Java Kayumasby Frans Goddijn
Before fully waking up in the morning, the distant click of the pressurestat inside my Londinium tells me the machine is all set to give me delightful espresso and this makes me bounce out of bed towards the living room where the espresso equipment has a prominent place. With curtains still drawn I pull down the lever for my first shot of the day which I sip while reading the news. Even when the news is grim I am uplifted by the smooth sensation of the coffee shot and I feel ready for the day.
While I greatly enjoy very special beans, I am immensely appreciative of beans that are more “down to earth” because it's impossible to remain in awe of brilliant and rare beans from Panama or Ethiopia if there isn't a backdrop of impeccable beans more subtle in their push to please the palate. The spread of bean quality keeps coffee compelling.
"Oh yes, that's coffee!" my sister wrote me when I sent her a batch of Cuba Serrano superior I roasted. She likes extravagant espresso as well but eventually it makes her feel it's not coffee anymore: "It's like I'm drinking wine and smelling perfume, please send coffee!"
For this baseline I am using Kayumas single estate beans today, a 2019 crop from East Java in Indonesia, hand-picked on a large estate at 750-1’550 masl yielding about 350 tons of beans per year. Fully washed so there is not the heavy spicy "forest in the rainy fall season" tobacco aroma often associated with Indonesian coffee like Mandheling. The Kayumas are affordable and, when roasted well, they deliver a rich and deluxe soft taste invoking hints of laurel, almond and blueberries and a lingering aftertaste of fine roasted nuts.
Roast profile Java Kayumas
Even though much in the roasting process is automated and measured, the one essential part is to be present and mindful at the controls and I am excited during every single roast, again and again amazed by the metamorphosis of hard jade green raw beans, from seemingly asleep in their bag to the blistering hot and wildly aromatic toasted beans right out of the roaster.
The Kayumas are rather moist at 12.8% and not very dense at 715 g/L. I roast them gently in a little over 13 minutes but with a sustained rise in bean temperature. After a hot start, I gradually increase airflow to remove any smoky aromas and lower the heat from the elements in order to absorb the sudden heat coming off the bean mass at the onset of first crack. The important thing is to have enough heat radiation still going on to prevent the bean temp from suddenly dropping off as soon as the exothermal burst from the bean mass has been spent.
The first beans can be heard cracking earlier than usual when the soft walled moisture cells inside some of the beans begin to explode but most beans can be heard jointly cracking up a storm a minute later. Therefore, even though the logged development time seems rather long at 3:45, most beans have been in the development phase just under 3 minutes.
The beans are dropped from the roaster, cooled to halt the roasting process and weighed. The Wile device shows a weight loss of 15% with a density of just below 400 g/L so those familiar values put me at ease and finally the colour measurement with a Tonino device gives me #95 which is what I generally aim for.
Do I think this approach to roasting is the one right way? No, I don't. So much is still unknown. As Talor Browne, who worked with Tim Wendelboe, posted on her blog: "Even at the top, there is no known knowledge, only trial and error. Everyone, even Tim, is kind of bumbling along in the dark, looking for the light switch. It bothers me to see people be looked up to so much when it’s all so unknown. The things I do know are: if your raw coffee is delicious, it’s actually pretty hard to ruin it."
Grinders are so good nowadays that most all of them can prepare grinds wonderfully, from the Niche to the Kafatek. I use an etzMAX and the magnificent monster GRRR grinder that Tije de Jong made for me using the huge Compak R120. Tije took off the rather boring black housing and built a bright yellow exoskeleton for the grinder while removing parts and shortening the chute. The complete structure carries the aesthetic feel and sense of humour typical for Tije's design. Eighteen grams of grinds go in the IMS basket, get stirred, tamped lightly and locked into the lever espresso machine.
GRRR, the Compak R120 modified by Tije
The ease of the spring lever feels like cheating - being able to extract such a lovely shot with so little effort. The silent Londinium R24 with its commercial spring lever group offers a spread of pre-infusion pressure between zero and six bar. A higher pre-infusion pressure increases shot volume, raises peak temperature in the grinds, compresses the puck more and also makes the lever, when raised, “catch” lower so the extraction and the decreasing pressure of a spring lever start off at greater force.
I use the Londinium app on my phone to select just 2 bars of pre-infusion pressure. Light roasts of weird-and-wild beans require a high pre-infusion pressure of 4-5 bars to tame them for my espresso but the Java beans deserve a gentle handling, yet with a little more pre-infusion pressure than a Pavoni would have provided. About 7 seconds after I pull the lever, the first drops appear below the basket when I gently raise the lever and let go to extract about 32g of delightful espresso in around 32 seconds.
I don't pre-heat the cup because the small heavy espresso cup at room temperature cools off the shot enough for me to impatiently take a first sip, inhale the aromas and let the espresso power “go to my head”. As the taste changes during cooling I enjoy the full shot spectrum within a short time span.
Time of day
Someone you love is different while waking up, rushing out to work, having lunch with friends, returning home after a long day, relaxing after dinner, and falling asleep, even though it's all that time the same person you are so fond of. Similarly, a wonderful espresso pulled from the lever machine in exactly the same way and looking just as gorgeous in the cup, tastes different for me right after I wake up, different again after breakfast and during the day. Frequently, the very best moment is the last espresso I allow myself around 4pm, standing at a wide open window. Is it the fresh afternoon air that wakes up the senses so I notice the subtle aroma notes all the better?
Time of month
I do not try to keep my beans fresh as long as possible because the beans mature during the weeks after roasting just like my espresso tasting evolves during the day.
Too fresh, beans can behave like teenagers in puberty with moments of promise and impossible moods. A week later the beans may yield a brilliant shot showing off all their potential, days later all beauty comes out and over a few more weeks good beans bring even more subtle balance and sometimes, a month or longer post roast, the espresso is so very elegant and mild mannered it's a fond goodbye when the last beans run out.
When I feel the rush of joy and inspiration that a fine espresso gives me I wonder what such a shot could do for depressed people. How many would feel much better on daily extractions of superb espresso?
Londinium R24 and GRRR