Balance in Espresso is Intense Bitter and Sour Cancelling Each Other Out - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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[creative nickname]

#21: Post by [creative nickname] »

If one analogizes using other senses, these results may not seem so surprising. The combination of two different wavelengths of light, for instance, does not appear to our vision as two different colors overlapping, but instead as a single color, different in kind from what we would see by looking at either wavelength in isolation. This happens, not due to a physical process within the light waves themselves, but due to the way that we process the simultaneous activation of multiple cones in our retinas.
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Martin

#22: Post by Martin »

another_jim wrote:The logic is overwhelmingly simple:
Sigh! :roll:
Bob_M wrote: The answer is not for us to understand,
double Sigh! :roll: :roll:

Actually, here's a (long) link that helps provide some parameters to that mystery I'm not understanding.
http://www.organicresearchcentre.com/ma ... 0Guide.pdf
Here's the link to the main page:
http://www.solibam.eu/modules/addresses ... .php?cid=1
Seems to have something to do with what can be sensed but not actually chemically tested. Doesn't (yet, to my understanding) tell much about the combining mechanism(s) by which humans move tastes into flavors.

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another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#23: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

The physics, neurology or biology to explain cancellation are not simple; confirming its existence is. Moreover, while I can't explain the fact; we can all exploit the fact to make better shots.
Jim Schulman

ethiopie

#24: Post by ethiopie »

Do you have a an idea how that relates to temperature?
Is the sensation of bitter and sour influenced by temperature?

A related observation perhaps is that salt reduces the sensation of bitterness.

Bob_M

#25: Post by Bob_M »

[creative nickname] wrote:If one analogizes using other senses, these results may not seem so surprising. The combination of two different wavelengths of light, for instance, does not appear to our vision as two different colors overlapping, but instead as a single color, different in kind from what we would see by looking at either wavelength in isolation. This happens, not due to a physical process within the light waves themselves, but due to the way that we process the simultaneous activation of multiple cones in our retinas.
Good Point

Bob_M

#26: Post by Bob_M »

another_jim wrote:The physics, neurology or biology to explain cancellation are not simple; confirming its existence is. Moreover, while I can't explain the fact; we can all exploit the fact to make better shots.
+1

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another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#27: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

ethiopie wrote:Do you have a an idea how that relates to temperature?
Higher temperatures balances more towards bitter, lower towards acid.

More interestingly, this explains why there have been two completely different strategies for dialing in shots. You can do "extraction first" i.e. an unbalanced sour or bitter shot at a very fine grind, so the high extraction caramels balance out the excess with sweetness and body. On the other hand, you can do "balance first" i,.e. balance bitter and sour using temperature, and then do more muscular, less sweet shots at coarser grinds and lower extractions.
Jim Schulman

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Martin

#28: Post by Martin »

A neuroscientist acquaintance has advanced my understanding a smidge. Opponency is key to our perception of color, and so it appears to be, to some extent, with flavor, with some important differences. But it seems like a useful concept to explain why some flavors indeed "cancel" and allow other flavors to be perceived. Turns out that some flavors share or take precedence over the neural pathways that other flavors need to travel in order to be perceived. The brain does not register these blocked flavors as intensely. It makes sense now (in the absence of facts blocked from my neural pathways :D ) that together, bitter and sour might overload or short out their designated pathways, diminishing perception of both, and leaving a residual (and not newly created) flavor ---sweetness---to register by default.

Bob_M

#29: Post by Bob_M »

Martin I believe that Opponency is the concept that was brought up by creative nickname (Mark have you read "Breakfast at Tiffany's" ??) nerve impulses travel to the brain where they are reprocessed and thus perceived as something other than the original stimulus. That could certainly be what's going on here. And if so it's a good thing otherwise coffee would probably taste like crap no matter what we did to it !

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[creative nickname]

#30: Post by [creative nickname] »

Never got around to reading the book, although I've seen the film (long ago).

"Opponency" might be part of what I was talking about, but it is much broader than that. To return to the vision analogy, our brains endlessly reprocess our sensory input, trying to turn it into a form we can use. If our vision wasn't highly processed, for instance, we would see two blind spots to our right and left side, because our retinas don't have any receptors where the optic nerve connects. Your brain automatically fills in the missing pieces from memory, without you noticing that it is happening. Likewise, binocular vision (using two eyes to perceive a single image + depth information) isn't something that exists in the raw data that comes into your eyes; your brain has to do extensive post-processing of the separate images to produce the singular "field" that you perceive. And our eyes typically move about in rapid jerky movements called "saccades," but we don't experience those jumpy movements in how we see the world.

For taste, the raw data would be something like a list of the taste and smell receptors activated and the frequency of those activations over time; basically this is equivalent to a long list of different classes of chemicals. Your brain wants to extract from this information that is useful; in essence, what foods have useful nutrients and which ones are likely to contain dangerous toxins. Very often, the same chemicals can be pleasurable in low concentrations, or when combined with others, whereas in higher doses or in isolation they may taste truly nasty. That's the effect the Jim's exercise is displaying with respect to bitter/acid balance.
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