The thought of a "perfect" cup of 'Decaf' espresso might sound more like an oxymoron than a reasonable thought, but happy customers, means good business. When you think about it on a large scale, the decaf customers can amount to 10%, 15%, even 20% of drink sales in all. For people that do not do well with the caffeine in their drink, or want a drink later in the day without the buzz, it could be an option for them that would keep them happy, and buying more drinks.
In my time working as a Barista, I have actually found myself drinking an amount of 1/2, or even full decaf drinks. I enjoy my coffee, and sometimes have to ration myself, and that's where the decaf comes in. On the espresso machine it can be harder to pull that perfect shot of decaf espresso; but I know it is possible,as I have done it. It is totally possible to get that rich crema, with a full body.
I think that even though the process of decafination has been done, it is Our responsibility, not only to the customers, but the growers, and communities involved in the production of the beans, to get the best out of every bean. Decaffeinated, or not.
We use the Swiss Water decaf beans, roasted in house with just as much love, and dedication as the rest of our beans, out of respect, and hounor to all involved.
I want to know about other individuals experience with decaf espresso, in helping me make the best shots I can. A grind, dosage, extraction time, or any positive thoughts on improvements.
Dose anyone have an answer for the perfect shots they can share?
I totally agree. With all of our beans, including our decaf, having the advantage of in house roasting, we can control how old our coffee is. We have an awesome turn over, whether it's from our wholesale sales, or drink sales and watch the dates of roast.
But given that, we have found that overall the decafinated beans do act differently, as they have already gone through more processing changing the beans perhaps?
My experience with decaf is that the shelf/hopper life of the whole bean coffee is about half to two-thirds that of regular. Decaf naturals are starting to show up as spot offerings (ours is from Swiss Water, currently, an Ethiopian Harar/Harrar. Espresso Parameters for now: 17-19g in, 24-29g out, ~25 sec). As Single Origin or maybe in a blend, which can help with overall sweetness (potentially funkiness in cases of over-roasting or defective beans) and flavor dynamics (if that's what one is after), it's possible to modulate the flavor to achieve specific goals.
One data trend that I notice in decafs are their lower relative moisture content (green) and increased brittleness (in the roasted state), which would make me guess that they will react with water a bit differently during brewing/extraction.
Totally agree with Jason, as well. Trial and Error, along with tasting, are still the final step in the quality control chain, no matter what information we source or what technologies we employ.
Great question, and I'm curious to learn what others are finding.