Favorite Espressos 2015

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
User avatar
HB
Admin
Posts: 16923
Joined: Apr 29, 2005, 9:13 pm

Postby HB » Jan 22, 2015, 6:30 am

This year's review will continue in the style of last year's reviews, i.e., evaluations will be blind and reviewers will not know what espresso is being evaluated until they post their commentary. Over the course of a week, we'll review a coffee. During this period, the thread will be locked so peer reviewers can post their comments together, then the thread will be opened for public comments.

For members who wish to play along, the (non-blind) reviewer who arranged the delivery will post an introduction with "spoilers" which can be clicked to show the name(s) of the coffee currently being reviewed.

The first review begins this weekend.

Image

DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise noted, evaluation coffees were provided for review purposes by the roaster. Other than said samples, the reviewers receive no financial or material compensation of any kind from the roasters or Home-Barista.com for evaluating these coffees.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
drgary
Team HB
Posts: 9595
Joined: Feb 07, 2010, 4:16 pm

Postby drgary » Jan 26, 2015, 1:10 pm

My wife and I moved last year from the San Francisco Bay Area to just north of Portland, OR, which is known for innovation in coffee and dining. I'm pleased to start our 2015 reviews with a flight of three coffees from our region. This place is a treasure trove of fine coffee, so these choices don't exhaust the potential selections. Each represents a different style of roasting.

For this Pacific Northwest selection I will follow Jim's format of the "review along." The coffees that have been sent to Team HB reviewers are blind samples. If you want to review along with us, I'm identifying each coffee behind a spoiler tag.

Here are our three coffees for this first round:

#1
Spoiler: show
Nossa Familia's Full Cycle blend.

Nossa Familia Coffee offers a 20% discount to H-B members if you enter HBDEAL20 with your order.

Brew parameters:

Dose: 19-22 gm
Yield: 100-175% of dose, 19-33
Temp: 201
Rest: 3 days minimum, best at day 6, drops off at day 11
Time: 25-28 seconds, best closest to 25


#2
Spoiler: show
Heart's Stereo Seasonal blend.

Brew parameters, including if you're able to pressure profile. Optimize for your own gear.

It should rest at least 5 days for espresso, hits its peak at day 8 - 10 and starts fading at day 14
19-20 grams in a VST 20 gram basket
36-40 out in 28-32 seconds
Pressure should be between 7-8 bars at the group head
199F
19-21% extraction depending on your grinder


To give reviewers a chance to pace themselves, coffee #3 samples will go out in two weeks.

#3
Spoiler: show
[]Compass Coffee Roasting Delirium Espresso blend.[/url]

Compass Coffee Roasting offers a 20% discount to H-B members if you enter HB20 with your order.

Simple brew parameters:

Rest: 8-10 days
Dose: 18 gm
Temperature: 199.5 F
Yield: 26 gm over 26 sec

Brew parameters for #3 for anyone with this kind of gear. I will try to approximate this on a manual lever with a preinfusion and soft start, a full pressure middle and soft finish.

Cyncra: 16.5g in Synesso ridgeless basket
30-33g yield
200f
For pressure profiling: 10 sec line pressure, 25 sec 9 bar, 5 sec line pressure finish


Here is how to offer your review.

another_jim wrote:For those doing the review along: if you want to post a review, go ahead and do so using the spoiler* tags.
This will conceal the review from those who want to make up their own minds; and make it available to those who click on it to read it. When cuppers do reviews, they do not discuss the coffees until they have all finished their tasting and own scoring. HB is using the spoiler tag so we can all do this on-line

(*) Below is an example:

Code: Select all

[spoiler]This is hidden[/spoiler]

It renders as shown below:
Spoiler: show
This is hidden


I will post my own reviews behind spoiler tags. Because I have sourced these coffees I will indicate with each review that my notes aren't from blind tasting.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

official US importer for Olympia Express
Sponsored by Cerini Coffee & Gifts - official US importer for Olympia Express
User avatar
HB
Admin
Posts: 16923
Joined: Apr 29, 2005, 9:13 pm

