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Discussions > Regional > UK > Online freshly...  
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Jonnof98
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Oxford
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri May 16, 2014, 7:45am
Subject: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

Hi all. Have ordered my beans online from an established roaster that is very popular and well known here in the UK. I always get a selection of mainly Central American single origin - Red Bourbons and the like - and a few blends of South American. For the past year ALL the beans are arriving SMELLING burnt in the bag and tasting burnt and bitter despite some beans appearing not very darkly roasted (altho some are a bit darker than I had hoped). Have tried a few alternative roasters and the same is happening - smelling and tasting burnt. I don't like the dark roasts and prefer lighter roasted central American beans.

Am I going crazy and imagining this? As I said - had a few burnt tasting batches form probably the best known online roaster here in the UK and mentioned often in this forum - despite a request not to over roast. Perhaps somebody may have had a similar experience with well known roasters?

Also anybody having joy from an online roaster with smooth light roasts that they can recommend?

Have thoughts of roasting myself but an old bean is an old bean whether green or roasted?

Thanks for any replies!
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri May 16, 2014, 7:56am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt
 

Have they replied back to you as to why their are burnt smelling/tasting? Either something is wrong in roasting process, or they've changed beans/blend as season changes and crops vary and they may be roasting to parameters that don't work for the different beans etc. Not sure where to help you there though being in the UK, I'm sure a member(s) will chime in from there to help.

Not sure what you mean by old bean is an old bean? Greens if stored right can last a long time. And there are affordable home roasters like the Behmor of which the new model is coming out allowing full control of temps and roasting process. Could look into roasting yourself.
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Jonnof98
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Oxford
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri May 16, 2014, 8:07am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt
 

Thanks for getting back. I had let them know when placing a new order that the previous batch was not the usual high quality in terms of flavour and had smelled burnt and tasted burnt and bitter and requested them to keep an eye out for any roasting issues that may lead to this. Unfortunately th next batch was the same. I kinda gave up as the owner is always away checking out beans in exotic lands and drank as much as I could before chucking most of it away. I tried a few others but had no better luck. Maybe new staff or new beans or they got too big to care... It could be a multitude of things. I am just surprised that it has been sometime since I had a nice cup of coffee that doesn't taste like that a High Street purveyor (retail chain) of sludge sells.

Having said that I did have a fairly ok cup yesterday in Oxford with beans from a roaster in Witney that wasn't too bitter but is one of the UK's only roasters that wood smokes their beans - close but still a bit smokey!%#.

I guess I am thinking that even green beans can be stored so long they will go off. This may account for a bean tasting bitter even if roasted well? Might look into a Behmor - thanks for the tip!
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Emithecoffeebean
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Birmingham
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Thu May 22, 2014, 7:19am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt
 

Probably they sent you beans not freshly roasted or most likely over roasted. Are you 100% sure that they sent you the same blend you are used to?
Another possibility is that they have recently changed their roasting method or "oven". Taste change also in relation to the roasting method. My city, Naples, is famous for its rosters which roast coffee beans with wood fire, it gives a sweeter aftertaste to coffee.
I've recently found an online retailer which sell products from one of them (that I actually knew years before I moved in UK). Price are fair related to the quality of the products and until now I've never had problems.
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Jonnof98
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Oxford
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 6:33am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt
 

I am thinking over roasted - they seem darker than usual. I have heard robusta beans are becoming more popular (more caffiene) but bitter because they are cheaper and Brazil has had a bad crop of arabica. I haven't noticed too much of a change in price - so was wondering if they may be being devious. The things I start thinking when the coffee doesn't taste right... I have looked at your profile and I think there is the place you get your beans from. I might give them a go. But I thought Italian blends are pretty strong / bold. But I am wondering that I don't need to be so worried about the smoking process - the cup I had locally was much better than anything I have had in a year or so - and there was a sweeter aftertaste and not a predominantly bitter or burnt one. I have tried a blend from the batch I just ordered and it isn't too bad- but I miss the old days.

On a side note - I have an older machine and it is time for an update - maybe I can blame the coffee tasting bad on it to explain it to the wife and get a budget approved. I have a Mahlkonig Vario - so I am OK there but like the look of the Elektra  microcasa semiautomatica Chrome Murano Espresso Machine... Being italian, any experience or thoughts on this - does it burn people / make bad coffee - to your knowledge?

Cheers, in advance.

Jonnof98: 011608_elektra_400x400.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,411
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 7:51am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

Jonno,

I don't believe any reputable UK online roaster would put substitute a % of Robusta in with arabica coffee without making it clear that it was a blend and most would state the composition.

Some coffees can be very difficult to roast, it might be that this particular coffee is simply being roasted too fast or the initial drop temperature is too high, causing tipping and/or scorching. I recently saw some fairly light beans from a well known UK roaster that I would have placed in the trash., they were too light for the particular coffee and had burnt and scorched beans within them. As I know that particular coffee type well and how to roast it well. it definitely would have been the result of high charge temperatures and roasting too fast.
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Jonnof98
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Oxford
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 8:28am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

When your world of coffee collapses and everything tastes like Costa - you start to think that someone is out to get you...

Thanks Dave - for your take on this. I have a feeling that there may have been changes at the roaster I had become reliant upon. It went from unbelievable batches of beans to poor batches of beans and then to the bin. I must admit I maybe didn't look as closely as I could have but I will.

