countries looking on to Australia, NZ and the US can start to enjoy direct-trade-like coffees and quality and the consumer can access specialty at more places. The problem for me however is when we lose sight of the relationship side of Third Wave; the consumer journey. For example in 2010 a “single origin” briefly appeared on the blackboard as a special limited edition treat that was actually rare, scarce and amazing, now “specials” are on a rotating menu of tonnes of coffee that appears more for marketing reasons that the original purpose of transparency and education.

Fourth-wave coffee, built on the platform of the original Third-wave, is a scientific, objective and engineering approach to coffee that ultimately adds value to the cup.

Baristas and entrepreneurs alike coming out of Third-wave have built for themselves a new Forth tier you could say to the specialty coffee evolution. This tier values extraction, evenness and efficiency. It sits atop of the third-wave and is similar in some ways to the maturing of the traditional Italian roasters such as Ily who have continued to pioneer and change the way they buy and roast coffee – Andrea Ily and his father inventing nitrogen packed coffee for infinite storage of freshness and scanning every single beans with light to find defects! It’s all getting a bit neat and cost and the tides are combining! Example of fourth-wave science and efficiency tier atop of third-wave passion and education:

  • 2013 Matt Perger with his EK-43 at the WB competition
  • 2008 Vision Systems with their VST baskets and refractometry
  • Uebermilk with their efficient automated milk frothers
  • Super-automatic espresso machines coming soon according to Barista Hustle
  • Promised Land Coffee with it’s filter delivery combining much of the above science.

Undoubtedly the specialty coffee experiment is still growing. I feel the fifth wave (heaven forbid another wave!) will be about automation as discussed late in this episode of PodcastCA.

Similarly traditional second-wavers like Lavazza and Starbucks are now very much considered specialty and are operating as such.

So specialty coffee has matured. Early entrants and pioneers are now larger companies fighting to maintain and grow their marketshare. New entrants are doing things differently like my Promised Land Coffee – heaven forbid a Top 10 cafe could serve coffee that was brewed and delivered from 3km away! Such as Matt Holden review of Square and Compass serving batch brew from my Promised Land Coffee.

Further reading Jim Hoffman has written a lot on this subject and here is a podcast where Geoff Watts and others are speaking on similar trends in the overall market in Australia and overseas.

In conclusion I’m excited to see second and third and forth and fifth waves grow together in parallel and look forward to more exciting times ahead.


Can large-scale roasters offer the same quality as small-batch thirdwavers? Is largescale possible in thirdwave, forthwave?

Taken from the Barista Hustle, “Large scale roasters need a consistent product in gargantuan volumes. To keep some semblance of consistency, they buy a constant stream of many coffees and blend them together to mitigate change. Seasonality is less of a concern because there are enough coffees and flexibility in the blend to buffer any seasonal changes in flavour. The downside of this method is the lack of transparency and character displayed by the blend components. To be honest, in a blend of 8 components, it really doesn’t matter how floral that Yirgacheffe is”