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McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 647
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 7:44am
Subject: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

Stopped at McDonalds the last two mornings.... I prefer their Mochas over my own made with 10 day old coffee, fresh steamed whole milk and Troani syrup and chocolate on my CC1. Actually, I had been stopping at McDonald's and Starbucks before I bought the Jura Auto and the CC1. My trips to these establishments are the reason I bought my own equipment. I am well aware that most of the people in this community consider these establishments to be of low quality at best.

Years ago I made espresso with a cheapo espresso machine and a grinder... I loved it. Then I strayed away from drinking coffee for a few years and then started drinking coffee at commercial establishments and then recently ended up with a CC1 and Vario W. I have made hundreds of shots on my CC1 since October or so of last year. I will admit that I have poured at least half of those down the drain. They were not very good. I don't really find myself craving the coffee I make with the CC1 like I used to crave the coffee I made with the cheapo machine I had years ago.

There is only two options I can see from here:

1) This option says I don't like good coffee.
2). I don't know how to make good coffee.

How do I resolve this? Do I need to go to a class somewhere? Of do I just have screwed up taste buds? Maybe I need to go buy a $59.00 espresso machine.

Don't get me wrong. I have made a few drinks withe the CC1 that I thought were pretty decent. The vast majority of them have not fallen into that category.

I know that a lot of people wont believe I went to McDonalds the last two mornings when I had a CC1 and and 10 day old Redbird in the grinder... but I did.
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 8:03am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

Firstly, I doubt the quality of the coffee is the most important factor in the quality/taste of a mocha.  It's partially buried under the milk and chocolate syrup, and so isn't the whole story.  Certainly the ideal shot for a mocha is different to the ideal straight shot.  I suspect that the other ingredients are a major factor - different milk steamed in larger quantities and a different syrup that you prefer to the ones you use at home.

Secondly, McDonalds is, to my taste, a hell of a lot better than Starbucks at making coffee.  Given the choice of only those two (maybe in an airport terminal), I'd go for the McD's coffee every time.  So I personally don't think you've entirely gone to the dark (burnt) side...  ;)  Although I quite like Dunkin' Donut's milky coffees, so I wouldn't trust me (and I can't even claim that I grew up on it either, I only moved to the US two years ago)...

How to resolve this?  I think I'd break it down into the components.  Try an espresso shot from McD's, and compare it to one of yours - i.e. without the milk and syrup in the way.  See what flavours you like from the shot that goes into your mocha, and try and reproduce them, and then intensify them.  There are various guides out there on how to adjust the taste of an espresso shot with the brew temperature, grind and dosing.  Try and get milk that you like the taste of - maybe get a latte from McD's to compare without the chocolate syrup in the way.  Try and find out which syrup they use, and get hold of some.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 8:28am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

You're basically comparing your artisan home espresso to the incredibly consistent--though presumably mediocre--coffee made by two massive chains with ten figure superautos. I would be willing to wager that the espresso used by these establishments is weaker and of a lower ratio to milk and syrup than the stuff you make at home. And without knowing what kind of beans they use, it's anyone's guess.

A couple weeks ago I stopped into my local Starbucks and wanted to know the roast date on their bags of coffee they were using for their own machines. The barista looked at me like I was from another planet. Eventually, I found out that the coffee they were brewing that day had been roasted nearly a month prior.

There are times I would kill for a McDonald's cheeseburger, even though I know I could make one that's objectively of higher quality. Try changing things up a bit--get some different beans, a different brand of syrup as suggested above, etc.

Espresso is like wine. It's one of those bitter, grownup things we often need to convince ourselves we like before we can drink it enough to appreciate it and realize we really do like it. The reason Starbucks is so successful is because they've tamed espresso and taken out its bite to be accessible to everyone. My friend and roommate was sickened by a straight shot. I made him a heavily diluted iced mocha and complained it was bitter. He lamented that it didn't taste like his favorite Frappucinos, something I've been trying to duplicate for him.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,954
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 Fri Mar 22, 2013, 8:36am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

Not to belittle the great info in both of the replies you've already received, but I think perhaps the most useful tidbit was to compare your espresso to one from each of the establishments.  If you like their espresso better, then you definitely should work on your technique.  Otherwise, it'll be more of an adjustment of balancing the amounts of espresso milk and chocolate to get you into a superior drink at home.   If you need to work on your shots, as mentioned above, there are several really good resources to help you.  My favorite, by far, is the Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home, on www.espressomyespresso.com (article 12, about halfway down the right column, under "How To").

