Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Espresso vs. Coffee


hillbill
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ok, seems like this is a hot topic today. I have 2 responses for you. These guys are very knowledgeble and I respect their opinions. Hope it helps.

Answer No. 1) "Check and see if all the Baristas are members of the Barista Guild!! (Wait a month or two and then check that one)

Basically I would agree that excellent and well prepared (that means all the elements come together with a well trained, passionate craftsperson Barista at the helm) espresso is never bitter. It does NOT make your mouth pucker and make you go EEEWWWWW!!

One of our Baristas made a 6oz cappuccino double today and I gave it free to a regular while they were drinking their 20oz double mocha with vanilla sweet tooth drink. I told her just to try it. She did and said WOW! this is very good. What is it? I told her a straight cappucino and she could not believe it. She said but it is so sweet and tasty and not bitter. Then she proceeded to tell me that she did not like the taste of coffee only the sweetness.

And then she drank the rest of the cappuccino and did not finish her mocha.

So no espresso shold NEVER be all bitter and puckery. That is most likely an overextracted (too course a grind with too much water flowing over it too quickly) shot.

It is probably NOT the roast profile although that is a huge effect. Usually it is the Barista not knowing what to do right and making a bad shot. puling excellent shots is NOT easy and automatic. it takes hard work, dedication and craftsmanship."

Answer No 2) "he's trying to decide "do i dislike espresso or is this espresso just crap." I guess you could try some of the following:

1 - watch to see if the espresso is ground per shot or pre-ground (the latter is a bad sign),

2 - watch to see if the portafilter is thoroughly cleaned,

3 - time the shot (anything less than 22 seconds is a bad sign as is anything over 30 -- though there are exceptions),

4 - look for portafilters being left in the machine (if the portafilters are out of the group, it's a very bad sign),

5 - evaluate the shot (it should be thick and syrupy, with a classic "red-brown" crema that completely covers the surface and which should support sugar briefly),

6 - watch the barista tamp the espresso. if they're using the "tamper" that is attached to the grinder - bad. if they're using a little plastic tamper - bad. if they're not tamping - bad.

7 - look at the machine. is it clean? does it seem well-maintained?

8 - ask the barista about the beans. who is their roaster? what style of blend and roast is it? what kind of beans are in it? when was it roasted?

9 - order a double espresso ristretto. see what they say. if they say "what's that?" it's a bad sign.

10 - ask the barista how large a double is in ounces. more than 3 ounces is bad.

11 - ask the barista how hard they tamp. any clear answer in pounds is a good sign.

12 - ask the barista how often they clean the portafilters. daily is the minimum.

When it comes right down to it, i personally think that good espresso should never taste "bitter" per se. there are, and should be, bitter flavour elements but they should never be out of balance against the sweet, the earthy, the nutty, the chocolate and the other flavour notes.

but coffee is all personal taste and i have friends with great palates who simply do not like espresso."

OK, those are the answers I got. Hope that helps!

Java-Joe

You gonna eat that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I don't necessarily disagree with these points it strikes me that the consistently best espresso, by far, I have had has been in Italy. The places there 1. tend to pre-grind the coffee, 6. use the tamper on the front of the grinder, and 11. could never tell you how hard they tamp.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A barista, well-trained or newly trained should tell you that 30 lbs of pressure applied (by hand) is what they're supposed to do. That's the proper amount of pressure to apply. This can not be achieved by these "one size fits all" plastic tampers attached to the espresso grinder. A good barista needs to accurately tamp and polish that espresso so that the surface of the espresso is uniform. Won't happen unless it's a hand tamper.

The tools of the trade have made great strides in the U.S. One can now find tampers to fit each and every size of portafilter. A coffeehouse owner that really cares about the product being produced will know how to train a barista or will get them trained somehow. The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Assn. of America) has training courses for baristas. And there are some independent businesses, such as Bellissimo what produce a tremendous amount of material for training. The knowledge is out there to be gained. Lets hope the indies and chains use it and improve, improve, improve!

Pre-ground espresso, over a day old is considered STALE by those of us who simply want to produce a superior product. Pre-packaged ground espresso is not an option, except for the home user without a grinder.

On those espresso grinders there is a thing-a-ma-jig that the grounds pour into and dose out of. That ground espresso should never be more than 24 hours old. 4-6 hours is better. This affects the quality of the crema produced.

Please note that I'm not trying to be any kind of authourity, as I'm not a barista, but a member of the trade. I don't want to argue or debate anyone. I'd just like to contribute if I may.

Best regard,

Joe

You gonna eat that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Java-Joe's questions are spot on.

