Thursday, September 28, 2006

Daterra Sweet Collection (Brazil)

About the coffee: The Daterra sweet collection certainly has a reputation to live up to. From memory, coffee from this cooperative has been an ingredient of the winner's World Barista Competition blend in each of the last three competitions. Klaus Thomsen, this year's WBC, certainly used it as part of his two-bean blend (the other was Costa Rican Hacienda La Minita). Various Daterra coffees also get the stamp of approval from at least three Aussie coffee roasters who I respect a great deal; Mark from St Ali, Peter from Veneziano and Tony from Rio in Adelaide, who has used some Daterra stuff in Mecca Espresso's blend.

The cooperative is absolutely cutting-edge. Rather than waxing lyrical about their sustainability, research and education programs, I'll just direct you to the Daterra webpage to have a look around. It is very succinctly written. Go ahead. I'll fix myself a coffee while you're gone.

The image to the right is of a blacklight being used to screen for fermented coffee in the Daterra labs. Click on the image to go to Tom's gallery at Sweet Maria's, where the image came from.

Back? Hope that was a good read.

OK, so Andrew and I were desperate to get our hands on some of this. Luckilly, Ozgreens had laid their hands on a 24kg box and Ed and Graeme from Greenguys were able to organise for us to grab one of the two 12kg foil bags to ourselves. Hehehe. Daterra packaging is awesome.

The roasts: I have roasted this twice for espresso. The first roast, on the 31st of August, seemed to be inordinately slow. I stopped it at what I thought was the first signs of second crack. For the second roast, on the 15th of September, to avoid tempting fate, I asked the guys what setting they were using for their mogiana pulped natural and used that. Of course, I really should take better notes, including actually timing the roast properly ... one of the aims of starting this blog in the first place!

Nicely processed, very even screen size, guaranteed 11% moisture content ... not hard to see why roasters like this coffee! It even seems to photograph easily ...

Tasting Notes: 31 August roast

This turned out to be rather unimpressive. I suspect that I plain and simple under-roasted it. On the 8th, I was unable to find a combination of variables to reach a decent extraction. It was either thin, with pale crema and slightly sour, or developing some ashiness at an extraction designed to achieve a richer mouthfeel and tone down the sourness. With an extraction at the better end of the spectrum, as a double ristretto in a 170mL cup it was unable to overcome the Pura Cafe milk that I was using ... don't ask.

Tasting Notes: 15th September roast

Usually, increasing the brew temperature seems to bring out more sweetness in beans, so I began my exporation of this roast with an extra 15 seconds of heat added by flipping the steam switch. Shots pulled this way were universally unbalanced. Then it occurred to me that the whole point of having a coffee selected based on its sweetness is to not have to go to great lengths to increase the sweetness in the first place. Unsurprisingly, shots pulled at a normal brew temperature were much more balanced, and quite sweet.

At seven days of age, I hit the jackpot with this roast, getting a ristretto extraction that not only brought out the sweetness that I was looking for, but also brought out the marzipan/almond aroma and, to a lesser extent, flavour that I had tasted in other roasts of this bean (read: roasts by people who know what they're doing). Unfortunately, the shot was slightly burnt, as well. Speeding up the shot got rid of the burnt flavour, but got rid of the unique almond/marzipan sensation, too. (Sidebar; my burrs might need replacing) Using normal pura milk this time, caramel and hazelnut flavours came through in a cappuccino, but it was no tour de force.

I made one french press and the notes for that read "sweet, sweet, sweet ... I think I have diabetes."

Conclusion: A fantastic coffee, deserving of a better roaster than I. Although roasts of this stuff from St Ali have made great SO espresso, every single espresso that I have had with Daterra Sweet has been low in body and has had difficulty cutting through milk. Given Illy's involvement in setting up the amazing Daterra facility, I wonder if this is what fresh Illy is supposed to taste like?

