After cupping Flores Manu Lalu Cooperative last week, we knew it would make a nice espresso. Our Full City brews showed a balanced if not restrained cup profile, almond milk, cacao nibs, and mild acidity being some of the characteristics noted in the review. We call these coffees "crowd pleasing" for a reason. It's because the mild cup profiles tend to appeal to a wide audience, and in most cases, also garner near-universal acclaim as espresso. And while we gave an espresso recommendation in the review, we didn't actually give it a run through the espresso machine!
So here's my addendum to the review, a "quick take" of Manu Lalu as espresso roasting on two different machines - the Behmor 1600+ and a popcorn popper (the Westbend Poppery II to be exact).
I ran my fairly standard roast profile in the Behmor, starting at P5 (100%) and dropping the heat between 300F-315F in order to avoid the shutoff error (325F on my machine). I lowered the heat to P3 (50%) in an attempt to extend the latter part of the roast without stalling. If you look at my roast chart, it may have helped some and the time between 1st Crack and finish was 3:30.
My popcorn popper method is about as simple as it gets. I turn on the machine and then pour in coffee until the the bean mass stops moving. It only stops for a few seconds, and a few gentle shakes gets the beans moving in a circular motion. This is the maximum batch size, which on my popper is roughly 120 grams of coffee.
There's no real 'art' to roasting on a popper, and I like it that way. Roast times will vary depending on ambient room temperature and of course the power of the particular popper you're using. The coffee went from green, to yellow, to tan in less than 3 minutes. 1st Crack happened at 4:10 and I stopped the roast after 2:50 had passed. I wasn't judging roast so much by time, but rather trying to match the roast color of my Behmor batch.
The Behmor roast pulled nicely as espresso, the creamy liquid producing a gold-flecked, velvety crema. Top notes are subtle and mostly occupy the middle and finish. I pick up on notes of pipe tobacco, rhubarb, aromatic cedar wood, with deep, dark chocolate roast flavors coursing through it all. Regardless of whether I pulled short or long shots, the mouthfeel was very dense, creamy, and the aftertaste quite long. There was a subtle tart aspect that added a vibrant touch to the cup but was not citric or overly acidic.
My popper roast was really even in color. Granted, I roasted a shade darker than the Behmor, but was still a ways off from hitting 2nd snaps. It also produced a thick, creamy shot and the cup flavors were super bittersweet. The slightly tangy characteristic was more muted and lower intensity, which I think had more to do with roast level than roasting machine. The finish had a salty/briny flavor that came together with cocoa roast tones like a salted chocolate flavor in the aftertaste.
I think it's safe to say that no matter what you're roasting on, Flores Manu Lalu is a fairly easy coffee to pull out a chocolate-toned espresso with. The bean size is fairly large and surface area smooth and uniform, which translates to a coffee that's easy to judge by roast shade in terms of roast level and evenness. Start with Full City and adjust from there. Those medium-to-dark roasts make great single origin shots, and are a good option for milk drinks. If you find yourself wanting a little more of that tart side, shoot for roasting closer to City+.