Single Origins Shots and the Blended Espresso.
I really hope this debate is almost dead and buried for a lot of people. I think Tacy was on to it(as usual).
I feel all too often that roasts are not for ideal flavors but yet for a certain temperature. It's as if you assume that you will be at 201F and then roast everything to fit that temperature.
Whether you choose 194F or 201F, it should be matching the temperature to the beans characters not conforming the bean to the preconceived temperatures. What if the floral notes pop at 192F and it's a gorgeous sweet SOS? It seems very simple to say if you step back and tear away your preconceived notions of espresso. Roasting light for the sake of light or dark for the sake of dark is irrelevant and pointless. Roast to the specific characters of that bean.
Actually, I digress, that's hard and a bit costly... in fact down right impractical for commercial espresso and difficult for home users. Imagine a commercial espresso with a nonstandard temperature below the range of a HX. What then? Serve inferior espresso or force your accounts to upgrade? Impractical nonsense. Yet, it points me to the fact that Ben, in his upgrade of the HX realized the HX is antiquated machinery in espresso. You can't nail these specific temps for these delicate espresso and especially not lower temps.
At the Charlotte SCAA convention, I was at the booth of some uber cool techies(won't name them)... Really cool convo until I said US espresso is still in it's infancy. The guy I was talking to me regarded that comment with disgust stating it was getting to it's peak. I think the equipment is finally getting there with the Synesso and GB5 type machines onto the market... but does anyone really think the coffee is there yet. CoE is still in it's infancy. Fantastic coffees have come, but for those who think the peak is here, just wait. It can only get better.
The point being is that at some point there needs to be an espresso machine that is Clover like. Dynamic adjustable brew temps for multiple espresso SOS and blends on the same machine.
Sadly, there is not a demand for such things beyond the lab. How many shops attempt to pull multiple(3+) espresso on their machines? A handfull really.
That for me is the cutting edge of SOS, not drip coffee but espresso. Nail those SOS and then go back and pair all your notes to make an amazing blend. Stop making blends that are compensating for flaws and make something truly amazing.