What Kind Of Coffee Beans Do You Need To Make Espresso?

Q: What kind of coffee beans do you need to make Espresso?

A: Pre-ground coffee is simply a waste of money, sorry. In terms of the bean the first requirement is that they have been freshly roasted, regardless of what they are. The next point is the beans themselves. Most Espresso roasts have traditionally been a blend of beans, the idea being that no 1 single bean provides the perfect cup of Espresso. However, at Londinium Espresso we have put considerable effort into developing single origin roasts, giving you the opportunity to experience the unique characteristics of each bean around the world. It must be made clear that a great number of coffee beans are not suitable as single origin Espresso, in fact they are just foul when put through the Espresso process. The other thing is coffee beans fall into 2 main types, Arabica & Robusta. Robusta is generally regarded as inferior to Arabica beans, although I think it is fair to say that the best Robusta is probably superior to the worst Arabica. Most Espresso blends will contain a small amount of Robusta, and this should not be dismissed as a bad thing necessarily, probably around 10-13%, as it greatly assists the ease with which crema can be produced on the coffee. Finally, while Italy is one of my favourite places to visit, don't believe the hype that all Italian coffee is great, unless you believe that all Italian cars are Ferraris; it simply isnt the case. Find yourself a local gourmet coffee roaster & you will generally find great coffee. The ready ground coffee is just as good if you get a good quality one. I use 'Lavazza Rossa', but most Italians would argue that 'Ily' coffee is better. You can buy both makes in the U.K. however, 'Ily' is far more expensive. If you are using a stove-top authentic coffee pot to prepare your Espresso/Ristretto the ground Lavazza will work fine. The advantage of grinding your own beans comes into its own if you have purchased an electric coffee machine. Grinding your own beans, you can make them slightly courser in texture which usually gives a better result with a good coffee machine. Both 'Lavazza' and 'Ily' coffee come ready ground or in beans for you to do yourself. Making Espresso at home is kind of tricky since the pressure of the water flowing into the coffee ground and their time of contact greatly influences the quality of Espresso to be produced so don't expect to have the same quality of Espresso we get from 'Starbucks' and stuff. You can get close to that because 'Starbucks' sell coffee beans and you can have ground in the store. 'Starbucks' uses the Arabica bean which happens to be the most expensive of the four varieties. A cheaper alternative would be to use Robusta too. It yields a slightly bolder taste than Arabica. If you're up to experiment, Figaro uses a secret combination of Arabica and Robusta. I actually prefer their Espresso over 'Starbucks'.