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Daterra North Italian Espresso

July 3, 2005
Jim Schulman

Daterra farm in the Cerrado region grows a variety of different coffee cultivars and uses a variety of preps. They sell "estate blends" made up from this variety. Some are branded and bought by many roasters; others are exclusives sold to single roasters. This blend of yellow Icatu and yellow Bourbon, dry processed with their proprietary "Penta" process, is made especially for the legendary George Howell of Terroir coffee. In case anyone wonders what a brewed coffee purist like Mr Howell knows about espresso; this coffee was used by the winner of the 2005 World Barista Championship.

With a provenance like that, it takes extreme temerity to home roast the coffee for oneself, rather than buy it roasted. But Mr Howell apparently likes temerity, since he is selling this and many of his other coffees green. For straight cupping purposes, I roasted this coffee a little darker and slower than usual, since it is an espresso blend, but not quite to the 2nd crack.

The "Espresso Italiano" website gives the following description of how the classic Italian espresso should taste:

"The nose reveals an intense scent with notes of flowers, fruits, toasted bread and chocolate. All of these sensations are felt also after swallowing the coffee in the long lasting aroma that remains for several seconds, sometimes even for minutes. Its taste is round, substantial and velvet-like. Sour and bitter tastes are well balanced and neither one prevails over the other. There is no, or a barely perceptible, astringent taste."

Amazingly, this description works well for how the coffee cups. At this roast, the fruit taste was reminiscent of orange to apricot, with toast and chocolate underneath. The floral aroma was the most interesting aspect, jasmine joined with a touch of sharp lavender esters that reminded me of the "petrol nose" one gets from botrytified reisling wines. I cupped several samples to make sure this wasn't just a one-off. When it's consistent, this type of aromatic is a hallmark of very well prepped dry process coffees, where slight hints from the fermented mucilage add complexity without muddying the flavors.

As an espresso, it retains the same taste profile as in the cupping. It should be roasted from the first pops of the second, where the citrus and toast notes will predominate, to a rolling second, where the chocolate will take over. Darker roasts than this are not useful for Brazil Icatus, which become ashy if taken to the point where the second crack diminishes. For chocolate cappas, roast it to a rolling second. The bean is on the dry side of sweetness, so will not create a strong caramel milk drink at lighter roasts.

Dry Fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 7.5
Finish: 6.5
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 8.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50) 87.0

  • Lighter Roasts: Floral and toasty.
  • Darker Roasts: Chocolate at dark Full City, probably ashy beyond that.
  • As Espresso: The "classic shot" espresso at North Italian roast levels.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005