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espresso and coffee roasting

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Rather than pick up on the don't-we-hate-starbucks thread I thought i'd start a new one. 

I always thought espresso in Italy is roasted more, not less, than French roast.  Talking to a couple of Italians who know their coffee, they said that espresso is toasted dark and the grains should appear oily.  

 

I checked out a couple of sites in Italian.and they all say more or less the same thing, though one of them specified that in the north (Milan and as far down as Tuscany) the coffee is toasted less dark, but in the South it's toasted very dark and is oily on the surface. 

 

The consensus among Italians that I've always heard (from both north and south) is that the further south you go, the better the coffee is. 

 

So, dark is it.  The problem with the dark-roast is that the oil, in coming to the surface, can lose aroma, so it should be kept airtight. 

It also loses a bit of caffeine in the darker roasting. 

 

Oh, by the way, they say 30 ml of liquid should come out of the espresso machine. 

 

Interestingly enough, Italians generally don't own espresso makers, though you usually don't have to walk more than a block to get an espresso in a bar for a euro or less.  At home they almost all use the moka, the little pot with the water and coffee below, and the pipe that brings the brewed coffee to the upper section.  Some, in fact, still prefer the Napoletano, which is actually a primitive sort of filter coffee-maker for their breakfast coffee, and some claim it is the best coffee there is (Naples being the gold standard for coffee in most people's minds). 

 

Personally, i prefer light roast american coffee, but then, I usually go counter to the trends. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 14

    Hi!  I've bought beans for espresso from online roasters and have roasted my own coffee beans.  I have gotten espresso beans before that did show oils that weren't totally carbonized, they still didn't have a taste like SB's coffee.  When I roast my own coffee I'll normally be somewhere from a Full City  to Full City+ roast, sometimes Vienna. This guide gives you some idea of roast colors, although I think they took some liberties with photo 14, the Full French Roast.  I've ordered and roasted beans that were in between the light French Roast and Full.   Dark, oily but not carbonized in this way.  I'm not sure If they just wanted to show us how quick it can go to ash.

 

    I've only roasted regular (drip and press) coffee, never espresso beans.  But I've read that espresso beans benefits from being a blend, prehaps this is how you get a full bodied cup of espresso?  I'm sure BDL will be along to help.  I've also heard of a West coast espresso blend that is a much lighter roast giving you greater flavors and aroma.  I've never had it but it sounds good.

 

 At my grandmothers house you would find the moka being used daily.  I use the same at my home, although not nearly as much.

 

  Dan

post #3 of 14

The espresso process is very revealing.  You can use blending to cover up some beans' weaknesses while bringing in certain flavors -- chocolate, for instance -- from beans which otherwise lack important aspects.  It's cheaper for the pros to come up with a good blend, than find a really satisfying SO (single origin).   Also, SOs change from season to season and consistency is very important in commercial coffee -- not just espressos.  Blending by and for taste and body characteristics allows roast masters to chase and nail down the specific set they want.

 

For home roasters, creating a blend can be more challenging.  It's a bit more complicated if you roast as a blend, because you have to restrict yourself to beans with similar roasting characteristics.  I usually do blends, but do SOs as well.  Considering my low level of expertise, I should probably do more SOs... but there you go.

 

The general rule that the darker the roast, the more you taste the roast and the lighter the roast, the more you taste the beans, generally holds true for espresso roasting as well.  In fact it's especially true.

 

So called PNW or 3d Wave espresso roasts are lighter than traditional Italian roasts.  The hallmarks of a good Italian roast are chocolate, sweetness, body and crema without much else.  That said, even Italian roasters don't usually go past FC+ for espresso.  3d Wave espresso roasters go for more complexity, more fruit, more individuality, more... well, just more. 

 

Roasting your own allows room to play.  I do most of my espresso roasting at around FC, but am currently fooling with a blend that I think wants to go lower.  The roast smells very sweet, with distinct notes of sugar cane and almond blossoms, but at FC/FC+ the espresso is too generic, and the lingering aftertaste a bit too bitter.  Today will be my first roast at C+ in a long time. I plan on bulling the beans 1 minute after 1st Crack stops.

