perspective-bearing weekend o’ shots

December 15, 2005 – 2:10 am

one month, the pungent yellow vines that flop over the front walk are wooing butterflies and thumbing their noses at the early frost, and the next they’re brittle splinters. just spiny spokes splayed out like crushed sunflower skeletons. the mac widget that tells me current weather conditions for moments like these when i’m too tired to pull back the shades (f12! it’s so much easier!) currently shows a bunch of plinky ice beebees bouncing off the two-tone application color scheme. the year’s first ice storm, south carolina style, and episode no. 018 of nick cho’s echo chamber d’espresso is muddling along on itunes. i think he’s talking to someone quasi-famous. which means he probably has 5,782 forum posts on alt.coffee.

but the panamanian brightness, it went quickly. somewhat overpoweringly floral and citrusy, at times, much like an east african. plenty of that’s been swilled in this joint. so why blog at all? well, because of the versatility. spent saturday blowing through countless shots and dose levels to note the following, minimally interesting progression:

* the hot shots — first three or four, brewed as the machine came off an extended idle period at about 204 or so, were not as typically sharp and bitter but rather more herbacious/flowery. some onion/cornflower suggestions there too.
* the adjusted second fleet — three or four good ones brewed ristretto — pulled more simple and sweet, like honey ginseng. a lot like honey ginseng, actually, if you’ve ever had the tea.
* more tweakage, approaching the optimal 27-second range and a stabilized grouphead temp and you got more of the overt flowery citrus notes noted by the sellers.
* the final round of shots, further optimized and ideally pulled by the book (though not necessarily at this bean’s sweet spot) were complex over time, more of an evolving sip. mellow “shimmering” citrus on the front end, some malt and caramel after a minute or so and more blueberry ginseng sweet/tartness as it got colder. very fun to unravel, very changeable. there was, of course, the cocoa /dark chocolate notes in most sips, but then i tend to think most good espressos have chocolate in them somewhere. at least, my tongue tends to find it.


bottom line: meh. it was a good coffee. i wanted more intrigue, more complexity, something with more weight. but it did serve its purpose, which was to recalibrate the senses to the body, mouthfeel, workability and performance of what’s been professionally seared and measure it against the home-roasted brew. i’m glad to say, the i-roast is serving me well, as is mother sulawesi. guess i’ll start chartng roast curves again, now that i have assurances of the worth of fine-tuning. ah, perspective. it’s like traveling to chad for a month with the relatives in the bush. clears the head, rewires the senses and lends value to what was once looked lightly upon. whatever that means…