I can really see using Daterra Sweet in an espresso blend, maybe even up to 30%. It would superbly complement a more 'bass note' coffee that adds syrupyness and cuts through milk. This coffee would also be great in lower pressure brewing methods, such as french press, vac pot and aeropress.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Epic Opening

A massive, massive shout-out to Corey "we need more power" Diamond and his top-notch crew in Perth! This took balls:

... although it was not really all that unexpected from the man whose last fit-out looked like this:

... hell, I'd trade most cafe setups for his home setup any day:

The really funny thing is that the above photo of Epic - with its three Mazzer Roburs (two of them three-phase), two Synesso Cyncras and a Mazzer Mini - was taken yesterday. This morning, I got a call from Corey that started like this:

C: Hey Luca, what are you up to?
L: Just at work, man, what about you?
C: Yep, I'm at Epic.
L: Oh, you guys are open Saturdays, too?
C: No, I'm just replacing the Mini with a Super Jolly; the Mini is too slow ...

I'm going to call it. Corey, you have officially set the record for the weakest resistance to upgradeitis. And I'll predict that you'll replace the Super Jolly pretty soon too; it's also pretty slow ;P

But enough about the machines. The machines are not what will make Epic epic. It's the people and the philosophy. Everyone in the team is passionate, skilled and brings something unique to the team. And I'm not just blowing smoke. Here's a very quick rundown of the amazing people that I worked with on my working holiday to Core in January:

Johnny: The new guy when I was there, but an absolute natural at shots.
Meg: The latte art queen. What was it in Sydney? Two jugs at once, two rosettas touching each other in the centre? Pretty amazing ... just don't piss her off ;P
Ben: Too cool for school; he left Core to start up the West Australian Barista Academy and run the WA barista comp. But you can bet that he'll drop by Epic to keep them honest.
Ness: Ness is crucial. With all of these high-fliers, she is the voice of reason, exuding a calm competence that wouldn't go amiss at Maling Room when we get busy and Andrew starts to go Gordon Ramsay ;P

Updated: Johnny (left), Megan (centre) and Ness (right). Photo courtesy of Matt.

Meg, Ben and Ness have all competed in barista comps and have all done really well. I, personally, can't be bothered working out where they came in what, but if someone wants to reply in the comments field, that'd be cool. Building such a cohesive, happy, passionate and competent team is no mean feat and it was certainly the exposure to Corey's leadership style that was the most important learning experience for me at Core. Also worth a mention are the fantastic people at Five Senses. Five Senses is pretty huge, so I'm not going to list everyone, but I do want to mention Dean, the master-roaster with a billion tastebud and, it seems, nearly as many friends all throughout the coffee industry and all over the world and Shaughan, the techy sales guy who has gone out of his way to support us with our Synesso even though we're on the other side of the country and Five Senses didn't sell us our machine!

OK, enough gushing. How's the coffee? Well, I won't know until Corey sends us some of their blend (hint, hint), but "Grendel," who dropped by on the opening day had this to say:

" ... [t]hat’s what these shots were – experiencing coffee.

Mouth feel was immense, a rich, complex sustained chord. Unique in my experience (which I will admit is limited).

The aroma while tasting was a timber caramel with a little fruitiness like stewed prunes in a dry oaky port.

The acidity was balanced, there was a genuine spiciness to the coffee which added to the complexity and the aftertaste was chocolate tobacco. I was pretty stunned.

I had originally thought to rate these out of 100 – but I find now that I can’t do that. This was very different to anything I’ve had before and I have no context for a numerical rating. Class of its own I guess."

Good one, Shaggy ... err ... Corey! You can read more and see a few photos in Grendel's blog entry. (The first photo in this post is Grendel's).

I know that I speak for a whole bunch of people in Melbourne when I say that we wish Epic espresso every success, and anticipate that it will live up to its name.

Perth readers, I direct you to go there and buy a coffee right now. OK, maybe not right now. They're open 6:30 to 4:00 weekdays. Outram St, West Perth ... anyone care to furnish the street number?