 

Use, but don't trust or rely too much on charts.  Your ears and eyes are better clues than color -- especially color while the coffee is still in the drums.  After you've got the beans out of the roaster, their appearance at the edge where the top and bottom meet, the amount of opening at the crack, and the texture of their skin will tell you at least as much as their color. 

 

Although by no means universal, espresso is the method which a lot of aficionados think is most revealing.  But for the last few years there's a trendy revival of pour-over and vacuum brew -- especially pour over. 

 

BDL

post #4 of 14

I'm interested in using a lighter roast than traditional french or vienna style for espresso. However, when I do, I never get a satisfying crema. It's always kind of thin and settles into a ring around the cup than a nice thick layer.

I've tried grinding a bit finer each time and tamping a bit more, but then my portafilter clogs. 

So for balance and taste, I blend beans for my espresso using a nice Sumatra FR for a base (I like the low acidity) , then add some darker Ethiopian Harrar for brightness and Guatemala for rich chocolate notes. 

Still, without some of a nice oily roast, the crema is disappointing.

 

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post #5 of 14

If you like what you're getting, that's fantastic. 

 

Crema is the product of many things, most often freshness.  Usually, the fresher the roast the more crema.  You shouldn't need a darker roast to get adequate crema.

 

"Perfect tamp pressure" is no longer current dogma.  As long as you get a level tamp and your tamp pressures are consistent and not too extreme, I agree that tamping isn't terribly important.  You do want them consistent though so you can use your grinder to tune tastes while getting reasonably consistent shot times, full extraction, and desired brew ratios.  Tamp pressure aside, it helps to use a watch and a scale to set your parameters, but I don't know if you want to go there.

 

With grind, controlling temperature is your most powerful and pervasive tool, but many machines don't allow you to do so.

 

Getting back to crema...

 

  • Where do you source your beans? 
  • How many days since they're roast date when you grind? 
  • How long do you hold ground coffee?
  • What kind of espresso machine are you using?  
  • What kind of grinder?
  • How are you dosing your baskets?

 

BDL

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

It's interesting how italians are less particular about their coffee than americans!  but you'd never get them to believe it!!!

 

I don't know anyone who doesn't own a bar (and probably few who do own bars) who know any of this stuff. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 14

Posted by siduri View Post

It's interesting how italians are less particular about their coffee than americans!  but you'd never get them to believe it!!!  I don't know anyone who doesn't own a bar (and probably few who do own bars) who know any of this stuff. 


Not many Americans are very picky about their coffee, especially espresso. 

 

There are probably more good espresso machines in American homes than Italian, but it's a good espresso machine in any home is a statistical anomaly.  I don't know what conclusions you can draw; probably none that are well supported.   There's no reason for someone who doesn't have a good machine, a good grinder and a lot of passion to know any of this stuff. 

 

My recent experiences in Europe, as well the experience of others, leads me to believe that the espresso scene isn't very good, even (or maybe especially) in bars.  The vast majority of commercial outlets use "corporate coffee" from big roasters, and -- typically -- the baristas aren't well trained.  

 

There's a lot to know and a lot you can do if you're willing to make the effort; but few people are. 

 

Too bad, because good coffee is a wondrous thing.

 

BDL

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodnfoto View Post

I'm interested in using a lighter roast than traditional french or vienna style for espresso. However, when I do, I never get a satisfying crema. It's always kind of thin and settles into a ring around the cup than a nice thick layer.

I've tried grinding a bit finer each time and tamping a bit more, but then my portafilter clogs. 

So for balance and taste, I blend beans for my espresso using a nice Sumatra FR for a base (I like the low acidity) , then add some darker Ethiopian Harrar for brightness and Guatemala for rich chocolate notes. 

Still, without some of a nice oily roast, the crema is disappointing.

 


I never pull shots with beans that are less than 4 days old.  The crema is thick but effervecent in a newly roasted bean.  It lacks the body of beans that have rested longer. 

 

To the OP, I tend to roast lighter than the dark and oily roasts you mention.  There are flavors in the bean that I want to taste that would be lost at that roast level.

 

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You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

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post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Posted by siduri View Post


Not many Americans are very picky about their coffee, especially espresso. 

