Coffees in Melbourne, Australia in 2017

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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luca
Posts: 425
Joined: May 23, 2005, 6:13 am

Postby luca » Jun 01, 2017, 8:01 am

Hi all,

I've often despaired when trying to buy coffee in Melbourne. Even fully geeking out and having worked in coffee, I still find that my success rate in buying great coffee beans isn't all that high. I feel that there is nowhere useful that I can turn for reliable or informative information: the best that you get from the mainstream media is three or four flavour descriptors (as if that is all that is relevant), industry media doesn't want to tick anyone off by saying anything bad and social media is often ill informed or prohibits discussion of coffee not sold by sponsors.

I'm keen to have a go at cultivating some discussion that can help people to usefully find good coffee beans in Melbourne, just as much to improve my own strike rate as for anything else, and I figure this is probably the best place to do it. Whenever I travel overseas, I always end up trying as many different things from roasters that are likely to be good as I can, so I hope that this thread might provide a little armchair travel entertainment for those of you overseas who are like-minded.

A few years ago, I tried to publish coffee reviews to the gold standard - multi reviewer blind tastings. This was more work than I can realistically do now, but I'm keen not to let perfect be the enemy of done in this instance, so I'm hoping you will forgive the lack of rigour in what I end up posting.

I'll try to get my first entry up this weekend. I have been meaning to actually do this for a while, so I'm posting this intro post now to embarrass myself into following through.

Cheers,
Luca
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

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TomC
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Joined: Jun 06, 2011, 1:46 pm

Postby TomC » Jun 01, 2017, 8:11 am

Should be a good read!

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Simon345
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Joined: May 02, 2015, 10:18 am

Postby Simon345 » Jun 01, 2017, 9:17 am

Looking forward to it!

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luca
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Joined: May 23, 2005, 6:13 am

Postby luca » Jun 04, 2017, 1:37 am

OK, we're off to the races! Unfortunately, the coffee that I have on hand at the moment is now sold out, but this should at least give us an opportunity for people to comment on what is and is not useful in a review ...

Coffee: El Tesoro
Country: Colombia (Huila)
Process: Washed
Varietal: Tabi
Roaster: Seven Seeds
Roasted For: Filter
Price: AUD$17/250G

Image

Packaging and Purchasing: I bought this over the counter at Brother Baba Budan. It came in the 250g valve bag in the photo. The bag is a twist tie, not a zip lock. It was about two days post roast. The bag came rolled up and closed with the twist ties, with the label applied over the top to keep it all sealed. What you can't tell by looking at the retail package is that the bag is not heat sealed; ie. the top is open.

Body: Medium-high
Acidity: Medium-high
Aroma Intensity/Flavour: High
Bitterness: Medium-Low
Sweetness: High

Quality: Very Good (85 to 87)

Flavours: Apricot/Mango, Marzipan/Cherry

Notes: Unlike the Catimor varietals that have saddened many of us over the years, based on this sample it looks like Tabi could deliver a happy convergence of rust resistance and cup quality.

This is not your average Colombian, yet it bears a family resemblance. It has heavier body and more sweetness than one might expect. The acidity also isn't as lemony; it is a bit softer, for lack of a better word.

I didn't find the aroma particularly complex, in that it had lots of different things going on, but I did find it unusually intense, both as dry aroma and in the cup. The main aroma is something in the ripe stonefruit genre; apricot, mango, peach - something like that. The marzipan/cherry/almond type thing is a bit more fleeting. I took a french press to dinner with friends the other day and there wasn't a drop left.

I'm currently exploring aromatic, light roasts for espresso at home and this aromatic intensity of this coffee, together with the slightly higher than normal body, made for an unexpectedly good cappuccino at high brew temp.

Would I buy it again? Totally. However, I would be sure to check the roast date and only buy it in the day or two post roast, then I would transfer it to a small, airtight jar, or a few of them.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

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luca
Posts: 425
Joined: May 23, 2005, 6:13 am

Postby luca » Jun 04, 2017, 1:58 am

Scoring scales:

I'm going to have a go at scoring coffees on the scale below, more or less on the COE/Q scale:

<80 - Fail. There is something wrong with this. I have never tried to discriminate between how far below 80 coffees fall, since I have no interest in these coffees.

