Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Something I haven't seen on H-B (maybe I've just missed it) is a discussion of post-brew blending. The standard concept of a blend is one in which the various beans are provided in a mixed state, to be ground and brewed together. These beans may or may not have been roasted together too, depending on how different their roast profiles and requirements may have been.Aaron wrote:For those that enjoy a decaf espresso, is there a difference in the cup or grind between the decaf and regular version of the same bean blend? I am wondering if I start to incorporate some decaf into my espresso consumption will the flavor/crema/body disappoint. I am working on a bag of regular Redline now and since it comes in decaf as well I was thinking of possibly mixing the two, occasionally, to reduce the caffeine content. Would this have any noticeable effect at all in the cup by blending the two, or is decaf espresso disappointing and I should just stay away? If mixing I would use the same blend, i.e. Redline. Thanks for the advice.
The optimal espresso grind, dose, temperature and so forth - even filter basket size - will be different for every blend, but they are likely to be especially different between a regular and a decaf blend. So if a half-caff mixture is desired in the cup, mixing the two blends prior to brewing would likely seriously compromise the quality of both components. It's surprising therefore that it's so common to assume that the two component blends would be mixed prior to grinding.
On the other hand, if your decaf and your regular components are each brewed separately, and then mixed in the cup, you can optimize both through the full process, and both will contribute their best. Even Redline and Redline Decaf, despite their familial similarity, should be ground and brewed separately. I've done this for many years across many blends, had fun and learned a lot along the way.
Of course it's easy to grind, dose and tamp differently for consecutive shots, but it's much more difficult when one blend wants to be brewed at 185F and the other at 202F (here's where using "brother" blends can help, such as the dual Redlines). On the other hand, even wholly dissimilar temperature requirements need not be considered an unfortunate situation, since this provides the ideal argument for the immediate acquisition of a two-group Mistral.