I am preparing a signature espresso blend for an exam. I have decided to use a blend of some of my regular "go to" beans, as I am confident in their profile and have easy access to them freshly roasted at a good price. I need a lot beans to burn through for practice and rehearsal, so the blend needs to be economical, but specialty grade.
There are three beans that I like from the local roaster:
- Sumatran "Gold Top" Mandheling (Vienna) - Earthy, spicy, chocolate, big body, lots of crema
- Costa Rica Tarrazu (FC+)- balanced "coffee taste", sweet, black cherry, syrupy body
- Kenya AA (FC)- citrus and chocolate, medium body, bright
I have used each of these as single origin espresso from my Strega, but for the sake of the exam's criteria of using a balanced tasting coffee, that will be tasted straight and in milk drinks, I want to make a nice middle of the road blend, but not just use the typical espresso blend beans. The exam machine is an NS Aurelia II, so they beans may pull differently on that pump machine.
I have tasted these as several blends (I am blending post-roast):
50% Costa Rica, 25% Sumatran, 25% Kenya (seems a little sharp or biting, maybe from the Kenya)
Drop the Kenya, 50% of the Costa Rica and Sumatra beans (heavy syrupy bitter sweet chocolate shot, pretty good)
75% Costa Rica, 25% Sumatran (Too sweet?)
This same roaster offers some other beans I might try to blend with, a nice Guatemala Antigua, a pretty typical Yirgacheffe, average Colombian. Their beans are not phenomenal, but they are good and consistent, and the goal here is to deliver consistent shots of typical espresso, not create a novelty shot.
The goal is a blend that makes a nice straight shot, blends well with milk, easy to describe to the judges why I like the beans and how they blend, while being an economical blend I can afford to buy and blend by the KG for practice. It has to be a blend I create, not a commercially purchased SOE or blend.
Interested to get some thoughts on what makes a good "typical" espresso shot, what you would not want to taste, what you EXPECT to taste.
(Now off to work on my tulips again, I swear I am "milk pattern" challenged )