With the CC1 and the Vario-W, you should be able to make stellar espresso consistently once you get your technique down. So, if that doesn't solve it...well, then...perhaps you don't like Red Bird?  It's not unheard of.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 647
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 8:48am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

emradguy Said:

With the CC1 and the Vario-W, you should be able to make stellar espresso consistently once you get your technique down. So, if that doesn't solve it...well, then...perhaps you don't like Red Bird?  It's not unheard of.

Posted March 22, 2013 link

I have tried a lot of different coffees. Redbird Blue Jag seemed to be pretty good to me. I think I may like Elemental better, but when I called Elemental to order it, they referred me to a coffee shop in the town I live in. The local shop could not consistently provide me with fresh beans, so I quit using Elemental. Elemental espresso roast is a lighter roast than Redbird.

It does seem that McDonald's had a much lighter coffee taste and also sweeter than I make at home. I typically use a double shot (18 gram) and I try to yield just over 30 grams of espresso from the shot. I combine this with about 6 or 7 oz of milk plus flavoring. I do not always make mochas. It seems to me that the Blue Jag has kind of a chocolatey flavor of its own.

I would like to master the single shot basket, but the few times I have tried it was a disaster. It squirts everywhere in the naked PF. I can't get it to work at all.
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,351
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 9:01am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

First would be tom get an experienced home barista over for a BBQ/Beer part (or equivalent) and have them bring some beans and maybe their grinder. Let them give you some tips and watch what you are doing. Small adjustments can make a big difference. A little cooler brew temp, one notch finer grind, or one gram less coffee, and combinations of those and other factors,  etc.

And since much of what is fast food contains questionable ingredients over and above what you are using (for example, the use of carageenan to thicken cold and hot beverages), it can be difficult to compare. The only thing there would be to do as previously recommended- try straight espresso from those establishments. Compare that to what you make, then try to emulate that first. Then move on to the rest of the ingredients. Also, the fast food laboratories spend a lot of money formulating their food to react on various palates in specific ways. And the key here is "laboratories" and not "kitchens."

 
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,954
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 Fri Mar 22, 2013, 9:11am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

Single baskets are very difficult.  For one, they require a different grind than the double or triple baskets (which are closer to each other...but still one must adjust grind based on dose weight.  I admit I haven't read much about why the single basket is difficult to master, but I do have my own hypothesis.  If you look at the design, and in particular compare it to the double or triple, you'll see the holes are only in the center.  In order for extracted espresso to get from the outer ring to the center, it has to either travel through or under the puck.  If it travels through the puck, then how can one possibly get an even extraction?  some espresso travels a short distance while some travels a relatively long distance (maybe more than twice the shortest).  This will lead to wide variations in degree of extraction from area to area. If the espresso travels under the puck from the outer ring, then, well...this is akin to channeling in my book. I haven't seen whether VST ever came out with single dose baskets (though I do recall reading once they were working on them), but I would expect them to be more like shallow double baskets than traditional single baskets...and I'd also expect that would make it much easier to get a good shot from them.  Again, these are all my own thoughts and not based on anything other than the little fund of knowledge I carry around in my own head.

Anyhow, regarding your mochas...it sounds like you just need to adjust ratios.  Go up on the chocolate syrup and see how that works for you.

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


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,356
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 9:13am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

I wouldn't worry about the single basket, getting a single shot out of almost any machine to pull well is near impossible lol. You'd have an easier time trying to pull a ristretto out of a double. But as far as your post, not sure, you may just not like the coffee, doing something wrong, or don't have good taste buds (lol)?? I've had McD's coffee's when traveling, I'd take over Starbucks anyday, but no comparison vs my CC1 and Preciso. And the Vario is way better as far as taste IMO vs the Preciso, you should be pulling awesome shots. If your steaming milk, you may be going to far and scorching? I use whole milk too. Though I have to fix the thermoblock on mine, think it got clogged up someone. Have you tried steaming the milk with syrup in it (I've put some Caramel DaVinci in my milk and done that) came out yum!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,954
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 Fri Mar 22, 2013, 9:13am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

As Randy mentioned, they probably do add carageenan as a thickener.  If you want to replicate that you can buy powdered fruit pectin.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,011
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 11:10am
Subject: Re: McDonald's makes better Mochas than I do
 

Try other chocolates and flavors.  I use the same coffee as you and I am making much better than anything I can buy anywhere I have found.

 
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