Cuvee wrote:As far as the Meritage goes, we set all of our machines and customers machines to:
Water Temp: 201.5
Shot Volume: .75 - 1 ounce
Dose: 20 grams (using straight sided double baskets in our La Marzoccos).
Shot Time: We usually shoot for 26 - 28 seconds as this seems to be a sweet spot (considering all the above variables).
As far as flavor descriptors, this is one that I struggle with. I hate to plant seeds or give expectations with subtle nuances that are there, but not 100% of the time (depending on how the shot is made). I think the most common descriptors that we get are balanced, with a creamy body, good sweetness (most often described as brown sugary) medium acidity and when the shot is proper there is a really nice fruit finish, sometimes blueberry, sometimes strawberry and I have heard sometimes blackberry, but I have never tasted the blackberry personally.
As you can see from the description - the parameters for this espresso are what you might describe as "extreme". Very very high dose, moderately high brew temp, very low volume.
Sounded to me like a good challenge!!
First... LM ridged double basket (I don't have any LM ridgeless double baskets):
If you simply follow the intent of the instructions (ignoring philosophical beliefs about updosing, etc) this is pretty easy coffee to work with. The approach I found most successful was to truly maximize the volume of coffee in a ridged LM double basket and pull an est 0.75oz to 1oz ristretto shot. This allows for a restricted flow rate but with a coarser grind and seems to bring out the described profile. When I say "maximize the volume" - let me be clear... there was NO headspace on top of the puck. Yeah... philosophically "wrong".
The espresso is dominated by tons of berry (blueberry, blackberry) and cassis both in the nose and the cup. Structure is slightly tannic and there are hints of leather in the body. There is very little sweetness with this espresso (caramel, honey). Medium bodied. Gorgeous red crema. (Temp around 200F)
If you "tweak" the provided goals and use a slightly lowered temp (but still up-dose dramatically and pull very short) you can bring in some berry-sweetness and some cranberry sweetness. A nice pomegranate note also appears. At this temp, however, the espresso becomes thinner and more tannic. (Temp around 199F)
I found that going up to the specified 201F resulted in a cup that was very leathery and dry. Some chocolate appeared, but all the fruit went away and the cup was a little "stewed" tasting.
My actual parameters were not as "specified". My machine (the "super modified" Mia) required some slight tweaks to get the flavour as described by the roaster. I had a dose between 19 and 20 grams, extraction time was consistently right around 25 seconds. This was consistent at both temps I found good results from.
I don't think that a different machine should require a different approach - though might require different dose and/or extraction time.
Second... Synesso Triple basket:
Moderate updose, slow flow on the shot. 1.5oz shot in 28 seconds. A little over 201F.
Lots of chocolate, a little caramel, leather in the body. Berry and plum in the finish with some hints of pomegranate syrup. Berry was mostly noticed in the aroma - where it was perceived as blueberry and raspberry.
Still a little unbalanced as a straight shot but entirely drinkable.
Very nice in short milk drinks where it becomes all milk chocolate fruit truffle. This is a particularly nice espresso for a 5.5oz cappuccino when extracted in this manner.
Oddly, the LM triple basket yielded significantly inferior results for me (chocolate down, leather up; berry down, plum up; super unbalanced).
One note of caution... this is not a particularly hard espresso to work with. But if your machine has a dramatic decline in intra-shot brew temp, you might struggle to get a shot you're happy with.
To sum up...
This is a very "personal" espresso. It has a signature flavour that is unlike the normal well known espressos - and that should be applauded. It is far from meek. As such... it's likely that you're going to either love it or hate it.
If you mostly drink short milk drinks, like your coffees big and bold and own a Synesso triple basket you might really like this espresso.
If you love Ethiopian SO shots and prefer your espresso very ristretto, you also might really like this espresso.