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  • SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

    There is a debate going on at the moment on a couple of other coffee forums as to which makes the better espresso, SO or Blends.
    Ive often wondered about the average espresso consumers attitude to the subject, in my experience once the pleasantries have been disposed of I.e. nice cuppa, great coffee as usual etc, try to introduce bean types or extraction methods into the conversation and watch the eyes rapidly glaze, the statement that the beans being used are Monsooned Malabar or a blend of A, B, and C will be met with about the same amount of interest as if you had announced that Borat has a pretty good chance of taking out the Kazakhstan farnarkling title.
    So, what Im saying is, that we snobs get that caught up in our own little micro world of Cafes and Websites that we tend to lose track of the fact that its only a very small minority of the coffee drinking public whos reaction is any more than (nice cup of coffee) and thats about as far as the interest level goes.
    Now Im sure that there are those (espresso evangelists) among us who can claim multiple conversions but the overall strike rate is pretty low.
    For most coffee is an almost unnoticed habit, regardless of whether its Nescafe or an exotic SO or Blend, it kinda just blends with the rest of life.
    I suspect its we Snobs who are out of step with the coffee drinking world at large, we tend to see things as we would like them to be, not as they really are. :-/

  • #2
    Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

    So what ya saying is the many of us have blinkers on and fail to acknowledge that the large majority really dont care, Other than for bragging rights and to name drop.

    If so I agree 100%.

    So vs Blend is interesting as it is whats in the cup that counts for me..

    Many blends do it well but a lot less SO... Is it the bean or the roaster or the way it was prepared ?  OR just my pallet ?

    Sounds great at a party..

    I had the SO from X that grows  > 1200ft and on the western face of y mountain range, roasted  33sec into a RSC to a CS 8.547 and rested for 6.5 days..  Pre infusion of 4 seconds and pulled short into a warmed Red CAASA china cup.... The group was running at 93.56C and a little high on the pressure at 9.23 ar

    They all look and nod with smiles- while silently screaming  WANK@5  

    Coffee group in Brisbane all going to different cafes and trying different coffees.  In effect, it is 100% more about hooking up and meeting people. Coffee is just a side line  / excuse that allows some people to meet and like it or not true appreciation of the said nectar is last item on the radar.  Some went to a cupping.. I understand many though that meant lots of different cups of coffee and latte art...  Most missed the point other than where they could move closer to the intended score and hook up.

    Reality bites.

    Now about that Much maligned Monsoon bean I was to roast this weekend for that special dinner party  8-) 8-)




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    • #3
      Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

      I drink both SO & blends
      They are both good

      I will leave the decision to my taste buds as they are the final judges

      KK

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      • #4
        Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

        to me the quality of the coffee in the cup is more important than what bean / blend was used.

        As a CS I get sad when given a sub par coffee as i know how (reasonably) easy it is to do good -> excellent coffee

        at home its SO only because i just dont bother blending, but to each there own i say

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        • #5
          Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

          Hi all

          I am going to fall into line and agree, it really comes down to personal taste. We do a lot of both and most people will go one way or the other. Once they find an SO or blend they are happy with they will always be happy to sample another but they will, usually, only spend money on their favourite.

          I do notice a few coffee snobs (not CSs) around the traps who love to hang their hat on a name and love to tell all and sundry what ridge line they are drinking.  If thats what they like to do then I am not going to stop them  :-X


          AM

          I agree with you, coffee is an excuse to be social. The main reason we started was to give people good coffee to effect this socialising with. I always found when the coffee was good people would all talk about their various topics and have a laugh.

          On the other hand, when the coffee was bad it became the focus. All we would ever talk about was somewhere else we new where the coffee was better and tell coffee horror stories.

          So it doesnt really matter, as long as it is good coffee, well prepared and served with a smile  

          GC  

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          • #6
            Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

            Most consumers are still hung up on major brands ie grinders/vittoria etc and dont even realise that these brands have a number of different blends. The are a minority who understand there is difference between SO and blends but few of them again who care enough to know what this actually means. Undoubtedly the numbers of consumers who are savy enough to know what they are talking about but with the increasing number of pod/capsule machines being sold dont hold out for it being a widespread phenomenon.

            My 2c is that the whole SO trend is something that will pass, there is a true skill in developing a blend taste and character and selecting and roasting to maintain this. Are SO interesting and challenging to the pallet yes, is this what the general consumer wants? My suggestion is they are after a "good coffee" which is rarely supplied by a SO. My personal preference is currently tasting lots of SO so I can educate myself about coffee and discover what I like, but among people I know outside CS I am alone in this.

            Cheers

            Brett

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            • #7
              Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

              When I started along the roasting curve, I had some ideas about trying able to mimick the blend I had been purchasing at the time.

