How to fast-track espresso roast tasting?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
GDM528

#1: Post by GDM528 »

I typically let my Full City roasts rest about a week before pulling shots, but that lag time really puts a damper on experimenting with roast profiles. Is there a faster method to roast/brew/taste, like, same-day? The tasting notes just need enough veracity to provide general guidance, e.g., worse/better.

I imagine professional roasters occasionally have to make quick decisions on purchasing greens for espresso - how do they do it?

What about these hacks:
1) Microwave (I've seen the Hoffman video) or lightly bake (50C?) the beans post-roast?
2) Use pour-over or cupping to taste the roast - is that close enough to espresso to make valid worse/better roast decisions?
3) Use different 'just-roasted' espresso shot parameters (temp, preinfusion, pressure, flow) to compensate?
4) Add a bit of baking soda to the brew, to convert the carbonic acid to CO2?
5) Put the freshly-roasted beans into a high-vacuum chamber (no, not a wimpy FoodSaver) to draw out the CO2?
6) Just pull the shot and scrape off the exaggerated crema before stirring?

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

Back before the day simple hacks were tortured into endless YouTube presentations, we just ground the shot and waited between half and one hour for it to degas and stale.
Jim Schulman
★ Helpful

baldheadracing
Team HB

#3: Post by baldheadracing »

If you want to pull espresso, then you can let the ground coffee sit for 45 minutes before pulling. That being said, I never do this anymore.

I think cupping is easiest. I always cup, but I always wait a few days to be consistent. (I can't always cup after roasting as I only drink coffee before noon.)

What I do now is chew on a couple beans right out of the cooling tray. It's a common practice among Nordic roasters.

Regardless, it isn't the technique that matters - all of them work. They're just tools, using them well is up to you.

Have fun!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

GDM528 (original poster)

#4: Post by GDM528 (original poster) »

Good suggestion about grinding to accelerate degassing - totally missed that one - thanks!

Re: cupping, is there a preferred grind level when tasting for espresso?

Re: bean chewing, that's seems like an experience-driven skill, so I should start practicing that habit with all my roasts.

Brewtonian

#5: Post by Brewtonian »

I'm not entirely sure if degassing is all that's going on with resting. Every time I pre-grind and wait an hour, it never comes out as good as if I wait the full 10-14 days. There might be some flavor development going on in addition to degassing with rest.

baldheadracing
Team HB

#6: Post by baldheadracing »

GDM528 wrote:Re: cupping, is there a preferred grind level when tasting for espresso?
Same grind size for all cupping. Try to cup against only roasts that you will be using for espresso.
Brewtonian wrote:I'm not entirely sure if degassing is all that's going on with resting. Every time I pre-grind and wait an hour, it never comes out as good as if I wait the full 10-14 days. There might be some flavor development going on in addition to degassing with rest.
Yes, the coffee will be different than after rest. However, the idea is to improve/compare roasts, not get exactly what you would get after rest.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Milligan

#7: Post by Milligan »

I've been cupping my espresso roasts the next day and then let them sit a week before pulling. I compare notes to start building experience there. I just started doing that a few months back and it is starting to help. If you are doing robusta roasts to blend then I have seen it suggested to let robusta sit in a semi open container to air off faster (since we just need the body/crema and not the flavor from robusta.) With cupping for espresso you are generally looking for low acidity, mild flavors, and zero off flavors. I haven't found any relations in my cupping to get an idea of crema yet. I'm going to start throwing 10% of robusta in soon so that should do the heavy lifting there.

Are you trying SO espressos or are you eventually wanting to create a blend?

GDM528 (original poster)

#8: Post by GDM528 (original poster) »

I've been roasting the same SO greens for months now, holding that as a constant while I vary roasting profiles to see the effects. Once I think I have enough confidence in the fundamentals I hope to branch out to other SOs and blends.

For example, I'm about to run some experiments to learn about the browning phase of roast development, and looking for ways to complete it in a few days rather than weeks. And the tasting protocol only needs to tell me which way to steer the roasting profile for the next experiment.

Seems like the primary bugaboo is CO2, and the carbonic acid it produces in the brew - it's distractingly nasty.

Marcelnl
Supporter ♡

#9: Post by Marcelnl »

another_jim wrote:Back before the day simple hacks were tortured into endless YouTube presentations, we just ground the shot and waited between half and one hour for it to degas and stale.
THAT, and it works in this day and age as well ;-)
LMWDP #483

GDM528 (original poster)

#10: Post by GDM528 (original poster) »

Thanks to the sage advice posted here, I was able to complete a round of cupping to test the effects of browning time in my roasts.

Still very new to cupping, but my observation so far is it makes everything taste good. Has me wondering why I keep pulling espresso shots...

Is there a hack to the cupping process that will jack up the flavor intensity and exaggerate the flavor differences between roasts? I don't need to follow SCA-approved procedures - just need to decide if Roast A is better than Roast B when used to pull espresso shots.

Yes, I watched the Hoffman video: 9g of grounds and 150g of 200F filtered water. I cupped a series of roasts where I varied the browning time by a factor of three, expecting that the minimum and maximum would be obviously bad. The difference in the cups was there, but subtle - took repeated sips and slurps to figure out the differences. Perhaps my taste buds are still healing from a trip to Starbucks five years ago ;)

Finer grind? Less water? Higher temp?