3rd wave bad, North Italian good - Page 7

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » Sep 18, 2018, 8:56 pm

OldNuc wrote:lightly/ultra-lightly roasted high extraction yield coffee is not Espresso. Just as a vanilla wafer is not Biscotti. Calling 3rd wave coffee Espresso is a stretch.


Well to be precise... espresso is a form of coffee extraction and "3rd wave" just refers to the current state of how coffee is perceived.

We are looking at coffee in a different light. George Howell was one of the first to start roasting beans light enough to be considered odd and ridiculous to some, intriguing and advanced to others. It's just part of the evolution of coffee consumption and right now light roasted coffee is extremely popular in the "specialty" coffee world.

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Sep 18, 2018, 9:04 pm

Being fortunate enough to live in Melbourne where quite a few of the bleeding-edge third wave/specialty cafes are located (St Ali, Sensory Lab, Proud Mary, Ona Coffee, etc), I would like to think I did get to taste some of the well-executed light roasts. :P

In my experience, they can be very different from what I remember tasting back when the third wave coffee movement first started (think double ristretto made with lighter roasts).

Here, the trend seem to be shifting towards serving coffee with more dilution and with lighter crema (often just 2mm layer of crema), 'thin' in comparison to the typical Italian espresso. It can be very balanced (when well executed) and the focus is more on the delicate flavors - there is noticeable amount of acidity/clarity but certainly not what I would call OJ (the acceptable level of acidity can be subjective depending on the individual too).

Think of it as a concentrated form of filter coffee. It won't be your thick syrupy emulsion that many of us have grown accustomed to. People who can only enjoy filtered coffee in the past and disliked traditional espresso will like it (perhaps those who have a more sensitive palate and are overwhelmed by the 'strong' espresso sensory experience). People who enjoyed the syrupy espresso they've known all their life will probably balk and be shocked at the 'thin' (relative) swill. :D

If you come in expecting a flavor bomb experience that a traditional espresso provides - flavors that just dominate every aspect of your sensory and flavors that evolves in your mouth minutes after sipping, you will likely be disappointed with the lighter roasts. My observation is, the flavors from lighter roast espresso can be complex and have tons of clarity, but they tend to be more front-loaded and short-lived - meaning you taste most of the complex/delicate 'origin' flavor when sipping, but it will disappear soon after (relatively of course). It's just not the tongue coating experience that a traditional espresso can provide.

To me, they are just different style of drinks and I can enjoy both (and know some who prefer one style while completely despise another). If you're used to conventional espresso and come in with the same expectation, it will likely be a disappointing experience.

To make those lighter balanced shots, having flow/pressure profiling and going out of the typical extraction parameters are often required. If you just hit those light roasted coffee (provided roasted properly) with 25-30s extraction, 1:1.5-2.0 brew ratio, 9 bar flat, more often than not it'll come out as a niche drink that only a few will come to enjoy. The key to these lighter roasts seems to be dilution - if you pull more volume or more water through, then it's more likely to be non-offensive and allow those flavor to become distinguishable and enjoyable. But also due to that dilution, it is perhaps lacking the experience traditional espresso drinkers are expecting.
★★ Quite Helpful

BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » Sep 18, 2018, 9:22 pm

I hated light roasted, high elevation espressos when I first started pulling them. It was like someone added lemon juice to the coffee until I started diluting as more of a drip cup and came to realize they were NOT intended to be in the same category as dark roasted, chocolatey, thick shots. If I understood that it was the other end of the spectrum I would have accepted it for what it was sooner. A thread like this would have been perfect while I was scratching my head trying to figure it all out.

dave_in_gva

Postby dave_in_gva » Sep 19, 2018, 2:17 am

lagoon wrote:To the contrary, this has been one of the best recent discussions on these boards in my view. Sure the topic name is a bit polarising, but the content of the thread itself is producing an excellent discussion.

There's been a number of well thought out responses, supported by personal experiences, calling into question whether the current orthodoxy is headed the right way.

This discussion is very timely and entirely consistent with the raison d'être of this site.


Apologies for the title - I knew it would be polarising and wanted to attract attention.

It's far from perfect. I am not trying to say all 3rd wave roasted coffee is bad. And I am also not using north Italian as a pointer to some dusty tradition of "excellence". Northern Italy is an hour's drive from where I live; I go there regularly, and have had great and awful espresso. My juxtaposition of 3rd wave and north Italian in the title is really about juxtaposing 2 degrees of roast, and to a lesser extent the single origin versus blend approach to bean choice for espresso.

To be clear, what I am most interested in is a discussion around the relative importance espresso drinkers place on balance and the ensemble of things they are tasting versus any one dimension (e.g. origin flavours). When I said I find there is something of an emperor's new clothing aspect to 3rd wave espresso I think Jim Schulman has touched on what I am feeling when he mentioned in his summary points in post #50 that he finds there is a certain grating snobbery and exclusivity associated with the approach.

I feel the entire industry of so-called 3rd wave espresso seems built on achieving a tasting experience that forsakes balance at the expense of showcasing one aspect of espresso. That aspect is origin flavours and it is more often than not dialled up to a Spinal Tap 11 and the bespectacled pony tailed hipster dude that has handed you the shot tells you it will be the most sublime and best thing you have ever tasted. Frankly, I find every single such 3rd wave espresso I have had has never been anywhere near as complete or satisfying as espresso that has been:

1. Made with beans taken to a deeper degree of roast.
2. Made from a blend of beans as opposed to single origin espresso.

