Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coffee ~ Man Vs Machine ~ So U Think U Know Coffee ? |_|B

The purpose of this post is to try and shed some light on a few perspectives about coffee. It seems now everyone wants to be a coffee reviewer, enthusiast, connoisseur or what have you. I think it's great that so many people have such an interest in such a complex element. Yes coffee is an element, which planet are you from? When approaching coffee one must take the simplest approach to properly evaluate findings. As a saying goes KISS Keep It Simple Silly. I point this out because, the more complex one makes a coffee review, the harder it will be for a coffee to receive a favorable rating. Forbid a coffee receives less than a favorable rating and it's the fault of the reviewer. I always say the bean is not to blame for the way it turns out. Keep that in mind when cupping or tasting a new coffee. I'm not a coffee reviewer I evaluate coffee based on a few basic principles.
Because I roast using a PAN, I have a close up perspective with the bean , not to say better, just more intimate. I say which makes the process that much more vulnerable to flaws. Like with regular roasting temperature can affect the outcome of the roast, as can the amount or batch load you are roasting. For smaller batches it's extremely important, because with a PAN you can under or over roast with literally the blink of an eye. Just last week I was in a roasting session, afterwards I did my normal cupping. I was displeased with my results, because  my coffee was average in taste. To be honest a man with a PAN and average beans is unacceptable, kind of like whats the point in the extra sweat if your gonna produce norm or sub-par beans. After considering all that I had learned about PAN roasting I was baffled, because one of my sessions turned out excellent.
It's no secret Ethiopian Harrar has been most reviewed and also the favorite for lots of people, however my Ethiopian Limu is no slacker. It really depends on the person, honestly of my 3 primary offerings it would be hard to favor one over the other, each of them I prefer a different method, also depending on my mood. Now on to the fun and educational part of this posting, I hope you are paying close attention, because this is very crucial. MOB= Make Or Break. I normally brew in a commercial brewer, otherwise french press, espresso, pour over, open cup etc. I received a small 5cup brewer from my Mom a few weeks ago. I use it more because I don't have to brew a whole carafe now and I can usually drink a pot in less than an hour, after all it's just 5 cups right? Normally I keep a a fresh stock of coffee around so fresh coffee is never a problem. I had brewed a few pots prior to Friday and the lil 5cupper has served me well, however I must note that all the coffee up until Friday was properly degassed, and about 1-2 weeks old. Now anyone that knows about coffee unless you have a train palette your probably wont enjoy coffee right after being roasted, that's why they recommend  24-72hrs. Personally I have and do drink coffee just as in Ethiopia fresh out of the PAN, but there are lots of variables that can dictate the flavor in a coffee. As far as Ethiopian style coffee the beans are ground fine, also the beans are normally smoky in flavor with oily appearance. When the coffee is brewed it's nice n body, but also served with sugar, salt or butter. I don't want this to get into a Ethiopian Ceremony so I will proceed with the lesson.
Some coffees can be roasted light med and dark, while others can only be roasted a certain way to bring out the fullness in flavor of the bean. I certainly try to stick to a bean that is versatile. Just the same as some beans can be roasted different levels and also produce a great beverage, the same as with a grind some coffees can withstand  different levels of grinds as well, without extracting the bitter or the stay on your tongue piercing taste. Now lets take a look at brewing methods, because all brewing methods are different, some are similar in basic principals, but have their own uniqueness.Unless a person knows what they are looking for in a coffee, it's kind of like doing a blind taste test. Here is where it gets tricky, say you use a regular drip pot or a french press. I use these 2 examples because they are the most commonly used. Now lets say you ground your coffee too fine for the regular drip pot? Well the 1st thing is some coffees can be ground finer than reg drip grind, and produce a nice cup of coffee. What about the coffee that can't? Well one must then know what he's looking for in that coffee, or else it can yield a bad result.
I like to think that most roasters cup their coffees and wouldn't just send bad coffee on purpose to a reviewer or a client. I'm not saying that every coffee you get is going to be great, but I want to put things in perspective. I have 2 commercial grinders that I use. Well the last thing you would look for in the coffee is to not be ground properly, I mean that's what machines are for right? Wrong machines have to be tweaked and maintained, just as us humans. It so happened that my grinder was off a tad, so my regular drip was over extracting my Harrar, which really made for a sub-par cup, however with the Limu it was as pleasant as could be.
Because I'm A PAN roaster, the 1st thing I do is point the blame at me, due to temperature, amount of beans in my batch anything but a malfunction in a machine right? Well this is why it's so important to know what your'e looking for in a coffee, also being able to identify something is wrong, and being able to find the problem. So in reviewing  a coffee lets assume every coffee you get it perfectly roasted when you get it. No that doesn't mean you have to like every coffee you try, it just means attention to detail. Had I been reviewing that particular coffee it wouldn't have gotten a favorable rating from me, I'll be the 1st to admit that I feel I'm more coffee than anyone I know, but I make mistakes just as all humans do. The important thing is to be open when tasting a coffee try it a few different ways, after all it is coffee. Just trying a coffee in the french press to me is just like saying we are all the same. Well I know that's not true, because I'm the only one hold this PAN down. I will be posting another follow-up to this post. Sorry for the length of this, some times it's hard to say what needs to be said when I have coffee on my mind. Enjoy and happy reviewing! |_|B   

1 comment:

  1. I found your post really very exciting to read as i didn't used to know that much about the term and element coffee but like to drink it everyday.