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Should I really get to know espresso better?
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Should I really...  
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rmongiovi
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 11:17am
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

LarryLaurel Said:

If that's the case, then why isn't cupping done with espresso?
Larry

Posted October 19, 2006 link

Yep, I thought that too.  Of course, if you look at how they really do a cupping, you couldn't actually drink coffee made that way.  The implications of that are worth a whole separate discussion, I think.

BTW,  I loved the bittersweet chocolate analogy.  That's probably the best endorsement for drinking espresso I've ever read.
Roy
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JonR10
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 12:34pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

mrgnomer Said:

I personally feel that espresso is currently the only method of extraction to bring out the best flavour a good roast has to offer.  

Posted October 18, 2006 link

LarryLaurel Said:

If that's the case, then why isn't cupping done with espresso?

Posted October 19, 2006 link

rmongiovi Said:

Yep, I thought that too.  

Posted October 19, 2006 link

Cupping is absolutely done with espresso - for espresso blends

Each method of brewing has it's charms and different characteristics.
Not every bean makes a good presspot, not every bean make s a good espresso.  

I have played with cupping but by no means am I any expert.  Still, it's hard to imagine that one couldn't develop a way to relate the nuances discovered during cupping to results in a (demitasse) cup with enough practice and experience.

For example, I love Ethiopian coffee.  REALLY.  But I find it too acidic in the espresso process and I'd much rather drink it as drip or presspot (especially those amazingly yummy-fruity natural process ones!). To me, running a fruity bean through my espresso process takes away most of the tangy fruity-ness that I love and replaces it with an unpleasant sharp acidity around the edges of the tongue.

OTOH - there are other beans that are just OK or so-so as drip or presspot that come ALIVE during the espresso process. I have a lovely Brasilian bean from SweetMaria's (Brasil Carmo-something or other). I find it unimpressive as drip, it's good but nothing stands out for me about it.  HOWEVER as a properly roasted and aged espresso/ristretto it becomes a yummy chocolaty-gooey-syrupy shot. This bean is currently the largest component in my home-blend for espresso.  

As for getting to know espresso?  I wish you could have been at my place this morning  :-)
I was pulling some amazing shots using a Yemen Sunani I got from Bald Mountain coffee.  This Yemen was roasted over 2 weeks ago but the sweetness just continues to develop. Amazing stuff.

Not to toot my own horn, but the farther along I get with this journey the less sugar I use in my drinks.  I still like a sweetened drink now and again, and certain blends have lovely aspects complimented by a little sugar.  When I started out I used a lot of sugar in my drinks. But as my espresso got better and my palate became more tuned I used less and less sugar.  Now (like this morning), I frequently pull shots that I feel would be ruined by adding sugar.

BUT when I have guests I make the coffee how THEY like it. Sugar? Milk? Latte? Cappucino? Mocha? NO PROBLEM.
A true coffee lover would hope that his/her guests enjoy the coffee no matter how they like to drink it.  


Drink it how you like!  But allow for the possibility that what you like may change.....

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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brentling
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 1:51pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

You should really try different methods, and settle on the method that you like, and add liberal amounts of whatever (legally) enhances the experience ie. sugar, milk, soy...

If you want to try espresso, make sure you try a good espresso, which will give you a decent introduction to it - and start black and add milk and sugar as you go.

Who knows - you may find an espresso that is sweet and yummy with no additives at all - they are out there :)

Brent
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mrgnomer
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 1:54pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

LarryLaurel Said:

If that's the case, then why isn't cupping done with espresso?  Not trying to be argumentative or confrontational, just curious.  I too find espresso to be the most wonderful thing that can be done with coffee, but it seems that the real pro tasters aren't using it

Larry

Posted October 19, 2006 link

I would imagine cupping isn't done using espresso as the method of extraction because it's so hard to control the variables of espresso extraction.  Wouldn't be fair to the bean.  I'm not bad as a home barista and I still don't get consistent shots.  Steeping the grinds using a set volume, set water temperature and set steep time is much more consistent and reliable, I imagine.
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rmongiovi
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 5:17pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

mrgnomer Said:

I would imagine cupping isn't done using espresso as the method of extraction because it's so hard to control the variables of espresso extraction.

