Nerd Activities?

Posted:  October 7th, 2012 by:  wolfram comments:  1

Today we are able to prepare espresso better than ever before. In my previous post I was talking about pressure profiling, which has a huge impact on what you can extract from your coffee. While playing around with pressure profiling and extraction in general I was also playing around with specific roast profiles for my coffees lately. The results were remarkable. Instead of balancing out all taste attributes during roasting I could focus more on aroma development since I was able to create the overall balance during drink preparation. I will get back to this topic in a later post in more detail. While being amazed like a child several thoughts rushed into my mind to whom I dedicate this post.

The average coffee consumer doesn’t know anything about the proper preparation of coffee and doesn’t care to learn it neither. There are some home baristas that are really up to the task but the majority just doesn’t care. What really struck me is how coffee is selected for home use (I am talking a lot to my customers, to set the expectations right). Most of the time a coffee is selected that fits into the machine setup rather than getting the best coffee. The better the coffee the more difficult it gets to dial it in, to find the sweet spot. Sure, you can get rid of mostly anything during the roast but is it still the coffee you want to showcase then? If you are limited to dose and grind size, you don’t have a real chance to get anything desirable out of some coffees. Even many of the coffee shops I know lack the capability to produce a good espresso, even tough there is a lot of self-adulation and tons of Twitter and Facebook posts.

The question arising from all of this is: isn’t the coffee we (as a roaster) sell too fancy sometimes? – People are judging the result and do not care about the process. If we don’t educate them even more, we are in trouble.

Barista competitions is another part of this game. It is ridiculous that baristas are not allowed to adapt the machines they use at the WBC (and on a national level) to their desires. It is always a gamble bringing a high class coffee with you. You are able to play around with dose, grind and extraction time. Pretty similar to the home barista setup I mentioned earlier. Why is this? You can really kill a great coffee this way. Get rid of this rules! I want different sized baskets, I want temperature control and I want to be able to set the pressure of the machine. If there is a place where we should be able to show the peak of what is possible, it should be on a competition level.

1 Comment

Posted By: Steffen On: December 03, 2012 At: 3:26 pm

Hi Wolfram,

“Get rid of this rules! I want different sized baskets, I want temperature control and I want to be able to set the pressure of the machine. If there is a place where we should be able to show the peak of what is possible, it should be on a competition level.”

I am a bit ambivalent on this. Certainly would dropping the current rules of “no tampering with the machine setting” allow to excel the coffee’s flavours even more. On the other hand I wonder wheter we could handle a scenario such as conveniently changing the pump pressure during a competition in the given time frames without having the bypass easily accessible with built in pumps. Having external under counter pumps would perhaps be an option – something really to be considered when selecting machines.

At least changing the temperature should be an ad hoc option in my humble opinion. Todays competition class machines reach thermal stability within a few minutes upon changing temperature.

As an amendment to the rules, the barista should then add to his/her presentation a description of the brewing parameters such as dose, targeted beverage weight, temperature and pump pressure.

But here’s where I have mixed feelings.

Are we either about handling our exceptional coffees in a somewhat technical obsessive environment that is totally off to what can be delivered in a real world coffee shop environment ?

Or are we about to demonstrate the baristas capabilities to adapt on a given environment quickly and deliver the best he/she can within the given parameters ?

I guess the latter is closer to real live in a shop.
There are PROs and CONs to either approach.

Would be happy to discuss the topic and receive regular updates on how the topic is discussed within the committees and their out comings.

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