Diagnosing earthy bad flavors in espresso in SO light roasts.

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
ben8jam

Postby ben8jam » Jun 08, 2018, 2:27 pm

I keep ended up here. I feel like I get some headway with lighter roasts, and I end up back at they vile dirt/grass flavored shots. I don't have any idea what direction to do in. I've been successful with Black Cat Classic, and get chocolate coffee flavors, but SO light roasts elude me.

I have tried on both Vario and Sette. Vario tends to taste better.

I have tried 18g in 18g VST, as well as standard 14g double Profitec basket. The double tastes better (I really struggle with the larger flat baskets).

I have varied temp 5 degrees.

I have ground finer/coarser.

Extractions look good. Start even beading. Maybe they run a little blonde at the end, but I'm still not 100% sure how to tell what is good/bad. They seem to extract evenly though, no squirting or run away streams.

I have purged my entire boiler twice and used the same KHCO3 water recipe.

I am just lost. And frustrated.

Pulling on a Profitec Pro 700 at 8 bar. I have a LMLM sitting on the counter taunting me too, but I have been so busy I haven't been able to get to her. Though, I doubt that will make much difference. I also have a Flat coming next week, but it'll take a month probably to get it to settle.

Does anyone know what this earthy flavor is? Hoping I'm not just crazy, but the shots are bad. And they linger...

EDIT, forgot to include the beans:

Both are 2 weeks off roast. I haven't actually had the Panama before, but had many Phil and Sebastians that were amazing (at the local shop). The Greater Goods I had a shot of when I bought the bag:

Phil and Sebastians - Panama - Hartmann Washed+Natural
Greater Goods - Dos de Mayo - Peru - Washed

gophish

Postby gophish » Jun 08, 2018, 2:37 pm

Have you had light SOE's in cafe's that you've liked, and even more specifically, have you had the same coffees you're trying to pull at home from a cafe that tasted good to you?

Matt Perger posted something interesting a few months back that basically said something to the effect of, "if you can't dial in a coffee after three tries, it's not you, and it's probably the roaster." I usually give it more tries that that exploring all the different variables because I'm not a pro barista, but he has a point. I recently tried a washed Ethiopian from a trendy third wave type roaster that is just simply not good. It tastes green and unbalanced, and under developed. Brewing hotter, finer, longer, counteracts to some degree, but I honestly think sometimes it's just a case of coffee that hasn't been roasted very well.

Now, if you've had the same coffee you're trying to pull at home elsewhere and it tasted good, then it can be a whole different string a variables, starting with the grinder. If I buy a bag from a shop that tastes good, I'll often ask them what parameters they're using, and it's good to clarify what size basket too.

Mesmer

Postby Mesmer » Jun 08, 2018, 4:58 pm

Never actually had the chance of tasting grassy/earthy shots.
What i've noticed mostly in terms of gear and prep is that if preparation is very poor or something wrong with the machine or grinder, coffe is very astringent: really bad altogether or at least some aftertaste.

From what i've read, what you describe should be related to the coffee/roasting.

ben8jam

Postby ben8jam » Jun 08, 2018, 5:59 pm

gophish wrote:Have you had light SOE's in cafe's that you've liked, and even more specifically, have you had the same coffees you're trying to pull at home from a cafe that tasted good to you?

Matt Perger posted something interesting a few months back that basically said something to the effect of, "if you can't dial in a coffee after three tries, it's not you, and it's probably the roaster." I usually give it more tries that that exploring all the different variables because I'm not a pro barista, but he has a point. I recently tried a washed Ethiopian from a trendy third wave type roaster that is just simply not good. It tastes green and unbalanced, and under developed. Brewing hotter, finer, longer, counteracts to some degree, but I honestly think sometimes it's just a case of coffee that hasn't been roasted very well.

Now, if you've had the same coffee you're trying to pull at home elsewhere and it tasted good, then it can be a whole different string a variables, starting with the grinder. If I buy a bag from a shop that tastes good, I'll often ask them what parameters they're using, and it's good to clarify what size basket too.


Yes, I know what good is supposed to taste like, I have access to some of the best espresso in LA.

