Nothing in coffee is quite as enjoyable to me as getting in a new espresso, dialing it in and pulling really good shots of liquid gold right from the comfort of my kitchen! This time I even geeked out with some video and while my wife was quietly rolling her eyes out of her head during my video shoot, I think you’ll like the results I got from Ross Street Roasting Co.’s new Classico espresso!
ROSS STREET ROASTING CO. DR. DOOLITTLE’S ESPRESSO CLASSICO
The little town of Tama, Iowa, isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of specialty coffee, and especially not when you think of traditional espresso. A little walk-up cafe on a quiet side-street in Rome a stone’s throw away from ancient monuments? Sure. But rural Iowa? This journey in coffee has taught me that some pretty great things are happening out in the small towns of states like Iowa, Indiana and in every other state. As good quality green coffee gets more accessible and roasting technology only costs you your second-born child instead of your first, great coffee is happening everywhere!
Brian Gumm, owner of Ross Street Roasting Co., sent me an espresso blend a few months ago and I really enjoyed it. This was what he is now calling his Nuovo blend (just reformulated and I should have a sample heading my way any day now so I can report to you about it!) and it was fruity and balanced toward the brighter, third wavier side of things. Really nice and I can’t wait to see what the reformulation tastes like! A month or two ago Brian told me he was working on a more traditional blend, too. If you’ve been following the KC Coffee Geek blog for a while, or especially my Instagram, you know I love espresso. I’ve been drinking it for 20 years and making it at home for 10-11 now. I lived in Rome, Italy for close to seven years and as much as I like more modern, fruitier, brighter espresso, too, the deep, dark tones of a traditional ristretto and Roman-style espresso really pulls at my heartstrings, too. The problem, really, is finding a traditional-leaning espresso that beckons to Roman-style flavors without some of the problems of traditional espresso. Brian has definitely achieved a true-to-form classic espresso that also tastes really good and doesn’t have the burned, bitter notes often found on street-level espresso in Rome. Perfetto!
Brian named his espresso series after his friend, Dr. Jeff Doolittle, who just happens to be a bigtime espresso geek, too. The Classico version uses coffees from Brazil and Guatemala. That’s all I know about the components of the blend, so I can’t tell you more about the origins, farms, number of coffees in the blend, or anything else. And that’s OK, too! I found the Classico to work really well for ristretto style shots. They turn out chocolatey and nutty, just as I would expect from a traditional espresso. Dry cocoa, a bit of almond and other more neutral nuts and a big body, firm crema and super syrupy, coating mouthfeel are all components of this espresso.
For you espresso nerds, my setup includes a simple Gaggia pump machine (I have two, a 10-15 year old Espresso and a 30-year old “Old White Coffee” variant with front mounted buttons and a sweet orange factory paint job!) and a Rancilio Rocky grinder that works only on espresso duty. I use a 20g precision basket and 25lb calibrated precision 58.5mm tamper, both courtesy of Decent Espresso. By espresso nerd standards, my setup is about as basic as it can get, and while fancier grinders and machines can certainly take things to the next level, I can make shop-level espresso at home with this setup and by avoiding upgradeitis, I’ve also managed to not have to take out a second mortgage to feed my espresso equipment needs! LOL
For shot parameters, I ended up pulling just slightly higher than ristretto-type ratios. Starting point for a lot of modern-style espressos is getting around a 1:2 yield in around 30-ish seconds starting with 18-20g of coffee. Because I wanted to respect the headroom in my basket setup, I stuck with 20g of coffee going into the portafilter for this Classico, too. I was pulling in the neighborhood of arounbd 27-28g of espresso in the cup in around 26-27 seconds and this made a thick, syrupy cup with those cocoa, chocolate and nutty notes I mentioned above. Really delicious! I didn’t have milk and both of my espresso machines are steam-wandless right now due to some monkeying around I’ve been doing on them. As such, I didn’t try out the Classico blend as a milk drink, but I’m sure it’s killer, especially in smaller drinks like macchiatos and cortados.
I shot some videos of my shots using a naked portafilter (got one channel/spitter, oops!) and spouts to split the shot into two small ristretti. I’m not sure how my site embeds YouTube vids, but they were shot in 1080p on my iPhone and you can head over to YouTube to check them out in full quality, too!