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Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 4:33pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Well, that's the first time I ever heard perculators described as a method for making good coffee . . .

The wine industry wasn't born in 1933.  It was re-born then . . . and again and again.  I'm not sure you can date great espresso back to the 1930s or so -- I don't know, I wasn't there -- but clearly, we hare in the FIRST flush of micro-roasters, of single-origin beans, of "prosumer" machines, and so on and so on -- all of which brings up to the present state-of-the-art.  Be that as it may:

I'm not sure why you seem insistent on puting words in my mouth.  Where have I said that "Coffeegeek's evaluation shouldn't be taken . . . seriously" or any of that other "stuff"?  What I have said is that, let's see:

  • "Great report, great effort . . . pretty good methodology.  You will never please everyone all the time, and there may or may not be some additional adjustments you may want to consider to the methodology.  No system is perfect, period.  The goal, IMHO, is to develop a system that is the least 'imperect' as possible."
  • " . . . at least as I see it -- this was almost more of a 'trial run' for the methodology than a definitive review of the coffees themselves . . ."  
  • "One thought that occurs to me and may -- in part -- explain the difference seen between 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 . . . . "
  • "neither Mark Prince and CoffeeGeek.com, nor Kenneth Davids and CoffeeReview.com, have as much 'power' as Robert Parker.  AND, the very nature of coffee, of its freshness, of its perishability, will work against such 'internationalization' -- UNLESS the world wakes up one morning and suddenly decides that month-old, stale beans are really THE way to go!"
  • etc.

What I DO see, long-term, is a series of regional "coffeegeek/CoffeeReview"-type sites -- whatever they are called -- focused on providing consumers with reviews of the various, locally available coffees from various roasters -- both micro-roasters (think 49th Parallel, Ecco Caffe), larger-but-still-small roasting companies (think Intelligensia or Vivace), and the giants of the industry (think Starbucks, and for that matter Illy).  There may be one for one for North America; one for the EU; Australia & New Zealand; one for Japan, China and Southeast Asia; and so on.  After all, what good does it truly do Derek in Australia to know that Ecco Caffe "beat" 49th Parallel when neither coffee is readily available to him in Sydney . . . or Melbourne, or Perth, or Geelong, or Hobart, or wherever it is in Oz that he lives.  The reverse is also true:  does it matter that Oomph! Coffee Roastery on the island of Tasmania is better/worse than the Voodoo Coffe Co. of Sydney, when neither one is available to me in Berkeley or you in Toronto.  It may be interesting reading, perhaps, but ultimately frustrating, don't you think?

The mere fact that there exists a difference in the methodology between Mark/coffeegeek and Kenneth Davids/Coffee Review suggests to me that there is no commonly accepted, agreed upon methodology.  This does not mean the methodology is flawed and/or should be thrown out.  Rather, it means that the WBC and the SCAA (and its European counterpart) have more work to do before one is/can be established.  

As I -- and others -- have said on these pages before, the major difference(s) between wine and coffee is that wine can/should/does reach the consumer in ideal shape, and all he/she has to do is pull the cork, twist open the screw-cap, etc.  The coffee beans may (or may not) reach the consumer in ideal shape, but it is then ultimately up to the consumer to take those beans and make a "god-shot," a "sink-shot" or something in between.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Philosopher
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 6:19pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Espresso potential is as much in the hands of the barista as the roaster.  

Agree

Without well extracted espresso how are you going to fairly sample a roast's espresso potential?
Agree but who defines 'well-extracted'.  For some 'over/under-extracted' is well extracted

I'm wondering whether we're debating the evaluation of good espresso or the definition of it.
Both, they are inter-rated.  You define what you are looking for.  You construct criteria and methods that help you find it

If you want to say that certain conditions like a fresh roast are only important to extraction as a matter of opinion but not fact but you're  experience doesn't include adjusting your grind for extraction, temp surfing, dose/distribution/tamp experimentation and a good bit of research into very good espresso extraction, no offense, but how can you honestly or with any credibility suppose that?  
I never said this - but Ken did not adjust and most of his readers probably did not care - but CGs may

Do you think CGer's and other coffee forum geeks are just persuing irrelevant tangents of espresso extraction
No

You think that geeks have conditioned their palates to favour the opinion that fresh roasts provide the best espresso?
Possibly but a true aficionado keeps an open mind and judges the blend on its own merits.  If his evaluation system is consistent with his definition, he could probably blind taste the age of his coffee.

I don't think so.  My proof is in the cup.  My best espresso is indeed with fresh roasted beans, very good grinder, good knowledge and a good hand.  It's why I'm home roasting and experimenting.
I am glad you can enjoy your coffee.  Now, please let everyone else who does not have the same tastes as you do enjoy their coffee as well

Thanks again to Mark for helping the evaluation of good roasts gain ground.
I also thank Mark.  His tastes are probably relevant to me
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mrgnomer
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 6:25pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:


I'm not sure why you seem insistent on puting words in my mouth.  Where have I said that "Coffeegeek's evaluation shouldn't be taken . . . seriously" or any of that other "stuff"?  What I have said is that, let's see:

Posted October 14, 2007 link

mrgnomer Said:

What is it you're trying to say?  Coffeegeek's evaluation shouldn't be taken too seriously because the current understanding of espresso extraction is lacking, biased, inconsistent or incomplete in some way with either the evaluators or in general?  We can't develop a roast evaluation for espresso that's fair to current espresso knowledge because the knowledge doesn't exist or there's no consensus on a standard?

Posted October 14, 2007 link

No, I'm questioning you not trying to put words in your mouth...

