Am I too old and cranky for third wave coffee?

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
cunim

Postby cunim » Mar 16, 2019, 9:05 pm

I like espresso. I like it to taste like coffee but I am happy to expand my horizons. In that spirit, I have been trying out many local roasts in the Toronto area. Most of these coffees are from craft shops that roast medium or lighter and that list flavors like "berry" on the label. What I find is that a happy balance is achievable with some coffees (especially medium espresso roasts), but I have only gotten rich coffee taste from half a dozen shots. Worse, I drink decaf later in the day, and the only decafs that are not downright tart are Sumatran blends that go too far into the dark and roasty end of things.

I think my equipment and technique are adequate. My coffee is at least as good as I get in cafes (to my taste). I get great naked PF pours, things are clean, temps, water, timings, frothing are well controlled. I am learning to tease out the flavors of berry, chocolate, etc. I would seem to be progressing but, still, so few really good shots - especially with decaf.

Perhaps I am trying too hard. Perhaps I just need to recognize that my tastes are pretty much set, stick with traditional beans and techniques and avoid third wave. The alternative seems to be preinfusion, profiling, more sophisticated machine, etc. - complex and expensive. Would all this new stuff provide real new experiences, or would I just be using a bunch of gimcrackery to make third wave coffee taste more traditional? In that case, I should just make traditional coffee.

Note, I am not asking how to do it. I am asking if doing it allowed you to love new tastes provided by the third wave, or if it just ended up in making difficult coffee taste less..... well.... difficult.

yoshi005

Postby yoshi005 » Mar 17, 2019, 3:28 am

It has cost me some time to get used to fruity thrid wave coffee, but for me there is no way back. Once I had experienced that roast flavor is just bitterness diverting you from the real sweetness I could no longer stand overroasted traditional coffee.

Nevertheless the coffee which is served in most third wave cafes is not to my taste. It often tastes underdevelopped, sour and blant. In contrast to that I prefer a syruppy ristretto-like shot which is more concentrated and sweet. I use a Faema Lambro, a fifty year old commercial lever which - to my taste - is well suited to bring out my prefered taste.

To my mind you do not need to invest heavily in fancy equipment. If you have an understanding of what is going on in your portfilter, you can brew a complex coffee even with a traditional hx machine or lever. My best investment was my grinder, a Mahlkönig Pro M Espresso, which has its flaws but grinds the beans more unimodally, comparable to a EK43. This has brought my 3rd wave espresso to a new level.
LMWDP #453

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Moka 1 Cup

Postby Moka 1 Cup » Mar 17, 2019, 11:30 am

cunim wrote:........
The alternative seems to be preinfusion, profiling, more sophisticated machine, etc. - complex and expensive. Would all this new stuff provide real new experiences, or would I just be using a bunch of gimcrackery to make third wave coffee taste more traditional?
...


In spite of the fact that I have been drinking espresso for the past forty years, I don't think my opinion counts, in fact I did not even know about 3rd wave until 45 days ago :lol: . But I think I can share something in this respect.
Looking for fresh roasted beans for traditional espresso, I purchased few domestic blends. Among them Hologram. Well, I tried it and soon I realized that obviously I was not able to make a good espresso, or maybe that blend was too difficult for me. I really tried hard. Changing dose, grind size, time, pressure. Nothing. To me, it was absolutely undrinkable.
Fortunately one day, browsing Counter Colture web site I noticed that they were going to offer Hologram at the next 'Tasting at Ten' at their Training Center in my town. Well, what better opportunity to learn something and see how to properly fix a 3rd wave espresso, than seeing it done by the producer?
So I went to the event with a friend of mine.
Well, I am very happy I went. I had the opportunity to discover right away that the problem was not my skills, nor my espresso machine or the grinder. It was exactly the same taste and I really didn't like it. Funny because while I drank it all, sip by sip to to better understand all flavors, my friend put it back on the table after two sips (he too drinks traditional espresso).
On the other hand the cappuccino was what I think the best cappuccino ever. Probably because in addition to being really good, the flavor was something new to me, but I am still making cappuccino with Hologram at home.
So long story short, based on my little single experience, maybe with time I will learn to like "fancy" espresso too, but at least I know that in this specific case it was not a matter of hardware.
“By tradition cappuccino is made of 25ml espresso and 100ml steam-foamed milk”
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Almico

Postby Almico » Mar 17, 2019, 11:48 am

When I opened my coffee bar I made the business decision to offer only one blend for all my espresso drinks. I wanted to keep thinks simple and consistent. I wanted to develop a brand flavor profile for MY coffee.

Little did I realize at the time how hard it would be to find one coffee that excelled equally well as both straight espresso and milk drinks.

Dark, chocolatey comfort espresso drinks very well straight, but gets lost even in a cortado, let alone a 12oz latte. All but the most acidic of light roasts are heavenly in lattes, but will pucker the tradition espresso drinker.

I finally settled on a blend that seems to satisfy most, including myself. I blend 4 coffees pre-roast so the grind stays consistent, yet the flavors still poke through. I roast it "medium", 50/55 Agtron.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

Postby RapidCoffee » Mar 17, 2019, 12:20 pm

Almico wrote:Dark, chocolatey comfort espresso drinks very well straight, but gets lost even in a cortado, let alone a 120z latte. All but the most acidic of light roasts are heavenly in lattes, but will pucker the tradition espresso drinker.

