Light roasted coffee all taste very similar to me - Page 2

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
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#11: Post by mkane »

Hotter water might help.

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#12: Post by pcofftenyo »

Most folks tend to have a pretty narrow tasting ability-it's not limited to you or coffee.

I grow several different varieties of tomatoes because of their distinct flavor profiles. Few can tell the difference!

Just the coffee (varietal/country) or even label notes do not define light or dark. A local roaster always roasts their stuff "dark" with their light having some oil on the beans. With the roast overtones its harder to get some origin notes. Also, and in particular, just because there is a lot of description about a bean that doesn't actually mean its specialty grade. Its just extensively described. An 85 blah de blah whatever will only have so much available in the cup generally speaking, regardless of roast.

I don't know what to suggest for a set of retail sourced "trainer" coffees.

Maybe someone will point to a source for light, medium, and dark roast of the same variety to illustrate the point.

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#13: Post by Sal »

For me all light roasts I have tried so far were sour. There are differences in flavor notes, but any fruit-forward coffee are acidic. And since I just don't care for acidity in my cup, I would label bright fruity coffee as being sour.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

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#14: Post by luca »

rjvelasquezm wrote:It's quite possible. I've played around with the different standard variables to impact extraction (temp, grind size, ratio) and have generally been finding I prefer lower extractions (say 13:1 over 17:1, and 195F water isntead of boiling). Specifially for the Alma Coffee Honduran I enjoyed much more at the lower extraction and did get that higher acidity profile you mention (although maybe somewhat generic).

For my more 'regular' brews I do get quite muted flavors, so maybe I need to experiment further toward something in the middle of the extraction curve.
I'll throw another vote in for the idea that you may need to explore grind setting and volume of water. If the coffee tastes bland and acidic, that's often a sign that the coffee is underextracted.

It sounds like you are a bit familiar with navigating all of this, so excuse me if what I'm writing is something that you already know. Basically, additional water will result in more extraction for pourovers, but since the extraction is weighted disproportionately to the beginning of the pours, the higher extraction will also come with lower strength. Strength is easy for people to perceive, so lots of people gravitate towards it. But so far, as usual, this thread has the egalitarian fantasy that all coffee and equipment has equal potential to deliver a delicious cup, and we all know that that simply isn't true. Extraction isn't just an exercise in maximising what you like, it's also an exercise in balancing that with minimising what you hate. And the whole reason why you see difference of opinion online is because people have different personal preferences, equipment and coffee, and want to simplify things down go one sentence of universal application, skipping over all of the details. But the details are important. Every combination of coffee, roast, grind and equipment is going to have a different combination of variables that optimises the brew. And every brewer will have their own idea of what they consider optimal to start off with.

After that digression, going back to where you are at, it sounds like you are more likely to be on the underextraction side. So the dialling in process to follow is probably this: accept some lower strength and explore some brews with increasing extraction until you hit something overextracted, then go back a bit and see what that tastes like. Otherwise, if you don't do that, you might have been making lots of adjustments and every single thing that you have tweaked has been on the same side of underextraction. You may never have extracted sufficiently. This is exactly what happened to a friend of mine recently. He bought a ZP6 and was very disappointed in it. So a friend of mine who liked his ZP6 and I organised to spend an hour with him, a refractometer, an EK43 and a bag of coffee. We brewed a reference brew on the EK43 that was pretty good; not amazing, but if you had it in a cafe, you'd have been pretty happy with it. We used those numbers as a reference point and it turned out that his brews on the ZP6 were very low in extraction yield. We kept on adjusting, overshooting and getting much higher extraction than the EK43 and dialling it back, and our final brew ended up tasting better than the EK43 reference brew. However, what we found was that there was most definitely one grind setting that worked very well, and just one notch coarser or finer made a huge difference. With the benefit of a refractometer to measure the extraction and see clearly where we were going, it still took us an hour to get the grind dialled in. We all like to think we are great at doing things blind, but the reality is that if I was doing it by taste alone, I would have found it extremely difficult.

Once you have overextracted, backed off a bit and eliminated the overextraction flavours, then you can start to draw some conclusions that it's the roast or the coffee and not you.

