The Ohana arrived Wednesday afternoon. I arrived Thursday evening. Ready for
my first session on Friday morning.
Background. My primary espresso blends are home roasted Monkey and Donkey. I
started my homeroasting journey with espresso. For my first year of roasting
I did nothing but these two blends. After a year or so I gradually started
to dabble on the light side - other blends and SOs that Tom offers. I'm
still 75% espresso but now look forward to Bugisu, IMV, Carmen Estate and so
many more of the special coffees offered here. I have also experienced most
of the talked about blends from Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, Vivace,
Zoka, etc. but always come back to and prefer Monkey.
I have an Olympia Cremina lever espresso machine bought new in 1985 and used
daily. Upgrade fever? What is that? Where is there to go? This machine will
pull shots to rival any machine available today, at least in shot quality if
not in shot quantity. After 4 or 5 shots at one time it's ready for a
cooling rest and refill. My usual shot is 15 grams of Monkey ground
with doserless Mini Mazzer, a brief Weiss Distribution Technique swirl of
grinds in basket to smooth out clumps and perfect the distribution, then a
very light tamp to compress the puck to just below the basket rim, a
polishing turn, then lock and load and ready for shot. Typical shot is
between 1.5 and 2 oz with ample tiger striping and crema. Usual brew
ratio is between 50-60%http://www.home-barista.com/forums/brewing-ratios-for-espresso-beverages-t2402.html.
Typically a normale but just ever so slightly ristretto-ish
I know my machine and my regular coffees and was looking forward to seeing
how Ohana would do on my setup. miKe set us up for great expectations and I
knew I would not be disappointed. Given what I read about the blend I knew I
would need a finer grind than usual and perhaps a bit of a higher dose that
usually goes with monsooned and aged coffees in the mix. First shot was
almost perfect. Wow! Too intense way to start the day! Back to my cappa
first tomorrow. Thick, heavy, smooth, chocolate, butter, spices, hint of
roughness, not much in the way of flowers. A great shot but somewhat
overwhelming given my usual blends and preferences. First impressions and
thoughts, this is a rich and complex blend that will take some time and
playing with controllable variables to get the most out of it. IOW, just my
kind of blend and espresso challenge.
Next, even though the linger was quite sufficient to have lasted for a
couple of hours, I went on to make my usual cappa. Tough to make a cappa
when the espresso looks so good you want to snatch it up and drink it rather
than add milk. Anyway, just as the shot was too intense, so was the cappa.
My usual 3.5 oz milk was not enough to balance the Ohana richness. Still,
even with too much of a good thing this was a very enjoyable cappa.
Finishing up the morning with another straight shot, slightly finer grind,
slightly higher lever pressure, this time paying particular attention to
blonding. With a lever machine you don't flip the switch to stop the pour,
you pull the cup away. This shot reached just the right spot below the
rim in my new Monkey espresso cup. It had an overall sweeter and rounder
taste but still too intense.
Overall summary for day one. Plus: Very rich and flavorful espresso. Very
tasty and intense. interesting mix of flavors. Minus: Too intense, too many
competing flavors. A "closed" shot, the flavors compressed into one intense
place. I've got to work to try to open it up, give the flavors room, and
enhance the taste experience. Note: as you experienced home baristas know
the above is as much a critique of my particular setup, experiences, and
biases as it is a critique of Ohana Blend, But that's all we can do.
Unfortunately I cannot visit miKe's cafe every time I want a shot.
I won't bore you with details except to say my dose is down to 14 grams,
finer grind, and a bit more milk in my cappas. Both espressos and cappas are
opening up a bit more than the first day. Got a better taste of IMV
fruitiness, Kona peaberry smoothness, monsooned and aged pungency, but
also the overall brightness missing in many classic style espresso blends.
Getting used to Ohana and starting to appreciate its uniqueness. It was
overwhelming when it was new, but as it becomes familiar it is easy to
appreciate the overall effect and also the contribution of each of the
components. Down to 13.5 grams, finer grind, as much pressure as I can eke
from a manual lever, bottomless portafilter to better see the onset of
blonding. This blend demands attention to detail. Or perhaps it's just
because it's all new and I have to pay attention since I don't have
the intuition for it that I have for my regular coffees. In any case, well
worth the effort. This is a blend that will repay efforts to master it. If
you enjoy the journey as much as the destination this blend is for you.
Thanks to miKe for allowing us to share not only his Ohana Blend but his
entire trip from home enthusiast to professional.
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