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Pucking fresh coffee.

Freshly roasted coffee is good. No complaints there, we don’t want to drink stale coffee. But for me, there are times where I need to use a freshly roasted coffee. It sucks even more when its for espresso, for example, for QC,  baristas receiving their competition coffee, but its fresh and are itching to taste it, or you only have freshly roasted coffee at home. 

It doesn’t sound like a dilemma of some sort, but trying to dial in, and pulling great tasting shots; out of super fresh coffee is quite challenging.

There always seems to be a certain flavour that’s present when you make an espresso using a fresh coffee, and its quite hard to get rid of. What can you do? Well, you can’t force the coffee to degas and settle, and opening a bag or not sealing them to let it degas quicker is a bad idea. When CO2 is released from the porous walls of roasted coffee, so does the many volatile compounds that make up the lovely aromas. Also, adsorption of oxygen and moisture increases the rate of oxidation, thus, ‘damaging’ the quality of the cup. 

With the frustration I had, I wanted to think of a way to use fresh coffee but not by compromising on quality. I think I found a way, but please note that this method isn’t suitable for a cafe, needing to go through 5kg of fresh coffee. 

All you need is an Aeropress filter. 

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It seems that when I place a aero press filter on the bottom of the basket, then dose and tamp like you normally would, then extract the coffee, you yield an espresso which is clean and sweet, unlike the harsh, roasty finish you get from freshly roasted coffee.

It seems that the aero press filter removes the bitter qualities in the cup, and what’s noticeable is the colour of the crema. Filtered espresso is way lighter, and it seems that the paper filter restrained fines ending up in the cup. Fines and crema tastes awful, by removing these, it seems like the espresso was free from the bitter and roasty aftertaste. 

I wanted to know how the filter affect the overall extraction of coffee. So by using the same amount of dose, time, temperature, I pulled 5 shots each of non filtered espresso and filtered espresso, and measured their EXT% and TDS%. 

Here are the parameters:

Dose: 17.5g

Time: 28sec

Machine: Synesso Hydra

Temp: 94C

Basket: 20g VST 

Coffee: Square Mile RED BRICK Roasted on 28th Jan

Regular espresso shots:

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 So, except for shot number 3 , they are pretty consistent. They tasted quite nice, fruity with creamy body, but had this bitter, roasty notes on the after taste.

Espresso shots with aero press filter:

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It showed that with the aero press filter in the basket, with no change in grind setting or dose, it produces shots with bigger mass. What’s more interesting is that, eventhough shots are bigger, and extraction % higher, the TDS% were similar to shots without filters, which pulled shorter shots. 

The filtered espresso tasted slightly cleaner, had more complexity and balance. I really don’t know why this is happening. I don’t know whether the psychological affect of ‘This is going to taste better because its filtered’ is kicking in and playing with my palate, or the aeropress filter is altering the extraction in some way. It’s interesting that, Shot number 3 from regular espresso has 2% difference in TDS compared to a similar shot (in mass) in filtered espresso.

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Definite thing is that, visually, the shots pours differently, the filtered shot is much more streaky, and the viscosity of the shot is lower than the normal shots. 

5 shots each might not be enough data to justify anything, but,I would love to hear from others what they think!

 

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Just add water. Not.

One thing that confused me before coming to Korea, is the method of extraction using Kono or Hario drip(V60) method. Every single video I saw, no on used scales or timers. So since coming to Korea, I’ve drank aloooot of manual drip filter coffees.

I’m writing this post because I’m at a point where it kind of annoys me(personally) after finding out how they extract coffee. It is the method of ‘Just add water’.

Back in London, the coffee to water ratio varies between 60~65g/Litre, this is my personal preference. So, for 1 cup brew, I used 15grams of coffee and 240g of water and extraction time of 2:15sec and I do stir.

In Seoul, I’m seeing baristas weighing coffees with spoon, which is supposed to be 7g per scoop, using alot of coffee for one extraction and no timer or scales being used.

The weird thing is at the end, they add water to the coffee and dilute it heavily, and Korean people(not all but some) are calling this the ‘Korean style’.

I’ve asked several baristas the ratios they use, the most used method was this:

Coffee: 25~30g

Water: 150g

Time: Unknow

Grind: Very coarse(Near french press)

Water temp: 85~90C

So, with that method, the brew ratio becomes 183.33g/Litre, this is way out of charts, though people say we shouldn’t rely on 50 year old data, the method above doesn’t really make sense. The end product you get out of it is dark, syrupy, heavily underextracted brew, so what do they do to it?

They add around 100g of water to it and dilute it, and it tastes like watery vitamin drink.

It’s like, you extract a ristretto and add some water and call it double shot espresso. Yes, it might be the same weight as a double shot of espresso but it isn’t the same drink because double shot of espresso and diluted espresso is made differently. Double shot of espresso(if extracted correctly) tastes good because it has the balance between the sour and the bitter. First part of extraction is very sour because there are much more soluble solids present than water. Extraction occuring at the end is very watery and bitter. Balance between these produces a drink which is not sour nor bitter. If you add water to  ristretto, yes, you will resuced the TDS% but EXT% won’t change.

Let me emphasis again, majority of coffee I’ve drank was Kenyan or COE coffees. So why do this to these coffees? Majority of answers I got was

1. Because they don’t like the bitter aftertaste

2. Because Kenyan and COE coffees have delicate and bright acidity, thus extraction should be cut when the coffee has reached it peak in terms of acidity, then dilute it to loosen the flavor.

3. Cup of Excellence coffees have very clean aftertaste with nice acidity, so to express that in the cup, they cut the extraction in the first minute and dilute it to make it taste ‘Clean’.

I have no right as a coffee person to tell people its wrong, If they think its how it should be done, ok its fair, they’ve bought the greens and roasted and extracted it. But I just think they should look at other variables which affect the quality, flavor,sweetness,aroma,acidity, bitterness and balance of the cup.

Yes, Kenyan coffees have lovely acidity so do COE coffees, coffee people love acidity, and are very sensitive about bitterness. They should be going backwards to seek out the problem why coffee tastes bitter and bland, not seeking ways to emphasis the acidity by underextracting and diluting it.

Such as:

1. Roast profile, isit roasted correctly? Isit too dark ?

2. Method of extraction, can the barista justify why he/she is extracting that way, experimenting with different method? Do you use scales? Timers?

3. Crop, isit a past crop? Is the green too old? Can you check what the year of the crop is?

4. Grind setting and burrs, isit time to change the burrs? is the grind setting correct? Isit time to clean the burrs?

5. Water, isit filtered well? Have you check the ppm of the water you are using?

I know I sound like a little child winging at what other people do, but honestly, it really doesn’t taste good, nd people are paying alot of money to drink it.

It is painful to watch all these good beans being diluted down, without showing its full potential in the cup, I really do hope people start to experiment with brew ratio, brew method and new roast file and let the beans speak for it self, not that first syrupy, underextracted liquid added to water.

Just add water?

Food for thought.