company - education - coffee

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tell me how you really feel about espresso

Ben and I worked on shots of a Kenya AA yesterday. The first time in a long time that we actually got back into espresso. We have an espresso goal that a friend down south will be intrigued to see progress on as I promise we will make it there first!

It has been a particularly long time since we tried pulling a Kenya or anything exotic as a shot and I do miss pulling espresso. I love working the machine and miss it a lot because what I have been tasting lately has not been all too thrilling. Not necessarily bad, just rather boring. To be honest, I am really tired of working with Brasils right now and particularly fatigued with being asked to diagnose roast variances in them! I want to move past it but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good Brazil when I see it. It's just that I really want to get back to the days when we were pulling shots of interesting coffees and doing something unique. Yup, coffee shots and what not!

I have been into vac pots lately and it finally gave me an appreciation for brewed coffees other than espresso. Still, the truth is that there is nothing quite like the complexity, viscosity, aroma, and intense sweetness of a beautiful espresso.

So back to this Kenya pulled as espresso. It was clean candied fruit rather than what most would define as the more common sharp acidity you would expect. Some of this is owed to the particular roast style. Like the mysterious shots of Crescendo we are still chasing, it remains an interesting goal to pull a complex but not overpowering shot of a coffee like this. This was exciting and at one point, we were able to even subvert the fruit to get a very unique perfume from this coffee. Strangely pleasant but a bit unexpected in this Kenya. I would post notes but it defeats the purpose of writing today.

Very few people blend exciting coffees in their espresso. Most of the time it's coffees that are rather boring and quite focused on body, earth, and spice. A caramel cocoa espresso... Yawn. I have no problem with that being doused in milk!

It's hard to sit around and listen to people talk about letting the coffee speak for itself and decrying the value of straight shots and less milk when often the coffees used in the espresso are simply put, cheap. The shop may be paying a lot for these coffees but the cost of green coffees used is not quite expensive.

You might say that's being snobbish but I think it's snobbish when you want someone to drink your espresso straight simply because you believe in some hip standard for sizing drinks. If the espresso is good enough, people will naturally move towards smaller drinks and less milk. This much I have seen before. If the espresso is expensive, you sure cannot dump it into a large milk drink. It wouldn't really make sense, would it?

Dare I say it?

To us, third wave doesn't exist. It's largely irrelevant. Talk to me about good great coffees. That's all I want to focus on, a better cup. All the technical stuff and marketing jibe is grand but really it comes down to what you are drinking.

What are you drinking?