Blending For Italian Espresso Part 1 - Josuma

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ARTICLE REPRINTBlendingforItalianEspressoPart 1This articlewas originallypublished in theJan/Feb 2008issue of RoastBackgroundand ARationale forBlendingby Dr. Joseph JohnPhotos by James HoffmannEACH COFFEE-PRODUCING countrycultivates a product that is somewhat differentfrom that of another origin. Some display highacidity, some have high body, others are veryaromatic, and still others taste of fruits, spices,chocolate and even tobacco. In each case, thecoffee exhibits a flavor profile in the cup that ischaracteristic of its origin—the place where thecoffee is grown.Blending coffee is both an art and ascience. In its noblest form, blending attemptsto create a cup that does not exist in nature,by mixing two or more coffees in variousproportions. When expertly done, the resultingblend displays a flavor profile that is distinctlydifferent from those of any of the componentcoffees—often superior, sometimes morecomplete and, at other times, better balanced.Blending for brewed coffee is relativelysimple and straightforward, because brewedcoffee can accommodate a wide array ofphysical and flavor properties. Although everysuch combination of two or more coffees in awide range of relative proportions can constitutea technically acceptable blend for brewed coffee,not every one of those blends can become acommercial success, because of taste preferences.However, espresso in general, and Italianespresso in particular, is defined much morenarrowly in terms of what physical and flavorcharacteristics it can exhibit. As a result, blendingfor espresso is quite different from blending forbrewed coffee, because the two beverages arevastly different.Espresso blends are not created by takingbrewed coffee blends and roasting them darkerand more oily; such dark roasting does notmagically make it an espresso blend. However,before discussing blending for espresso, theimportant distinctions between ordinary brewedcoffee and real espresso must be appreciated.Although this article covers the subject ofblending for espresso, it is not intended toprovide specific recipes for espresso blends; ratherit is to elaborate on one blending philosophy andto develop a practical approach to blending for anItalian espresso.continued on next pageroast article reprint11631 NE Broadway No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388

ARTICLE REPRINT (CONTINUED)Due to its length and the complexityof its content, this article is split into twoparts. The first part, contained in this issue,develops the background informationleading to the specific requirements of anespresso blend. The second part, to appearin the next issue, will elaborate on anapproach to blending for Italian espresso.Ordinary Coffee and How It IsMadeOrdinary brewed coffee is prepared bybringing hot water into physical contactwith ground coffee at room pressure. In thisprocess, some portion of the ground coffee,roughly twenty percent by weight, dissolvesin the hot water. This is primarily a physicalprocess. Most of the chemical reactionsoccur after the coffee is brewed and allowedto linger, often resulting in deterioration ofits fresh brewed flavors.There are many different ways ofmaking coffee, but they all follow the samebasic principle of bringing hot water andground coffee into physical contact witheach other. Some use steam and othersuse a hand piston to push water throughthe ground coffee, while most commontechniques simply call for pouring thehot water on top of the ground coffee ordumping the ground coffee into a vesselcontaining the hot water. It takes aboutseven grams of ground coffee to make a sixounce cup of coffee. Different methods ofmaking coffee take varying amounts of time;and the contact time, during which groundcoffee is in physical contact with hot water,determines the fineness to which coffeeis ground. Longer contact times call forcoarser grind, in order to control extraction.Because the preparation is carried outat ordinary pressures, the water-solublecomponents of ground coffee are primarilyextracted and account for the taste andcolor of the brew. The process extracts someof the water-insoluble compounds thataccount for the body. Much of the aromamolecules releasedby the ground coffeeduring the extractionprocess simply escapeinto the room and arelost. Only a minutefraction of this aromastays dissolved in theliquid coffee.The sweet,flavorful anddesirable componentsof ground coffee areextremely solublein water and mostof them are easilyextracted in a shorttime or by little waterflowing throughthe ground coffee.Cooling in the tray.Longer contacttime, or more waterflowing through theespresso six times as strong as brewed coffee.ground coffee, results in dissolving more ofThe process described so far will result inthe undesirable components such as acids,producing only strong coffee, even if anbitters and caffeine.espresso machine is used, unless steps aretaken to insure that oils in the ground coffeeare also emulsified.If the coffee is not ground fine enough,the pressurized water will rush throughEspresso can only be made using athe ground coffee in less than 15 secondsmachine that not only heats the water andextracting only the solubles and makingpre-measures the water volume, but alsostrong, ordinary coffee. But when the coffeedelivers the hot water under high pressure,is ground very fine and packed very tight inranging from 100 to 140 lbs. per squarethe porta-filter so as to impede the flow ofinch. This high water pressure causes thewater, water molecules will be forced intooils in ground coffee to be extracted, formedthe interior of the ground coffee particlesinto microscopic droplets and suspendedand made to drive out the oils, with thein liquid coffee concentrate. It is thiswater losing most of its energy in theemulsification of oils that distinguishesprocess. The resulting espresso will simplyespresso from strong coffee.ooze out of the porta-filter like warm honeyAs in the case of brewed coffee, it takeswithout having enough energy to gush out.about seven grams of ground coffee to makeThese oils completely change all thea one-ounce, single shot of espresso. In thisphysical and flavor characteristics of thisprocess, the water-soluble components ofcoffee beverage. Its mouth feel, density,ground coffee, roughly the same 20 percentviscosity, wetting power and foam-formingby weight, goes into solution, just as in theability are all different from those of strongcase of brewed coffee. But this is only one ounce of water, making theWhat Exactly Is Espresso?continued on next pageroast article reprint21631 NE Broadway No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388

