May 31, 2019
For those of you who are unaware, Sweet Maria's Ethiopiques Version 2.0 is the fruitier version of our ever popular Ethiopiques espresso blend. Unlike the all wet-processed coffee ingredients of the latter, a good chunk of Version 2.0 is dry-process coffee, which among other things, adds darker fruit tones in more developed roasts to layers of velvety chocolate roast tones. And on top of this, dry process coffees tend to have amazing body, a vital component to any espresso blend.
My goal for this Behmor roast was to maximize chocolate roast tones without introducing ashy flavors, and to retain as much of the fruited highlights as possible without creating an ultra bright shot that comes with roasting too light. In order to achieve these goals, I planned to bring the roast up to 1st crack ("1st C") at full power, tapering heat just before the beans start to fracture in order to slow down the tail end roast leg. My thought was that extending the time from first crack to finish would dull a potentially acidic edge that some of the Ethiopian components are capable of producing.
I should mention that this roast was performed with the Behmor 1600 Plus in manual mode, where heat and drum speed are controlled manually with the buttons on the front panel. I won't go into too much detail here about manual mode as we have plenty of resources on the Behmor 1600 Plus product page. I selected the 1 LB batch size option when starting my roast in order to take advantage of the extra time on this setting. My overall roast time was still only 13:30, but I like to make sure I have that leeway at the end should the roast go longer than expected.
My batch size was 200 grams, or roughly 1/2 LB. I find a 1/2 LB batch size fairly responsive to changes in heat input, which proves especially handy when you near the dreaded high temp "Err2" shutdown error that occurs when the machine gets too hot (for me that's a bean probe reading of 325F, but I've heard others say 330F). Larger than 1/2 LB batch sizes can get away from you more easily once the coffee becomes exothermic, so even lowering your heat input at 315F like I did for this roast might not be enough lead time to slow down the rate of rise sufficiently and can mean blowing a roast batch (I waited until 320F on my first batch which proved to be a little too late to avoid the over temp error - check out those roast defects!).
I kept my heat input at P5 (100%) all the way up until 315F, where I dropped it to P2 (25%) in order to keep from hitting the "Err2". 1st C happens with the heat setting at P2, but with bean temp dropping, I oscillated power between P4 (75%) and P3 (50%) in order to keep the roast from stalling. I don't go back to full power though as I didn't want to risk speeding through the last leg of my roast and winding up with a burned tasting coffee.
Looking at my roast data above, time markers are a little confusing since I report in the countdown format that the Behmor 1600 uses. In the 1 LB setting the time clock counts down from 18 minutes. In terms of time passed, I hit the yellowing stage at about 5 minutes into the roast, 1st C at 10 minutes 47 seconds, and hit the cool button roughly 3 minutes later. I let the roast cool for 30 seconds in the chamber then finished cooling the coffee in a Quest M3s cooling tray for about 3 minutes more. If I had another shot at this, I'd probably go another 30 seconds in the roaster before starting the cooling process as I didn't quite get the Full City roast I set out to achieve (the roasted coffee lost 29 grams, or 14.5% weight loss).
Even at a shade north of Full City, my roast proved to be chock full of bittersweet roast tones and showcased fruited sweetness without being over the top. I tend to go for shorter shots of espresso and enjoy the intensity of the tightly distilled flavors of a ristretto pull. My ratio of coffee to yield for the two shots I pulled were 15 grams of ground coffee to about 18 grams of espresso.
The roast tone flavors take on characteristics of semi-sweet chocolate chips and roasted nibs. A fruited sweetness is apparent up front, as is a sweet lemon note but without the acidic bite - fruited, but not sharp in any way. I think roasting any lighter than this will yield a citric, puckering espresso shot.
The texture of the liquid is silky which certainly lends to a long aftertaste. The flavor matrix of the short finish is centered around dark chocolate, berry and citrus to a lesser extent, moving into a more bittering baker's cocoa powder flavor in the longer finish.
In closing I'll say, that while my roast was a little short of my Full City goal, I still really enjoyed the resulting espresso. It had all the sweetness I'd hoped to to develop, and I think drawing out the last leg of the roast helped to mute the potential citric high notes. I also managed to keep from roasting too dark, which maintained the fruited undertones afforded by the dry process component. Chocolate roast tones were definitely a focal point, but I think I'd prefer to let the roast roll another half-minute or so to further develop pungent chocolate flavors that would be more conducive to a cappuccino.