Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Robusta or no robusta?

That's the question!

Normally i had planned to announce my newest Master and House blend one of these days. Normally .... Not!
After a recent downfall in quality (and personal favor?) of our organic Santo Domingo bean, i was looking for one or more beans to refuel our Master and House blend.

On this moment we have at Caffènation two different grinders for clean shots or bases for milk based coffees. Sounds wonderful, but i decided to simplify things and in stead of one blend (a classical Italian Roast Espresso with plus minus 25% Indian robusta) for ristretto, cappa and latte, and one blend (our 100% arabica master blend with Yirgacheffe, Santo Domingo a.o.) for espresso, machiato, mocha and iced coffees, i was willing to launch a new 100% arabica master blend for all these drinks and add a small grinder for a weekly single origin espresso on the free spot.
Good idea, but i can't find a blend that fits my (high) expectations. I noticed already during the preparation of my Belgian finals blend it can be a tough job with lots of invariabilty's as there are price, roasting conditions, storage difficulties, aromatic fights from one bean with the other and my personal taste standards.

Last week it finally seemed to be solved. Nice combo of El Salvador SHG for binding and boldness, Harrar Longberry for acidity and fruit, some Santos and smaller parts of Costa Rica and Java, this last one for strength and color. Now in our second day of try outs i'm deeply disappointed. Too harsh and a boring and very bitter aftertaste. Why? I guess i don't like the Java - too earthy - and the Santos medium roast - sour finish on espresso. I don't know, i tried already so many.

Actually i always was pretty found of my Italian mix and decided to leave the 100% arabica idea behind and mixed our Italian Roast again. Now with this great El Salvador, my favorite Yirgacheffe and a equal part of Santos. Yep! First test scores went well on small espresso's and even on lungo's, still a very popular drink in Belgium, even at Caffènation.
But what with this (5%?) robusta part? Does it hurt? Why are we all so focused on full arabica mixtures? And what with a good portion of dark roast, even when it's mixed unequally with others?
Probably i'll have to keep on searching and find my thing finally, probably with a small part of robusta, quality robusta of course. What the ...

You see what can be on a Antwerp Barista's mind. Today it's blend building. Tomorrow ...?

Keep track, i'll be right back.

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