Category Archives: Americano

Great Espresso beans

For great espresso, Australia is one of the MUST GO place. But alas, i have yet to visit the land of espresso Down Under 🙂

Fortunately, 2 friends just ame back from Australia and got me some lovely espresso blend.

brazil-blue pm-blend
From Fivesenses: Brazil Blue blend and the PM blend (now known as Harvest blend).

Brazil Blue Blend:
Consists of beans from Papua New Guinea, Brazil and India. Fivesenses cupping notes follow:-
Greeted by a good depth and a slightly syrupy aroma, this blend urges you to taste further. With a heavy body and a medium-light mouthfeel, its glorious mild sweetness rolls on the tongue, leaving the soft flavours of golden syrup and a gentle sweetness. Think warm toast slathered with golden syrup on a winter’s day, inhale its almond sweetness and savour the dry nuttiness of the finish. With a well-rounded aftertaste, this is a blend to enjoy.

PM Blend aka Harvest Blend:
Consists of beans from Papua New Guinea, Colombia and Costa Rica. Fivesenses cupping notes follow:-
On imbibing a cup of the delicious Harvest, you’re greeted by wonderful aromas of dried fruit and citrus, accompanied by tantalizing hints of timber. Drenched in honey and caramel, this blend is a sensory feast. These flavours are followed by a welcoming bright citrus acidity, which mellows out to a truly pleasant sweetness. Harvest has a delicate, smooth mouthfeel and body, allowing for a great cup, however it’s served. It’s quite bright through espresso with an almost marmalade flavour, and a long lasting, rich aftertaste. The initially sweet caramels fade into a dry nutty mouthfeel.

Five Senses Coffee quality is top notch. Their Epic Espresso Blend is one of the best I have ever tasted. Both the Brazil and PM are also very good. As I am still learning at the learning stage in how to properly describe taste profile, I left you with their own cupping notes instead.

Overall, most of these high quality beans are roasted to medium dark. They are very different from our local kopitiam style (or charcoal style).

To me, they are bright, fruity and sweet. They are intense, aromatic and flavourful as espresso. I enjoy them even more in Americano style. Adding 3 parts water to 1 part espresso, mellowed out the intensity and I am able to separate out the flavour even more, where the sweetness and fruitiness became more pronouced.

obama-blend campos-superior
From Campos Coffee: The Obama Blend and Superior.

Obama Blend:
Consists of beans from Kenya, Brazil and Indonesia. Their cupping notes suggest:-
For those looking for change. Great depth of character, strong, and eloquent. This very appealing blend unites coffees from Africa and the Americas to produce a cup which has gotten us excited. Formidable middle palate flavours, syrupy with an uplifting finish. Excellent drink for going forward.

Superior Blend:
Their cupping notes suggest:-
Our flagship blend and winner of the 2006 Equal ® Golden Bean Award. A True Specialty Coffee Blend. Dominant caramel intonations with fruit highlights of apricots and blueberries. Rich and creamy body. Fantastic dimension.

With all the craze over the US New President Elect, many roaster celebrated the new era with their Obama’s blend. And this Obama blend is very decent. Flavourful and uplifting. As I mentioned above, most of these quality beans are not very dark roasted. Hence, generally they are more acidic and bright. I like them a lot in espresspo and americano. But they are not that great for cappuccino. They don’t seems to cut through the milk enough for my preference. I will do a post later on my favourite cappuccino blend.

Here are some shots on the Obama Blend:

Left side is the americano in 3 parts water and 1 part ristretto. On the right is a single ristretto.

Two cappuccinos made with Obama Blend. The milk is nicely frothed. Smooth and sweet but the coffee is not cutting through. Taste like coffee-flavoured milk 😀

Espressamente – The 2nd Coffee Lovers Gathering

Our second gathering at Espressamente on Friday, 26th Sept, 2008 turned out to be an interesting session.

I reach there around 8pm and Michael has already set up a table for us. Went to grab dinner.
Went back there by 8.30pm and Oscar was already there.

