Originally Posted by VLSI
The body and liveliness sliders. Not sure if they really mean much. It says body is all the way, but it didn't seem to have much flavor or at least not that I liked. I don't know how to describe it really, just kind of empty, but I'm a total coffee novice (I don't think I was underextracting since I use the same temps/times for my house blend now). What are the difference in philosophies? I'll get by counterculture as soon as I can. Midterms and lots of projects at the moment.
Body is how the coffee feels in your mouth. It can go from something with a relatively neutral mouthfeel like water all the way to a heavy mouthfeel like whole milk. This is kind of a complicated thing with many causes. I think the wine people have the causes figured out more than the coffee people, so that may be good reading to do.
Liveliness is the acidity of the coffee. An extreme example of acidity is biting into a lemon: you get a face-scrunching sourness that's caused by the acidity of the lemon juice. More acid makes a brighter cup, and less acid makes a mellower cup. Dark roasts tend to be less acid-tasting than lighter roasts. Traditionally, breakfast coffees are more acidic, maybe to wake people up.
Counterculture buys from smaller farms, buys in smaller batches, and generally roasts lighter than Peet's. This means their coffees can be more unique than Peet's in terms of the variety of flavors you find in a bean, because they don't have to buy in the volume that Peet's does. This is not to say that they are better than Peet's, because Peet's, of all the large roasters, is probably the most quality conscious. When you get to Counterculture, try a wet-processed Central American (maybe Costa Rica) and a wet-processed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to get the biggest difference from Peet's. These coffees will most likely be very acidic, with bright fruit flavors, and in the case of the Ethiopian, very floral.
I haven't had Major Dickason's in a long, long time, but it struck me as a safe, middle-of-the-road blend, so I don't think it's terribly exciting. The Arabian Mocha Sanani is one of the best Peet's regular offerings, and that may be worth a try. It is very distinctive, and tends to be relatively lighter roasted than their other offerings, too, but is still dark roasted. It will be unlike anything you find anywhere else. Try to get one as close to the roast date as possible because the flavors will be most distinctive then --- the store should be able to tell you when they get their shipments in.
Also, FYI, brew parameters vary from bean to bean. What works best for one bean may not be good for another. What you're looking for is the right level of extraction to get the best stuff out of the bean. Generally speaking, if it's sour and understated, it may be underextracted. If it's bitter, then it may be overextracted. Vary your brew parameters appropriately. Revisit that post I wrote for you of how to alter extraction here: http://www.styleforum.net/t/153072/lets-talk-about-coffee/450#post_5231612
Originally Posted by lefty
Picked up the Angelina Nicaragua - first cup is pretty good.
Thanks. I was wondering about that, but I'm not a big fan of Central Americans. I'm waiting til next week to see what our local roaster releases (an Ethiopian is in the mix) before deciding.
Originally Posted by romafan
I made coffe this morning that was good, but not as good as yesterdays (but better than Tuesdays). Same beans & prep - what gives?
Tastes, beans, weather, person drinking, etc. vary. I've found some beans to be pretty stable no matter what I do to them: they tend to be very, very good, or really blah. And then there are some beans that seem to be pretty finicky and can vary day-to-day. Also, it depends on how you prep: do you weigh the grounds and water, and how precise is your water temperature? How about stirring and timing?