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Cheap Quality Espresso

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cincodemayo1 Jul 26, 2006 11:47 PM

Anyone have a suggestion as to which brand to buy for making home espresso?

I just "borrowed" a cappuccino machine I bought for my parents a few years back (they now use a Tassimo) and it's not a great one (I think it cost less than $100) but it works and does the trick.

As much as I'd like to buy Illy or another authentic espresso, I need to spend as little as possible.

I'm on the west coast, in case that makes a difference...thanks!

  1. c
    Cathy Jul 27, 2006 10:46 PM

    That's what they say to use...and that it has to be *very* cold. pffft

    I personally use organic cream top milk (sold in San Diego trader Joes)...

    I like coffee, no sugar and if the milk is not foamy, its OK as long as it isn't too cold....

    1. c
      cincodemayo1 Jul 27, 2006 06:30 PM

      I'll definitely check out the Italian Roast at Peets...

      But what about the foaming process? Maybe I should check under another thread or start one? What kind of milk is best to use? I have a thermometer and usually use fat free milk...

      2 Replies
      1. re: cincodemayo1
        honkman Jul 27, 2006 10:51 PM

        Here are some general guidelines for good microfoam. The amount of fat in the milk is not important but the temperature of your milk is perhaps the most important one:

        Milk Fat Percentage: Contrary to popular belief, it shouldn't really matter what type of milk you use. Some people argue that their special 'crema' or 'cappuccino' milk out-froths all the rest. Others stand by their skim milk. The truth is, any milk with froth... even soy milk. So choose the milk you prefer and master frothing that.

        Heat: Getting the temperature just right is important. At the end of frothing, your milk should be at 150 deg F or 65 degrees C - no more and no less. If you overheat, you'll find that the milk will be very runny and may taste burnt. If you don't heat enough, not only will your drink be too cold, but you'll miss out on developing the maximum sweetness in the milk.

        Pitcher: When using a steam wand, most baristas use a stainless steel milk frothing pitcher. Start out with a cold pitcher... this allows you more time to froth the milk before it gets too hot.

        1. re: honkman
          c
          cincodemayo1 Jul 27, 2006 11:33 PM

          I seem to be doing most of that...

          I use a stainless steel pitcher and I have a thermometer that shows the exact 150 mark. Maybe it is all in the coldness of the pitcher. I'll give that a shot.

          Will tossing it in the freezer do the trick?

      2. c
        cincodemayo1 Jul 27, 2006 07:10 AM

        Thanks for the tips...

        I am using a pump espresso maker, I think it's 15/pumps per minute. As for Bustelo and the silver pot, I used to live in Miami and grew up on cuban coffee, so the pot and Bustelo are a great combo. Also good is Pelon, but not sure if they sell it out here in LA. When I make cafe con leche I always use the put (I have a small one, about 3 cups or so) but it does the job. I just can't seem to get that espresso taste from my machine...can't pinpoint what's wrong, just doesn't taste as good as a store.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cincodemayo1
          c
          Cathy Jul 27, 2006 06:17 PM

          Pump Machine- have it *very* fine ground....I get Italian Roast at Peets ground on #2.....It does taste right....

        2. honkman Jul 27, 2006 04:20 AM

          The most important issue for good espresso is not to use pregrinded coffeebeans. Always buy coffeebeans and grind them directly before use. If you have Wholefoods close by where you live you might check them out. They often roast their own coffeebeans every day (at least in San Diego) and you can take small amounts of different beans to find the best one for you.

          1. c
            Cathy Jul 27, 2006 01:18 AM

            If its a pressure (versus pump) espresso machine, consider buying one of the basic, stove top espresso pots for around $20. I do think that makes a difference.

            All of the above mentioned brands are OK but seem to get old-tasting rather quickly....store the grounds airtight, in a cool place...not a fridge. The fridge could end up causing condensation inside the container.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cathy
              bryan Jul 27, 2006 02:48 AM

              Totally agree about the storage. That's another reason I like Bustelo - they have some teeny packages (as well as large ones) that keep me in espresso for a week. I store it in the freezer and only buy one at a time.

            2. l
              LisaAZ Jul 27, 2006 12:35 AM

              Goya is another cheaper brand that's pretty good.

              1. bryan Jul 27, 2006 12:18 AM

                I really like Cafe Bustelo. They sell it in latino markets and some major grocery stores carry it too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bryan
                  h
                  Hungry Celeste Jul 27, 2006 07:22 PM

                  I like bustelo, too...can be as good as Illy if the store sells the product quickly so what's on the shelf is fresh...

                2. d
                  Darren72 Jul 26, 2006 11:54 PM

                  There was a thread recently about buying good quality coffee in ethnic (esp Latino) stores. Many of these come preground in a "brick" -- tightly packed and vacuum sealed in the shape of a small brick. These are pretty good for espresso. You might also look for Lavazza, which I think is less costly than Illy.

                  See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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