Levers and SO coffee - Page 2

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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KarlSchneider

#11: Post by KarlSchneider »

espressopperson asked ...

One piece of information that I would find more useful than % weight loss would be the degree of roast relative to cracks. I think that would be more helpful information for me to relate to the degree of roast you are achieving.

when I first started roasting. Sweet Maria's Monkey from morning till after lunch, then Donkey afternoon and evening. Typically roasted 30 sec into 2nd, sometimes just to beginning of 2nd, and very occasionally to rolling 2nd for a Vienna plus or French roast.

I agree that % weight loss makes "sense" only if you also calculate the same number for your own. I also note the relative time in relation to second crack and can always report that. My roasts I am fairly sure are all darker than yours. I almost always go at least 1 min. into 2nd crack. I typically take roasts intended only for espressi fully into a rolling 2nd crack. When I stop just at 2nd I am almost always disappointed.

Notable successes so far: Ethiopian Harar and Ghimbi, Yemen Ismaili, Sulawesi, Tanzania, Sumatra. Notable disappointments so far: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rica LM.

On this list we are in much agreement. I have Yemeni at the zenith for me with Ethiopian Ghimbi and dry-processed Sidamo close seconds. Have never gotten Harar quite right but I continue to try. Right now I have an Aged Sumatra Lintong and a Sumatra Volkopi (both to rolling 2nd) which in this morning's Americani were very balanced with the original earthiness now surrounded by rich softness (that wasn't there earlier) at 5 / 7 days respectively. Will try them as espressi tonight.

Never succeeded in liking a Yirgacheffe or a Central American of any kind as an espresso.

KS
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espressoperson

#12: Post by espressoperson »

KarlSchneider wrote:I have been thinking a lot about this proposal. What intrigues me is the fact that my experience is just the opposite. I find that the highest way to express the unique quality of an SO is precisely in an espresso. I love the concentrated essence of flavor I get from each separate coffee in espresso form. I also think a lever machine allows this expression of pure flavor essence better than other kinds of espresso machines (specifically my Giotto). When I try the same coffees in french press or Americani I find less pure expression of taste. I do still like SO's in Americani because I get to follow the tastes as the coffee cools and there is a whole story to be observed in that progression. But in espresso I love those two or three perfect sips and the long finish and echoing of the original.
While our experiences and approach to SOs are different, I don't think they are based on our differing appreciation of espresso. I agree with you that espresso is the ultimate coffee. When I sip a well made espresso I am content and don't want or need another shot for a while. However, when I have a cup of coffee, I immediately want another cup. Good as it is, it just doesn't satisfy in the same way.

Where we may differ is that I've been pursuing the SO profile first, the SO espresso second. First learn what the SO has to offer in the cup. What better way to try all SOs and not just those that are compatible with espresso. And what better way to learn what flavors to pursue in espresso by knowing all that an SO at its sweet spot has to offer.

Also, for me, there is a historical reason. It is partly a reaction to decades of drinking French Roast espresso. That was all there was, that was all that I knew. So I am now belatedly learning to enjoy what lighter roasts have to offer, for espresso and especially for these new SOs. I know this phase won't last forever because the occasional times I roast darker, or try SOs as espresso, I really enjoy the results. in the meantime I'll just have to be content with my Monkey blend with the occasional dabbling in SOs and vicarious enjoyment through you, and other pursuers of SO espresso.
KarlSchneider wrote:In a different thread I have mentioned how I prefer a single basket / single pull for the espressi I make on my Elektra. This preference is driven by my focus on the creation of maximum individual coffee flavor. I do not focus on crema. I do not focus on thickness of mouthfeel. These differences of emphasis seem like the difference between Furtwangler and Toscanini and Chally each conducting the same Wagner music. The same piece can come out very differently.
Hmmm. I've never used my single basket in all the years I've been making espresso. Never heard a good reason to even consider using it ---- until now. Literally produce a taste of espresso!

I read your other post and expect the first time I tried it, my single results would be close to your double results.
KarlSchneider wrote:So, at least for me you give much to think about.KS
Likewise.
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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KarlSchneider

#13: Post by KarlSchneider »

espressoperson wrote:vicarious enjoyment through you, and other pursuers of SO espresso.
I mentioned above that I have never quite made Ethiopian Harar quite right as espresso. I think I am abut to change that. Tonight I had 30 hours from the roaster Wthiopia FTO Harar Oromia Coop fro Sweet Maria's. My notes say 50 sec into 2nd crack = 17.8% weight reduction or a good rolling 2nd crack. It is hard to say when the cracks start on these coffees. Exquisite processing on coffees like La Minita makes the cracks uniform. I find Yemeni and Ethiopian coffees to start cracks very non-uniformly.

