Thanks Jim for another excellent (and very practical) guide.
Your discussion of how machine parameters affect outcome parameters and changing your "mental coordinates" is very much how photographic exposure
works, which may be instructive. Also of interest may be this essay by Bruce Tognazzini
on how well-designed machines align these axes (search on "35 mm") - we can dream of (super-duper-auto) espresso machines where you push the "more fruit" button or "more chocolate" button!
- key parameters are dose, grind, and cut
- ...with dose + grind (+ cut, a little) = length (shot volume)
- (you don't include temperature and pressure, though temperature seems to have a wider acceptable range, while pressure is just right or wrong)
- the flavors are acids, caramels, and bitters
You give mano -> taste
- downdosing increases caramels, decreases acids and bitters (and conversely)
- ristretto decreases acids, increases bitters
- cut affects primarily crema, hence mouthfeel and flavor in a complex way
You don't give the opposite taste -> mano
direction explicitly, but I think that's the real point, right? I.e., given a particular flavor, what should you adjust?
it, and I'll explain as I understand, but perhaps you could give your own guide?
In terms of desired flavors:
- if dull (lacking acid and bitter), increase dose
- if acid-bitter (ow!), decrease dose
- if too acidic, decrease dose or shorten length (grind finer)
- if too bitter, decrease dose or increase length (grind coarser)
- to bring out fruit, increase dose or increase length (grind coarser) - increases acids
- to make sweeter (chocolate, caramel), decrease dose
- to make bitterer, add Campari
- (alternatively, increase dose or decrease length (grind finer))
In terms of which to do:
- primarily modify dose, secondarily length
- in general you'll want to modify both at once - you demonstrate increasing dose and increasing length (grind coarser), which both work to bring out fruit, but offset to avoid increasing bitters
- sometimes the way forward is unclear ("la diritta via [è] smarrita"), since different parameters can have the same desired main effect, but different secondary effects - you demonstrate with ambiguity regarding reducing lemon but keeping cherry
- ultimately, you are limited by the beans in what flavors exist and what proportions of flavors can be expressed (esp. due to different flavors that extract similarly).
This also provides a guide for understanding the "triple ristrettos" which are popular in Cascadia - the high dose is acidic, with the short length (fine grind) counteracting this, so it's not too acidic. However, the result is less sweet and more bitter than a typical Italian, which has a lower dose and is longer (coarser grind); hence the "more pronounced fruit (?), less balanced" of this sodden clime.
By way of my own example, I've currently got some "Haile Selassie" Sidamo, Ethiopian, Natural process
beans (sourced by The Coffee Shrub
, roasted by Sterling Coffee Roasters
of Portland), which has strong blueberry notes. At the roaster's bar, the blueberry was pronounced and delightful, but I didn't get much caramel/sweetness. At home, with much lower dose (13 grams), I got the same blueberry, but much more chocolate and overall rounded and balanced flavor ("chocolate-covered blueberries").
I assume you're drawing on your seminal Some Aspects of Espresso Extraction
(2007), where you identify two kinds of bitters - fast-extracting (Mallaird) and slow-extracting (dry distillates) (beyond that, fruit = fast-extracting, caramel = medium-extracting). Perhaps you could elaborate on the connection, specifically which bitters you're referring to in this guide? (I'm assuming mostly dry distillates, as you state that Mallaird completely extract regardless, but maybe you mean a bit of both?)
Thanks again Jim - hope I've understood what you're saying and not butchered it too much!