Update 1: Matt has also blogged about Epic.

Update 2: Dropped by St Ali today to pick up the tampers. Mark reckons that this is the "Capricorn" that Corey is featuring at the moment. At any rate, it's not the webpage for the mysterious "Coast," who apparently have no internet presence, so I've updated that.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Some machines that I use ...

One of the reasons why I felt compelled to start up this blog is simply that I am lucky enough to be able to play around with an extraordinary variety of machines, each of which produces a relatively different cup. Seeing as I usually make reference to the coffee preparation conditions, I thought that I might take y'all, beloved readers, through this week's lineup to help put future coffee notes in context.

These are the machines that I will probably refer to most commonly in my posts. After all, they're at home! The Silvia is does the lion's share of the work at home. The combination of rancilio machines is, however, ruthlessly unforgiving.

To make it easier to nail the right temperature, I made a custom backsplash panel to hold a digital thermometer with the probe on top of the boiler. Seeing as QLD Mark showed that convection currents in the boiler only really stop about two minutes after the element light is off, my current technique involves adding more heat by flipping on the steam switch on for a few seconds if necessary immediately after the element goes off, then waiting until the values on the thermometer stop changing. For the mathematically inclined out there, I guess that that means that I'm technically looking at the derivative ... which makes me 1/3rd of a PID controller ;P I'm also using the stock La Marzocco double basket.

Shots from the Silvia and Rocky combo vary greatly in both quality and character. If one purges the wand a lot and starts starts steaming before the steam tstat switches the element off, it is possible to get more ample steam than most of the prosumer HXs that I have tried, but it is wetter.

The La Peppina is even more esoteric! It is a 1970s gravity-fed, spring lever machine. If you thought Rancilio's crappy thermostats were dodgy, be glad that your machine wasn't made by FE-AR; there is no attempt to control temperature whatsoever. You flick the switch on and the element turns on. That's all there is to it. Fortunately, with the lid off, temperature in the area where the brew water is sucked into the piston falls at a rate of about 0.1C/second, so it is possible to repeatedly get something like the temperature that you want. The lever also provides an interesting level of control ... I tend to let it pre-infuse the puck a little bit, then push the lever down to make sure that I've got a full single shot's worth of water flowing through. I can also increase the brew pressure by pushing the lever up to help the spring along. This machine provides great control over all aspects of brewing, but does require a bit of finesse.

Shots from the Peppina generally exhibit very clean flavours, tending towards the more acidic end of the spectrum, as opposed to the more chocolatey. The espresso can easily be thin in body unless you dose up and grind fine, and the crema always seems to fade to a few mm very quickly (unless you make a shot that tastes like garbage to optimise the crema). This machine is espresso only!

... so every now and then I go from my crappy home machines to what must be one of the best machines in the world. If espresso machines were knives, this would be a scalpel, whereas my home machines would be plastic picnic knives. If I were doing surgery, I know which I would choose! This machine derives its amazing flexibility from the multiple-boiler system. Each boiler is controlled by the PID underneat the drip tray ... which I should have cleaned out before taking this photo ;P Because of this, we are able to keep two groups dialled in for the house blend and use the third group to play around with whatever we happen to have around in our play grinder. The levers have a line pressure preinfusion position and a brew position. And you can turn them off, too, I guess.

Shots from the synesso exhibit amazing clarity of flavour and can be tweaked to get out pretty much any characteristics that your blend has. Sometimes, when we have time, we'll assault random enthusiastic customers with the same blend brewed at two different temperatures a few degrees apart ... they are invariably amazed by the difference. However, this machine gives you no room to hide with crap beans. If they are under roasted, they will taste sour and grassy. If they are over-roasted, they will taste charred and like vodka. If the blend has five great beans and one crap one, you'll taste the crap one. The Synesso steams like a train. At low pressures, the stock tip just doesn't cup it. The steam boiler is also PID controlled and we have it running at something like 1.4 bar! Slip up and you paint the walls!

