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Coffee Roaster in Berkeley-Oakland

I have used Peet's Arabia Mocha Java #3 grind to make espresso at home. I did used to have an Italian grinder, but it was always getting clogged, so I have resorted to buying pre-grinded espresso.
Lately I cannot get a consistent grind from several Peet's stores. I have complained and brought grinds back, but I am getting pretty fed up!

I need to find a roaster and grinder that I can get consistent good coffee from. I do like the flavor of AMJ, but am willing to try something more intense and deeply flavored.

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    1. If you don't mind an extra stop or two north, Catahoula in Richmond is wonderful. I'm hooked on their Lola Blend. Organic, not expensive, right off the freeway.

      (Buy a new grinder. It doesn't have to be fancy.)

      6 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Thank you. I have driven by Catahoula several times. It is about 2 miles north of me. One does need a special grinder to grind the beans fine enough for espresso.The inexpensive Braun type do not work.

        1. re: zinfanatic

          The inexpensive Krups is better than the Braun.

          1. re: Windy

            Neither grinds to espresso grind well.

            1. re: zinfanatic

              Correct, but having beans pre-ground is just as bad. If you want good espresso, a capable grinder is at the top of your need list.

              1. re: poser

                Yes, you are correct. It is a definite compromise. Can you recommend a high end grinder that can grind beans fine enough properly for espresso?

              2. re: zinfanatic

                avoid using the 'whirling blade' chopper-type 'grinder'. there are decent burr grinders that cost about what 5-6 pounds or roasted specialty coffee retail for now, and will last decades. you'll need to learn how to clean it, not difficult in the least. one site you can look at them and read both professional and consumer reviews is coffeegeek.com.

        2. I use a Capresso conical burr grinder, the grind is very consistent and I've never had it clog. Costs around $90.

          I tried to find a substitute for Peet's but failed. The newer roasters don't believe in dark roasts.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599749
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760994

          10 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Then perhaps you should have tried an older roaster. Peerless sells a dark roast for use as espresso, in addition to their medium roasts:

            http://www.peerlesscoffee.com/product...

            1. re: GH1618

              I've tried Peerless, step down from Peet's for my taste. Maybe I'll give them another try, they have some blends on their web site I've never seen.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks Robert. I know the burr grinders are necessary for good espresso. I just got lazy and did not buy a new one. I will look into the Capresso.

              1. re: zinfanatic

                I have one of these that I bought at Peet's about 8 years ago. Still grinds great, and I have put a _lot_ of coffee through it. If you're pressed for cash, it's a danged good grinder.

                But doesn't exist any more. Sorry.

                http://coffeegeek.com/proreviews/deta...

                I broke two capresso's, they (used to) have a rather poor design for the box (hard plastic that shattered and had to fit perfectly or coffee went everywhere).

                Grinding with a blade grinder simply doesn't work.

                Do not buy anything with a doser for home use. I see there's a Rocky version without a doser.

                My _actual_ espresso grinder is a Mazzer, this is just my morning just-fooling-around grinder.

                And the guy who said "practice..." has it right. I was told you should make and throw away 100 shots just as a warmup, just to learn how to pull, don't buy high end coffee for that.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  If indeed they stopped manufacturing the Capresso Infinity (which used to be the Solis Maestro?), there are still plenty available online. The box doesn't seem to me to be fussy but if you were making expresso you wouldn't use it anyway, would you?

                  https://www.google.com/search?q=capre...

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Fine for coffee (pourover, moka pot, siphon, press) . . . not so good for espresso.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I think it depends on your standards. Some people can't make an espresso they find satisfactory without >$3000 worth of hardware and months of practice.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Never found that to be the case . . . but even with my Gaggia or a friend's Silvia, the Capresso was woefully inadequate.

                        And let's not forget, Robert, that even WITH $3,000 -- heck, $10,000 machines and loads of practice, virtually every restaurant and most cafés can't makes a decent espresso to save the life of the establishment!

                        1. re: zin1953

                          When I look carefully, most places don't practice enough, and the right way.

                          My local cafe (Zoe in Menlo Park), which has tried to humor my desire for good espresso, finally bought a third grinder so they can have one grinder for espresso, one for lattes, one for decaf lattes. I've been claiming for a long time that the extraction for each is so different that the only sensible thing (if you're a cafe that cares) is multiple grinders, and this helped them immeasurably. They're also using barefoot beans now.

                          One of my friends who is a coffee nut is always going on about his fancy new temp controller.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I haven't actually used my Solis to make espresso, because my Mazzer is next to the espresso machine, so possible point. The Aeropress does best with a really find grind, though.

                      HOWEVER, this CoffeeGeek review says the Solis works for espresso.
                      http://www.coffeegeek.com/proreviews/...

