Creating a Classic Northern Italian Espresso Blend


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Sep 5, 2004
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I've been trying to create a classic northern italian espresso blend. I'm not a big fan of the bitter / harsh "american" style of espresso blends and want to create / roast my own blend of a sweeter / smoother espresso blend. I've experimented with some blends and have come up with some interesting creations (some good / some bad).

Any thoughts? recipes?


Hi Rob:

Are you a roaster? If so, you should be able to experiment with a number of combinations to achieve what you are looking for. I don't think any roaster is going to reveal any of their recipes to the public especially when it takes such a long time to develop their signature blends. I say keep experimenting, you'll find what you're looking for.
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Thanks - I am just starting up as a "home roaster". I've tried a couple of the green bean blends that you can buy from Sweet Maria's. But, I'd like to start creating a blend that I can call my own.

Any hints on what flavor characteristics I should be looking for in a good Northern Italian Espresso Blend? I'm not really looking to copy someone else's recipe, but start to understand what types of beans are combined in the blend. Has anyone come across any info on the web that discusses espresso blending?
From my experience if you are really keen to roast to a northern Italian roast, you are going to have to look for low acidic greens. You should focus on beans with a traditional low level of acidity- Sumatran's, Java's and PNG greens all fall into this catergory (I only roast Indonesians- so this is based on my experience). From past experiences some of the North African beans would also fall into this catergory.

I agree with Coffee Guy...part of the fun if you are home roasting is the experimenting. Proffesional roasters spend a lifetime (and a half!!) trying to perfect the perfect espresso blend.

Common wisdom in roasting is the lighter the roast, the more the bean retains the specific origin characteristics. A North Italian roast is the lighter of the Italian regional roasts....therefore the earthiness (Sumatran) and the mellow chocolate-ness of a good Java or PNG arabica will be retained. This is probably what you are looking for in your blend I guess? Good luck...I think you could always refer back to sweetmarias for more information. Tom has a pretty informative website.
Hey Smitty:

Didn't mean to jump down your throat :D ...As A.E. mentioned, focus on beans with a traditional low level of acidity- Sumatran's, Java's and PNG greens all fall into this catergory.

It's much safer to start there and invest less money in doing so. Test a few roasts at various times. If you have the ability to adjust both flame and air flow, play around with that on a couple of batches. You won't believe how much taste is affected just by playing around with those two. Even using the same blend of beans.

Give those ideas a shot and see what you come up with :wink:
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Thanks for the info guys. I've already roasted some blends that have been drinkable, but have had a funky aftertaste (a little chemical). I'm working on finding the common denominator in those blends to weed out the aftertaste.

Have you ever experienced an aftertaste like that? Would you say that that is more of a coffee bean influence or a process influence (roast, rest, brew)?

Just think - you guys can look back on this moment and say, "we helped that guy get his start!". :wink:

Thanks again,

Hey Smitty. Strange after tastes could be a bean fault...however if you are getting it in all your roasts this is less likely to be the case. Some problems you can get with green beans are they develop a "baggy" characteristic that will carry through roasting and be idetifiable in the cup. Also if beans have been stored in a humid environment with less than adequate ventilation they can soften and break-down. The greens will look blotchy on the surface and if roasted will cup with an iodine type aftertaste. Obviously this is less than desirable! As mentioned if it is a common problem coming through in cupping it may well be some other problem. How are you drinking your coffees? What extraction method?
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The aftertaste only comes out when I pour espresso shots from my Silvia (2 oz at 20 seconds). I haven't had the aftertaste on the single-origin roasts for my French Press. I don't think it's an issue with the machine, I can crank out a pretty good shot from other beans.

For the most part, I am roasting my espresso blends to 20 - 30 seconds into the second crack. The beans are not coated in oil, but have dabs of oil on the bean.

I'm going to try to use some of the knowledge that I gained from you and Coffee Guy to have a better pairing of coffee in my next batch. I'll keep you posted.
Hey Smitty:

Are you ramping up your heat source after the second crack, keeping it about the same or tapering down? Sometimes that will change the profile. Do you log your changes so you have something to compare? As A.E. says it could be in the greens as well. Another thing I might look out for are the origins. Do they compliment one another, or do you find that some are total opposites? Tinker around a little. Most play around with Colombians, Brazilians, and something from the Africans when blending espresso blends. Try those as a base and work from there.