Posted October 19, 2006 link

Man, everything about this sport is variables.  I can barely figure out the coarseness of my grind, and folks are suggesting I try home roasting!  I think that's a great idea, but can you hear that funny noise?  That's the sound of my mind boggling at the idea of figuring out a roast profile.  Didn't know you could hear a boggle, did you?
Roy
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DarkMajestic
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 5:55pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

Espresso is a more thorough extraction method so flavors are extracted from the bean in higher concentrations. This is not good or bad ... it just depends what flavors are extracted and how they are percieved by the taster.

Bitterness from poor overextraction is minamized the most in the espresso brew so if you are adding sugar to alleviate this bitterness it would make sense you will need less sugar as you enter the espresso world NOT more.

On the other hand if coffee flavor is what irks you OR if you like coffee flavor to dance with sugar then your sugar use may go up as you drink espresso since there is more coffee flavor in the cup to dance with the sugar.

Look at it this way ..

One would most likely never add two cups of ice and one cup of milk plus several tablespoons of sugar all topped off with a flavored syrup and whipped cream to 8 or even 10 ounces of drip coffee BUT add that to 2 ounces of well made espresso and still some will complain of too much "coffee flavor".

Espresso does not yield easily .. it is full of flavor ... but some flavors are best experienced in lower concentrations and perhaps some may not like coffee flavor at all in higher concentrations.

Good Day ....
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mrgnomer
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

rmongiovi Said:

Man, everything about this sport is variables.  I can barely figure out the coarseness of my grind, and folks are suggesting I try home roasting!  I think that's a great idea, but can you hear that funny noise?  That's the sound of my mind boggling at the idea of figuring out a roast profile.  Didn't know you could hear a boggle, did you?
Roy

Posted October 19, 2006 link

Yeah, from roasting to espresso extraction there's a lot of info out there.  The fun part, which I think is the hook to coffee, from what I know no one really knows what goes on with the coffee process.  Apparently coffee is really complex and small changes affect it.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to get good roasts or extract good espresso but even if you were it probably wouldn't make much of a difference.

Espresso is a good pairing of art and science, intuition and knowledge.  It's not inaccessible like the coffee industry would like the public to think.  If you like coffee doing it yourself is not hard and it's a very rewarding interest.  Espresso is definitely worth getting to know better.
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brentling
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brentling
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 6:45pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

rmongiovi Said:

That's the sound of my mind boggling at the idea of figuring out a roast profile.  Didn't know you could hear a boggle, did you?

Posted October 19, 2006 link

Thanks Roy, I now know what that sound was until now... :)

As for cupping espresso - how else do you build an espresso blend if you don't cup the coffee as espresso?

Yes there are definite differences between cupping cupping and cupping espresso taste wise, and that is exactly why, when say sorting out an espresso blend, you cup the origins as espresso, then mix it up a bit...

Of course, thats not a hard and fast rule, but when I cupped origins as espresso, then cupped blind as non espresso, I only picked one origin out of eight correctly. Naturally I blame the barista...

Brent
(I was the barista)
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2006, 7:56pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

LarryLaurel Said:

If that's the case, then why isn't cupping done with espresso?  Not trying to be argumentative or confrontational, just curious.  I too find espresso to be the most wonderful thing that can be done with coffee, but it seems that the real pro tasters aren't using it

Posted October 19, 2006 link

In Australia, the trend is to cup coffees as espresso, not as a cupping.

That said, for the same reasons why I'm not a fan of SOS espresso (single-origin shots, using a single estate variatal), I also don't believe espresso is the best way to evaluate a SO on it's own fullest merits. But it should be done in conjunction with a traditional cupping.

Traditional cuppings would show off more delicate flavours that get obliterated by the espresso brewing method. In addition, it won't amplify subtle flavours (both the good and bad) that espresso brewing does usually amplify, sometimes going to "11".

Doing side by side cuppings with SOS shot pulls would, IMO, show a more complete picture of what that specific coffee has to offer. It will also show (as it's shown me many times over) that really delicate flavours can be knocked out by the finer grind, 135lbs of water pressure, and 25 second extraction time... as well as show subtle flavours, barely perceptable in the cupping, can really explode out of the PF spouts.

But hey, my opinion is in the minority - SOS shots are all the rage ;)

Mark

 
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brentling
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brentling
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Posted Mon Oct 23, 2006, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: Should I really get to know espresso better?
 

MarkPrince Said:

In Australia, the trend is to cup coffees as espresso, not as a cupping.

Posted October 19, 2006 link

The reason for this in Australasia is the dominance of espresso in cafes.

So, when blending or developing a roast profile, taste it like it's going to be drunk. And in australasia, in a cafe, thats going to be espresso based.

Brent
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