How to Taste Coffee

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#61

Another lurker making my first post :slight_smile: Responding to your comment about the difficulty of “…picking out the hints and notes of flavors that are often advertised for various coffees”. (From my experience) I suspect this (non) “problem” is actually the rule rather than the exception. IMHO the flavors are more a “code” than a literal description - this has certainly been my experience with wine tasting. I will give a wine related example to demonstrate the point - I believe you can apply a similar approach to coffee. Often people will describe a red wine as like strawberry or raspberry or cherry - imho this is a code for the weight or concentration of the wine = strawberry (light weight/concentration), raspberry (medium), cherry (heavy).

For example: Someone might describe a Burgundy (or other Pinot noir) as “…strawberry redolent with floral notes, intense violet the wine is very full and autumnal tones are starting to develop…” Decoding this means that it is a light bodied (strawberry) Pinot Noir with some complexity of flavour (floral, violet, full, autumnal notes), the wine probably has some bottle age (more or less bottle age depending on the quality) as it is developing more complexity (autumnal tones). It is probably a good quality Pinot likely made with a more traditional Burgundian approach (= lighter weight than some new world pinots). Decoding the world “full” = it fills the mouth which really means it has a good range of acids each one will affect different areas of the mouth - but the take-away is simply that it has a good/great very full/filling mouthfeel. Comments like “autumnal notes” or “forest floor” or “mushroom” tend to indicate complexity that develops over time (though they can also refer to faults from bad winemaking or low quality grapes with grey rot etc…). In conclusion the clues given then to indicate that this is probably a good (or even exceptional) quality Pinot Noir with some bottle age (and probably potential to improve from further aging).

An alternative description would be “… light weight delicate Pinot, made from high quality grapes with complex aromatic flavors, starting to develop some good bottle aged characters, the wine has a good range/variation or acids which fill the mouth” But this sounds much less romantic (I tend to describe wines this way as I find it more accurate - and in spite of many years of tasting wines I still struggle to identify fruits and mushrooms etc…)

I suspect you can decode coffee tasting notes in a similar way - though I am much less experienced with coffee tasting (so I will gladly defer to people with more experience). An obvious example: chocolate tends to indicate a dark roast - darker chocolate flavors then = darker roast. Talk about acid tends to indicate lighter roasts as acid decreases the longer you roast (you might get things like lemon, orange, citrus, apple etc to indicate degrees of acid). Looking at riper fruit flavour probably means more of a medium roast with less acid. Once you get to cooked fruit flavors (dried cherries, cherry pie) you are moving to slightly darker roasts with even less acids…


Guatemala Xinabajul - Santa Barbara (from Sweet Maria's)
#62

Hello :slight_smile: nice to read your first post man … regarding the decoding the taste descriptions the way you described, in my experience its both yes and no. I mean its both a code and a literal description. So, though I think your decoding would work well for wine, when I read raspberry I look for a taste reminding me of raspberries. It may have a different degree of “raspberriness” from very obvious to a light hint that may be hard to sense, but for me its a different flavour to strawberry …
I think its two interconnected parts, being able to sense the taste in the mix, and knowing what it means. But if described as something, its should be possible to sense it as a taste reminding of that.
Separating and detrcting them is just an skill that needs quided practice … lots of practice:)


#63

All,

Thanks for the responses. Apologies for my lateness in responding–busy times.

Devenesh, thanks for clarifying the terminology–to clarify my confusion, I did not realize that pressing the button to go into the cooling stage was called “drop”. Not knowing that I didn’t understand how you were using that word before!

As a novice to the finer attributes of artisan coffee, I’ll gladly admit that my palette is not refined enough to detect most of the tasting notes in coffees. Even when I purchase beans from respectful roasters or filter coffee from shops in my area, the tasting notes printed on the bags (or on the menu at local shops) to me just aren’t there.

That being said, what makes a good cup of coffee to me is a balance of acidity, body, and mouthfeel. The amount of roastiness that I desire in the cup seems to vary with origin, but it’s difficult for me to detect other more subtle flavor notes therein. I realize that probably sounds incredibly primitive and simple, but my palette just isn’t there yet. I’d really appreciate advice on how to improve in this area. I chatted with one of the local roasters here yesterday, and their advice was to try drinking coffee with other people, and taking notes on what you think you taste, even if it’s difficult to put your finger on it. Eventually, over a long period of time, your consensus will likely end up aligning with what others are tasting, but it sounds like it can really take time. I would appreciate to hear more advice on this topic for sure.

