Thursday, May 25, 2006

West Coast Roasting

After 5 days of rest, (roasted on the 19th, today is the 25th) I believe that this blend needs more time to rest before it is at its peak as a straight espresso.

The first shot I pulled with this blend was used in an Americano yesterday, and was rather bland. I attributed this at first to the balance of flavors cancelling each other out. Espresso is never bland, regardless of the blend. Uninteresting, perhaps, but never bland. So, upon farther inspection, I decided to give my grouphead a good cleaning.

Today, the first shot I pulled was fairly astringent, with a medium to heavy body, and is very very easy on the palate. This shot told me that this blend needs to rest longer before used as a straight espresso.

The second shot was used in a cappuccino. The dominant flavor in a 6oz. wet cappuccino is milk chocolate. Not the typical dark chocolate often heard of, but milk chocolate. Smooth, delicately sweet, every so slight nuttiness, and maybe a hint of fruit when slurped (as in cupping). The texture in milk is so smooth. This blend would go over extremely well in a commercial setting where one wishes to introduce the customer base to quality espresso. It's not at all harsh, not bitter, not overly bright. The balance is quite user-friendly for those unfamiliar with espresso, while still being enjoyable for those who are already experienced, as there are many flavors to be found, but they are all muted and take a good amount of skill with a trained palate to detect.

The complexity is present, but far from overwhelming, making it great for a first-time espresso drinker while still enjoyable for the experienced palate.

I've found the preferred dose to be on the higher end of the spectrum. My findings may change as I work my way through this pound, but that is my initial impression.

More to come as the blend rests, and more taste tests are implemented. I will test this blend on an inexperienced palate this weekend. My mother is visiting, and has never had good espresso. I anticipate a good reception.

Update v.Espresso
After mulling it over a bit, I was thinking that there just HAD to be a way to squeeze more flavor out of this off-the-wall blend that appears to promise much more than it delivers.

Upon farther thought, it dawned on me that perhaps a finer grind and a lighter dose would highlight the more delicate notes in the bean, as more flavor is generally obtained from a finer grind, and the lighter dose allows the little subtleties to become a bit more clear. At least, that's what my own thought and theory tells me.

A dose "under the line" a'la Wendelboe, at a finer grind yields a straight espresso with everything that the blend promises to deliver. The Ethiopia Harrar takes center stage at last. Blueberries, spiciness, chocolate tones, yes.. all of it. Extremely well-balanced, smooth, and delicious. The aftertaste every bit as sweet as the beverage itself. It appears that a heavy dosed ristretto pulls into a very nice, not very complex-tasting, yet very sweet espresso, while a lighter dose yielding a 1.5oz double in around 22-23 seconds delivers so much more than one would expect upon first inspection. Suddenly, this blend requires a new perspective for the review. I have yet to discover how this dosing technique behaves in milk, or as an Americano.

Update v.Cappuccino
Using the new-found optimal dosing method for this blend, it behaves much as it did as a straight espresso when used in a cappuccino. The only real difference is that the milk chocolate flavor is in the background rather than the center stage of the flavor profile. The milk adds a little depth and body to the mouthfeel, serving as a sweet backdrop to the brighter fruit flavor accompanied by a slight spiciness that is more prevalent in the aftertaste than in the beverage flavor itself. The milk appears to tone-down the subtleties a little, but the blueberry notes are noticeably present, and add an interesting aspect that was lacking in the heavier dosing method.

Sweet, balanced, with the highlights of the Ethiopia Harrar coming through in a sophisticated manner, with no single attribute overpowering another. Quite pleasant with more noticeable flavors, however, an experienced palate will help to fully appreciate the slightly diminished subtleties in a cappuccino. So far, I find that I favor the straight double to a cappuccino.

While this blend is sweet, and extremely well-balanced, it does lack complexity. While this complex flavor is present, it is difficult to taste for a novice's palate, and not quite satisfying enough for the experienced.

Even so, the balance and chocolate notes of the blend pulled with a heavier dose are still pleasant, especially in milk. As an Americano, the blend has very little complexity, but has a very pleasant "strong coffee" flavor with great balance and mouthfeel.

All things considered, this is a good blend. The shop-sized portions are post-blended, meaning, this review is to be taken as a glimmer of the expected flavor profile for a commercial environment.

In short, this blend, though it has its weaknesses, is definitely enjoyable and worth trying.

A Few Updates

I bought the Stir Crazy portion of my Turbo Crazy coffee roaster the other day. Just a few more things to buy before I'm in business for larger roasting batches.

I've had a few friends ask to buy coffee from me. I might start doing that once I have this set up and quite a few pounds of green.

In other news, Nate White of

sent me a pound of his Espresso Torro blend to write a review on. He's trying to get his new roasting company on a roll, and I offered to review his coffee as sort of a reference for potential buyers.

I asked him for a snippet of the blend, if he was willing, and he graciously told me every coffee in the blend. I must say, it's quite unorthodox, but very interesting to say the least.

The bag aroma is quite balanced.. almost to the point of being uninteresting, but very inviting.

Full review to come.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Not much to tell

First off, I would like to apologize for the lack of updates here. I usually try to keep it pretty new. I know how boring a stagnant blog can be, and I decided I didn't want to be one of those types, no matter how busy I got.

I'm still waiting for my tax return. When it arrives, I intend to purchase the missing Stir Crazy portion of my Turbo Crazy setup, as well as a good 10 pounds or so of green coffee with which to work for awhile. I've got a few people asking to buy my coffee that I don't even have yet. Most of the return is accounted for, so there won't be much of it spent on coffee related goods.

There was a picture taken of me drinking some french pressed coffee, and a friend of mine took it and made it into this:

Good promotional picture, I'd say. If only I had a good reason to have it.

Which brings me to my next topic of discussion.

I have considered going into the espresso consulting field on my own, independent of any pre-existing company. No, I'm not a super-barista.. I've never won a competition, or even entered. But what I do have is a basic understanding of how espresso works, and the knowledge of how to pour latte art. So many shops here have just plain awful espresso. I have found two exceptions.. one of which is my current place of work, and the other is my previous place of work.

The previous place had a very VERY forgiving espresso blend. The current place has great technique, if I do say so myself (I trained them) and is, at this point, limited by the blend.. which isn't very good, but I'm trying to change that.

There is a severe lack of options for shops here. Most people not only don't know where to look, but they're not even aware that they should be looking for advice on improving their overall product. Training is what I really want to get into, and my region is in dire need of someone capable of teaching good barista technique. The hard part will be convincing cafe owners that my services will actually help improve their business. That having been said, I'm going to wait until the Alternative Brew Methods article is published in Barista Magazine. I will probably be in it, which means more good stuff to put on my resume, and more reason for cafe owners to trust me with their employees.

I just can't help but think people would be appreciative, though. I've tried a few new shops, and have found new locations for "the worst espresso in Lubbock". This is not encouraging.

I have not had access to a digital camera lately, so I don't have any latte art or naked shot pictures for you this time.

Until next time, may your cup always be full.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Barista Magazine?

So.. I might be in an upcoming issue of Barista Magazine.

Kenneth Olson is writing an article about alternative brew methods in coffee houses.

I contributed my take on the Melitta Pour-over station. After having worked with one before, I'm a pretty big fan.

Hopefully it goes through. If it does, I'll be sure to post it up here.

Exciting stuff! (crazy.. less than a year in specialty coffee)

Anyone else notice Rocket Coffee Roasters' new tagline pic?

Very nice. I'm not much a fan of the site's background, but the coffee is great.

Aaand.. I'll leave you with some recent pictures.

A cappuccino.

A Hot chocolate.

An espresso pull.