We took our seat and within the next 10 minutes there were 5 of us.
Oscar, Lee, Christopher, Mun Shin and myself. We were ready to order.
First round, single espresso for all the guys while MS ordered an americano.

Special request to have Michael pull us the shots.

My espresso was the last to be served. The photo did not do justice to the espresso.
Mine was not bad. Typical of Illy, it was smooth with pleasant acidity. Lucky for me and not so lucky for some because they were politely waiting for every drinks to be served. Espresso is just too delicate to wait. Some of them did not enjoy them as much as me. Guys, you all can give your comments, whether good or bad.

One tip for all. Whenever you order an espresso, do not be polite and wait. Espresso must be enjoyed on the spot, immediately after extraction. 3 minuted is too long a wait.

Michael joined us for a while and chat about some stories of espresso in Australia and Italy.

(Left to Right: Oscar, Lee, Jean, me, Mun Shin, Eric and Chris)

By 9.15, everyone turned up including Jean and Eric. After their round of espresso and more chit chat, it’s time for dessert. 

This is a variant of the afogato.

Afogato is espresso pour unto a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or gelato. This version has an addition of liquer (which we suspect is Kahlua). If you like sweet stuff, this is excellent. Personally, I like them less sweet… meaning next time I will have the original afogato without the liquer.

There were 2 more specialty drinks with mixture of liquer that I forgot to take a picture of. If any of you guys know what is the name of the other 2 drinks, do comment about it.

Eric ordered a panini sandwich, not sure if it is roast beef or chicken, but it looked really yummy.

So, that’s the story of our 2nd Coffee Lovers Gathering at Espressamente.

******Bonus Scene******

Cannot believe it… Went back to Espressamente on Sunday because Sookie missed the event on Friday and to catch up.

Iced Cappuccino and the Traditional Cappuccino. 

I ordered the iced capp for a change. Their Iced Capp is delicious.. creamy and nutty.
The traditional capp looks great, with nice microfoam. But alas, Sookie is really no coffee lover. She needed to put TWO pack of sugar :O Next time, she should just get a mocha or some dessert sweetened drinks.. hahaha.

Sookie and me. 

Mun Shin and Tiramisu. I know, both of them are nice.

Epic Blend – My Best Espresso Experience

Updated: 24th July 2008
The video

Year 2008 is the year I discovered the Best Espresso extracted in Malaysia.

Drum rolllllllllingggg…. Introducing… The Epic Blend.

Simon from Sibu sent me 2 bags of Epic Blend from Five Senses.

I have tried a few of their blends like the Brazil Blue Blend, 24/7 Roast and Alto’s Blend courtesy of Simon.

The Epic Blend is the most expensive blend from Five Senses. At AUS 50.00/kg, convert to our poor Ringgit, it came up to around RM165. Including shipping charges of around RM35, that would be about RM200.

1kg of beans will make you around at least 50 cups of single espressos or cappuccino… which is about RM4/shot. Still much cheaper than Starbucks.

But now, I have to say I’ve just experience the best espresso in Malaysia. It was excellent… god-shots. And the beans were only 3 to 4 days from roasting. Really fresh. And the taste… sweet. Yup, no hint of bitterness. It was sweet with subtle acidity. I enjoyed it over the whole week and at the last day, which makes it about 10 days old, it was still sweet when I made it a ristretto. This is truly the best espresso blend I’ve tried. It is excellent for espresso, ristretto and americano.

On the other hand, it was not that great with milk. The cappuccino I made with it was thin. So far, I have to say for cappuccino, Highlander’s Supremo Blend is still the best.

Ok.. back to the Epic Blend.

A 30 seconds extraction of ristretto. About 23ml, single shot.

Extracting another double ristretto on my Gaggia Baby D.

Double Ristretto in a Bodum-doubled-wall glass.

Espressamente – An Improve Experience

Went to Espressamente again today with my wife. My first experience was not that great.

But I was impressed by Michael D’Alessandro’s response… “We are not a Starbucks who in reality, is more about the people than the coffee, we are a specialist coffee bar who are as much about the coffee as the people.” 