Interestingly enough I decided to re-roast these same Guatemalan beans using all of the Ikawa-designed profiles to see what other tastes can be found. From this I’ve found that the Brazil profile (from Sitio Bela Vista) makes a very good cup too, without making any changes to the profile. It finishes just as 1st crack is over, and has more acidity in the cup, but to an enjoyable amount for me.


#64

Hey! It’s really great to see/read more posts!
Check out some of Sweet Maria’s videos, here’s the start of the trail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npUErC5z9p4 His opinions I find very interesting and I enjoy them. The way through tasting coffee is by cupping.
Exceptional wine, tea, coffee, beer, spirits, chocolate etc etc etc, are all about the taste. And all share very similar attributes: flavors, textures, aromas.
To preface first, I hate being the “no” guy, it’s not that I’m a mean person. If we sat down over a glass of wine and you could hear my voice and see me I’m sure that people would not understand me to be a rude person. And personally I think everyone can achieve everything if we could just live forever. So take the time you need, as long as you keep at it, keep calm, carry on, and you will be swimming in coffee that you wish was decaf so it can be drunk constantly.
I have always had a strong love for tasting things. In SOMM on Netflix, one of the guys talked about going around and smelling and tasting everything, even smelling a new garden hose. This was very relatable for me. We must learn tastes and build a working memory or library that we can recall easily. Why I say that if I taste…pineapple…you will tastes pineapple because in the chemical world, the aroma and flavor of pineapple has been determined. Just like if I were to take a banana anywhere in the world, it will still taste like it. So the link I’m trying to make with coffee, is that if you brew we the same technique/water and roast the coffee in the same “way” (which we can be achieved but is different because we have a different roaster) then you will get the flavor descriptors they get. In the most extreme case, like; IPA’s, the bitterness is very hard for someone unfamiliar or new to craft beers to enjoy because the bitterness to them is masking the citrus other flavors. In a way coffee is the same, there is an amount of “coffee” flavor that we have to look beyond or become familiar with, as you might be familiar with this through wine. Sometimes like coffee, wine will need certain brew manipulation (airing, rest, decanting, cooling, glass, etc) before the wine open’s up. In a weird way we do this for all tasting forms, in chocolate it’s called tempering, and chocolate also after being made, also needs time to rest so the florals or fruit and stuff come “out” and we can taste it (0-14days usually), and the way we eat the chocolate will also slightly affect the flavors we get. Like coffee the various amounts of time you let the roasted coffee beans rest can open and close different flavors. This really has nothing to do with anything but I guess it just links the similarities. Because as I learn something I take my experience and try and apply it to help me learn something new, seeing whether or not it can be applied is just something for me, that’s part of the experience.

A big thing is WATER, the water source and filtration you use is very critical. After getting Third Wave Water, I have been very happy because now the “ok” cups tastes “ok” and the godly cups tastes godly. Whereas with my previous tap water, only the most amazing cups tasted good, but really still aren’t that good because I am still trying to progress further.

