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.


poison said...

thank you for the review, Jason, I appreciate it!

Jason Haeger said...

Thanks or giving me the opportunity to review it!