Friday, August 20, 2010

Difference between Cupping and Espresso

Seems like I have almost forgotten about my blog-spot, last update was in October 2009. Anyway, almost another year has gone by, time really flies! During that time a lot has happened, still working for Toby's Estate Roastery in Chippendale, and still working as a Barista at Fox Studio Market.

I really wanted to talk about the difference between Cupping a coffee and using that same coffee for espresso. I usually find 1 or 2 good coffees on the cupping table, but the sad thing is most of the time we can't transfer that same flavour into espresso. So I wondered why?! Then at a recent event listening to Scottie Callaghan regarding light roast for espresso really opened up my eyes, and I have tried this for myself and succeeded. Most people will tell you light roast will not suit an espresso, and there are 2 major reasons, 1st the espresso will be way too acidic leaning towards Sour and Raw. 2nd there won't be much body in the espresso especially with higher altitude grown coffees. And I have manage to overcome these 2 major criticism for light espresso roast, you ask how? It's to do with the roast profile. Most roasters when doing a light roast uses the same profile as their dark roast, they simply drop the beans earlier; This means the whole roast profile has been cut short which contribute to the Rawness in the center. To do a light espresso roast, the initial heat at "Drying Stage" has be very gentle to draw out all that moisture in the center, then from the browning stage to First Crack has to be taken care of as well in order for the body to fully develop. Most roasters will have a First Crack time of Between 10-11 mins for a darkish Espresso Roast, But for a light roast I would have to take that to 13-14mins, sometimes 15-16mins depend on the acidity of the bean. And then dumping the bean 3-5 mins after FC depending on the Varietal, Before any 2nd crack sets in (There are a few beans I would take to 2nd crack like Sumatra, Java or Colombian to fully enhance the body). So the total roast time for a light espresso roast is in fact longer than the darker espresso roast, and the longer roast time really neutralizes that aggressive acidity, espresso will end up tasting sweeter, less bitter, more balanced and most importantly kept most of that flavour from the cupping table. But of course after tasting the first roast, you may need to make the necessary adjustment for the 2nd roast; If the espresso still tasting too bright, then you'll need to stretch out that FC time even further. If the esrepsso starting to taste flat, then more heat is needed hence shortening that FC time.

The Aim is Simple, trying to keep as much of that Varietal flavour as possible. But the hard part is to find the balance between Acidity, Body and Sweetness. And this is really interesting for me, it shows me the true complexity of coffee and how much we still haven't discovered!

Oh, by the way, the light espresso roast will only work for Specialty Grade Coffee which is really clean and not much cup faults. Hence please don't try it on commodity grade Robusta!

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