In the reference to coding, I have no doubt that there are people who do this. Without a good teacher/mentor or base to steer that aspect. We make references to viscosity by using flavor, but if you juice and clarify (or just juice) mango vs watermelon vs lime. You will see that these fruits have different mouth feels (viscosity), but try not link the flavor to the mouthfeel (they should be kept separate , in wine tasting it can lead to determining the wrong flavor. If you take a store bought mango juice vs fresh/ripe mango you will notice that the fresh mango lingers on the palate longer. The longer a flavor stays on your palate people find to be better. You can do this with sugars too. I also have a honey addiction but picking out a classic honey, like clove, buckwheat, wildflower or orange blossom, or something consistent you can get. But also get Molasses (Maple, date, pamegranate) , Panela, Gawd, Agave, etc. and tasting them becoming familiar with their weightiness and mouthfeel and lingering tastes. Do a taste test by taking 4 cups put the same weight of sugar in each cup, something like 5g’s and then in three cups add 5, 10, and 20g’s of water. Wait till the sugar mixes in and compare the tastes and viscosity. Or make a tea with a tablespoon of a sugar and some hot water and smell and taste it.
In actual tea, with some good pu’er/pu-erh, there are tea’s that will not only last a very (hrs) long time, but also after swallowed some time later a new flavor will come back this is called the return flavor. Only tea does this, wine too, but in a different and not in a good way Broadening the palate is the same as broadening your experiences, instead of eating the same thing over again try new things, to become familiar with new tastes and smells. To practice actually tasting something, make a tea of it. Herbs, spices, bread, whatever. You don’t have to drink the tea just smell and taste it, familiarize yourself with it. In time you will see there are very few things that are just one single flavor but made up of many. The name of the game is: Taste. The more the better and with more exposure come remembering and then familiarity. Memory is linked very strongly to taste and creating a stronger link helps you search through your “library” of tastes.
Acidity is not necessarily a flavor but more of a texture. It helps bring complexity and bridges the beginning tastes to the back end, Chris Schooley’s https://youtu.be/TGGbQU-z3C8 talks about how the roast affects the PERCIEVED taste. To talk on this a little, malic and citric can have a bite or soothness depending on the amount tasting. But due to other flavoring compounds will taste either lemony or apple-y. Like an apple can feel really tart like Granny Smith or very honey/water gushing like Ambrosia. The apple are composed of multiple acids but with the compliment of the flavorings in it, give it its complete taste. I have seen that as I progress through the roast, certain flavor and aromatics get lost but also can become apparent. I have been searching for those dark cherry/chocolate notes to get out of a Guat but really have had the worst luck, and by saying so it makes me think that I’ve been playing too much in the artistic realm and need to steer back to more of a scientific approach.
A lot of flavor/texture/aroma can be lost in the roasting as well as brewing of coffee. I now take time to smell the freshly ground coffee. Because I know my brewing technique can ruin a good roast.
Be adventurous and explore, and in a short time (a year or so) you’ll be noticing that that Madagascar Vanilla is just so very floral.


#65

Hi Pavel thanks for the welcome - I must write my intro post soon :slight_smile:

Apologies in advance if I talk (write) too much :slight_smile:

I agree that if you say there is a raspberry or other flavor then it should be a real and detectable. And if you can do this reliably when you taste then you have my utmost respect (and I am also very jealous of your abilities :wink:

Unfortunately my experience is that 99% (or 99.99%?) of people who use these terms are not describing a real existing flavour (at least not reliably). Unfortunately there is also a tendency to use a “romatic” (and often inaccurate) style of description because it sells more wine - which in my opinion does a great disservice as it makes it much harder to find get a reliable take on what a wine actually tastes like. Basically it confuses the hell out of consumers…

Obviously it is possible to taste many flavours in wine and coffee (and other things like cocoa, grapes etc). However describing the flavors accurately and reliably is challenging (for me anyway). And I did meet one person who was a consummate master at this - he could reliably tell you the combination of acids in a wine (listing names ratios and approx concentration). He was also able to identify many flavors herbs, floral, fruits etc with deadly and reliable accuracy (he said it “only” took him 20 years of practice for several hours a day to perfect the skill - his words not mine). If I indentified one or two flavours he could name 10 or maybe 20… I can post more about the one (marathon) tasting I did with him later…

I will say there are many things you can reliably taste in wine, strawberry raspberry and cherry are definitely present in Pinot Noirs (they go hand in hand with concentration and intensity). Pinot also often has hints of violets - this descriptor is used far too often to be a pure coincidence.

There are some mineral (sometimes described as petrol) notes in some Riesling wines particularly if they are grown on slate soils apparently (though I am pretty sure I have tasted it elsewhere) this taste is probably (my guess) related to acid content - but it is much more complex than that - and also it seems to develop in some older wines also. This taste is not restricted to white wines as you can also get it in reds but it is less obvious as it is usually hidden by the stronger red wine flavours - mostly in Italian reds which often have a higher acid content than other countries (a good thing part of the reason I love Italian wine).

Other things that are easy to detect are citrus flavour (citric acid) and apple flavours (malic acid). Most people can detect these flavours reliably as we are all familiar with apples and lemons.