              What I have found is that roasting has given me access to a massive discovery of different tastes, some due to getting it right, others due to getting it wrong, and due to the massive choice of beans. I now find that original blend quite boring, and no longer strive to create the perfect blend.

              Which leads me back to the orginal question, (finally! I hear you say [smiley=rolleyes.gif]), which is, that for me, blending has the same discovery aspect. Trying both SOs and experimenting with blends makes it more interesting, and furthers my own education. So I do not feel the choice needs to be binary.

              And I agree that probably besides the dedicated few, nobody else really cares how, "what it is they like", is crafted, and neither should they have to.

              Graham

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              • #8
                Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                Originally posted by 587C757576764C587C607E7C130 link=1283829199/2#2 date=1283831389
                I drink both SO & blends
                They are both good

                I will leave the decision to my taste buds as they are the final judges
                That goes for me too I try all beans as a SO first then I like to mix and have had some good results in the cup

                Gra...

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                • #9
                  Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                  Im still learning about coffee tastes, and I dont roast myself. Im working my way through various single origin coffees available at the local roaster (CoffeeCraft, site sponsor, very helpful in making suggestions as to what I might like). But I still think my preference so far is for Espresso Wow available from bean bay.

                  The single origin coffees are interesting and I dont dislike them, but they all taste a little single-dimensional to me (but I dont have a particularly well developed palette, beyond liking a strong rich flavour) I like the rich combination of flavours you get from the good blend. The blend also seems to be a bit more forgiving of my rather hit and miss espresso pouring technique as well!

                  My husband who is a more typical average coffee consumer glazes over once I start talking about where a coffee comes from, but is quite happy to drink anything I put in front of him as long as it is strong enough and doesnt taste bitter.

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                  • #10
                    Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                    I think as far as the general public is concerned there is little prior information to prompt any interest in where the beans came from, if they are SO or a blend.
                    As was mentioned somewhere above, some may be interested in brand names, but most commercial coffee that the general public purchases is only sold as brand X or brand Y or say plunger or latte or espresso style with little or no indication of bean origins or types.
                    When I first started roasting my own I was a struggling a little because I hadnt previously heard much about bean origins or types, except that I knew Arabica was supposed to be good.
                    CS members of course live in an alternate world to some extent, and might be interested in where the beans came from and whether it is a blend or SO.
                    I also agree that it can get a bit out of context at times, ultimately the more important issue is do you like the taste?
                    If you know that you particularly like beans from certain origins then of course you would care if it was SO or Blend, how much you care is your prerogative ultimately.
                    Personally I have had some great SOs and great blends, and some not so good ones as well, generally I probably prefer a blend, but not to the extent that I would snub SOs.

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                    • #11
                      Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                      Originally posted by 456A63617649656A65636169616A70040 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                      So what ya saying is the many of us have blinkers on and fail to acknowledge that the large majority really dont care, Other than for bragging rights and to name drop.
                      Thats exactly what Im saying.

                      Originally posted by 456A63617649656A65636169616A70040 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                      So vs Blend is interesting as it is whats in the cup that counts for me
                      We concur again.

                      Originally posted by 456A63617649656A65636169616A70040 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                      Many blends do it well but a lot less SO... Is it the bean or the roaster or the way it was prepared ?OR just my pallet ?
                      Just your palate mate, and mine.

                      Originally posted by 456A63617649656A65636169616A70040 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                      I had the SO from X that grows> 1200ft and on the western face of y mountain range, roasted33sec into a RSC to a CS 8.547 and rested for 6.5 days..Pre infusion of 4 seconds and pulled short into a warmed Red CAASA china cup.... The group was running at 93.56C and a little high on the pressure at 9.23 ar
                      Your round the mark AM, that particular bean I prefer roasted 32.5sec into a RSC to a CS 8.465 and rested for 6.3 days..Pre infusion of 7 seconds and the shot pulled short into a warmed White Torrefazione Marchi china cup, The group was running at 92.98C and the factory pressure setting remains at 9.50 bar

                      Originally posted by 456A63617649656A65636169616A70040 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                      In effect, it is 100% more about hooking up and meeting people.
                      Cant argue with the validity of this reason, particularly if your on the right side of 40.
                      Sadly as we get older the need to hook up or meet people diminishes, in fact said people can become a major source of irritation, unless of course they agree with all of our opinions and philosophies, then they are immediately elevated to the exalted rank of great company.