Interesting. My experience is almost exactly the opposite! I generally prefer fruity espresso straight (or with sugar), and find that dark chocolate-y blends hold up better to milk.
John

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Almico

Postby Almico » replying to RapidCoffee » Mar 17, 2019, 12:35 pm

I do too. But the vast majority of my customers do not.

I keep two drips pots going at all times. One dark, one medium. I sell them pretty much 55% dark/45% medium roast. The only way I can get "fruity" coffee by them is in a capp or latte.

mathof

Postby mathof » Mar 17, 2019, 12:37 pm

My experience is different again. I find chocolate nutty expressos are fine with milk or on their own, but fruity coffees are best brewed in a V60.

baldheadracing

Postby baldheadracing » Mar 17, 2019, 2:18 pm

cunim wrote:... Would all this new stuff provide real new experiences, or would I just be using a bunch of gimcrackery to make third wave coffee taste more traditional? In that case, I should just make traditional coffee.

Note, I am not asking how to do it. I am asking if doing it allowed you to love new tastes provided by the third wave, or if it just ended up in making difficult coffee taste less..... well.... difficult.

I think that the "new stuff" does "provide real new experiences," and the "gimcrackery" makes it easier to get there.

My first awesome 'third-wave' shot was pulled a few years ago on a Synesso (profiling machine) by the owner of a local shop (Ministry of Coffee in Ottawa). I was there in a slow time, and he took the time and coffee to dial in before he pulled my shot. The coffee was an omni-roast from Bows&Arrows from Victoria, BC, one of the best (very) light roasters in Canada. This was the first time that the I 'got' the blueberry, grape, etc., tasting notes. I bought two bags of the same coffee and tried to replicate it at home. I could get maybe half-way there with a Silvia with the usual tricks of grinding finer, lowering the dose, increasing the brew ratio, increasing the brew temp, and wetting the puck ('pre-infusion'). OTOH, it took comparatively little effort to get a stare-at-the-cup-in-wonderment shot with the Micro Casa a Leva, which has both a lower peak brew pressure and a declining pressure profile. (FWIW, at the time I was using an HG-One grinder.)

That being said, I home-roast now. I always try a variety of roasts levels with a new bean, and it is only occasionally that I'll get a bean that I find shines best with a very-light roast. Those roasts are usually brewed with a V60, just because I find a pour-over easier first thing in the morning.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

happycat

Postby happycat » Mar 17, 2019, 2:27 pm

cunim wrote:I like espresso. I like it to taste like coffee but I am happy to expand my horizons. In that spirit, I have been trying out many local roasts in the Toronto area. Most of these coffees are from craft shops that roast medium or lighter and that list flavors like "berry" on the label. What I find is that a happy balance is achievable with some coffees (especially medium espresso roasts), but I have only gotten rich coffee taste from half a dozen shots. Worse, I drink decaf later in the day, and the only decafs that are not downright tart are Sumatran blends that go too far into the dark and roasty end of things.

I think my equipment and technique are adequate. My coffee is at least as good as I get in cafes (to my taste). I get great naked PF pours, things are clean, temps, water, timings, frothing are well controlled. I am learning to tease out the flavors of berry, chocolate, etc. I would seem to be progressing but, still, so few really good shots - especially with decaf.

Perhaps I am trying too hard. Perhaps I just need to recognize that my tastes are pretty much set, stick with traditional beans and techniques and avoid third wave. The alternative seems to be preinfusion, profiling, more sophisticated machine, etc. - complex and expensive. Would all this new stuff provide real new experiences, or would I just be using a bunch of gimcrackery to make third wave coffee taste more traditional? In that case, I should just make traditional coffee.

Note, I am not asking how to do it. I am asking if doing it allowed you to love new tastes provided by the third wave, or if it just ended up in making difficult coffee taste less..... well.... difficult.


I get the sense you are asking whether some kind of expenditure is "worthwhile" with respect to stereotypical third wave coffee.

In Toronto, Fahrenheit reliably pulled third wave shots that were tasty. Not sure if they are still doing so. If I want those shots I can go there. As much as I liked them, I haven't been back for awhile,

I have never had much luck with packaged coffees. Too roasty or too sour. I am too cheap to buy expensive coffee and the few times I do I find myself disappointed.

I homeroast and have greatly enjoyed all roast levels I do using the Rao curve, which ensures balance and sweetness.

For me, getting a roaster was the best investment. It paid for itself in a few years. I don't have to buy laughably expensive equipment to attempt god shots. I control everything from bean to cup.
LMWDP #603

jevenator

Postby jevenator » Mar 18, 2019, 12:44 am

This is very interesting to read as someone who got into espresso last month. Living in San Diego, there are a bunch of micro-roasters to try. That being said I've been used to drinking milk drinks from my parents superautomatic machine with beans bought from Costco. When beginning to try espresso in shops I personally could not stand the bright, acidic, tastes of the third wave coffee wherein every single espresso blend there is an Ethiopian included and IMO just makes it sour. That being said, I recently tried the espresso blend by James Coffee Co and really enjoyed it where if putting it into a flat white gave a really strong blueberry taste to it. The fruitiest taste I've ever and was very surprised. The "zesty" tangerine, orange flavors were just acidic to me from different places such as Bird Rock. Now, I recently tried a brand new blend by Mostra Coffee which they removed their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and replaced it with a bean from the Philippines. That being said, I love it. It's closer to traditional espresso, not bright, and just a very slight fruity flavor which they describe as stone fruit. One of the first espresso that I enjoy to drink as a straight shot. Probably will go through a few lbs of this.