Hi all, and thank you so much for your responses.
I had a mishap on Christmas Day just as me, my wife and son were close to sitting down to open presents. I dropped something very heavy on my big toe. (No it was not the Baratza grinder!). I spent a good part of the day in emergency at our local Dominican Hospital (the only medical services to be found on Christmas Day) getting x-rays and stitches. They did a wonderful job, but I was still not feeling well yesterday, so, I am back on my computer today.
Honestly, I did not expect so many thoughtful replies!
Ethiopie - You have reminded me that all tastes are relative, and to assume that there is one single espresso taste that is "perfect," or that each person who drinks espresso wants to find the same taste in the cup, would not be accurate. Also, I agree, that a certain bitterness is desirable. For example, Without bitterness, sweetened chocolate would probably just taste like sugar and lose its complex taste.
benm5678 wrote:I'd also recommend buying/making a bottomless PF to assist you in learning. Then, if your extraction looks good (indicating grind/dose/distribution/tamp are ok), and still sense bitterness, reducing brew temperature a bit will help... you can try doing that until you sense sourness -- this will give you a rough range of temperatures to play with...
Nice recommendation, I will buy a bottomless PF. I really want to learn to make great espresso, even if it sometimes hides in milk. I also think I will like straight espresso if well made. I have had some really bitter lattes at times from the local coffee shop, perhaps the espresso would have been really
bitter if straight, so it would seem the best latte starts with the best espresso shot.
newmanium wrote:If you can, see if there are any high end shops locally, really helps to know what a good shot tastes like
I will do that.
howard seth wrote:Hi Ron, I would strongly urge you to try a few espressos at "Verve" over on 41st street
Howard, I will definitely give Verve a try! I also like your suggestion about buying the type of beans that they are serving up if I like what I am drinking.
Hperry and Newmanium - I looked into the Nespresso concept and was tempted, but again, want to move away from just lattes and explore straight espresso; that it why I headed for the more expensive setup.
PeterG wrote: ... bitterness is definitely a part of coffee's complex flavor. But, remember, coffee is complex: the bitterness may or may not be identifiable as a pronounced, forward flavor. When people say "this coffee is not bitter", they are saying that the bitterness has been balanced by the other tastes- sweetness, acidity, umami- even perhaps a touch of saltiness. Remember, chocolate, caramel, and many other foods also have bitterness as a component.
That is kind of what I expected ... when a reviewer says that the espresso is not bitter, the comment does not mean no bitterness, just that the bitterness is balanced out (like the taste we expect in hot chocolate, for instance) and does not overwhelm the other subtle flavors.