80 to 83 - Good coffee, but little to no distinctiveness. I'm happy to drink these, but I will struggle to remember them a week later.

84 to 87 - Very good coffee. Aromatically distinct and pretty balanced across the board. I taste these and usually guess with pretty high conviction where it is from (though I may well be wrong!). I remember these months later.

88 to 90 - Excellent coffee. Balanced in every category, very aromatically distinct. These are the sorts of things that I point to people as examples of a particular region. I'm usually lucky enough to run into two to five of these a year as a pretty switched on consumer.

90+ - Outstanding coffee. Balanced across the board; it would be unreasonable to ask for anything more in any category, coupled with very intense and distinctive aromas. These are the benchmarks. I have probably tasted about four or five coffees that would legitimately score 95+ in the last decade and they haunt me to this day.

I am going to score things with a range of a few points, seeing as I can do that in my head, without whipping out a score sheet and tallying up the individual scores. Something that scores 85 is well worth buying - in sharp contrast with today's 100 point scores for wine, where 85 is an F.

One final note - COE and Q scoring tries to score the inherent quality of the green itself. This isn't useful if you want to buy roasted coffee, so I'm going to score the actual roast that I am writing notes on.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

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luca
Posts: 425
Joined: May 23, 2005, 6:13 am

Postby luca » Jun 19, 2017, 7:14 am

Hi All,

The next instalment. Again, I'm whizzing through this quickly to get some stuff up here.

This time around I have a little disclaimer for y'all: I worked for Veneziano coffee many years ago, but bought this as a regular retail customer.

This is one of three Gesha village estate coffees that I bought out of curiosity; the other two being another washed lot and a natural lot. I might try to get my note up on the natural at some stage, just because the chances of you seeing me voluntarily exchanging money for natural processed coffee are otherwise very slim!

Here we go ...

Coffee: Gesha Village Estate, Gaylee Lot #7
Country: Ethiopia
Process: Washed
Varietal: "Ilubabor"/"Ilubador" Forest Gesha
Roaster: Veneziano Coffee
Roasted For: Filter and Espresso
Price: AUD$22/150G
Link: https://venezianocoffee.com.au/shop/cof ... ot-7-150g/

Image

Packaging and Purchasing: I bought this through the website. It was delivered pretty promptly. The tube contains a small ziplock bag with no valve, which was pleasingly puffed up like a balloon when I got it. The coffee was about two weeks post roast when I received it.

Body: Medium-low
Acidity: Medium-high
Aroma Intensity/Flavour: High
Bitterness: Medium-Low
Sweetness: High

Quality: Excellent (88-89)

Flavours: Apricot; passionfruit; bergamot.

Notes: I bought this, lot #27 and lot #51. This was the lot that reminded me the most of the classic washed esmeralda style that kicked off the whole gesha/geisha craze.

I got some great espresso from this, the best shot probably being through the VST 15g basket at a 2:1 ratio, a very high brew temp and with a long preinfusion time. I gave the shot a long preinfusion before first drops and the flow rate held steady over about 20 seconds, so the shot sort of had the look and feel of the first 2/3 of a regular extraction. Let me know if that proves to be a useful starting point for anyone.

I have only been playing around with it for 6 months or so, but the VST 15g is currently my go to when I have a relatively light roast and I want to maximise aroma and don't care about foregoing body.

Would I buy it again? As a special occasion coffee; sure, and particularly if I wanted something super aromatic that does well through an espresso machine.

I was a little miffed to get it two weeks post roast and with no indication of the roast date online. I get that that is a level of admin and work that most roasters do not do and do not do, which is why I generally prefer to buy coffee over the counter. For coffee that commands a significant price premium over regular high quality coffee, though, I think that roasters really ought to make the roast dates clear at all points of sale (OTC and online). I kind of like George Howell and Coffee Collective's model of putting up roast dates for pricey lots and dispatching mail order lots on the day of roast.

Having said all of that, I feel like packaging into heat sealed bags without valves straight after roast and allowing the coffee to sit in its own gasses is a great way to maintain freshness - particularly if those bags are vacuum sealed, so that the gas filling the bag ends up being mainly what comes out of the roasted coffee. I doubt that this lot was vacuum sealed; probably just hand weighed and heat sealed. This seemed like a sensible and pragmatic solution for what I bet is a relatively small production run for Veneziano.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

 
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