Hey ya'll,

What is the coolest/ most eye-opening coffee experiment that you have done?

For me it was pulling shots of the same coffee on a Synesso with the same dose, so that I could manipulate flavor with just water temperature.

Of course a lot of us have done these experiments, what is you favorite experience?

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I had a miserable failure trying to pull some shots of rooibos that i ground in a super jolly. It was possibly the worst thing that i've ever had in my mouth. Some folks were pulling red tea shots at Coffee Fest 2007 in Seattle which gave me the idea. Before anyone asks, it didn't screw up any of my gear. Just a lot of cleaning afterwards.

Thinking about the parallels between coffee and chocolate has planted the idea in my head of grinding & pulling shots of cacao beans.
wow, awesome. Keep em coming!
I've hosted 1 or 2 Gatherings/Jams a year at my home going on 7 years, sometimes with as many as a dozen espresso machines up and running all at once plus all kinds of other brewing and various home roasting appliances. Couple years ago got talked into trying just that so bean there done that! The ground nibs (supplied by Alchemist John of Chocolate Alchemy) compacted and totally choked. But I did not attempt further varying grinds so I say go for it!

Ricky Sutton said:

Thinking about the parallels between coffee and chocolate has planted the idea in my head of grinding & pulling shots of cacao beans.
One cool experiment I did was 4 crop year vacuum sealed greens storage test of Costa Rica LaMinita. Just vac'd, not frozen. Then compared roasts of current crop and 1,2,3 & 4 year home room temp vac stored. The 1 year vac'd actually out cupped the current crop though showing minor signs of aging. (Was a better crop to begin with of course). I was not the only cupper, sent samples to Tom Owens of Sweet Marias. Years 2 and beyond were progressively worse. Have not repeated the test vac'd and frozen, which is my mode now for primo small quantity greens storage of things like Panama Emeralda.

Another past fun experiment was roasting and cupping comparing Kowali Blue Mountain Kona (Kona grown from Jamaica Blue Mountain seed stock, experimental part of Kowali Estate), Kowali Kona Typica (from original Guatemala seedstock), JBM, and 50:50 mix of KBM & K Typica Kona.

Gathering I hosted 6 years ago did a Cona Vac Brewer vs. Royal Versalles Balance Vac Brewer comparison after dinner. Cups virtually identically exquisite. (Back when Island of St. Helena greens were still sourceable good, 'bout the only bean that when up to par compares in complex vibrancy to Esmeralda in my book.)

Can't say for sure what's been the most eye opening experiment over the years! Done way too many different to count. Hmmm, roasting just enough for ONE double shot was fun in a silly way.
Well just a couple days after starting this thread I got to have a really interesting interaction with a couple customers today.

On our menu under espresso it reads: "Available ristretto, normale, or lungo. Not available iced or to-go." Normally people dwell on us not icing our espresso or not serving it to-go, but today I had a lady ask, "What does ristretto mean? Well... what does any of that mean...?"

Excited (we never get questions like this... I'm in SW Michigan after all) I started explaining what we normally do to extract espresso and the differences for ristretto and lungo vs what we would normally do. She seemed satisfied with the answer, but I was blessed with down-time a couple drinks after the explanation and decided to give her a more "sensory" explanation of the differences. She and her husband had ordered some crepes so I knew they were sticking around. I located them in the cafe and brought them (on one of these nice ceramic serving trays we have) a ristretto, normale, and lungo shot and a couple rocks glasses of soda water so that she could sample the differences. I brought them the tray set it down and said, "We'll refer to them as 1, 2, and 3" and then let them taste away, getting back to the counter where I needed to do some cleanup. I knew which was which, but they did not. (1=lungo, 2 ristretto, 3 normale)

After about 10 minutes her husband came up to the counter with a really happy look on his face (probably over-caffeination, haha) and said that it was a really eye opening look at how subtle changes to a shot of espresso can really change the flavor dynamics. He informed me that they both agreed that number 2 was the best tasting, number 3 the second best and 1 the least favorite. He thanked me again (dropping a pretty sweet tip in the jar) and said that I had won their continued business and that they were both re-thinking "real coffee drinks" now.

What an awesome experience to share with customers. I told them that next time they came in, if I was able I would do a split-shot experiment with them (5 cups, pulling 5 seconds into each cup... you know the drill...)

That experience on top of getting to serve 4 cortados, 2 traditional capps (to the same guy), 3 straight shots, an Americano in the "smallest cup we had" and someone ask me about Direct Trade, roast profiles and how roast profiles can affect flavor even if the roast level is the same. We normally don't get to make that many small drinks in a day, let alone on one shift...

Freaking great day. Exactly what I needed on a solo, 9 hour shift with a 3 hour sleep foundation.

-bry

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