Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 9:40am Subject: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
So there is a coffee shop down the street that does an alternate espresso where they use single origin and certain strange blends that get an incredible fruitiness and brightness. They use a LA marzocco with a robur/major grinder.
Now I'll buy the same coffee from them used in the alt espresso (they roast in the shop) but I can never get the taste they have.
Now, can the machine and grinder account for so much of a different flavor profile? I have a flat burr grinder which is known the deep notes but I find it strange how the brightness eludes me no matter what I dose. I have tried doses from 15-21 grams. In line with what the shop said they use.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,052 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:42am Subject: Re: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
La Marzocco and Robur grinder, hard to compete with that. They can probably pressure profile on that La Marzocco and your grinder can't really match the taste of the Robur. I can't get the butter flavor from Ristretto Roasters on my vario-Oscar combo, I need to try again now that I have the K30 and see if I can even come close..
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
CMIN Senior Member Joined: 14 Jun 2012 Posts: 1,506 Location: South FL Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Crossland CC1 Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:51am Subject: Re: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
Vario is an awesome grinder for the money, especially for the deeper notes and taste I prefer. But the Robur uses huge conical burr sets, like night and day difference. The big conicals can bring similar deep notes as flat burrs but they excell even more with the brighter beans/blends.
Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 11:13am Subject: Re: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
Everything else being equal (which it never is) conical burr espresso grinders tend to produce a "livlier" espresso than flat burr grinders. It's possible that's the difference, but I doubt it. If the difference between your coffee and the shop's is machinery; it's probably more about other aspects of quality, size and design than the difference between flat and conical.
By the way Brian, what kind of grinder and machine are you using?
If the shop can get a pronounced acidity out of the beans, you probably can too by dialing in the basic parameters. Emphasis on "probably."
Here are the basics (which you probably already know):
Temp: The first thing to adjust with your home setup is temp. You want to adjust the temp down until your shot tastes sour, than ramp the temp back up to where "too sour" turns to "acidy."
Degree of Extraction: The second adjustment is to increase the degree of extraction towards "lungo." Try going just past the point of striping -- but not as far as transparency. Next try going the other way, and cut the shot when it's still showing pronounced striping. If you're using a spouted pf, the easiest way to see it is by shining a flashlight on the spout. Conventional wisdom is that a slight over-extraction is more acidy -- but my experience is that (a) it depends on the beans; and (b) that "balance" is always best.
Dose and Grind -- aka Extraction Ratio: You've already been fooling around with dose. The big thing to understand about dose is that it doesn't exist in isolation, but is just one part of extraction ratio. Increase the dose to whatever's the max your basket can hold and still maintain adequate headroom. Coarsen the grind a little to keep a good flow rate. That will increase the extraction ratio (towards ristretto), and should bring out whatever terroir is in the coffee.
Weigh the dose, weigh the shot, and calculate your extraction ratio (shot/dose, expressed as a percentage). Note that you want a scale which provides at least 0.5g resolution
Putting it All Together: Tricky -- especially as I'm not pulling shots using your beans, nor am I tasting with your palate. As you can see, my first suggestion with degree of extraction was to tilt towards lungo, while with extraction ratio I suggested you tilt towards ristretto. What can I tell you? Sometimes going in two different directions at the same time gets you where you want to be. Other times it gets you thrown off the horse.
Anyway, first temp; then degree of extraction; and finally, extraction ratio (i.e., dose and grind).
Note that it's critical to isolate variables so that you're working with one thing at a time, before you try putting them all together. For instance, when you're fooling around with the extraction ratio by changing dose, It's important to maintain temp, and degree of extraction, as well as the yield weight.
One damn thing at a damn time.
If it were easy to pull really good shots, there wouldn't be so much bad coffee. From your question, I gather you have the palate to push your beans and equipment as far as they can take you. That ought to be some comfort since palate is by far the biggest part of getting it right.
Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 4:07pm Subject: Re: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
Some of the difference is machinery.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't use the ordinary tools of flavor shaping - temp, grind and dose -- to push your setup as far as it can go without falling into "sour." Worse comes to worst, you can always dial it back.
Posted Sun Nov 24, 2013, 4:27pm Subject: Re: how to pull a bright/fruity espresso
Thanks guys for the comments and advice. I am very familiar with changing up parameters to taste but this taste has been one to elude me.
I always did know that the conical burrs give a 'bright and fruity taste' but i never really considered that it might account for such a difference. I know that getting the exact taste would require an update but i thought i'd be able to get in the ballpark.
I have a few more comments.
1) boar, you mentioned going towards the lungo territory for a brighter and fruitier taste while keeping it in ristretto territory? The only way I can think of doing this is using less coffee but most people I've talked to said that you get this flavor profile by up dosing (apparently not since it's still elusive to me). Although i can see there is a happy medium in all this.
Just to reiterate here is my methodology at the present. temp: I have the PID set to give me an equivalent 201 F in the portafilter. I tend to extract at about 100%. (18gs of beans for 18gs of espresso). Now I have a 18g VST basket. with the fluffy vario grinds, it tends to feel overstuffed but looks okay after the tamp. Would you have any suggested changes to achieve my flavor profile?
2) Now, say I wanted to get a conical burr grinder, is there an equivalent in the Vario's range? I know the preciso is one but that grinders never really interested me.
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