Monday, May 07, 2007

Rocket Reserve Espresso blend

Larry was kind enough to send me a pound of his newest espresso blend.

Rocket Reserve:

When it arrived, it had not even been publicly released. This stuff retails for a whopping $21/lb. If you knew the list of coffees in it, you would understand why. One of these coffees is exclusively available from Rocket Coffee Roasters.

Here's a look at the roast color and consistency:

It was recommended to start this experimentation at roughly 16 grams and 201F for a double.

So I did just that. 16 grams, but the temp was a little on the high side.
The resulting shot:

The flavor was of leather, cigar tobacco leaf, and a winey tinge. The flavors are not "clean", per se, but they are very clear, very refined, and very easy to identify. The culmination is much like what a possible men's cologne could smell like.

With a heavier dose, I've noticed that the leather becomes dominant, and the winey tinge is a little sharp. Not unpleasantly so, but it's something I noticed.

At a lower temperature, the leather and tobacco take center stage, and the acidity is dulled a little. Strange, I realize, but that's what my tastes told me. At a higher temperature, it becomes a little unpleasant. The flavors lack balance, and the sophistication gives way to an exaggeration of the darker flavor characteristics, and not much else.

I've discovered that with this blend, it's actually best to pull it a little longer than normal. Don't cut it at the first sign of blonding, or you'll be missing some of the clarity.

I found my preferred brew paramters to be closer to 14 grams, a fine grind to pull in ~26-28 seconds, with a lighter tamp (say, 25lbs.. according to the elbow-gauge). The tobacco flavor becomes enhanced with a particular sweetness. The leather is tamed to the status of a compliment rather than a contending flavor. The wineyness is balanced by the sweetness and tobacco flavors quite nicely. The resulting shot was smoother with a much rounder flavor profile and medium body. The temperature was about 201, if I remember correctly, so don't change that part.

As an Americano, the extraction parameter effects become more apparent. I'm not entirely sure why that is.
Often times, I'll find that an Americano can actually expose otherwise hidden flavors in a complex blend. The flavors in this particular case are exactly the same. This is credence to the earlier description that the flavors are clear and distinct.
For a killer Americano, nail the shot with the specs mentioned.

In milk, the leather and tobacco come right through, but so does a dark fruit flavor. This fruit isn't berry.. it's more like plum, but even less tart, if that makes sense. The flavor is present in the straight espresso, but not so much. I believe this is due to the milk dulling the acidity that is a critical part of the winey tinge mentioned earlier.

The flavor is strong enough to cut through even a 16oz. latte, if that's what you like, but I found I liked it best as an Americano for reasons mentioned earlier. It works beautifully in a cappuccino, and makes a very pleasant straight espresso. The lingering aftertaste is sweet, more tobacco than leather, with some of the dried plum coming through. Take a drink of water after the espresso to heighten this effect.

Overall, this doesn't replace my favorite, even at the price-point, but that's just a subjective thing. There is no guessing what you're tasting with this one. The flavors are clear, the mouthfeel is consistent from beginning to end, and the aftertaste isn't far from the initial flavor. Once you've had it, there are no more surprises. It's a consistent flavor, and for that reason, I would consider it to be a very forgiving blend, with little sacrifice to the elegance of the coffee itself in the cup.

Definitely worth a try once it becomes available. Look for it in the coming week or two.


Ben C. said...

So what is your favorite?

Jason Haeger said...

Not that I've had a wide array of espresso blends at my fingertips, but my favorite among those I've tried has been Rocket's Classic Espresso blend.

Ben C. said...

4 bean blend... wonder what is in it =)