State of Best of COE in Espresso

elusive espresso... theorize, philosophize!

Postby Mark Prince on Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:42 pm

malachi wrote:
MarkP wrote:Why do you think there's no CoE blends for espresso out there.


2 - emotional (why would you blend such a beautiful coffee)


Financials I get.

Emotional? I prefer to save (and savour) coffee emotions for the situations, not necessarily the coffee itself. But I do understand that others get emotional specifically about specific coffees. We saw the massive love in with the Esmerelda two years ago (which to be honest, I just couldn't join in on), and we've seen it with various coffees since. The closest I've probably come to this was with the long lost, but never forgotten Maui Moka Kaanapali. I still feel sad about that coffee.

But even if it's all about the "beautiful coffee", then why not take two or three beautiful coffees and do what espresso is best at - making the sum greater than the parts. That's what espresso does, that no other brewing method has the ability to do (again, for Nick, IMO): it literally has the power to take parts put into a whole, and make that whole greater than any one component. It's been my experience.


Now, to answer one of your earlier questions - "what makes good espresso". This also is an answer to Peter's excellent post. It's something I wrote to Vince Piccolo a few days ago:

I wonder at times if my "ideal" espresso is the same as others. I wrote on coffeed that I demand a lot of espresso because for me, when it's good, it's complex, surprising, and has a multitude of taste sensations, differentiating from start to finish. That literally is my best definition of what espresso is.

I prefer a deep body but as many delicate and lighter notes as I can get. If a shot gives me deep chocolate / tobacco / earthy body, and also gives me citrus / berry / floral mid and high notes, I'm in heaven. If I taste anything resembling sharpness / sourness / bitter / puckering tastes, I'm thrown off, and call it a bad representation of what espresso is.

If the shot gives me the same tastes at the start as it does in the finish, then I don't like it. I expect espresso to be complex and a bit morphy too - the best espressos I've ever had have completely surprised me in how they represent different tastes in first taste vs. aftertaste. I've had espresso from blends where I knew the cupping characteristics of every component - but in the shot pull, some of those flavours would combine and morph into something completely new and different, something not found on the cupping table, and something not found when the shots were pulled as SO coffees.

Even better, the espresso that can handle cooling down a bit - 95% of them can't.

This is why I'm on a bit of an evangelist mission against proclaiming SO espressos as "the next big thing". As an evaluation tool, it's crucial; but as something to savour and enjoy, something to be the poster child for what espresso should be, I haven't found it yet, and its not from lack of trying. This year alone, I've pulled over 50 different coffees, including over 35 SO CoE coffees, as espresso, only be let down by the boring profiles, or amplified notes that, when cupped are nice, but when pulled, are just too much ;)

(note - the above, and the next part is all part of an email I wrote this to Vince, and will risk a big backlash by posting this publicly, but it's what I do - if I feel strongly about an issue, I'll speak up about it - I don't like saying one thing privately, and another thing publicly, if I can help it. The funny thing is, more people seem to agree with me privately than publicly on this issue lol


Another reason why this SO trend bothers me so much - I really do see it as a lack of respect shown towards what espresso (the process) is supposed to be, and ditto towards the art of blending. It's the lazy person's way out (my opinion lol). Just like I think triple baskets pulling short doubles, and double baskets pulling single ristrettos are crutches and the lazy way to getting a decent shot, I see SO shot pulls as the lazy way to building an espresso. The art of the blend is something not enough of the "young guns" in this biz seem to have much respect for these days... IMO of course

Pulling El-Salvs all week this week, I am ;) (roasted up 10 of them today).I roasted them all to full city ++ (about 20 seconds into second crack). Might not be dark enough?

-----

Neway... there's my long, convoluted answer. I want to add one more thing though - while I think Peter's responses are great, in the back of my mind, I also weigh where he's coming from - a company that markets a SO espresso. Mind you, it's one that was used and helped win the WBC last year; so what do I know...

but still, that's the long time focus of George and Co - highlighting the SO coffees. Peter, I've taken Daterra myself - the rare times I had a lb bag - and taken a few choice other coffees and blended in some amazing red fruit notes that, well, just made it that much better to my palate. On its own, I find it is still lacking - at least as far as my own personal definition of espresso is. Again, it's a WBC winner, so what do I know. All I know is what I like.

