Best beans for steam espresso?

carlamoose

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Dec 31, 2007
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PA, USA
I recently received a steam espresso maker for Christmas. Yes, I know it gives the espresso a burnt taste, but I was wondering what the best type of beans would be so I wouldn't get such a bitter aftertaste? I don't have the funds to upgrade to a pump espresso just yet. I do have an amazing (but hard to clean) grinder.

I live in the Pittsburgh, PA area if that helps with store locations.
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,585
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Central North Carolina
I personally would look for something with a medium roast (milk chocolate in color) and stay away from anything that's really dark and oily. With steam power you can't grind nearly as fine as you would for a pump machine (slightly finer than what you'd use for drip) and you shouldn't tamp either. Just lightly pat the grounds down enough to keep them in place.

What grinder do you own? Later!
 
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carlamoose

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Dec 31, 2007
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PA, USA
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I own a Capresso Infinity grinder, which after trying two other grinders, is the best you can buy for under $100. The only complaint is that it's so hard to clean internally. I was told to grind some rice and see if that helps.

My espresso book says to tamp lightly, so I do, and it comes out ok. I just pat it down gently, almost like when you pack brown sugar into a measuring cup except maybe not as much pressure.

I get my beans from my local grocery store. They have a section where you take a bag and pull a level to dispense "fresh" coffee. Now, according to their brochure, they talk about how they handpick only the finest arabica beans, blah blah. Are they telling the truth? Who knows. It's $7.59 a pound, so either they pay their laborers really cheap or it's not as fresh as coffee houses. I have a gift card to Starbucks, so I'm going to buy my next batch of coffee beans there.

Are coffee beans supposed to taste simliar to how they smell? Because I love the smell of coffee beans.
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,585
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Central North Carolina
Yeah the Infinity is a great all-around grinder and should serve you well. I own one and my only complaint is the grounds retention like you mentioned. It's really noticeable when pulling stale shots. LOL.... I use another grinder for espresso, but the Infinity is OK as long as it's vacuumed daily. For cleaning I use a brush and a vacuum cleaner. I made a special tip with a flexible shaft that allows me to get in all the crevices grounds like to hide. It's also a good idea to blow it out with compressed air if you have access to it. But do it outside.

Light tamping is OK, but you don't want to do much compressing as steam pressure isn't enough to push the water through like in a pump or lever machine.

Fresh beans from a supermarket??? Not likely. And yeah all of them say they are hand picked because pretty much all coffee beans are hand picked. What you're buying may have been good right after they were roasted, but not after sitting there for weeks or months going stale because of all the oxygen and off-flavors around them.

Charbux is OK and if I had gift cards I'd use them too. BUT, if you want really good, specialty roasted beans you can find plenty online that'll blow anything you've had before out of the water. Like Black Cat from Intelligentsia, Espresso Toscano from Counter Culture Coffee and the list goes on. But you will be paying more than $7.59 per lb. for these works of roasted art. Later!
 

argie

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Sep 7, 2007
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Bedford, TX
carlamoose said:
I get my beans from my local grocery store. They have a section where you take a bag and pull a level to dispense "fresh" coffee. Now, according to their brochure, they talk about how they handpick only the finest arabica beans, blah blah. Are they telling the truth?
You can't buy the "finest arabica", roasted beans for 8 bucks a pound...! They're lying through their teeth... You're drinking mediocre coffee at best. Roasted coffee is good for about 2 weeks. Those beans you dispense have to be at the very least a month old, plus whatever time they spend in your house...

Do yourself a favor. Buy a roaster (about $175) and buy pretty good green beans for about $5 to $6 a pound. You will not believe the difference...
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
Buying a small roaster is not the answer. Roasting takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. You would be better off finding a local roaster who has been in the business for a while and has good local reviews.
 

Davec

New member
Oct 18, 2006
314
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Old England (UK)
carlamoose said:
I recently received a steam espresso maker for Christmas. Yes, I know it gives the espresso a burnt taste, but I was wondering what the best type of beans would be so I wouldn't get such a bitter aftertaste?

Try a Yirgacheffe, Zimbabwe or Kenyan coffee, the Yirg especially when roasted correctly has reasonable acidity and brightness with low bitterness.

Avoid Indonesians and other dark roasted coffee.
 
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