Detecting the different different types of Oak is also (fairly) easy American oak definitely has a stronger vanilla note. French Limousin oak also has a definite “typicity” or typical flavour. It is also possible to get an idea of the degree of oak toast (how much the inside of the barrel is burned) - basically a bit smokier = more toast (the same oak notes can be detected in whiskies too).

Another thing that is interesting in wines is “typicity”, which basically means that wines from a region, or wines made in the same way (with similar soil and climate etc), will tend to have typical taste that is similar. Developing the ability to detect typicity is very useful. For example Australian Shiraz is traditionally very big, powerful, ripe and fruity (made with very ripe grapes). It also tends to have very high alcohol content (ripe grapes again). People who criticize this style say the fruit is out of balance and dominates the flavour (true of cheaper ones - but the best ones also have massive tannins to balance the fruit and can develop for 20 or even 50 years). However you can find wines of similar typicity in Spain (many great wines made from Tempranillo which has a similar heavy body to Shiraz), Italy (Amarone della Valpolicella - made from dried valpolicella grapes) and Portugal’s Douro valley (made from Port grapes - used to be a bargain but getting pricey now). Note: Though Amarone is of a similar weight to these other wines it really has its own very distinct typicity with raisiny dried fruit tones(well they dry the grapes to concentrate them = raisin flavour) - once you have tasted it a few times you can always tell. You can probably add Zinfandel to this list though in my experience it tends to be more tannic - you can also try a good quality Italian Primitivo as it is the same grape (it used to be overcropped and used as cheap filler - but there are high quality low-yield example being made now - following the emergence of Zinfandel).

The problem is that developing the skills to detect this stuff takes a while (and can be helped by some knowledge for context - though that is not absolutely necessary).

So putting my decoding thing in perspective. It is where I suggest people start when doing tasting notes for wine = describe what you can reliably taste. Things that can easily be described more easily are things like concentration, colour, acid, tannins. You can also describe whether the flavour is clean (lack of faults). Most people can probably safely use lemon and apple as descriptors. Detecting the % of alcohol is also pretty easy so it is worth noting what you think it is (you will very quickly get accurate to within one % point)

To this day I still describe a wine with a plain or basic like “… light weight delicate Pinot, made from high quality grapes with complex aromatic flavors, starting to develop some good bottle aged characters, the wine has a good range/variation or acids which fill the mouth”. The next thing I will add is the typicity “made in a lighter Burgundian style” as it is quite easy to detect and is very helpful in understanding flavours (imho). But then I would add other things after that “some strawberry, and hints of sour cherry also little smokiness and limousin oak (= French?) a tiny hint of vanilla” but I prefer to add these as a supplementary description. And the previous “plain” description and perhaps typicity always seems to be more helpful to friends trying to choose a wine to they will like.

I’m pretty sure that the typicity thing will also apply to coffee. For example two high altitude, shade grown, naturals, from the same area would/should tend to be similar. Also I would expect to find similar attributes from similar growing, processing, in similar (but geographically separate) environments, using the same or similar bean varietal.

I believe (hope) that this approach will work when tasting coffees. So start with general “plain” description (which I would suggest always doing - at least in your own private notes). And gradually embellish with other things as you gain experience.

However to be honest this approach probably just demonstrates my own shortcomings - in that I am not able to reliably taste the various items that many or most others use in their tasting notes.

(Edit) And I forgot a very important thing that you should also record for wine (I would expect it to apply to coffe also) - how the wine flavour progresses or unfolds. Not sure if there are any clear defined/agreed terms for this. It is usually described in three stages the initial taste (attack) of the wine, the middle stage (mid-palate in time - not roof of mouth - there should be a better name for this I do not know of one), and how the taste lingers after swallowing (finish or back-palate). A decent wines to be good in all three phases, great wines also tend to have a very long finish (or aftertaste). The best wine I ever drank had a finish that lasted 3 days (OK I admit that must be psychological) but it had such a strong affect that I could swear I was still tasting it for three days.