But, oh, he coffee! Tom (from SM's) says he gets "rustic chocolate" and I find this a fine way to start talking about the taste. I am not getting the standard African earthiness (but it may still come). But there is a depth and strength here already that is separate. It keeps up with your meditation to steal a phrase from George Saintsbury. Already as complex as a Ghimbi or a Sidamo. Not as elegant as a Yemen Sana'ani but what is. 45 min after i can still find traces in the corners of my mouth.

Do try it.

KS
LMWDP # 008

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espressoperson

#14: Post by espressoperson »

I keep reading this forum and the few other serious coffee related sites because of the continuing opportunity to find ways to improve my espresso making. My latest improvement has been with decaf espresso. I have previously complained that roasted decaf beans start off OK but quickly deteriorate over 3 - 5 days to produce inferior espresso. Shots start off OK but in a few days produce dripping after just a few seconds of preinfusion, channeling, and premature blonding. I attributed this to the deterioration of the decaf coffee, and turned most of my pours into Americanos, or stayed away from the espresso machine completely in the evening and made press pot or vacuum coffee.

But, now, thanks to Malachi's attempts to open our eyes (and all other senses too) to the espresso experience, I had a breakthrough about the importance of dosing by volume. Once I started observing what my consistent dose of 15 g was doing in the basket it was so obvious that the decaf was way underdosed. I started increasing the dose and my shots improved dramatically. No more preinfusion drip, no more channeling. My decaf espresso has again started matching my reg espresso in quality and taste.

Because of the bullying (err... encouragement :-) I've been receiving in this thread I've been reviving my after dinner espresso habit. Tonight I had 4 day post roast Decaf Costa Rica La Lapa from Terroir Coffee. Stopped about 20 sec into 2nd crack, with 14.8% drop in weight. The beans were glistening, about 1/3 of them showing surface oil. This used to be a sign that the coffee was getting to an unpalatable state for espresso. Now it is a sign that I need to put more coffee in the basket.

First shot, 17 grams, ground at 5.9, stockflethed, tamped, and pulled a total of about 1.8 oz before removing cup about 3/4 of the way down on the 2nd lever pull. Overall the lever pull was just a touch too fast and unresistant. In golden rule terms maybe 4 secs off a perfect twentysomething sec ideal I aim for. Nice medium brown colored crema perhaps a quarter of the volume. Rich chocolate taste, some but not a lot of sweetness, Perhaps a bit on the muddy side, but overall pleasant and satisfying.

I was about to clean up and walk away, but uncharacteristically decided to pull another shot. A little less grinds, 16.5. A little finer grind, 5.85. This time the lever pull was a perfect combination of resistance and pull time. Same amount before blonding, with a little less crema, but surface of the drink still nicely crema covered. A little less chocolate, but more sweetness, with just a hint of not unpleasant bitterness. Less muddy but not quite clear. Overall, a very pleasing and more satisfying shot. The aftertaste is like having eaten a high quality piece of dark, bittersweet chocolate. Wonderful way to end a meal.
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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KarlSchneider

#15: Post by KarlSchneider »

More notes on the Ethiopia FTO Harar Oromia Coop from SM's. Two evenings of university duties eliminated making espresso. So now I am 3 days 6 hrs after roasting. The first cup was again 7 g in single basket / single pull. The flow was too slow but I pulled the cup after 35 sec. I am not sure I have ever had a cup quite like this. The taste was the most tightly focused I can ever recall (or, truth be told, re-taste imaginatively). The flavors did not expand and spread out in the mouth but this pure essence just stood there. It was more rounded than Yemen and has a frame of that rustic chocolate Tom gets. But now the flavors are intense like a Vermeer.

2nd cup. I tried to tamp less to get a faster flow. Same flow that was too slow. Again pulled the cup away at 35 sec with lever still not at top of arc. Now the flavors were just a bit out of focus. Or, better, not so perfectly intensified. Same flavors but sloppy in comparison.

3rd cup. Set Mazzer to coarser grind. Still had flow too slow. Removed cup before handle had reached top. Now to my surprise I had another almost perfect taste. Not big but so refined in clarity. I say surprised because it is hard to get a top level shot on the third pull from an Elektra due to the well-know heating up of the group. This shot as a slim bit better than the first.

I thought about having a fourth. I wanted to get closer still to the pinnacle. I knew all three were off. But then I decided to stop. I don't recall any set of three shots collectively as good except when I had three different Yemeni at the same time. These were as good as the Yemeni but very different.

Hugh Johnson replied, on being asked if he preferred burgundy or bordeaux, "I cannot say and I love tasting both trying to decide." This Harar is as good if also wholly different from the best Yemeni I have had.

