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please help identify aspects of Indonesian coffee
bvwelch
Greetings,

The great thing about coffee is that there is so many to choose from.

My wife and I have had some Indonesian coffees that we like very much. But we have also had some that we don't like very much.

I'm hoping that some of you have tasted these same coffees, and can provide some terminology / vocabulary so I can avoid buying these.

I don't mean to say that these coffees are bad-- it just happens that we don't like them.

I don't know how to do this without mentioning some specific coffees by name. If anyone feels this is inappropriate, I will remove this message or moderators feel free to remove them.

Here goes:

S.M. march 08 arrival: Sumatra Organic Mandheling -- superb! love it!

S.M. may 08 arrival: Sumatra Lake Tawar 19+ Extra Bold -- intensely dislike. I call it a weird "twang".

S.M. march 08, Indonesia Flores Jade -- nice, acceptable for daily use.

S.M. nov 07, Bali Kintamani Arabica -- very good, almost as good as top choice

S.M. jan 08, Sumatra Classic Mandheling. dislike, twang is evident, not as bad as Lake Tawar. Can drink after many days rest or w/ milk

J.V. Sumatra - dislike, twang evident.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!

-bill
seedlings
You might like to move across the bay to Papua New Guinea.

What is the taste that makes the coffee good? Describe the twangs that you dislike? I haven't had any of those specifically and won't be much help.

Was the "twang" the same "twang" in each of the bad ones?

Some twangs I've tasted in Sumatra coffees include:
Cigar
Peppercorn
Ash Tray
Fertilized Dirt
Leather (but I kinda like that one)
Pipe Tobacco

Most of these seem more evident at lighter roasts like City and City+, but from Full City+ and on, they may diminish. Plus you'll need to rest them for at least a week.

CHAD
Edited by seedlings on 12/19/2008 8:19 PM
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
Kaffee Bitte
Is the twang you describe an acidic flavor or more of a funk? I haven't had any of those particular coffees either, but I would ask you what roast level you have been taking them too.

It it is a city or full city you might want to try (as Chad suggested before) taking them into the dark range for trials. Often the funk of the Indonesians can be tamed and made acceptable this way. Usually this will mute any acidity in the bean and bring out the chocolates or caramels more.

When I try the dry and semi wet processed Indonesians I usually run two roasts. The first will be between City or right before a true Full City. The second I take well into a Vienna sometimes even a French. From there it is best to rest them three or four days before tasting to allow them to develop a bit.
Lynn

"Some days it's spice, other days it's bitter dirt."
bvwelch
Thanks for your help guys. And to answer some of the questions you raised -- yes, what I am calling a "twang" is the same in all of the ones I dislike. There is a related aroma too if you sniff the cup before you drink. So it is the same twang, but the intensity varies.

I do roast these fairly dark, which helps a little but not enough that I would ever really enjoy the result.

I don't know what "funk" would taste like.

I'm not confident that I know what taste or smell is associated with 'acidity' in coffee-speak.

I will say that in trying various origins over the past year, I am learning that if S.M. mentions 'low acidity', I generally like it, but if it says 'bright', I won't like it so much.

I'm hoping Eddie will join in-- I am pretty sure he's tasted several of these, in fact I'm pretty sure his Christmas S.O. that I enjoyed this morning, is in fact my all-time favorite!

Thanks!

-bill

ps: it is really too bad about the Lake Tawar's taste, because it is a beautiful looking bean- easy to roast, etc. But this twang! Ugh.
Edited by bvwelch on 12/19/2008 10:54 PM
John Despres
I wonder if the twang is a bright, sort of lemony flavor or sensation - a sort of tingle on your tongue? I note you're roasting a bit darker, so it may not be what I just described...

If not, I wonder what it could be?
Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
David
Bill,

I have had the same experience with Indonesian coffees [incl. Sumatra, Java, Sulewesi, Timor]. Some are great with my usual roast profiles and some have a distinctive twang and unpleasant aromas.

In addition to Chad's list, I have also gotten green peppers, asparagus and V-8. Go figure. I have even heard "tuna fish" by someone who was trying to rush the roast by pre-heating his RK drum to too high a temperature. Yuck. But it does respond to profiling.

What I have found helps [since I don't do dark roasts on purpose] is to really,
really s-t-r-e-t-c-h the time between first and second crack. Kinda like the Kenya-tamer profile.
Kaffee Bitte
David sounds like he hit the funk on the head. I sometimes forget that many many homeroasters use air roasters. The drum roasters have a much easier time taming the funk due to the more prolonged roast that the method creates. This is a problem for those that love the acidity in coffee, as I do for some coffees.

To give you an idea of the difference. I have no problem keeping the time between first and second at about five minutes. This is usually without trying. I usually have to actually try to bring it under that for a bright coffee. This often means rushing the early sections of a roast far more than I normally would.

Each method is a trade off, which is why I still want an air roaster too.

Older air roast setups I have used were always a chore to keep the split more than three with it often around two minutes. That said I still miss the air roasts a great deal for brightness.

