Len (a.k.a "Worldman") recently made a gracious offer to CG's for free sample pounds of two of his new blends. This thread is for discussion, review and tips on Len's FTO Blend.
While I await the arrival of my sample I wanted to start the discussion for those of you who have already had the chance to try it. Please include as much information as you can about how exactly you are pulling this blend (dose, temperature, equipment if not listed in your profile, ETC). With any review please give your self several days to evaluate the blend in a fair and objective manner. First impressions are welcome but please be frank when posting as such. Post what you like and what may not appeal to you but be fair and honest. A lot of work has gone into this blend I'm sure so be careful when selecting words and be as precise, objective and relevant as possible when describing you experiences.
Pulled my first shot this morning. My standard double on a Cremina/Macap combo.
Upon opening the bag (previously), more surface oils than the #5, darker color and what I would describe as a tobacco aroma (nice pipe tobacco, not stinky cigarette tobacco). This reminded my of my Dad who smoked a pipe when I was a kid. Nice trip down memory lane. Weird how we associate scent with a memory, or maybe its just me?
Sorry, I digress. Plenty of beautiful crema (double what I got w/#5). Pour a bit on the long side, but stopped at the first hint of blonding. Lovely color and deep aroma. Very satisfying mouthfeel and finish. To me, it seemed deeper and darker than #5. Served over ice w/NF milk and splenda. Will post additional comments when I have spend a day or two more exploring this coffee.
Hello Len. I tried the FTO yesterday, and today. Yesterday I did an attempt of an espresso shot, ground with my hand grinder Zass, for my KA Proline Espresso machine. I had not used it in such a long time that I choked my KA Proline Espresso machine, so I decided to use my KA Proline Grinder instead.
I did a doppio. I first noted that the beans were very consistent in size, and they ground excellent. The shot timed to 25 seconds; the crema was thick and held its form. Color of crema was on the darker brown side as compared to lighter yellow brown tones.
The shot was very smooth, with a clean finish. No lingering afterbite. No notes popping out over others; no bitterness, no harshness on any level. No peakiness. No bite. Overall an exceptionally clean smooth shot.
I did a brikka with it and noted the same. I will be doing some more today with my Pavoni and see if I note any differences. It has a habit of providing a deeper tasting shot.
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674
The FTO seems more forgiving (than the #5) in terms of extraction aesthetic, and even though I tend to shy away from coffees that market FTO "too strongly" this one has been nice in my testing. It has a full body and a nice deep low end.
The FTO works well in milk drinks. For straight shots I seem to favor a more normale extraction for this one, maybe 1.75 to 2 oz. in 20-25 seconds from 18-20g (I use deep baskets). I wasn't able to get great results when I attempted to run the FTO as ristretto, it seemed to get a bit sharper. As "normale" it pulls smooth and creamy with a pretty good balance, and it's bold enough to be tasty in a bigger milk drink (my largest is 8 ounces, so I call that "big").
The FTO blend is certainly nice and very nicely balanced, but doesn't have that much of an individuality for me. That is to say it makes a lovely espresso and a nice milk drink too but I couldn't pick out anything very unusual or unique that jumps out at me in the flavors. A very nice blend that I liken to Espresso Torro
Of course there is a distinct possibility that I never really hit this one's sweet spot either....I was enjoying the #5 so much that it got more of my attention over the week I was playing with these coffees..
This was pulled on a stepless, doserless, M4 Digital and an Astra Pro.
I WDTed and weighed each shot for consistency. These beans are dark and considerably darker than the #5. I honestly canít remember the last beans Iíve used that were this dark. These were forgiving and pulled well when I got them at 4days post roast. Bold is the best word to describe these; the flavors are intense and thereís a bite from the acidity. A very pretty dark brown color in the crema. A relatively heavy body. Len describes the mouthfeel as ďbutteryĒ on his site and I think thatís a great description. The low end on this is pretty big; I get dark chocolate. Thereís a caramel/molasses that comes through in the finish. I couldnít distinguish some of the flavors I was getting in the upper end, but thereís something there. The dark roast notes come through and give it a bite that I found somewhat harsh. This bite I found was slightly balanced by a sweetness though. Taste lingers with this one too. This isnít as balanced as the #5 as the FTO seems to favor the bottom end while the #5 gave good flavors through the whole spectrum.
I played with temps with this one more than I did with the #5, but found a medium temp worked fine. Enjoyed the shots as the #5 with 16-17grams, but pulled a little tighter at 1.75-2oz in 25-26sec; this seemed to bring out some of the sweetness for me. Iíve only made a couple updosed ristrettos, but like what Iím getting; roughly 20grams, 1.75oz in 35sec. The result is very rich chocolate and sweet. This blend was good at the 4days post roast, but after a week, it really smoothed out.
This blend handled the milk no problem. In a traditional cap, it cut through no problem, blended well with the milk, and has intrigue in the drink. I definitely preferred this blend with milk as opposed to a straight shot. Itís too bold and heavy for me that more then one shot at a time was overkill to my palate.
Donít know that Iíd ever purposely pick this blend, but wouldnít be disappointed with it if it was in the mix.
My comments on this blend are similar to my critique posted on LensBlends #5 with two exceptions First, It has some of the same characteristics of #5 regarding the degree of roast, crema and aroma, yet I taste a fruitiness in this blend which is absent in #5. The beans were roasted a bit more and I taste a rich chocolate fruit taste which adds a dimension of flavor to the espresso which I did not get with Blend #5.
Second, the buttery mouth feel was more pronounced here.
For these reasons, it is my slight preference.
Much like #5, I found this to be exceptionally smooth and forgiving; i.e., I pulled a number of shots between 195 and 205 and I did not detect any harshness, sour taste or bitterness whatsoever. The sweetest spot was right around 200 (I have a Mazzer Mini and an Anita with Ericís digital thermometer).
Since I drink mainly my own home roasted espresso on a Gene cafe, I have few commercial blends for comparison. That said, this is top notch espresso which arrived only a couple of days after roasting - this has to be a winner-
Appears we received them the same day (6/29). Len said these were roasted 6/25 and mailed 6/26 which would put them 4 days post roast. I'd think any oil and color changing (if any) would have occured within that time. My notes written today were compiled from jotting I've made along the way; didn't notice an increase in color or oils from day one to today.
Assuming these came from the same batch, I'm guessing it's an issue of differences in perception. I personally would consider them different enough a roast level to stand out. It'll be interesting to see the perceptions when the further comments start rolling in.
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