              2. If you are buying a grinder, don't skimp. The Rancillio Rocky would be my bare minimum, it is a bit more expensive ($350 or so), but will last a lifetime. Got mine in 1996 and it is still rolling, albeit at my son's house in Oakland, I've moved up to a mega grinder.
                Sweet Maria's in Oakland sells them, you can pick up your purchase and avoid shipping. They mostly sell green beans and roasting supplies, but they do have limited offerings of roasted beans. Gotta be light years ahead of Peets or most any other roaster.

                http://www.sweetmarias.com/sweetmaria...

                11 Replies
                1. re: sambamaster

                  Oh that is great to know about the Rocky. I did quite a bit of research yesterday. Someone even said, investing in a good grinder is better than investing in a great espresso machine! I was leaning toward a Rocky after my research. I watched many videos on seattlecoffeegear.com and read many reviews and blogposts! Can you tell I have time on my hands! Thanks all for help.

                  1. re: zinfanatic

                    Don't scrimp for sure. Just get the Rocky and forget about it. Honestly...

                    1. re: sambamaster

                      I am going down to Sweet Maries today to check the Rocky out Thanks all for your help.

                      1. re: zinfanatic

                        NOOOOOOooooooooooo . . . . .

                        The Rocky is a fine grinder, BUT is overpriced for what it is. I would strongly urge you to check out the reviews on www.coffeegeek.com and www.homebarista.com . . . or just go to the "Espresso-Grinders" forum on CoffeeGeek and ask what people there think of the Rocky.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Jason what's this place homebarista? Now, on the other hand http://www.home-barista.com is one fine place!

                          1. re: poser

                            My bad . . . there but for a hyphen go I.

                        2. re: zinfanatic

                          Don't forget to post back and let us know what you get. My SO uses a Baratza Vario grinder and a Rancilio Silvia espresso maker, but has lately been making noises about buying a hand grinder as well. He also just discovered the joys of home roasting and we almost had to pay extra for our luggage what with the 7 pounds of green beans packed in there from Sweet Maria's. It really does seem to make a difference having small amounts roasted to order for each bean but it takes patience and practice to get it right.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            " but has lately been making noises about buying a hand grinder"

                            HG-1? I really want one of those!!!

                            http://hg-one.com/

                            1. re: poser

                              Dude, $900 bucks for a hand grinder is a lot of grounds :-). I think that's more than he paid for the electric one. But dang, they're sexy.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                FWIW he got a nice little one recco'd by the folks at Sweet Maria's for $30 which he is using to grind for pourovers.

                      2. re: zinfanatic

                        Well, if you're going to the expense of buying a Rocky, then the Blue Bottle espresso blends are very nice. You do have to buy the espresso blends specifically, not the regular blends for brewing or pour overs. If you go to any of the local roasters they advise the same. That said, it took me more than a year of fiddling with the grind and my espresso machine to get a really nice drink.

                    2. highwire roasters in Rockridge market hall. The team that does the actual roasting is often pulling shots.

                      But like others have said, you need a grinder, there is a really good Baretza that you can get that is not as much as a rocky that is really a good grinder.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: drewskiSF

                          Great price on the Baratza there.

                          The best thing you can do for your espresso is to get a good grinder and then to practice.

                      1. Two things to remember, above all else:

                        ---> The Four M's of Espresso:
                        1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
                        2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
                        3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
                        4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.

                        All four are important. Nothing is more important than the grinder.

                        / / / / /

                        ---> Babbie's Rule* of Fifteens:
                        -- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
                        -- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
                        -- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

                        / / / / /

                        At home, I have a Mahlkönig K30 Vario and a Baratza Vario; in my office, I have a Cimbali MaxHybrid and a Nuova Simonelli MCF . . . I *highly* recommend you get a Baratza Vario or, at least, a Baratza Preciso.

                         
                         
                        2 Replies
                        1. re: zin1953

                          What I know about this "rule of 15's" is that the 4th day after roast is golden. Back when Blue Bottle was only roasting mondays, we'd get our pack tuesday, wednesday morning wasn't great, thursday morning was OK, thursday afternoon was great, friday all day was gorgeous, and monday it was a bit tired, and it would stay tired for about another week before fading away to irrelevance. At least I thought it must have been so, the weekly delivery schedule had us tune our quantity to 7 days.

                          Good times.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Thanks zin1953! Guess we both like espresso and Zin!

                          2. Zinfanatic here. I just bought a Rancillo grinder. The grinder seems to work great. I am still working on getting the right bean. The only bean I have used is the one I use to use preground- Arabia Mocha Java from Peets. It now seems very bitter. I will explore other roasters and other beans.

                            1 Reply