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YYC - ground espresso for sale in the NW?

ilovealbertabeets Jan 22, 2010 07:25 PM

Can anyone recommend a spot to purchase ground espresso in the NW? I used to live in Bridgeland and was spoiled for choice.

I generally enjoy Italian 100% Arabica. Illy, Mauro etc. Not a fan of the Canadian roasts, Kicking Horse, Osso Negro and the like.


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  1. John Manzo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 23, 2010 08:44 AM

    I hate to that guy, but you should never buy pre-ground espresso. Illy and Mauro are stale weeks before you open the bag.

    Espresso should only be ground seconds before extraction, and not with beans more than say a month post-roast. If you like a medium northern Italian roast, you should try GOOD Canadian roasters like 49th Parallel(at Kawa and Bumpy's), Phil and Sebastian (from their own cafes), or Fratello's top-shelf beans (at cafes such as Insomnia and Caffe Crema). None of these is roasted anywhere near the char-roasted job they do on beans at Kicking Horse or Oso Negro.

    22 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo
      ilovealbertabeets RE: John Manzo Jan 23, 2010 03:16 PM

      Yes yes I know. I'm lazy. The last thing I want to do at 7 am is use a grinder and get coffee all over the place. Calgary winter + static + grinding coffee = GAH! I will consider trying the beans you recommend though, I had given up on Cdn roasted coffee, since it tends to taste like charcoal as you said. I just wish there was a place to pick it up that was easier to get to than downtown, it always feels a bit wrong to drive across town for one item.

      1. re: ilovealbertabeets
        John Manzo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 23, 2010 03:23 PM

        There are workarounds to avoid static- a shot of espresso takes 16 seconds to grind with my Baratza Vario. I put a little styrofoam cup with the bottom cut out in the portafilter and hold it flush against the opening through which the grounds come- never a bit of mess!

        You have options outside of downtown- depending on where you are in the NW you should really like the new Latin American espresso blend that Good Earth uses. It's not remotely charred; the roast profile is similar to what you get with 49th Epic and lighter than, say, Artigiano espresso or Intelligentsia Black Cat. Much more "Italian" and indescribably fresher than what you'd get with Illy- and believe it or not, cheaper to boot.

        1. re: ilovealbertabeets
          23skidoo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 25, 2010 08:59 AM

          If you're willing to spend the money, you can get a burr grinder that will make practically no mess. You'll also get a more consistent grid.

          I got a Krups grinder at the Bay not long ago for about $70 on sale (model GVX2 I think). I recommend it.

          1. re: 23skidoo
            ilovealbertabeets RE: 23skidoo Jan 26, 2010 02:21 PM

            Thanks for the grinder suggestion. That's more doable than a $450 Baratza Vario...

            I was in Marda Loop and got some P&S espresso roast. Had a capp at the same time and didn't love it.. I'm too used to Beano style I guess. As in smooth with a bit of a bite and a nice head of foam. Noticed that P&S did coffee art on my capp, does that mean no foam is the standard there and you have to ask for it?

            1. re: ilovealbertabeets
              John Manzo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 26, 2010 02:40 PM

              Wait- what? You prefer beano? Beano uses an INCREDIBLY dark roast.

              A proper cap should not have a puffy head of foam- what you get at Beano is smoother because they use bigger cups and thus there is a larger milk to espresso ratio. Now if you want more foam ask for a monk's head and see if they oblige. If you want seafoam, go to Starbucks. They're not going to overstretch and ruin their cappos at P&S. You might want to get a latte, though.

              All that said, given what you said you were looking for in an espresso, P&S would seem to offer the perfect solution for you.

              I have to add that you're not going to get a decent espresso grind for $70.

              1. re: John Manzo
                23skidoo RE: John Manzo Jan 26, 2010 03:39 PM

                You're absolutely right. I only use my grinder for french press (very coarse), and it looks like you have to spend a lot more to make your own espresso grind.

              2. re: ilovealbertabeets
                rosetown RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 26, 2010 03:35 PM

                "does that mean no foam is the standard?"
                Yes - stretched milk is the newer standard - it is poured high, and sinks, and low, and floats - resulting in an incredibly rich mouth-feel throughout.

                To get better advice on a grinder it would help it you told us what other coffee maker equipment you use.

                Regardless, fresh roasted beans, of qood quality, ground at the time of use, will trump pre-ground quality beans, and therefore stale, every time, equipment not withstanding.

                1. re: rosetown
                  Shazam RE: rosetown Jan 26, 2010 04:20 PM

                  YES! I hate foam.

                  1. re: Shazam
                    ilovealbertabeets RE: Shazam Jan 27, 2010 07:45 AM

                    this is all very interesting. I suppose I don't qualify as a foodie in the coffee department, as there are limits to what I will spend on equipment.. I use a stovetop espresso maker (it's a vev vigano vesspress); I am not interested in spending thousands on a machine, grinder etc. So I'm looking for the best coffee I can get with what I have. I do like a dark roast, but any time I buy locally roasted and labeled 'dark' it is burnt and bitter.

                    So is the fact that beano espresso isn't gag inducing because they do have that big shiny machine? sigh.

                    1. re: ilovealbertabeets
                      rosetown RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 27, 2010 09:57 AM

                      "So I'm looking for the best coffee I can get with what I have. I do like a dark roast, but any time I buy locally roasted and labeled 'dark' it is burnt and bitter."