I've also taken similar CoE coffees from the same auction samples (different farms), and even then, struggled to get something that wasn't too amplified one way or another. I understand (and definitely have experienced) a wide range of taste flavours from coffees from the same region, same country, and even in some cases, same farm; however - it's a degree of difference that doesn't (in my experience) match the degree of difference I find from taking completely different region coffees and blending them for espresso.

Gawd - there's more I want to type about - like how some very famous "blends" haven't been doing it for me for a while now, the rare times I try them - and recently, I discovered why I found them boring and flat.... the blend isn't much of a blend... but I won't mention specific brands. But I have much, heaps respect for the art of blending, and I worry that maybe this art is falling by the wayside, much to the epiphany moment espresso's chagrin.

Mark
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Postby Steve on Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:20 pm

You know what from this moment forward I'm going to throw away my double and treble baskets, I'm never going to drink single origin shots and only drink blends. All this because Mark has said it a million times (OK a thousand I shouldn't exaggerate ;) ) , it has changed my opinion completely, through the sheer repetitiveness of it all.

He who shouts longest yada yada. I guess the problem is when you have so much to say its difficult to listen.

Can someone PM me when mark has joins the real world, or at least has the balance to understand others. I just wish I knew all the answers, and there was me thinking I never would.
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Postby Peter G on Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:21 am

Ok, I'll jump in, partially because I have an analogy which describes my feelings about the Single Origins v. Blends thing. The usual apologies about the inherent imperfections of analogies. (and a big hi to Trish!)

Walking out to the garden and eating a ripe tomato straight off the vine, while still warm from the sun, is one of the greatest culinary experiences there is. The sweetness and acidity of the tomato, the pure tomato flavor, the warmth of the juice, are a perfect taste experience and a positive miracle. I will use the word "perfect" again because this experience can be so wonderful it makes me want to cry.

Taking tomatoes from the garden, and making a tomato salad by cutting them coarsely, and tossing them with coarse salt, really good olive oil, and a chiffonade of basil, in a bowl rubbed with garlic, is a different experience. The oil gives the salad a mouthfilling body, the garlic enhances the savory character of the tomato, the oil and basil lend herbaceous and floral aromas to the experience and accentuate the floral character of the tomato itself. Salt adds another basic, complimentary flavor. The experience is also perfect, if the ingredients are all wonderful and the salad is made judiciously and with care.

Are either of these tomato experiences less "good" than the other? You might argue that a fresh tomato from the garden isn't to your taste, but I would argue that you are missing one of the greatest food experiences in the world.

I think that drinking single origins offers the same kind of opportunity for exploration and coffee appreciation. I look at coffee as the same kind of perfect miracle a great tomato is, and both deserve all kinds of appreciation in all sorts of contexts. Cupping, French Press, Filter-Brewed, Espresso Machine, Clover: each brewing strategy can show you different aspects of the coffee and can reveal the miraculous perfection of the coffee itself. To me, it's not all about the competitive/judging aspects of achieving the "best", it's about learning about the world. Then you wind up discovering lots of different "bests".

I think that sometimes, when we start talking about "best" and even "good", we start to narrow what we will accept as pleasing. It is especially tragic that as human beings we will tend to reject that which is new and unusual to our palates. I think that this is something to overcome, not to embrace. "I don't like it" is a legitimate response, but I will wager that most of us didn't "like" coffee when we were children or teenagers. We learned to appreciate it, we taught our palates that a certain kind of bitter was in fact delightful, and a whole world of flavors were opened up to us.

Dogma is our enemy here. Where would we be if we accepted that "Rwanda and Honduras simply cannot make great coffee" as the truth (which used to be commonly accepted).

