Rao Defect Kit impressions and frustration - Page 8

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#71: Post by Rickpatbrown »

Wanted to follow up on this. I took Paolo up on his offer to meet with him while I was in NYC. So much thanks to him for welcoming my wife and me into his shop and spending a lot of time with us and sharing a ton of really helpful information.

Paolo runs Regalia Coffee Collective in the north end of Brooklyn, NY. Its a space with a 15KG Mill City roaster that's available for shops/baristas around town to gain access to a commercial roaster and roaster expertise. I think it is really cool idea and Paolo is smart guy, so I'm wishing him much success.

On to our experience ...
Paolo did not have the same Rao Defect Kit on hand. It was lent out to another organization for a class, but he did have a similar set of coffees for us to drink. He walked us through his cupping process and showed us a lot of slick tricks, like smelling in short pulsating inhales vs long draws and pulling a spoonful of coffee into a separate sipping cup. This allows it to cool quickly and avoid spreading viruses, etc.

Two of the four coffees that we tasted were the same exact bean. One was baked and the other was not ... or less so. The major difference that Paolo pointed out was a difference in shape of the perceived fruitnote or acidity or brightness. It isn't necessary a singular thing, but you can tell when you compare the two side by side. One is more juicy and dynamic and lingers on the palate more than the other. There is a 4D nature to this as opposed to the 2D nature of a baked coffee.

I have to be honest, though. It was pretty difficult for me to really identify all of this. It turns out, that I am a bit of a slug when it comes tasting. It's just not a talent I have ... bummer. My wife was much better able to identify all the points that Paolo was describing. I could certainly detect a difference in the two, but I would never call out one as being baked. I would hardly even be able to say that I prefer one over the other. The difference didn't seem so big to me. One of the biggest things I could key in on was the physical sensation on my tongue, cheeks. The non-baked coffee elicited more salivation and a bit of tingling.

Both of the coffees were good coffee, but they also weren't something that floored me. In the 1 year that I've been nerding out on specialty coffee, I can only say I've only had a handful (6-12) cups that made the world stop spinning. Most of the rest are good and a joy to drink and even my worst roasts are better than most of the coffee I get from local shops. I do think that this exercise is best executed with average, good coffee. Otherwise, you'd be overwhelmed by the amazing green coffee and not understanding the roasting aspects.

He showed me the roast curves for these coffees and they were more different than the ones posted in the beginning of this thread. The crash and flick were more obvious, although I've certainly seen worse.

My take home points from this encounter are:
1) Paolo is a good dude
2) Roasting coffee is hard
3) I suck at tasting and will probably never be world class roaster (or if I am, I won't be able to appreciate the coffee I make, lol)
4) My wife is better than me ... in so many ways
5) Home roasting is awesome, because I can make coffees that I like. I'm not roasting for the validation from others. I'm roasting for the occasional unicorn roast that keeps me coming back.

The bright side of having a less sensitive palate, is that I will probably find a greater percentage of my roasts enjoyable. If I can't detect all the imperfections, the world is a nicer place.

I hope we all learned something :)

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#72: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

"3) I suck at tasting and will probably never be world class roaster (or if I am, I won't be able to appreciate the coffee I make, lol)"

Yep my wife was/is a pastry chef, and that sums me up as well. If I need to describe something, it's like, can I borrow you for a moment?

Great post Rick, thanks for taking the time.
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#73: Post by Rytopa »

Don't be disheartened at not being able to be among the best tasters, tasting is a skill which can be developed, just like wine Sommelier undergo intense training to develop their taste buds. Keep cupping and tasting, sensitizing your taste buds to certain roasting flaws, you had a great start with the session at Paolo, with personal guidance on what to pick out.

Once you have established that as your reference point, keep practising with different coffees, you be amazed at suddenly detecting certain characteristics of the roast which previously was hidden from you.


#74: Post by cccpu »

LMWDP #583

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#75: Post by dale_cooper »

Nice update....

For what its worth, I think that an additional layer of complexity comes from the difficulty in extracting the coffee properly. You can have a good coffee but under or overextract it, and you'll arrive at similar tasting attributes (in my opinion). I do think when you get a good roast, with a proper extraction, you don't even need to be a super taster to identify the quality. It's as you said - 4D - or I've described it as "round". Its just a very noticeable balance that is quite good. Even this morning, sipping on a pretty good light roast of a washed ethiopian, the taste throughout the cup would change. 20% of the way through the cup, I blew my nose, and probably 2 minutes went by without sipping. The next sip was BIG on florals. Then the next several sips, its like my palate was fatigued and I lost that balanced floral/fruit.

Brewed coffee, particularly light roasts, are definitely a challenging carrot to chase.

By the way, since taking RAO's class, my curves are looking niiiice, with the descending ROR in a linear and controlled fashion. Still too early to see a noticable difference in taste but I'm having some good results.