ARTICLE REPRINT (CONTINUED)Significance of CremaThe emulsified oils also change the flavor properties of thebeverage. For example, these oils coat the taste buds and inhibittheir ability to detect bitterness. This reduced bitterness will beinterpreted as enhanced sweetness. Thus, if brewed coffee andespresso are made from exactly the same blend, the resultingespresso will actually taste sweeter.Much of the enjoyment of consuming coffee comes from itsflavor, consisting of taste and aroma, with a majority of the flavorsensation actually being derived from the aroma, as detected bythe nose. While much of the aroma molecules escape into theroom when brewed coffee is prepared, espresso preparation hasa built-in mechanism to capture the aroma and keep it in thecup—the all important crema.The emulsified oils responsible for the crema, which is acollection of tiny bubbles with a film of oil on the outside andthe coffee’s aroma inside, provide this mechanism to hold thearoma of fresh ground coffee in the cup. These aroma molecules,later released when the bubbles burst in the back of one’s mouth,find their way to the nose through the pharynx that connectsthe mouth to the nasal cavity. These tiny bubbles also attachthemselves to the taste buds and burst, from time to time, torelease the volatile compounds long after the espresso is gone,accounting for the long after-taste, a distinguishing feature ofAn example of excellent crema.espresso quality. Crema, therefore, is the single most importantindicator of a well-made espresso.A Few Words About AcidityReal Espresso should ooze out of the porta filter likethick, warm, honey.Because espresso is six times stronger than brewed coffee, allcharacteristics of the coffees are exaggerated in an espresso.This is particularly true of its acidity. As the concentration ofthe beverage increases linearly, the acidity perceived by thetongue seems to increase much faster. As a result, high acidity,considered by many to be a virtue in brewed coffee, is not adesirable feature in a quality espresso.This acidity has a major impact on the selection ofcomponent coffees for an espresso blend. Much of the coffeesavailable in the United States and Canada are grown in Centraland South America, many of which exhibit high acidity in thecup. Many brewed coffee blends offered in North Americashowcase these Central and South American coffees both fortheir flavors and their acidity. Because espresso does not toleratecontinued on next pageroast article reprint31631 NE Broadway No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388

