Ramin Shamsi shares with us a sensible amount of poetry to showcase the concept of "beyond 3 flavor notes"* that the coffee industry has set as "pseudo standard". Ramin also runs his coffee bar "Infinity Cafe".
* At the time of this writing, it has come to our attention that the "new standard" is "2 flavor notes on a coffee bag".
The ambition with this article is also to showcase an evaluation procedure that is rigorous, congruent with internal sensory evaluation. We also believe there is a necessity provide a certain level of indicators as the hardware market for coffee (devices, filters, ...) is ever expanding, meaning brewing devices change and evolve, which might require a range of sensory evaluation. For example, Brewer X might not augment Flavor X while Brewer Y highlights Flavor Y.
"In essence, people chose how and what they like to do in a free society. We have chosen to do it this way and have very good reasons, ambitions and theories for our choice whilst others may have not. A matter of convenience with 2 stated 'notes' can utterly be perceived as laziness and copying of somebody's 'cupping notes' - something that took place far away and at unknown time. Don't believe us? Present your coffee at an important event with 2 flavor characteristics and be prepared to go home and redo your homework. - Ivica Cvetanovski"
Our evaluation is based on the following guidelines found here.
Each character the coffee inhibits in its category as defined by SCA (Aroma, Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body and Balance) is asserted by testing the coffees in various environments and brewing devices. Remember, these are only references to real-world sensory experiences and there can be many synonymous references to be made. A classic example would be the notion of "strawberry" where for a "Swedish strawberry" is different from a "Norwegian strawberry". However, the reference to a strawberry is still valid.
It is important to understand the range of characteristics a coffee can inhabit, namely ranging from brewing technique, water, 'your personal elevation' - meaning it makes a great difference to prepare a coffee at (almost) zero elevation above sea level and/or above 2,000 masl. Your boiling point for the water will be different, meaning pouring a 98C water into your coffee will greatly impact the final result (likely to the worse).
Coffea Circulor has developed a method, our 1:1:1/"One" brewing formula, to (at least) internally have a standard for preparing, calibrating and executing "brewed coffee that fits in many situations".
- Coffea Circulor applies the following evaluation protocol:
- Coffees are evaluated via the SCA World Brewers Cup score sheet.
- Coffees are evaluated when they are "brewed", not when they are "cupped".
- Coffees are evaluated as close as possible to a "competition situation" - like a simulated event.
The coffees and their evaluation generates an average between all team members, also "an average" for the flavors. If there are 3 people and 2 of them identify "Apricot" in the aroma, it will go in the aroma section. If the third person identifies "Tobacco", it will not go in the aroma section.
The above are very important details as the coffee industry has a tendency to evaluate and quality score coffees at origin, pre-auctions, etc. while not optimizing any roasting to fit the coffees terroir, fermentation, drying, etc. In other words, if an coffee importer (or other person earlier in the chain of its events) has evaluated the coffee to score X, it does not mean that the roaster or barista will make it taste like X - it might be (X-1.75 or even X+2.00).
Ramin has used several coffees, closely matching the internal testing we do at Coffea Circulor as provided in our online guide found here. Whilst Coffea Circulor is extensively using our 1:1:1/"One" brewing formula for V60 with Hario-filters, Ramin has adopted the 1:1:1 technique to his Orea v3 and Tricolate brewing devices. Below words and paragraphs are entirely Ramin's own.
A few words of notice and observation: Water - use low mineral content water, 10-50ppm / TDS. Also, strongly consider your elevation, example to be found here.
Kenya Oxyco Batian CCX : Orea v3
Devices and parameters:
Orea v3 / 20g coffee / 300ml water, 93C @ 5 TDS / 21 clicks on Comandante / Stagg X paper filter
100 ml in 38 seconds / in 1:05 add 100 ml in 30 seconds and a little shake / at 2:05 add 100 ml in 29 seconds.
Total time 2:49
(Best brew so far)
In summary: So complex in taste. In higher temperatures, I feel a lot of dark berries, black currant and Shiraz grape. When you swirl coffee in your mouth you vividly feel something similar to banana in all parts of your mouth.
The temperature slightly reduces and the coffee got sweeter. The vivid flavor is mango and banana, again with a nice and syrupy feeling of heavy cream as a texture of this liquid . A deep and structured sweetness that is tickling the end of my tongue and the upfront of my mouth at the same time.