In response to some of the other questions...

Yes, a too-light roast will result in sour (astringent) espresso. If you get sour espresso, however, the most likely culprit is not the roast, but rather either the temperature or the extraction time.

Yes, Italians traditionally never tamped hard, used pre-ground coffee (and rarely if ever cleaned their machines). Just because the Italians invented espresso, however, does not mean their methods are optimal. Even some of the leading lights of Italian coffee are beginning to accept that the "scientific" approach in the US has resulted in improvements. If you talk to professional baristi the world over, you're going to find very few top ones who are not Italian who don't follow the magic rules regarding tamping, fresh coffee (and cleaning their machines).

The way a good barista can tell the pressure he or she tamps at is by practicing on a scale. Seriously. Along with weighing dosed, leveled coffee and checking levelness of tamp with levels, this is part of training.

There are probably more coffee shops that roast their own and serve good espresso, but don't assume that roasting in-house is a guarantee of good espresso (or that not roasting in-house means you'll get crap). It's far more worthwhile to check out the things noted above (portafilters in the group, freshly ground coffee, a real tamper - used professionally, clean portafilters, extraction time within the range, good crema).

I'd add a couple more... look at cup size. If the shop doesn't have any small cups, it's not a good sign. If a shop preheats the cup, it's a good sign. If a "small" cappuccino is 12oz, it's a bad sign.

But, at the end of the day, the test is in the taste. If you like it, it's good.

It makes me sad to think of all the people out there drinking Vente Vanilla Lattes, thinking they don't like espresso 'cause it's too strong. If only they could taste the real thing.

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive or in the wrong thread; therefore, won't be offended if told so :cool:

what IS considered to be the best coffee beans to purchase to make either regular american-style coffee or expresso??

It's all a matter of personal preference. If you want a cup similar to what you get at a diner but of much higher quality - find yourself some columbian. My favorite for drip coffee is a 50/50 blend of Yemeni Mokha and Java. Some people really like Kona, but I don't find it very compelling. If you have a local roaster, buy a small amount of each coffee they offer and try them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive or in the wrong thread; therefore, won't be offended if told so  :cool:

what IS considered to be the best coffee beans to purchase to make either regular american-style coffee or expresso??

It's all a matter of personal preference. If you want a cup similar to what you get at a diner but of much higher quality - find yourself some columbian. My favorite for drip coffee is a 50/50 blend of Yemeni Mokha and Java. Some people really like Kona, but I don't find it very compelling. If you have a local roaster, buy a small amount of each coffee they offer and try them.

thx very much. i live bet fairway, citarella's, & zabar's in nyc (uws) so have many options re: sampling. i guess the main intent of the question is "which is considered the best"?? usual answer is Kona, but seems that it is very hard to find REAL kona???

what about illy??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive or in the wrong thread; therefore, won't be offended if told so  :cool:

what IS considered to be the best coffee beans to purchase to make either regular american-style coffee or expresso??

It's all a matter of personal preference. If you want a cup similar to what you get at a diner but of much higher quality - find yourself some columbian. My favorite for drip coffee is a 50/50 blend of Yemeni Mokha and Java. Some people really like Kona, but I don't find it very compelling. If you have a local roaster, buy a small amount of each coffee they offer and try them.

thx very much. i live bet fairway, citarella's, & zabar's in nyc (uws) so have many options re: sampling. i guess the main intent of the question is "which is considered the best"?? usual answer is Kona, but seems that it is very hard to find REAL kona???

what about illy??

Kona is easy enough to find, several producers in Kona will ship directly to you. Illy makes reasonably good coffee also, but freshness is a concern. The best coffee your likely to find will be some reasonably high quality beans roasted 24-48 hours ago, it's hard to overstate how much of a difference freshness makes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive

In this forum there is no such thing as a question that's too naive. If a different thread is required we will start one.

Much of the espresso vs. coffee bean choice has to do with personal preference. I find that I like espresso blends made from Brazil, Indonesian and African beans as my favored choice for espresso but prefer staright varietals when consuming Americano's. Drip coffee is another story - some of the varietals that I really like as Americanos, I am less fond of when made as drip coffee.

I'll reemphasize the excellent point that was already made - the critical importance of freshness. It's hard enough to find REAL Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, much less find the real thing that is truly freshroasted (i.e. was roasted within 24 - 48 hours of the time you get the coffee). I'll take fresh roasted beans of nearly any old arabica variety over stale beans of some pricey and exotic brean or blend.

