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Thread: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

  1. #1
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    Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I feel as though australian coffee has moved into a bad trend of under roasting coffee. After Speaking with a few roasters and cafe owners and drinking coffee all over sydney, i wonder why so many cafes are serving sour coffee and not dodgy joints but well known cafes using Good coffee - Todys estate, Campos, and others . Having to extract a 30ml espresso from over 20g of coffee compared to the traditional 30ml from 8-10g? is this because the coffee is under roasted? i belive it is!

    What do people think, im interested to hear what peopl have to say :)?

    DoubleMacMan

  2. #2
    mwatt
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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Hmm, wondering if you mean acidic rather than sour?

    I suspect there may have been some movement toward more acidity in coffee.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Thats probably a better word for it! but i dont like it! acidic coffee just eats up my insides, i think its a bad way to go!

    Double Mac Man

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    A_M
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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7A60766363170 link=1239752850/1#1 date=1239753959
    Hmm, wondering if you mean acidic rather than sour?

    I suspect there may have been some movement toward more acidity in coffee.
    Quote Originally Posted by 537862757B725A76745A7679170 link=1239752850/2#2 date=1239754571
    Thats probably a better word for it! but i dont like it! acidic coffee just eats up my insides, i think its a bad way to go!

    Double Mac Man
    I agree... *My personal preference is not around that *acidic *trend... *

    However I guess it comes down to your pallet and what you want... *Problem is that there are two main types of coffee out there (very general).

    1: GJ and others with a ton of sugar and other additives
    2: Would bs..... *with often a [edit] overpowering [/edit] acidic/sour *product

    And then a few more focused places where you can actually get what you want..


  5. #5
    mwatt
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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Hm, I think its quite incorrect to suggest high acidity = bad/wouldbe.

    Sourness is bad.

    Acidity can be a desirable characteristic. As far as I can tell, Australians do have a preference for "chocolaty" low acid, big body shots; that doesnt mean there isnt a place for higher acidity, lower body shots. Espresso would be pretty boring without people trying different styles.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Quote Originally Posted by 73697F6A6A1E0 link=1239752850/4#4 date=1239758346
    Hm, I think its quite incorrect to suggest high acidity = bad/wouldbe.

    Sourness is bad.

    Acidity can be a desirable characteristic. As far as I can tell, Australians do have a preference for "chocolaty" low acid, big body shots; that doesnt mean there isnt a place for higher acidity, lower body shots. Espresso would be pretty boring without people trying different styles.
    Yep... My bad... I guess I intended to mean / say that when it is overpowering, then many in general, do not like Acidity and often confuse with sourness...

    For me... Having my taste buds all shot (Smoking / drinking and others), I do tend to like the"chocolaty" low acid, big body shots. However that does not mean I dont mind a low acidity coffee....

    Problem is many places just serve "STUFF" and the common comment you hear from people is; "It was so bitter I had to add 3 sugars"...

    Is that Acidity or Sourness ? Who knows ????

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    I Agree with you! that acidity is good to create a balanced coffee, but too much acidity in a cup made this coffee play down my expectations of the coffee company that has recieved a lot of hype!

    i had coffee from a very well known cafe in sydney (not mentioning *names) more than just a few times, and i felt the espresso did not live up to all the hype of the cafe, it was sour and i didnt enjoy it!

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Hey guys,
    Im gonna throw it out there that I think that we are going towards a lighter roast profile with some companies that tend to have a lot of hype are doing so cos they actually want to taste the bean and its qualities rather than just a roasted caramalised-to-death bean. Whether you burn maple or pine wood it still turns to black ash. Just lightly singe the wood and youll still be able to tell what type of wood it is. Dont know if that analogy really translates into what Im trying to say about coffee, but can you see my point? I find that companies (roasters) that are experimenting with the roast profiles are the ones pushing the boundaries in the specialty coffee arena, rather than sticking to the usual formula of roasting the beans to caramelisation and beyond, but rather retaining some of the acidity. Note that heaps of these cafes too are returning to filter brew methods with a combination of lighter roast profiles so that you can actually taste the beans qualities. I mean think of it on the cupping table; you dont roast the beans dark to cup it (for evaluation purposes) as you lose a heap of the beans profile (I think).