Now, the above is really what I think you ought to be doing to long term check that your brewing is on the right track, but in the short term, I think doing some cupping is going to give you some good bang for your buck. Google to find out directions for how to do a "coffee cupping"; it's faster than me explaining it here, but in essence you just throw ground coffee into a a cup, add boiling water, break the crust that forms, skim and remove the stuff floating at the top, wait at least 12 mins from pour for it to cool (the ground coffee will sink to the bottom) and then slurp the coffee off the top with a spoon; do it until the coffee goes to room temperature (probably 30 mins from pour). I'm mentioning this because it is a technique used by coffee professionals worldwide, perhaps largely because it means that they can get a good result to evaluate coffee with a wide variety of equipment. You will find that when you start slurping (careful not to burn yourself), the coffee tastes weak and underextracted; by the end it will taste stronger and overextracted. So the exact grind setting is less crucial. That said, most people grind too coarse for cupping, so I'd suggest when you cup for at least the first time, use a few different grind settings, and go finer than you'd think. As others have suggested, you are going to pick differences between coffees more easily if you taste two at the same time, so your first cupping should be at least four cups; two different coffees, two different grind settings.

Good luck!
another_jim wrote:Absolutely everyone, despite the often deafening protestations to the contrary of the light roast brigade (with a few exceptions as noted below * )
FWIW, I disagree with this basically entirely. There is some fuzziness around what "light" and "medium" mean, but, in essence, I'd say that underdeveloped coffees certainly can all taste the same, light roasts taste distinctive, at some point you can start to have caramels and nuts co-exist with distinctiveness and distinctiveness starts to drop off, but then after you get darker from this point, the roast flavours overwhelm, obliterate and reduce the distinctiveness of coffees. That's a slight generalisation, since you can have roast defects like "crash and flick" and bake, so that you can have light roasts that obliterate distinctiveness. You won't find me being an apologist for any particular roaster - I'm critical of most of them!

I posted some notes on Scott Rao's last roast defect kit here: ... BiNWFlZA==

The essence of the best roast was that it was the most distinctive. A friend of mine judged the world roasting championships and gave me some samples from the champion, which I cupped yesterday, and they were in line with the roast style from Scott's "good" example.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes
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#15: Post by rjvelasquezm (original poster) »

Thanks for the detailed advice! Really appreciate it.

So I did a couple of experiments on a coffee that I just had been unable to pull anything good out of( Vibrant roasters light roast holiday blend).

The first was using an aeropress as a gravity dripper I separated the different stages of the drip and tasted them separately (i.e. 20% of the coffee in one cup, then lifted the aeropress and placed it on a second cup etc.).

First time I did that experiment and was very interesting. They first 20% had the most 'coffee' flavor of the lot while the last one (I did 15gm to 260ml) was quite astringent. At the end after tasting separately I mixed the first 60% and did not drink the final astringent 40%.

Second thing I did was make an aeropress but grinding much finer, recently I had generally switched to grinding coarser. This coffee tasted much much better than my previous coarser brews, and quite different even from any of the pour stages of the previous experiment. Its interesting to me how the finer grind is not just impacting the level of extraction but also the flavors being extracted.

The more I learn about coffee the less I know I find.

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#16: Post by Sugarbeet »

rjvelasquezm wrote: Second thing I did was make an aeropress but grinding much finer, recently I had generally switched to grinding coarser. This coffee tasted much much better than my previous coarser brews, and quite different even from any of the pour stages of the previous experiment. Its interesting to me how the finer grind is not just impacting the level of extraction but also the flavors being extracted.

The more I learn about coffee the less I know I find.
That's how I enjoy my first coffee of the day. I absolutely love the really well extracted, very strong, full of mouthfeel cup that results from brewing finely ground high quality lightly roasted coffee in an aeropress at approximately 67g per l ratio.

My current recipe is 10g of fine, but not too finely ground coffee (no 2 on my Opus, it's a level of fineness where coffee pinched between fingers starts to feel more like fine salt than flour). So far I managed to get good results with this recipe only on conical burr grinders. Espresso focused flat burrs may be OK too, but I haven't tried.

So 10g of coffee, into which one pours 150ml of boiling water. It needs to be just boiled a second ago. Then stir with the aeropress stirrer for a couple of seconds to break any clumps, close and leave for 4 minutes. I brew in an inverted aeropress so after 4 minutes I invert it, put over a cup, give it a stir and I leave for 30s more (it is the same in non inverted aeropress - I just prefer this work flow).

Then squeeze it slowly. If the resulting cup is too "muddy" for your taste use two filters next time, just remember to press slowly.

