Becoming a Better Taster - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
tennisman03110

#21: Post by tennisman03110 »

smmorrow wrote:Sam mentioned (in passing) channeling. I think we must stress puck preparation before we start talking about flavors and acidity. Can you share how you evenly distribute the grounds in the basket and how you tamp? I wonder if we can learn anything about the difficulty you have tasting "clarity" from errors in puck prep? If channeling is occurring, or if the water temperature is too low/high (have you checked this?), tasting the espresso will be misleading. Just a thought.
I grind direct into the portafilter with a Sette 270. One continuous grind, but I shake a bit as it goes. It's usually a little mounded and fluffy after grinding, I tap it a bit on the table. Once mostly even, I use a leveler (Apexstone via Amazon) then tamp straight down. Maybe a spin, no idea why. Blame YouTube.

The puck is usually pretty even by my eyes, but I've had 6 months with the machine, my 1st, and use it mainly on weekends.
I just made an espresso, puck picture below. Not sure it is useful.

Reading the above and below, I'm thinking I'm stuck on the acidic/sour end. If I picked a fruit to match, today it's lime. The coffee Dukunde Kawa by Black Oak (excellent roaster FYI, though I use pourover mainly) says strawberry, chocolate, blueberry notes.

Water temp I'm not sure. My machine is quite basic, it has an integral PID. It's similar to the other lower lever Breville machines, I believe. Is water temp something I could measure running a blank shot with the portafilter?

Thanks!

Image

smmorrow

#22: Post by smmorrow » replying to tennisman03110 »

Great. Nothing too outrageous. Dan has a good video (maybe five years old?) about the fundamentals of tamping and what he says still holds up. You may have already watched it?

The reason I asked about channeling is that one thing that sometimes happens with channeling is the "both" shot -- elements of an under-extracted espresso (sour, empty) with elements of an over-extracted espresso (bitter, astringent). Kind of a "oh, this is good" followed by an immediate "wait, no no this is awful." So I thought that maybe that could be why it has been difficult for you to home in on flavors.

But that doesn't seem to be the case.

If you can adjust the temp, but cannot pick a specific temp, go hotter little by little and see what happens. You may find that "sour" begins to give way to "sweet fruits" -- if so, you are on the right track. That said, your "lime" note is not too far from "strawberry" on the pH scale (but lime is VERY sour).

There have been quite a few posts /search-res ... j554360j17 about the Breville Duo. Maybe there will be some other answers in there? This one Keep Breville Duo Temp Pro or return for La Pavoni Europiccola?says the machine tends to run cool.

smmorrow

#23: Post by smmorrow »

tennisman03110 wrote:I grind direct into the portafilter with a Sette 270. One continuous grind, but I shake a bit as it goes. It's usually a little mounded and fluffy after grinding, I tap it a bit on the table. Once mostly even, I use a leveler (Apexstone via Amazon) then tamp straight down. Maybe a spin, no idea why. Blame YouTube.

The puck is usually pretty even by my eyes, but I've had 6 months with the machine, my 1st, and use it mainly on weekends.
I just made an espresso, puck picture below. Not sure it is useful.

Reading the above and below, I'm thinking I'm stuck on the acidic/sour end. If I picked a fruit to match, today it's lime. The coffee Dukunde Kawa by Black Oak (excellent roaster FYI, though I use pourover mainly) says strawberry, chocolate, blueberry notes.

Water temp I'm not sure. My machine is quite basic, it has an integral PID. It's similar to the other lower lever Breville machines, I believe. Is water temp something I could measure running a blank shot with the portafilter?

Thanks!

image
You have probably already seen this, but just in case... I found this on Breville's troubleshooting page:

The Portafilter and Filter - When the espresso is brewed, the temperature of the liquid coming out of the machine, before it hits the coffee, is around 200°F (generally between 195°F and 205°F). While some heat loss is expected and even desired to get the espresso to a comfortable drinking temperature, too much can alter the flavor of the coffee. If the espresso is cooled too much during brewing, the flavor can be sharper or a bit bitter. To help in preventing this, we recommend that the portafilter, with the metal filter inserted, be locked into the brew head with no coffee in it and a single shot be run through it. This will heat up the metal to a temperature much closer to the water brewing temperature and prevent that sour flavor. Once the water is through, remove the portafilter, dry it thoroughly, and add in the coffee to begin the shot.

