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 impressions mean a lot and these guys blew my mind.  The first package I’ve seen here that is without a doubt, made for COFFEE.  I won’t spoil the surprise.  (Click here to see the video of me opening the package!)  This told me several things:

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.  🙂

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