Reached there around 3pm and lucky me, Michael was around. It was lovely to be able to chat with like-minded coffee enthusiast.

He was true to his word and offer to make me a nice drink. I asked for an espresso for myself and an americano for my wife.

Many times one can somewhat predict the quality coffee by observing a few visual clues.

Let’s consider the 4 “M”s of good espresso.

Macchina (espresso machine) – La Marzocco, good machine.
Macinacaffe (grinder) – Mazer, excellent grinder. Need a good Mano to adjust the grind.
Miscela (coffee blend)
Mano (the barista)

Here’s the Mano. How do you recognise an expert? Notice his attention to details.
– Cleaning the portafilter.
– Flushing the portafilter to ensure that it is hot.
– Wiping it dry.
– Careful dosing and tamping.

The visual from the extraction looks good.

Here’s the result.
It is good. Smooth, medium acidity, moderate body and a nice after-taste. No bad bitterness.
In fact my wife was raving about it afterwards and she is one who normally gets headache drinking bad coffee. The americano was just as good, with hint of fruitiness. You know how I always rant about not finding good espresso in any cafes in Malaysia. I take that back. Here’s one worth trying.

The Miscela (coffee blend) of course is Illy. Normally I don’t fancy Illy. In most cafes, they are very much lacking in freshness. I guess in Espressamente with reasonably high volume traffic, their beans should not be staling so fast. And Illy was known to be quite a forgiving blend.

Therefore, if it is reasonably fresh with the 4 “M”s in sync, you should get a pretty good cup. And if you are at Espressamente the next time and the espresso is not good, most likely it will be the Mano’s fault. Ask them to redo or complain to Michael.

Lastly I asked to try again their cappuccino.

What can I say? It was better than my last visit. Microfoam was better. It’s a decent cup of cappuccino that I consider above average and certainly better than most cafes. Oh yes, the cups.. it’s top notch. Thick and beautifully designed.

Here’s Michael on the left with his crew.

It’s a pleasant afternoon, good espresso and nice coffee.

For good coffee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia… visit Espressamente.

Americano – Rebirth

I’ve never like “kopi O”, and I used to say I don’t like Americano too.

As to re-tell the story, I really like milky drinks. Therefore, cappuccinos and lattes are my so-called staple diet. And these milky drinks are only really good with full cream milk.

Unfortunately, with my middle-kingdom kept expanding, I need to cut down milk intake among other things like fatty food, chocolates, nasi lemak , sugar and etc.

So, the healthiest coffee drink would be “kopi O”, brew coffee from french press or Aeropress and Americano. But they tend to be bitter and I need to add sugar and creamer. That defeats the whole idea of cutting fat and sugar.

And with my wife a little lactose-intolerant, I need to find way to make good coffee that is so good you can drink it on its own (like Gardenia bread in the AD, but I hate roti kosong).

Then suddenly the break through came. As you guys know, I have been emphasizing fresh roasted coffee. Well, my Highlander Supreme Blend of 100% arabica coffee is as fresh as they can get in Malaysia. But I am still unable to produce a nice cup of Americano.

That is until I change the grinder settings. In fact it was an accident. I was actually trying to improve my espresso experience. I normally grind to a certain fineness and give it a hard tamp. Extraction is around 28 seconds. Should be good, but somehow still lacking the complexity in the cup.

So, I change the grinder setting to one step finer but this time i use a softer tamp.

Dang, dang, dang, dang…. all the nuances of flavour came out. The fruitiness, slight acidity, good body and decent after taste. I did it. Lovely espresso. Wait a sec.. how about an americano. Immediately make one… wow… tasted great without milk and sugar.

Is this a fluke??? Quickly make a fresh cup for my wife. Ha… and she confirms it.

Americano that has a fruity and flowery taste of rose.

What did I learn here? Good americano like any other coffee style, you need four important ingredients.

1. Good quality, fresh roasted coffee
2. Good quality grinder
3. Espresso machine (Not toys like delonghi and krup)
4. Barista skills

Nuff said.