Sunday, July 09, 2006

   from AndyS

More about Esmeralda

One of the things that's funny about my participation on portafilter.net is that I'm still a part-time amateur in this full-time professional arena. Read the masthead: there's no getting around the fact that I'm surrounded here by legendary coffee directors, barista champions, podcast celebrities, coffee gurus, and even the occasional shave-ice visionary. The intimidation factor is lessened, of course, by the fact that most of the resident coffee legends never bother to post. :-)

Sometimes I regret that I haven't made any trips to origin, developed relationships with Ethiopian farmers, built schools in Panama, or even bid on any Cup of Excellence coffees. I simply plod along in my home workshop, regularly dismantling the work of good espresso machine designers while trying hard not to electrocute myself.

Occasionally something fun comes along, and this time its name was "Esmeralda." When Sweet Maria's offered a three-pack of exquisite Panamanian coffees, including the ultra-hyped Esmeralda, I laid down my hundred bucks faster than you can say "actively-heated grouphead." Just yesterday I roasted up a batch of Esmeralda on my funkay third-of-a-pound "sample roaster." It's shown in all its glory in the photo above. The roaster's in the middle, the control panel is on the right, and my custom-engineered cooling apparatus sits on the left. :-) No snickering, please!


Because of weather and personal commitments, I often get away from home roasting and buy coffee from some of the well-known mail order places. This is good, because I get to taste stuff that's prepared more skillfully than my own. But I love the process of roasting so much that it's always very satisfying to be able to return to it. Boy, these beans are dense. I'm pretty sure the picture on the left was taken right in the middle of first crack. It's a rockin' and a rollin'.



About eleven minutes after the start, it's all over. The beans are laid out in the cooling collander, and they sure are beautiful. I'm hoping bigtime that I did them justice. If not, I have only two more chances to get it right. But even if not perfect, I'm confident the character of these famous beans will show through.








Today, with great expectation, I brewed the first cup. After measuring 15 grams of beans, I milled them carefully in a Versa M3 grinder. The dry fragrance was enchanting, like floating through a sea of jasmine blossoms.

The photo on the left shows the resulting brew prepared in my "poor man's Clover." Hey, at least I have the cup! The Esmeralda was surprisingly savory, like meaty, tomatoey soup broth. Then there was sweetness, and a fruity-floral note above it all. This was a really nice cup. You could kind of dig into it and it kept coming back to you.

I'm just finishing it now, and the fruit has receded to leave a malty richness, and underneath that, earthiness. A wonderful cup of coffee, and great fun to experience. Thanks to all that made it possible.

11 Comments:

Blogger Andy C said...

You rock Andy. We might not make payola in the industry but we sure know how to have fun! We built a flamethrower for our event coming up and you know I almost tried to figure a way to toss beans through it just to showcase the old roaster ft method ;) ha!

7/18/2006 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Shaun Taylor said...

I'm not sure, but it looks like you might have a small defect in that batch. ;-)

7/18/2006 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger AndyS said...

Hahaha. It's not a defect, Shaun, it adds character. :-)

7/19/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger blanco said...

does this pic mean mark's a "fruit?" since he likes the fruity defects? ;)

7/21/2006 10:21:00 AM  
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