I forgot to include beans. Both are 2 weeks off roast. I haven't actually had the Panama before, but had many Phil and Sebastians that were amazing (at the local shop). The Greater Goods I had a shot of when I bought the bag:

Phil and Sebastians - Panama - Hartmann Washed+Natural
Greater Goods - Dos de Mayo - Peru - Washed

The thing that drives me nuts is Intelligentsia Black Cat tastes really good! But SO's taste like dirt. And both of those roasts taste almost exactly the same. Which they obviously should not.

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Jake_G

Postby Jake_G » Jun 08, 2018, 6:38 pm

This:
ben8jam wrote:The thing that drives me nuts is Intelligentsia Black Cat tastes really good! But SO's taste like dirt. And both of those roasts taste almost exactly the same. Which they obviously should not.

Coupled with this:
ben8jam wrote:I have varied temp 5 degrees.

Leads me to a couple thoughts and suggestions:

While I haven't tried Black Cat, and I know it is not the dark comfort blend that it perhaps once was, I find it unlikely that the temperature required to make a tasty shot of Black Cat would be anywhere near warm enough to bring out the sweetness of a lightly roasted SO.

Have you asked the cafes where you get good SO shots what temperature they use? Have you determined the required temperature offset for your machine; do you know what temperature you actually get at the group when you dial in a temp of say 203°F?

I have a commercial HX machine, and manage brew temp every shot. I don't nail the temperature every time; far from it. But I can and do nail the temp regularly. I bring this up because of the profound impact the right temperature has on the flavor of a single origin. While most folks figure too cool will be one dimensional and sour (they certainly can be), I have found that there is a non-dimensional blandness accompanied by maybe some astringent properties when the temperature is close, but not quite there. Going from my go-to SO roasts to a comfort blend, I flush about 7-9 seconds more, which is theoretically 7 to 9 degrees between what's good for a darker chocolate-colored bean with a couple spots of oily skin and what shines for a light-medium roasted single origin on my machine.

I would keep bumping the temperature up until your machine hisses out the group with a quick flush and try again and report back. I don't think a 5 degree swing is necessarily enough to go from good Black Cat to good light-roasted SO.

Cheers!

- Jake

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spressomon

Postby spressomon » Jun 09, 2018, 4:38 pm

No mention of pre-infusion process/time. I've tasted "grassy" but typically from under-rested beans. And have tasted "earthy", but in a good way :) , with some Sumatra beans. And for the light roasts I pull, SO and blends alike, they're incredible but require longer, gentle pre-brew/pre-infusion time (20+ seconds) and ristretto/near ristretto ratios (typically). And, again typically, I'm dosing 18g in a VST 18g basket.
No Espresso = Depresso

ben8jam

Postby ben8jam » replying to spressomon » Jun 09, 2018, 5:55 pm

I'm doing like a 2/3 second pre-infusion to mimic the pre-infusion setting the local shop uses. I read a lot about people using complex pre-infusion settings but I can only go off the amazing shots I get at the shop (and even other shops that use little to no pre-infusion). So for now I'm going to keep all the machine settings the same.

I'm switching over the Mini today with Crystal Geyser water. So have to figure out the dosing again as it came with like 30 precision baskets.

I can't help but want to blame the grinder and wish there was a cafe somewhere that used a Sette to compare against :)

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spressomon

Postby spressomon » Jun 09, 2018, 7:25 pm

^ when you get bored :D I would still recommend trying a 20-second-ish pre-infusion at low BAR (2-3 max) with corresponding finer grind with ristretto/near ristretto ratio on your "light" roasts.

FWIW, I use Robert Pavlis's KCHO3 water recipe, sometimes varying the concentration, and get incredibly tasty results. I doubt if its the water.
No Espresso = Depresso

ben8jam

Postby ben8jam » replying to spressomon » Jun 10, 2018, 8:45 am

I've been making Pavlis' water too. Just have now has multiple people, including LaMarzocco, recommend CG, so just simplifying the whole process.

EvergreenBuzzBuzz

Postby EvergreenBuzzBuzz » Jun 12, 2018, 10:17 pm

In another thread there was mention of the space at the top of the puck. Maybe put 17.5 in the VST. Dan should be spot on with his suggestions.
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