Anyway, all that said, back to the original topic. I think Mark P might have made the point that the COE is a contest based on a cupping, and therefore the judges are saying that these are the best coffees in that context. (As an aside, when I served as a judge in the Nicaragua COE, the organizers provided an espresso machine if we wanted to use it to try some of the coffees that way. It remained unused the entire week.) That's not to say that COE SO's will never be great, it's just that they were selected to be great brewed coffees.

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Postby )on on Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:42 am

MarkP wrote:I wonder at times if my "ideal" espresso is the same as others.


Do you mean your ideal or the actual espresso blend - the literal espresso shot. I would venture to say that it's not the same as anyone else's - it's utterly unique. The characteristics you describe and the passion with which you describe espresso are compelling, but it's still such a subjective experience. Some people are put off when they think their right to a subjective experience is being diminished... but I'm glad you work so hard to try to define it.

When I began wondering how my espresso experience related to others', I ordered a pound here and there of OPE (other peoples' espresso)

MarkP wrote:the rare times I had a lb bag


Being a barista and working with a house coffee day in and day out is a bit like being married (how's that for a poor analogy). I found it difficult to really compare a coffee that I had only 1lb to try (OPE - with my machine parameters and my barista-ing, to use a Gulianoism) and the coffee(s) I worked with day in and out.

Whether or not CoE coffees are 'made' for espresso or 'good' in blends I think lies in the imaginations of the ones who are purchasing and roasting the coffees - preparing the espresso and talking about coffee with the public.

Interesting too, Mark, that most of your coffee and espresso tasting comes from your own hand. That brings some sort of objectivity to the coffee because you have a growing knowledge of what coffee from your set-up 'should' taste like. But I know that most of your top espresso moments have come from the hands of your favorite roasters/blends/baristas. I wonder if most of the stories/hype/perception of CoE coffees (and any coffees) are generated within a community... which makes the online community strained when we can't taste the same coffees (literally) side by side.
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Postby nick on Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:37 am

For me, it still boils down to one critical differentiation among "passionate" (third wave) coffee people : You're drinking these coffees/espressos primarily because you're exploring the realm and depths and heights and complexities and nuances and singularities etc... or you're drinking them primarily because you're looking for what you like.

Neither is better or worse, and I said "primarily," leaving room for some overlap, but there's a key distinction there. In either case, it could be worse... you could lack passion altogether.
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Postby Mark Prince on Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:51 am

)on wrote:Interesting too, Mark, that most of your coffee and espresso tasting comes from your own hand. That brings some sort of objectivity to the coffee because you have a growing knowledge of what coffee from your set-up 'should' taste like. But I know that most of your top espresso moments have come from the hands of your favorite roasters/blends/baristas.


You're spot on about this one Jon. I still remember the first time you pulled me a shot, and I think it was Espresso JJ in fact. As you might remember, not my favourite profile at all (the overly bright shots that John likes); however, it was one of those great espresso moments for me, because you had this ability to not only make the shot better than any others I had up to that point from that blend (any coffee, any grinder, any machine yada yada :)), but I still remember the subtle enthusiasm and passion you had when doing it.

And I have hundreds of similar memories with other Baristas, roasters, cafe owners doing similar things.

This is what I meant about being emotional about beautiful coffee "moments", not coffees themselves. Heck, the best cup of coffee I ever had came from a pound of stale Bridgehouse coffee, while camping years ago.

When it comes to evaluating coffee to get a sense of what is good or bad, much is by my own hand, because that gives me the luxury of being able to pull a dozen, two dozen shots if need be to hit a sweet spot. It gives me the ability to really give a coffee a chance to shine. There's countless times where I've gone through a full lb or two of one coffee just to garner one good shot. That's a lot of doubles pulled.

Anyways, I've obviously rubbed more than a few people the wrong way by stating my opinions on this subject. But I yearn for one or more threads on coffeed by baristas who talk about the art of blending and discoveries about how new and exciting flavours that didn't come out of the cupping were found, or about challenging themselves to pull a perfect single from a single basket, or similar.

... now I'm off to enjoy some Organic Honduras from Intelly.... in a vac pot ;) (two drinks, nick).

