Kuma "Balanced" espresso

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

#1: Post by Nate42 »

Anyone have an opinion on and recommendations on recipe for Kuma "Balanced"? I'm not getting results that I'm happy with. I'm surprised by how lightly roasted it is for something that purports to be "balanced" (they also have a bright). Maybe it's a bad batch or just not my thing but I feel like I'm not getting good extraction. Been using my robot with the "overflow" preheat method, 17g dose, 40g out, about 45 seconds. I've tried faster and slower shots and neither seems to be an improvement. I'm not inclined to blame the robot, I've pulled good shots with Wendelboe and other light roasted coffees using the same preheat method.


#2: Post by emradguy »

The current version of balanced is a single origin Honduran bean. What are you grinding with? I am having excellent results pulling shots on my L1 Compressa using a Kafatek MC4. I typically pull the balanced at about a 1:2 ratio using a 19g dry dose.

Nate42 (original poster)

#3: Post by Nate42 (original poster) »

Grinding with a monolith flat. My default dose is normally 17 grams but I have got my best results so far with 15g and a finer grind. I'm finally getting more enjoyable results but it's still bright and citrusy, no sign of chocolate or caramel flavors. I honestly wonder if they mislabeled the bag.


#4: Post by emradguy »

I just took a 200g jar out of my freezer, and will dig into it tomorrow. I'll dial some in on my Flat and we can compare notes.

Nate42 (original poster)

#5: Post by Nate42 (original poster) »

Neat, thanks! Unfortunately my bag is getting kinda old and is all but gone, so I probably won't be able to follow along but I am curious to see where you end up. This morning I did my finest grind yet, two minor notches below 4. True zero for me is around the small bean symbol, ie a little below 0. This is the original mythos type burrs.

15 g dose, 31g out, 45 second pull (10sec was preinfusion). There was some pleasant sweetness hiding in there but the dominant flavor was lemoney citrus character. I wouldn't call it full on "sour" but borderline.


#6: Post by iamdof »

i just started on my first bag of Kuma Balanced and am noticing similar things: brighter and more acidic than i expected and a little sour. i'm also struggling to avoid channeling so could partly be a problem with me/my equipment.

anyone in this thread ever arrive at a good recipe? I've tried coarser + higher-dose (18g) and finer + smaller-dose (17g). It's not entirely unpleasant but not something i look forward to either. my eq: df 64 and breville infuser (which is why 18g is often a large dose depending on the bean)


#7: Post by iamdof »

Who knows, could be my body chemistry today or could be the adjustments I made but I got more richness and less acidity this morning. My parameters:
12-13 days off roast
17.8g in
32g out
9-10s pre-infusion
~30s extraction starting at first drip

again, i'm using a breville infuser so nothing about this should be considered overly precise.

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#8: Post by apple2k »

I tried one bag and could not get it right and just moved on

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#9: Post by TomC »

I'd probably put a coffee like this in storage (not a freezer) for a week, not opening it frequently, just let it age longer then try again.
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#10: Post by hercdeisel »

Funny this came up as I was just about to ask about it. I've been working my way around a few different roaster's espresso blends after a long run of single origins...just trying to recalibrate myself a bit...last two bags have been Bird Rock Monkey Bite and Olympia Big Truck and I had a much easier time (also a verve blend and a sightglass espresso blend...both were obviously darker than Big Truck and probably Monkey Bite as well...both were very easy to quickly get nice shots out of though the shots were relatively non-descipt). I just ordered Kuma's Balanced and their Bright and have had a much tougher time getting results I was happy with. Monkey bite is much more of a solid medium roast blend. Big Truck is brighter than monkey bite for sure but still easy to get solid dialed in pulls dialed in quickly.

Balanced and Bright blends *look* indistinguishable to me when I look at them before and after grinding. They're super similar roast levels judging visually. They've both been fantastic and distinct tastes in Kalita, Chemex, and Clever. Both are far tastier as pourovers than the other espresso blends I've been trying. The Balanced is unquestionably lighter colored than Big Truck and obviously so in comparison to Monkey Bite. I would never characterize one as significantly more chocolately/nutty/caramely than the other as pourovers though (although that's honestly what I had been expecting when I ordered both). Both blends are fairly fruity and bright. As pourovers I would describe the coffees not as something like a medium roast blend (Balanced) and a light roast blend (Bright) (and Kuma doesn't describe them that way!) but more as different types of lighter roast blends.

As espresso, I've been able to pull two distinct flavor profiles out of Balance. Brewing cooler (90c) with shorter preinfusion (3 sec) I get a very bright, somewhat fruity shot but verging on too bright. Probably just underextracted honestly. Brewing hotter (96c) with longer preinfusion (5 sec) I get a more milk chocolatey or maybe caramely main flavor with some fruity brightness on top...just far less overall bite to the start and finish of the shot but also overall just a bit duller. More balanced though. Definitely no risk of sourness or underextraction flavor.

In both cases though I've felt like the pucks fall apart very quickly and get ugly on the bottomless portafilter when they hit about 1.5 weight ratio and around 25-30 seconds of total brew time. Made me feel like these would be best on a lever or something that could run a declining pressure profile. My next experiment is going to be see if stopping the shot shorter creates something I like more.

I haven't played with the Bright blend enough to report back. A project for tomorrow to compare them as espresso.