First try at blending - YUCK!

Discussion of the merits of various green beans, where to obtain them, and how best to roast them.
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jmcphail

First try at blending - YUCK!

Post by jmcphail »

I tried blending my first espresso recently and would appreciate any advice.

I roasted a 1/2 lb. each of:

40% - Brazil Pedra Grande - Bourbon Cultivar
20% - Ethiopia Organic Sidamo DP - Special Selection
20% - Guatemala Antigua - Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon
20% - India Baba Budan - Mandelkhan Estate

All roasted to City+ prior to blending. It was undrinkable. It went in the sink quickly, but I will try to describe the faults -

- extremely sharp, acidic. I was so overwhelmed it was difficult to tell!
- grassy. Too soon after the roast, I was impatient. Only 36 hrs. rest.

On the plus side, there was ample crema, and it had a thick, creamy consistency.

I am giving the beans more resting time so I can taste the SO shots to start learning what each bean contributes, but I'm concerned that I've chosen a blend that will never, ever work.

I have been roasting for a couple of years and reliably produce Yirgs and Kenyas for drip, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on that, but I've never blended before, and I'm new to espresso. For SO drip, I've developed a bias against Centrals in favor of Africans ( I prefer the complexity and depth ) that I think I'm going to have to unlearn.

A strategy I'm considering is to start only with Brazil and taste, and try to think of what taste is missing and add appropriately. Are there other strategies I could use?

My idea of what the individual beans in my blend contribute is this -

Brazil - body, depth, creaminess
Ethiopian - fruityness and aroma, creaminess
Guat - acidity, aroma
India - pungency, spice

Is Guat a good choice for acidity in an espresso blend?

My taste in drip is for City+ or a little darker, but not much beyond. I tend to prefer varietal flavors over roast flavors, but wonder if my blend would benefit from some sort of melange effect? In general I know I need to reduce acidity.

Cheers everyone!

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

I just tried a SO shot of the Brazil, and it was vile. Since it comprises 40% of my blend, the blend will naturally be vile, too.

I believe I need to try again with the Brazil, and roast to FC or FC+.

I'm actually nervous to try these SO shots, if they're horrible tasting it's a shock to my system and give me the willies, kind of a whole-body grimace!

RGoldman

Post by RGoldman »

I have been roasting my own blends for the last year and find that when I roast anything as light as you describe, I don't enjoy it. Might just be my taste but try roasting into second about 30 seconds or so and see if you notice a difference.
I tried a couple of SO shots, ONCE! Didn't care for them at all. Probably roaster/user error, but I have kept with my blends since then.

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

Funnily enough, my journey to good drip coffee involved "trusting" the bean and learning to roast to a degree that would allow the varietal features to reveal themselves.

It seems like espresso roasting and blending don't follow the same rules as for other brew methods. I wonder if it is because the standout features I roast for in drip stand out too much and are amplified during espresso extraction?

Lots to learn!

Weska

Post by Weska »

All these are points well taken, jmcphail. I think you are probably on the right track with roasting further into the second crack for espresso. I've never blended because I buy Sweet Maria's blends. But I was a fan of lighter more acid coffee when I used the French press (usually Sumatra). With espresso I began at the dark end and am only gradually lightening up as I roast.

Don't be afraid to try the dark and shiny.

And another reference point is that Sweet Maria's will sell you a pound they roasted of the same thing you are buying so that you can compare their idea of what the bean should yield with yours.

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

Thanks, Weska, that is a great idea about comparing how SM roasts their blends with what I roast, I'm going to try it!
Weska wrote:Don't be afraid to try the dark and shiny.
Someone said "Fear is the path that leads to the dark side" and "Do or do not... there is no try". I wonder if Yoda drinks espresso, and what he would say about this?

I'm definitely going to the dark side in an upcoming roast, though!

Niko

Post by Niko »

It's a challenge to get 20 seconds into active 2nd crack on the Behmor. The challenge lies in the cooling since the roast keeps going for a while after you cut it off. Some good notes and a few batches of green will get you there, I know some people are cranking the door open to fetch the beans out for a quicker cool down but I'd let the roaster do its thing, better to let the roaster cool down all its internals while at it.
...and besides, you want a slow finish :wink:

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

I'm thinking this is perfect for the Gene, actually.

