Tasting espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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jimbro

#1: Post by jimbro »

Now that I'm making the effort to acquire fresh beans within a few days of roast, I would like to know how the roaster taste tests his product? I have always enjoyed my espresso with a fair amount of sugar--my wife believes it's too much--so how are they tasting it, with or without sugar? And at home, how should I be tasting and evaluating? :roll: :?:

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cafeIKE

#2: Post by cafeIKE »


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malachi

#3: Post by malachi »

Roasters taste and evaluate without sugar (or milk or anything else) in order to more accurately evaluate flavour.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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howard seth

#4: Post by howard seth »

When I am sampling a new espresso roast - I like to first take a small sip without sugar - than I might add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (at the most) to bring out various flavors. Generally, I prefer espresso with sugar - than without sugar - I just don't add as much as I used to.

Howard
Howard Seth Miller

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jimbro

#5: Post by jimbro »

I'm going to try the advice in that link. Thanks.
howard seth wrote:When I am sampling a new espresso roast - I like to first take a small sip without sugar - than I might add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (at the most) to bring out various flavors. Generally, I prefer espresso with sugar - than without sugar - I just don't add as much as I used to.Howard
I agree, I was thinking I should reduce the sugar amount in order to develop a sense of the different characteristics in the beans.

thaxton

#6: Post by thaxton »

generally speaking a good espresso should be balanced. What you evaluate basically is the combination of sweet, bitter and sour (the last one is something I hate), then chocolate (present especially in the blends which contain robusta beans) and fruit (hard to define, easy to detect). Once you become more sensitive other elements emerge.
What I dislike about comparing espresso and wine is that espresso rapidly changes its taste while cooling down, therefore there is not much time to taste it.

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another_jim
Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim »

jimbro wrote:Now that I'm making the effort to acquire fresh beans within a few days of roast, I would like to know how the roaster taste tests his product? I have always enjoyed my espresso with a fair amount of sugar--my wife believes it's too much--so how are they tasting it, with or without sugar? And at home, how should I be tasting and evaluating? :roll: :?:
On sugar: In Italy, where the overwhelming majority of coffee is drunk as straight espresso, using about a teaspoon of sugar per single shot is the norm. Now, Italian espresso blends are, for the most part, blended from inexpensive commodity coffees, and need the sugar to be properly balanced. Specialty coffees are sweeter than commodity coffees, since they are hand picked when fully ripe (coffee ripens unevenly, and industrial picking mixes unripe and ripe cherries). Moreover, espresso blenders tend to use coffees that balance sweeter than coffees designed for straight brewing. So high end espresso blends do not need sugar.

However, many US blends using only specialty coffee are primarily designed for milk drinks, and may be roasted too dark, or use beans that are bitter enough to punch through a lot of milk. These can mostly use some sugar too.

On tasting espresso: Tasting is not the same as appreciative drinking. With all due respect to Randy, his article is about appreciative drinking, not tasting. The difference ought to be completely obvious, but for some reason it isn't. Tasting is done for a purpose, appreciating is done for enjoyment. When Toyota does quality control, they don't ask a high schooler to drive the car and opine on how cool it is, they check that the car works as designed. Tasting is exactly like this. I taste espresso for three reasons: to pick which of several coffees I will use, how I will roast them, and how I will make the shot. For the first two, I initially drink the coffees brewed and roasted very light, since this tells me more about bean and roast selection than pulling shots. I pull shots to fine tune the roasting and the shot parameters. When I do this, I'm not trying to enjoy the espresso (although I frequently do), I'm trying to check how closely it conforms to the flavor I wanted. So when you ask about tasting espresso, the answer is another question -- for what purpose are you tasting it?

On appreciating espresso Randy's article is good.
Jim Schulman

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#8: Post by RapidCoffee »

thaxton wrote:generally speaking a good espresso should be balanced. What you evaluate basically is the combination of sweet, bitter and sour (the last one is something I hate), then chocolate (present especially in the blends which contain robusta beans) and fruit (hard to define, easy to detect).
Hi Michael, and welcome to H-B. A dissenting opinion: I find chocolate in many arabica beans, blends, and roasts that contain no robusta beans. Fruit flavors are among the easier ones to define, since you can draw comparisons to berries, stone fruits, citrus, melon, whatever. I have more trouble classifying aromatics like nut extracts and spices, or bass notes/mouthfeel like leather.
John

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malachi

#9: Post by malachi »

thaxton wrote:chocolate (present especially in the blends which contain robusta beans)
Hunh?
What do you base this statement on?
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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malachi

#10: Post by malachi »

another_jim wrote:Tasting is not the same as appreciative drinking. With all due respect to Randy, his article is about appreciative drinking, not tasting. The difference ought to be completely obvious, but for some reason it isn't. Tasting is done for a purpose, appreciating is done for enjoyment. When Toyota does quality control, they don't ask a high schooler to drive the car and opine on how cool it is, they check that the car works as designed. Tasting is exactly like this. I taste espresso for three reasons: to pick which of several coffees I will use, how I will roast them, and how I will make the shot. For the first two, I initially drink the coffees brewed and roasted very light, since this tells me more about bean and roast selection than pulling shots. I pull shots to fine tune the roasting and the shot parameters. When I do this, I'm not trying to enjoy the espresso (although I frequently do), I'm trying to check how closely it conforms to the flavor I wanted. So when you ask about tasting espresso, the answer is another question -- for what purpose are you tasting it?
Bravo
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin