Category Archives: Roasts

Coffee Meetup During Grand Prix

The latest CGSG (Coffee Greens Singapore) gathering was held in my humble abode during the time Grand Prix was in town. As usual, the gathering was called up at the last minute. And as usual, the CGSG Gang of Four showed up.

CGSG Gang Of Four
CGSG G4: Steve, Kai Seng, Melvin, Colin (L to R)

The gathering was called up as I’ve procured a bag of quite-fresh roasted beans from Intelligentsia@Venice, CA courtesy of Sean Bonner. I met Sean on the chat session moderated by Nick Cho during this year’s WBC. We happened to be the only 2 in Singapore awake at an ungodly hour trying to catch glimpses from  a laggy stream of our favourite baristas in action. One thing led to another, and Sean, who’s a regular at Intelli Venice, bought me a bag of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado on his trip back to Singapore. On a side note, Sean also introduced me Intelli Venice’s Chris & M’lissa Owens (both of them renowned coffee greats) when they were in town for F1.

Kai Seng was the first to arrive as he had tickets to F1 finals that very day, and was in a rush to drink his fill and leave. I assured him that was not going to happen. Sure enough, the other 2 arrived late. We were all dying to try Intelli’s Yirgacheffe, which I’ve decided to save for this gathering. Steve brought his roast of Metropolis Coffee’s Green Line, which is an unroasted version of their popular Red Line. It was roasted to Full City +. Given that it’s home turf, I was the designated barista of the day and proceeded to pull shots for us all.

This CGSG gathering was unlike the previous ones we’ve been having. While CGSG was formed out of our love for coffee, we found that each of us had a common love for steaks, grills, wine, prosciutto, home baked breads, gourmet french butter, blue cheese and all these could be had at Kai Seng’s. (Un)fortunately, this Sunday gathering had none of these distractions and our discussion went back to our first love, coffee. We shared views on über coffeegeek, Mark Prince’s articles on the state of coffee and his call out to bring back spro downs instead of latte art throwdowns. Steve and I both remarked that we’ve become less anal retentive in our home barista routines. I’ve switched from using the Espro clicker tamper to a Reg Barber (which John Ting helped me get from WBC 2010 in London). Both Steve and I have stopped weighing the beans and have replaced the bottomless portafilters with La Marzocco portafilters, I’ve stopped taking infinte photos of the naked portafilter pours as well.

Specially for this Sunday gathering, I went back to using the Espro tamper as I wanted to minimise the variables in our taste tests for Steve’s Green Line and Intelligentsia’s Yirgacheffe. Since all of us were familiar with Yirgacheffe, we decided to prolong Kai Seng’s agonizing wait and pulled the Green Line first. Fortunately, the grind setting on my Compak K-6 was suitable for both coffees. The pull was started at 197.5°F on Eric’s Thermometer. The scent for Green Line espresso was tobacco, and the finish was caramel. Enjoyable indeed. The following picture has the taste notes from Metropolis Coffee.

Then came the Intelligentsia Organic Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Adado. The pull was also at 197.5°F. And wow! The scent was floral, and upon sipping the espresso, we all felt the lemony notes. While 99% of the time on most espresso with this type of taste profile, lemony notes go into overdrive and the taste gives way to brightness and acidity. This time, it was different. Very different. It was a first for all of us. The lemony notes pulled back. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what it reminded us of. Steve mentioned lemon cheesecake. I said lemon meringue or lemon cream. It was the defining moment of a Godshot for all of us. On the bag’s taste notes, it describes the Yirgacheffe as “Jasmine atop lime candy, lemongrass and bergamot.” The 2nd shot was quite consistent with the first. Same lemony notes that never had a chance to go beyond.

While our steakouts (what I call our wining and dining at Kai Seng’s for now) are both satisfying and sinful, I do miss our home barista jam sessions. I hope we get to do one more before the end of this year as soon as Steve can get his new place in order.

Americano Sans Crema Test

While I used to dismiss the americano as a watered down drink, I’ve grown to appreciate it much more after talking to fellow coffeegeek KS. It is much easier to discern the taste profile of the coffee if one is not used to the intenseness of an espresso. Of course, this intense taste profile comes only with freshness of the bean and quality of the barista and the machine preparing it. After watching James Hoffmann’s video blog and this morning’s taste test, I’ve embarked on another taste test now involving watered down espresso. I used a Bodum Pavina for the espresso, so that the crema could be clearly delineated. Here are the details:

Brazil Moreninha Formosa
Roasted to Full City +
4 days old
Dose: 18 grams

For this 1st shot, after separating the crema, I tasted both cups before adding water. Both taste tests were the same as previous post.

1st shot:

Eric’s Thermocouple:  Start at 200, end at 204 Fahrenheit.