In middle temperature, the acidity rises and shows as cranberry or blackberry taste. All I think about as I taste is dark grape from Shiraz with thick skin. They make wine with this grape here and it taste exactly like this especially the level of depth in sweetness. With a 5 second swirl in your mouth and letting the air return to your mouth presents a taste like tamarind in your mouth but unlike the Rwanda Muhambe from [- Redacted -] that has bold notes of tamarind this one is has more delicacy and balance which I really adore and enjoy. The tamarind taste stays in your mouth for a long time with slightly fade notes of banana but the main thing is tamarind. It is so winey and syrupy at the same time. Sharp and alive and really really complex. Every 2 or 3 minute the tastes changes and shift to another phase.
The coffee goes to room temperature (16-19C) and when you take a sip instantly you can feel banana and mango and tamarind. I have a flavor that is unfamiliar to me and I am struggling to find out what it is. In room temperature, the body is bolder and the sweetness goes even deeper and it causes longer aftertaste.
Unreal, complex, multilayered with several tweaks during losing temperature. Sparkling acidity, deep and complex sweetness and outstanding body that is round and complex at the same time.
This coffee is like a seductive women that she can make you fall in love with her No matter who you are and what you like or what is your taste.
Definitely the best Kenyan coffee I have ever had.
Kenya Oxyco Batian CCX : Tricolate
Devices and parameters:
18g / 275ml water @ 97C 17 clicks Comandante / 12ft above sea level / 60ml bloom / some turbulence with little spoon to wet all the grounds perfectly / in 45 sec add 215 ml / a gentle swirl / Total time 4:15.
In hot temperature, sweeter than ever, combination of mango and banana flavor give your tongue a tickling sensation which follows by some creamy taste that like heavy cream on Medovik Russian cake. Sweet and creamy but somehow yoghurt like.
The temperature is getting lower, and I can sense some stone fruit notes that reminds me of unripe plums which is sweet but at the same time it has some sort of acidity that makes you wants more of it. It is joyful for someone like me because as so many people around the globe I love summer fruits and when summer comes is choke myself with summer fruits every day. As it goes stone fruit notes get sweeter, it shows some sort of depth that you can find in peach or nectarine. In the meantime, the banana flavor is obvious in my mouth especially in upper front of my mouth as some sort of flavor after I swallow a sip of coffee.
After minutes passed when you take a sip and swirl in your mouth for 10 seconds you immediately find dried Pakistani mango sweetness. This is dominant in your mouth and when you swallow it leaves you with great sweetness in your mouth along side some sort of some dark berry notes that are not so deep or so light. At this point coffee is sweet with excellent acidity and nice and round body that can be felt in back end of my mouth. The texture is boosting thanks to Tricolate. It is so winey that remind me of some wine from Gorgia that I taste some years ago. It was raspberry or cranberry wine. Light and smooth, acidic with delicate texture.
In room temperature suddenly taste like chocolate appears. It shows with some banana and mango notes and a little hint of raspberry. The acidity is almost gone and all I got is sweetness. Unexpected in compared to my brew with Orea v3. On that dripper, the tamarind aftertaste is shows as a controlled explosion. In Tricolate, it tastes like some fruity chocolate from Switzerland that I adore.
Coffee is getting colder, the berry notes are now shining with a little hint of banana and creamy texture that is mostly resemble fruit yoghurt. That round body is fades slowly and the coffee is sweeter and more acidic. It is so different in Tricolate when you think of it. I can not choose which one I love the most but all I know is this Kenya is magical. It has different characters which shows different dimension with different device and different recipe or waters.
Excellence, all I think this is excellence.
"Regarding expression of sensory experience, it is great and shows how deep coffee can be. It is insane to shorten the coffee to two flavor notes. Maybe 'their' coffee only just have two! - Ramin Shamsi"
Colombia Monica RHYMX
Devices and parameters:
Orea v3 / 20g coffee / 300ml water, 94C @ 5 TDS / 22 clicks Comandante / Stagg X separate paper filter / 100ml in 36sec / 100 ml in 36 / 100 ml in 36 sec.
Total time 2:34.
