As promised, Ideal coffee has made a customized espresso blend just for me. I’m calling it “Thats My Espresso” (of course!)
It looks great and tastes even better!
Bored with the medium and light roasts I’ve been getting lately, I wanted something with a little more ‘punch’. This fits the bill perfectly. All the flavours of those roasts, with a 10% Robusta bean to give it a slightly stronger and bitter flavour. The result was exactly what I had hoped for! And the cream! Oh my, the CREMA!! Freshly roasted, it nearly overflowed the shot glass. Amazing!!
Ideal Coffee in Cesky Krumlov has just agreed to make me a customized espresso blend! Being a small roaster, they are able to adapt to small customer request like this.
I’ve found that they make great coffee, but most of their roasts are too light for my taste. This new darker blend will have Arabica beans from Mexico, Brazil and Cuba (which makes some GREAT coffees, in case you’ve never tried them. Amazing aroma after grinding!) And for a little punch, they’re going to add a just 10% robusta beans from Indonesia.
I can’t wait to pick up the first batch. And if I don’t like it, they’re willing to adjust the roast profile to suit my taste. How awesome is that??
I’ve just had another lesson in Espresso tuning that I thought I’d share with you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, start here: Espresso Fine Tuning, part 1
These days there are a LOT of coffee roasters in the Czech republic, but few seem to ‘get it’. The locals here certainly enjoy espresso drinks, but there is no coffee ‘scene’ like you might find in Berlin, London or West Coast, USA. They see a quick buck and produce poorly roasted, improperly stored, or seriously old product. I’ve seen it all. There’s no hope in these products. No point in espresso fine tuning if the coffee is crap.
The mailman brought me yet another sample of coffee from a roaster. Today’s parcel came from a name that kept coming up in my research: DoubleShot, a company located just outside of Prague. They don’t know it, but I’d selected them for a little taste test.
First, that they’re a SERIOUS company. They understand that their ‘brand’ name is important. They get it.
Second, they could have saved money by shipping in a cheap package (like so many others do.) They could have saved lots of money by using generic bags, or even saved a few pennies by using bags especially designed for coffee, that they just bought from another roaster or supply company. But they didn’t. They went all-out and designed a special package that does exactly what they wanted. Bravo guys. 10/10 on this!! (Seriously, watch the video mentioned above, to see what I mean.)
Now to taste the product. I warmed up my machine, a Gastroback Pro G, to make espresso. Then dialled my grinder to a neutral setting. First pull gave an extremely low pressure reading. This suggested I had problems. Big problems. A quick taste told the tale: Supremely SOUR.
Systematically I reduced my grind step by step to the smallest setting the grinder would allow. Still sour! Not a huge amount, but I was never able to get the espresso to where it should be. I then resorted to adding more beans, which isn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but I was desperate. Better, but still not there.
I refused to surrender. Seeing the details of the package, I cannot believe that the roasters sent me an inferior product. *I* must be doing something wrong. A quick tour of the internet suggested to me that perhaps my dose was too large and I was getting the sour taste from the tail end of the shot. Time to check my machine! I pulled a shot with an empty portafilter. Measuring the water, I found 3 ounces of water. Way over the recommended 2 ounces. Lucky for me, the Gastroback Pro G allows you to program the shot size. I calibrated the volume, reset my grinder and tried again.
The shot was still sour, but just a little. I reduced the grind size and pulled another. This one was nearly balanced. Not really sour, but the flavour still seemed a little off. I noticed that the shot poured a little bit quick, which means that the pressure was a little low. Instead of 20 to 30 seconds (the ideal espresso double shot pull time) it was somewhere around 10. I added a little coffee to the next shot. Perfection!! Slightly sweet with some a bit of a caramel taste.
My compliments to DoubleShot. You’ve made a really great product. And challenged me to take my Espresso Tuning to the next level. 🙂
Health issues aside, there a few GOOD reasons Why You Should Use Fat Milk in Your Coffee:
The thinner milks taste watery in an espresso based drink. That little bit of added fat content means the world to the texture of the foam. Thinner bubbles will burst quicker. Maybe even before your drink is served. You don’t want that!
Great Foam and LOTS of it
If you enjoy the ‘microfoam’ found on a great cappuccino, you must use milk with at least 3.5% fat. After that it’s all about the quality of the machine and the skill of the barista. One or the other won’t cut it. Thin milk won’t ‘stretch’ very much. That means the volume of the milk won’t increase as you heat it. This is essential to foam-making. But even the world’s best barista can’t make foam if the machine’s steam wand doesn’t work well. Don’t skimp on this. Buy a good machine! (And good does NOT mean expensive!) Make sure to try before you buy.
Your heart may not like the higher fat content, but your tongue will! Have a Cappuccino or Latte with 3.5% milk and then sample another with 2% (or less). You’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. It’ll taste thin and milky not creamy. Not much foam. Just not ‘right’. Try it. You’ll see! And you’ll switch back…
The creamy texture and amble foam previously mentioned mean that creating Latte Art is much easier. Thin or fat-free milk just doesn’t work as well. The few bubbles you’ll get will be large and quite visible. They’ll also burst sooner, destroying the work you’ve done. Not what you’re looking for.
So there you have it! If you haven’t tried it before, now’s the time to try some Fat Milk in Your Coffee.
Several years ago I wrote about “Dialing in your Espresso shot“. I can’t stress how important espresso tuning is. For those of you who always drink espresso based coffee (think Latte or Cappuccino) the milk masks part of the flavour. You won’t truly unlock the best taste until you fine tune the base of each drink, the espresso shot.
I started off this morning by pulling a shot of Honduras Marcala, roasted by the Retro cafe. The first shot I made no adjustments. Hugely over-pressure, my machine had a hard time with this one. I had left the grind amount the same as with the old coffee, which had gone stale. Of course you need more of it. But with this fresh coffee, it was waaaayyy too much.
I reset the grinder and pulled another shot. Close, but too sour. Added more coffee and VOILA… a pretty well balanced shot. Not sweet (which means it wasn’t perfect) but the taste started slightly bitter and then quickly turned slightly bitter. One more pull with another notch of coffee and it was too much….fully bitter from the first sip.
One notch back down and I made myself what I call a “Latte-cino”. Two shots of espresso with lots of milk AND lots of foam. The flavor was really really good!
After a few weeks in Belgium, where bistros serve endless coffee (and beer) late into the night, I’m very happy to be back home.
Using a pour over rig that my hotel provided (Thank you Citadines, Brussels!) and some fresh beans from Santos Coffee I was able to get my fix. Very good quality. But this morning, after getting back home, I’m able to have the world’s best coffee: The one I drink on MY couch.
It’s all about the environment. The atmosphere. The world’s greatest coffee shops offer a comfortable and relaxing ‘feel’ to try and make you feel like you’re at home. Because you’ll enjoy their products more if you’re in your comfort zone. That’s the KEY to the World’s Best Coffee.