Espresso roasts smell/taste generic to me

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

Postby mazur » Jun 03, 2018, 10:22 pm

A quick preface to my experience, or lack thereof:

About 5 years ago I had a cup of coffee that changed me forever (a simple latte from an Intelligentsia). Pretty much since then, I have become more and more a coffee snob.

Until just recently, the only espresso drinks I would have would be from local coffee shops in Phoenix (Cartel, Peixoto, Royal). These are also local roasters which focus on single origin coffees.

I just got a La Pavoni a couple weeks ago and am now making great tasting cappuccinos and macchiatos, so far with Peixoto catuai and catucai-based roasts.

Now:
I have been doing much reading and have read numerous times about how single origin is not usually good for espresso and a blend or espresso specific roast is recommended. So I found another local roaster which does make an espresso blend (Lost Dutchman). I bought some, and while I got gobs of crema, I have to say I feel a bit dissappointed. It just smells and tastes rather generic. It really doesn't seem much different than what you'd get from a generic place selling cappuccinos, though it is still better than that and doesn't have that horrible peppery aftertaste like Starbucks.

Besides the smell and taste, I also notice it is much darker than what I am used to drinking (though not very dark and oily as I have seen some beans before).

Have I just become accoustomed to a different type of drink than what is typical of the community, or did I just get beans from a sub-par roaster?

BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » replying to mazur » Jun 04, 2018, 9:21 pm

I would suggest ordering a different coffee each week from different roasters, different blends and different single origins. Over time you will begin to know the differences. Take notes on the type of coffee, roast, and what you liked or disliked. Try different recipes at different brew times, different ratios etc. and if you really want to begin to get an even deeper understanding take notes on altitude, rainfall, farm etc. ...even then the crop will change year to year like wine grapes do.

Oh and most importantly...Have fun!

BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » Jun 04, 2018, 9:24 pm

Oh and BTW...That "generic" taste you are describing is probably stale coffee. That's what most of us were used to before getting into good fresh coffee, stale coffee.

brianl

Postby brianl » Jun 04, 2018, 11:15 pm

BillBurrGrinder wrote:Oh and BTW...That "generic" taste you are describing is probably stale coffee. That's what most of us were used to before getting into good fresh coffee, stale coffee.


That andor maybe it's over-extracted and has that instant coffee taste.

I highly doubt this generic smell and taste is freshly roasted blends from a home barista recommended roaster. I have had boring blends but they still tasted very good though.

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LBIespresso

Postby LBIespresso » Jun 04, 2018, 11:25 pm

BillBurrGrinder wrote:I would suggest ordering a different coffee each week from different roasters, different blends and different single origins. Over time you will begin to know the differences. Take notes on the type of coffee, roast, and what you liked or disliked. Try different recipes at different brew times, different ratios etc. and if you really want to begin to get an even deeper understanding take notes on altitude, rainfall, farm etc. ...even then the crop will change year to year like wine grapes do.

Oh and most importantly...Have fun!


I second all of this great advice. Only I wouldn't rush through each coffee. Take more than a week with each coffee. This is a marathon not a sprint.
LMWDP #580
"Be nice to people, even the sh!tty ones." Jason Sudeikis

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Peppersass

Postby Peppersass » Jun 05, 2018, 2:35 am

mazur wrote:I have been doing much reading and have read numerous times about how single origin is not usually good for espresso and a blend or espresso specific roast is recommended.

At best, this is outdated advice. At worst, it's just plain wrong. As you yourself noted, you really enjoyed single-origin espressos from your local shops/roasters: Cartel, Peixoto, and Royal. Many of the high-end roasters recommended on this site offer exceptional single-origin espressos that you may like a lot. I haven't counted, but I'm sure that many espresso drinkers on HB prefer SOs to blends.

There's a grain of truth in the advice in that some single-origin coffees don't work particularly well as espresso by themselves, but do work well as part of a blend with other coffees. There are certainly some very good, and even exceptional blends available from the roasters mentioned above, so keep looking and trying.

That said, many blends have been created to appeal to those who prefer "comfort" coffee -- often a somewhat mild, sweet and chocolaty experience. To get there, the roaster may blend single-origin coffees so as to mute the more forward or tart flavors and bring out the mellow tones. Some roasters will also roast their blends darker to reduce acidity. This can be a tasty drink, almost a confection, especially when sugar is added. This is also characteristic of the espresso you get in Italy, which can be a very pleasant but not particularly complex drink

You may find such blends boring or single-dimensional when compared with a complex bright single-origin blueberry-bomb natural from Ethiopia.

mazur

Postby mazur » Jun 05, 2018, 11:48 pm

Thank you all for the detailed responses and wisdom being provided to this newbie. Literally 90% of my espresso knowledge is just several weeks old, but I really dive into new things heavily when they gain my interest. Second day of owning my La Pavoni I took the portafilter to work to make it bottomless; you know, to ensure I am distributing and tamping correctly :lol:
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I have doubt that what I had was stale coffee, just probably not to my liking. I will take the advice of trying different roasts over time to experiment, though I am going to spend a little time with a Peixoto's "Familia Peixoto". This is what they recommended I use for my espresso and is what they use in their cafe. I enjoy it, but have noted that I to have to grind it rather fine (1A setting on my Preciso) and dose 15g to get a decent pull on my La Pavoni. Crema is a bit lacking, but other than being a nice visual, I have not been convinced yet if crema adds value to flavor (maybe mouth feel?).

BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » Jun 06, 2018, 12:56 am

LBIespresso wrote:I second all of this great advice. Only I wouldn't rush through each coffee. Take more than a week with each coffee. This is a marathon not a sprint.


After a week it starts to get stale...usually I find 5-8 days post roast, plus 1 week before most beans fall dramatically. So if he opens them on day 7 post roast, another week of good fresh coffee, that'll be about 12-16oz of coffee pulling 2 doubles per day and a few extras on the weekend.

I can always tell if I like a coffee within a week. If I get it dialed in nice the first shot or two I'll know if I like it. YMMV

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Jake_G

Postby Jake_G » replying to BillBurrGrinder » Jun 06, 2018, 9:02 am

I have no idea why there is a heated debate on the subject, but freezing beans is an absolutely valid way to stretch their life and add variety to your daily routine. Some folks go ballistic with the process, and I've nothing negative to say about vacuum sealing, or any of it. For me, I get a pound, split it into a couple pint sized canning jars and store them in the freezer once they've aged according to the need of the roast. I then split a pint into two half-pints and leave the one in use in "the cafe" while the rest keeps chilling in the freezer. I've seen lots of anecdotes about how terrible this is and plenty of data that supports it's totally fine. Plus enough respected members here freeze beans as a way of life, so who am I to judge, anyway? :wink:

No harm in slowing down as long as you try freezing the beans around 5 to 10 days post-roast and pull out small enough portions to finish them off before they've spent more than 15 to 20 days or so in total at room temp... YMMV and different beans/roasts will age differently but the principle holds regardless.

Cheers!

- Jake

BillBurrGrinder

Postby BillBurrGrinder » replying to Jake_G » Jun 06, 2018, 8:45 pm

I'm definitely intrigued by all of the comments about nothing wrong with freezing beans INCLUDING GEORGE HOWELL HIMSELF!

So I just started freezing half my bag o beans so I can decide for myself through my own testing. So far...haven't noticed a difference but time will tell if it works for me. I have some frozen that I will use a week later, some a month later, some more than a month...that should do it justice :mrgreen: