Favorite Espresso Blends 2010 - Page 2

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#11: Post by RapidCoffee »

Ecco Espresso
coffee dose: 15g
brew ratio: 70-80% (shot volume 35-40ml, espresso weight 19-21g)
shot time: ~30 sec after appearance of espresso on bottom of basket
temperature range: 88C-95C (190F-203F) in increments of 1C

Protocol
Grinder: Robur with doser and (full) mini-hopper
Espresso machine: La Spaziale S1 V1, no preinfusion, brew pressure (no flow) 9.25bar, 53mm double basket, bottomless portafilter
Ground coffee into tared basket and adjusted dose to exactly 15.0g.
Very brief WDT stir with needle, then tamped to ~30#.
Pulled shots into prewarmed shot glass, stopping at ~35ml/30sec/blonding, then weighed resulting liquid.
Visually, all pours were good to excellent.
For tasting, poured shot into prewarmed cappuccino cup. Sampled straight, then with 1/2t sugar, then with increasing amounts (1-3oz) of microfoamed milk.

Tasting notes

95C
Surprising lack of bitterness.
Hints of fruit.
Decent with milk.

94C
More fruit.
Better with milk.

93C
Dark/bitter chocolate and some caramel.

92C
Slight ashiness (only taste defect I noted).
With sugar: dark/bitter chocolate, complex distillates, some caramel, slight nuttiness, little fruit.
Decent with milk.

91C
Ashiness is gone, fruit (green melon??) up.
Nice capp, slightly less intense flavors than 92C

90C
Slight ashiness emerging again in straight shots.
Nice fruitiness with sugar.
Slightly bland in milk, with caramel and butterscotch flavors.

89C
More ashiness in straight shots.
More fruitiness with sugar.
Slightly bland in milk, with caramel and butterscotch flavors.

88C
More ashiness in straight shots.
Even more fruitiness with sugar.
Still quite good in milk, with loads of caramel and butterscotch.

Conclusions
Ecco espresso makes good straight shots and short capps/macchiatos. A tantalizing fruitiness sets it apart from other "comfort food" espressos. Other flavors include dark chocolate at higher brew temps, and strong caramel in milk at lower temps. A slight ashiness is detectable in straight shots as a taste defect.

Best straight shots were at 92C (198F) on my LaSpaz, but there is more fruitiness and caramel at lower brew temps. A wide range of acceptable brew temps gives this blend a large "sweet spot" for espresso.
John

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#12: Post by cannonfodder »

Ecco Caffe is a new coffee for me. Being an east coast resident I tend to order from roasters on this side of the continental divide. My coffee was roasted on the 5th and delivered to the house two days later. I allowed to coffee to rest for 5 days before opening the bag. In my opinion, an open fresh bag of coffee is the best air freshener on the planet.

The beans are roasted quite light. I have a preference for light roasted coffee. Ecco recommended a high dose at 19 grams so out came the Marzocco triple basket. Throughout the tastings and variations in dose and temperature the coffee performed quite well. The resounding theme was a delicate tropical fruit. With higher extraction rates the body suffered. The coffee became thin and bland. I found the sweet spot to be around 201F with an 18 gram dose pulled in 29 seconds for 1.75 ounces. That produced a smooth, easy drinking espresso. The shot tasted of a dark caramel sweetness with medium acidity. I was getting a light chocolate note in the finish but the predominate note was a tropical fruit. Grilled pineapple is the closest flavor I can compare it to. That sweet, caramelized sugar with a hint of smoke. At reduced volume and increased time the espresso took on a heavy buttery, creamy note. I pushed the extraction out to 33 seconds with 1.25 ounce with a reduced 15 gram dose but the cup picked up a bitterness.