    Quote Originally Posted by 19363F3D2A153936393F3D353D362C580 link=1239752850/5#5 date=1239759901
    Problem is many places just serve "STUFF" and the common comment you hear from people is; "It was so bitter I had to add 3 sugars"...

    Is that Acidity or Sourness ? Who knows ???? *
    I reckon its neither (maybe hehe).
    Compare our (Aussie) coffee in general to an Italian blend or French roast and youll see where our tastes are at. Most stuff Ive had from those origins are roasted to darkfest. Obviously its gonna taste bitter and have to add 5 sugars. Especially with a downdose/overextraction combo.
    Tasting sourness in some of Sydneys top cafes is odd. I reckon you thought you were tasting sourness but was probably just an acidity that didnt sit well with you. Like Michelle said, I reckon people mix acidity with sourness all the time. I have drunk coffee all over Sydney also and cant say Ive had a notably sour shot ever (thats at reputable joints). Especially in a blend.

    Sourness doesnt always equate to under-roasting either. Something I find that does fairly often is brewing the espresso (thats what Im presuming youre aiming at), at a temperature that is too cool.

    Oh and (this could be a dumb question) what coffee did you order DoubleMacMan? If it had milk in it, thats also gonna change it up.

    While were on symantics, I reckon people get bitter mixed up with strong waaaay too often too.

    Oh and just cos a cafe is using Tobys or Campos or whatever doesnt mean the actual coffee sucks, maybe just the dude further down the chain on the machine does.

    Ok so Ive just ranted, and probably said heaps that doesnt make sense as well as generalised a heck of a lot haha, but hopefully Ive said something mildly intelligible. Ive just got back from soccer training too so Im kinda outta it.

    Peace out

  9. #9
    mwatt
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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Quote Originally Posted by 243838273C5D0 link=1239752850/7#7 date=1239797060
    Im gonna throw it out there that I think that we are going towards a lighter roast profile with some companies that tend to have a lot of hype are doing so cos they actually want to taste the bean and its qualities rather than just a roasted caramalised-to-death bean. Whether you burn maple or pine wood it still turns to black ash. Just lightly singe the wood and youll still be able to tell what type of wood it is. Dont know if that analogy really translates into what Im trying to say about coffee, but can you see my point? I find that companies (roasters) that are experimenting with the roast profiles are the ones pushing the boundaries in the specialty coffee arena, rather than sticking to the usual formula of roasting the beans to caramelisation and beyond, but rather retaining some of the acidity. Note that heaps of these cafes too are returning to filter brew methods with a combination of lighter roast profiles so that you can actually taste the beans qualities. I mean think of it on the cupping table; you dont roast the beans dark to cup it (for evaluation purposes) as you lose a heap of the beans profile (I think).
    As far as I understand, during the roasting process the acids in the beans are converted to sugars, which then caramalise and then, if allowed to go too much further, become charcoal. So, yes, in theory, beans roasted too light will be excessively acidic as espresso.

    However, Ive never been served a sour shot in a good café that I would attribute to under-roasted beans. I have a preference for bright espresso (sometimes ;) ) and so I have been known to pull shots from beans that were roasted for filter-brewing, which do flirt dangerously with sourness. Ive never been served shots like that in a café.

    I also dont think the trend in making coffees on double ristretto bases (the 30ml from 18g mentioned in the OP) has anything to do with the roast level of the beans. I could be wrong, but I suspect this again has do with the obsession with "chocolaty" big-bodied shots.

    Pretty sure I had more to say but I cant remember now. ::) Apparently youre not the only one whos too tired to think straight Dan ... zzzz ...

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Perhaps this may clarify or simply explain a little:

    Good quality high grown (high altitude) arabicas are generally high in natural acidity. These are also what we call "aromatic" coffees, the ones that give you that beauitful aroma that we all expect to get from a good coffee.