I've just gone over the posts and I must apologize for confusing you with someone else.  Sorry I was reactive.  If I've read well enough what you've posted I agree with you;  Mark's evaluation is good, it'll probably understood and appreciated more by geeks, there's always room for improvement, shouldn't be taken as the last word but needs to be respected given his knowledge and experience of the current understanding of espresso.

Yes, oddly enough, I've read that even though percolators steep with boiling temp water they make good coffee.  Atleast that's what advocates claim.  I think I'll pick up a perculator and find out myself.

I agree that it's frustrating to read the review of a roast that isn't readily availble to me so I can try it out for myself.  I still don't think that roast shouldn't be reviewed and compared.  If it's reviewed maybe a demand will make it available.


JasonBrandtLewis Said:

The mere fact that there exists a difference in the methodology between Mark/coffeegeek and Kenneth Davids/Coffee Review suggests to me that there is no commonly accepted, agreed upon methodology.  This does not mean the methodology is flawed and/or should be thrown out.  Rather, it means that the WBC and the SCAA (and its European counterpart) have more work to do before one is/can be established.

Posted October 14, 2007 link

Do you mean a methodology in extraction or evaluation?  Of course I believe the methodology in extraction should favour progressive advancement which puts Mark/Coffeegeek and contributions from forums like Coffeegeek at an advantage.  The proof of whether geeks can be considered more advanced is in the cup, IMHO.  Espresso is relatively young but I see a standard evolving.  I would hope that once a standard for what is evaluated is agreed upon the method of evaluation would fall more easily into place.

Regional evaluations make sense as well.  What do you think?  Road trips for a core of baristas to hit a roasting region for an evaluation, contacting the region's roasters and express posting roasts for evaluation or drawing on local barista talent, if it exists, for recommendations and the evaluation?

All in all I really think enthusiasts are making more of a contribution to roasting and coffee/espresso extraction than is generally being recognized.  I don't care about who thinks they know more than someone else.  I care that what enthusiasts are discovering is being minimalized, marginalized or even trivialized to the detriment of a broader audience who is seeking good coffee/espresso and could benefit from good, sound experience.
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mrgnomer
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mrgnomer
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 6:42pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

All right, I shouldn't be posting a response after enjoying a line of Kentucky bourbon shots and a single malt cask strength Laphroaig but they've loosened me up.

So, Philosopher, why are we debating?  Truce?  I respect your opinion and agree to disagree with you on certain points namely on the definition of a good extraction and what a common good roast standard should be.  But that's only my opinion.   Thanks for your response.  Really.

Yes, I really do enjoy my espresso and I think it's because of forums like Coffeegeek.  I take exception to having my espresso/taste patronized and marginalized but after a line of bourbon shots and a tasty single malt I'm numb enough to turn the other cheek.  I'll let forum readers be the judge of comments like that.

(mrgnomer raising his single malt glass to Philosopher in a toast)  To you Philosopher, may your espresso knowledge and appreciation continue to advance and pour like red brown sweet golden honey into your cup ;)  Hope we can continue to keep one other honest.
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Philosopher
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 6:48pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

mrgnomer Said:

I don't care about who thinks they know more than someone else.  I care that what enthusiasts are discovering is being minimalized, marginalized or even trivialized to the detriment of a broader audience who is seeking good coffee/espresso and could benefit from good, sound experience.

Posted October 14, 2007 link

It is reasonable and a commendable desire to see people share the discoveries that you are making.   However, scoring systems are better suited to a mature audience.   For the newbie to the specialty coffee scene, I would much prefer less pre-conditioning of their tastes.  They should taste a wide range of coffees - imported/regional, stale/fresh, single origin/blends.  This helps them sharpen their perceptions and learn what balance, acidity, aftertaste and body mean.  They can then progress to distinguishing specific flavours.  From here they can dissect what makes for them a good cup of coffee.
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gime2much
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 7:12pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

mrgnomer Said:

All right, I shouldn't be posting a response after enjoying a line of Kentucky bourbon shots and a single malt cask strength Laphroig but they've loosened me up.

Posted October 14, 2007 link

My kind of guy....115 proof Scotch...More than just a breakfast drink!!!!!

Dan

 
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mrgnomer
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mrgnomer
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 7:32pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

gime2much Said:

My kind of guy....115 proof Scotch....More than just a breakfast drink!!!!!

Dan

Posted October 14, 2007 link

It's not oatmeal!  ;)

Not quite 115 proof, more 96 proof, but it still goes down smooth.  We've got our liquor store stocking a quarter cask, double cask matured Laphroaig.  Trying to nurse the bottle but it's darn hard.  Oh well, life is short.

Now raising a glass of Ardbeg Uigeadail 108.4 proof (and slowly sliding off his chair).  Cheers :)
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gime2much
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 8:17pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

mrgnomer Said:

It's not oatmeal!  ;)

Not quite 115 proof, more 96 proof, but it still goes down smooth.  

Posted October 14, 2007 link

My bad. I was told the last cask strength was 57.4% = 115 proof.  96 is good enough for me ( I can last a little longer that way))

Dan

 
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mrgnomer
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mrgnomer
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 8:30pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

gime2much Said:

My bad. I was told the last cask strength was 57.4% = 115 proof.  96 is good enough for me ( I can last a little longer that way))

Dan

Posted October 14, 2007 link

Not at all.  No problemo.  This one's 48% which x2 would be 96 proof. There's lots on the shelf and the price is reasonable so I think this one's not quite a one time specialty offering.

Oops,  I think it's really my bad:  it's bottled at a higher strength but doesn't say that's cask strength.
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gime2much
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Posted Sun Oct 14, 2007, 8:50pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Now that I've completely (helped?) highjacked this thread, neat or on the rocks? Rocks for me unless you're out.

Dan

 
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