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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:07 pm

There is no ideal espresso. If you talk about ideals, you are talking about blends. If you talk about unique exhilirating and educational experiences, it's probably an SOS.
You can argue the methods: roasting style, temperatures, dosing, etc... but to argue SOS vs Blends is comparing apples and oranges.

Mark: Get a hold of the Gabriel Diaz Brazil from last years crop. I heard it is the most balanced (everyday drinkable) complex kinda single origin for espresso that blew the socks off one of my fav roasters.
Best shots came from other people... :?

BTW I'm with PeterG
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Postby Marshall on Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:21 pm

I think single origin espresso is specialty coffee politics evolved into a connoisseur's fad that has no commercial future. For years writers like Tim Castle have complained that much of a farmer and broker's hard work in growing and seeking out the best and most distinctive coffees is lost in a retail world ruled by espresso and espresso-based drinks. The magic solution was S.O. espresso.

No matter the quality of the bean, I agree with Mark they are dull (or unbalanced) and will never compare with the best blends. But, when a roaster with a strong relationship with his farmer drinks it, he is not just drinking the coffee, he is drinking his complete relationship with the farmer and may fall into the trap of convincing himself that the espresso is as wonderful as the people who grow his beans. It's not. Just ask your customers.
Last edited by Marshall on Tue Jul 18, 2006 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rich Westerfield on Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:04 pm

To Mark's defense (and immense disappointment for Belle and I) we tried to pull some Esmeralda shots with the last of our supply and failed miserably. Granted we only had enough for three shots, but we took what we felt was pretty good aim. The beans were seven days old and still tasted damn good as press.

In each of the three shots the overwhelming taste was not of expected lemon zest, but more of a lemon cough drop. It was so powerful that it masked everything else. Unlike others reporting here, the sensation was unpleasant. Made us wish we hadn't done it.

Had we more beans to work with and the opportunity to do some temp surfing, maybe we'd have had something to crow about. But we didn't.

Instead it was like throwing six cups of the most perfect press pot coffee ever down the drain. Sort of made us want to cry.

Unfortunately we tried our experiment before seeing posts on anyone else's so we couldn't ask for tips. Afterwards I was hoping to learn more from Ben about where we went wrong... but that's just asking for more pain since there's nothing left to experiment with.
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Postby James Hoffmann on Tue Jul 18, 2006 5:17 am

This thread has left me to think about two things:

Firstly I am surprised there hasn't been more resistance to SO shots from the roasters. For years they have traded on their blends, their USP, which of course they kept very secret. With an SO you want to know everything so quite concievably you could end up tasting the same green from a variety of roasters - such as the Yellow Bourbon from Cachoeira mentioned above. This would lay the skill of the roaster bare - which is obviously a good thing if you really know what you are doing.

Secondly - I still find it hard to believe that SO coffees aren't complex. I find it easier to believe that the brews often achieved with them aren't though.

Say we dismiss a coffee because it is a sour thin shot - is it sour because of the coffee or the roast or did we brew too cool/too quick/get the dose wrong? At what point do we give up on a coffee? What if flat temp brewing only captures part of a coffee, and in a blend the parts that we get (in a good blend) meld together into something whole? Would a different profile work much better for an SO shot in getting more of it into the cup to create more balance and complexity?
I often deal with commodity, mass roasted espresso blends and then question of when to give up is one that constantly dogs me. When do you draw the line between a poor coffee and a poor shot of it?
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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:56 am

PaniniGuy wrote:To Mark's defense (and immense disappointment for Belle and I) we tried to pull some Esmeralda shots with the last of our supply and failed miserably. Granted we only had enough for three shots, but we took what we felt was pretty good aim. The beans were seven days old and still tasted damn good as press.


Rich,
That was roasted for drip and the only way to pull an acceptable shot would be to walk the temps down until you dull some of that citrus and likewise increase the shot volume a bit. Still, for that coffee, it's incredibly experimental and expensive to be trying to pull a shot. I hope that Mark is not attempting the same thing.
Rich, if you want some really nice SOS to evaluate on your machine without changing temps and without being experimental, I'd be happy to forward you a few ideas. If you do get the urge to experiment, I got some coffee ideas for that too :wink:

James has a point.
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Postby td on Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:32 am

Since we are on an analogy trip- here is how I feel about SO espressos. Not as a professional, but as a coffee lover.