The resulting cup is very rich, it has tons of mouthfeel, it has some bitterness, but it suits the rest very well. One can add water to fill the cup fully and enjoy it as if it was a pourover, it also tastes amazing with a bit of milk. Only once I started using this brewing method I started seeking lighter and lighter coffees (fresher and fresher). There is some acidity, but it is very well balanced.

Medium roasts taste good too brewed in that way, but there tends to be a lot more roast, smoky flavors which can be overpowering without milk. That's why I prefer light roasts for it.

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#17: Post by Brewbom »

"light" lacks definition just as "medium" or "dark"

So it's always hard to diagnose or troubleshoot directly. However if we talk about development and extraction then it's a bit easier.
  • very underdeveloped roasts (almost always look very light) tend to have these types of flavors dominating: lemongrass, ginger, sharp grains, battery acid, a breathy tangy bite. they actually combine both sour and bitter notes (lots of precursor acids) they do represent the flavor of the raw green seed pretty well even if they don't taste very good most of the time I associate this with what I call the Chlorogenic bite.

    Lightly underdeveloped roasts (can look light to medium) tend to exhibit the above flavors but also bring some more fruit acids, more grains, more snap and sparkle rather than battery acid (hello fruit acids)
from there you can continue to develop the roast until you over develop it and all you get is the opposite of the above: char, burnt cellulose, carbon, ash etc.

Certainly lighter coffees (especially the precursors acids that dominate them) take some getting used to, and not everyone will ever enjoy them. While it is somewhat true that "lighter" roasts tend to show the inherent attributes of the green bean, just like a nearly raw steak shows the purest terroir of the cow, its too easy to confuse that noble intention with the drink we brew and consume.

same things apply to under and over extraction (filter or espresso) many coffee drinkers love under extracted coffee and especially espresso (hence all of the light orange coffees and white/ yellow espressos) just as many people love the taste of over extracted coffee. let YOUR taste be the judge!

but if you are buying top notch coffees from great roasters who buy from great producers and all of those coffees taste the same then like the above comments change your brew parameters! for SURE use hotter water temps, lighter roasts can be less soluble as well so watch your water TDS closely)

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#18: Post by erik82 »

What grinder do you use? Lesser grinder that produce more fines tend to make muddy cups and blend everything together which can also lead to coffees tasting kind of the same. Especially for light roasts a very good grinder is needed to get the most out of it.

For example when I was using my Commandante there was a complete lack of clarity and flavour seperation while with the Ultra burrs in the EG-1 the same coffee tasted very different. I get loads of clarity and flavour seperation with the Ultra burrs. How do yous your coffeebed look after brewing say a V60? Can you post a picture of that?

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#19: Post by ojt »

Kind of agreeing with both Luca and Jim, just taming the wording a bit and simplifying. It could be everyone (except professional tasters or very very good tasters) just has their range of preference or ability to taste. I gravitate toward light or light medium roasts exactly because I find more variability there. Could be that my palate is just more at ease in the sour range. With dark or dark medium roasts I just tend to perceive them all as basically the same. There are exceptions to this of course.

But yes, it does probably also come down to the "skill issue", and gear, in preparing each style. My gear and experience is mostly adapted to lighter roasts. Cupping, or any immersion like frenchpress, is a good way to brew the coffee and pretty much completely removes the "skill issue".

Anyway, maybe you could go and search for some very renowned light roasts to try out, just to make sure it's really not your thing :) A few roasters that seem to be highly appreciated among light roast fans:

- Hydrangea (US?) (also, hopefully spelled correct)
- Sey (US)
- Tim Wendelboe (Norway)
- Moodtrap (Singapore?)
- DAK (EU)
- The Picky Chemist (EU)
- Manhattan (EU, also, gone a bit darker lately)

There are probably many others, but the point is that roast can easily be bad, to the point that it isn't distinctive. Try a bag once in a while from some or similar to the above, just to make sure and educate yourself. I also get a bag of darker roast once in a while, as a reality check and to keep myself able to brew those.

Oh well, my 2 cents.

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#20: Post by jramey0406 »

I have to agree with OP on this. Nearly all light I have tried (several Onyx, Panther, Verve, sightglass, among others) are all extremely similar in taste, citrus or vinegar. I also roast my own and once I go past light, flavors start to diverge.

Maybe it's a grinder thing? I was using cheaper conical grinders or hand grinder (K6). I just got a DF64 g2 so maybe I need to give another go