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Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 1:39pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Dom1183 Said:

I also wonder if the Italian brands tested here are the equivalent to our Folgers, Nabob and Maxwell house brands. Where in Italy they are the gigantic coffee providers for the masses made with stale low quality beans and sold at an affordable price.
Surely one has to believe that Italy has some great roasters that are much more comparable to ours.
It's unfortunate that we would never be able to try them.

Posted October 10, 2007 link

The biggest surprise for us was Illy - at $15 for 350g, it ain't cheap. And we've all had much better.

I mentioned this in Article 2, but it bears repeating - the folks I polled in Milan, Trieste and Florence had lots of local "microroaster" recommendations, akin to what we have over here; the problem was, we cannot buy the coffees here. I also tried contacting two of them (in vain) to see if I could get samples - but August is Italy's 'ghost" month, and getting in touch with anyone is a challenge.

Ironically enough, someone in Italy  (or elsewhere in Europe) can order from a few of the N. American blends profiled here - IIRC, the US intl' priority envelope, which can happily take up to 1.5lbs of coffee or more, costs $9 to ship, well, anywhere in the world, and a couple of the roasters will make use of it, providing 3-5 day delivery to Europe and other places.

Mark

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 2:21pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

One thought that occurs to me, Mark, and may -- in part -- explain the difference seen between your reviews (forget the scores, and let's look at descriptions) and those seen on The Coffee Review, is the tremendous difference in methodology:  tweaking and dialing in each coffee, vs. a standardized format (i.e.: exact same brew temp for all coffees, same extraction time, etc., etc.).  

Clearly the former is aimed at getting the most from each shot, and it also makes "flaws" much more easy to detect (witness the Illycafe performance).  I wonder, were you to take that original Illy sample, and pull shots in a Gaggia/Silvia:  would it be worse or more forgiving?  It may be counter-intuitive, perhaps, but I'm thinking it may be more forgiving and thus . . . .

Just a thought.

 
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 2:42pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

I wonder, were you to take that original Illy sample, and pull shots in a Gaggia/Silvia:  would it be worse or more forgiving?  It may be counter-intuitive, perhaps, but I'm thinking it may be more forgiving and thus . . . .

Just a thought.

Posted October 10, 2007 link

One way to find out.

This thread has convinced me to order some Illy (never wanted to before) along with some Black Cat and a couple more and run them thru a Gaggia.

Just curious...Not trying to prove or disprove anything....Just...curious.

Dan

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 4:08pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Clearly the former is aimed at getting the most from each shot, and it also makes "flaws" much more easy to detect (witness the Illycafe performance).  I wonder, were you to take that original Illy sample, and pull shots in a Gaggia/Silvia:  would it be worse or more forgiving?  It may be counter-intuitive, perhaps, but I'm thinking it may be more forgiving and thus . . . .

Just a thought.

Posted October 10, 2007 link

Something even different from this - I bought a (fresher, much fresher) can of Illy a week after this test, pulled it on the LM with the Anfim, and it was quite good - I'm sure if that newer can was in the test, it would have scored in the 60s. I had three cans of illy for the test, all bought the same day, from the same shelf. The beans showed a lot of damage - brokens (Vince speculated this happened during a wild transportation ride, though the cans were in fine shape), and even some defects (we found one black in a small sample).

If it were just one can, I'd put it off as something happened in that one can... but all three were pulling substandard shots. Bad roasting batch?

Mark

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 4:09pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

gime2much Said:

One way to find out.

This thread has convinced me to order some Illy (never wanted to before) along with some Black Cat and a couple more and run them thru a Gaggia.

Just curious...Not trying to prove or disprove anything....Just...curious.

Posted October 10, 2007 link

In a way, this is the entire heart of why I wrote these three articles! Don't let us be the final judge or arbiter - you be the judge. And you share your own results! Something you can't do on Coffee Review (ouch!).

Mark

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 5:15pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

In a way, this is the entire heart of why I wrote these three articles! Don't let us be the final judge or arbiter - you be the judge. And you share your own results!

Posted October 10, 2007 link

This is the interesting "fall-out" on a site like Mark Squires' Bulletin Board on eRobertParker.com:  wine geeks from, literally, all over the world post their own tasting notes on various wines they drink in everyday situations -- in a restaurant, a wine bar, at home; purchased today, or many years ago and cellared all this time; with a wide variety of foods, or all by itself; etc., etc., etc.  Some award numerical scores; some don't.  But in many cases you'll read comments like "RP (Robert Parker) was right on target with this wine" or, "What the heck was RP talking about with his review of this???", and everything in between!  

(Sadly, IMHO, you'll still find from time-to-time comments like, Parker loved it; I didn't; what's wrong with me?, but fortunately people are becoming more and more independent and -- to paraphrase something I said elsewhere -- realizing they have their OWN taste buds in their mouth, and not Parker's, or any other wine writer's, for that matter.  Thus, this sort of comment is becoming less and less frequent.)

Clearly such postings do not hurt Mr. Parker, nor does it hurt the activity on his/Squires' site.  Indeed, I think it is rather good for his site, increases traffic, participation, revenue, etc., etc.

I suspect, Mark, that the same will hold true with time on CoffeeGeek.com, too -- as your reviews become more and more frequent.

 
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 5:17pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Excellent review, Mark!

Took some time because I was all misty eyed seeing roasters get a fair shake on a decent evaluation.  Thank you for taking the time to start off what I have a feeling is the start of something big.  Glad to have been there for the birth.

I think using WBC winners to evaluate roasts is a great idea.

To pay them this might work. Advertise the evaluation on Coffeegeek or where ever interested coffee geeks roam and solicit a donation of whatever it would cost to ship a 1/2 lb of the top say 5 picks to the donator plus something extra for the baristas?   I would definitely get in line for a chance to sample some top picks and pay a little extra so save having to go to each roaster individually to order and ship.  The roasts would have to come to a central location for collection, pkging and shipping, which would mean a bit of a delay.  Still, if they could get out before a week past roast date it might be worth it.  A fee could go to whoever was collecting, repackaging and shipping.  If it works I'd still save on shipping even with an extra charge.
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 5:41pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

It would have ben preferable (for all coffees) to have done all the judging in one day...

but a solid effort all round... :)
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 7:46pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

DonTMan Said:

One issue I see is a backlash from the blend producers to their "excellent" "must try" "superb" blend being rated an 79.  

I'm afraid the public will share this view that anything below 90, heck below 93, is not worth trying.

Posted October 10, 2007 link

I was just wondering why Mark didn't also retest all of the same blends that Ken used so that scores could be recalibrated?

As far it goes, any total score is arbitrary and will affect closely ranked blends.  Your system considers the attributes:  Sweetness, Body, Aftertaste, Acidity, Crema, Aroma, With Milk as all having equal weight.  This assumes they are equally important as each other and that these qualities are independent of one another.   However, they probably all interact and some things may have greater importance than another.   For instance if a blend is designed to be drunk straight then its performance with milk is irrelevant.   The sum total impression may be more important and perhaps Judge and Barista scores should have even greater weight.

Nevertheless, having the scores broken down is useful.  This allows people to choose the blend according to its predominant characteristics.

Using a 5 star system, a 79 would be 4 stars and would have less negative connotations - but again tasting notes should accompany.
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Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007, 9:18pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Was there a uniform resting period for the American Blends or was that a variable at the discretion of the barista? Maybe it wasn't one of the variables?

I remember that during a good part of september Black Cat was tasting somewhat different than usual.  I felt that it was much sweeter and the "woodiness" was almost nonexistent.  Mark, I wonder if you felt that Black Cat tasted different at the time of the testing than usual?
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