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                      • #12
                        Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                        Originally posted by 133C3537201F333C3335373F373C26520 link=1283829199/1#1 date=1283831355
                        So what ya saying is the many of us have blinkers on and fail to acknowledge that the large majority really dont care, Other than for bragging rights and to name drop.
                        Originally posted by 1B272E3623420 link=1283829199/10#10 date=1283846901
                        Thats exactly what Im saying.
                        Reminds me of a meeting I sat in on at a certain highly regarded Melbourne coffee place. At that meeting was a bloke from one of the mags. Introductions on arrival and I noticed the the beautiful pot of special origin coffee, straight from the Clover.

                        Asked him what he was drinking. He had no idea. At that point, I lost all interest in being there. Another wannabe- and nope, I didnt resubscribe either. :

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                        • #13
                          Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                          Asked him what he was drinking. He had no idea. At that point, I lost all interest in being there. Another wannabe Roll Eyes
                          I think thats a bit tough Talk Coffee... I guess everyone who is a issabe had to go through the wannabe stage before they got there. They all had that desire and passion in coffee even before their knowledge was up to scratch.

                          I think that at the stage of the coffee journey that I am up to I quite like the idea of single origins particularly for developing my palate.

                          I think that a big part of that is taste memory as well as taste identification and vocabulary and I think that this is more easily developed through drinking lots of the same and lots of different single origins (how many kilos of that one SO did you get through ThunderGod?)

                          I do however quite enjoy the blends that I have got at a number of cafes in Brisbane, noticeably Cup, Chic Espresso, Veneziano, Elixir Coffee.

                          Possibly part of it for me is that Im able to roast enough for a week (and a bit) of a particular single origin and can drink it hopefully while its at its best (or very young depending on how disorganised Ive been). I just dont really roast enough to develop a blend in order to drink it quickly enough so itd be stale before I got through half of it.

                          Alex

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                          • #14
                            Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                            Originally posted by 7A575E436F54563B0 link=1283829199/12#12 date=1283849757
                            I think thats a bit tough Talk Coffee... I guess everyone who is a issabe had to go through the wannabe stage before they got there. They all had that desire and passion in coffee even before their knowledge was up to scratch.
                            Not so Alex.

                            If I paid big bucks for a top wine, Id pay more than cursory interest in what I was drinking. In this instance, it could have been 2 year old Cafe Genericus from the supermarket. It was about being seen to be cool rather than anything else. I find it hard to respect fakes.

                            He would have been told what was on offer and wasnt even interested enough to listen. Knowledge I have no problem with as the majority of us, including yours truly have plenty to learn. He should have just ordered a cupofchino.

                            As for Jons original question, the answer is easy- whatever rocks your boat at that particular point in time!

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                            • #15
                              Re: SO or Blend, does anyone really care?

                              Originally posted by 48747D6570110 link=1283829199/0#0 date=1283829199
                              There is a debate going on at the moment on a couple of other coffee forums as to which makes the better espresso, SO or Blends.
                              The answer is subjective therefore theres no definitive answer.

                              Originally posted by 737D707F687E7F110 link=1283829199/5#5 date=1283834926
                              is this what the general consumer wants? My suggestion is they are after a "good coffee" which is rarely supplied by a SO.
                              Rarely? I disagree.
                              When talking about the general consumer I can point to the fact that everyone at work that I made a coffee for from my home roasted SO Kimel thought it was the best coffee theyd ever tasted.

                              Im not saying I make the best coffee in the world, Im saying the bar is set quite low and easy to get over.

                              Originally posted by 507D7469457E7C110 link=1283829199/12#12 date=1283849757
                              I think that a big part of that is taste memory as well as taste identification and vocabulary and I think that this is more easily developed through drinking lots of the same and lots of different single origins (how many kilos of that one SO did you get through ThunderGod?)
                              Over 60kg of Kimel so far; into the 2nd bag now.

                              Speaking of taste memory, that segues me nicely into a comment I wanted make. AM has already touched on it.

                              The original question must suppose that the coffee was prepared perfectly otherwise thered be all sorts of variables that could affect the answer.

                              For example, about a year ago my Expobar was running hot and at the same time a blend I regularly purchased was tasting different.
                              There was a taste in it I didnt like that used to not be there.

                              After Renzo at Di Bartoli serviced the machine I got it home and up to temp and made another coffee with said blend.
                              Unliked taste was gone.

                              Now back to taste memory. The taste reminded me of Monsooned Malabar. Not my favourite when not done well.

                              Soon after I got a chance to talk to the roaster and mentioned the story. They confirmed that there was indeed MM in the blend and also explained to me that my machine running hot would have accentuated the MM and brought it to the fore.

                              So SO or blend, makes no difference to me.
                              I either like it or I dont and there could be reasons, as just mentioned, behind that opinion at any given point in time.

                              Seems to me to be a silly debate because there is no answer.

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