                      As I see it, you have 2 choices:
                      1 - continue your current practice - buying pre-ground and therefore stale - but no mess - buying different roasts in the hope that you will find something you like.
                      2 - purchasing a cheap burr grinder - comes with static and is messy - but a far superior taste experience - buying different 'fresh' roasts in the hope that you will find something you like - still, a very superior taste experience.

                      Messy and fresh, or, clean and stale - your choice. Oh, a whirly grinder, using quality fresh roasted beans, although typically not recommended, is better than using pre-ground and stale. You do, however, need to experiment with different blends and roasts to find your happiness.

                      Hope this helps.

                      1. re: rosetown
                        23skidoo RE: rosetown Jan 27, 2010 10:30 AM

                        As John Manzo said above, you can't use a cheap burr grinder to get a super fine (espresso) grind. So it's not messy and fresh vs. clean and stale - it's messy, fresh overly coarse grind vs. clean, stale proper grind.

                        1. re: 23skidoo
                          rosetown RE: 23skidoo Jan 27, 2010 10:50 AM

                          True, but, IMHO, fresh trumps grind quality. The OP doesn't want a mess or major investment. This limits choice.

                          Having no experience with a stovetop espresso machine, I don't know if quality of grind matters a lot. Perhaps those with experience can chime in.
                          Edit: I believe that they are, essentially, steam machines, that were often used, years ago, in combination with whirlys. Yes, I know whirlys create a lot of dust.

                          I paid over $700.00 for my grinder, and have no intention of recommending that the OP spend the same. :)

                          1. re: 23skidoo
                            John Manzo RE: 23skidoo Jan 27, 2010 02:38 PM

                            For a moka pot, you don't really need as exacting a grind as a proper espresso machine would demand- so I think beets might get away with a less expensive grinder.

                            1. re: John Manzo
                              kemen RE: John Manzo Jan 27, 2010 09:07 PM

                              That's true -- I have a moka pot, and buy Illy's preground "Moka" espresso for it, and the grounds are slightly coarser than a true, burr-ground espresso. When I use the latter, I tend to have a hard time getting the grounds out of my teeth after drinking...

                              (I just have to say: all this talk about stale preground coffee is well and good, but the Illy stuff still tastes great! Comparatively speaking, of course.)

                        2. re: ilovealbertabeets
                          John Manzo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 27, 2010 02:41 PM

                          The spiffy new machines at Beano (they have two two-group Slayers) are indeed calibrated to get the best out of the dark house espresso. I actually like Beano espresso once in a while; a dark oily roast can also be a chocolatey cup, and one thing that Beano has over other dark roasts (like Starbucks) is that Beano has fresh beans and incredible turnover, so you're never drinking something more than maybe a week post roast. That makes a big difference in taste!

                          1. re: John Manzo
                            ilovealbertabeets RE: John Manzo Jan 28, 2010 08:37 AM

                            Good advice all. If my coffee pickiness continues I see a ceramic burr grinder in my future. I'll have to ask what kind of beans they use at Beano.. The P&S coffee is very nice, and they did ask what kind of a maker I use to determine the grind, which seems a bit coarser than usual. However it doesn't have that elusive chocolately full bodied taste you speak of.. It's 40% brazil, 30% ethiopia, 30% guatemala. S. American beans seem more mellow generally, are they not? Maybe I should go for more African.

                            1. re: ilovealbertabeets
                              John Manzo RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 28, 2010 09:18 AM

                              Wow that's a huge can of worms- it depends! But the thing about Beano's espresso is that it is SO dark, charcoal dark, that the blend is irrelevant- at that roast stage you're not tasting the beans; you're tasting the roast.

                              1. re: John Manzo
                                300rwhp RE: John Manzo Jan 28, 2010 09:23 AM

                                Why not get the op to buy fresh beans and then have the shop grind them( kawa does this for me). Buy in small enough amounts and you should be fine.

                                1. re: 300rwhp
                                  John Manzo RE: 300rwhp Jan 28, 2010 09:40 AM

                                  I'd never recommend this. Kawa does it because you ask, but no coffee should be preground. Sorry. Never gonna recommend this. Kawa would never recommend it either, I guarantee.

                                  1. re: 300rwhp
                                    Strider RE: 300rwhp Jan 28, 2010 10:59 AM

                                    Once ground, espresso goes stale within hours, if not minutes. Think of how much more surface area is exposed after it's been ground.

                                    1. re: Strider
                                      300rwhp RE: Strider Jan 28, 2010 11:57 AM

                                      good to know. Luckily i generally do not make coffee at home and when I do I only live a few blocks from Kawa and I only make french press.

                    2. re: 23skidoo
                      23skidoo RE: 23skidoo Feb 27, 2010 03:03 PM

                      I retract my recommendation. That thing (Krups GVX2) was a piece of junk that started to give my coffee a plastic taste before long.

                      So today I bought a KitchenAid ProLine grinder and it's on sale for $250 at Home Outfitters (regular $359).

                2. s
                  smyth39 RE: ilovealbertabeets Jan 28, 2010 04:00 PM

                  Does latte art change the taste of the coffee?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: smyth39
                    John Manzo RE: smyth39 Jan 28, 2010 07:05 PM

                    No, but latte art is a sign that the milk was properly textured. You can't do latte art with Starbucks meringue.

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