I usually interrupt the roast, dump the roast chamber into a mesh basket on an upward facing fan, restart the roast, push it into the cooling cycle, mist the mesh basket and crackling beans several times with a plant mister and then stir over the cooling air until room temp.

I don't like it because it puts out a lot of chaff, but I can stop a roast in its tracks quickly.

The same method would work for the Behmor, I just haven't been doing it that way ( and keeping a neater kitchen ).

The heatproof gloves are required in both cases.

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

For the Gene and probably for the Behmor, as you mention, it's important to interrupt the roast for as brief a period as possible and get them both immediately into their respective cooling cycles.

I think if you just let them sit there and radiate heat for too long without circulation they'll fry.

Niko

Post by Niko »

The way I use the Behmor (and Gene) sometimes, back to back roasts 4 times over would surely shorten their little lives if I didn't let that cooling cycle complete itself.
As soon as one roaster goes into its cooling cycle, the next roaster in line starts when the voltage is back up :wink:

_________
++++++ Equipment Used +++++++
La Spaziale Vivaldi S1, La Spaziale Vivaldi II S1, QuickMill Anita, Mazzer Mini E Type B, Technivorm Mocca Master, Isomac Gran Macinino, Behmor 1600, Gene Cafe, too many Bodum presses, and I need another page to list the rest...
++++++ Animals Used +++++++
dwarf rabbit :D

Cafesp
Espresso
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:33 pm
Location: Disneyland, California

Post by Cafesp »

I'm totally lost here.. :cry:
Weska wrote: ...And another reference point is that Sweet Maria's will sell you a pound they roasted of the same thing you are buying so that you can compare their idea of what the bean should yield with yours.
Cafesp :roll:
Love's in the Air! Taste it.

AeroPress, Bunn phase brew, La Spaziale S1VII, Cimbali Max Hybrid, Versalab M3, Hottop B

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

My idea of this is that I can, for instance, buy a two pounds of Monkey Blend, one roasted and one green and compare my own effort at roasting the green pound to the roasted.

It might be better for me to buy one pound of Monkey Blend roasted, and 5 pounds of green, knowing how things can go wrong sometimes. Although if I end up hating Monkey Blend that would be the wrong thing to do...
Cafesp wrote:I'm totally lost here.. :cry:

Cafesp :roll:

Weska

Post by Weska »

Yes, that's what I was trying to suggest.

For me, it is more of a color reference since shipping takes about two months. Thoroughly degassed, as you might say.

But I would surely use the professional SM roast as a taste reference too, if I could get it within a week or two.

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JohnB
Vivaldi Dreamer
Posts: 2249
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:01 pm
Location: Northeastern Ct.

Post by JohnB »

Two months!! Is that shipped by boat or Air Post?
Speedster/Bosco Sorrento/ K10WBC/K30/Bunnzilla
KvdW/Pullman/RB Tampers
Hario NCA 3 & 5s/Wooden Neck Dripper/Buono
Zassenhaus Knee Mill
Modded Hottop B

Niko

Post by Niko »

It's usually Customs that lags and holds onto things a bit too long, but 2 months is much longer than average for something to Europe.

"thoroughly degassed"...I love it :lol:
in this case freezing with dry ice might help 8)

Weska

Post by Weska »

My wife (a Russian but no chauvinist) once asked me if I thought that Russia was part of Europe. I said, yes, the tattered edge of it.

And you're right, Niko. My packages of all kinds dwell long in customs.

User avatar
JohnB
Vivaldi Dreamer
Posts: 2249
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:01 pm
Location: Northeastern Ct.

Post by JohnB »

I ship motorcycle parts to Europe regularly by Air Post & 7-10 days is typical for most countries. I see why it pays to leave Russia & pick up directly in Europe. After 2 months I wouldn't even remember what I had ordered!
Speedster/Bosco Sorrento/ K10WBC/K30/Bunnzilla
KvdW/Pullman/RB Tampers
Hario NCA 3 & 5s/Wooden Neck Dripper/Buono
Zassenhaus Knee Mill
Modded Hottop B

Niko

Post by Niko »

Weska wrote:My wife (a Russian but no chauvinist)
Same here...I have a Russian wife 8)

Weska

Post by Weska »

Shocking coincidence!