Postby HB » Feb 05, 2015, 12:00 am

Gary has arranged three coffees; the reviewers have received coffee #1 and #2. To make the reviews easier to follow, we'll post all the reviews for #1, then all the reviews for #2, and so on. First up is coffee #1...
Dan Kehn

User avatar
drgary
Team HB
Posts: 9595
Joined: Feb 07, 2010, 4:16 pm

Postby drgary » Feb 05, 2015, 2:40 am

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
Since I'm sourcing this coffee this is not a blind review. Some friends have asked how I can pick out many flavor notes in coffee. I treat it like time-lapse photography. The flavors and aromas unfold from the first sip through several minutes after the last. My notes reflect that sequence. Also there's a time-lapse effect as the coffee degasses and flavors open up, the coffee peaks and starts to fade. For this review I primarily used an Olympia Express Cremina and an Elektra Microcasa a Leva paired with an Orphan Espresso Pharos or Fiorenzato Doge grinder. Both are 68 mm conicals. As the coffee began staling while still producing good flavors, I tried it with a moka pot with a LIDO 1 grinder and a Caravel paired with a vintage Trosser grinder.

6 days post roast, when it's supposed to be best according to the roaster, and pulled on a 1987 Cremina equipped with a group thermometer.

Dry aroma: earthy, somewhat acidic

Creamy start with a mild golden plum sweetness and acidity
Cocoa nibs
Peanut and hazelnut
Gentle walnut bitter in the aftertaste moving toward unsweetened cocoa
Buttery mouthfeel

19 gm to 29 gm liquid = .66 brew ratio. Pulled starting at 203 at the outside of the group.

Another shot at 202 at the group with somewhat faster flow rate:

Stone fruit to peanut
Blood orange, slight grapefruit rind
A hint of raspberry
Grapefruit rind gets stronger
Finish is Baker's chocolate

Day 7: Best shot so far was with the Elektra Microcasa a Leva. 18 gm, slow flow rate, very nicely balanced between sweet, sour, bitter. I don't particularly taste fruit flavors but when thinking about the sweetness it's kind of like raspberry. It's sweeter today, chocolate and nut. With a faster flow rate a 16 gm pull had good sweetness but the lower dose emphasized bitters more, although this did not taste burnt. 18 gm shot, faster flow rate, long preinfusion, not as much sweetness as I'd like.

Day 8: 17 gm, coarser grind. Milk chocolate/raspberry, Nestle's Crunch bar, Valencia orange, grapefruit. These flavors are merged, not distinct.

The flavor was still quite good today but shots were channeling and spritzing even when I allowed more headroom, and I wondered whether this was because of the start of staling.

Day 8 moka pot using paper filter and LIDO 1 grinder. This was an unexpectedly clean cup with sweetness balanced with acidity. I tried the moka pot to see if it would stand up better in milk. The acidity of this coffee tends to merge with the milk flavor rather than punching through, but it's very mild and pleasing as a straight moka, almost like a paper filtered drip brew.

Day 9: Caravel pull since I was pushing toward flavor layering in a ristretto. It's still very good. The Caravel uses a coarser grind, it excels in ristrettos and its stock, double spouted portafilter contains any spritzers that may occur as this coffee ages. I paired the Caravel with a vintage Trosser grinder that matches perfectly with that machine.

Summary: I like this coffee's buttery mouthfeel, and its fine balance between sweetness, acidity and bitters. I described some of the subtle, sweet flavor notes as fruit flavors but they were not sharply focused. My description best characterizes the nature of the sweetness. I prefer this coffee as straight espresso. For capps I prefer a different blend from this roaster that has fewer flavor layers but has more chocolates that stand out beautifully in milk drinks.

For capps: Espresso-only drinkers can ignore this!
Spoiler: show
I like their Teodoro's Italian Roast, which has a rich, dark milk chocolate flavor that shows very well in even a larger a milk drink.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

User avatar
RapidCoffee
Team HB
Posts: 3538
Joined: Dec 11, 2005, 8:05 pm

Postby RapidCoffee » Feb 05, 2015, 10:45 am

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
Coffee #1 arrived a few days after the roast date of Jan 20. I sampled it Jan 24-26 (4-6 days post roast).