Both Kona and JMB are very smooth, well balanced and subtle. I think that many people expect some sort of earth shattering and transcendant experience or a major coffee epiphanywhen they drink those two celebrated beans but it's really their smooth and subtle nature that is the draw. It's not everyone's cup of.... uhhh.... coffee. The high price for those two coffees is a simple matter of supply and demand. To be a true Kona or JMB the beans must be grown in a particular area, typically one that is limited in size. It's also worth noting that in both Kona and Jamaica (most particularly Kona), we might assume that the growers are actually earning a living wage, in contrast to much of the other coffee growing population in the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive

In this forum there is no such thing as a question that's too naive. If a different thread is required we will start one.

prefer staright varietals when consuming Americano's. Drip coffee is another story - some of the varietals that I really like as Americanos, I am less fond of when made as drip coffee.

I'll reemphasize the excellent point that was already made - the critical importance of freshness. It's hard enough to find REAL Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, much less find the real thing that is truly freshroasted (i.e. was roasted within 24 - 48 hours of the time you get the coffee). I'll take fresh roasted beans of nearly any old arabica variety over stale beans of some pricey and exotic brean or blend.

Both Kona and JMB are very smooth, well balanced and subtle. I think that many people expect some sort of earth shattering and transcendant experience or a major coffee epiphanywhen they drink those two celebrated beans but it's really their smooth and subtle nature that is the draw. It's not everyone's cup of.... uhhh.... coffee. The high price for those two coffees is a simple matter of supply and demand. To be a true Kona or JMB the beans must be grown in a particular area, typically one that is limited in size. It's also worth noting that in both Kona and Jamaica (most particularly Kona), we might assume that the growers are actually earning a living wage, in contrast to much of the other coffee growing population in the world.

drip as opposed to _____ ?

i have a typical Krups, like most.

&, how does one actually know "fresh-roasted?

thx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aware this question may be too naive

prefer staright varietals when consuming Americano's. Drip coffee is another story - some of the varietals that I really like as Americanos, I am less fond of when made as drip coffee.

I'll reemphasize the excellent point that was already made - the critical importance of freshness. It's hard enough to find REAL Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, much less find the real thing that is truly freshroasted (i.e. was roasted within 24 - 48 hours of the time you get the coffee). I'll take fresh roasted beans of nearly any old arabica variety over stale beans of some pricey and exotic brean or blend.

drip as opposed to _____ ?

i have a typical Krups, like most.

&, how does one actually know "fresh-roasted?

Drip as opposed to espresso, in this case. (americano is an espresso variation)

If your coffee doesn't have a roasted-on date on the package, and you care (most people don't care/can't tell if their coffee's fresh or godawful stale), then you have no way of knowing when it was roasted. Either find a small roaster that will sell fresh coffee to you, or roast your own.

Warning: Once you do this you can never go back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i have a typical Krups drip coffee maker, like most.

If your coffee doesn't have a roasted-on date on the package, and you care (most people don't care/can't tell if their coffee's fresh or godawful stale), then you have no way of knowing when it was roasted.

thx kath, we buy our beans (mocha java, vanilla almond, vienna, french vanilla, french roast, & sometimes kona) from large sacks or barrels in specialty food stores in neighborhood, which are then poured into take home packages to be ground at home; therefore, there is no date. so, how do i know the "roasting" dates??

what is "americano" as opposed to drip & as opposed to buying a full-fledged expresso machine at williams-sonoma; &

can u recommend a coffee maker that is considered to be a better method than the krups drip style coffee maker?

thx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

don't buy from those bins. please.

find a good local artisan roaster, or order from one (see list below).

an Americano is the Italien attempt at creating a "American-style" coffee. basically, it's espresso floated on hot water.

i'd say the best "price-point" coffee maker is a french press.

artisan roasters:

http://www.zokacoffee.com/

http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

don't buy from those bins. please.

find a good local artisan roaster, or order from one (see list below).

an Americano is the Italien attempt at creating a "American-style" coffee. basically, it's espresso floated on hot water.

i'd say the best "price-point" coffee maker is a french press.

artisan roasters:

http://www.zokacoffee.com/

http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/

thx, will search out a "french press" & order from you recommended links - do u have a suggestion as to what would be a good 1st bean choice, the selections, to a novice, are daunting.

1 additional question: are u aware of an artisanal roaster, a little closer to home, i.e., manhattan??

thx :biggrin:

Edited by jgould (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

for a French Press I don't think you could go wrong with:

- Guatamalan Antigua from Zoka,

- Arabian Moka-Java from Intelligentsia,

- Sumatra Mandheling from Stumptown.

