Some back story...
Troels won the 2005 World Barista Championship using a coffee from Brazil - the Daterra Reserve - roasted by George Howell from Terrior.
The Daterra Reserve is a very high grade coffee from the Daterra estate in Brazil.
It's commonly called a Single-Origin Espresso which, while technically true, I take issue with as it's actually a blend of a couple different coffee cultivars grown on one estate.
This coffee is very popular amongst espresso freaks and is now roasted by a range of high-end roasters.
As a recent experiment, I had the chance to taste the Daterra as roasted by three different roasters. This was an incredibly cool opportunity to see the results of different roasting styles and philosophies and evaluate the end result in the cup.
First up was the Daterra from Terroir (as mentioned above). This is actually the first Daterra I ever tasted and the coffee I most associate with "Dattera". It's a Northern Italian style roast - quite light and focused on preserving the varietal and origin characteristics of the coffee. It seemed to perform best in an LM ridged double basket, standard dose and with the highest brew temp of the bunch (I liked it the most at 202.1F). At lower temps it had incredible aromatics, but I found that it simply had too much acidity for my taste. At the higher temp it retained much of the aromatic power (floral, citric with some raw honey notes). In the cup it was dominated by a heavy, almost fluffy marzipan flavour. There is some lovely sweet citrus in there, some hints of what I would describe as quince and a wonderful caramel finish. Medium bodied... not a big or heavy espresso. The finish is clean and sweet and not particularly long-lasting. One trick I discovered with this espresso is that simple alterations to the extraction parameters can have unusually dramatic results. Ristretto shots become quite heavy and almost cloying with aromatics degraded and a peanut note emerges. In general, I would describe this as a comforting and quite traditional espresso. It's not big, it's not "extreme." While it is good as a macchiatto, it really doesn't hold up well to much milk and is best suited for use as in straight espresso.
The second of the three was from Caffe Fresco. This is an unusual take on the Daterra as it is a much darker roast than the other two. Now... to be clear, this is in no ways a "dark" roast coffee. It's just that the other two are quite light... especially for espresso. I actually prefered this coffee in the LM ridged double basket as well, but very, very slightly updosed. At a lower brew temp I found the complexity of the coffee really emerged - In the end I found 198.8F to be my personal "sweet spot". This is not the aromatic bomb that the Terroir is. It's far less of an "unusual" espresso. In the cup it is dominated by a sort of "peanut butter cup" flavour. Sweet, nutty and with a goodly amount of chocolate. There is a little fruit brightness, but it's more of a dark or dried fruit flavour. Much heavier than the other two - this is quite coating. As a straight shot this is a bit unbalanced, but in short milk drinks it softens and rounds out. It makes a really wonderful cappuccino. I would describe this as a new american take on the classic espresso.
The third of the three was from Ecco Caffe. In terms of roast degree, this falls between the first two - though just barely darker than the Terroir. Given this, I'd expected the two coffees to have similar flavour profiles and similar target extractions. I was wrong. I'm dying to figure out how the same beans taken to very similar degrees of roast can be this different. I ended up deciding that I enjoyed this the most in a triple basket, downdosed significantly. At a brew temp of 201.2F it really hit a nice balance. In fact... the word I would use to describe this coffee overall is balance. Wonderful floral, spice and fruit notes in the aroma; it's one of those coffees that is just fun to smell. in the cup there is that same marzipan note - but there is also a really cool belgian candy sugar note. Tons of fruit up front - meyer lemon, pomegranate... you name it. Hints of various tropical spices and that sweet caramel and honey finish. Once again, this is a medium-bodied coffee but this time it's very long-lasting. I love it as a straight shot - but (perhaps because of all the fruit) it seems to hold up really well in short milk drinks as well. This coffee is the espresso equivelant of comfort food.
This was a really great experience for me.
To see the commonalities... but also the differences.
I love to see roasters creating coffees that reflect their own tastes - their own beliefs and philosophies.
Three really great espressos... a really great coffee.