El Salvador San Emilio and A Tale Of Two Doses
Two posts in two days? No, it's not so much because Mark wants it as much as that I'm in the mood to write. I have just had an exceptionally draining exam for an exceptionally uninspiring subject and, in contrast, have some rather interesting sample roasts at my disposal ...
I have a bit of an interest in pulp natural coffees as a base for espresso blends. Last year's foray into the Costa Rican Santa Elena started badly, but once I got the roast under control it provided a reliably consistent high-body component that transformed a cappuccino into chocolate in a cup. In fact, I actually appreciated the very single-note syrupy body more than something like a Kuda Mas Mandheling.
This coffee appeared to be roasted to around second crack or just before - I don't know, I didn't roast it! These notes refer to four to six days after roasting.
Cupping: A balanced, unobjectionable, classic cup. Rather low in acidity. Good body and perhaps hints of nut, but nothing that would leap out at you. The sort of thing that I imagine would be a bit of a hit in a 1950's American diner as their breakfast drip coffee, with customers going for a second cup as they read their newspaper and relate the salient events to their illiterate, non-voting, foot-bound wives.
(a) Regular dose - overfill, rap three times on the portafilter fork, strike off level and tamp.
Again, a balanced and unremarkable shot. A bit of nuttiness, a bit of caramel and a bit of acidity. Vague hints of some sort of fruitiness matching the acidity - raspberry, wine, balsamic; something of that sort. A great base for an espresso blend (I mixed it with some Blue Horse earlier on) and quite enjoyable by itself.
(b) Low dose - overfill, strike off level, tamp.
I enjoyed this espresso more than the regular dose. I refuse to make a blanket commitment to one sort of dose or the other; over the past few months I have probably stuck with my regular dose 70% of the time and the low dose 30% of the time. I am yet to come up with any sort of guide as to when each sort of dose is appropriate.
This espresso had more pronounced fruitiness, but, somewhat perplexingly, I didn't feel that there was really any tradeoff. Neither did the body seem lower, nor was the acidity unpleasantly increased.
(a) Regular dose
I thought that the regular dose performed better in milk. In fact, like the other pulped naturals that I have tried, the strong point of the San Emilio seemed to be milk. It asserted itself well as a complete, balanced cup, tasting slightly of nuts. In fact, it was oddly reminiscent of the cupping experience. The surprise was the aftertaste, which was clean and long-lasting.
(b) Lower dose
Although the flavour was broadly similar to the regular dose, the aftertaste was completely different - fleeting and unremarkable, bordering on bitter.
So far, this has not proven to be the chocolate-bomb that the Santa Elena was last year. But it's early days yet. I'm sure that experimenting with the roast profile will deliver another milk bomb. Once the sample roaster is back online!
Labels: Single Origin