Rooibos espresso - We put it to the test!

Wednesday, 28 September, 2016
We were very intrigued to receive a package in the post earlier this month. Inside was a beautiful, red-handled portafilter, (with some very interesting modifications!) and a few boxes of product. But not coffee product. It was tea. Tea from a portafilter?

There's no mistaking which portafilter is for the Rooibos! 

Immediately, we took it to the espresso machine, argued about which way around the soft tea pads fitted, called the Owners, Gerhard and Kelvin from REDco to settle the argument, and promptly set about extracting some delicious rooibos espresso shots!

This is how the soft pods fit in the portafilter. You may think they will tear or rip when inserted, but, no, they are very neatly designed and withstand the pressure from the espresso machine perfectly.
Now, Rooibos hasn't enjoyed popularity amongst the hardcore coffee people that we at the Coffee Magazine know. And the gripes have always come from two main areas. Firstly, that it's bad for your machine (to the point where some cafe Owners, recognizing that their customers want Rooibos espresso, have dedicated a specific group on the machine just for Rooibos, and for frequent and easy repairs to that group head) and secondly because the extraction is difficult to control.

In short all the coffee shops I've encountered have a problem with loose tea in that it clogs the grouphead and the basket and corrodes the screen. With this soft pod, which is essentially a teabag modified with specially bonded tea bag paper on the flat side that faces the group and can withstand the pressure, you do not have this problem. Note* Mel and I (to settle the earlier argument), actually tried one the wrong way around intentionally and with a loud POP, it burst immediately, which show that these have been very cleverly designed to withstand the pressure.

The modified portafilter fits the rounded side of the soft pod inside it, with the double-bonded, flat-side-up designed to absorb the 9bars of pressure from above. 

The second problematic factor - the extraction challenge, is overcome with an adjustable spout at the bottom of the portafilter (I told you there were some clever modifications!) which you can tighten or loosen to slow down or speed up the extraction.

The shots we pulled tasted amazing! A concentrated rooibos shot, bursting with flavour and with an excellent texture, which when we poured steamed milk in, created a beautiful red contrast for latte art and held
it's form around the cup perfectly.

The spout can be tightened or loosened to get the perfect extraction by stemming or easing the flow. This shot was exactly 25 seconds for a 60ml yield. 

Thinking about this from a Cafe owners point of view - it's a great product a few reasons - namely because a lot of caffeine -averse folks can enjoy a comforting, creamy cappuccino, without the worry of heart palpitation and anxiety, but also because the pod is also very accountable and gives you a big reduction in stolen and wasted product.

Once the initial excitement died down (which took about a week!) I was intrigued about the origin of the rooibos. Chatting to the owner Gerhard Rossow of REDco, he says, "Our rooibos is sourced directly from the Cederberg in South Africa the heart of Rooibos and carries the seal of quality ensuring that you only get the best quality in every cup. Rooibos is unique to the Cederberg Mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa, but its health properties are recognized all over the world."

"This love of Rooibos inspired us to develop the Rooibos soft pods and also a Nespresso® compatible capsule. Our team at REDco has sourced the highest quality of Rooibos in South Africa and has been working closely with our supplier to give you the best Rooibos espresso in the pods and in our capsules".

So we held Gerhard and Kelvin to their word and tried the capsules in a fully automatic machine. The results? Less mouthfeel than the espresso machine, but a nice rooibos shot, good crema and, as with any capsule machine, quick, easy and convenient.

We borrowed a capsule machine and tested the mechanism. These are really cool for no-mess, no-fuss rooibos espresso extractions. There are 4 flavours available from REDco: Rooibos Lemon, Rooibos Earl Grey, Rooibos Chai and traditional Rooibos.

So how easy is it to get into your shop or home?   "To use the soft-pod we will supply the shop with a special pod handle that will give you the perfect extraction time and strength." say Gerhard, " and capsules can be ordered directly from us!"

To contact Red-Co and chat to either Gerhard or Kelvin, call 021 872 2191 or send an email to

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