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Do beans really matter for lattes?
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Do beans really...  
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AlexKilpatrick
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Joined: 30 Jan 2013
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Location: Austin

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 2:51pm
Subject: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

I know it has been said that the best latte starts with the best espresso, but I am starting to wonder.

I drink lattes about 50% of the time and straight shots about 50% of the time.  Sometimes I will have a shot, then make a latte with the same settings to compare the taste.  Let's say that my shots vary from 1-10, where 10 is the God shot and 1 makes me want to vomit.  I have gotten espresso shots around 2 or 3 at times, and a very rare 10.  However, my lattes might range between 5 and 8.  They are never awesome like a good shot, but they are never awful either.  It is kind of like the milk eliminates the highs and the lows.  I also can't really taste any difference between different types of beans when I make a latte.

I have taken shots that I know would be undrinkable (like, say a 60 second extraction) and made decent lattes with them.  So this has me wondering whether it is even worth getting good or "interesting" beans for lattes?  Maybe it makes sense to just get a decent espresso blend and go with that all the time?

Interested in hearing other people's opinions about this.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 4:28pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

It's all a matter of taste. I typically drink caps, and I tend to make them with less milk than the standard. I can definitely taste the difference when the shots are off and when changing beans. I must admit my wife's half a shot latte gets a bit of neglect, when it comes to espresso quality (ie, I'll make it with a sink shot sometimes), but when I make the effort to make her shot just right, she notices the latte is especially good. Her Mom, who also takes a half shot in her 11oz latte can tell when I change beans. If you can't tell though...why waste your money? Just get the cheapest beans you can.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
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Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 8:30pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

Thats all I drink and and the answer is yes. Definitely yes. A Latte made at Klatch ( San Dimas ) for example or Intelligentsia ( Chicago ) in which i actually walked into those shops is great.
Of course so are the ones I make at home using a variety of great coffee.  Plus I home roast. Of all i have ordered my favorites are Intelligentsia, Klatch,Vivace and now Verve, ( The Sermon/all I can say is wow)

http://www.vervecoffeeroasters.com/

The Sermon Espresso

Farms // Joao de Campos, Bella Vista, Kebado

Region // Alto Paranaba, La Palma, Sidamo
Processing // Dry-Process, Wet-Process
Cultivar // Catuai, Ethiopian Heirloom, Bourbon

Elevation // 1,200-1,800 Meters

Tasting Notes // Fresh Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Balanced



Cup Characteristics: The Sermon is our fruit forward and heavy bodied espresso. A fresh, lightly tart blueberry and coffee cherry up front, with dark chocolate in the finish. These flavor characteristics blend incredibly well in milk drinks making a cappuccino with The Sermon decadent and dessert-like.

Sourcing Information: Sermon has always been a new take on an old classic. A round body, heavy chocolate notes, and berry sweetness are what we consistently strive for. We taste dozens of offerings each season to find the perfect combination to achieve this end. This season, we present a three bean blend hailing from Central America and Africa. Joćo de Campos, a dry-processed Yellow Catuai from Brasil, offers a sturdy body and sturdy background, while Kebado, from Sidamo, provides the intense berry notes. Balancing out these extremes is Bella Vista, which is a remarkably clean wet-processed Bourbon from El Salvador thatbridges the gap between the Joćo and Kebado. Together they yield an espresso that is both exciting and approachable.


Preparation Recommendations: The Sermon excels on a wide variety of espresso machine types (including the old-school, vintage lever machine types). We use a relatively standard approach on our more modern equipment; 20 grams in, 24-26 seconds, yeilding 17-18 grams (about 1.25oz). Some folks also like to use the blend on their coffee brewer or press pot for a deep cup.
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 8:46pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

You will think Im nuts but one morning i got in my Silverado and drove to LA ( San Dimas) just to meet Heather Perry.She often is there
but she wasn't that day.I bought some coffee and a Latte and drove three hours back home.Yeah I should have called hugh! But we stop when we
head to LA for D-Land or business. She's the real deal and so is her dad,Mike.

"Most notably, Heather has participated in barista competitions and currently holds several titles including 2007 and 2003 United States Barista Champion plus the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Western Regional Champion. In Tokyo she finished 2nd in the world at the 2007 World Barista Championships. She has also made appearances on many TV shows including What’s Hot What’s Cool on the Food Network and BIG on the Discovery Channel where her name was put in the Guinness Book of World Records for building the world's largest espresso machine. Moreover, Heather is a spokesperson for 'Got Milk?' She was also recently named “The Ultimate Barista” and has since been challenged six times, including two head to head victories over other Ultimate Baristi, remaining undefeated."

Click Here (www.klatchroasting.com)
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grant862
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 8:53pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

If I use freshly roasted beans to make a latte, the taste is a 9/10

95% of the time, I use Trader Joe's medium roast ($4.99/lb) beans for my lattes and the taste is a 7+/10.

Personally, I'm a student w/ no income and for lattes, I can't justify the taste difference for 10oz+ lattes (virtually the same, but not quite). I calculated it, and TJ's beans are .25 cents a shot...whereas local roast is about $1.

