If you’ve been a reader of KCcoffeegeek for long, or have been following me on Instagram and Twitter, you know I love espresso. I’m one of those freaks of nature whose start in coffee began with espresso and then has worked its way back from there over the past 20+ years. So, anytime a roaster sends espresso my way, I get excited about it! The big box of coffee Troy sent me from Lucas Roasting Co. had a sample of their Canvas de Barista espresso blend in it and I was as giddy as a school girl to try it out (let that picture soak in for a minute before you continue… hopefully you’re working on an empty stomach LOL).
Lucas Roasting Co. is a roasting company located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They have a really interesting line-up of coffees, ranging from the likes of the incredible Burundi Long Miles Coffee Project Bukeye Hill I reviewed last week (Lucas put it on sale, so buy, buy, buy!!! Seriously, it’s a BEAUTIFUL coffee and the price is crazy right now at $14/lb!) to a whole bunch of flavored coffees, rarely seen from third wave roasters.
Today’s coffee is Lucas’s Canvas de Barista, a blend of three Latin American coffees combined and roasted specifically for espresso use. You can buy this coffee directly from Lucas for $16/lb. According to their website, Lucas designed this blend to create moderate acidity and lingering aftertaste without dark roast bitterness. Tasting notes include, “a bright cup of espresso exhibiting cherry, almond and caramel notes” as well as, “massive” crema production. Let’s see how it fared in the testing lab at KCcoffeegeek World Domination Headquarters…
As always with espresso, the process begins with dialing-in. I generally try to pull about a 1:2 ratio in around 32-40 seconds and then based on flavor and mouthfeel go from there. I usually start with 20g of espresso or so, and then go for a 35-40g pull in that timeframe. Most of the time, my palate favors a bit tighter of a ratio, somewhere between a ristretto (1:1 ratio) and normale (1:2 ratio). It’s en vogue right now based on the writings of some pretty important barista competitors to pull long 1:2 shots, but ultimately in the kitchen it’s whatever your palate likes, and in the shop, whatever your customers keep throwing money at you for!
Anyway, I was lucky to get in the zone on my second shot. I may tighten my grind just one more step on my grinder (Rancilio Rocky) and try that, but at the ratio and time I liked I got a really interesting and delicious shot. Lucas wasn’t exaggerating about the crema production… If you’re a crema fan, this is the espresso blend for you. It’s massive and the crema retention is excellent even after a vigorous stir. This one will photograph and video well if that’s your thing.
As far as flavors go, I was quite surprised to get tons of peach from this. Yes, peach! I may be suffering from a little palate drift as some of my most recent reviews have been peachy/apricot-y coffees, but even now about 15 minutes after I took my last shot (of espresso) I have a peachy flavor lingering. I don’t believe in 20+ years of drinking espresso I’ve ever had peach flavors in one, so I’ll curious to pull more shots over the next few days and see if that was an anomaly, a serious case of palate drift, or accurate as a flavor descriptor! In addition to peach, I was getting tons of almonds. At my parameters this was a super-nutty espresso and the back end of the sip had bittersweet chocolate and a hint of roast bitterness, which I enjoy, personally.
On the “espresso spectrum” with traditional Italian espresso on one end and ultra-bright West Coast super-third-wave enamel strippers on the other end, this lands toward the middle with a solid shift toward the Italian side of things. There is some brightness and unexpected fruitiness, as I described above, along with those traditional nutty and chocolatey flavors so many of us love in a shot. I don’t keep milk in the house most of the time, so I wasn’t able to try this as a cappuccino or cortado, but previous experience tells me this would be a fabulous blend for smaller milk drinks, for sure.
This is the kind of thing I love from an espresso… great body and mouthfeel, thick beautiful crema, and a balance achieved through masterful blending and roasting. Yum!