The La Marzocco Linea is a classic. To my mind, only the e-61 is more iconic. The linea is the weapon of choice for many, many high-volume espresso bars across the world; and with good reason - they just won't die. This little trooper didn't miss a beat when we ran about 25kg through it at this year's Aroma Festival in Sydney. In about seven hours! That said, there's a tendency to deify Lineas. The truth is that the Linea has had a long production run. There are a lot of subtle differences between the different models; some are just OK, some are absolutely fantastic. One thing that springs to mind is the gicleurs. Gicleurs (or restrictors) are essentially a bit of metal with a hole through it. The hole determines how long it takes the machine to ramp up to full brew pressure. The smaller the diameter, the gentler the pressure rampup. The second obvious thing is the temperature control. As well as getting lineas at a relatively cheap price, Lineas come standard with PID in Australia. Dave Makin's Linea has 0.6mm gicleurs and does not have a PID.

Shots from the linea tend to be clean, with a relatively rich mouthfeel. Again, this thing has copious steam. Dave's linea exemplifies the adage that no matter how expensive the machine, a large part of its steaming capacity comes down to a $20 steam tip. I don't like the stock tip much, but swapping it with the Reneka Viva S tips makes it dead easy.

Although we all love the Linea, Veneziano is a roastery that supplies equipment. The vast majority of cafes out there aren't prepared to pony up the dough for a LM or a Synesso, and fair enough. Venez have had just about every HX machine under the sun go through, in a quest for something excellent and reasonably priced. I gather that Pete and Angelo often have to do a bit of internal tweaking to get the machines to perform how they want them to. So it's unsurprising that they have finally just gone and gotten a machine built to their specs so that, in future, they won't have to waste a lot of time tweaking it. This is the BFC machine that I mentioned a few posts ago. It is in the standard 'Diadema' case, which is somewhat poxy, but the internals are right. It's fun to have access to heaps of different machines!

Shots from this BFC machine are very rich and chocolatey, with all of the blend components mingling together to present one uniform flavour. It is understandable that this is what most cafe owners would want; consistency. You can use a blend with a bit of robusta in it to give you a bit more margin of error and you won't pick it up like you would on a Synesso. Nice. This, and the Dalla Corte machines, are my current favourite steamers. It is probably 100% down to the steam arm and tip, which I presume are stock parts used by both manufacturers. People who are ridiculously busy might want more steam. This can be cured with a $20 steam tip. (Sidebar; you wouldn't believe the amount of rebranding and identical parts used by different manufacturers - at least BFC acknowledge this and are happy to get the parts that you want.)

One of my first pours on the new BFC. Usually I screw up the first few jugs on a new machine!

Finally, we come to Dave's Maver machine. This is a little prosumer HX. Again, the thermosyphon has been balanced to require almost no cooling flush, which is a definite plus in my books. The drip tray is massive and the whole thing is made with what seems to be the same quality stainless that the ECM Giotto is made of. In fact, the story behind this machine really parallels the BFC machines - Dave visited Maver, told them what he wanted and they did it for him. Again, most manufacturers use the same parts ... expobar uses a non-e-61 group that has too much preinfusion time for my liking, but, other than that, I can't think of any majorly important differences in parts between most machines in this class. Having a machine like this at home certainly would be fun ... and infinitely preferable to a silvia!

Interestingly, the handful of shots that I have had from the Maver have tasted somewhere between shots from the Linea and shots from the BFC. There is some clarity and nuance, as well as some mega-chocolatey mouthfeel, but it's not like I have done a detailed comparison of all of the machines with the same blend - just my impression. What is really great, though, is that the machine is mega-forgiving. I pulled one shot with Primo that came out as a mega-ristretto and still tasted very clean and chocolatey. As you can imagine, steaming is a bit more anemic than all of the other 15+ litre steam boiler machines that I have mentioned, but no more so than with the other 'prosumer' HXs. The tip that it came with wasn't too impressive until we clogged up some of the holes with toothpicks, at which point it was awesome. I gather that Dave has sourced some different tips. I have taken a new job with Venez that will start sometime next month, part of which will be machine sales, so it's nice to have a machine that will sell itself! The whole 'prosumer' class of machines is something quite novel to me, so I'm looking forward to ripping this one open and tinkering with its ticker.

