Espresso Blending

Pinto

New member
Jan 2, 2014
10
0
Pittsburgh
OK... please don't judge but I've made it two years without a signature espresso blend as a coffee roaster doing strictly wholesale. HA! I'm finally messing around with what I normally have on hand to try to create a decent espresso. And... I'm not afraid to ask for suggestions. Based on what I've been reading and what I know... I'm pretty sure I need to purchase some additional origins to round out my espresso blend properly. Possibly a Brazilian and/or Sidamo. But.. Maybe someone on this forum has a trick or two? Maybe what I have on hand are decent subs. What type of espresso blend am I after? One that will pass for mixer/fru fru drinks. Not much straight shot action. Looking for decent body, rich, chocolaty, with a tiny bit of sweetness and a little bit of zing on the fin. Italian-ish? Keep in mind that I only roast FTO bean, so I can't get some of the origins that are typically used in blends, like Harrar or Kenyan. If they are available, they are really spendy. Anyway this is what I have:

FTO - Washed - Nicaragua - Segovia (med bodied, caramel, apple)
FTO - Natural - Ethiopia, Yirga - Halo Bariti (light bodied, bright, huge berry notes)
FTO - Washed - Guatemala - Huehuetenango (full bodied, cocoa, honey notes, clean)
FTO - Natural - Peru - La Florida (med bodied, buttery, chocolate lemon notes, smooth)
FTO - Washed - Colombia - Sierra Nevada (full bodied, orange chocolate)
FTO - Natural - Sumatra - Takengon (full bodied, cherry, spice, not real earthy)

What I came up with - 30% Sumatra, 20% Colo, 20 Guat, 20 Peru, 10% Ethiopia - pulled just as easing into 2nd crack. It's OK but I know we can do better. Have done 40% Peru and dropped the Guat. This is a tad sweeter and lighter. Personally I like it better but don't know if it is what I want if it is going to be used in drink making. Anyway, feel free to call me out, and state I don't have a chance with what I have. Do I bring the Nic into play?

Attached to this... We currently can't afford a commercial espresso machine. So, to test these espresso blends... we have been using the Moka pot. Old school, euro/Italalia style! Will this give us enough of an indication of how it will taste on a fancy, commercial, espresso maker?

Please fire away!

Thanks,
Doug
 

expat

New member
May 1, 2012
430
0
Ireland
We're in a different coffee ball game than you as we mainly sell through retail to home -- French press and drip coffee makers. That said you might want to give a two or three bean espresso blend a go before jumping right to a five bean. That might make it simpler to get a good primary espresso blend and then you can build from there. Most 3-bean recipes I've seen are usually 70% of base coffee -- Brazil or Peru for example -- and then smaller amounts of others. 5% Robusta is often seen for the crema.

For cheap espresso equipment you might want to give the AeroPress a try as it can get pretty close to machine made coffee.
 

Seb

Member
Mar 18, 2014
138
0
Quebec/Canada
Here is my starting suggestions for what you aim for:

About 50% good quality Brezilian
About 25% of your Guatemala
About 25% of your Colombian

I would not go into 2C with any of theses. A Moka pot or Aeropress is not close enough with an espresso shot to have any value IMHO. You certainly have friends with a good espresso machine.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
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Salt Lake City
2 or 3 coffees for espresso, never more unless it's a leftover you have nowhere else to use.

Your list is not bad. I would do 40% Sumatra - Full City. 30% Guat Huehue - Full City, but less so than the Sumatra. 20% Yirg - City+.

Roast all components separately. Each of these coffees should all have different profiles, so my suggested roast levels is based on specific profiles that you should have in place for these different regional coffee varietals.
If you do it right, it will be a very nice espresso.
 

DragunsFire

New member
Jul 24, 2016
6
0
Bartlesville, OK
I do not consider myself an expert in roasting espresso, but I have tried many blends in my travels. When I find one I like, I try and ask what they use. I have found that the blend is typically 4 or 5 beans. One of my favorites:

Ethiopian
Papua New guinea
Brazil
Columbian
 

Mr.Peaberry

Member
Aug 7, 2013
890
2
Just for giggles and haha's, John P., why is it that everytime this conversation comes up, I hear someone suggest that adding a small percentage of robusta is needed for crema. Could you please give me your take on the use of robusta in espresso blends...and while you're at it, would you also share with me what rationale a reputable chain coffee store in SoCal would use for including chicory in a blend for cold brew coffee? In my marginally esteemed opinion, I would think that unfamiliarity with chicory creates a false impression with the average consumer of being on the outside of the "in-the-know" crowd, so that one would think that if the Grand Coffee Master says it's a good thing, then it's a good thing. Seriously though...I can't imagine any aspect of chicory contributes favorably to the flavor of any coffee beverage. Your thoughts...anyone?