Espresso only:  Slight bitterness.

Crema only:  Good fragrance. Taste spreads thru entire tongue.

Water-espresso 2:1 ratio:  Tastes like…. coffee. Smooth, even cup, no bitterness.

Water-crema 2:1 ratio:  Tastes wonderful. Pronounced fragrance.

Water-crema-espresso:  Good body, very smooth with good fragrance.

The first thing that hit my mind after drinking the 2 different cups was that if the Aldo Coffee taste test was repeated here, the ones who chose Maxwell House will go with the water-espresso cup, while the ones who were able to distinguish the CoE Fazenda Kaquend will go for the water-crema cup. Drinking the water-crema cup brings me the same sensation as my Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda. It doesn’t taste like conventional coffee. It brings the best to the table. To get a taste profile like this, I feel I have to roast the beans to almost Full City, without ever hitting 2nd crack.

2nd shot:

Eric’s Thermocouple:  Start at 198, end at 202 Fahrenheit.

Espresso only:  A bit bright, lemony feel.

Crema only:  Strong fragrance, berry-like.

Water-espresso 1:1 ratio: Citrusy lemony hints. A bright and smooth cup.

Water-crema 1:1 ratio:  Aromatic, perfumed cup. Hint of blueberries. Esmeralda-like. Not like coffee.

Water-crema-espresso:  Coffee with a good aroma. Smooth. A bit lemony. Pleasant aftertaste.

After this 2nd shot, it is safe to say that crema is not rubbish. Au contraire, watered down crema is IMHO a good way for beginners to distinguish the fragrances of the particular coffee. I would reiterate as I have stated in the previous Espresso sans crema taste test, espresso is not complete without crema. If this does work across the board for all coffees, I wonder if this process of separating the crema out will redefine espresso tasting/cupping sessions.

Brazil Moreninha Formosa – Full City +

I apologize for the multiple posts of Brazil Moreninha Formosa, but I just can’t seem to get enough of it. This roast was done at a lower average temperature and for a shorter period.

From Eric’s Thermometer, the pour was started at 200 degrees and ended at 203 degrees. The temperatures are a bit on the hot side as the pour had a slight bitterness. As a 4:1 water-espresso americano, hint of berry can be detected, and it is full bodied. 2 ounces in 25 seconds. I will try it at 198 tomorrow.

Return of the 45 second Pour (2009)

The 45 second ristretto makes a comeback with 3rd day Brazil Moreninha Formosa. I’m in seventh heaven. This is my GODSHOT! I can’t remember a finer shot than my previous one a long time ago with eCafe Sidamo. Pronounced DARK Chocolate notes, caramel creamy goodness, long aftertaste I wish could last forever.

While many would balk “45 seconds? Ristretto (restricted espresso)? That’s almost twice 25 seconds – the standard timing for a shot of espresso.” I was well aware of this, taking quick looks at Eric’s e-61 thermometer to ensure the temperature doesn’t drop below 198 degrees Fahrenheit while watching the pour to cut at first blonding. The resulting pour:

The details of the pour are:

Roast: Brazil Moreninha Formosa
Degree: Full City +
Machine: Quickmill Anita
Brew Pressure: 9.5 bars
Boiler Pressure 1.5 bars
Dose: 18 grams
Grind: Ultra Fine
Tamp: 30 pounds (Espro Clicker Tamper)
Eric’s e61 Thermometer: Flushed to 187, Start pour at 198. End pour at 198.

Here’s  the sequence of my 3rd cup today. Same variables as above shot with
Eric’s e61 Thermometer: Flushed to 187. Start pour at 200. End pour at 203.5
which resulted in a slight bitter shot, but still very pleasurable. Slight bitter dark chocolate.

Brazil Moreninha Formosa

Roasted on I-Roast 2 Rec 2, stopped with 2 minutes remaining.
Full City to Full City +

2nd day: espresso, slow drip, 45 second ristretto, gorgeous naked flow. Extremely creamy, long aftertaste. Hint of spice, chocolate notes. I think taste will be more pronounced when it peaks later. Will be better tomorrow or day after. Needs more rest. Fantastic RISTRETTO roast. I’m in love! What have I been doing blending this with Zambia? This Brazil is great on its own. KS, take note, I know you have some left, don’t waste blending it.

Ethiopia Yrgacheffe Idido Misty Valley 2008

I was introduced to Idido Misty Valley when I had coffee at fellow coffeegeek Kai Seng’s place last year. It struck me as a cup full of floral notes. At the time, Kai Seng had blended it with several other beans. I had wanted to buy it straightaway but Idido Misty Valley is a bean that doesn’t stay long on the shelves. I’ve read of some coffeegeeks who keep their lists of Idido Misty Valley sources secret from their spouses, much less their peers. When I caught first sight of the 2008 crop, I grabbed them and was quite lucky as I took the last batch my source had to offer. So, here are my cupping notes.