ARTICLE REPRINT (CONTINUED)anywhere near the acidity desired in brewed coffees, the role ofthese high-acid coffees in espresso blends has to be curtailed.Single-Origin EspressoThere are some, particularly in North America, who considerespresso as just another way of making coffee. In that context,using a single-origin coffee to make espresso may be a rewardingexperience. The espresso process magnifies all the good (and thebad) characteristics of that coffee, and when their good featuresfar outweigh the negatives, this may be a way to enjoy one’sfavorite coffee. The single-origin espresso is favored by the homeconnoisseur as a way to add variety to their everyday espressoroutine.However, in a commercial environment, the single-originespresso is best used as a “guest espresso,” in addition to the houseespresso staple. An additional grinder for the guest espresso is amust. This situation may change as the general quality of espressoin North America improves and the consuming public gets moreconversant with espresso to the point that more than five percentof espresso beverages are consumed as “straight”.In a cafcafé or espresso bar, customers are looking for theespressos and espresso-based milk drinks to taste exactly theway they tasted the last time. In such commercial environments,the cafcafé is in the business of fulfilling peoples’ expectations. InEverything coming out of the portafilter should becrema.that situation, espresso blend stability as well as shot-to-shotconsistency is of paramount importance. In that context, it isinconceivable that one single-origin espresso can fulfill thatconsistency objective if that is the only espresso offered in a cafcafé.Roast Before Blending vs.Blend Before RoastingInitial pour must have the correct reddish-brown tinge.As to whether it is better to roast the individual coffees separatelybefore blending or to blend the coffees in the green and roast themall together depends on the properties of the coffees used in theblend. Both procedures are completely acceptable.Post-roast blending, where the individual coffees are roastedseparately and blended afterwards, affords the luxury of beingable to roast each coffee to a different degree to bring out the bestflavors in that particular bean. It also offers coffee retailers who donot roast their own coffees the ability to create proprietary espressoblends out of the individual roasted coffees they get from one ormore wholesale roasters.However, this post-roast blending procedure hasdisadvantages, the most obvious being the need to do severalbatches of roasting in order to produce a blend. Also, most roastingmachines have practical minima for the quantity of coffee that cancontinued on next pageroast article reprint41631 NE Broadway No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388

ARTICLE REPRINT (CONTINUED)be roasted in them, and it is inevitable thatone has to roast more coffee than is requiredfor a particular blending session. If one’scommitment to freshness prohibits holdingcoffee from today’s roasts for tomorrow’sblending, it can lead to considerable wasteof the leftover component coffees.Blending the green beans before roastingis conceptually ideal in overcoming some ofthe disadvantages of the post-roast blending.Pre-roast blending is possible when thecoffee beans are compatible with respectto their roast characteristics. When thebeans are dissimilar in bean size, density,moisture content, heat conductivity androast development profile, blending beforeroasting is difficult, and in many cases,impossible.Such is the case with the blend I havethe most experience with: viz., MalabarGold, Josuma’s premium Europeanespresso. The coffees used in this blendcannot be more dis-similar. The MonsoonedMalabar-AA Super Grade is extra large,having grown to twice the original sizeduring the monsooning process. It is alsoextremely low in density. The premiumwashed robusta Kaapi Royale, on the otherhand, is small and dense. Those beans justdid not want to roast together and initialattempts at roasting them together produceddisastrous results. It took me three years toperfect the blending procedures to enablethe blend to be roasted properly. In thatprocess, I learned a lot about the propertiesof those coffees and got a real educationabout the mechanics of roasting.Thus FarWe have established the difference betweenbrewed coffee and real espresso and laidthe foundation to discuss how blending forespresso differs from blending for brewedcoffee. In the second part we will cover aparticular approach to blending for Italianespresso.DR. JOSEPH JOHN is president of JosumaCoffee Company, in Menlo Park, Calif.and designer of Malabar Gold, its premiumEuropean espresso blend. He can be contactedby phone at 650.366.5453 or by e-mail Statistical ConsiderationsSubscriptions within the U.S. are only 25/year.(Canada/Mexico– 35 U.S./year Other countries– 50 U.S./year)To subscribe or for more information contact us at 503.282.2399 or visit www.roastmagazine.comTRoast magazine1631 NE Broadway, No. 125,Portland OR 97232 e-mail roast@roastmagazine.comroast article reprint51631 NE Broadway No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388