Peaberry
 

Musicphan

Active member
May 11, 2014
1,508
2
Kansas City
Robusta as a small percentage of an espresso blend was pretty common 10 years ago... I'm sure some still use a touch. It does add crema. I think most craft roasters in today's world are 100% arabica... green coffee is simply much more available now. Regarding Chicory... that was introduced during World War I (or II) as a filler because coffee was so expensive. Its still has its popularity.. Cafe De Monde in NOLA is a chicory blend... and big boys like Blue Bottle use it in their cold brew... it does add a bit of nuttyness/licorice flavor to cold brew. It's interesting touch. If you order Blue Bottles Cold Brew coffee blend you will get 1lb of coffee and a little bag of Chicory...
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
Mr. Peaberry,

The assumption that Robusta is needed for crema has been proven false years ago. It has mostly been from the "traditional" Italian blending, which came about because of 1) low cost of Robusta 2) Majority of "high grade" Robusta (there is such a thing) contracts were bought by Italian roasters years ago, and 3) The understanding of how to get the most out of the least.... developing the craft of roasting - allowed the Italians to get better results from an inferior product. And it was never about the amount of crema, but rather the persistence of crema and "body". But this is all "second wave" coffee and espresso... solid, quite flavorful if done well, but not the most interesting.

As espresso is a drink that should be consumed rather quickly, the idea that you ever need crema that will persist for 5 minutes is nonsense. Through proper roast management, you can create the right texture and mouthfeel in your espresso. Even if you use all washed coffees.

Think of the words "reputable" and "chain"... reputable has a specific meaning, until you add the "chain" qualifier, and then the context is wholly different. So that would be my first point.
Second point, I am not a fan at all of "cold-brew" coffee. It's bad coffee. It's bad coffee science. It's a way for unskilled and mediocre roasters to make a profit. Cold brew is old brew. There's no way around it. Just like canned or bottled coffee... it's ummm... (feel free to fill in your own descriptive word). Lastly, adding chickory is for two reasons 1) it's dirt cheap. 2) your trying to make something uninteresting a different kind of uninteresting than everyone else.
 

Musicphan

Active member
May 11, 2014
1,508
2
Kansas City
John - I'm going to "friendly challenge" your statements about cold brew. Certainly if you don't enjoy cold brew, you don't enjoy it. But to say that it's for unskilled mediocre roasters I will call BS. Granted, there is a LOT of bad cold brew on the market, just like hot brew. But there are many of us that have taken a lot of effort to craft our cold brew beverage. I know in my situation we not only tried several cold brewing methods, but 5-6 coffees for each method, with a variety of ratios and variables. Not all cold brew is created equally. Regarding chicory... quality chicory is not cheap.. not at least like it was many years ago. I would encourage you to try add some Chicory to you syphon brew... it may surprise you. Frontier Natural makes a nice organic product.
 

ensoluna

Banned
Apr 29, 2014
2,823
0
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
john - i'm going to "friendly challenge" your statements about cold brew. Certainly if you don't enjoy cold brew, you don't enjoy it. But to say that it's for unskilled mediocre roasters i will call bs. Granted, there is a lot of bad cold brew on the market, just like hot brew. But there are many of us that have taken a lot of effort to craft our cold brew beverage. I know in my situation we not only tried several cold brewing methods, but 5-6 coffees for each method, with a variety of ratios and variables. Not all cold brew is created equally. Regarding chicory... Quality chicory is not cheap.. Not at least like it was many years ago. I would encourage you to try add some chicory to you syphon brew... It may surprise you. Frontier natural makes a nice organic product.

excellent posting, musicphan!
I completely agree with you.
as you said, "not all cold brew is created equal" and it deserves more experiment with different varietals with many various processes, more ratios & variables...etc and matter of fact, it deserves a lot more credit.
 
Last edited:

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
Musicphan,

Please post a link to your website, your Facebook page, etc. so I can better understand what kinds of coffee you are doing. It's possible that we are operating in two completely different paradigms. And it's impossible to have a specific conversation about various methods unless I know where you are coming from. :coffee: :coffeecup:

That being said,
Is cold brew coffee a bad beverage? No, not always. Experimentation, like you seem to be doing can produce vastly different results.
Is it good coffee? I don't believe so.
Is it representative of the specific varietal flavors of each coffee? No. The science of coffee flavor extraction doesn't work that way.