Ethiopia Yrgacheffe Idido Misty Valley

Crop: 2008

Roasted to Full City +.

Day One

I did only one double shot. I separated half as espresso, the other half as americano. The naked pour had tremendous dark chocolate crema, very good tiger-striping. In the cup, the crema was speckled. For aroma, I detected notes of chocolate, fruit, heavy on florals,  As espresso, it was like drinking unadulterated perfume which was very difficult at my stage to discern the different tastes.  As an americano, which I diluted to a 4:1 water espresso ratio, it was winey, slight chocolate, slight lemon fragrance towards the end, fruity. A coffee that comes to mind when I drink the IMV is Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda, the finish is unlike coffee but closer to tea. I am so tempted to make a second shot. This coffee still tastes very fresh and I think it deserves a rest of at least 2 more days. I just hope it will last that long.

Day 2

Aroma has more milk chocolate and floral notes. The naked pour is more intense today.  Heavy chocolate crema with speckling.  Despite making my grind half a notch coarser on the Compak, the pour is slower today. I flushed the group to a cooler temperature of 198 than yesterday’s 202. This coffee is extremely forgiving. a huge contrast to Square Mile’s Winter Espresso.  Pronounced chocolate and winey notes.  More fruit towards the end. Mild bodied.

Day 3: Brazil Moreninha Formosa

As I write this entry, I’m on my 2nd cup. My 1st cup was under-dosed, and thus under-powered. Here’s my pour:

Just to sidetrack a bit, I got a new camera. A Fuji Finepix F50fd. What a great camera. What sets this ultra compact aside from the rest of the Sonys and Nikons and Canons is its sensitivity settings. The ISO for this beauty goes all the way to 6400. And unlike the rest of the gang and including some DSLRs, the Finepix handles noise very well. The above photo is taken at auto program, an ISO of 400. On other cams, you’ll be seeing pixellated noise, not on this baby. And if you ever ever find its predecessor F31fd, lay your hands on it. The F31fd handles noise better than any camera in its class, and outside its class, including DSLRs. Anyway, on to more pressing matters…

Where was I? Moreninha. There’s a certain tang to it. Not lemony brightness, no. I can’t pinpoint it. Also, there’s this more dominant taste waiting to spring out. I can’t pinpoint it either. Methinks I have to be patient and wait another 2 days rest before I can get the full flavour of this coffee.

Technorati Tags: , moreninha, , f50fd

Finally after a long hiatus

Another long hiatus for me since the last post. I haven’t been roasting nor pulling either. I did a good roast half an hour before midnight on Feb 23rd. Ethiopian Sidamo roasted to Viennese in 5:28 minutes as recorded on my iPhone. Did a pull this morning as I couldn’t wait any longer. BRING BACK THE 45 SECOND RISTRETTO! I tried to take pictures, but my iPhone resetted itself after installing some apps. But I got these pictures below as a consolation.

A bit blurry, no channeling.

The grind was right, funnel formed right in the centre, pour ran about 45 seconds before there was even a hint of blonding. I shall be better prepared tomorrow. Check out the machined edge of the Verna naked/bottomless portafilter.

There was a hint of lemony brightness, a bit of dark chocolate notes, a guinness pour as the beans are too fresh, should peak in another 2 days. But I can’t wait, so I’ll do another tomorrow.

I can’t remember my last pull before this. My Anita has been neglected! The pump almost wouldn’t come on to fill the boiler.

Technorati Tags: quickmill anita, ecafe sidamo, , naked portafilter, , ,

Ecafe Shilcho Sidamo

This Ethiopian beauty was roasted to a rolling 2nd crack. This particular bean has a long 1st crack, starting from 2:00 to 4:30 minutes. And 2nd crack comes only 30 seconds later. I wasn’t listening out for a 2nd crack, I was still waiting for 1st crack to stop, which was my mistake. The roast came out with oily patches, which I feel is a bit overroasted.

After resting for 1 day, I pulled a shot, which was far too acidy. That, and because I kept my grinder setting at 2 from my previous batch of Vivace Dolce Malabar blend.

After the 3rd day of rest, and setting my grinder at 4, the coffee has almost peaked. The bean is extremely oily. ARRRGGGHHH! U can whiff out the floral scents of the Sidamo. This Ecafe winner scored a cupping of 90.2. I can see why. With the more floral coffees like the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, I like to drink the first half of the double shot as an espresso, and the 2nd half as an americano. The taste of an espresso is complex. Nothing like adding water to a wellpulled espresso to broaden the taste spectrum. Of course, this tasting will be nothing compared to when we arrive at the next topic. :) (Drum roll)