Those are just personal favorites - those three roasters do a damn good job with just about any coffee. A good resource for reviews of coffees is http://www.coffeereview.com/

sorry - i know little to nothing about the coffee scene on the East Coast.

Oh... obviously you should order the coffee whole bean and grind it yourself. And order less rather than more - fresh coffee is key to the equation (refrigerator, freezer, etc. -- none of them substitute for freshness). i tend to never buy more than 1 pound at a time, and usually buy either 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound.

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for a French Press I don't think you could go wrong with:

- Guatamalan Antigua from Zoka,

- Arabian Moka-Java from Intelligentsia,

- Sumatra Mandheling from Stumptown.

Those are just personal favorites - those three roasters do a damn good job with just about any coffee. A good resource for reviews of coffees is http://www.coffeereview.com/

sorry - i know little to nothing about the coffee scene on the East Coast.

Oh... obviously you should order the coffee whole bean and grind it yourself. And order less rather than more - fresh coffee is key to the equation (refrigerator, freezer, etc. -- none of them substitute for freshness). i tend to never buy more than 1 pound at a time, and usually buy either 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound.

interestingly, i went to my local "specialty" market this afternoon, & queried the guy in the coffee section amidst the barrels & sacks of all types of coffee beans. when i asked if any were "freshly-roasted", i pretty much received blank stares & digust from fellow customers :blink:

when i pressed for an answer, the reply was that the coffee was delivered yesterday, as to the freshness, the reply was again - delivered yesterday. no response as to WHEN it was roasted. i guess an informed customer is NOT what these places want?? on a third attempt, i asked if ALL the coffee in the area was delivered yesterday? obviously, i did not receive any answer :biggrin:

so, i guess, to KNOW IF coffee is fresh, i.e., freshly-roasted, one must either know their source, or go to a very specialty store, or mail order from a specialty site. which does beg the question as to how fresh IS mail ordered "fresh-roasted" coffee beans??????????

re: french press - will try to find tomorrow.

what a "can of worms" :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good roasters always roast date their coffees.

As for mail-order -- if you're dealing with a good roaster they will roast and ship the same day. Coffees need to "de-gas" for between 4 and 72 hours, so shipping them (priority or two day) should result in optimal coffee on your doorstep.

Thus, the "don't order too much" suggestion.

I know it seems complex and perhaps overwhelming, but it's actually more simple than you might see. The trouble is that you have to unlearn much of what you've been told, and ignore much of what you hear. The amount of mis and dis-information about coffee (and the amount of ignorance and incompetence, even in the industry itself) is astonishing.

Step One: Buy a small amount of high quality, fresh and roast dated coffee from a reputable, skilled artisan roaster (by small amount, I would suggest no more than you will go through in 4-5 days).

Step Two: Grind only enough for one French Press. Put grounds in French Press (I prefer my coffee ground quite coarse for French Press, but it's a matter of personal taste).

Step Three: Boil water.

Step Four: Pour water over grounds to fill French Press. Stir once.

Step Five: Wait for between 3 and 5 minutes (depending upon your personal taste - I tend to brew for no more than 4 minutes myself).

Step Six: Plunge, pour.

Step Seven: Taste. Looked shocked. Discover just how great coffee can be (or discover that the particular coffee you ordered is not to your taste - grin).

Step Eight: Add sugar and/or cream if that's the sort of thing you like (but please please please... always taste the coffee by itself first).

To make all this happen all you need to do is:

- Buy a French Press (I'm a fan of the Bodum 16oz myself).

- Buy a good burr grinder (check out the reviews on http://www.coffeegeek.com/ for advice).

- Buy a little coffee.

Far easier than making Hollendaise, no?

Edited by malachi (log)

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Malachi,

What a gem you are to this BB. Are you the same Malachi on the Barista Board? Your knowledge and advice given here is tops.

jgould........if you're into mail order coffee, Malachi's recommendations are very good and worthy of trying. I read about Zabar's many years ago. I think it was in Timothy Castle's book "The Perfect Cup." I understand that they roast their coffee VERY light, but Mr. Zabar considers anything over one day old as stale. (Give me a friggin' break!) If you like a "cinnamon roast" he's your man, but I absolutely do not believe you're really gonna enjoy all of the great qualities of a good/great coffee.

I don't want to go on a rant about Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain. Are they good? Sure. But not worth the money unless you can afford it. I don't even think it's worth it for a special occasion. A really really good Guat. Antigua or Sulawesi Toraja (Celebes Kalossi some places) are a much greater value anyday!

Java-Joe

PS: French Press is THE way to go for regular coffee.

