Blending for Mouthfeel

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Posts: 481
Joined: 19 years ago

#1: Post by Dogshot »

I had a shot the other day made from a very nice blend I got at a local roaster. The taste was great, but what really struck me was the mouthfeel of the espresso, which was thicker than my own blend. I realized that the primary cue I was using to distinguish the mouthfeel of this espresso was the way it felt on my cheeks - it was a lot like the feel of a wine with a lot of tannins. A quick web search revealed that coffee is brimming with (well, contains anyway) tannins, and that mouthfeel in the wine world is characterized by the balance between sweetness on the one hand, and acidity and tannins on the other hand.

I have limited access to green coffees, and even less exposure to those that are available to me, but since developing this awareness of these attributes, I have come to wonder if the traditional view of a good espresso blend, based on something like a BASH formula (Liquid Velvet, for example, with 4 parts Brazil (sweet), 3 parts Ugandan (my White Nile is very tanniny), 2 parts...etc.), is recognized as being traditionally good because it actually achieves a balance of sweetness with acidity and tannins. After spending the last 2 years running from acidity in my espresso, I'm now trying to chase it down, and find that I know nothing about where to find it or how to use it. What I do know is that my home-roast is good, but very low in acidity (so it's not balanced according to the wine model), and mouthfeel could be better.

This is new to me, but I'm sure it's old news to many here. Is it reasonable to use a model that characterizes mouthfeel in wine on espresso, and to blend accordingly? I'm not referring to the mouthfeel from crema, so I'm not talking about using monsooned malabar to achieve mouthfeel, and I realize that mouthfeel changes with the volume of the shot pulled, and while I don't understand how, I hear that a machine can impact mouthfeel. I am referring specifically to using certain beans to create mouthfeel in the liquid portion of espresso.


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Joined: 19 years ago

#2: Post by PeterG »

This is my kind of question!

In my view, mouthfeel comes from a variety of different coffees in different ways.

Currently, I use a variety of Indonesian coffees, particularly Sumatra from the Gayo co-op in Aceh, and Sumatra from the Sidikalang exporter in Lintong, for a coating, oily-type mouthfeel. Sulawesi coffees, which I get from CBI, can be buttery and have a touch more astringency along with a scotch-like peppery note.

If you get the right Aceh coffee, you will find a certain fruity acidity that can be quite nice.

If you want tannic body and are not afraid of acidity, you must explore Ethiopian coffees. A dry processed Yirg would be ideal to bring husky, tannic body and a nice fruited acidity. You'll get more acidity and less mouthfeel with a washed Yirg. Also, check out Nicaraguan coffees, they often have a slightly fuzzy body that reminds many of Apricot. You could definitely think of this sensation as tannic.

By the way, I admire your quest for balance. Many blenders become so enraptured by a small set of flavor characteristics that they forget to round out the blend. Best of luck to you.

peter g

Dogshot (original poster)
Posts: 481
Joined: 19 years ago

#3: Post by Dogshot (original poster) »

Thanks for the information Peter. You've put a bunch of coffees on my list to try. Also, I have not really paid much attention to the method of processing of the beans that I buy, but I see that it's time that I did.