Mr. Giuliano writes below:

I will refer you to what Peter Giuliano, President of Counter Culture Coffee (Explaining "Why you should stop cold-brewing and use the Japanese Iced Coffee Method) [Note: we do neither] who wrote:

Solubility is the ability of substances to dissolve, in our case, in water. Coffee has soluble constituents; that’s why we can run water through it and the water becomes a solution of coffee solubles and water, creating the beverage we call “coffee”. Now the thing about solubility is this: substances are generally more soluble at higher temperatures and less soluble at lower temperatures. This is why sugar dissolves very slowly in cold water but very quickly in hot water. When we brew coffee, we use hot water to dissolve the coffee solids out of the coffee grounds and into the water, and as we know this happens best at 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. You can try to use cooler water, but this means that the coffee will dissolve incompletely; many of the soluble substances in coffee won’t make it out of the grounds and into the water. This is what happens in cold brew: the technique tries to make up for the relative insolubility of coffee at cold-water temperatures by brewing for a long, long time. This creates the illusion that you have made coffee- the resulting liquid is dark and tastes something like coffee- but many of the coffee solubles have never made it out of the grounds and into the liquid. Cold-water brewing has a way of deadening flavor, since the elusive and charming elements of flavor that make coffee special never get dissolved into the brew, and remain in the coffee grounds, which get thrown away.

He follows up with responses to several comments afterwards.

and
According to chemist Don Brushett, "The solubility of caffeine is moderately affected by temperature and the solubility of the organic acids is strongly affected by temperature." Organic acids- citric, malic, formic, quinic, and acetic- are a big part of coffee flavor and aroma. You might not like acidity, which is fine, and which is why you may prefer cold-brew. However, positive acidity is a big part of what we value about special coffees- indeed it even has its own category on all coffee scoring protocols! So, we kind of agree: cold brewing doesn't extract the acids (and some other things too) from coffee (this doesn't have much to do with 'oils' though.)

and ...
... but just to be clear: Brushett mentions that organic acid solubility is very dependent on temperature. What he means is that organic acids dissolve in hot water and not in cold water. This is one reason why you might prefer cold-brewed coffee, because much of the acidity (and, as you observe, much of the aroma) in coffee is absent. Only the caramelly, chocolate notes are extracted and not the acidity and aromatics.

That's fine, if you consider acidity and aromatics negative characteristics. However, the acidity of a great Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee is intrinsic to its greatness, and blackberry aromatics (see my newer post) or Lemon/jasmine are what defines the terroir of these coffees. ...

Of course you know that "acidity" and "sourness" are not the same things. Acidity is seen as a highly positive attribute in coffee. It's what gives the fruit notes their characteristic fruitiness and lift (or structure as wine people say). Improperly roasted coffee -- especially those above Specialty Grade will produce sourness from mismanaging (generally under developing) the roast. On the other side you have those doing more basic coffees or simpler Specialty Grade coffee, many who happen to over roast. Not just because "dark roasting" was the thing to do, but moreso because they never took the time to develop the craft --therefore not just "dark roasting" the coffee, but burning it (ala Starbucks and the like).

Now when you have large segments of the coffee industry believing that off flavors of sourness and bitterness are the norm, then these same segments may look for a way to eliminate those "undesirable" characteristics...:images:
 

Mr.Peaberry

Member
Aug 7, 2013
890
2
Mr. Peaberry,
The assumption that Robusta is needed for crema has been proven false years ago. It has mostly been from the "traditional" Italian blending, which came about because of 1) low cost of Robusta 2) Majority of "high grade" Robusta (there is such a thing) contracts were bought by Italian roasters years ago, and 3) The understanding of how to get the most out of the least.... developing the craft of roasting - allowed the Italians to get better results from an inferior product. And it was never about the amount of crema, but rather the persistence of crema and "body". But this is all "second wave" coffee and espresso... solid, quite flavorful if done well, but not the most interesting.

As espresso is a drink that should be consumed rather quickly, the idea that you ever need crema that will persist for 5 minutes is nonsense. Through proper roast management, you can create the right texture and mouthfeel in your espresso. Even if you use all washed coffees.

Think of the words "reputable" and "chain"... reputable has a specific meaning, until you add the "chain" qualifier, and then the context is wholly different. So that would be my first point.
Second point, I am not a fan at all of "cold-brew" coffee. It's bad coffee. It's bad coffee science. It's a way for unskilled and mediocre roasters to make a profit. Cold brew is old brew. There's no way around it. Just like canned or bottled coffee... it's ummm... (feel free to fill in your own descriptive word). Lastly, adding chickory is for two reasons 1) it's dirt cheap. 2) your trying to make something uninteresting a different kind of uninteresting than everyone else.