The beans were roasted to a light/medium color, with a delicate dry grinds aroma. The coffee requires a slightly coarser grind than most, but was not finicky to dial in. Despite the light bean color, this coffee does not extract like a mouth-puckeringly acidic 3WOJ roast. The taste profile is best characterized as a clean, balanced, subtle, classic northern Italian blend.
Image

I used typical extraction parameters on my La Spaziale S1: 15g dose, 30s extraction, 67% brew ratio, 91C brew temperature. This resulted in tasty pours that exhibited little bitterness, mild citrus acidity (maybe lemon?), cola, spice, and leather. Toffee and dark chocolate notes emerged in milk.
Image

This roast is an easy recommendation for all who enjoy clean, balanced espresso blends.
John

User avatar
TomC
Team HB
Posts: 7657
Joined: Jun 06, 2011, 1:46 pm

Postby TomC » Feb 05, 2015, 2:20 pm

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
Summary:
Coffee marked # 1 is a definite crowd pleaser. I think there's likely something to be enjoyed by all. It's not boringly roasted into just chocolate and distillate territory, it's actually quite well rounded, developed and pleasing. It also lacks any signs of poor development or sourness. Of the coffees that have passed my Team HB review period in the last year +, it's by far the best to date.

It's easy to dial in and has a wide period of great results. The beans don't fall off suddenly/early.


In Depth
Bag marked #1, a medium roast that smells wonderfully enticing. At least 2 bean varieties, maybe a washed central bourbon and something indonesian/sumatran. Whole bean aroma really gets me salivating. Once ground, the intensity only increases. I was thirsty by the time I got the basket into the group. Heady, warm chocolate and baked dessert notes. This coffee is very forgiving to pull. It benefits from a slightly cooler trailing temp of the Strega lever which controls the distillates and harshness in the bitters when pulled hotter. This blend pulls decadent crema bombs. Flavors are more balanced and clear when pulled with ristretto flow.

Flavor notes, well rounded and deep. Cocoa is strong and refined. Some hibiscus tea. Caramels are quite good, darker and developed nicely. Not a hint of sourness or undeveloped flavors to be found at all in this coffee. There are fleeting notes of leather. Maduro tobacco (the dark, robust and sweet tobacco used as a wrapper) is quite evident and provides complexity. The shots cool very well. Turning more floral and sweet with maybe a hint of sarsaparilla . Mouth feel of this espresso was more impressive than version #1. The aromatics of #2 is quite good as well. Pulling a shot into a large cup and just taking in the aromatics for a few moments gives a very pleasing savory-sweet aroma. It literally has the balanced sweetness and savory complexity of a good gourmet BBQ sauce when brushed warm on meat. This is probably where I'm associating the sarsaparilla notes.

This is an extremely well crafted espresso blend that should please a wide audience. It's a shot that can be savored slowly and it's lingering finish is well balanced and sweet.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB
Posts: 10240
Joined: May 05, 2005, 1:16 am

Postby another_jim » Feb 05, 2015, 4:46 pm

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
OVERALL TASTE: This is a visually beautiful, light-medium roast, showing no oil, but with beans fully expanded and a rich color. The flavors are very clean; with brew, shot, and milk drink showing much the same flavors. These are initially a jammy, cherry sweet acidity, followed by a very clean tobacco finish. The smokey flavor, along with a malty sweetness, dominate the cappa; while the best "dinner and show" flavor changes over time are with the espresso shots. I do not know what the blend's constituents are; but I would not be surprised if Central American Bourbons figured prominently.

DIALING IN: This espresso does best, for me, at medium grinds and temperatures, with high brew rations and medium to long shot times. However, the sweet spot is generous, so YMMV. The blend takes a very long time to blond; be patient when making shots. As the blend ages, it required a lower rather than higher dose to match the grind; this is odd, and may be an artifact of the dry weather.

