Roast House No Limits 2.0 Espresso

posted in: 2017, espresso, reviews | 0

What better way to get through the midweek hump than espresso?! This morning I’m back with Spokane, Washington’s Rost House Coffee and their Limited Release espresso, No Limits 2.0! Check the links out, then let’s grind, dose, extract and slurp!

Roast House Coffee

Purchase this coffee directly for $9/8oz or $18/16oz (and, yes, the website shows this as “No Limits” without the 2.0 but it’s the right coffee)

Roast House Kenya Karimikui AA review


I really enjoyed Roast House’s Kenya Karimikui AA (link to the review above, although they are making tweaks to the roast profile to knock down that roasty note I picked up… which I did enjoy, but they wanted it gone!) and was anxious to fire up the espresso machine for their No Limits 2.0 espresso! I’ve been out of the house pretty much 24/7 for the last week and a half while workers are renovating our bathroom. They’re off today, so I knew it’d be a good day to get the espresso machine up warmed up again! Roast House Coffee was established in Spokane, WA in 2010 with community engagement and great coffee sourcing in mind. I love that they offer small bag sizes as an option and they have a lot of options, including some dark roasts that I will need to try when we get to winter for Dark Roast December! Anyway…

Today’s coffee is Roast House’s seasonal, limited release espresso, called No Limits. This is version 2.0 and I double-checked with Roast House to make sure that the link on their website, which simply shows, “No Limits” is the current offering that I am reviewing today. It is, so if you go to that link to buy this coffee, it is the same one I’m reviewing here today. No Limits 2.0 is a single origin espresso (SOE) from the Nariño department (like a state here in the USA) of Colombia. Specifically, this is from the Aponte cooperative and it’s a red honey process coffee. This is very interesting, to me, because I’m not sure I’ve had any Colombian coffee, ever, that wasn’t washed, so to see a natural or honey process from Colombia is super-exciting for me! I don’t want to bury the lead, so find a paragraph about honey processing at the end of this review…

Roast House calls this a medium-light roast and recommends this as an all-around coffee, too, so I think I’ll try it as pourover, too, and report back on that in a separate review. Roast House says this coffee has crisp, clear flavors, a mouth-coating body and fresh fruits with a lingering, caramelized sugar sweetness. They also say is works particularly well in smaller milk drinks like traditional cappuccino and macchiatos. I don’t have a functioning steam wand right now, so I am trying this one as straight espresso. Roast House recommends the following parameters for espresso: 20g in, 45g of espresso out in 27-32 seconds at 9 bars of pressure.

A quick rundown of my home espresso gear… nothing fancy, but I’ve been using my machine for 10 years and the rest of this setup for about 2 years, so I know its quirks and workarounds. My espresso machine is a humble Gaggia Espresso single boiler machine. I’ve upgraded it with a bottomless portafilter to check my extractions and I am using a Decent Espresso precision 20g basket with matching 59.5mm precision DE tamper. This is also a calibrated tamper, so it gives the same 25lb tamp pressure every time. I get awesome extractions with this precision-fit almost every shot. I am using an unmodified Rancilio Rocky doserless grinder. I use a homemade funnel to get the coffee into my portafilter and then a fork to mix it up and break up clumps. Works for me!

I was super lucky and was dialed in nicely at an “8” setting on my Rocky right from the first shot! I used a 20.1g dose and got a 37.7g yield in 27 seconds. This produced a decent crema (for a SOE) that stood up to vigorous stirring. This made for a bright shot with lots of lemon-lime acidity, leaning more toward lime for me. There was a lot of tropical fruit flavors coming through and also roast notes in between sips. This was a sweet shot with nice balance, but overall it leaned toward brightness and acidity. It wasn’t an enamel-stripper by any stretch, though. I’ve had a couple shots of another Nariño at a local shop here in Kansas City recently and it was on-par with what I would expect.

I almost always like a little tighter ratio on my espresso, so I dialed back the Rocky one step, to “7,” and used 19.8g of coffee in the basket, getting a 29.2g yield in 27 seconds. This shot had more body and was more lemony than limey, but it was also a little more intense while at the same time losing some of its vibrancy and dynamics. I’m a caffeine lightweight, so I didn’t want to open up the grinder and go into longer extractions like Roast House recommends or I’d be bouncing off the walls right now, but based on my experience this is a coffee that does well with a higher ratio, so I imagine going a little more extreme per Roast House’s recommendations will still yield a nice cup!

Overall, this is an espresso with a lot of clarity and it’s a very modern shot without being overly aggressive. If you’re looking for traditional Roman-style espresso, this is not it, but for a Third Wave style shot this is accessible, yet modern, and very pleasing.

Honey Processing

In case you don’t know already, coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee cherry, which looks a lot like a an actual cherry fruit. They get that flat-on-one-side shape from the fact that most coffee cherries contain two seeds, so when they grow pressed up against each other, one side ends up flat and the other round (unless it’s a mutant peaberry, which are coffee cherries with only one seed and that pops out round!). The two most popular ways to process coffee are “natural” (dry process) and “washed” (wet process). Honey process lands in between these two methods. Natural coffees are picked, sorted and then dried on raised mesh beds, like big raisins. Eventually the fruit is removed and cleaned off to reveal the beans inside. This generally gives more sweetness, way more fruit notes and more body to a coffee, but also some ferment notes that some people don’t like. Washed coffees are picked and the fruit is completely cleaned off. Then the seeds (beans) are dried. This tends to create a cleaner, more defined and refined cup. Honey process coffees are a hybrid wherein the coffees are picked and sorted, then the skins of the cherries and some of the sticky, goopy mucilage (aka “honey”) is removed. This sticky mess (imagine peanut brittle right out of the pan) is spread out on raised beds and dried. Honey process coffees tend to be cleaner than naturals, but have more sweetness and body than their washed counterpart. To me, they usually just taste like washed coffees. There is sort of a color “grading” scale adopted by a lot of processors where yellow honeys have most of the mucilage removed, reds have some removed, and black honeys have the least amount of mucilage removed before drying.