The Execution: Indy Hall Taste-Off 2013 (Part 2)

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The Execution: Selection 

Five roasters eventually agreed to participate in the Indy Hall taste-off and send free samples. The participating roasters were: Dogwood, Green Street, Joe, Raven’s Brew, and Victrola. We threw in one of our current roasters for the sake of comparison (One Village Coffee) and a mystery company as a joke (Folgers). Ha! [Quick shout-out to Menagerie coffee for that great idea].

If the roasters sent us more than two different blends or single origins, we chose the two that would hold up best under the variable conditions at Indy Hall. Each coffee brewed at Indy Hall is subject to:

  1. Multiple people in varying states of consciousness brewing the coffee (inconsistent process)
  2. The urn being in different states of cleanliness (not being rinsed out or cleaned over a given period of time)
  3. A surly and aged Bunn auto drip machine that shows no mercy whatsoever (speed is its motto)
  4. The typical wide array of coffee drinkers with differing tastes
  5. A predominance of…cream-and-sugar people…

We decided to brew each coffee with the pour over method (as opposed to the slapdash of the auto drip Bunn machine) so the members could taste them at their best. If members crave a higher quality cup at Indy Hall, they can always turn to the French press or the Chemex. To preserve the effect of our manual brewing efforts, we requested that every taster try each coffee black during the tasting (before adding any cream or sugar) so they wouldn’t drown out the subtlety and character that distinguishes each blend and single origin.

There were two days of tasting in total. On both days, each roaster was represented, but different coffees from each roaster were presented. We presented a different coffee from each roaster instead of the same coffee twice in order to give the community a greater sense of the roasters’ offerings. 

The coffee we brewed on Day 1:

The coffee we brewed on Day 2:

The three espresso blends that we tasted were the same on both days.

The Execution: Brewing

All coffees were prepared the same way: pour over by hand (except the espresso blends, obviously). On each day we brewed roughly 32 ounces of each coffee with Hario V60 cones and V60 non-bleached filters. The coffee was ground at the same setting using a consistent and dependable burr grinder. We used filtered water that was heated to between 205 and 199 degrees Fahrenheit and poured via Bonavita kettles with the gooseneck spout. (We monitored the water temperature with a thermometer). This process took two people about 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete. The thermal carafes were preheated prior to brewing to ensure that all coffees would be at roughly the same temperature during the tasting.

Espresso shots were prepared by a select number of tasters (a small subset of the Indy Hall membership). Those who voted on the espresso blends all pulled the shots themselves. A Rancillio Rocky grinder (at setting 5) was used to grind the beans. Filtered water was used. Our espresso machine is a Rancillio Silvia (equipped with digital temperature control). The Silvia had been recently overhauled (new boiler, gasket, shower screen) and was cleaned a couple of weeks before the tasting.

Next Post: The Tasting and The Voting

written by James Falconi (aka Captain Falco)