There is not much I can add that has not already been said. I will add that this morning I had an incredible cappuccino. I was pushing the edges of coffee to get an intense cup that would hold up in the milk. I ran 16 grams at 32 seconds for 1.5 ounces. I had moved the temperature up to around 202F. I was very pleasantly surprised by the result. A very delicate but fruity drink. It reminded me of the light syrupy juice from a fruit cocktail tasting of tropical fruit.

Overall I found it a very forgiving and understated espresso with delicate fruit notes and a pleasing sweetness.
Dave Stephens

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HB
Admin

#13: Post by HB »

This concludes the formal review of Counter Culture Coffee - Espresso Toscano and Ecco Caffe - Ecco Espresso.

For those who wish to add their results for these two coffees, this thread will remain unlocked until the start of the next review cycle in approximately one week. The next two coffees will be announced in Nominees for "Favorite Espresso Blends" review.
Dan Kehn

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TrlstanC

#14: Post by TrlstanC »

I had tried Toscano before, and couldn't really get it to work for me, but just ordered some more recently and have had much better results. Partially I think this is because the Gaggia is PID'd now, so the brew temps are much more repeatable once I find something that works, and they never spike up way too high.

I'd agree with everyone else that as long as you keep the temps within acceptable bounds it's got a very nice core flavor of bakers chocolate and bitter almond with other backup flavors coming and going depending on dose and flow. I'm still working on it, but so far I think I like it better in small milk drinks because there's an earthy flavor that shows up in the straight shots, and a little foam rounds it out nicely.

Edit: Found the cherry flavors by updosing up to 17.5g, although they were still background flavors as expected. Adding just a touch of sugar really emphasized the fruitiness too. This is the kind of espresso that could get non-espresso drinkers hooked, no bitterness or harshness, just all the classic espresso flavors, plus a little extra kick of fruit to liven things up.

rideold

#15: Post by rideold »

Wow, this has been great reading. Thanks for all the great info. Just ordered a pound of Ecco to try out. How's that for impulse buys!

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malachi

#16: Post by malachi »

If folks have any questions.... now would be a good time to ask.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

Dodger1

#17: Post by Dodger1 »

This is simply brilliant and I'll be following it like a hound dog in heat.

Thanks to everyone who's participating and all I can say is it's about time someone attempted to quantify some of the different blends and report their findings, in a meaningful manner, that we can all apply.

Kudos are in order but I wouldn't have expected anything less from HB 8)

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woodchuck

#18: Post by woodchuck »

Just getting back from a long tour in Indonesia. Terrific start on what looks to be a great thread. Looking forward to the rest of the reviews. Toscano has given me some great memories. It was the espresso that really pulled me down the rabbit hole.

Cheers

Ian

Steve C

#19: Post by Steve C »

When I first got into espresso and before it became a full time hobby, I over-ordered coffees from too many places. As a result, some wound up sitting around longer than the preferred 2 week window.

Initially had a giotto but it had too many problems and am now using a Brewtus III - V with PID (not as sexy as the Giotto but a great brewer).

To get to the point, I pulled out an old bag of Tuscano roasted on 3/1/10 and tried it when I got the Brewtus in, thinking it would take a while to dial in and then I would get a new batch. To my complete surprise the Tuscano still tasted very good...not prime, but still better than many of the "local" roasters beans that are supposedly fresh.

Conclusion...the Tuscano is very forgiving as others have said already. Besides the Black Cat, it is one of my favorite "chocolate" blends.

da gino

#20: Post by da gino »

Thanks for this thread. It is a fantastic idea and one I'm enjoying quite a lot!


Are there any takes on when Ecco showed itself best with respect to days past roast? (I have had enough Toscano to have a good feel for it, but Ecco is new to me).

I ordered some Ecco last week through Roaste and it got here today 5 days later (it probably would have been slightly faster if I'd ordered on Monday so it wouldn't have sat still over the weekend). For my taste I haven't found many coffees that are at their best on day 5, so I'm curious if this one matures earlier than I'm used to expecting and I should start into it tomorrow morning or should I hold off a few more days?