Do you have to be seated briefly before going out the door on a long trip?

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

Prelude to Round Two of My Blending Adventure:

I roasted my blend component beans again, this time heeding the advice of this board to roast darker. I roasted the Brazil about 10 seconds in C2, and the seams are all dark and oil-soaked, the bean surface is matte but not glossy. No tipping or divots. It's rested about 40 hours now.

I just made a double from 14g, brewed at 94C on the Vivaldi, and it's not half-bad! It was about 1/3 crema, was hoping for more, and it has a buttery mouthfeel. The flavor is still a bit sharper than I had hoped, and it's perhaps a bit grassy, so I think it will benefit from more rest. I suspect it will also benefit from a slightly lower brew temp, too. It's not sour and I'm confused about whether what I'm tasting is from the roast or the brew, and it's maybe a little more aromatic than I had thought it would be.

It's my first SO espresso shot; I've always wondered why anyone would drink SO Brazil in the past, since I was always preparing it for drip and it was dull, bland and boring, but in Espresso it's quite a different story!

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

I roasted the India coffee to FC and yanked the roast at the first sign of C2, trying to preserve the nuttiness/almond flavors and aromas described at the SM web site.

I brewed at 93C and found the SM description apt - little complexity, basically a smooth and clear coffee, mild, a little sweet. I can smell the nut aromas but can't detect a flavor to match. There is very little acidity to this cup, and it is sweetening and thickening as it cools. I had hoped for more pungency and spice, and wonder if a slightly lighter roast treatment would help bring that out?

I suspect that it will complement the Brazil in my blend nicely and build body, but I'm concerned that it's not bringing enough in the flavor department. Time will tell, it only has 40 hours of rest at this point.
Last edited by jmcphail on Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

I roasted the Sidamo to FC+, the beans are matte and reflective, not glossy, no tipping or divots.

A 15g double produced a LOT of crema and it has a thick mouthfeel; I think a benefit of dry process. I brewed at 93C and after tasting will try the next shot at 94C. I can taste some acidity, mostly a mild lemon flavor, and the berry aroma of the roasted beans is also present in the cup. There is an excellent roast flavor with this one, too. In a blend I think this will add creaminess and body and middle notes, tartness and fruit aroma.

As it cools there is the faint tea-like flavor I look for in Ethiopia coffees.

This one has a long finish, I think this would also be good as a drip coffee at a lighter roast, almost like a Harrar. Onward.

Niko

Post by Niko »

Weska wrote:Shocking coincidence!

Do you have to be seated briefly before going out the door on a long trip?
...yes! :shock:

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

I roasted the Guatemala to FC, pulled at the first sign of C2. The beans are smooth and the seams are mostly free of oil, no tipping or divots.

My 15g double is acidic, and the heavier roast treatment ( for me ) eliminates the annoying ( again, for me ) wine-like aspect I usually find in Centrals. The flavor is pretty clean and clear, medium body, decent but not great crema. The finish is clean, and could probably brew at a higher temperature; it's not sour brewed at 93C, but a little more heat would probably make it more interesting.

I can see that this is a better choice in a blend for top end than my old favorite Kenya, it's just cleaner and purer, but I'm wondering if a Costa Rica bean would be a better choice for this purpose than a Guatemala?

jmcphail

Post by jmcphail »

This has been an interesting experiment for me, since I'm new to espresso, new to blending and generally haven't enjoyed Centrals or South American coffees.

I can tell that Brazil will be doing the heavy lifting in my blend, and that the other coffees will be adding flourishes and complements to the basic flavor. Centrals seem to produce more discrete flavors which probably make blending more predictable, but they're not going to replace my precious Yirgs and Kenyas in the Technivorm any time soon! India is new to me, I'm glad I found it and it gives me an alternative to Sumatra, which I don't normally like.

So, I'm learning. I've also had 4 double espressos in 20 minutes and don't want any more.. for a little while :P

Your comments, tips, hints, suggestions and criticisms are appreciated!

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