So I’ve had a lot of really bad shots recently. They were all relatively fresh, brewed by very fine barista’s, and roasted by well respected roaster’s. So why did they taste bad?
Was one of the known variables out of sync? Were the barista’s not focusing? ( I feel confident the barista in each case was of a consummate skill level to make a good shot, as I’ve had definitely had great shots from them on previous occasions.) So perhaps the machine wasn’t performing on top form that day? Or the heat from my person affected the humidity in the room and knocked the extraction off? (sadly a more likely reason) Was the espresso not blended enough and perhaps I got a little too much sumatra in that last ounze? Or perhaps instead I’m experiencing some bad fortune in the pot luck arena of espresso.
I have trouble believing in the notion of consistency in espresso. Being the product it is, how much consistency can we really expect from branch to branch an cherry to cherry. Clearly some farms take the time and effort to deliver a cup that is consistent in its clarity and flavour and I guess organisations like COE are rewarding such farmers accordingly. But I think I can fairly say most COE’s are being used for non espresso type brewing, and not espresso. So why is espresso so bloody hit and miss? Am I the bad workman blaming my tools? Am I just highlighting my own need for improvement, or am I facing the very challenge that espresso presents, and perhaps its very appeal. I don’t know any cafe in the world were they’re pouring great shots constantly every day. Does it exist? Is it possible?
Sure I know cafe’s that are trying their best to make that claim, but is it a realistic aim considering the sheer scope of variables facing us at every point in the chain? The three cafes I visit most regularly in Vancouver are The Elysian Room, Artigiano on Hornby, JJ Bean on Main St and my own place of employment, Wicked Cafe. I have had great shots and bad shots in all.
Its almost getting to the point now where I think I don’t like espresso, instead I think I strive to be consistent in brewing a cup lacking in any nastiness. Every time I pull a shot for myself or taste someone else’s I am waiting for the bad part. If it doesn’t come, I declare it a nice shot, taking no real notice of any exciting nuances in the mouthfeel, instead only having the finish and a memory to go by.
here’s some new pics;
I’m off to Seattle with friends for a quick visit on Sunday, so I’l hopefully take lots of photos and will have something comparisons between there and Vancouver.