HomeRoast Digest


Topic: OT: EU discovers hard water, (149 lines)
1) From: Jeff Kilpatrick
Hello-
A friend found this article and it made me chuckle, so I thought I'd share
it with you guys.  In short, the EU bought a bunch of Cimbali super autos
and hilarity ensued.
-jeff
<Snip>
Times
,
March 10, 2009:
European Officials Will Monitor Quality of the Espresso for Their
StaffsBy JAMES
KANTER
BRUSSELS — The European
Union
is
adding a job position:
coffee
monitor.
The move is not part of the latest stimulus plan, but a fittingly tasteful
settlement to a particularly European dispute.
The union’s executive office, the European
Commission,
was embarrassed when The International Herald Tribune reported last December
that the commission had bought 21 deluxe espresso makers costing 5,000 euros
each, then about $7,500.
The brouhaha over the coffee machines, which were just a year old at the
time, provided new ammunition to critics who complain about wasteful
spending in Brussels, where the union is based. At the time, the financial
crisis and economic downturn were worsening, and companies and governments
were beginning to preach about the need for fiscal discipline.
But the Italian maker of the machines was scandalized by something else:
some of the most senior officials, their guests and employees complained
that the coffee tasted bad, despite the machines’ pedigree.
Now, as part of the settlement with the maker, La Cimbali of Italy, the
commission will receive not only new machines, but also training on their
proper use, including for some of the European Union’s highest officials.
In a statement that could save face for La Cimbali, the commission hinted
that the taste of the coffee might have been affected by the water in the
Berlaymont Building, headquarters of the European Commission, and poor
cleaning, rather than the quality of the machines.
“The water company has confirmed that water hardness can be quite variabl=
e,”
said Dale Kidd, a commission spokesman. Softeners added to the water may
have affected the coffee. Thus, “the new machines will be installed witho=
ut
water softeners, at least initially,” Mr. Kidd said.
The new machines are due to go into service on March 16.
La Cimbali is organizing training for a representative from each
commissioner’s office to enhance their “coffee knowledge, from beans to=
 the
cup,” La Cimbali wrote in an “action plan” obtained by The Herald Tri=
bune.
Officials, informal coffee monitors, will be taught “coffee tasting theory
and sensorial techniques,” “recipes and hints,” and “ordinary machi=
ne
maintenance procedures.”
Mr. Kidd said the company was “open to anyone who is interested in learni=
ng
how to make an optimal espresso.”
And just in case they forget to perform the regular cleaning ritual the
machines require, the company is programming each machine to clean itself
periodically, “removing the need for someone to actively intervene,” Mr.
Kidd said.
The commission has vigorously defended buying the machines, meant as a perk
to keep top officials and visiting dignitaries from having to line up in
cafes on other floors of the star-shaped Berlaymont Building.
Suspicions of problems were aroused when Alexander Just, an archivist at the
commission, spent 70 euros of his own money to have water from the machines
tested in his home country, Austria, because he and colleagues thought the
coffee tasted peculiar.
The results showed high levels of nickel and elevated amounts of lead,
prompting building supervisors to unplug the machines. The deluxe
superautomatic coffee makers can grind the beans, select the quantity of
milk and discard the spent coffee grounds, all at the touch of a button.
Additional testing found that the use of water softeners, apparently in the
building’s water system or the pipes directly feeding the machines, may h=
ave
contributed to the problems.
“The hardness of the water distributed in the area is quite variable and
generally lower than what was expected,” Henrik Hololei, a commission sta=
ff
member, wrote on Monday in a note to users of the machines.
In addition, a failure to clean the machines frequently enough had
contributed “to some parts of the machines becoming slightly corroded,
thereby allowing for more migration of metal substances,” Mr. Hololei wro=
te.
Luca Dussi, the operational marketing and communications director for Gruppo
Cimbali, said on Tuesday he was not permitted to speak about the deal
between the commission and the company. A lawyer representing Cimbali,
Massimiliano Mostardini, said the “friendly agreement” was covered by
“strict confidentiality obligations.”
He added, however, that the subsequent tests of the machines “have confir=
med
the high quality of such machines and that they are absolutely safe.”
(The dispute briefly degenerated into a court battle after Belgian
authorities issued a short-lived health alert in Europe about the Cimbali
machines. It was not clear whether the alert, which was lifted by a Belgian
court late last year, had been prompted by problems at the commission or by
separate complaints.)
Under La Cimbali’s action plan, the company will take over the maintenance
of the commission machines. It will also customize the machines to make them
simpler to wash.
No evidence has been found of anyone’s getting sick from the coffee, but
commission officials have been told that overexposure to nickel could cause
skin problems or gastrointestinal disorders in people who have allergies.
Mr. Hololei took additional steps on Monday to calm his colleagues.
“The medical service does not consider that the relatively short-term
exposure to the nickel levels noted represents any risk to health,” he
wrote.
Homeroast mailing list
Homeroasthttp://lists.sweetmariascoffee.com/listinfo.cgi/homeroast-sweetmariascoffee=.com
Homeroast community pictures -upload yours!) :http://www.sweetmariascoffee=.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820


HomeRoast Digest