Caffè Lusso Gran Miscela Carmo Espresso Blend
The coffee arrived very promptly after its roast date (Wednesday, June 29) on Friday, July 1, super-heated from a day in the UPS truck in the Texas summer. I started sampling the coffee on Saturday, July 2, but didn't really begin reviewing it in earnest till Sunday, July 3. I worked with it periodically and exclusively all the way till Saturday, July 9. As mentioned, this coffee shipped direct from the roaster, and I didn't take any measures to blind myself.
On first sight, the roast was much deeper than I am used to, a deep, dark brown with glistening little droplets of oil emerging from a portion of the beans. The dry aroma of the whole beans was mellow and chocolatey, with a pronounced roastiness.
This coffee's dominant flavors are nut (walnut, cashew, peanut), baker's chocolate, wood, and smoke. The best shots feature a balancing caramel sweetness and a subtle hint of cherry acidity. The coffee is distinctly clean, lacking any hint of funk or earthiness. When dialed in, this produces a decent but simple shot of espresso. The crema is stiff, airy, voluminous, and persistent, but typically marred by astringency; every shot I tried was considerably better for dispensing the crema, either by vigorous stirring, waiting awhile, or both—even 8 or 9 days post-roast.
The roaster billed this coffee as one particularly intended for milk drinks, and indeed, it does produce a pleasing cappuccino. The nuttiness is pronounced in this format, the caramel transforms to dolce de leche, and the faint acidity emerges to lend the whole thing a "peanut butter and jelly" taste.
This coffee seems suited for those looking for extremely low-acid coffees, and especially anyone looking for "chocolate PB&J" cappuccinos.
For this coffee, I found the roaster's spec of an 18g dose, a 50-60 mL shot (30-40g by weight, for me), at 201-204°F in ~25s, to be pretty accurate. The coffee is relatively tolerant of different temperatures. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to a fine grind, and preparations which necessitate this (e.g., VST baskets and very long "Slayer style" preinfusions) are sure to bring out the worst of the coffee's astringence and an ashy finish. My preferred brew parameters were 18-18.5g in a relatively deep basket (Synesso 18g ridgeless), 32-36g brew weight (50-60% brew ratio), a brew temperature of 200-201°F, and a total brew time of 22-30s (with little to no preinfusion). Long brew times emphasize walnut and wood notes, but suffer from muted acidity, mild astringency, and ashiness in the finish. Shorter brew times emphasize chocolate, a milder nut flavor (cashew?), caramel, and more noticeable acidity. The coffee is easy to work with, but while well-balanced shots come easily, I struggled to produce a shot that was both well-balanced and interesting.