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Advice to reduce sweetness

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  • Advice to reduce sweetness

    Hi fellow roasters, I have been roasting for some years now and tried pretty much every region of bean and tried some blending as well. I usually settle on a high percentage of Ethiopian.

    One thing I can’t seem to manage is reducing the sweetness in my flat whites. When I find that nice cafe coffee, I find the difference is that it’s a bit more gritty and savoury if that description can be applied.

    I’m starting to wonder if I need to add a small percentage of robusta beans as maybe that’s what the cafe blends incorporate that I don’t, but loathe to do so with the added caffeine!

    Any other suggestions would be very welcome.

    As reference I use a green bean coffee machine, medium roast, grinding with a vario into an Elektra micro lever.

  • #2
    G'day mate...

    I imagine you have already tried using various Indo. beans and maybe Monsoon Malabar in your blends, as these will add earthiness and savoury characters to a blend. A good Robusta, (such as Andy has listed in BeanBay) will definitely contribute an edginess and some nuttiness to a blend and you could probably try starting with low ratios, from 5.0% say, and increase this gradually up to a maximum of around 10-12% while cupping at every stage. This small fraction of Robusta won't add much to the overall caffeine content.

    With Robusta though, especially given the small ratios involved, you want to consider grabbing a popper to roast this separately from the rest of the blend components. This is because Robusta needs to be roasted differently to Arabica beans. Generally requires higher temperature, needs to be roasted well into 2nd-Crack and once bagged, allowed to rest for up to two weeks to completely develop a full flavour profile. The latter requirement means that you will have to stagger the Robusta batch roasting such that they can be added to the remainder of the blend components at a later date. It's a bit of mucking around but worth it when using a high quality Robusta.

    Certainly worth a bit of experimenting I think...



    • #3
      If milk coffees are tasting too sweet I would look into the milk first. Lactose free milk tastes sweeter than regular. Milk at lower temperatures is sweeter than at higher temperatures. What milk are you using?


      • #4
        Thanks for the reply. I haven't gone heavily into Indo beans so may try that, and good advice on the robusta (I didn't realise about the different roast requirements).

        Yes the milk certainly is sweet (I use Bonsoy - don't judge me, it's an allergy!), but my comparative comments are based on coffee using the same milk, ie I know it's possible for me to alter my blend to add some grit.

        Love home roasting, you'd never be able to do this as easily or cheaply otherwise!


        • #5
          You could try roasting a bit lighter, stopping your roasts just before 2nd crack.


          • #6
            Interesting; I've been going darker over time with my roasts, so perhaps I will try backing off. Cheers.


            • flynnaus
              flynnaus commented
              Editing a comment
              Lighter roasts tend to be more acidic. Or rather, the citric and malice acids are not depleted as much.
              There are many factors which affect the level of acidity in a bean. Plenty of reading on the net about it.

            • Dimal
              Dimal commented
              Editing a comment
              Yep, experimenting is the name of the game and just like running experiments in other fields, keeping good records is essential... ;-)

          • #7
            As an update I've had some success trying some Indian (Kappi) beans in the mix. 20% was too much, so settled on 15% Indian, 30% Columbian, 55% Ethiopian. Really really loving this right now so will stick with this for a week or so to see where it goes.


            • #8
              I reckon soy milk would overpower any shot with its sweetness. Go to your favourite cafe & ask them what soy milk they use? Maybe some are less sweet than others?



              • #9
                Originally posted by ev View Post
                I reckon soy milk would overpower any shot with its sweetness. Go to your favourite cafe & ask them what soy milk they use? Maybe some are less sweet than others? Evan.
                That’s a really good point Evan. It sounds like the OP might have already found a solution that works for them, but changing the type of milk would definitely be worth considering. Bonsoy used to be the best choice soy milk to have with coffee before there were no ‘barista’ or ‘cafe’ non-dairy alternatives. It really was all alone as a beacon in a desert of soy milks. However there is now a plethora of alternative milks available and I’d say most of them are better than Bonsoy. Most Sanitarium Barista alternative milks are better. They have two brands - So Good and Alternative Dairy. Vitasoy Barista is better as well and then there’s a heap of small independent companies that have come out in the last few years that are all pretty good. I tend to find that oat milks are the closest to dairy and have the least ‘taste’. They’re not all good - Alpro for example is popular in Europe and I thought it was disgusting, but there’s plenty of good options and they’re easy enough to find so for anyone that’s non-dairy there lots of choice and it’s worth shopping around.


                • Ronin
                  Ronin commented
                  Editing a comment
                  ADC (alternative dairy company) soy is average but the are building a new soy recipe that should be released in January and looks really promising

                • LeroyC
                  LeroyC commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah to be fair I haven’t tried their soy. The almond wasn’t too bad.