Darker roasted espresso...

elusive espresso... theorize, philosophize!

Darker roasted espresso...

Postby jpscoffee on Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:48 pm

I had always heard that a darker roasted espresso took a little higher brewing temperature. Now I have had two people tell me the opposite. Can anyone point me in the correct direction and give me some anecdotal or otherwise proof or evidence to back it up?
Thanks
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby Ryan Willbur on Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:10 pm

I've never really heard that before, but when you mention it, it kinda reflects somethings I've found over the past 6 months or so... Blackcat Classic got lighter, and our average temp dropped. Then, we've tried to some other espressos from different roasters, as well as, maybe some blown batches of our stuff, and they have tasted better at higher temps.

I'm not willing to say it's a fact, but it might be worth looking into.
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby nick on Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:00 pm

Yeah, it's hard to generalize too much on this sort of stuff, but I suppose it sort of makes sense that a lower temp would be better-matched for darker roast coffees. It all depends on what sort of flavors you're trying to get out of the coffees though.

What I mean by "makes sense" is this, and it's absolutely just a theory off the top of my head:
The darker roasted the coffee, the more "damaged" the cellular structure of the coffee bean, which means the water requires less heat-energy to be an adequate solvent for the relevant solubles. Just a shot (no pun intended)... could be totally wrong, but it's an idea. :D
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby Jason Haeger on Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:27 pm

While on the surface I am inclined to agree with Nick, I think roast profile has more to do with the brew temperature than roast color, if that makes sense.

Two batches of the same coffee at the sameAgtron number (color) may prefer a higher or lower temperature than the other based on the profiling of that roast.

And then, dosing has a lot to say about this as well. Lighter roasts tend to get a lighter dose from me, and if I were to dose higher, I would certainly drop the brew temp to compensate. (which is what I think of when reading Ryan's experience with Black Cat) The same volumetric dose of a darker coffee might like a temperature higher than the same volume of a lighter roasted coffee based on what is intended to be extracted from it.

I had a double shot of a coffee that was roasted quite light earlier this evening. I didn't pull it, but I asked how it was pulled. It was overly bright, a bit "harsh", and not its best. The solution was to dose less and pull it slightly longer. (they were dosing fairly high, I thought) It worked out very nicely on the second pull. Same grind setting.

Another solution may be to drop the temp to get a similar, though not identical result. You can either stretch out the extracted elements, (as in the second shot in the story) or you can just extract less (by dropping the temp).

So a higher dosed light-roasted coffee may prefer a temperature lower than a similarly dosed dark-roasted coffee in such a scenario. But is the darker roasted coffee's temp "higher", or is the lighter roasted coffee's temp actually "lower" than what I would call "the norm"?

This begs the question about standards like nobody's business, but this is just my take on it.
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby Chris Kornman on Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:51 pm

I've found similar experiences with lighter roasts; specifically that the acidic elements are less powerful tasting at lower temperatures. This also applies to drip brew. Less nuance, more smoothed out flavors at temps in the upper 190s and low 200s. Acids become especially prevalent at or above 204.

I suppose there's a number of other factors involved, too. Pump pressure, bean cultivar, etc. etc.
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby phaelon56 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:32 am

I'm not sure this question can be properly explored without a valid A-B test. If one were to take a given bean SO bean or a blend and pull shots with that specific bean/blend from both a dark roasted profile and a light roasted profile - we'd start getting into a less subjective area.

But - as others have already pointed out - there are so many variables that it's very difficult to sort them out when addressing a question like this.
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby Edwin Martinez on Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:27 am

Espresso is a pretty fast brew... so attention to detail is very important.

Nick's theory is correct. Generally a dark is more extractable than a light roast. All else the same you do need hotter water in a light roast to pull out the same amount of solubles/TDS.

However if it is VERY dark, what would have been there to be extracted has already been roasted out. Or if it is roasted VERY slow a light roast can be potentially much more developed than it appears, allowing solubles to be easier to extract. You can't always go by color.

Only one way to find out....
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Re: Darker roasted espresso...

Postby jpscoffee on Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:35 am

phaelon56 wrote:I'm not sure this question can be properly explored without a valid A-B test. If one were to take a given bean SO bean or a blend and pull shots with that specific bean/blend from both a dark roasted profile and a light roasted profile - we'd start getting into a less subjective area.


This is really what I was looking for. Whether someone had, or knew of someone that had, done such a test.
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