KS
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KarlSchneider

#16: Post by KarlSchneider »

Just a brief note tonight. Three more wonderful single shots. But they seem already a half step off the peak. All the same core flavors are still there but each is just a notch muted.

This is a crucial reason for home roasting if one can. At the fourth or fifth day a coffee peaks. If you roast a small batch you can move on to a new one each week. My roasts are generally 185 g / 6.5 oz for just this reason.

KS
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Mark08859

#17: Post by Mark08859 »

srobinson wrote:I wanted to start a new thread to talk about enjoying Single Origin coffees on the lever machines. I am beginning to believe that a great lever and a SO is a decedent combination. Tony over at Caffe Fresco had send me some great Datera Reserve that he is working on.
Since you mention Tony at Caffe Fresco, I'd suggest trying his SO Papua New Guinea (PNG). It made for a very nice surprise with my lever.

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espressoperson

#18: Post by espressoperson »

KarlSchneider wrote:Just a brief note tonight. Three more wonderful single shots. But they seem already a half step off the peak. All the same core flavors are still there but each is just a notch muted.
There's no doubt coffee rises to a peak and wanes afterward. Is there anything we can do with grind and dose (to name a couple of possible factors) to prolong the peak? As a coffee ages I need to grind finer and use more. I think this helps to prolong the peak period of enjoyment.
KarlSchneider wrote:This is a crucial reason for home roasting if one can. At the fourth or fifth day a coffee peaks. If you roast a small batch you can move on to a new one each week. My roasts are generally 185 g / 6.5 oz for just this reason.
I've tried to plan for coffee always available at peak but my usage and choice of beans is just too variable. And to some extent, it's instructive and fun to experience the change over time. For example, I love to go through the wow of a shot on day 3 and the WOW of a shot on day 4. I'm convinced this experience helps me enjoy the shot even more than if I always drank it at peak. (Even to me this sound a little like that old marketing advice - if you can't fix it, feature it!)
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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KarlSchneider

#19: Post by KarlSchneider »

espressoperson wrote: There's no doubt coffee rises to a peak and wanes afterward. Is there anything we can do with grind and dose (to name a couple of possible factors) to prolong the peak? As a coffee ages I need to grind finer and use more. I think this helps to prolong the peak period of enjoyment.

I've tried to plan for coffee always available at peak but my usage and choice of beans is just too variable. And to some extent, it's instructive and fun to experience the change over time. For example, I love to go through the wow of a shot on day 3 and the WOW of a shot on day 4. I'm convinced this experience helps me enjoy the shot even more than if I always drank it at peak. (Even to me this sound a little like that old marketing advice - if you can't fix it, feature it!)
Michael,

I have several thoughts following your questions. First, while it is abundantly clear that coffee peaks and declines it is also true that the decline is generally much more gradual that the climb to the peak. This is also true for wine. Today I had three more single shots from the Eth, Harar Ormonia. Like yesterday's these were also a step off the peak. But the change from yesterday to today was not the same significance as the step off the peak. Given the gradual decline I think one can indeed work on the variables you suggest.

I find that even without trying to slow the decline that I need to grind more finely as the beans age just to get the right tamp/flow. If one pushes these one will indeed get variables to work on. probably somewhat different for each coffee.

I will admit that I have become less willing to compromise on freshness. I "discovered" the centrality of freshness long before I had a decent espresso machine. It was my taste that drove me to ask whenever I bought from the local roaster, "What are the freshest beans today?" It was a long difficult struggle to get them trained to deal with this request. But now I take care of freshness myself by roasting.

My latest game is to roast side-by-side batches. This week it was two Ethiopians (Harar & Ghimbi). I have recently done two different Yemeni. Next week I anticipate two Brazils. In all of this I am done at 7 days and give the remainder away.

I can see your point about the instructiveness of a longer view of each batch. I think I am spoiled on following the peak.

I think the truth here is to pay attention to whatever you are doing and make it instructive. My watching only the peak and your watching the long view are both possible ways to learn.

KS
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espressoperson

#20: Post by espressoperson »

KarlSchneider wrote:My latest game is to roast side-by-side batches. This week it was two Ethiopians (Harar & Ghimbi). I have recently done two different Yemeni. Next week I anticipate two Brazils. In all of this I am done at 7 days and give the remainder away.
You're really pushing the SO experience with related SO pairs. I think this idea has a lot going for it. Presumably smaller and more subtle differences between two Ethiopians than between an Ethiopian and a Brazilian.

A possible extension of this method might be to try the same SO at different roast levels. Not all over the range, but bracketing the usual roast level. Would there be one best peak roast level for espresso, or would each level have unique espresso potential?
michaelb, lmwdp 24