Hi John,

First of all, I have a high regard for your opinion on all subjects related to coffee. It doesn't necessarily mean I agree, but it certainly means that I respect the fact that your opinion is not born out of ignorance of the subject at hand, as it seems to be with many who follow the latest trends in coffee.

With respect to respect, where I agree with you is that Robusta is not necessarily bad coffee. It just lacks the attributes that make arabica coffee so special. In my opinion, it is substituted for better coffee, with rare exception, where constraints of finances or availability of better coffee prevail, or where an advocate of high grade robusta is using it to make a point.

Like you, I am not a fan of cold brew, but this is because my present experience is quite limited. I know that Blue Bottle Coffee and Stumptown Coffee are promoting Cold Brew like it was the next coming of Christ, and they will have a lot of advocates blindly following their lead. Considering myself a "critical thinker", I am equally averse to shaming those who do not share my love of a certain coffee, or brew method, etc., as I am to blindly following the flock. Not saying that is what you are doing John. Just like you, I much prefer to remain true to my "purist" ideals of coffee, than to stray into areas that hold little hope that I would find satisfaction in something "cutting edge". An important disclaimer would be that the rule in business of which I am a staunch advocate is to give the customer what they want, and to excel in doing so. The flip side of that coin being that you can never be all things to all people. There are choices, and you can't appeal to the "me too" crowd in the same way you appeal to those who understand and appreciate why you don't offer cold brew. My father, the person responsible for my own passion for coffee, absolutely considers it an abomination to add cream or milk or any other post brew additive to coffee. I believe I would be cut out of the will if he knew I use half & half. Personally, I am intrigued with trying to replicate the coffee extract that I used to purchase from Michael Sivitz. This could be used as instant coffee, to flavor ice cream, or to make iced coffee. Not sure if I'm heading in the right direction or not, but I really don't care because it's all about the journey.

As to chicory, Musicphan, and also with respect, it's use as an additive to coffee dates back to Napoleon and his nationalistic policy of self sufficiency and using only what the Empire, could produce. Coffee production could not keep up with demand and therefore chicory became a filler used to extend what little coffee a consumer could acquire. This is why you find the chicory coffee in Louisiana. Personally, I try not to begrudge anyone their preference in their choice of coffee as my grandmother, as a devout Seventh Day Adventist, did not drink the stuff. When she passed away, I recall how a couple of the ladies from her congregation at the reception after the funeral were commenting on the Postum/Sanka/Whatever brew and how it must be very much like what real coffee tastes like. I couldn’t dream of bursting their bubble, but is wasn’t easy to remain silent….just sayin’!

Anyway, I think I’ve wasted enough forum space for now…

Peaberry
 

Musicphan

Active member
May 11, 2014
1,508
2
Kansas City
Mr Peaberry - I stand corrected on Chicory.. I was actually thinking of Civil War which was one of the first US influence (vs. global).. we are on the same page.

John P - My company is Encore Coffee Company www.encorecoffeeco.com. I've been home roasting for 8-10 years, commerically for about 8 months. I spend a lot of time trying to perfect my coffees and I simply refuse to put out an inferior product. Most of my coffee's are roasted to City+/Full City... but I really allow the coffee to dictate where they taste best. I took a little issue calling anyone making/exploring cold brew as a "unskilled mediocre roasters". I simply found your comment a unnecessary generalization...enough said. I currently have only produced limited amounts of cold brew for the farmers markets we vend at on summer weekends. The challenge for cold brew is how to scale - that the difficult part to cold brew and why you see so many people putting out crap cold brew. The solution is not to simply make a toddy in a bigger bucket.

Regarding Peter's comments... I agree with a lot of what he is saying... but he is also coming from the perspective of toddy style cold brew. Solubility is the challenge of cold brew but it is possible. While some people like the lack of acidity, IMO it does reduce the flavor profile of cold coffee.. again one of the challenges. Cold brew will never have the acidity levels of hot brew.. period. You can however pull out sweetness in cold brew... I just blind tasted my last 6 cold brew samples and was shocked to be able to get huge fruit notes out of Brazilian coffee.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
Musicphan,

Thanks for posting your link! It gives me some insight.

I agree that through experimentation and choosing the right coffee, roast level, coffee to water ratio, grind, drip rate, etc., you can achieve a better result than others trying to do the same thing.

It is clear to me that we do different things, and operate with very different philosophical principles, and that's a good thing. Do what you do!:coffee-bean:

All the best in your endeavors. :coffee:
 

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