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Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
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MarkPrince
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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2007, 12:00am
Subject: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process
by Mark Prince

Taking a fresh look at a recent espresso ranking article on a popular coffee website, Mark Prince talks through the process of evaluating espresso, setting up CoffeeGeek's first ever major espresso blend review, coming in the next State of Coffee column.
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Fireweed
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Joined: 30 Jul 2004
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Location: Vancouver
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Sep 30, 2007, 11:04pm
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Wow........ this is a heavy read!!! I think I have to read it just  few times to get it all. This is invaluable information!

I didn't know there wasnt a set standard for evaluating espresso so it will be very interesting to see what your crew came up with Mark. its also too bad that Ken didnt choose to post his rebuttal on coffeegeek. I have all his books and admire the guy quite and it would have been great to see Ken participate in discussions here. I dont want to say anything bad about the man but it seems put offish that he didnt want to do so.

I am really looking forward to the next article! dont take too long to publish it, bokay?

--- Rick
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Luca
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Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 5:25am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Definitely thought-provoking.  A few random and (hopefully) quick thoughts ...

*I hope that Ken decides to chime in.

*I don't think that the scoring system per se matters a damn, as long as everyone is relatively consistent.

*As you mentioned in the article, there are definite differences between espresso blends and brewed coffee blends.  Many of the traditional cupping reviews that I read actually make sense to me in the context of brewed coffee (drip, french press, syphon, etc), but I often find myself having to "translate" traditional cupping reviews to get an idea of how the coffee under investigation will perform as an espresso.  Some sort of uniform espresso scoring system would be a good idea.  The WBC system is a good start.

*Following on from the last point, would it kill people to note what brewing methods their tasting notes will apply to?  Or which brewing methods they have used?

*I find the idea of giving a total score quite ludicrous.  The only real reason for it that I can think of is just for marketing.  People will put different importance on different sections.  For example, I think that crema colour, volume, etc, is basically irrelevant per se, but many people that I know would definitely take exception to that.  There is also a danger in important points being lost.  For example, let's say that under your espresso rating system something scored very well in the sensory aspects, but the barista gave it 1/20 for ease of use.  It would suck if someone new to espresso went out and bought that blend based on the high score.  I suppose that publishing the scores given to individual categories is the most practical way to resolve this question.

*Ken raises a good point in saying that much of his target audience won't be mucking around with brew temperature.  Then again, much of his target audience probably won't have a single group PIDed Linea.  If we go too far down the track of specifying brew temperature, where do the specifications end?  Basket type?  Dose?  Brew pressure?  Time waited before consumption?  Freshness window?  Grinder burr type?  Distribution method?  Don't get me wrong; I'm more than happy to hear about all of that, but I'm sure that there are many people who would skim over that and instantly throw the coffee in the "too hard" basket.  The challenge for the reviewer is to pitch their reviews correctly at their audience.

*Overall, I'd like to see people making good use of the notes accompanying their scores, as they often shed the most light.  OK, you can taste "fig, jasmine and peach."  That's lovely.  How strong are those flavours relative to others?  You came away from the espresso machine feeling that the blend was very difficult to work with.  Howsabout writing that?  It was an extraordinary SO for french press, but you suspect that it's not well suited to espresso.  Could you let us know?

*Finally, here's a paraphrase of how the 100 point cupping rating system, as adapted for espresso, was explained to me:

90-100:  A perfectly balanced and rounded cup, with a unique quality.
80-90:  A cup that has everything.
70-80:  A pleasant cup that is perhaps missing some aspect.
60-70:  One-dimensional.
50-60:  Defective.

Thoughts from people with more experience than I have??

Cheers,

Luca

 
General ramblings about coffee: http://www.pourquality.blogspot.com/

Reviews of Australian coffee: http://www.coffeereviewaustralia.com/
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Elwood
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Elwood
Joined: 1 Oct 2007
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Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 5:56am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

At what temp will you be evaluating the italian blends?

Is there any way your Crew can evaluate your list of coffee with a Sylvia espresso machine?

Can a Sylvia pull a good shot of espresso with the "black cat" blend at it's pre set temp setting?

What blend of Espresso should I stay away from with my Sylvia and or vice versa ?

At what temp settings do the italians pull there shot's with there blend of coffee?

Seing that the Sylvia is made in italy is it safe to say that the machine temp setting is set around there blend of espresso ?

Thank you..............Elwood
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Mach
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Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 8:30am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Ken says at one point in his response that consumers can't change the brewing temperature of their machine. But I just learned, by watching this video, how much water to run through my ECM Giotto portafilter to get the brew temperature right. The difference in my shots has been nothing short of amazing. I'm now consistently getting really beautiful, sweet espresso from several different blends (one of which I'd hated the day before). I'm sure I could dial each of the blends in even further, but my point for the moment is that you definitely can--and must--adjust the brew temperature on a heat-exchanger machine.
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StarTzar
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Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 10:07am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

I really do not care about the scores. I read what they have to say about the coffee and based on that, I choose to buy or not to buy the coffee.

I make my own mind up as to what is or is not good tasting for me.

Let's not forget the bottom line here,  it's all about the money and I don't care if it's Ken or Mark.
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Elwood
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Elwood
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Location: Ottawa
Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 11:03am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

I just pulled a shot of lavazza oro(all this reading gave me a hunger for a espresso)
whit my Sylvia...........my rating = 9.4

I also pulled a shot of Illy last night(again with my Sylvia) and gave it a 9.4

I will be tasting a "choco blend" tonight at the house of one of my Barista Bro,
again with the Sylvia espresso machine,I don't no what rating he gave it which is cool
because we will be able to talk about the blend of the choco, its taste, etcetera etcetera.
It will be interesting to see his rating compared to mine,and if he or I like it or not.

I will also bring my Lavazza oro to see what kind of rating he will give it.
(The shots will be tamped with a pre set tamper of 30 lbs and 7 grams of coffee)
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Elwood
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Elwood
Joined: 1 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Ottawa
Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 11:18am
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Thanks for the reply Mach....Elwood
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xristrettox
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xristrettox
Joined: 22 Jan 2003
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Location: Portland
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 12:52pm
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

no hairbender?

 
billy wilson
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RussP
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Posted Mon Oct 1, 2007, 2:01pm
Subject: Re: Establishing an Espresso Evaluation Process by Mark Prince
 

Great article Mark.  I agree with your proposed rating, and also like the idea of having the Barista score as well; however,  I personally would give them the ability to score with a 1-10 scale like all the other categories.  

I find all scoring on all food products to be very subjective.  The great thing about COE is that they use the average score from 26 different people with many different levels of experience and expertise.  Taking the score from 1 single person is not ideal (eg. I may not like what that one person likes).  Coffee is a very personal thing and everyone likes something different and considers "the best" to be different.  I personally like a darker roasted espresso, where as you may like a lighter roast....we therefore are going to score espressos very differently.  The only way I would agree with the score from a single decision maker is if I liked everything that person liked.  

I would suggest having a panel of judges and using the average.  I say this because many people are going to use this score in the marketing and promotions of their espresso blends.  If someone got a bad score (lets say because it was to dark for you) it could be "used against them" on this or any other site talking about espresso scores.  

Just my two scents.

 
RussP
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