I don't know what you thought of the machine I have desired for so long. I haven't been around the forum for a few years - my coffee had been fine. I am not sure but was wondering if you were the same chap who did a few machine / grinder reviews for a machine retailer in the Midlands some time ago? If so, those were great reviews. I might have even seen some of your posts on this forum or that of the roaster I used to get my beans from - going head to head with the owner on roasting green beans. I am likely to heed your thoughts on the beans and calm down. You probably roast your own and don't have any recommendations for an online roaster I might try?

Have a nice week-end and thanks!

John
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,411
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 12:25pm
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

That's me, I do review machines, I've helped on designing roasters, dual boiler machines and lately dual boiler pressure profiling machines.

I am afraid I don't buy roasted coffee from online roasters as, yes, I roast my own, I simply prefer my own roasts. I really don't know which online roasters would suit you, they all have their own ideas and methods. Also as you say, some go through good and bad periods. I guess at the end of the day, it's all down to who is roasting the coffee. It would seem logical that to go through smaller roasters who have been established for 5 years or more would yield good results, but again that doesn't always hold true....sometimes new roasters can be very good.

Roasting is an art as well as a science, some people are naturally good at it, others rely on the computer. it begins with the quality of the starting green bean and ends with the packing. All the processes in between, including the roasting...affect the final result. All you can do is...feedback to your roaster, wait to see their response, see if it makes sense to you. A good roaster will trace the batch back, look at the logs, check if there's been other complaints, also probably send a free bag of coffee. They will be as interested as you in wanting to know what went wrong and no doubt give you some feedback. If you don't get that sort of response, then move on and try a different roaster.

Be very careful with roasters who:

  • put a packed on date on the coffee
  • don't use a proper 1 way valve bag (always check the top seal is good)
  • don't put a roast date
  • don't list the beans used in blends (they should have nothing to hide)

I would (personally) also be a little wary of roasters who don't put the roast level of the coffee on the label and on their web site e.g. light medium, medium dark, dark etc.. The reason for this is obvious really. You would want to know how dark the beans are going to be. Also if the labels are all printed and the description is there...it's difficult to put a roast that went too light or too dark into the bag. Also be wary of single origin coffees that appear to have 2 or 3 distinct shades of beans in them, from quite light to quite dark (again the reason should be obvious). I don't mean unevenness, which is usual in quite a few coffees.

Lastly try and look for a reasonably standard sizing for the beans. If they are all sorts of sizes, then they become a lot more difficult to roast. All beans are usually screened (passed through screens), which should standardise the sizing.

There are lots and lots of excellent roasters in the UK and never be frightened to feed back any concerns you have as, your roaster can't do anything about it, if you don't tell them.
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Jonnof98
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Oxford
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sat May 24, 2014, 2:43am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

This is very helpful information indeed.

Witney is close and a nice place to visit - so will go talk to the roaster there and have a close look at their beans.

Your past reviews I have read and this last post are very helpful to people like me - easily accessible, understandable and interesting. I can act upon your advice - a list of 150 online UK roasters really didn't help me with this problem.

I realise there is an insane amount of information on the US site (subjective being the word most posters use to ward off any attack from the wider fraternity) but I don't suppose you have written a pleasantly objective book from beans to roasting to grinder to machine? I would buy it!  

If I get tired of waiting to find a good roast - I may want to roast myself. Then it will be which roaster - probably a small one and not the outdoor drum rotisserie type - and what to look for in a green bean. But then again I naturally assume the smell of beans roasting will be heavenly. If more like burning rubber - my wife (who has been looking for an excuse to kick me out for the last 25 years) will be very happy and evict me and the roaster - so maybe I do want an outdoor one? But way too big... And if I get the courage to upgrade - my head kinda says dual boiler but my heart says the Elektra above or a Nuova Simonelli Musica Lux (bling).

The bean remains at the heart of the taste (then grinder then machine). As a creature of habit, I will stick with Central American and South American blends until someone who makes sense - explains to me why I should try an Ethiopian or Sumatran and then I will.

A very good book to help the wannabe prosumer might be quite popular. The base technologies for coffee may not develop as quickly as others - past reviews you have done probably remain relevant and information like your posts are so helpful. A compilation of these might make for a great what-to-do-now guide for folk like me.

Absolutely brilliant advice, thank you. I am off to see a local roaster. There is a way forward...

Have a nice weekend to all.
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DavecUK
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,411
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 24, 2014, 2:59am
Subject: Re: Online freshly roasted beans tasting burnt and bitter
 

Jonnof98 Said:

I realise there is an insane amount of information on the US site (subjective being the word most posters use to ward off any attack from the wider fraternity) but I don't suppose you have written a pleasantly objective book from beans to roasting to grinder to machine? I would buy it!  

The bean remains at the heart of the taste (then grinder then machine). As a creature of habit, I will stick with Central American and South American blends until someone who makes sense - explains to me why I should try an Ethiopian or Sumatran and then I will.

Posted May 24, 2014 link

I did actually toy with the idea of writing one on "Kindle direct publishing"....but then reality hit and I felt that I don't really have any right to write one. Perhaps it's something I should reconsider?

As for sticking to certain coffees......it's OK, but it's not a monogamous marriage or relationship. It's OK to try beans from all over the place, because unless you try them, you will never know. Certainly Ethiopians such as Harrar and Yirgacheffe are coffees you must try before you die. I am a bit of a coffee tart and like to try something new all the time. At the moment I have picked up 2 Gems of Araku microlotss, very much looking forward to them.
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