#66

Hey @jmuir2009 … I can not say I do have such accuracy as your friend professional taster. Far from it. But I had quite a lot of exposure with wine tasting, thanks to my dad. I am also aware that you can connect the descriptions with chemical compounds creating them. And, though I think its very helpfull kniwledge, so far I stick with that “poetic” decriptors.
I can not put together more then 5-6 usually, mostly because its really hard to name some of the tastes. But I find really helpfull practicing it a lot, and not doing it alone (same with wine ;)) as trying to decribe it to someone else helps in the process, as well as hearing their description.
I consider myself beginner in this, but its really worth practicing for me ;))


#67

Yes! Welcome Welcome, sorry I did not say this in my previous post. And I really do enjoy reading a lengthy post, so the more the better. I found what you said to be fantastic, almost everything you mentioned crosses over to coffee. In the last part you mentioned the tastes move on your palate, coffee, is more like a white wine, maybe this is just me but, I find that as the white transitions temperatures the flavors can change. Similarly when tasting a coffee, tasting the cup not only how it moves from front to back but also hot it goes from hot to cold. Having patience to wait for the cup to cool, is a real skill, but there can be some very exciting flavors there lurking beneath the heat. Like a wine aerator vs decanter, IMPO, I find the wait can be well worth it.


#68

Thank you for the welcome Deven.

And as an aside I have an Ikawa Pro with I must confess I have not used yet - though I have done a lot of reading (and video viewing). I did some roasting with an IMEX CR100 (like freshroast SR500) and could not get anything I liked (results not consistent). The most interesting stuff I have come up with is from two people Scott Rao (always roast with steadily decreasing ROR) and Rob Hoos about stretching the phase between yellowing and 1C (he calls it the MAI or maillard phase) - to increase development/complexity of the coffee. This makes sense to me as it seems that before 1C the development is mostly maillard only - and later after 1C there are also a lot of caramelization secondary reactions happening. This is somewhat at odds with the traditional view of roasting where people mostly talk about the the development phase (after 1C until drop) as being where the flavours are developed - and they tend to ignore the MAI phase (or at least give it less/minimal attention). However people do talk about lengthening the roast and if they follow the steady decreasing ROR then they will also lengthen the MAI phase in the way suggested by Rob Hoos (without being aware of it - or at least not focusing on the importance of it). I also have bean moisture tester (grain tester with a coffee setting), and an Atago refractometer, and I was thinking about getting an Agtron colour tester or equivalent (but they are pricey - and Rao says he have seen a lot of variation depending on operator), so I may just get some type of colour swatches (maybe initially just print something as accurately as I can). I will also be buying a DE1+ from the second round (I avoided being an early adopter). And interested in doing a bunch of experiments with different distribution techniques and testing them with the refractometer once I get the DE1 (so not obsessive - just thorough). And of course throughout all of this one must remember that TASTE is always the final arbiter - the tools are just there to allow you get the god shots more often :slight_smile:

A little back ground to my wine comments. I have been to quite a few tastings, and have found that people often tend to discuss a wine and come up with a group consensus describing the wine - which can be fairly accurate. Often they are led by the presenter who is some type of wine professional who has probably tasted the wine before (often tasted it many times).

But when we tried experiments where people did not discuss and compared results at the end we found that there was a lot of variation. Many of the descriptions were totally different - so different that you might think they were all describing different wines. And I mean (in some cases) you could not even tell if the wine was red or white from the description. These descriptions were no doubt useful to the people who made the notes - but were less helpful to others if they would try to figure out what the wine tasted like.

However when we asked them to do something like what I called a “basic” description. The notes would be much more consistent. Not totally the same but you could (mostly) see that they were talking about the same wine.

And the other thing that was fairly reliable was the detection of typicity - at least if the wine tasters were experienced (and presuming the had drunk the style of wine enough to recognize it). For example I was at one tasting were I immediately recognized an Amarone - but nobody else did because they has never drank one before. Most of them said it tasted a bit like an Australian Shiraz (which it does a bit) - so they were all accurate with typicity.

And to be clear this experiment was done with a group of wine professionals who were running wine courses and teaching people how to taste wine. So if the pros are unreliable, then the customers (from my observations) are even less accurate. To be clear I was one of the customers - a keen amateur.

And the human side of this was that even after seeing that they were all “inaccurate” in the “poetic” descriptions - all of these people chose to continue teaching in the same way - behaving as if they were reliably accurate with the way they described wine. So they chose to believe that they were right and the evidence was wrong. Please do not see this as a nasty criticism of these people - I’m pretty sure they needed to continue behaving the same way to keep there jobs (so they really had no choice). Myself I preferred to use a my basic description and append my poetic notes as I find it more accurate. I guess I see this a bit like applying the scientific method and being objective in my base description.

