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Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
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gugies
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 10:29pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Alright, I have a question to pose that is on the topic of this tread. Is numerically scoring espresso and to for that matter, even scoring espresso at all important?
     To give my question context I'll try and explain my thinking. If I were asked to score espresso, I would not be able to. One of my favorite shots was pulled by a girl I had just started dating, it was her first time ever making spro using less than optimal equipment. Because she had spent the time to go out on her own and read espresso theory and guides on how to pull shots without me knowing simply to show that she wanted to be part of what i loved...god shot. Yea, you could break a shot down to its TDS and whatnot, but is that the point? I think its just about finding that rare moment where you get lost in your mind and mouth and the rest of the world disappears.
I know the reason why I am here, at work every day and smelling like grounds every night can be traced back to a few moments like that, not because Espresso X scored a 88.6 and Espresso Y scored a 88.7

 
Scott Guglielmino
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Posted Tue Oct 16, 2007, 12:26am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

andys Said:

I hope Mark resists the temptation to trumpet the stupid scores and instead relies on good descriptions of the subjective quality of the coffees.

Posted October 14, 2007 link

Actually, Mark is gonna resist scoring coffees as often as he can. I'm barely comfortable "scoring" machines and equipment. Semi comfortable scoring espresso in a competition; deathly afraid of doing a formal cupping where my scores are broadcast to the world.

In a way, I feel a bit more comfortable talking definitively about espresso blends because, fact is, a blend is always quite open to interpretation, and depending on how it is brewed, prepared, served, can taste a myriad of ways. But coffee, in a regimented cupping, is pretty narrow focused. Not much room for the coffee to do anything but its thing at that temp, at that dose, at that steep time, at that roast.

I used to practice about once a week with the cafe du nez (or whatever that $350 box is called) kit, but fell out of the practice over a year ago (only just recently picking it up again). Instead, I've been spending much more time smelling and tasting real things - tamarind juice; six varieties of cantaloupes; several types of papaya; different types of vanilla (who knew!), heaps of different "single origin" chocolates; a variety of fresh herbs, fresh spices, fresh, well everything, just to name a couple off the top of my head. Then I try to store the taste, flavour or sensory memory when I go back to the cup and taste. In a way, it's more difficult, and so wide ranging, and not as immediate as using the nez cafe kit.

I drank, for eg, almost the whole pound of Miguel's CoE Guatamalan offering, knowing I recognized a specific taste, but couldn't place it... then I was at a fave el salvadoran restaurant, and had a juice there I sometimes have - tamarind juice, and bingo. Wrote it up in my description in a recent article, and Miguel wrote me back "dude, you nailed it - exactly that taste!!!"

Yea, except it took me a week to enunciate it ;)

No... no scores anytime soon or with any regularity for coffees or espressos. I'd like to see the idea of the WBC finalists being world-level judges and ratings-providers for the world's top espresso blends.

Mark

 
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Philosopher
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Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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Posted Tue Oct 16, 2007, 5:55am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

no scores anytime soon or with any regularity for coffees or espressos. I'd like to see the idea of the WBC finalists being world-level judges and ratings-providers for the world's top espresso blends.

I drank, for eg, almost the whole pound of Miguel's CoE Guatamalan offering, knowing I recognized a specific taste - tamarind juice, it took me a week to enunciate it ;)

Posted October 16, 2007 link

Well we have come full circle - the ridiculously subjective, the idealistically objective, the measured subjective.  
I think even drinking quirky offerings is an interesting and educative experience.
BTW Mark, how do you enunciate what has made a fantastic expresso for you?
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fookoonetwork
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fookoonetwork
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Posted Tue Oct 16, 2007, 6:52am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

Actually, Mark is gonna resist scoring coffees as often as he can. I'm Mark

Posted October 16, 2007 link

Scores are just a guide and are better than nothing for someone new to a field of taste.  It is highly unlikely that a neophyte will systematically go through some protocol to determine what is the best or better taste.  One has to start somewhere and it is up to the neophyte to develop his own taste, whether or not he agrees with anyone's written score or descriptions.   On a scale of 1-100, I would probably avoid something that scored a 50, but then later on, once tried, one might come to a different conclusion.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Tue Oct 16, 2007, 9:40am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

No, no point scores, but . . . ;^)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Philosopher
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Posted Wed Oct 17, 2007, 1:11am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

Actually, Mark is gonna resist scoring coffees as often as he can

Posted October 16, 2007 link

fookoonetwork Said:

Scores are just a guide and are better than nothing for someone new to a field of taste.

Posted October 16, 2007 link

Despite having run through the entire gamut of arguments about the limitations of scores, the good thing that has been gained from this discussion is a greater self-awareness for each of us about how we critically evaluate espresso.   Developing a common vocabularly will facilitate the exchange of opinions and tasting notes.
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SuburbanLatte
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SuburbanLatte
Joined: 18 Sep 2007
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Posted Wed Oct 17, 2007, 11:41am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Thanks very much, Mark.  Well set up, well detailed and enthusiastically described - always a pleasure to read.

Good to see Black Cat up there and pleasantly surprised to see 49th Parallel weighing in near the top.  After years of Black Cat and some SSI Organic, my palate had gravitated towards sweeter blends.  I picked up 49th's Epic a month ago and the first few shots I found lacking something.  Then, as my palate got used to it, I started finding the depths and the other elements I'd not found, when first looking only for sweetness.  Probably like a Bud drinkler discovering Guinness for the first time (no slight to Black Cat, of course!).  

Question I have is where to get the winning blend?  I went to Ecco Caffe's site, and there is no blend named Ecco Reserve - I manually searched through the espresso blends pages and did a search in their in-site search engine for "ecco reserve," results of which were nil.  Where can I find this?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
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Location: Berkeley, CA
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Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
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Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Wed Oct 17, 2007, 3:05pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

here

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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djgtram
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Posted Thu Oct 18, 2007, 2:43am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Jason,

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

it should be remembered that (at least in the US; I cannot speak for Canada) not only does Illycafe, specifically, enjoy a considerable reputation, is the "coffee of choice" in many restaurants, and is featured at many high-end markets and "gourmet" stores; but the other brands included in the test are often sold by those same companies that sell the high-end HX and/or double-boiler espresso machines in which these beans (one presumes) are recommended . . . .

Posted October 11, 2007 link

Illycafé has just formed a joint venture with Coca Cola to market ready-to-drink coffee. I don't doubt that they will be financially successful but it's a shame all right. No more words about Illy being high-end and the espresso of choice, please... :-)))

 
Bye,
 Gábor
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Oct 18, 2007, 3:13am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

SuburbanLatte Said:

Question I have is where to get the winning blend?  I went to Ecco Caffe's site, and there is no blend named Ecco Reserve - I manually searched through the espresso blends pages and did a search in their in-site search engine for "ecco reserve," results of which were nil.  Where can I find this?

Posted October 17, 2007 link

Shoot, I thought I linked to this

Click Here (www.eccocaffe.com)

Ecco Reserve on the logo, but "Northern Italian Reserve" as a name on the website. Great coffee.

Mark

 
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