Acrobaticfish

#24: Post by Acrobaticfish »

A personal recommendation on a reference coffee comparison:

Get a bag of Espresso Vivace's Dolce and a bag of Fourbarrel Coffee's Friendo Blendo.

Dolce is a coffee that is pretty easy to dial-in and most tastes (to me) like what one would prototypically associate with the smell of fresh ground beans/chocolate/caramel/etc. It is meant to be pulled ristretto (I like 1.5x out). Unless you really mess up, you won't get sour notes common with today's lighter roasts from third-wave roasters as Dolce is a much darker roast relatively speaking. If you get it right and it is still too sour, espresso is probably not your drink.

Contrast the Dolce with the Friendo Blendo. Fourbarrel recommends (and I agree) pulling it ristretto-ish (I also like 1.5x out). But as a lighter roasted blend, it has much more of the more fruit-forward/sour-note style and makes a great comparison to the Dolce.

Even if you have extraction issues, contrasting these two coffees, or something similar, will give you a good reference spectrum to start understanding what flavor differences exist. Then mess around with each coffee, and go from there.

Godspeed.



tennisman03110 wrote:Hello All,

I'm still new in my home espresso adventures. I have a Breville Duo Temp and Baratza 270, but use it off and on. V60 is my usual.

On this forum I see how to adjust espresso depending on taste. But how do you learn to taste espresso? I can tell if I like something, but just can't seem to understand the subtle differences of acidic, sour, slightly bitter, etc.

Sure, lemon juice is sour. 100% chocolate is bitter. Sugar is sweet, etc. But espresso.....I don't know how to learn.

Currently, I am using a freshly roasted (May 26th) bag of Blue Bottle Dandy Espresso. I brew 18g double about 36g out, total time about 30 seconds (12 seconds to first drop). It pours fast once it starts, not slow/thin/viscous like I see in videos. Freshly cleaned machine.

I'm down to a 4G setting on the 270. I'm making it finer each time. I will take a video next time I brew.

To the point, I don't love it. I think it's sour/acidic, but maybe it's bitter? Does have nice crema. I really can't tell. The last bag of coffee I went through, which was a month ago, was BW Classic which I liked more.

Any tips? Online videos to watch? Or anything you see in the process to improve.

Thanks

DamianWarS

#25: Post by DamianWarS »

tennisman03110 wrote:It pours fast once it starts, not slow/thin/viscous like I see in videos.
A lot of those videos are slowed down so they will appear thicker then they actually are. Naked portafilters also help in this effect

lagoon

#26: Post by lagoon »

samuellaw178 wrote:From my own experience, one way you can learn to taste espresso better is start by not tasting espresso. .

To that end, a great tip to gain tasting experience is to join a wine club or similar.

tennisman03110

#27: Post by tennisman03110 »

One of the things about wine is every bottle is the same, relatively speaking. Everyone in a club is tasting the same thing, including the "experts" who determine the wine tasting notes.

I get most beans have flavor notes, and lots even have this specifically for espresso and brew parameters.

Besides my machine being non-adjustable, I can match time and dose. The problem I see, in comparison to wine, is my brewed espresso might not actually be good, or need improvement. Or maybe it is actually really good and I can't pick out the tasting.

Long winded, but how do I know I'm improving my tasting abilities without knowing me espresso is good? I think it's improved even over the last week with the tips, and grinder finer and pulling 35 second shots has helped. I'm wondering if there's an online video series to follow, for tasting and reviewing coffees

omarbaha

#28: Post by omarbaha »

smmorrow wrote:I prefer to talk about acidity in terms of pH. Here is a useful (for me!) guide to acidity in coffees: https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/11/c ... s-acidity/

Scroll down to find a scale (image below) that helps match coffee taste bud experience with fruit taste bud experience (according to pH).

image
One of THE best reads so far in my short espresso journey. really enjoyed it and those damn notes on my coffee bag finally make some sense :D ....still got a loooong way to go to really enjoy those morning shots

billgiannelli

#29: Post by billgiannelli »

this is a GREAT thread for a newbie like myself!
I have been struggling myself with how to develop a palate for espresso. One big stumbling block is having the vocabulary to accurately describe what you are tasting.
Thanks!
Bill

cageman

#30: Post by cageman » replying to billgiannelli »

Same here! It's just hard to describe what I'm tasting for a newbie like me as well. I'm just keep trying writing down what I feel and hoping that I can grasp some sense soon.