There was this irritating conversation going on about espresso on a pro forum where it just became redundant to participate. It got me thinking about how commercial espresso blends are so formulaic and can easily be defined simplistically by one descriptor.
I thought I would categorize them a bit and I came up with six categories:
There are many blends where you end up with crossover between each category. Maybe I should have included an honorable mention for Lemony but I felt it was so uncommon, it didn't deserve a category.
Earthy: Think sumatra, spicy, things you would find in a forest: wood, mushrooms, leaves, mold, mildew.
Tobacco/Leather: Tawny, spicy: think about your first triple ristretto. often has crossover with earthy/chocolate.
Chocolate: Think bitter to bittersweet, sometimes milky, rarely though. You can put chocolate in anything with a rolling second crack but many espouse the use of certain beans for this enhanced cocoa. Seriously, cocoa is the roast.
Caramel: Think caramel without the sugar, without the sweet. Most caramel espresso are polished to the point the only character left is a smooth caramel, sometimes burnt sugar but rarely if ever sweet.
Fermented/Monsooned: Fermented: think booberry or strawberry(harrar, sidamo, or other naturals). Monsooned: Mushroom ugh maybe anise at 203.5F(Malabar). Why lump them together? Because both are coffees where the processing is an anomaly.
Paper Bag: Paper bag: think cardboard, burnt rubber, bitter. Yep, you guessed it, Robusta.
The are not a lot of unique espresso out there to be had. Simply put, a lot of them suck, a lot of them are boring, a lot of them taste better in milk than straight shots.
There are intriguing endeavors, but for all the noise coming out of the forum community, you'd think there would be more... right?
Hmm, sweet aromatic espresso. Some fruit, some nuts, no dirt, no mold, no spice, and a lot of character would be nice for a change every now and then even with some cocoa if it was more sweet than bittersweet. An aftertaste that makes your mouth water would be nice instead of a lingering bitterness also :-p