In between coffee shipments I will often pop in a local shop to pick something up. Berdena's in Old Town Scottsdale has been that spot as of recent because it's close to my office and their staff is awesome. They recently switched to carrying coffees from Verve while debating what to pickup on my recent trip, the head Barista offered to pull me a shot of this Ethiopia Sakaro. What was served, however, was no ordinary shot. Berdena's uses a Mahlkonig EK-43 grinder to single dose their shots on a very sexy Synesso espresso machine. "EK shots" are a thing due to this grinder's unique large flat burrs and ability to produce really consistent grinds that allow users to extract more from their coffee.
I've had a few EK shots here and there and never really gave it a ton of weight in the past, but what I tasted was vibrantly bright and sweet pink lemonade with a nuanced and layered mouthfeel and a hint of raisin and clove like spice. They pulled this shot in a cappuccino cup at a whopping 19 grams in an 18 gram VST basket to 57 grams out. This is a very high yield that I would typically equate with a weak and watery espresso, which this was not. Knowing my grinder at home has large conical burrs and that I may not be able to duplicate the results did not stop me from trying.
First shot at home was pulled at 19 grams in an 18 gram VST basket to 48 grams out in 55 seconds! The grinder was obviously too fine for this coffee, however the results were delicious; with a sweet/spice like nutmeg and clove with a dark Christmas spice like sweetness. I was surprised by how good this shot was, but adjusted the grinder coarser to bring in that lemonade sweetness and layered transparency between flavors.
I continued to adjust the grind coarser pulling shots as fast at 50 grams out in 35 seconds, with one leaning a bit more traditional at 19 grams in to 42 grams out in 35 seconds. All of these shots were very good and interesting in their own right, simply because this coffee is really good. Opening the bag fills the air with nutmeg and clove and all sorts of deep sweet spice notes. High yield shots pulled closer to the 30 second mark did start to become a bit under extracted and astringent.
Ultimately, I found the sweet spot to be 19 grams in an 18 gram VST basket, which did not overfill or seem to be overdosing the basket at all, to 45 grams out in 45 seconds. Certainly a long pull, but some coffees hold up and respond well to it, and this is one that was roasted such a way that allowed extractions to really be pushed.
The other variable is that I picked this bag up at its peak, 12-13 days post roast, so I'm also fighting coffee that is tapering out. But I wanted to share this experience to those that are interested in dialing in coffees and the process of working through it.
Brewing this coffee was a different story. Layered rich and sweet cups with that kind of Christmas spice like flavor were easy to come by, especially when pushing the extractions by tightening the grind and slowing the brew time. The vibrant pink lemonade notes were a bit more elusive. Weakening the brew ratios to 1:17 started to produce thinner coffee that didn't necessarily increase transparency.
This indicates to me that need to speed up the brew and extract less, to increase the acidity. I set the ratio at 1 : 16.5 or 22.7 grams in to 375 grams out using 200*F water.
Overall, this was a really fun, challenging, and delicious coffee to work with. That EK shot will long be stuck in my head, but that's the fun of coffee. Sakaro is available from Verve Coffee Roasters for $20 for a 12 ounce bag, with free shipping on orders over $30 here.