To me SOs are like foreign hookers. Exotic, unusual,fun, daring even. Some of the best can expand your horizons;blow your mind; and leave you feeling exhausted. But not a one of them- no matter how expensive, practiced or well recommended- will stay with you, or has the depth and complexity of that first deep, dark kiss of your one true love.

Your favorite blend on the other-hand; is like your love of many years; warmly familar and consistent. Depending upon your own mood these blends can just help move you through your day or take you to erotic, but not completely unfamilar heights. This coffee, this experience, is unique, but perhaps in a way only you can experience.

So, you may have your little explicit taste assiginations with your SOs- but only your favorite espresso blend, pulled on your favorite machine can ever hope to have the depth and complexity of the deep, dark kiss of your true love.
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Postby nick on Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:13 pm

Terry...


... I would stay with you.







Me so h*rny.
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Postby Steve on Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:21 pm

I have had some awesome blends in the past that I have enjoyed. But I have had some single origin shots that have been light bulb over the head moments that have completely changed the way I think and feel about coffee and the way I taste things in general. Blends have never done this for me I'm afraid. I guess I'm a simple guy who likes simple things (and foreign hookers).
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Postby MeanJoeBean on Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:43 pm

The only reason I pull single origins is to test them for blends, that way I can get attempt to incorporate what I like about that coffee into the blend. One must remember that espresso preparation magnifies the good and bad qualities of any coffee, I don't care how high of a rank it gets in COE or any other competition.

Mark, I can pull one hell of a single shot... too bad I get hated on for it by those left coasties.

and td...well, whatever floats your boat, man, I fortunately dont have to pay...yet.

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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Tue Jul 18, 2006 5:13 pm

MarkP wrote:I prefer a deep body but as many delicate and lighter notes as I can get. If a shot gives me deep chocolate / tobacco / earthy body, and also gives me citrus / berry / floral mid and high notes, I'm in heaven. If I taste anything resembling sharpness / sourness / bitter / puckering tastes, I'm thrown off, and call it a bad representation of what espresso is.


Sorry to go back into this but...
citrus / berry / floral mid and high notes and sweet flavors are definately in CoE.
Chocolate in a CoE you could get from roast. Tobacco and earthy though, are those something you ever really find in the CoE top ten coffees? Along the same line of thought, are woody/mushroomy/spicy flavors prevalant in any of the CoE top ten coffees?

I have limited cupping of the CoE but there seems to be a tendency towards clarity in CoE, lots of clarity and very subtle flavors.
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Postby malachi on Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:49 pm

Espresso is just one preparation method. It's just one way to enjoy coffee.

Creating artificial limits merely decreases your possible experiences.
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Postby Mark Prince on Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:22 am

malachi wrote:Espresso is just one preparation method. It's just one way to enjoy coffee.


LOL. I guess this is where we differ. For me, espresso is the preparation method, the one that challenges coffee more than any other. When I want a bit more cruise control, I go vac pot or press. When I want the epitome of what coffee can be, I pull shots. When I want it to be really good, I pull blended shots ;)

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Postby Mark Prince on Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:47 am

Steve wrote:I've really been enjoying this thread, so thank you for this stuff guys.

Markp Said

I was very careful in my post to point out, multiple times, this was all my own personal likes and dislikes


I think the point I'd really like to make here Mark is that your personal opinions have an effect on an awful lot of consumers like it or not, and I do think that it's a really biased and unbalanced opinion you have.


On this first point - usually when someone is biased, they have an agenda - some motive. What motive do I have save for experience? There is none. I have no gain at all in people drinking SO shots, or no SO shots.

