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Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 4:21am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Actually, as much as I like scotch and whiskey myself, would you guys mind keeping the discussion on topic? ;) The Off Topics forum is a good place to pick up the scotch and whiskey discussions (hint hint)

Mark

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 7:18am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Philosopher Said:

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

Posted October 14, 2007 link

And thus the distinction!  Again, back to the world of wine for an example . . .

People who read wine magazines are but a small percentage of the total number of wine drinkers.  (This is true, of course, the world over, but let's limit this to the U.S. and U.S.-based publications.)  The readers are already "into" wine enough -- more so tha the average drinker -- to pick up the publication in the first place.  Subscribers are even more into it, and are but a small percentage of the percentage of readers.  That said, the subscription base of the Wine Spectator dwarfs that of Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate.  Unavailable on newstands, you have to be much more "serious" about wine to subscribe to Parker.  Parker's subscribers represent a range of interests and a range of knowledge, but on the whole are much more knowledgable than those who subscribe and/or read only the Wine Spectator.  And while the "Spec" covers many of the same wines as Parker does, it also covers food and "lifestyle issues," and is more like Bon Appetit or Food & Wine turned inside out:  rather than a food magazine with wine articles, it's a wine mag with articles on food.  The "Spec" is aimed at a much broader base -- still, a small segment of the overall number of wine drinkers, but a much broader segment than Parker.  

In this analogy, Kenneth Davids' Coffee Review is, of course, the "Spec" -- aimed at a broader consumer market (though still, a more "into it" segment of coffee drinkers than those who might read the occasional article on coffee in Bon Apetit or Gourmet -- while CG is aimed at a significantly smaller percentage . . . the top nth of one percent . . . .

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 11:02am
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

mrgnomer Said:

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.

Posted October 14, 2007 link

I concur that small, so-called "micro-roasters" should be reviewed . . . by the appropriate regional review . . . presuming, of course, that such regional reviews become a reality . . . eventually.  The problem, however, with your idea that demand will/may make it available, we're back to the freshness issue:  can you -- in, say, Toronto -- get a pound (a kilo) of that 98-point espresso blend from that coffee roaster in New Zealand a) while it's still fresh, and b) without paying $50+ for FexEx overnight delivery?

mrgnomer Said:

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?

Posted October 14, 2007 link

I think regional coffees are reviewed by regional baristas/writers.  Not many people are going to pay for you or I, or even Mark, to spend a month in Australia tasting various freshly roasted coffees -- nice though that may sound -- only to write them up back in Canada.  If it's not a "homegrown" coffee-obsessed induvidual creating the website and reviewing the coffees from Down Under, Mark -- are you listening Mark? -- could eventually open up sections of THIS site for regional coffee reviews by "qualified professionals."

 
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mrgnomer
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 2:26pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

Actually, as much as I like scotch and whiskey myself, would you guys mind keeping the discussion on topic? ;) The Off Topics forum is a good place to pick up the scotch and whiskey discussions (hint hint)

Mark

Posted October 15, 2007 link

Sorry.  Neat, Gimme ;)
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gime2much
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 2:44pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

Actually, as much as I like scotch and whiskey myself, would you guys mind keeping the discussion on topic? ;) The Off Topics forum is a good place to pick up the scotch and whiskey discussions (hint hint)

Mark

Posted October 15, 2007 link


mrgnomer Said:

Sorry.  Neat, Gimme ;)

Posted October 15, 2007 link

Me to (I was drinking scotch at the time)

 
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mrgnomer
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 2:45pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

I think regional coffees are reviewed by regional baristas/writers.  Not many people are going to pay for you or I, or even Mark, to spend a month in Australia tasting various freshly roasted coffees -- nice though that may sound -- only to write them up back in Canada.  If it's not a "homegrown" coffee-obsessed induvidual creating the website and reviewing the coffees from Down Under, Mark -- are you listening Mark? -- could eventually open up sections of THIS site for regional coffee reviews by "qualified professionals."

Posted October 15, 2007 link

I'd be concerned about regional baristas varying in skill or experience.  I'd think it would be difficult for the reviews to be consistent from region to region using local baristas unless the baristas were very good.

But you could have fun with it in a two for one sort of way.  Have two regions head to head, one ships the other their roasts and the two regions evaluate and compare their own and each other's roasts.  The baristas need to be similar in experience.  You could have a WBC ranked barista or two, if they're available, leading the evaluation and directing geek barista(s) and maybe a casual barista(s).  Yeah, shipping charges bring up the cost but what can you do.

I'm sure there would be a way to justify writing off a road trip.  It would be advancing coffee and coffeegeek, wouldn't it?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 3:02pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

mrgnomer Said:

I'd be concerned about regional baristas varying in skill or experience.  I'd think it would be difficult for the reviews to be consistent from region to region using local baristas unless the baristas were very good.