    Roasting these types of coffee is a balancing act of trying to roast to a degree where the effect of the natural acidity is lessened (for those that want it that way), without roasting to a point where you lose all the acidity but also the character of a good high grown coffee.

    Blending is also a way of balancing the various characters from different origin coffees to give you (the individual roaster) a particular style end result (that you want), whatever that may be). By blending you can take care of overly acid coffees.

    Unfortunately, the "art" of blending in many cases is lost in the race by new comers to get in on the act of coffee roasting where certinaly when they are new to the industry, the easiest thing for them to do is roast a single origin, may not understand where to stop the roast, and then "you get what you get".

    "Getting what you get" however, can also be a good thing where a client has stipulated that thats what they like (a parfticular origin) so in that case if they have asked for a high grown known to be high in natural acidity, then they should not be concerned if it is high in natural acidity. ;)

    I would rather have a good clean and "bright" coffee (ie having noticeable acidity), but that leaves a good clean palate at the end, rather than a "dull" coffee with no character.

    Also, the Melbourne market is well known (in the industry) for trying to stamp out all traces of acidity in their cafe blends for a long time now, whereas the Sydney market still has roasters using good quality high grown costa ricas and new guineas in their blends making them generally "brighter" than commercial blends from Melbourne.

    My understanding of that is the market could not tell the difference between a badly brewed bitter coffee and a coffee with natural acidity ergo, the easiest course of action by roasters was to stamp out the use of any origin high in acidity (the word "bitternes" is widely used by everyone and anyone to descibe anything to do with a coffee that someone didnt like).

    After all that, you should never overlook that we are all individuals and have different likes and dislikes so if one cafe doesnt cut it for, try and find another.

    Regardz,
    Attilio
    first / original CS site sponsor.







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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Well put Attilio, and some good points, probably a tad more eloquent than my explaination ;D.

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Sour or bright are tastes. Acid tastes sour or bright.

    Darker roasts seem to be less acid and less fruity, but I dont know the chemistry of that seeming.

    Bitter is a taste--caffeine tastes bitter. Consequently, the more water pumped through the grounds the more bitter the coffee (and usually the coffee taste diminishes). A ristretto should be less bitter than an espresso, and this will certainly change the overall taste characteristics, and may affect your perception of the acid/sour.

    Because I drink piccolo lattés (mostly), the acid, sour, bright espresso makes the milk taste sour to me, and its not a taste of which I am fond. So I generally roast my beans at least a CS grade darker than the current roast level here in Adelaide. Or I buy less acid beans.

    I am happy to have brighter ristrettos and drink them when out, especially if the beans are more lightly roasted.

    Im just back from Canada and the west coast (Vancouver, etc) like their coffee at CS 11 or more--the beans are oily and virtually black even when less than a week old. Toronto (back east!) likes their beans at least a grade or two lighter, but every coffee I had was over-extracted, bitter, and lacked positive flavours.

    As here, the Aeropress and my home-roasted beans made better coffee than most cafés and restaurants, even with their thousands of dollars of equipment.

    I only had one coffee in Canada that matched my home espresso.

    Greg

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    When I am roasting I rarely go too far into second crack and quite often pull a roast just before second crack begins. I dont like overroasted coffee and prefer to enjoy characteristics of the bean in my espresso instead of the roast dominating the cup.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Quote Originally Posted by 776275757E7D717E100 link=1239752850/12#12 date=1240393506
    When I am roasting I rarely go too far into second crack and quite often pull a roast just before second crack begins. I dont like overroasted coffee and prefer to enjoy characteristics of the bean in my espresso instead of the roast dominating the cup.
    Sames.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Its a question of balance and extremes.

    Generally speaking, the darker you roast, the less acidity there is, the less origin flavours there are and the more body there is. Conversely, the lighter you roast, the more acidity and origin flavours you keep, at the expense of body. These are matters of taste and personal preference.

    At the extremes, both roasting too dark and too light produce undesirable flavours. Too dark and the body drops off, you start to get ashy flavours. Too light and you get so much acidity that the coffee can be called sour, whilst you also keep a bunch of bitterness. These are not matters of taste and personal preference; the vast majority will agree that these are simply bad roasts.