WHO SHOULD BUY: Everyone; this one's a trifecta: it's easy to pull, has accessible crowd pleasing flavors, and is also clean and complex enough for adventurous palates.

home of the Black Cat project
Sponsored by Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea - home of the Black Cat project
User avatar
HB
Admin
Posts: 16923
Joined: Apr 29, 2005, 9:13 pm

Postby HB » Feb 05, 2015, 9:47 pm

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
The roaster gave very specific for brew parameter suggestions:

Dose: 19-22 gm
Yield: 100-75% of dose, 19-33
Temperature: 201
Rest: 3 days minimum, best at day 6, drops off at day 11
Time: 25-28 seconds, best closest to 25

I can't remember the last time I used a 20 gram basket; a throwback to the days of ultra rich ristrettos? Exactly!

The espressos were creamy and buttery with thick crema. Those new to espresso will appreciate its smooth character, as will experienced home baristas looking for a change from the "third wave orange juice" profiles that are popular lately. Each shot exhibited a syrupy mouthfeel. This coffee responds predictably with dose changes, adding a slight acidity with lesser doses and a mild tobacco finish with higher doses. No matter the dose, it's an overall balanced, clean taste. As a cappuccino, the milk transformed to delicate, light cocoa. If you would like a simple mild mannered espresso with rich body, you'll definitely like this coffee. Fans of bright crisp flavor profiles will likely appreciate this espresso, but may find it a little too mild mannered.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
shadowfax
Team HB
Posts: 3552
Joined: May 04, 2005, 9:18 pm

Postby shadowfax » Feb 09, 2015, 1:31 am

#1 Review
Spoiler: show
This coffee was a nice curveball for me. At first sight it appears to be a pretty light roast, but the aromatics tell a different story: heavy winter herb—mint perhaps?—and hardly a hint of brightness to my nose.

Pulling shots is more of the same: this is a big dose, big basket ristretto blend that demands a large-ish dose, a pretty coarse grind, and high flow rate. I had a hard time dialing it in, because I found it signaled the opposite of what I needed to do. That is to say, I was getting an astringency that struck me as underdeveloped, but grinding finer and reducing the dose actually made it worse... Clearly I was wrong about it being "underdeveloped" in this case!

Going in the opposite direction of my faulty instinct, I had the best luck with a coarse grind and high brew ratio—a Synesso 18g+ basket, a high pre-brew flow rate on the Slayer, and a shorter pre-brew time than I usually use. I had trouble with both the VST 20g and 22g baskets at a range of doses—the shots tended to have a generic and uninteresting flavor with either an astringent edge or a harsh bitterness to the finish. I am sure I could have made them work, but the pieces really fell into place fast with the big Synesso basket for me.

My best shot was heavy, with a buttery texture, a nice mild citrus acidity, and pleasant cedar or pine wood tones standing out in the low end as the highlight for me. I was close to the brewer's spec, too—200°F brew temperature, a 20-21g dose, 24-25g yield, and a 28-33s total brew time with short 8-10s pre-brew. This coffee is narrowly balanced, and as such I found it challenging to work with. I am sure the fact that it is so far out of my comfort zone played into that as well.

In any case, my best shots were interesting and enjoyable, and it was for me a nostalgic experience. If you're looking for 50% brew ratios and 3rd wave orange juice, you probably will want to skip this one. But if you're up for some "old school" ristrettos and a change of pace, this is a nice option.
Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
drgary
Team HB
Posts: 9595
Joined: Feb 07, 2010, 4:16 pm

Postby drgary » Feb 11, 2015, 9:53 am

Coffee #1 is Full Cycle, Nossa Familia's signature espresso blend. The components of this blend change as the roastmaster works to keep its taste consistent. The version we tried has Brazil as a major component. And that's Nossa's other signature. From its inception Nossa has sourced exceptional Brazilian greens from farms owned by the family of its founder, Augusto Diaz. Here's his telling of that story.

The Nossa Familia roastery and coffee bar is located in the Pearl district of downtown Portland. From when we first walked into the cafe I've found the entire staff gracious and enjoyed their coffees enough to return often. We included a visit to Nossa when local H-B members welcomed me to the area with a cafe crawl. During that visit we were given a tour that included a close-up view of their Loring Kestrel roaster.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

 
Advertisement