Air roasters who regularly roast Indos? Anyone? Help Bill find a profile that will work?
Lynn

"Some days it's spice, other days it's bitter dirt."
BoldJava
Twang. That's difficult but I would guess that you are talking about a slight grapefruit edge (sour) with a sage tail that some of the Lake Tawar beans have. If so, I share your palate and don't care for them, though I do love Javas, Flores, Sulawesi's, Gayo Mtn's, and some Mandhelings and Lintongs. Just don't even get near me with an aged Sumatran. Talk about locker room socks!

One time, 6 of us were cupping a Blue Batak (Sumatran) and I found it dreadful. Others were scoring it high. I couldn't get over their scores because most of the time, our palates are closer. I just deferred because it was clear I wasn't tasting what they were.

I would go back to S/M's notes and look at geographical regions associated with the beans you didn't care for. Avoid them going forward. I would bet you find a common denomination related to location.

My take away from that cupping session where I deferred to the others is "...do we all experience the same tastes?" In other words, was I the only one whose palate said "this baby is sour" or do others taste that same thing and find it a pleasant taste that isn't sour?
Edited by BoldJava on 12/20/2008 6:41 AM
http://sidewalkmy...
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
bvwelch
Thanks for the replies. Keep them coming please. So far, none of the things you've listed 'ring a bell'...

Besides my wife and I, two other folks have tried the Lake Tawar. Three of us strongly dislike it, and the 4th loves it, and keeps asking for more!

BJ- I do wonder whether we just don't taste the same things, or if we just enjoy different tastes? I suspect the latter-- for example, my wife and I both dislike this "twang", yet she loves cantaloupe while I detest it (actually the intense aroma prevents me from ever sampling its taste :-)

About roasting profiles-- I will try some further experiments. Most of the time I am using the bread machine with 1 to 1.25 pounds of greens. My heat gun has only a high and low setting. So, about 5 or 6 minutes on high, to get near 275 degrees. Then one minute on low as a drying out step. Back to high until sounds of first crack at around 11 or 12 minutes. I then cycle the heat, 5 or 10 seconds on low, then 30 to 45 seconds on high, with 2nd crack at around 17 or 18 minutes.

I may also try some smaller batches in the popper. I have much greater control of the heat and fan with it.

Thanks!

-bill

seedlings
Bill you really need to try the triac on your heat gun. You can nail the temperature so easily. I had trouble with only Low or HIgh. If I'm not watching the temperature, I'll screw it all up and roast waay too fast. Try a smaller charge of beans, about .75 pounds. This will allow you to stay on low for most of the roast and be at first crack around 12 minutes. If minute 10 comes around an your coffee isn't at about 350F (or measured air temp above the beans at 400~425F), may then switch to high and push into first crack, then back her down to low again as first crack is tapering down, then cruise. Beware the high heat at the end of roasts.

If you don't like cantaloupe, it may be fruitiness in general that puts you off. Or, Lynn suggested drum roasting, and you may like that even better.

CHAD
Edited by seedlings on 12/20/2008 11:56 AM
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
bvwelch
Chad thanks for the feedback on breadmachine-- yep I've got big plans to try my circuits on the breadmachine and heatgun-- so many plans, so little time! I want to do a 'tunable dough cycle' sort of thing to the bread machine's motor/stirrer, and then do the triac control on the heatgun. But that is another thread I guess...

-bill

Dan
I'm going to make a big guess and say its acidity that you are describing as twang. People who are drawn to Indonesians often like them because they are generally low acidic coffees. If so, then make sure you are roasting them to Full City or Vienna, since that reduces acidity.

At the other end of the scale are the acidic Kenyans. If then Indonesians become boring to you try Brazilians or Central Americans.

Dan
bvwelch

Quote

Dan wrote:
I'm going to make a big guess and say its acidity that you are describing as twang.
Dan


Dan, the more I think about it, the more I think you have hit the nail on the head.

Thinking back, I am wondering-- when I have tried other coffees that are listed as "bright", I have had a similar "twang".

Until now, I just thought those other coffees, were under-roasted...

Perhaps I am confusing a "bright" or 'acidic' taste, with a green or under-roasted taste???

Maybe when I was trying to take those other coffees to a darker roast, it was an accidental attempt to diminish the acidity, more than anything else?

Thanks!

-bill
EddieDove
This very indescribable "twang" that Bill is trying to chase down has often left me pondering the same. This has really been bugging me over the last week and is why I am up late this evening.

If Bill and I are noting the same "twang" then it is something that can be found in the aroma and permeates right through to the cup from hot to cold. Given that I thoroughly enjoy both citric and acidic coffees at times, I can't say that I would classify the "twang" as such. Although I generally enjoy most of these Indonesian coffees roasted to a Full City - Full City+, I have had them roasted from City+ to Vienna and that "twang" is there.

Again today I brewed some of the Sweet Maria's Sumatra Lintong Grade One (November 2008 Arrival) that I roasted last Saturday to a City+ and that "twang" is there and has been all week; even my wife commented. As usual, other than that one note, the coffee is good and I might otherwise thoroughly enjoy it. Since I bought 5 pounds of this coffee, I will roast it again, darker and see what happens, but my bet is that the note will still be there.