    The difficulty is that people will probably disagree as to where the line between acceptable and unacceptable lies. For example, I cupped coffee with a lovely guy from Brazil, who had a strong dislike for any acidity whatsoever. So at least part of it will be cultural and will stem from the market.

    Personally, I think that there are roasters that are crossing the line at both extremes. Some roasters offer coffees that I think that most people would think of as burnt and try to pass them off as a preference for a darker roast, often saying that they have chosen that roast level to bring out the body. I think that these roasters are often influenced by old-school roasters. Some roasters offer coffees that I think that most people would think of as sour and try to pass them off as a preference for a lighter roast, often saying that they are trying to preserve the flavour of the beans. I think that these roasters are often influenced by the more recent focus on origins, possibly without realising that many of the people leading this movement are not roasting for espresso, but are roasting for filter coffee, where a very light roast will produce delicious coffee. And lets not forget that there are also roasters sitting in either or both of the light and dark roast camps who are doing a fantastic job!

    Frankly, I think that the market is such that roasters could basically roast whatever they want, however they want to, market it however they want to, charge whatever they want and they will probably be able to find a market for their product. Im not really aware of any mechanism that would prevent them from doing this; someone will rave about their coffee. Im sure that there are people saying this about all sorts of food products; wine, beer, cheese, bread, flour, rice ... this is not a new concept. Fortunately, I think that we are entering a period in which there is a lot of interest in coffee. Consequently, over the coming years, there will be many opportunities to educate the public as to what is available.

    In the meantime, if you like coffee and are confronted with a place that you think is roasting too far to the extremes, your choices are pretty simple. If you think that they will be receptive, talk to them about it. Many roasters are only too happy to receive feedback given in a constructive manner. Otherwise, vote with your feet. There are a lot of roasters out there and whilst the proportion of them that are doing a really spectacular job out there is lower than we would all like, there are still people out there who cater to most taste preferences.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    I think Luca is correct with regard to almost any type of roast finding a market. The majority of "coffee" drinkers actually just seem to like hot milky drinks with a bit of some other flavour nominally called "coffee". My local cafe used to make acceptable (not great) coffee. They changed bean supplier and the coffee is now abysmal, with a lingering sour taste on the palate. I mentioned that we were not enjoying the new blend and was initially met with "no one else has complained", but as we chatted further it emerged that "a few" people had commented that the old coffee was better. We left it a couple of weeks and re-tried the dishwater but there was no improvement. Sadly we like the cafe and the owner but have had to move on to better brews.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    There was a great article on this topic in ROAST MAGAZINE (USA) in the January/Feb edition. by Willem Boot titled "TAMING ACIDITY - Statergies for Espresso Roasters". Back issues are available.

    The Article gives a roasting profile which was pretty similar to what I was using in my HUMBLE correto setup. Except I wasnt preheating. I have since used a preheating method, he suggests around 275 deg F with his profile and found on my palate a reduction in acid. It is still there but is a more pleasant finish in espresso. Of course all the other hundreds of coffee variables hidden in preparation, extraction and bean quality still exist.

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Wow thanks everyone, thats a lot of information i can go away with, its good to know that there are so many well educated coffee lovers out there! I think that the important thing is to remember that everyone has preferences to how they like their coffee, Light roasted, dark roasted and somewhere in between. I still prefer to stick to the medium roasts, as i find there is a nice balance, especially in an espresso.

    Double Mac Man

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    Re: Sour coffee, Are we under roasting?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Where I work we offer 5 blends ranging from dark to light. I hear people say that they dont like a particluar blend all the time but I think there is alot more to it than roast.

    Resting times and extraction styles can change a coffee alot and bring out different characteristics in the blend also.

    Like Luca said, you could roast anything, any way, and some will love it, others will hate it. If we roasted everything to the same level it would make drinking, and making coffee alot less fun.

    jus to add - our darkest blend is the most popular.



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