Wednesday, September 06, 2006

deconstructing espresso

i'm sitting with the prospect of creating espresso by deconstructing it. today i thought i'd start with one of the best: intelligentsia's black cat espresso.

i began by reading everything google would fetch for me on black cat. mostly it's the novice's review here, intelligentsia's own one paragraph description there. basically i'm just trying to get some background and some hints as to components and proportions. from what i've been able to divine it is a blend of latin americans only--something i find very interesting indeed.

i cupped it out in both a couple of my new cupping bowls (shown left, courtesy of my buddy has bean steve) and via my aeropress, for reference and for slightly different accentuation.

the bowls created a really buttery, creamy chocolate base that showed a lavender or clove or licorice--i still can't decide--quality. something very floral or sweetly spicy, which i've often noticed in black cat before. as an aside, i've noticed those bowls really do butter up my coffees. the wide mouth flare must help create those notes, or at least put them more up front for display. i've cupped africans, centrals and even a sumatra in them and they all display more butter than i can remember noticing before. (steve?)

in the aeropress it displayed a little more of the cloves and licorice spice, but also a real roastiness...and not necessarily a good roastiness. it was almost too sharp. maybe that's a function of the centrals components without something with more body to balance it out.

i've read that the black cat was designed to work specifically with la marzocco machines at specific temps. maybe it can be more a matter of tweaking some of my serving temps--i don't have a la marzocco lying around, though.

anyways, more on this later as it unfolds. i mocked up some stuff i thought would replicate the black cat a little bit ago: tanzania/yirgacheffe for floral and cloves; sumatra for low end and some costa for sweet higher tones. the sumatra brought the whole thing noticeably lower and more chocolately, especially when i went back to the black cat. then i noticed the black cat seemed really tinny and sharp even as it displayed that characteristic licorice.

this is why i've always been a big proponent of cupping coffees next to other, very different, coffees. it really pulls together some perspectives from vastly different angles.

what do you think of black cat?

more later....

1 Comments:

At Wednesday, 06 September, 2006, Anonymous Stephen Leighton said...

I think (and this is why I spent a lot of money on these bowls) that a good set of cupping bowls don’t add anything but they allow the coffee to show you what it really is. I see them as a magnifying glass into the heart of the coffee.

As for deconstructing a blend, I’ve tried to do this in the past and felt I took away less than the effort I put in. Do what you think is good espresso not what someone else think. I know you would only do this to get a bit more knowledge and understanding, but it can equally be gained from experimentation. You know I’ve got to get me some of this black cat. The only time I’ve tried it is when iut was not at its freshest, and I was left a little disappointed. I guess when something is build up in your mind for a long time its always going to be tough.

 

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