My big caveat is, for milk based drinks less than 9oz, the scale of less milk and more coffee taste strongly comes into play, and I can definitely justify spending more $$ for quality beans. A 6oz drink w/ TJ's beans is drinkable and semi-enjoyable, but miles away from the taste and enjoyment of fresh beans.
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 9:21pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

grant862 Said:

If I use freshly roasted beans to make a latte, the taste is a 9/10

95% of the time, I use Trader Joe's medium roast ($4.99/lb) beans for my lattes and the taste is a 7+/10.

Personally, I'm a student w/ no income and for lattes, I can't justify the taste difference for 10oz+ lattes (virtually the same, but not quite). I calculated it, and TJ's beans are .25 cents a shot...whereas local roast is about $1.

My big caveat is, for milk based drinks less than 9oz, the scale of less milk and more coffee taste strongly comes into play, and I can definitely justify spending more $$ for quality beans. A 6oz drink w/ TJ's beans is drinkable and semi-enjoyable, but miles away from the taste and enjoyment of fresh beans.

Posted March 23, 2013 link

This is an excellent example of my experience as well, early on in my coffee/espresso brewing experience.
Latte style drinks can get away with a lesser coffee, as long as it has no defects (potato, baggy, etc)
The "traditional" italian style 5-6oz cappa, made with a 50-60ml double is DEPENDENT on excellent coffee, as it's nearly 40% of the drink.
I'd say up to 8oz drinks would follow this rule.
As always, YMMV.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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TheSunInsideYou
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TheSunInsideYou
Joined: 16 Feb 2012
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Location: NJ and NYC
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Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 9:25pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

Sure, the ratio is going to scale back the importance. But it won't negate it. If your latte is like a 1:10 ratio of milk to espresso, then the milk is going to drown out most, if not all, defects from preparation. Certain blends are made to be in milk--Intelli's BC and Stumptown's Hairbender are great examples of this--but also perform well as shots. You taste a shot of Hairbender in a 10oz latte a lot more than you'd taste a delicate Yirgacheffe buried under all of that milk. So, yes, I think that the coffee you choose for your latte is really important because of the fact that it needs to be a coffee that can stand up in milk. Unless of course the purpose is to NOT taste the coffee as much, then the choice is a lot easier. On the other hand, the preparation is much less important. You can pull a shot well into blonding that would be bitter and clearly overextracted as a straight shot, but in a latte, the milk will neutralize 99% of the defect. Let me emphasize the fact that I said it's less important and not not important. If you have the palette, you'll still probably be able to tell the difference between a beautifully pulled shot and a horrifically pulled shot in a latte, but the difference will be significantly less than if you were to try it straight.

-Dave-
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,249
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 9:33pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

I make 2 oz shots in a 16oz cup from Smart and Final with lid for myself. I also have nice brown Italian cups and saucers I use.
My wife will get the same with sugar free Torani syrup . Today I made four of those for myself and one for my wife using low fat milk.
Ive done that regularly for five years and I know the Gaggia Classics challenges.. I changed the steam arm to the Silvia with single hole.
This next week the La Nuova Era Cuadra  is coming so that will make a big difference.
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,844
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 9:41pm
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

TheSunInsideYou Said:

Sure, the ratio is going to scale back the importance. But it won't negate it. If your latte is like a 1:10 ratio of milk to espresso, then the milk is going to drown out most, if not all, defects from preparation. Certain blends are made to be in milk--Intelli's BC and Stumptown's Hairbender are great examples of this--but also perform well as shots. You taste a shot of Hairbender in a 10oz latte a lot more than you'd taste a delicate Yirgacheffe buried under all of that milk. So, yes, I think that the coffee you choose for your latte is really important because of the fact that it needs to be a coffee that can stand up in milk. Unless of course the purpose is to NOT taste the coffee as much, then the choice is a lot easier. On the other hand, the preparation is much less important. You can pull a shot well into blonding that would be bitter and clearly overextracted as a straight shot, but in a latte, the milk will neutralize 99% of the defect. Let me emphasize the fact that I said it's less important and not not important. If you have the palette, you'll still probably be able to tell the difference between a beautifully pulled shot and a horrifically pulled shot in a latte, but the difference will be significantly less than if you were to try it straight.

-Dave-

Posted March 23, 2013 link

Good point regarding a coffee that STANDS UP too milk though I guess I didn't say that because dark roasted cheap coffee will also (UNFORTUNATELY) "stand up" to milk. In the worst way possible.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,971
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 7:40am
Subject: Re: Do beans really matter for lattes?
 

Iluvdabean Said:

You will think Im nuts but one morning i got in my Silverado and drove to LA ( San Dimas) just to meet Heather Perry.

Posted March 23, 2013 link

That depends how far the drive is...Cali is a big place.  When you do meet Heather...she's really great! I took here one day class several years ago. She really treated me well (and the others too), and made sure the class was fun, educational. She also made sure to give everyone the attention they needed and the time to practice.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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