 

There are probably more good espresso machines in American homes than Italian, but it's a good espresso machine in any home is a statistical anomaly.  I don't know what conclusions you can draw; probably none that are well supported.   There's no reason for someone who doesn't have a good machine, a good grinder and a lot of passion to know any of this stuff. 

 

My recent experiences in Europe, as well the experience of others, leads me to believe that the espresso scene isn't very good, even (or maybe especially) in bars.  The vast majority of commercial outlets use "corporate coffee" from big roasters, and -- typically -- the baristas aren't well trained.  

 

There's a lot to know and a lot you can do if you're willing to make the effort; but few people are. 

 

Too bad, because good coffee is a wondrous thing.

 

BDL


as for corporate coffee, i read that the reason small torrefazioni are all closed (there used to be one up the street and we could smell the roasting coffee from our house) is for some health regulations.  I find that weird, since a guy i knw who used to work in a bar said the first thing they had to do in the morning was get rid of all the coffee cockroaches out of the espresso machine!  Bla.  Anyway, it's true the average American knows little about coffee as the average Italian, but I never hear anyone talking about anything beyond what brand they use.  I do hear americans having preferences for types of beans and roasts. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 14

The one thing that I dont think has really been addressed for the OP is the volume of the pour.

 

I would highly recomend having your porta filter modified to remove the entirety of the bottom portion.  They call it a "naked portafilter".  So basically it eliminates all metal contact post basket.  The main advantage is that it will allow you to see the liquid as it is pressed through the coffee grinds.  You will see errors in your tamping and pre tamping filling of the basket, allowing you to adjust your technique over time.  Also, as the pour progresses, you will see it change colour.  Once it starts to turn quite light in colour, end the pour.  It doesnt really matter what the volume of the pour is.  If you aim for a certain amount of liquid, you may be adding a lot of bitter over brewed coffee to your cup.  Anyway, i think the naked porta filter helps in so many ways, fine tuning your tamp, fine tuning your grind and obviously the volume of the pour.

 

Are you fellas mostly using small home roaster units?  Anyone a bowl and heat gun roaster?

 

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodnfoto View Post

I'm interested in using a lighter roast than traditional french or vienna style for espresso. However, when I do, I never get a satisfying crema. It's always kind of thin and settles into a ring around the cup than a nice thick layer.

I've tried grinding a bit finer each time and tamping a bit more, but then my portafilter clogs. 

So for balance and taste, I blend beans for my espresso using a nice Sumatra FR for a base (I like the low acidity) , then add some darker Ethiopian Harrar for brightness and Guatemala for rich chocolate notes. 

Still, without some of a nice oily roast, the crema is disappointing.

 



Foodnfoto, Crema production has virtually nothing to do with the roast.  It has everything to do with the blend, the grind, the tamp, the water temp... but nothing to do with the roast.

 

Can I ask, what type of blend are you using?  What type of grinder do you have?  What type of machine do you have, and what is your tamping method?

 

If your basket is getting clogged im guessing that your grind is not a nice even grind.  This could be your first problem.  Also, in your blend, you dont mention any robusas... they are essential in a really nice thick layer of crema.

 

post #12 of 14

Hi Erik,

 

The one thing that I dont think has really been addressed for the OP is the volume of the pour.

The OP, Siduri, specifically referred to a 30ml pour. What she did not refer to was the style of the pour, i.e., whether it was ristretto, normale or lungo; or whether it was pulled through a single or double dose.  She also did not refer to the size of the dose.  All of this might have been important, but since Siduri doesn't own an espresso machine, not so much.

 

We (or at least I) didn't get into any of this with Foodnfoto, but it seemed like addressing the "dark roast/crema" association took precedence.  I added some more stuff in the hopes of getting a dialogue started with her.  She's intelligent, knowledgeable, charming, and a fun correspondent.  I'm just selfish.

 

I would highly recomend having your porta filter modified to remove the entirety of the bottom portion.  They call it a "naked portafilter".  So basically it eliminates all metal contact post basket.  The main advantage is that it will allow you to see the liquid as it is pressed through the coffee grinds. 

Unless you have a few, it's usually a better idea to buy an OEM, naked pf (portafilter) than donating your only stock pf to the cause.  There are times, lots of times, when you'd rather not go naked. 

