Sunday, November 14, 2004


the roman espresso

i know, i know -- to me, a roman espresso is what you get when you walk down from the residenza canali to the via dei coronari and turn right at the corner. there's a cute little nabe bar where they speak only italian.

or, it could be the name of a 100% crema shot; the kind of thing for which i hope you have a 3 oz. glass, because the crema just won't stop coming. . .

and no, i'm not talking about dr. john's josuma cult espresso, malabar gold.

james freeman's blue bottle "roman espresso" is a very interesting and unusual coffee. honestly, short of dr. john, i've never seen so much crema.

the stunner is: james' coffee is all-arabica. normally you'd have to have a fair amount of robusta in a blend to get this incredible volume of crema on a shot.

how does james do it? by breaking the rules, he told me: the blend is 75% dry-processed (known in the coffee trade as "natural") coffee.

actually, he was quite free with the formula: 50% brazil, 25% sidamo, 25% sumatra. long-time readers know i'm deeply fond of a lovely sidamo!

also, james was quite frank when he sent this coffee to me: it was best at 4 days old, he thought. so i patiently waited until the days passed. and he did warn me that the coffee preferred an unusually low brewing temperature.

i have carlos expobar set to offer about 185 in the cup; the rancilio silvia of course has to be surfed down, as i have an original model with the 110 degree thermostat.

and despite this knowledge, i had a tough, tough, tough time setting the equipment up to get a cool shot. i just couldn't quite kick this slightly sour aftertaste.

i had to call james to troubleshoot. so after i talked nonstop at him like a fool (sorry james! i panicked!), he told me: cooler yet, cooler yet.

james thinks this coffee should exhibit a strong fruity, caramel flavor, which he gets from an astoria on his cart at the ferry street market. i could see the caramel, and that tremendous crema, but the right temperature still eludes me!

the sidamo should be giving me the fruity, i think, but i haven't quite got this coffee worked out yet. . .

i really don't think it's a grind problem: this blend behaves beautifully at 7 notches past the arrow on the mazzer, for those of you following along at home. it was a cinch to dial in for blossoming, all-crema, 27-second pours.

going to try it again in a day or two. tomorrow i'll move onto his "espresso temescal" while it's still very fresh.

james made this particular coffee with moka pots in mind. long-time readers know i don't have a moka, but instead use an antique silver machinetta napoletana.

can't wait!

posted by fortune | 7:09 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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