But I'll answer my own question: my only motivation is that we're all complete and utter neophytes when it comes to coffee, and even more so when it comes to espresso. That's not my quote, that's George Howell's quote (on the coffee portion at least). Let's face up to it. We still don't even begin to have a clue about what coffee has to offer. From science telling us one day that it will kill us, and the next day that it will heal us, to how even the most seasoned, experienced roasters cannot, to the most experienced palates at least, produce identical roasts from the same commercial green bag. That's both the beauty and mystery of coffee, that I think all of us love. And something we all, myself included, often forget - we don't know jack shit about this stuff. We've been at coffee for 500 years, and still don't even know the full complete chemical composition of the roasted coffee bean!

And how bloody arrogant of us to think we know espresso? Again, I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else, and probably will be more so in this post.

Espresso is less than 60 years old in its present form, and arguably, it's undergone more exploration and evolution in the last five years than it has in the preceding 55 years.

Espresso is so demanding, so meticulous, so tortuous, that it needs something even more complex than the solitary bean to make it shine (again, IMO). As much care and attention should be going into the components that build the blend as the act of crafting the shot. The 4 Ms include miscela (blend) for a reason. Not coffee. Blend. And I whole heartedly believe that's crucial.

I never believe taking the easy route to anything is worthwhile. And I truly want to see espresso advance to the point where, twenty years from now, we'll be looking back and going "my God, we were so much in the dark ages back then". We'll be looking at things like not only temperature profiling but pressure profiling during the shot as old hat. We'll be looking at things that make our PID'ed temp stable machines of today look like steam toys. And we can go two directions - in my opinion - we can continue to push the greatness boundary of what espresso in the cup can be - or we can come up with technologies to make SO espresso somehow taste, what, better? more balanced? whatever. :)

Understanding the process, respecting it, and knowing that we haven't even begun to drink what a blend is capable of is where I want to be, and where I hope the community continues to go. SO takes a giant leap back from that. For me, it is like the super auto of the bean world.

So I guess I am biased.

Steve wrote:Markp Said
I was the only one in the room who felt this way, but nothing pulled impressed my tastebuds much.



Then in that company your opinion was in the minority and in another room it may not be, but no need to beat the drum quite as hard.


I'll be brutally frank again, and I wonder if anyone else will say something similar. Felt the 2004 Esmerelda, while a very good coffee, was the result of a lot of fanboyism and justification for the price paid, and this year's batch (only had two samples so far, from two different sources) was again, good, but what I called a $10 coffee (per green lb) - and a lot of people both online and in person agreed with that sentiment.

I probably just blew any chance of ever getting a megadollar coffee again from anyone ;) but truth be told, I'd rather see price records set for the lowest ranked coffee at these auctions, than the highest one. :D

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Postby Steve on Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:00 am

probably just blew any chance of ever getting a megadollar coffee again from anyone Wink but truth be told, I'd rather see price records set for the lowest ranked coffee at these auctions, than the highest one. Very Happy


Amen Brother, I mentioned in the Best of Panama post exactly the same sentiments (perhaps not as eloquently) and was shocked at the response back (full of love but certainly not full of agreement :) ). I love some of the lower lots at auction, and they are much more deserving of higher prices than the huge amounts the top lots get pound for pound.

One thing that has changed my mind a little about the top lots is the ripple effect it has had on the following auctions. I've noticed that since Brazil, prices across the board have risen, more companies seem to want to get involved, and with the consumer (certainly my customers anyway) there is a buzz around these coffees and why they are costing much more (still not enough but a different post).

Any way wildly of topic, but what I do want to say is that enjoyment of espresso, or coffee in general is the most important thing here. What ever floats your boat. :)
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Postby SL28ave on Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:20 am

This whole SO vs blend thing is nonsense. I just asked my counselor master-roaster if we're gonna graduate from preschool some time this decade.

GHH's VERY CAREFUL and culminating explorations with select SOs like Rwanda, Yirg and La Minita etc. has flat out proven the potential of SOs to me. What needs serious due attention is the farm, terroir, varietal, process, craftsmanship, luck and many other relevancies.... then beg the geeks to further help suit the machines to the beans..... and continue to decronstruct what was built under a perverse premise.... because the potential is beautiful.

