ALERT! Espresso nEWb here, espresso beans or plain?

Chammy

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Feb 1, 2006
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I just purchased an espresso maker, the Mr. Coffee $30 one, do i really need espresso beans to make espresso at all? I bought some beans, Eight O'Clock Coffee, and they are good, though I read on teh instructions that a Roast is better espresso bean. Can anyone suggest? THnks all. :D
 

mrgnomer

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Jan 22, 2006
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just purchased an espresso maker, the Mr. Coffee $30

By standard definition espresso is extracted from heated water under atleast 8-9 atmospheres of pressure. To exert that amount of force a pump of some kind is needed.

I don't know if no one gives a poop, but you're asking about beans/roasts for espresso for a machine that won't really make espresso.

Machines using steam pressure don't go past 1.5 atmospheres, as far as I've read, so you'll get strong coffee out of them but it's not technically espresso.

For espresso, fresh roasted beans give the best result. They bloom well, offering a more even extraction when ground fine and evenly, and the tasty oils and components that make for good crema and flavour haven't been lost to oxidation.

Good balanced blends of beans from different origins are suggested since blending bean characteristics results in more rounded, complex, flavourful shot however many good quality single origin beans/roasts (one single type of beans) have great character and to avoid some of their pleasant notes being lost in blending they make a good espresso on their own.

Espresso does not need to be dark roasted either. Lighter roasts also make good espresso. Espresso is strong because, under pressure, more elements of the bean are extracted than by any other method I'm aware of. It's concentrated essence of coffee. That doesn't mean it has to taste overly strong or bitter. On the contrary, good espresso is rich tasting, smooth and sweet with notes you won't taste in brewed coffee.

In the end the type of bean, blend and roast comes down to personal taste. Choose as fresh roasted, high quality beans. Generally grocery store coffee has sat too long and isn't fresh by the time it finds the shelves. Buying fresh roasted beans from a respected roaster is one way of ensuring freshness.

As well, coffee is sensitive to extraction. The more even, the better. Evenly ground coffee assures even extraction which boosts the quality of the brewed cup regardless of extraction method.[/quote]
 
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Chammy

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Feb 1, 2006
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Desert
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Wow, thanks for the reply, I posted this last week sometime and hadnt a responce. Yeah, I was wondering cause I noticed that some espresso machines cost around 1000 dollars, sheesh. So, can i just get some ground espresso coffee? I found some beans that were "espresso beans".
 

mrgnomer

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Jan 22, 2006
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Canada
Sorry for the delayed response.

By virtue of very high pressure extraction to make espresso, all the characteristics in a coffee will be magnified. I guess the higher the pressure you brew at, the more of the coffee you will extract. Steam machines would probably extract more from coffee grounds than regular drip.

So, with that in mind, very good quality espresso comes from a fresh roasted bean ground very finely and evenly. For a steam machine, if you grind too fine you'll most likely stall your machine so you don't need too fine of a grind. Single origin beans of high quality are just as good for making espresso as blends. The idea behind a blend is that again, since espresso concentrates the character of a coffee, blending certain beans theoretically blends their pleasing characters together for a fuller, deeper more profound shot.

With a steam machine I'd say any good quality bean will do. Eight O'Clock is a good roast and I believe a good blend and should do nicely. The highest quality beans and the freshest roasts of course make the best coffee regardless of brewing method. Arabica beans are your high quality bean with robusta being an inexpensive bean usually used as filler. There are some high quality robustas used for blending or even on their own but it's doubtful that big commercial roasters use robusta for it's quality rather than filler to reduce the cost of their product. Arabica, as well, are lower in caffeine content than Robusta so an good Arabica won't get you wired as fast.

Beans also stale pretty fast after roasting so unfortunately store bought beans have most likely lost their freshness through processing, shipping and storage. Add to that grind quality which is very important to a smooth, evenly extracted cup of coffee and making good coffee can get demanding.

If the grocery store is your source I would recommend a 100% arabica whole bean of a blend that you like and is popular to ensure freshness through store stock turnover. If you can find out when it was roasted that would be a bonus. 10 days after roast coffee is said to go downhill in it's freshness. Grind the beans in a good quality grinder (burr grinders are the best for even ness of grinds; blade grinders chop up coffee and by their nature cannot produce an even grind) just before brewing.

Also keep in mind light roasts allow the character of a coffee to dominate the final taste in the cup while the taste in the cup is determined by the roast with dark, oily roasts. Kind of like why all Starbuck coffees, which are quite darkly roasted, tend to taste the same. By virtue of roasting in the taste with dark roasts the affects of staleing are somewhat masked so an old dark roast will probably seem less stale than a lighter roast of the same age. If you can get it fresh, a lighter roast will tend to taste sweeter and retain of a bean's bright character if it's present in the bean.
 

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