Sunday, August 18, 2013

GenCon Coffee Adventures Part 1

We are finished with Gen Con here in Indianapolis, and I am trying to unpack all of our experiences to distill into a few blogs. Even though, I was expecting this weekend to be mostly about geek stuff and writing, I did come across some killer coffee related experiences.

Since this is a coffee blog, I will start there.

Since we were at the Indianapolis Convention Center for the duration, and because I was tired, I ventured to their concessions. Arguably, they have decent concessions for the typical concessions stands for the masses. I assume that this is the same concessions you would get at a Colts game. Since they had little "coffee shops" in the building, I figured I would give it a shot. Or really, three dollars for a double shot of espresso.

They have reasonably sized commercial espresso machines. I did not catch the make and model, but I assume it is something designed for big events. The first time I went by, I was told by the woman behind the counter that no espresso because the person who made them was gone. As annoying as that was, I did begin to hope a bit. A commercial espresso machine can be intimidating to someone who has not used one before. Also, people are picky as hell, especially in such a setting.

I left, but eventually I wandered back when my need for a fix peaked again, and I was tired of waiting while Dellessa (my significant other, and main coffee beta victim) was waiting to have a book signed by Mercedes Lackey. The employee that acts as a barista was back by then. Three dollars and some change was exchanged for a double shot.

First off, the coffee that was in the cup had exceptional crema. It was thick,, but not particularly flavorful. I kept sipping, working on the coffee. It was a dark, Italian style espresso roast of a variety that I am always surprised people love. From seeing a few bags around, I believe it was a Lavazza Italian Roast. The more I mull it over, it makes sense. It was bitter, packed full of a Robusta-ness that could not be avoided. It was all an excellent presentation that just fell flat when it counted.

Increasingly, I cannot figure out how people can like these coffees and hold them up as a standard. Do lesser grade coffees just taste that bad? Or has my palate changed that much?

Of my previous three coffee blend, it was best as espresso. I took a fair amount of it to be used in the Jura, it was stellar. In fact, it was even better as a latte or cappuccino. The flavors all balanced perfectly that way. More important, it had flavor, bit a bitterness that lingers on the tongue, burned into my memory. It was not really burnt, but just bitter. Even the smell from the first sniff carried this overwhelming impression. It is the same impression I had with the Kimbo coffee I drank from the DeLonghi coffee center training from a few weeks ago.

Does this mean I don't like traditional espressos? Or is there something odd with the common coffee drinking world? Even Starbucks espressos seem more tolerable than these.

For comparison, I got down the old can of Bustello I had up in the cabinet. Before, I would make it up in the Moka Pot. In a certain time and place, it did the trick. Even though the can is old, I made up a shot in the Aeropress. It was smoother than I remembered, but that would be the filter. Dellessa said it was the nastiest thing she had ever tried. Aside from the lack of crema, it was still better than the Lavazza and the Kimbo.

As I work towards darker and darker roasts, these are things to consider in what I like.