company - education - coffee

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Something brewing in Boston... (are you bean oriented....?)

This was one of those tastings that left everyone floored and on a high for the rest of the night on the possibilities now for coffee as espresso. A big cheers to Ben for coming onto this paradigm when we were playing with the Aeropress. We were coming at the Aeropress with blank expectations and diagnosed it without any limits or expectations of what is normal for a brew. This led us to the yirg being pulled as espresso and coming up with something quite tasty.

Following up on our results from the Terroir Yirgacheffe as espresso...

Ben pulled several good shots of the Yirgacheffe as espresso (only works under some unconventional circumstances) and this has challenged us to start brewing some of the Terroir drip offerings I get from Simon's (we brew Terroir at simon's so I have easy access to these coffees) as espresso in an attempt to challenge the boundaries of our perceptions. Notes first then more commentary.

Kenya Kiamabara (vienna roast) from Terroir Coffee (still playing it safe with a bit darker roasts will move to lighter roasts by wed to push the limits)

16 g ridgeless double basket on a Synesso 1 group and standard 5 sec preinfusion. As always, this is an overview of our note and I leave out the in between shots/sink shots.

Dose 16g temp 191F 28s 2oz

Notes: Effervescent. light Anise. Asim(the unseen cupper) noted bing Cherry right off in the aftertaste(excellent observation). Slight tartness defines the bing cherry flavor. Roast is present giving the chocolate which infers that we could go much lighter with this roast and still get good results.

Tasted it in milk and got light chocolate/caramel flavors with a cherry(think childrens medicine or candies) in the aftertaste. Sweet. Flipping out here. It's palatable and beyond that the results are so comparable to what we taste at work with the drip.

16g 190F 27s 2oz

Notes: Roast disappears but so does clarity of flavor. Borderline citrusy and a bit grainy with more brightness. Fruity. Sweet.

18g 191.5F 28s

notes: 'Kenya like' This is the most kenya like we have tasted today. It has all the hallmark flavors you find in drip. Seems the darker roast means we have to use a heavier dose to get the origin flavors. Compares excellent to drip.

16g 192.5F

Notes: Astringent, dry and yuck... This needs to be pulled under this temp to be palatable.

Conclusion: This is a big one.

The Kiamabara comes out on the savory side at a slightly higher temp of 191F. Savory with bing cherry in the aftertaste but also roasty. Lower temp of 190F gives a tomato like citrus and roast disappaears while sweetness is more present. This and the Ecco Reserve have made the best espresso we have pulled in weeks. Everyone was impressed. Hong noted the change from sweet to savory with the change in temp and found it very pleasing. This could be served in milk and would be much better than a fermented Ethiopian Sidamo.

What this all means: I hate to use a music analogy but it works: Think of a piece of music that is played at a low volume and you believe it to be excellent. Take that same piece of music and amplify it to a loud volume and you then begin to hear every imperfection. In fact, the imperfections become amplified to the point it is unlistenable.

This is the theory. The analogy is of a light roast with a lesser quality coffee.

Now imagine another piece of music played at a low volume and then amplified. Instead of showing it's imperfections, it allows you to hear parts of the symphony you could not hear before. In fact, you can hear it's greatness more clearly.

An analogy of a light roast of an exceptional high grown coffee.

The rub... We were coming in with this perception that you have to tone down acidity by roasting darker and holding yourself into a specifc temp range to get a full extraction (195F-205F). So, roasting is usually to make the beans conform to this temperature range. The old idea being you can't extract all the flavor unless the temps are in this range. Once we realized that staying in that temperature range didn't matter, it opened many avenues to us.

Some of these drips can brew at lower temps (185F to 195F or even lower?). This may(or may not) have a slight dulling effect but that may not be a bad thing with a coffee so packed with flavors. I've been thinking about it like brewing temps for green teas and black teas. Green teas typically brew at temps around 10 degrees lower than black teas. Some higher quality greens brew much lower than that. So a high quality light roasted coffee may follow the same trajectory. We may be able to brew many of these Terroir drip coffees as espresso without having them roasted any darker than they are for drip. Of course it may not work, but we will follow up and see later. This is so much bettr than tasting Harrars searching for 'blueberries' among the funk. I know it must relate somehow to the roasting style they use for drip. Maybe Ben can add more...

More raw data to come soon as we taste more coffees this week. Will try lighter and lighter roasts to find the limit...