Mar 08

Evaluation of Espresso … What is your Coffee Standard?

As a coffee connoisseur, one of the old coffee industry for me has always been the standard reviewed by the coffee industry itself.

Reviewing coffee and many in other coffee industries has long been believed that standards for coffee should be no different from that for wine, that a 1-100 pointing system is a safe method for evaluating coffee. This is the strict standard obtained by reviewing coffee to taste or “cup” the coffee, removing as many variables as possible to the objective observer, used in controlled environments to level each of the coffee varieties.

I found a very interesting evaluation of this coffee review method in the most recent post. In this case, he took over the espresso cupping method of reviewing generally accepted coffees, suggesting that espresso would be better evaluated through consistent shooting than through cupping alone. I find this to be the most interesting observation by the Prince:

First, start your list with variables. In cupping, variables are controlled and regulated. In espresso evaluation, as far as possible leeway (within reason) should be given. Tamping – I remember being in Alistair Durie’s lab with Vince Piccolo (49th Parallel Gate) and other baristas, drawing a mixture of Heather Perry’s WBC Competition. We did the same dose (from Anfim timer grinder), same engine temperature, with the same brewed volume, but only changed one thing – the tamping method. Vince will try it and pull a shot. He will vary his looks, and attract others. Alistair will go up, not change anything but handsome in his style. And I will do the same. And every shot out is different – different tastes, different look during the pull, different variations in shot finishes while sitting in the cup.

This is what makes the barista profession so unique. You’ll get one block on one machine and another machine with the same machine and machine – one another making the muscles smaller than the other to the handsome, and you get two completely different personalities in espresso shots. I think it’s a dork inside of me who loves this stuff, but also the reason I have hope for the future of our profession.

There’s a bit of personality in Starbucks super-automatic shots that are uniform, but you’ll get some interesting characters in your drink from a local independent barista.

So I guess this goes back to my original subject from this post. What is your standard for evaluating espresso coffee? Should it be considered the same as cupping coffee, or should it be evaluated as suggested by the Prince?

How do you evaluate your espresso? You can learn more about Maestro Coffee Roasters.