As an addendum, I should mention the Brasilia Competition grinder, just because it's relatively esoteric. This is probably my favourite grinder of all time. All grinders have flaws. With this grinder, the major problem is the incredible amount of mess - take a look at the day's worth of it above! Apparently there's a new exit spout kit around that should remedy this. Anyhoo, it is basically a stepless, doserless, conical burr grinder. Importantly, the grounds seem to pretty much drop straight out of the burrs. This means that they are very fluffy and clump-free, but also prone to spray around a bit. And the thing is fast! I'm looking forward to trying out the new compak K3 doserless, which seems to be like a flat-burred domestic version of this at a price that's only a bit more than a rancilio rocky. Here's hoping ...

Wow! I wrote a fair bit ...

OK, I'll keep it short and close with a thought; although there are some machines that just plain suck and some that are awesome, the differences in shot quality that I have talked about above are often quite subtle. As always, the beans that you are using and the grind/dose/tamp will make far more difference than the machine itself.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Santa Elena 'Miel' SHB (Costa Rica)

Part of the purpose of this blog is to give me references for my own roasting, which means recording the inevitable failed roasts. So let's take a look at one ...

About the coffee: The Santa Elena cooperative is located in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. 'SHB' is a designation meaning 'strictly hard bean,' that is usually applied to high-altitude coffees, for example those grown in the Huehuehtenange region of Guatemala. 'Miel' is spanish for 'honey' and refers to the unique processing method used for this coffee. Instead of pulping or fermenting the fruity mucilage layer off the coffee beans, this is left intact and the coffee is sun-dried for a week or so. This processing method is said to leave some of the body and sweetness of dry processed coffees, whilst also bringing out some of the fruitiness and clean cup character imparted by wet processing. It is also quite a unique method for Costa Rica - I seem to recall reading that this is because it is a bit of a PITA in a country where the humidity can, at times, impede the necessary drying. I bought this lot from coffeesnobs - thanks, Andy!

Don't you love the CS stamp?

The roast: I do most of my roasting in the sample roaster at Veneziano. Although it is an air roaster, it doesn't seem to create a very bright profile the way that the domestic Imex, I-roast, et. al. are reputed to. Those of you that have tasted Dave's WBC blend will have noticed that in the cup. I was aiming to stop this roast just after second crack, but let it go for a bit too long while I was busy fooling around - the guys were running an experimental blend through the marzocco ;P

Yes, Pete has more beans than I do.

The tasting notes:

The initial dial-in (27th): pulled various fast shots at grind setting of 11, 10, 9, dose = level, collapse, level. none of the shots were as objectionable as they should have been and the final espresso, although still out of the ballpark at 22 seconds, was actually quite good. very clean, none of the ash that I feared when I saw the oil on the surface. true what they say about cr coffees; very clean, very single-note. fairly sweet. the shots got richer in body and redder in colour as I increased temperature and decrease brew time (duh). temp surf of +10s should be where I start next time. a french press showed some slight ashiness; preferable to roast this one a little bit lighter and rest it longer.

cappuccino (28th); short double. a very rich shot that blends well with the milk, although it tastes slightly burnt - partly the shot, partly the coffee.

Conclusions: Gee, Luca, howsabout not burning it next time? The fact that it went well through milk might make it a great blend component.


Santa Elena Cooperative's Webpage

Discussion in CS's Cupping Room

SM's Costa Rica Page (They aren't offering the Santa Elena - check their archives if you're after notes, but they obviously won't be for the current crop. The link is there for the overviews that Tom has written, but it also reviews another 'miel' coffee.)