ARTICLE REPRINT (CONTINUED)S o m e St a tistical ConsiderationsWHEN AN ESPRESSO BLEND consists of two or more coffees,the exact proportion of each bean in a dose will vary from shotto shot. The extent to which these proportions vary, from dose todose, depends on the dose size and the relative proportion of aparticular bean in that blend.It takes about 56 beans to make up seven grams of coffee, oftenused to make a single shot of espresso. Thus, in making espresso,one is conducting a random sampling experiment, selecting56 beans at random when making a single shot, or randomlyselecting 112 beans to make a double. The question then becomes,if one selects 56 beans at random out of a hopper containing thisblend, what is the chance that you get the correct number of eachbean in that sample? Intuitively, one can see that the odds improveas the sample size expands (e.g. it takes 112 beans to make adouble shot and it gets even better if the sample size is the 168beans required for a triple.).The same is true if the blend contains a large proportion ofa particular bean, certainly when compared to the behavior of acoffee that is present in a much smaller proportion in the blend.The table below illustrates this effect for three different doses,nominally a single shot, a double and a triple. The five rowsrepresent the proportion of a coffee in the blend (10 percent,20 percent, etc.). For example, if the blend has 20 percent of aparticular coffee, refer to the second row of this table. If it happensto be 25 percent, one has to interpolate between the results in thesecond and third rows. These calculations are made and roundedto the nearest whole bean.The columns show a measure of the “error rate” in the relativeproportions of the beans when a single, double or triple shot ismade. They are calculated as a set of probabilities that a particularcoffee is within /- x percent of the nominal proportion, where“x” is the heading on top of each column. For example, readingdown the /- 20 percent column, the numbers indicate theprobability that the particular sample chosen has a specific coffeewithin /- 20 percent of its nominal proportion.Suppose a blend uses 40 percent of a Sumatran coffee. Fora double shot, using 14 grams of coffee, the probability of thatSumatran coffee being present within /- 10 percent of itsnominal composition (between 36 and 44 percent in this case)is contained in the fourth row. Focus on the middle portion ofthis table, devoted to 14 grams, and look down the first columncovering /- 10 percent and read off the fourth row pertainingto 40 percent blend component, resulting in the reading of66 percent. In other words, in selecting 112 beans at random,the Sumatran bean will be present between 36 and 44 percentconcentration about 66 percent of the time. In the remaining 34percent of the time, the concentration will be outside these limits.If the same blend had another coffee, say a Costa Rican, ata nominal proportion of 10 percent, and we require that beanto be present within /- 10 percent of its nominal composition(between 9 and 11 percent, in that case), in making the samedouble shot, we find that probability to be 39 percent. It meansthat in the 112-bean sample, that Costa Rican coffee will bepresent at concentrations between 9 and 11 percent only 39percent of the time. In the remaining 61 percent of the time, itsconcentration will be outside those bounds.TABLE 1. Shot to Shot Variation of Coffees in a Blend for Different DosesDose 7 gramsDose 14 gramsDose 21 gramsSpreadSpreadSpreadBlendComponent % /10% /20% /40% /10% /20% /40% /10% /20% 71008399100Tables courtesy of Jim Schulman of the University of Chicago.Troast article reprint61631No. 125, Portland, OR 97232-1425 P 503.282.2399 F 503.282.2388 roast@roastmagazine.com6 NEr o Broadwayast

espresso is best used as a "guest espresso," in addition to the house espresso staple. An additional grinder for the guest espresso is a must. This situation may change as the general quality of espresso in North America improves and the consuming public gets more conversant with espresso to the point that more than fi ve percent

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