Posted October 15, 2007 link

What is Mark, but a well-educated geek and somoneone who passed the WBC Judge's Exam?  IF there is a standard, shouldn't a WBC "approved" judge be of sufficient caliber to pass judgement?  After all, they judge the performance of a barista . . . .

mrgnomer Said:

But you could have fun with it in a two for one sort of way.  Have two regions head to head, one ships the other their roasts and the two regions evaluate and compare their own and each other's roasts . . .

Posted October 15, 2007 link

It would be better if Region "A" ships to Region "B" AND Region "B" ships to Region "A" -- that way each "set" of judges have the same (e.g.) six coffees from each region to review.  The effects of shipping could be mitigated by comparing the reviews of Region A's judges with those of Region B's.

mrgnomer Said:

I'm sure there would be a way to justify writing off a road trip.  It would be advancing coffee and coffeegeek, wouldn't it?

Posted October 15, 2007 link

Write-offs always sound better than they actually are.  ;^)

Besides, knowing that this Australian roaster is better than that one remains in the "fun-to-know-but-essentially-useless-tidbit" to readers outside of Australia (OK, and maybe New Zealand) . . . just as knowing that Ecco Caffe placed 1st and Allegro placed 6th is to Derek . . . UNLESS I am planning to visit there, or he's planning on coming here.  Either way, that info I can get from people who participate in CG's regional forums already.

 
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Philosopher
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 5:56pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Back to topic now and further comments about making the scoring system easier to use interpret - which I think is what Mark is actually looking for:

I will again use some wine analogy - colour  (looks) , nose (smell) , palate (taste) - One example:
  • Look =  colour, viscosity, brilliance, depth (15%)
  • Smell = aroma, faults, variety, intensity (35%)
  • Taste =  complexity, concentration, fruit, length, aftertaste, balance, tannin / phenolics, acid (50%)

For comparison MP uses:
  • Look = crema (10%)
  • Smell = aroma (10%)
  • Taste = body balance, sweetness balance, acidity balance, aftertaste (40%)
  • Other = with milk (10%)
  • Final assessment = judge score (10%), barista score (20%)  

Perhaps more information in the tasting notes:
  • Look = colour/hue crema, intensity of crema, volume of crema, persistence of crema,
  • Smell = variety of aromas, intensity of aroma, faults that can be detected

With regard to 'taste'
  • Should acid and sweetness balance be assessed separately?  Or just one score for the primary balance of sweet/acid/bitter.  The tasting notes can then specifically mention the things which dominate.
  • Body should be followed by mention of complexity and concentration and then a reference to 'balance' of flavours.  e.g. 'Overpoweringly fruity, too much chocolate'.  Again tasting notes can specify the dominant characteristics.
  • Lastly, length, aftertaste then faults - burnt, ashy etc etc

With regard to 'with milk'
  • Should the score for this be omitted and a comment made only in the tasting notes e.g. "v good/excellent with milk, gets lost in milk"

With regard to 'judges score'

  • With an more elaborate marking system perhaps the judges score can be omitted completely.

With regard to 'barista' score

  • Should we omit the score but reserve comments for the notes section?
  • In the end, the final result is most important but we should then warn readers how much their mileage may vary
  • More comments please - recommended dose/tamp/temp, ease to work with, reproducibility on prosumer machine  e.g. 'needs higher temp to work well, very good results on Silvia'

Final conclusions:

  • The final score should reflect the best espresso that can be achieved with the blend under ideal conditions
  • However, the tasting notes can then elaborate on how easy it is to achieve it for the average prosumer and whether it is similarly well suited for milk drinks
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 6:52pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

Derek,

This is a great post, but I've replied to it in the "other" thread -- on developing an evaluation system, rather than here.

See here for my comments.

 
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Philosopher
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Posted Mon Oct 15, 2007, 9:07pm
Subject: Re: Battle North America vs. Italy - The Results by Mark Prince
 

GaryH Said:

I copied the espresso ranking data into Excel and made a chart showing each category. As the overall ratings increase, typically the individual ratings for each category also increase.  The higher scoring blends also have a higher barista score so looks like a better blend is more forgiving.

Posted October 13, 2007 link

Gary,

Good work with the analysis.  Eyeballing the data indicates both Barista and Judge's score correlates well with final score (except for a few exceptions).

Since you have already got the data on your spreadsheet could you try this analysis:

Compute total score but omitting the Barista/Judge/Milk scores and adjust up for a percentage score.   Compare this with MP's original results.

Can we show that the component evaluation is adequate for an evaluation?
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