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Coffee Beans for Espresso


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Another espresso topic for Egullet:

I'd like to hear people's thoughts on beans for making espresso at home.  (I use a Rancilio Rocky grinder, which has proved very effective and reliable.)

I was using Illy beans for a while, but that got pretty expensive.  So my standby has been the Espresso Roast from Gourmet Garage on 7th Avenue in Manhattan.  Not too expensive, and tastes good.

But then I wanted to take it to the next level, so I got a Hearthware home roaster.  It's been fun experimenting with it, but working on creating my own blends is just too time consuming.  So I've been using the two espresso blends from Sweet Maria's, which are pretty tasty and easy to deal with.

Home roasting is fun, and you get the advantage of very fresh coffee. The downside is lack of consistency - of course I'll never get my home roasting down to a science the way Illy does.

Do any of you have some thoughts on home roasting or roasted beans for home espresso making?

Josh

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We've been using Danesi Gold Espresso beans purchased in the 2 kilo bag from DiPalo on Broome Street in NYC. We've tried other brands including the Danesi Brown, but this has been our favorite. Home roasting is a step we don't want to take.

We do not yet even have a decent grinder. I have my eye on the Rocky, but we also want to see a grinder that's made in Spain that was featured on a site Steve Klc linked to some time ago.

What do you use to brew your coffee?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I have a Rancilio Silvia, which I bought from Jim at 1st-line.com  

I know you doo too - I checked out your posts about espresso.

I'd say you should get a good grinder when you can.  I've been really happy with the Rocky for almost 2 years now. I once had a small problem, and Jim from 1st-line.com fixed it right away.  So I'd recommend the Rocky, but I don't know anything about the Spanish grinder you mentioned.

But back to beans...  I've heard good things about Danesi, but I'm surprised that you buy it in a 2 kilo bag.  How fast do you go through it? And how do you store it?  I guess I'd worry about freshness.  Do you notice that it dries out over time (you have to grind finer and/or tamp harder to get a good shot)?

And why no home roasting?  Is it that you just don't want to get into what can be a very time-consuming endeavor (especially if you're blending on your own)?

Or do you think that one can't produce excellent coffee by home roasting?

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As we've talked about previously, I use Graffeo (800.222.6250) predominantly and I have the same setup as you Josh.  I buy 2# whole bean dark roast at a time, packed in two bags, shipped 2nd day.  One goes into the freezer and one into the hopper.

And I've yet to try home roasting--as long as I can trust specialists to do it right, at a fair price, I have other fish to fry.

The next question for me is--what's the machine I trade up to eventually?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I'm surprised that you buy it in a 2 kilo bag.  How fast do you go through it? And how do you store it?  I guess I'd worry about freshness.

What was I thinking? Of course I meant one kilo and must have been thinking two pounds. We go through that (1k) in about two weeks. The beans get repacked in glass jars that go into the freezer. The jars come out of the freezer in time to defrost before going into the hopper. I can't say I notice a great difference when a new batch is started. The weakest link right now is probably the grinder. I don't think we're going to home roast. There's just so much time in the day and to many things to do. Miss Sylvia is still relatively new and the brew is a sufficient step up in quality from that produced by the pumpless espresso maker we've had for years that we're satisfied. If we were to regularly get a better cup of espresso away from home, we might be pushed to do better.

I suppose we could find a better coffee, although we've tried. I don't know why Illy only sells its dark roast preground in consumer packages. I can find the beans, but only in the medium roast. DiPalo can sell me the dark roast in the bean, but it comes in three kilo (no mistake this time) cans. That's just too much coffee for us to buy at once. I've spoken to Illy in NY and they say they have no plans to introduce whole bean dark roast in consumer cans at the moment. They used to sell it in bulk to Dean & Deluca, but stopped.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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“I don't know why Illy only sells its dark roast preground in consumer packages."

Dr. Illy has said that he believes that the vacuum packing of ground espresso is what makes his coffee better, and that probably has something to do with why they don't import beans. Also, now that he's created the pod system (created but didn't patent) for home machines, that's probably where they intend to focus their energies.

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Interesting points applejak--I'd suggest Illy has serious pod designs on the professional market too if they're smart, as so many testaments of shitty espresso in restaurants attest to.  Remove as much of the variability from the equation--reduce the need for training and calibration and oversight--and improve the overall experience of the customer?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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They do imposrt beans. Illy imports and sells its medium roast in beans. Why would the ground coffee be better at the end of the week than vacuum packed whole beans anyway? I'm missing something.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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