But we all need to first taste and have a glimpse of this potential, even if it's just to further validate contradictory opinions..... getting everyone on the same chapter, let alone the same page..... what a hurdle!
Last edited by SL28ave on Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SL28ave on Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:21 am

malachi wrote:Espresso is just one preparation method. It's just one way to enjoy coffee.

Creating artificial limits merely decreases your possible experiences.


:D
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Postby Rich Westerfield on Fri Jul 21, 2006 7:25 pm

[quote="MarkP]I'll be brutally frank again, and I wonder if anyone else will say something similar. Felt the 2004 Esmerelda, while a very good coffee, was the result of a lot of fanboyism and justification for the price paid, and this year's batch (only had two samples so far, from two different sources) was again, good, but what I called a $10 coffee (per green lb) - and a lot of people both online and in person agreed with that sentiment.

I probably just blew any chance of ever getting a megadollar coffee again from anyone ;) but truth be told, I'd rather see price records set for the lowest ranked coffee at these auctions, than the highest one. :D

Mark[/quote]

Great sentiment and honesty.

We lost money offering it. But we'd do it again in a heartbeat (and hopefully make a couple bucks).

For a shop like ours (retail/no roast)in a town like ours (Pittsburgh burbs), getting the Esmeralda was a risk but also a huge opportunity. Intelly has sent CoE our way before, but not the #1 from any country auction. And nothing like this.

Having the Esmeralda got our staff excited about press again. They felt extra special proud to be serving it, especially the kids who are interested in competing and doing this for more than "a job". It smacked some of our older staff upside the head so they better understand our enthusiasm for varietals and brewing methods and why the world is more than Black Cat crema.

But that was step one. Taking the Esmeralda experience and layering the Santa Ines (only the third time we've offered a non-Intelly) on top of it really drove home the point of what we're doing.

Pretty much the same 18 customers who plunked down $5 for the Panama chipped in $5 for the Brazil. And our baristi were really interested in what each and every one of those customers had to say about their experiences with both... I mean REALLY interested in a way far beyond, "Hey, do I make a mean cappa or what?"

I'll add that even though the prices may be out of line as Mark suggests (but not $10/lb, either), had the amazing buzz not been there for these two outstanding coffees, odds are we wouldn't have taken a flyer on them. And IMO we would have been a professionally poorer operation because of it.

Jaime... appreciate the offer. We're interested, but probably not till Fall. Hoping to find one of you around here - that's probably asking a lot. You're right, we should've known better on Esmeralda as an SOS, but again, a good learning experience. If there was any doubts among our staff about the espresso brewing method highlighting the highs, pulling those three shots put those doubts to bed. It cost us $8.90 for the lesson. Not too bad.
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Postby bz on Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:17 pm

i don't understand how one can say that espresso makes a good evaluation tool ... and then approach it with a preconceived notion of what's "good." there's a logic lapse there. if you want espresso to show you things, you have to let it.

which is perhaps why i thought the mesmerelda made for stellar espresso. (caveat: i roasted myself, and took it to a "safe" finish where i historically have very high chances of getting something good on an HX machine -- without killing all the aromatics you want in a cupping.) it's not to say that everyone here would agree with me, but i was approaching the shots with no ideal whatsoever, and the result is that i discovered that i liked something i never thought i would enjoy.

it's kind of like finding you enjoy barbecue sauce on your canteloupe. certain people in this forum would say, "that's not what canteloupe is supposed to be." but i just don't care. my chocolate lily lemon was just flat-out phenomenal. would i still prefer a dark, smoky italian blend? some days. but without demanding that my shots fit that grid, i have learned to like -- ok, adore -- an entirely different espresso experience.

and THAT is how 'spro is really like marriage. 8)

if you think espresso is THE brewing method, then why fence it in?
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Postby nick on Sat Jul 22, 2006 7:16 am

Great post Ben.

My wife and I went out for dinner last night to a kick-ass restaurant here in DC (Palena) and had, for the first time, deep-fried lemon slices as part of one of the courses. Talk about being pleasantly surprised by something we never would have predicted we'd enjoy!
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