The "twang" is hard to describe and while tasting it, I tried thinking of all the other suggestions in this thread, including the grapefruit, but none of them really fit. The note is rather unappealing and right or wrong, sometimes makes me think of a wet paper grocery bag and I don't mean to imply the term ?baggy.? I am wondering if this is sometimes what folks mean by the term ?tobacco.? Having enjoyed a fair number of various tobacco products in years gone by, I wouldn't classify this ?twang? as pipe, cigar or chewing tobacco that I have had, but maybe the taste of chewing on non-mentholated cigarette tobacco ? that happens when the cigarettes are unfiltered ? dry, resembling a wet paper grocery bag, not very pleasant, but it is not as I would imagine ?tarry.?

I have been reading all kinds of flavor wheels and definitions, but I am not sure I can find an apt description. The following struck me:

alkaline:
A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a dry sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the presence of alkaloid compounds.

I don't know if any of this adds to the conversation or not, but my two cents ...

Perhaps the answer is in the my roasting profile.
Respectfully,

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
http://southcoast...gspot.com/
BoldJava

Quote

EddieDove wrote:
This very indescribable "twang" that Bill is trying to chase down has often left me pondering the same. This has really been bugging me over the last week and is why I am up late this evening.

If Bill and I are noting the same "twang" then it is something that can be found in the aroma and permeates right through to the cup from hot to cold. . .


This calls for a cupping session where we can pin down the "twang." I suggest we meet in New Orleans some Mardi Gras season and discern it and then we can all go, "that's what you mean by twang." In all seriousness, that is the advantage of cupping together because several palates are better than one and someone comes up with the right descriptor.

B|Java
http://sidewalkmy...
Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
bvwelch

Quote

EddieDove wrote:
If Bill and I are noting the same "twang" then it is something that can be found in the aroma and permeates right through to the cup from hot to cold. Given that I thoroughly enjoy both citric and acidic coffees at times, I can't say that I would classify the "twang" as such.


Yes, it does sound like you are getting the same twang- thank you! I guess misery really does love company.

I am glad that you wouldn't call it citric or acidic-- I don't have enough experience with other coffees to know for sure.

BJ - if you're serious about cupping, perhaps we can do that by mail?

Like Eddie said-- we've varied the roast profile quite a lot, and we just can't get rid of it, so I think we could roast some up and do a small exchange thru the mail.

Thanks!

-bill
seedlings
Here's some nice reading, Bill. It isn't so much about the coffee per se, but reading about Sumatra in general might give you some insight. This is a coffee field trip documented from Zephyr.

http://www.zephyr...logue.html

If you don't want to read the whole thing, scroll down to the "No Smoking" sign and read the following couple of paragraphs about fermentation. I recommed the whole article.

CHAD
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
EddieDove

Quote

BoldJava wrote:
This calls for a cupping session where we can pin down the "twang." I suggest we meet in New Orleans some Mardi Gras season and discern it and then we can all go, "that's what you mean by twang." In all seriousness, that is the advantage of cupping together because several palates are better than one and someone comes up with the right descriptor.

B|Java


Works for me! I work in New Orleans. Maybe we could get Scott Reed at Zephry in New Orleans to cup with us ...
Respectfully,

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
http://southcoast...gspot.com/
bvwelch
Sounds tempting-- I'm in P'cola this week...

-bill


EddieDove
To twang or not to twang ... wasn't that the question?

Over the holidays, I roasted some more of the Sumatra Lintong Grade One as an exemplar. It was roasted more quickly than I usually would based on something I read somewhere.

Hypothesis: Profile matters and a steeper roast curve will improve the cup by transforming the undesirable aspect.

On 4 and 1/2 days or rest I wrote the following notes:
Grounds has a distinct aroma of chicory, wet grounds chicory, molasses, tobacco(?), a bit of roast flavor with darkness, a noir cup, not as much body as I would hope, lingering aftertaste, chicory in the cup, more body as the cup cools, good coffee flavor, coffee bitters.

The usual "twang" was not there; it was transformed into something else; something interesting, but I found it difficult to describe. About a week or so later, I was working from home and really wanted a cup of coffee in the afternoon so the single cup pour-over with Swissgold was used. It was a great cup of coffee and I found myself consuming about three in a row. I didn't find a new favorite coffee, but I sure did enjoy cup after cup. The roasting and brewing details are below.

Conclusion: Profile matters and a steeper roast curve improves the cup by transforming the undesirable aspect.

---------- Brewing and Roasting Details ----------

Coffee: Sumatra Lintong Grade One (Sweet Maria's - September 2008 Arrival)
Roaster: 4 lb RK Drum
Date & Time: 12/29/2008 @ ~6:45 PM
Ambient Temperature: 68?F
Batch Size: 1.25 pounds (568 grams)
1st Crack: 10 minutes
2nd Crack: 15 minutes 30 seconds
Roast Level: Vienna (~20+ seconds into 2nd crack)

Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Grind: 6.3 above relative zero
Brewer: Technivorm Moccamaster CD
Filter: Swissgold
Edited by EddieDove on 01/16/2009 7:50 PM
Respectfully,

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
http://southcoast...gspot.com/
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