Furthermore, I find labels such as "comfort espresso" do a disservice because they imply a simplicity that isn't there. I find that I must exercise an extraordinary amount of care in my bean selection, relative proportions within my blends, degree of roasting, grind, water temperature and pressure profiles. I am positive that a single origin Guatemalan taken to a light cinnamon roast does not require more love and attention. And I am quite certain it would give me less enjoyment as an entire tasting experience where I am looking for things like acidity, body, sweetness, balance and length etc. than a carefully selected and roasted blend of beans taken to deeper roast levels.

Dave

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AssafL

Postby AssafL » Sep 19, 2018, 9:43 am

What I don't get is why 1 approach is "wrong" and 1 is "right". Or that 1 is preferred. Or that 1 is "better".

Isn't the fact they are diffident sufficient?

Anthony Bourdain has one of his shows once with Ferras Adria. In it he compared a roasted peach to a foie gras (I think tourchon). Both are processed, both can be delectable. Neither is better nor worse. The point was that the mere fact that they are different puts them on equal terms.

Since this thread started I am roasting darker. I pull a bit shorter (1:1.8 or so). It is great.

Neither better nor worse. "Different". I am a hobbyist and all you Pros can be envious that I refuse to choose. Or better still: I choose to play both teams.
Caution! Water, heat, pressure and electricity don't mix! I want an espresso.

OldNuc

Postby OldNuc » Sep 19, 2018, 11:36 am

dave_in_gva wrote:Apologies for the title - I knew it would be polarising and wanted to attract attention.
Well, that worked. :lol:
<snip>
Furthermore, I find labels such as "comfort espresso" do a disservice because they imply a simplicity that isn't there. I find that I must exercise an extraordinary amount of care in my bean selection, relative proportions within my blends, degree of roasting, grind, water temperature and pressure profiles. I am positive that a single origin Guatemalan taken to a light cinnamon roast does not require more love and attention. And I am quite certain it would give me less enjoyment as an entire tasting experience where I am looking for things like acidity, body, sweetness, balance and length etc. than a carefully selected and roasted blend of beans taken to deeper roast levels.

Dave


I tend to feel that the entire picture, acidity, body, sweetness, balance and length etc., makes a more satisfying experience than the SO lighter roasted experience as a routine. I have roasted quite abit of SO coffee and the majority came out between good to outstanding but the bottom line something was always missing, blending fills in the missing parts and this opens up the entire experience.

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Almico

Postby Almico » Sep 19, 2018, 12:02 pm

And there is a major flaw in the "origin flavors" argument.

Question: what would taste more similar, A) a yellow bourbon and a catuai grown in Costa Rica, or B) two yellow bourbons of the same strain, one growing in Costa Rica and the other in Colombia?

The answer is B. So much for origin flavors.

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Sep 19, 2018, 12:38 pm

Actually, the term origin flavor covers terroir, bean, and processing methods, the idea being to imitate DOC wine making, where terroir, grape, and aging can all be specified. For instance, George Howell argues that the climate and varietals in southern Ethiopia (Yrgs) makes wet processing the best technique, while in the north (Harar) and Yemen, the dry climate make dry processing better. Kenyas should be SL28s, wet processed in small tanks for longer periods, then dried on raised beds. Etc, etc. If he had his druthers, each of these areas would be DOC, with specifieed bean varietals and processing methods.

I kind of agree, but would add depth of roast to the DOC mix. Yrgs are a tannic mess if roasted medium or dark; whereas a Kirinyaga doesn't really shine until a medium roast where the complex blackberry. black current, and clove flavors emerge. An Antigua bourbon roasted anything lighter than medium-dark, when that whole apple-chocolate-cigar starts happening, is simply criminal.

I believe different origins do their best at different degrees of roast. Why is this so hard to grasp?
Jim Schulman

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Almico

Postby Almico » Sep 19, 2018, 1:14 pm

Maybe, but I have a DP Guji that is the best Ethiopia coffee I've ever tasted. Also, there are far more heirloom varieties in southern Ethiopia than the northern area. That's how we know where coffee came from: the abundance of varieties that exist in southern Ethiopia vs the north and Yemen.

Love George, but I don't always agree with him.

I don't see how getting the gov't involved in coffee is going to improve anything.

RyanP

Postby RyanP » Sep 19, 2018, 1:44 pm

While I think these conversations are worthwhile, I also find they are so interesting since we're not only talking about a subjective experience, but also about one that can arguably never be reproduced exactly the same the second time. So we can talk about shot technique, we can talk about ratios, and we can talk about flavor preference, but even if we're both using the same beans from the same roast batch, we're still not talking about the same espresso. One of the most validating experiences in coffee I've had is when I got together with another local espresso enthusiast. We pulled and shared a bunch of shots on a mono flat and Londinium R with beans ranging from light to medium-light. Being able to taste and talk about the same shot of espresso and see where our taste buds aligned or did not was enlightening.

Also, these discussions often seem to forget that the continuum covers more than just ultra light and dark roasts. To me (edit) dark Italian roasts are just as obscenely imbalanced as an ultra light SOs, but for me a good medium-light blend can often hit a sweet spot in terms of balance.