A brief mention in June 02's 'Tiny Joy' newsletter from Sweet Maria's

Flavour Characteristics Due to Processing (


Keeping secrets ... not!

One of the great excitements of the world of coffee is that developments are always afoot. Perhaps the seasonal nature of the crops attracts nut jobs who just have to tinker. Every now and then, I get to be privvy to some stuff, like this package, which arrived this week ...

Yep, good ole Greg Pullman is at it again. One great thing about Greg is that he listens to feedback, even when it hurts. A few years ago, Greg's tampers had ridiculously long handles and the base was just a flat stainless steel circle. All of it was of the same quality that his tampers are today, but it was just plain irritating to use because of the long handle. So it was changed. I commented that I thought that levelling grooves around the edges would be cool. Greg didn't like the idea, but tried it out. Now, not only is it part of the tamper, it is part of the logo! Greg Kaan thought that a chamfered edge on the top of the tamper would be good. It was done. And, so, the evolution continues with some more test modifications ...

... but I have been asked to keep them secret!

Of course, Greg isn't the only one working on cool new toys. The boys at Veneziano are locked in a game of one-upmanship. On their stopover in Italy before the World Barista Champs, Pete and Dave took the opportunity to visit a few machine factories. Now, some manufacturers are brilliant - just tell them what you want, and they'll do it. Dave stopped by Maver and talked to them about their Marte model. A dozen of them landed a few months ago, and Dave has been tweaking them ever since. The big modification was to the thermosyphon, so that the group actually delivers the temperature that you want, with the minimum dicking around. It worked damned well and, out of the box, the machine seemed to almost require no cooling flush to get decent espresso out of it! Preinfusion time was great, not like the ridiculously long wait with the Expobars and the shots didn't speed up and gush as much as they seem to on a giotto (although that probably has a lot to do with the coffee that I have used on them and the baskets that they had in them). The angled pf handle was a nice touch. Anyhoo, Dave asked me to keep my trap shut until he had played around with other restrictors, steam tips, etc. Well, given that he is selling them on Ebay, and that Mark from St Ali has already sold one, I presume that the cat is out of the bag. At some stage, I'll have to jones for a more in-depth trial than four or five shots.

So Dave was the big man around the roastery for a month or so until Pete landed a bunch of custom-made machines, by BFC, just last week. BFC made the very clever move of doing their own body kits, which means that a lot of people just get the same decent machine, with a different body. The 'La Valentina,' 'Junior' and 'Diadema' home machines are good examples. So it was with much enjoyment that the techs at BFC put a different machine, with specifc internal requirements, into the standard body for Pete. The machine really is a 'roaster's machine,' with some clever features like easily-accessible pressurestat and some other stuff that I might not be able to mention. The drip tray is forehead-slappingly simple and clever, though!

The funny thing is that, Pete's machine, too, is cruising to be overshadowed. Naturally, no stopover in Florence is complete without a visit to the La Marzocco factory, with its gorgeous break room. Who doesn't love a custom-hotrodded FB-80 overlooking the tuscan countryside?

No, that's not me. Unfortunately my LM factory photos were on my old computer
when reformatted. I'll have to get them back from the backup CDs, if we still have
them. The above photo is of Mark Prince and Andrew Barnett (?), and is part of
Mark's awesome La Marzocco factory visit gallery on flickr.

LM have a great strategy. Welcome all of your visitors. Take them up to this break room. Let them play around on awesome machines. Make sure they drink great espresso, gazing over the tuscan hillside ... so, of course, Pete and Dave had to order a custom FB-80. The huge semiauto buttons with the lion on them light up when you engage them to brew and there are custom spotlights next to each group! It's on the boat now. Here are some shots that LM snapped, before sending it off. Blurry, in true tabloid journalism style :P

Cool new stuff doesn't stop there. Sunbeam apparently have a new version of their EM6900, 'Paul Bassett' machine coming out soon. Jeffrey from Pallo and Steve from Coffeelab Design are also not resting on their respective laurels and my boss Andrew is coming up with a custom blend for Maling Room.

