What with the SCAA convention in Boston coming up, and a bunch of other articles Mark has backed up, he and I decided to post this follow-up article here rather than wait two or three months to be posted on the main site.
I left out two very popular and important coffees from my first trials of single origin beans – Yemen Mocha and Indian Monsooned Malabar.
I was reminded of this by e-mails I received after the previous article was published. One asked how I could forget about the chocolate flavor in Yemen Mocha beans seeing that chocolate espresso was the point of the whole thing. Oops.
Another e-mail asked what I thought of Dr. Joseph John’s popular Malabar Gold blend. Fifty percent of Malabar Gold is Monsooned Malabar, and Tom at Sweetmarias.com is now offering a Monsooned blend of his own. Before I get to that, as well as give you my final recipe for the perfect low-acid, chocolaty espresso (according to my friend who started me on that search), let me present my updated chart of beans I tried.
SM is Sweetmarias.com, OCE is Orleans Coffee Exchange (http://www.orleanscoffee.com/grcoffees.html), and CW is Coffeewholesalers.com, which was also where I got the Costa Rican Tarrazu in the previous article. Sorry about that mistake, CW. I’ve divided my list of beans by region.
Coffee Source Processed Body Acidity Flavor Intensity Brief Description
Uganda Budadiri SM Dry 5 1 5 Chocolaty Uganda Nanga Robusta SM Wet 4.5 2 5 Medicinal Yemen Mocha Rimy CW Dry 4 3 4 Smoky, Chocolaty, Fruity Ethiopia Harrar OCE Dry 3 3.5 4 Wild Berry Fruity Ethiopia Sidamo DP SM Dry 3.5 3 3 Lightly Apricot Fruity Ethiopia Yrgacheffe OCE Wet 2 4 3 Flowery Ethiopia Ghimbi SM Dry 2.5 3.5 4 Earthy, Lightly Fruity Tanzania Adela AA SM Wet 3.5 5 4.5 Winey, Sharp Kenya AA Karamundi OCE Wet 3 4 3.5 Winey, Fruity
Brazil Cerrado SM Dry 3.5 2 2 Neutral Organic Brazil Cachoeira CW Dry 4 2 2 Neutral Colombian San Augustin SM Wet 3 3 3 Medium
India Monsooned Malabar CW Wet 4.5 1 4.5 Musty, Spicy India Pearl Mountain SM Wet 4 3.5 4 Spicy
Sulawesi Toraja OCE Dry 4 3 4 Spicy Sumatra Mandheling OCE Dry 5 2 4 Earthy Aged Sumatra SM Dry 5 1 5 Pungently Earthy Papua New Guinea SM Wet 3 3.5 3 Lightly Fruity Timor Maubesse Organic OCE Wet 4 3 3.5 Lightly Earthy Java Washed Robusta SM Wet 5 2 5 Burnt Rubber
Kona Captain Cook OCE Wet 3 3.5 2.5 Clean, Piney Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto AA SM Wet 3 2.5 3.5 Leathery
Guatemala Antigua OCE Wet 2 4.5 3 Citrusy, Tangy Nicaragua Segovia SM Wet 3 3 2.5 Mild Costa Rica Doka OCE Wet 4 3 2.5 Nutty Costa Rica Tarrazu CW Wet 2 4 2.5 Lightly Citrusy Panama La Berlina OCE Wet 2 3.5 3 Softly Floral
As I said, I was searching for a perfect, chocolate, non-acidic blend for a friend. The final product contained 4 parts base (the rich organic Brazilian), 3 parts Ugandan, 2 parts Yemen Mocha, and 1 part Ethiopian Harrar (hereinafter “Green Wave Blend” – he’s a Tulane University professor). Unfortunately, he didn’t have any Yemen, but did have Sweetmaria’s Moka Kadir blend, which contains Yemen and Harrar along with some lighter beans. With his beans, I came up with equal parts of Brazil, Uganda, and Moka Kadir (“Greenie Blend”). He absolutely loves it, but, strangely enough, I’m not too crazy about it. It’s just a little too flat for me. I prefer my Tiger Blend (4:3:2:1 of base, Sulawesi, Uganda, and Yrg) for spiciness or my Trojan Blend (4:3:2:1 of base, Sumatra, Uganda, and Harrar) for richness.
Malabar Gold is the favorite of my friend’s wife (he married a former barista from Italy!). The Monsooned Malabar gives it spice, but also a certain musty flavor (I’m almost tempted to call it moldy, but not in a bad way – think of yogurt). Other Indian beans add spiciness and some other subtle flavors to the blend as well. The blend finishes up with some robusta, which adds body, crema, and bite.