In hot temperature dark honey is shining and you can vividly feel the boldness of vanilla in your mouth and if you swirl coffee in your mouth and swallow the coffee you get the feeling when you drink Nesquick Ice Cocoa. It fades quickly because of the vanilla mouthfeel but it is there. All of this happens when you can feel the strawberry jam under all of this flavors but it is not vivid like in Hario switch.
Mid-temperature you lose some of boldness of vanilla taste and instead the strawberry jam dominate your palate and you can feel the something like cream in your mouth. It somehow reminds me of gelato / ice cream and when temperature gets little lower it tastes like white wine in a way! But strawberry is dominating the palate in this stage and when you swallow the coffee, for a second you can again get the sensation of vanilla.
In lower temperatures the coffee turns more sweet and of course more acidic. The body is decreasing in the palate. Now it is hard to separate the taste of honey and vanilla. Somehow you got the taste that is reminiscent of both of these flavors but not exactly the same - it is some sort of mixture of both. The strawberry taste is more vivid and clear but it is way more clear in V60 and I prefer the v60 if I want to have more clarity especially with this coffee.
In room temperature, which is actually 16-20C, the coffee tastes like fresh strawberry juice, lighter, sweeter and small hint of vanilla in the aftertaste. I believe the result with Orea has bolder notes in aftertaste which reminds me of vanilla and strawberry and honey mouthfeel but in terms if delicacy Hario v60 is better suited to my taste. The same thing is obligated to Kono Meimon dripper.
Strangely, in second pour the draw down is speeding up and it causes that my brew time is going under 3 minute. I have to change my filter to see the effect of filter in my draw down. Despite the fact that my brew time is somehow not ideal but in any stage I didn’t feel weakness in taste or flavor or get any sort of "under extraction".
Ecuador Pepe Geisha WX
Devices and parameters:
Orea v3 / 20g coffee / 300ml water, 93C @ 5 TDS / 9ft above sea level / 21 clicks Comandante / Stagg X separate paper filter / 100ml in 42sec / 100 ml in 32sec / 100 ml in 32sec.
Total time 3:05.
Chamomile is shouting in hot temperatures and it is really dominant and obvious. So delicious and also intense. The bold and dense taste of bergamot shows itself with hints of stone fruits in the back as mouthfeel after swallowing every sip. Great acidity comes with a round body and light and juicy sweetness. Sweetness is like a berry. I can not think of anything but mulberry. Super classic geisha with bergamot and chamomile notes as flowery notes and berry and mulberry flavour as a fruity part of it. When you swirl the coffee in your mouth you immediately find a flowery feeling that comes with lingering acidity in your tongue. Round and juicy at the same time.
In lower temperature the taste of bergamot shines with sharp citric acidity. The acidity is like lime sherbet with lime zest in it. Refreshing and juicy. At this point the body is getting lower and acidity and sweetness comes together. The round taste of chamomile is noticeable in aftertaste . At this point I can taste something like nectarine in my palate.
Coffee is getting colder and the acidity of lime and the sweet taste of blueberry comes together as a nice feeling that reminds me of cold summer breeze drinks. At this point coffee is really alive and sharp and the body is getting lower. You can feel the roundness only after you take a sip and swallow it and after 10 seconds it shows like a bold sensation in the end of your mouth.
Lime taste shines with a hint of nectarine and a dominant taste of bergamot that won't disappear any time soon . really amazing and enjoyable. You take a sip and you will be surprised by the lime acidity and delicate sweetness of berries and suddenly the bold and powerful taste of bergamot slap you in the face!!! Take a sip and swirl it in your mouth for 15 seconds and just relax and enjoy the combination of tastes in your palate. Delightful and powerful.
At room temperature (16-20) the body is disappearing and tastes like light chocolate but the lime acidity is still there with a great amount of sweetness. Sweet taste of blueberry is all over the place with a stone fruit feeling. From beginning to the end bergamot is there.
This coffee is beautiful, elegant, delicate and powerful. Classic and modern at the same time. It has softness in it. You can sense the art of the producer and roaster in it.
A special thank you to Hamed Moasheri who also enabled Ramin to develop his own water at 5ppm. Also, a great thank you to Denizhan Sarihan who provided Aquacode to Ramin.