 

A properly fitted basket doesn't contact the bottom interior of the pf in any case.  If it does, the basket won't seat properly.  A naked pf will allow you to use a very deep, "triple" basket.  The espresso itself touching the bottom of the pf as it funnels down the spout isn't a problem.

 

You overrate the utility of a naked pf.  The primary benefit of a naked pf (portafilter) comes in revealing errors in distribution.  Poor distribution causes channeling.  Channeling results in multiple streams, rather than a single stream emanating from a cone (caused by surface tension), which is what you get with good distribution (assuming an appropriate grind for the basket).   You're right about one thing, you can't really see and cure channeling without a naked pf.

 

You will see errors in your tamping and pre tamping filling of the basket, allowing you to adjust your technique over time.  

What tamping errors are you talking about?  In my experience, a naked pf won't show much about tamping, unless your tamps are way off level or your tamper is way too small.  You can see either of those errors by looking at the top of the basket after you've tamped.  As long as you're level and reasonably consistent, specific tamp pressures aren't very important.  Neither is polishing the top of the puck.  Nor is "tapping" the pf.  The importance of consistent tamping, is that it allows you to control the time of the pour with your grinder.  The length of time it takes to pull a shot has a great deal to do with whether it's under, fully, or over extracted.

 

You can see the color change from the stream whether it comes from a naked pf, or a regular pf's spout.  You can also see it in the cup on the surface of the pour.  I think the last is the surer diagnostic, but we all have our ways.

 

It's important to realize that you have to spend a fair bit of money (or buy used and do your own refurbishing) on the machine/grinder combination before you get enough control and consistency over temp and grind to do a lot with using a naked pr to teach you better distribution.  Most consumer espresso machines and grinders aren't there.  That statement is limited to when a naked pf becomes useful.  I'm not saying you need to spend thousands of dollars for decent coffee, to enjoy life, or enter heaven.

 

In my opinion, the palate and the Mark IV GI Naked Human Eyeball are more important tools; a watch with a second hand and a scale which can read to the nearest 0.1g are the most important mechanical devices;  and after those, perhaps boiler and brew pressure gauges.  A naked pf is nice, but it's somewhere down the list. 

 

Also, as the pour progresses, you will see it change colour.  Once it starts to turn quite light in colour, end the pour.  It doesnt really matter what the volume of the pour is.  If you aim for a certain amount of liquid, you may be adding a lot of bitter over brewed coffee to your cup. 

You're talking about "blonding"  Blonding is a sign of degree of over-extraction.  Different styles of pours go further into the blonding process; ristretto less than normale, lungo more. 

 

It's tricky to pull meaning from the volume of a pour, because so much depends on the amount of gas in the coffee, and that's highly variable.  The weight of the pour in comparison to the weight of the dose is extremely useful, though.  Dose/pour expressed as a percentage is called, "brew ratio."  A traditional normale is about 50%, a modern is closer to 75%.

 

With both of my favorite espresso blends I dose at around 18g and pull at around 27g for a brew ratio of 67%.  I don't always use a scale, instead using a timer on my grinder to dose, and using a watch and an eye on the blonding process to measure the pour.  But when I do use a scale, I find the brew ratios to be very consistent. 

 

Are you fellas mostly using small home roaster units?  Anyone a bowl and heat gun roaster?

I'm currently using a HotTop Programmable 2 which suits me fine; before that I used a Behmor; and years and years ago, a Whirlypop.  Never a bowl and heat gun, too demanding, too complicated.  If I had to do over again, I'd probably get a Quest M3 for the extra control but would be just as well if not better off with the HT.

 

BDL

post #13 of 14

I did heat gun roasting for about a year after using a Freshroast +. Then moved on to the SC/TO roaster which I'm still using

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post #14 of 14

Ahhh, home coffee roasting, love it. New here to the site.

Pretty sure I've read in at least one source that the dark French and Espresso roasts were originally done to cover the inequities in beans. What they had available to them were a very few beans of varying qualities; roast it all dark, they taste the same. I know from experience that much of the varietal essences are lost as you take a bean to a darker roast.

Also pretty certain the crema is the result of the carbon dioxide in the roasted beans given off post-grind and during extraction.

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