Of course all the fruit, floral, spice etc flavours do exist in wine and coffee etc. But it is my conclusion/experience that it is much harder to identify them accurately than people seem to think.

One way to find out is to do an experiment with some friends and look at the results.

And finally a humorous question did you ever see a wine described as tasting like grapes? Not sure I have ever seen that :slight_smile:


#69

Temperature definitely affects wine flavors too. When a wine is cold the flavours are reduced. The better the wine the warmer you should drink - so you better appreciate the flavour (maybe not hot like a cup of tea). If I am drinking a really good white I hardly chill it at all.

The recent trend of chilling red wine is interesting “Lighter reds that taste great chilled include Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Lambrusco and Rioja Crianza, while fuller-bodied reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are best left out of the refrigerator. Cooling red wine is a simple process and an ideal option for lighter summer drinking.”

And what they forget to mention is that it is a great way to get people to drink cheap red so they don’t taste how bad it is - some of the red wines that are recommended for chilling would be undrinkable if warmer :slight_smile:


#70

Sure sounds like you have a lot of toys, I would be lying if I said that I’m not a little bit jealous. Though I feel like we are derailing @Kvangels thread and would confuse other users who were interested in talking about aforementioned bean. @Geoff_IKAWA would you be so kind to move our previous posts (I would say starting from @jmuir2009 “another lurker making my first post”), To a How to Taste Coffee thread, much appreciated and thank you (also where have you been? we haven’t heard from you in some time, hopefully making some more of those sleek vids :wink:) .


#71

Strange you should say about hijacking the thread I was just thinking the same - so my apologies for that. Moving the discussion to a new thread about how to taste coffee seems a great idea.

And I don’t really have so many toys - I just prioritize the important things like making good coffee, and making good food :slight_smile:


#72

Hi @deven.patel411, success!


#73

Thank you! But I think we lost some stuff lol, I’m not worried, just sayin. thanks again


#74

#75

OK I watched this video (I enjoy BH and Matt Perger’s stuff).

I thought the point about evenness was interesting - but I am not sure if agree about his single estate example. Or rather I think he missed an important point :slight_smile: So agreed a single estate will have more evenness - but the important point is quality (= GOOD taste). So I would rather have a better tasting (and less even) coffee from a cooperative - than a more even but less enjoyable coffee from an estate. I am sure Matt would agree - but to be fair he was making a point about evenness (not quality directly).

About pre/post-roast blending. I “grew up” drinking excellent pre-roast blended coffee (so I know it can be done). This was long before I decided to start roasting. From (discussions with a friend who owns a roastery) it seems that he would pre-blend some time before roasting to allow the moisture to equalize. And also he chose beans of similar density to blend. And he also roasted fairly dark maybe City+ so this probably caused the flavours to equalize a bit (he used Probats 5kg, 20kg and bigger I think). This is not to say that post roast blending is not good - logically it “should” be better :slight_smile: But I have also tasted more “new wave” (substitute 27th or whatever number for new) post blends of similar beans - and in my opinion none were any better (most were worse - probably with underdeveloped flavours - though I did not know that term at the time, I just did not like the taste).

Another interesting point about blends that Matt made was that different beans extract at different rates - therefore a blend will not extract some of the beans correctly. This is probably the first time I have heard a logical argument for using single estate beans = because you get the pure flavour from the bean (= evenness). However to take a wine perspective many of the greatest wines (particularly reds) are blends - equally many (particularly whites) are single estates. So it seems to me that there must be a counter argument to this. Matt mentioned adding a higher acid coffee to add acidity - and suggested that this does not work well hmmm… But perhaps there is an argument that it can work - you might not get the FULL flavour of that coffee (for example you might lose the delicate florals you get from from using it alone) but perhaps if you choose & roast correctly it can add the required acid needed to balance out the blend.