Bite is a certain bitterness, which can be pleasant as an aftertaste to some. Bite also keeps blends from being too smooth and dull, like the blend my friend likes. Personally, I like the bite in my espresso to come from more pleasant flavors or acidity. Still, I keep some Malabar Gold on hand for an occasional change of pace. The robusta beans in Malabar Gold help produce great crema, but the bloated, monsooned beans are less dense so be sure to grind them much finer than other beans. Also, give the monsooned beans three days of rest so the body can develop enough to catch up to the musty flavor. If you had individual beans, you could make up a monsooned blend (I call this one “Sun Devil Blend”) from 50% Monsooned Malabar, 25% Indonesian (such as aged Sumatra), 15% Indian Arabica (such as Pearl Mountain), and 10% “good” robusta (such as Uganda Nanga Farms). There won’t be any hint of chocolate there, but, as I said, it makes for a good change of pace. I believe this is less robusta than in other monsooned blends, but, for me, it keeps the bitterness below my unacceptable threshhold level.
Another question I got concerned decafs. I haven’t tested them enough to know what I like the most, but I find the decaf method known as “M/C,” “KVW,” or “Natural” to be the best with Sweetmaria’s WP processed beans very similar. If you’re going to use decafs in espresso, use it as the base (usually Brazilian or Colombian) so that it’s not disturbing the flavor too much. In that way you can make your espresso half-caf. If it’s still too much caffeine, make a half-caf and just drink half of that. Now you’re down to a quarter-caf, which probably won’t affect you too much. As I said, though, I have not extensively tested decafs, so Sweetmaria’s other WP decaf beans may have full flavor that can substitute for the regular. Tom Owens’ cupping numbers seem to indicate they are.
Finally, if you’re trying a blend, but aren’t getting enough flavor out of it, then lessen or lose the base. It’s mostly there to give body and reduce the overall flavor by diluting the stronger flavored beans. If you don’t taste those stronger flavored beans enough, increase the percentage of flavorful beans so it comes through. Of course, I can’t really tell you what’s best. I can only guess based on what people tell me they like. In the end, by trying beans individually, you will be the expert who can tell you what you will like most.
Thanks for the new Info, Donald. You're a natural at this.
BTW, SM's "African Highland" decaf may be up your alley for a flavor component in a decaf blend.
I have a different opinion to yours about decaf blends; generally, I leave out the base beans entirely and only use body and flavor beans, since these are diminished enough already. I find this a useful way of getting 100% decaf bends.
Thanks for the compliment, Jim. That's an excellent idea you have - using no base for 100% decaf blends. Maybe that will be my next project. Tom really likes those WP beans he has. I've taste-tested his WP Colombian side by side with his M/C Narino del Abuelo slightly preferring the M/C, but he appears to have gone to WP exclusively now. My slight M/C preference (probably about one point on a cupping scale) may very well have been due to the original bean rather than the decaf method. I've also tried the WP Brazil (as a base as described in the article), which is a noticeable improvement over the SWP he used to have. I also tried the CO2 Colombian decaf, which removes close to 100% of the caffeine (as opposed to other types' 96-98%), but really didn't like that one.
Steve_the_kiwi Senior Member Joined: 22 Nov 2002 Posts: 28 Location: Christchurch, NZ Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Carimali uno Grinder: Rocky Roaster: homemade BBQ style
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2003, 12:27am Subject: Re: Chocolate Espresso, Part 2
Donald, Thanks for the couple of articles on your research and blends. For a newbie to the roasting/ blending game they are great info.
I noted with interest your "Trojan Blend". Is the Uganda bean the Budadiri or Nanga Robusta? Assuming it is the former, I have a simliar blend i use except with some Monsooned Malabar in place of the Uganda, which i noticed are scored very close to each other on your table. My propotions are slightly different too, i'll give yours a go soon.
I know what you mean about change of pace also. I was talking to someone today and mentioned how i've found a couple of blends that i really like but am always trying new stuff. They couldn't understand why after finding a blend that i liked i would keep changing things around. Variety it's what it is all about, if i wanted the same taste everyday i'd buy the beans already roasted from a cafe in town (it would save the moans from my wife about the smell of freshroasted beans cooling in her kitchen, she thinks they smell burnt !!)
dsharp88 Senior Member Joined: 22 Dec 2001 Posts: 73 Location: Metairie, LA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: LaCimbali Junior D/1 Grinder: Mini Mazzer, Solis Maestro Vac Pot: Yama Drip: Chemex, 1-cup Melitta Roaster: Alpenrost, FreshRoast+,...
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2003, 4:03pm Subject: Re: Chocolate Espresso, Part 2
I'm glad you found the articles to be helpful. The Ugandan bean in the Trojan Blend is the Budadiri. The Sun Devil Blend with the Monsooned Malabar is the only one of my blends I've used robusta in. Besides adding adding body and crema, the bite of the robusta offers a counterbalance to the spicy mustiness of the Monsooned Malabar.
You're right in saying I scored the Uganda Budadiri and the Monsooned Malabar similarly (both being low-acid, heavy-body beans with strong flavors), but keep in mind; A) those are intensity ratings rather than quality ratings; and B) those two beans have flavors that are nothing alike (as noted in the brief description). That's not to say yours won't taste great. You may very well like it a lot more than mine, but I don't think the two blends will taste a lot alike despite the similarity in body and acidity.
Let me know what you think of Trojan Blend (on the last few beans of a batch myself)!
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