Tag Archives: americano

Share Your Cupping Notes

One of the chief purposes of this blog was to write down my cupping notes for the coffees I’ve roasted (however somewhat limited they are to my lackluster ability and tastebuds to define the nuances of the tastes.)

And looking at my own notes, I’m always roasting the few same coffees, Ethiopian Sidamo, Yrgacheffe, Panama Gesha, and of course, who can forget the evergreen Brazil Formosa, and my favourite Sweet Maria’s Italian Espresso Blend and Espresso Vivace’s Dolce.

I hope you readers (however few – sorry about the inferiority complex, it’s a growing trend) can help me out by listing in the comments below about the coffees you’ve had the pleasure of tasting, good and bad (listing here means on this blog, not on Facebook, not on Twitter.)  No holds barred. It could be the Nespresso Ristretto you just had in the office a few hours ago, or the godshot made from your Silvia, or the great cup you’ve just had in Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia or Ritual or even at a corner of a flower market in London. Or 15th Ave Coffee & Tea. Whatever. Please state where you had it. This could be seen as a survey of what my readers drink. To help you out on your tasting notes, I’ve included a taste wheel below. Please push your senses.

Meetup at the Cairns

This coffee get-together was organised at a last moment’s notice on Sunday, 8th November 2009 at Steve Cairns’ new place. The ones to turn up this day were me, KaiSeng, and Melvin. Peter couldn’t make it and Adrian was in Malacca. (UNLUCKY)

I regret that I didn’t take any pictures of the HIGHLIGHT AND MAIN EVENT of the day:

The . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

S A L S A ! ! !

which was prepared by Steve’s wife, Adhe. Actually, I don’t really regret as I was too busy stuffing my face with the corn chips and the springrolls dipped in the salsa. I’m hungry now just thinking of it. I think I’ll start off by petitioning that no future coffee meetup shall ever start without Adhe’s salsa. It just would not be complete.

After the fabulous salsa, we retreated inside for drinks. Steve has gotten a really nice work table from IKEA for his coffee equipment as you can see in the accompanying photos below. His line of equipment include the Expobar Brewtus, a Macap M5D grinder with a digital display and worm driven stepless grind adjuster, a Rancilio Rocky grinder (from his Silvia days), a new Reg Barber tamper with a made-to-order 58.2mm convex base, a new clicker tamping base, topped off with the familiar “Espresso Open” backlit sign on his wall. Steve went on to explain about how he and Kelvin (another CGSGer) felt that the 58.2mm base was a much nicer fit than the usual 58mm. We all took turns trying it out and I think that 58.2mm just might be my next purchase.

KaiSeng, Melvin and I brought our own home-roasted coffee, while Steve had Spinelli. My Brazil Formosa was just roasted the day before and I felt it wasn’t rested enough, so I declined to even take it out of the bag.  KaiSeng brought Bolivian AA. Melvin brought a blend of Bolivian AA and Ethiopian Limu. We all took turns as baristi, including Steve’s daughter, Samantha who made an exceptional americano for her mom. I should’ve taken a video or photos because her pour using the naked portafilter was excellent – the basket being equally saturated, the first few drips and then smoothly coming together at the centre of the basket, a slow and steady pour. WOW!!

Without further ado, here is the awards ceremony. The votes are counted (award winners’ votes are discarded) and the winners are . . . .

ishot-2

Best Newcomer:  Samantha Cairns

Best Barista:  Samantha Cairns

Best Roaster:  KaiSeng (that’s saying something as Spinelli was also in the running)

Best Entree which every future meetup can’t do without:   Adhe’s SALSA (which just became the best incentive for us to increase the frequency of our meetups.)

Best Salsa Stuffer: 3 way tie between Colin, KaiSeng and Melvin. (Even though Melvin came late, he caught up real fast.)

We really really have to start planning for the next meetup. How’s everyone for December or January?

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.

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.