The last point I heavily agree on is that “more power” can never be enough - so we really want the new 2000 HP Rimac (or the most powerful electric drill). Or actually it was “more extraction” - and I thought this was very true - and well presented. Also interesting is this is how I have been (trying) to make espresso for about the last 30 years - always push it right to edge and try and get the most out of it (though not as scientifically as Matt discussed). The result has been many amazing shots as well as a lot of binned oily burned shots - but a lot of the shots just a notch/smidgen back from falling of a cliff have been amazing (though pushing this far requires good quality well roasted coffee and a good grinder). What I have also noticed is that most baristas do not push this far and therefore (imho) miss getting the most out of a shot - just my opinion :slight_smile:


#76

Also tried sifting out boulders as Matt suggested. Used 700 micron screen (the suggested 450 was too fine), I will try 600 next time.

Was the coffee more even? Did it taste better? I think so - the coffee seemed to be “smoother” with a better finish. But that could be because the beans were rested for another 12 hours.


#77

If you sifted for espresso, try doing a 200micron band … removing both bigger and smaller particles. Then apply that approach to pushing it to the edge. I guess you may be quite surprised with ckarity and definition ;))

Regarding single estate - its what i really prefere, because of my afforementioned affinity to clarity and sharply defined tastes. Any blending - though may be described as adding complexity - is bluring the definition, making its noisy snd messy.
My analogy for this is a musical one. Single estate would be one band playing one songs (the multiple trees, being close to each other, in contact with the same soil, but still not unisono … more like a harmony) … cooperative would be multiple bands trying to play the same song, or variations of it. Blends are more like multiple bands playing different songs to me. It can still be enjoyble if you carefully pick the ones that can be combined well, but for me its not helpfull.

I see a few reasons for blending, one being the SO coffee not too impressive (say interesting notes but thin or lacking strongly on some aspects) but even here I would first think if maybe different roasts of the same coffee may solve it, before adding other coffee to help. Another one is a preference of people for rich full rounded tasting coffee - this is best reason because if done well it perfectly served the purpose … though its not what I expect from coffee ;))


#78

My thoughts about blending are maybe somewhat extreme, but this is how I think about it - I would say if you do good/perfect shots of those SO coffees ment to be blended … and mix them in some ratio … it would give some insight into how that blend could work at full potential of extraction. But when they are not extracted the same it means one or both will be not extracted that well … so probably one of them should be roasted a bit differently to extract best under the same conditions. Then, may, just maybe, if both have the same profile and all the celestial bodies were perfectly aligned maybe even pre roast blending might work but that I really really doubt could happen. I think really great blending is quite a complex art, and from my perspective not worth the effort for me, because it does not give me what I want anyway. But pre-roast blending looks to be pure laziness to me, I can not see any benefit over roasting the components separately to their individual optimal degree and blending after.


#79

Well the counter argument is that I don’t think you are being specific enough. Grape varietals are blended yes, but with grape varietals that taste good together. I think that is the important note to add. And so, even a SO is consistent it may be a blend of varietals: Caturra and Bourbon or just a single Bourbon. And to get the most clarity I think, like wine, getting a SO of a single varietal is the most “even(?)”. If that is the right word? I completely agree that getting to the very edge should be the goal and waste is a necessary evil. But I have not had a Co-op better than a SO yet. Maybe through luck but my guess is through the vetting that the coffees I purchased from the purveyors don’t allow this to happen. And they regulate (I’m guessing) so my experience is that SO is always better than Co-op. But I completely agree that I would prefer which ever one tasted better.

It’s my MO that getting the full flavor is solely the skill of the roaster. And is achievable (maybe that is just hopes and dreams) but I continually strive to get more out of the cup.

@pavel, to counter your “bands/blending” view, I think that is up to the blender. Whether at the coop if they blend different varietals, or at the roaster blending different or similar varietals and regions. Like George Howell said each step is like a window, it can be clean or dirty. I completely agree that blending is an art, but I don’t have enough experience/knowledge to do it well, yet. But I definitely can see how blending a juicy, blueberry Ethiopian with a rich milk chocolate Mexican or even taking the same Ethiopian further to get chocolates can be very delicious and not miss out on any of the flavors. Again this is an experience I don’t have, just a hope. But at the moment I am trying to minimize the variables and taste the profile :wink:


#80

This was certainly (historically) my preference for coffee. Perhaps partially because good SOs were not so readily available when I started with coffee (and I had never heard of SO coffee back then).

But I am learning to appreciate SO coffee more and more.

(In general if something is good quality then I like it…)