"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
392/9/01 - So I roasted some more Malabar Gold, let is sit a day or so, and tried again. If it's fluffy crema you are looking for this is the blend to try. I ground at +3.5 on my Rocky (that's 2 clicks over where the burrs rub which takes place at 1.5). Much finer than that and I risk the burrs touching. Well, the crema literally piled up in my cup. I removed the double spout and pulled directly from the bottom of the portafilter body, and the crema actually formed a pile that looked like a little dark reddish-brown hill in the middle of the cup that rose up like a volcano. It only took about 12 or 15 seconds to fill the espresso cup (about 3 ounces). I had to stop the pull as it was about to flood over the cup. The foamy crema settled down to just over an ounce of espresso that, while drinkable, was nothing to alert the SCAA over. It didn't force me to spit, but I wasn't running through the neighborhood to offer samples either.
Roasting for Blending
Later today I got to some serious roasting. I had ordered a variety of green beans from Coffee Wholesalers http://www.coffeewholesalers.com/. Their prices and shipping charges both seemed reasonable. With the nine pounds I ordered they were kind enough to send long some samples of their blends as well including two roasted samples. The sample green blends they included:
Emerald Isle - This was my wife's favorite. It had a smooth and mellow taste that was not at all overpowering and would be pleasant for anyone who was not a big fan of strong coffee. It would also be nice for an evening drink when you wanted something light.
Emerald Mist - This had a much more powerful ability to cut through milk and made a very nice cappa. I make all my cappas with a double, but this would work well as a single in a cappa. It had an excellent taste, but it seemed more 'concentrated' to us. A double would be very nice in a latte.
Espresso Elite - Even though this particular blend is roasted to a lighter degree (presumably because of the varietals that it contains) it has a deep, dark taste to it. It seems to cut through milk easily and provides a nice blend for cappas if you like the darker tastes.
(Be aware that all the above comments are based on my roast of these blends as well as my pulls and tasting. Your results may vary.)
My roasting of the various single beans that I bought was interesting and educational. Here's what I bought:
Brazil Monte Carmelo 2 lbs
(Following are some roasting comments. Taste and blend tests will be included in chapter 40.)
All the beans roasted very much the same, showing the beginning of first and second crack at about the same time (within 30 seconds or less difference which I wrote off to how warm the HWP was, my timing methods, and my ears). They finished at about the same point as well.
I roasted the three "base" beans (Sumatran, Colombian, and Brazilian) to what I call a full city- well into second crack to the point where all the beans took on a shine from a coat of oil- not dripping, just shiny. Some would call that the beginning of "espresso." I took the Costa Rican, Ethiopian, and Guatemalan to a slightly lighter roast, into second crack just to the point where some of the beans started to show spots of oil on them.
The one exception to the even roasting was the Costa Rican. It reached the full-city point in an hurry. Once second crack started to slow a bit and a little oil was showing in a few spots on a couple of beans, this variety shifted into high gear and it got to a shiny state very, very fast. If I hadn't been right there with a flashlight and my finger on the cool down button it would have been dark roasted in a big hurry.
Of course, this is the benefit of roasting beans separately and then post-roast blending for your espresso. First, you learn how each of the varieties behave and roast, and you can roast different beans for different tastes in your blend. The three varietals I roasted lighter are intended to add some special characteristics to my blends whereas the three I roasted a bit darker I intend to use as my various base coffees.
Why roast that way? Why not?! When I was searching and asking folks what beans to blend for my house espresso I got as many answers as there were responses. My conclusion was that the right way to roast and blend was the one that resulted in the taste that you liked, so this was my starting point.
All together I roasted 11 batches in my HWP today. Even with my homemade vent hood that exhausts out the window, you can guess what the house smells like.
Wifee came in when I was about six batches deep in the process and said, "The bedroom smells like roasting coffee. It's really strong in there."
"Ya," I replied, sheepishly digging a toe into the carpeting. "I have to make a better vent hood for this thing with a stronger fan in it."
"It's OK. I like it. It smells really good."
Am I lucky, or what? Life is good in these parts.
BTW- We got about eight inches of snow today. Cooling the beans outside in a colander works really great in this kind of weather!
2/10/01 - This morning I was low on roasted beans (I like to let them rest at least 24 hours after roasting). I used a bit of the Emerald Mist and mixed in just a bit of Malabar Gold, and Bingo! I think I finally found a use for Malabar Gold. I have had no luck using it straight for espresso but it sure was nice in this blend. On the other hand, it roasts so unevenly that I will not be getting any more of it. If it wouldn't be so much work I think I would light-roast a bunch of it and separate the dark from the light and re-roast them for a more even roast.