Teeeheehee ... it's good fun to blurt out everyone's 'secrets' every now and then. Maybe I should go and work for women's weekly ...


Friday, September 01, 2006

Coast Peaberry (Australia)

Some background info: Peaberry coffee beans are a naturally occurring anomaly where the coffee cherry develops only one bean with a completely rounded surface, rather than two with flat surfaces. Take a look at the photo to the right (link to source). Most sources will tell you that the beans result from stress to the coffee plant, such as insect damage or drought, but also confirm that they will pretty much always occur in some coffee cherries harvested at the tip of the branches of the coffee plant. As a result, 2 -7% of a coffee farmer's crop will usually be peaberry, which will be screened out and sold separately. Peaberries are usually considered a defect in conventional lots, but are sold as individual lots, too. The flavour of peaberries is usually described as a concentrated version of the conventional bean.

About this peaberry: Australian coffees are rare enough, but Australian peaberries? My sense of curiosity was instantly piqued when Mark from St Ali told me that he had some in stock. After Tim Wendelboe used some of the peaberry from Mountain Top to win the 2004 WBC, we tried out a blend using the regular MT coffee and were very happy with it. (This was at Maltitude, the cafe that I used to work at in the city.) Since then, I had only had some relatively disappointing Australian coffees and had certainly never even heard of "Coast" coffee. It was a very pleasant surprise to have a traditional double-shot cappuccino from Toshi, perhaps one of Melbourne's best baristi, earlier this year. The phrase "best coffee of the year" springs to mind. It was rich and unctuous; the closest thing to a rich hot chocolate that you will ever get out of coffee. So when they roasted up the last of the bag, I couldn't help but buy some for myself and for my boss, Andrew, at Maling Room.

The tasting notes:

The coffee was roasted on the 17th and I drank it at home from the 20th to the 25th. Through my Silvia/Rocky combination, I was unable to recreate the magic that Toshi had earlier created. The resultant espresso was low in acidity and tasted of cocoa, cutting through milk well, but I was unable to bring out the sweetness to transform it from cocoa to hot chocolate. I had earlier mentioned that it would be awesome to blend this with some Daterra Sweet Collection. Of course, I picked some of this up from Mark as well and blending them together produced great espresso off the back of the Daterra. A french press brewed on the 24th had a berry aroma that I couldn't discribe more precisely than that, but that flavour did not make it into the cup, which was full-bodied and low in acid, unexpectedly becoming sweeter and sweeter as it cooled!

On the 26th (9 days old), I took Andrew's 1/2kg into Maling Room, which was fortunate, as the house blend was quite unimpressive on the day. Not having been able to repeat the "wow" experience from St Ali earlier in the year, I was unsure how it would go through the Synesso. We dialled a head to 201F and found that, as an espresso, it wasn't overly impressive by itself; chocolatey, for sure, but not terriffically complex, nor was the mouthfeel anything special. The thought that it would make a great blend component was again confirmed when Andrew just had to show off the Sidamo that he'd roasted that week. Of course, there was only 10g or so left, so he pulled an impromptu blended shot. Score; lovely acidity with some chocolate. Sure, the extraction paramaters were off, but pretty good overall. Anyhoo, the customers went bannanas over the milk drinks that went out for them and within a few hours it was all that I could do to snag the last double shot for myself:

Yes, I need to remember that the Synesso has way
more steam than my Silvia ;P

Conclusion: A unique and somewhat perplexing coffee to work with. A 150mL milk drink based off a double-shot, if pulled correctly, can potentially blow your mind, however it seems to be a bit finnicky in this regard. Perhaps the difference in ability to pull great shots between home and work indicates that this one is best left to sit for a week before using it. In this regard, it is similar to most of the nice robustas and monsooned coffees. If this is around in a year, I will certainly revisit it, likely as a blend component.


Roast Magazine on Australian Coffee

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