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Favorite coffee blend for espresso?

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I decided recently to finally dust off my espresso machine and try my hand at making my own espresso at home -- so far my results have been pretty good, but there's room for improvement! Specifically, I'd like to try different coffee beans. Any recommendations for your favorite brands/blends of coffee beans for espresso? If I can find it locally (Seattle), that would be great, but I'm up for online sources as well!

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  1. In my opinion, what matters is being fresh roasted. When it's just roasted, it has this magical, intoxicating, awesome smell that you want to swim in. If you are lucky enough to have multiple fresh roasted options, I dunno, get something dark :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: jvanderh

      Noted; thanks! I have this grandiose plan of eventually roasting the beans myself at home, but I barely know how to work the espresso machine as it is... baby steps at a time?

      1. re: mooncaked

        That would be a very cool thing. I am spoiled by Zeke's, but if I were somewhere isolated and had time and money, it would be inevitable :-)

        I think baby steps are a good plan. I hate when I rush into something, spend a bunch of money, and then feel like a fool because I never used it or got the wrong thing.

    2. I make espresso every day and have found that I like the Espresso Sierra beans that Whole Foods sells in bulk. They happen to roast their own beans, and the roast date is indicated for each of the bulk coffees they sell. So if you have a Whole Foods that's convenient, give it a try. They also have several other espresso roasts, so go, see what is most recently roasted, and give several a try. Since they sell in bulk, you can buy as much or as little of each, so you can taste many different roasts and see which appeals most to you.

      If Whole Foods is not available, I also buy from a coffee shop in New York City named Porto Rico on Bleecker St. They have a ton of selections and freshly roast their beans every day. They have a website and do mail order, so you can get it delivered. From Porto Rico, my favorite is their French Italian Espresso blend.

      One key to great espresso (in addition to freshly roasted beans) is freshly ground beans. You didn't mention whether you have a good burr grinder or not, but you will get better tasting shots if you buy freshly roasted whole beans, and then grind the beans at home as you make your espresso.

      Hope this is helpful!

      2 Replies
      1. re: edwardspk

        This is actually the first I've ever heard of burr grinders -- I'm adding that to my list of things to look into! I do have a Whole Foods close by and going on a freshly-roasted-beans hunt and the ensuing experimentation sounds like fun; I'll give that a try first.

        1. re: mooncaked

          Burr grinders result in uniformly sized grounds (unlike blade grinders that basically just "chop" what goes across the blade. Some espresso machines (like mine) are very sensitive to the size of the coffee grounds. After wasting money on plenty of store-ground beans that resulted in shots that drew too fast and resulted in sour espresso shots, I invested in a burr grinder.

          Check out www.wholelattelove.com. They are also a great resource for information.

      2. Oh gosh. Best advice I can give is to make friends with a barista at one of Seattle's many excellent locally-owned coffee shops/roasteries. I have several friends who own or roast or barista at small coffee shops, and have never met a more passionate, generous bunch of folks. They'll steer you in the right direction and help you be better at what you want to do. IMHO, when you live in a town with fantastic locally-roasted options, it's crazy to order online or get something from the grocery store. Transport is not kind to roasted coffee!

        As far as flavor profiles, it depends on what you're looking for -- do you like fruity and bright? Smoky? Chocolaty? Spicy? Again, a knowledgeable roaster will be able (and happy) to help point you in the right direction.

        As far as my choice, I've recently come across a couple of really yummy Ethiopian varietals for the French press and for espresso that I just love. Smooth and chocolaty and almost creamy tasting.

        Good luck! :)

        1. Also, please make sure your espresso maker doesn't steam the water through the grounds, but presses it through. You will never get a good/proper cup of espresso with steam as it doesn't allow the crema to form.