LMSC Please correct us, if we are wrong. Are you not experiencing the dialling-in issue for a long time now ? :-)
Could you also explain in detail “I’ve always struggled to dial in my go to decaf bean, as I’ve getting insufficiently frequent good tasting shots”? Where is the struggle? Is it the ratio, the shot time, the dosage, the pour, channelling or the taste? Do you drink it as an espresso or Americano or a flat white? If flat white, what milk is that ? Do you add sugar ? Sorry, too many questions! 😁 Thx
Thanks for your interest @LMSC . Sorry for the long response that follows.
I had shifted to decaf for health reasons but am about to test the health effects of half cafe. I suspect that I will enjoy an improvement in shot and drink taste.
With regards to decaf beans I have tried many. Most are (by my taste) roasted lighter than the roaster described (are actually medium light to light in taste) versus the medium to medium dark that I enjoy. Only a precious few have been decent by my taste. My “go to” decaf coffee was actually a blend of a blend that I discovered by accident (a blend of ⅔ Hawaiian Kona with ⅓ of the roasters “Espresso” blend).
Abit of history. I’ve poured that decaf coffee bean (and other decaf beans) with a Moka pot, a v60, a heavily modded Breville Duopro, a Lelit Elizabeth and more recently a Decent. The taste of the Moka pot and v60 coffee was good (neither fabulous nor poor). I was actually able to pour a decent tasting decaf cappuccino using my lowly BDP and its dimmer mod and a Bartaza Sette grinder. About 50% of the drinks tasted fairly good (ie significant strength and somewhat fuller body with flavors that I like, including the notes that I like in this coffee). Maybe 20% of the drinks that I made with this machine tasted quite good, including a nicely extended length of flavour as well. Although maybe my expectations in those early days were lower.
I’d guesstimate that this success ratio decreased to 25% good and 5% great with my Lelit Elizabeth and Niche Zero combo. Likely due to the increase in variables available to play with using the LE and its settings. But then I also now know much more about and expect more from my coffee.
Fast forward to the Decent which I am just getting to know. I have only “nailed” but afew drinks to date, likely due to the dramatic increase in variables available to play with (not only grind, brew ratio and fixed temperature) but now pressure, flow and temperature movement during every phase of a shot, second by second. And a 100 profiles to choose from. I’m now beginning to learn the impact of each variable on taste. I’m confident that my success ratio will increase, once I learn more.
I will likely take your advice and try to find a SO decaf bean that I like (which has to date been a challenge) but also see if I can tolerate half caf, which will open up a much wider range of beans to me.
FYI, I tend to like: a)full bodied, full strength but sweet straight espresso shots that are fairly ristretto (which I take with abit of sugar), b) as above as a cortado, with abit of sugar, and c) traditional cappuccino that has full strength, full body, ample flavor with detectable nuances and ample length, with abit of sugar. I don’t drink alot of latte or flat white or americano.
A brew ratio of 1.75 at a Niche Xero 11 grind at 9 BAR with 20 seconds pre-infusion seemed to work for this particular decaf coffee blend. When it works.
PS As you can see I do enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the coffee. And I am more of an analytical than a touchy/feely kind of a guy. So “don’t overthink it” feedback is not helpful for me. I do welcome specific process advice on how to get to a place where I am pouring consistently better tasting shots (for my taste), with decaf or half caf. And yes I know its very much about the bean itself.