Coffee Roast Exchange #6: Mark Pilkington

A week ago I received Mark Pilkington’s coffee roast exchange package. I could tell as I opened it that this was going to be good! This was an awesome exchange for me, and this review actually encompasses parts of both the roast I received *and* comments received on the roast I sent!

So read on…

Coffee Reviews

Mark sent two coffees tailored to my brewing methods: a Costa Rica Olman Aguilera (natural) roasted to City+ for espresso, and an Ethiopia Sidamo Guji. He roasts on a hottop with no software but included detailed roast info.

Things smelled so good that I had to warm up the espresso machine again for a late afternoon shot of the Costa Rican coffee. The first one I badly misjudged the grind, but on the 2nd I definitely got caramel sweetness and some fruit but not as much chocolate as the tasting notes indicate. Definitely going for a breve tomorrow (I find a shot of steamed cream just explodes the chocolate undertones).

Next morning, my wife asked for a drip-brew so I set my new-to-me Behmor drip machine with a higher temperature for a light brew and a longer bloom time for this fresh roast.

A really clean cup with what I’d call jasmine and tea. As it cooled, it got sweeter and sweeter as well. I also did make myself that Costa Rican breve – definitely brought out the chocolate on top of everything else. I like the 2:1 or 2:1.5 coffee:cream ratio these days.

I saved enough Eth to make a single cup with my new clever dripper the next day. 22g to about 350ml of water – I bought the small one, so it seemed to take two pours. Maybe that was a super bloom! Tea was prominent with this one and less floral – a great cup of coffee.

Since Mark was excellent enough to send me some green Costa Rican beans I figured I’d give them a shot whilst taking some advice from my own roast-reviewer… stretch things out, time wise and go slower. I did take it quite a bit farther than Mark did: probably due to it being a natural (or maybe due to the long dry/ramp phase) first crack (was super quiet).

And I was scratching my head to see when it actually stopped (so that FCS-button click was definitely a guess “uh, I don’t *think* I hear anything anymore!”) – then when snaps started again, they were also super-quiet and I clicked and dumped immediately.

The naturals are chaff-blowers for sure, starting shedding their skins way too early. This is only the 2nd one I have roasted but they both acted that way.

I pulled 5 shots total – 2 and 3 days after my own roast. 1 straight, 1 breve, 2 in cappuccinos for others who praised them and… then I had about 5 grams left. What to do, what to do?

I personally felt I had over roasted this batch, but was really loving the dark crema and the different sweetness that it gave. But I *did* want some of that fruit Mark’s had back. I happened to have some green Ethiopa Dalecho (that I also had roasted for my exchange) and so I roasted up that on a similar curve but dropped it as soon as first crack finished.

I couldn’t wait – ground the 5g of Costa plus 13 or so of my own light Eth, pulled it at 93 degrees celsius (I thought to go a little hotter for the lighter roast) and wow. Probably the smoothest shot I’ve ever pulled. 2 little outbursts visible but the timing was bang on, and it was sweet, chocolatey, wild fruity and all that. I still think I could detect a bit too far in the costa … but I have 100g of green left and will pull that one off sooner.