This definitely is not a criticism of Campos in general or this blend specifically. I've had it a few times now in various cafes and would recognise it just about anywhere.
Each time I've had it as a double ristretto, it's had lovely reddish tigger mottled crema and in the hands of a good barista has poured exactly as I'd expect a perfect ristretto to.
But I'm not a fan - it's a very very 'bright' coffee that makes me think of popper-roasts or too-fresh beans, although there's a lot more body to it than that.
It seems to exemplify the kind of espresso that I've had in a few different boutiquey cafes and that is still very good coffee... but not to my taste, which is fair enough.
In fact my local cafe, Edge Espresso has been doing a bit of upskilling recently and have absolutely knocked it out of the park for me the last few times I've been in - and they're using Di Bella Modena Blend which has previously tasted somewhat similar to me.
I've never had Campos Superior at Campos itself.
So my question is - is this how it's supposed to taste? The online descriptions of the Modena and Superior are not massively different and have tasted similar in the past, specifying fruity notes and butterscotch.
Or have I just hit cafes with fresh beans or unskilled baristas?
K (and others), I think the issue you are alluding to is a bit broader than what you have identified.
I have no idea (nor care) about either of those coffees. I also can't speak on behalf of those suppliers, but I can offer some industry perspective.
The majority of Australian coffees are essentially a 3-month proposition. Don't ever expect a coffee to stay the same, year after year. Refer to a good, common sense article written by Mark Beattie about 12 months ago that discusses how vintage diversity is celebrated within the wine industry yet abhorred in the coffee market.
That is, roasters will forward contract about 3 months worth of coffee. Sure, you might be able to go 6-month if you are using one of the generally available, common staples in the blend, but the reality is most will take only a 3-month look.
Coffee is a bi-annual crop and just like wine the season's weather patterns affect the bean. Only a fool would commit to beyond the current crop without careful evaluation.
Some suppliers, and I'm not saying who, are known to sometimes hap-haphazardly change beans due to supply issues - I am not inferring that statement/comment as negative or slander - it's a frequent challenge we all must deal with.
Speaking personally, I know that many of my customers want the coffee to stay the same - but it will not.
I will occasionally tweak blends to ensure that the coffee is the best I can produce at that time based on the supply factors we are forced to juggle.
The reason I do this is because I buy a lot more variety than the majority of Australian roasters - having at least 25+ more coffees than the 30-odd we list on our site. Some of these are speculative coffees and others are for contract/private label purposes, so accessing this broad range gives us additional opportunities to optimize.
Just last week I changed a PNG because I was unhappy and wanted something better - the new one has different cup character.
The other factors you need to consider are of course that some roasters have multiple roasting equipment and roasting operators - so who roasted it and on what roaster ?. One of those suppliers uses 2 different brands of roasters, so there will be a slight difference in the cup that an experienced palate may be able to detect.
Beyond what is occurring with the sourcing and roasting, you then have as stated the bean age and the high number of variables where the extraction is performed. Machines taste different for a whole bunch of reasons and skills levels when preparing a black coffee can be lacking in many places as the emphasis is on latte-art.
There is another factor is that the published descriptions for coffees could have been in fact written from a milk-based perspective given 95% of the customer base is likely to be drinking that style of cup.
If I was a gambling man, I would put it down to a 75/25 split between what is happening at extraction and what may change, over time, in the roastery.