Originally Posted by boar_d_laze
Not to commit the unpardonable sin of thread hijack, your post greatly interests me. If you handed me a cup brewed (in any way) from 100% Robusta, since I don't do comparative "cupping" or "espresso tasting," I probably couldn't identify it as such.
I trust your palate greatly. How would you describe the taste?
Whatever their coffees taste like, Starbucks uses 100% Arabica. That's for sure. Fairly good Arabica, in fact; but they treat it poorly. Starbucks uses the same, ~50%, "brew ratio" (weight of beans/weight of water) for their espresso as most old-style shops use for normales (modern PNW style is more concentrated). There's little to no variance from Starbucks to Starbucks on that score, their employees may be poorly trained but their machines are nothing if not consistent.
Here in America, it's difficult to get specialty roasts intended for espresso with any Robusta beans in them at all. But, as I understand it, in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal it's hard not to get at least some Robusta in your espresso. It's not only about price, either. Hard to make old-fashioned, Italian style espresso without Robusta. The tradition of Italian espresso and Italian coffee in general includes Italy's old colonial holdings in Africa and the types of coffees grown there. You won't necessarily find Robusta in every blend, but Lavazza, Illy, Danessi, and most of the other biggies have blends with at least some.
The big-name American roasters like Folgers have some Robusta in many of their "regular" blends and their instants.... but that stuff is different from specialty coffees. Even the big boys' premium coffees are advertised as 100% Arabica.
If you drink ordinary or instant coffee in the US, or if you drink any kind of coffee in Italy or western Mediterranean Europe, there's a good chance you're going to get some Robusta. Why would the limited presence of Robusta, as say 10% of a blend, cause gastritis? Could you be reacting to something else, signaled by a taste you associate with Robustas?
Thanks, bdl. I do have a good and sensitive palate (or nose actually) and can identify the ingredients in perfumes by the smell of them (a little black pepper, tobacco, green tea, certain flowers that i happen to know, oh god no, musk) and am very sensitive to smells everywhere. (To my detriment i must say, when riding on the crowded busses or walking under bridges) I never had any "taster" education, but i think i could be a wine taster (except i don;t really like wine) or beer taster or perfume expert, if i did have the education for it.
I'm being a little sarcastic about the gastritis example but it does immediately upset my stomach and yes, it might be a sort of learned response from the flavor, for which we have some very efficient learning mechanisms in the central parts of the brain and which is tied to long-term memory and protects us from eating foods that made us sick once). I don;t know if a blend of 10% robusto does, but lavazza rosso (the red package as opposed to the gold package or the club in the black package) makes me sick if i drink it. I don;t know the proportion of robusto but i think it's a blend, and it tastes acidy on the tongue (and i only take cappuccino and usually cappuccino chiaro (made with less coffee) and it feels after swallowing it like a sort of draino of the stomach. (well draino is alcaline not acidic, but the feeling is the same).. I avoid small cheapo neighborhood bars because they usually use a more robusto-tasting kind of coffee. Contrary to what most people say, i feel that i can taste the actual taste of the coffee better if there is milk in it. I guess it's like spreading it out to experience its texture or qualities, i don;t know. Maybe just because i don't like the taste of black coffee, though i do love coffee. Sort of like the lab does when it has to check your blood, it spreads it out thin on a glass slide and they can see it better. But that may just be an illusion
I don't like Illy caffe, i find it too sharp (maybe sharp is the correct term, rather than acidic). It also tends to make me sick (stomach pain). Not as bad as lavazza rosso which is poison as far as i'm concerned.
also i remember my parents used to get medaglia d'oro and that, too, was awful. Not sure why since i had it before i lived here.
My understanding of italian coffee is that it IS toasted very dark, darker than otehrs. but maybe not,but italians would say it is, and i did understand that the coffee beans are sort of oily. I don't have time or desire but i could eventually look it up on some italian coffee websites. I know that some brands (i think lavazza club) toast it less, though still more than american. I like the roundness of good american coffee and assume that is for the lighter toasting.
Originally Posted by IceMan
OK. Now just for research sake, I went to the Starbucks nearest my house (2 miles). I got an espresso. I watched everything involved. Exactly how could "too much water" be used? Steam was put through the grounds for one(1) serving, my "cup/shot". I don't get the point about "too much water".
Please Siduri, educate me. TIA.
if you're comparing espresso made in the states to other espresso made in the states, you will have an idea of a larger quantity of coffee coming out, a cup with more liquid. I happen to have a typical Italian bar cup at home and, just for research sake, i put in the amount of water that a bar here would put in it of espresso. I poured it into my measuring cup and it measured less than 1/4 cup - LESS THAN A QUARTER CUP. That's an espresso as made here. The same measure of coffee grinds in the machine because the machines are all made the same. My kids have italian friends who work in espresso bars abroad, including starbucks. They say that if an italian comes in, then they make a proper espresso, with that little bit of water, and if anyone else comes in they make it the american way.
In bars here, if you want more liquid, and some italians do, they ask for an "americano" which does NOT mean more water coming through the grinds, but an espresso with hot water added (as starbucks rightly describes it) - why, you might ask, do they not just make it run through more? because it tastes foul! like a starbucks espresso. Now since i always ask for a cappuccino chiaro (light cappuccino, which, by right should be made with caffee ristretto, that is even less coffee coming out of the same amount of grinds, some barmen will see i';m american and make the cappuccino with more water going through it and it's pretty foul. I usually leave it.
An american would feel cheated by so little in his cup. We are used to drinking large quantities of liquid. I was shocked at how small water glasses are here. Friends will ask me at lunch if i want to share a half a liter of water for the meal, when i can easily drink more than half a liter myself. If we have a coffee, we want it to accompany a conversation, the reading of a newspaper, a period at the computer (I have my third cup of filter coffee by my side even as i write). Italians go for a coffee "together" and swallow it down in one gulp and then leave - the only conversation is who is going to pay. They invariably stand up (it would be cold by the time it got to the table!). But americans want something that is worth taking to go or sitting with, and what are yuou going to take to go if it barely wets the cup?!
So if more than a quarter cup of liquid is in your cup it is "too much water" (or steam, but steam is another form of water) going through the grinds. (and because it is steam it is very hot, and therefore burning the coffee). That has been my only explanation for why espresso in the states (and its derivatives like caffe latte, cappuccino) have such an awful, burnt flavored. (to reproduce that flavor, take a well-made espresso and put it in a pot and boil it a couple of minutes!) And though i always get filter coffee wherever i can, when i'm in the states and with an italian (my kids, my husband) i bet them i could get starbucks to make a coffee like they get at home, and i did, and they agreed, it was good. A "ristretto", by the way has even less. A cup of coffee is something taken like a shot of whisky. (Usually with at least two heaping spoons of sugar in it). (An old napolitan love song goes something like "you're like a cup of coffee, bitter on the top but sweet at the bottom")