You gonna eat that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Morning! Wish the cup of coffee I am sipping right now was prepared by you, malachi. :smile: Thanks, jgould and Java-Joe, as well. I've been half-watching this topic all along, and these last few posts really grabbed my attention. Very informative, and appetizing.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad.

In the immortal words of Dr. Illy... "Great espresso is like 30 minutes of heaven. Bad espresso is like 30 minutes in the dentist's chair."

This morning I had a wonderful Ethiopian Yrgecheffe Estate Auction Lot from Eastside Artisan Coffees. A stunning coffee. Incredibly complex and wild tasting, with wonderful flower and wine/berry notes. Not a big coffee - but a truly intense one.

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By Objective Foodie
      During the past year, our coffee consumption at home has increased substantially. We have tried beans from different roasteries from the UK and Europe, but we are constantly in the search of new ones. The speciality coffee market has been rapidly increasing in past years and it is becoming easier to find high quality beans.
       
      The best roasteries we have tried so far:
      UK based: Round Hill Roastery, Square Mile, Monmouth,  Pharmacie, New Ground, Workshop, James Gourmet, Ozone. Europe based: The Barn (Germany), Gardelli (Italy), Hard Beans (Poland), Calendar (Ireland), Roasted Brown (Ireland), Right Side (Spain), Coffee Collective (Denmark).  
      Have you had any exciting coffee beans lately? Do you have any other recommendations?
    • By Kasia
      INSTEAD OF COFFEE? - MORNING GREEN COCKTAIL
       
      After waking up, most of us head towards the kitchen for the most welcome morning drink. Coffee opens our eyes, gets us up and motivates us to act. Today I would like to offer you a healthy alternative to daily morning coffee. I don't want to turn you off coffee completely. After all, it has an excellent aroma and fantastic flavor. There isn't anything more relaxing during a busy day than a coffee break with friends.

      In spite of the weather outside, change your kitchen for a while and try something new. My green cocktail is also an excellent way to wake up and restore energy. Add to it a pinch of curcuma powder, which brings comfort and acts as a buffer against autumn depression.

      Ingredients (for 2 people):
      200ml of green tea
      4 new kale leaves
      1 green cucumber
      half an avocado
      1 pear
      1 banana
      pinch of salt
      pinch of curcuma

      Peel the avocado, pear and banana. Remove the core from the pear. Blend every ingredient very thoroughly. If the drink is too thick, add some green tea. Drink at once.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      My Irish Coffee  
      Today the children will have to forgive me, but adults also sometimes want a little pleasure. This is a recipe for people who don't have to drive a car or work, i.e. for lucky people or those who can rest at the weekend. Irish coffee is a drink made with strong coffee, Irish Whiskey, whipped cream and brown sugar. It is excellent on cold days. I recommend it after an autumn walk or when the lack of sun really gets you down. Basically, you can spike the coffee with any whiskey, but in my opinion Jameson Irish Whiskey is the best for this drink.

      If you don't like whiskey, instead you can prepare another kind of spiked coffee: French coffee with brandy, Spanish coffee with sherry, or Jamaican coffee with dark rum.
      Ingredients (for 2 drinks)
      300ml of strong, hot coffee
      40ml of Jameson Irish Whiskey
      150ml of 30% sweet cream
      4 teaspoons of coarse brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of caster sugar
      4 drops of vanilla essence
      Put two teaspoons of brown sugar into the bottom of two glasses. Brew some strong black coffee and pour it into the glasses. Warm the whiskey and add it to the coffee. Whisk the sweet cream with the caster sugar and vanilla essence. Put it gently on top so that it doesn't mix with the coffee.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for swift autumn cookies with French pastry and a sweet ginger-cinnamon-pear stuffing. Served with afternoon coffee they warm us up brilliantly and dispel the foul autumn weather.

      Ingredients (8 cookies)
      1 pack of chilled French pastry
      1 big pear
      1 flat teaspoon of cinnamon
      1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
      2 tablespoons of brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
      2 tablespoons of milk

      Heat the oven up to 190C. Cover a baking sheet with some baking paper.
      Wash the pear, peel and cube it. Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, vanilla sugar and one tablespoon of the brown sugar. Mix them in. Cut 8 circles out of the French pastry. Cut half of every circle into parallel strips. Put the pear stuffing onto the other half of each circle. Roll up the cookies starting from the edges with the stuffing. Put them onto the baking paper and make them into cones. Smooth the top of the pastry with the milk and sprinkle with brown sugar. bake for 20-22 minutes.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       
       

    • By Johnhouse
      Hello everyone!
       
      I have been working in food and beverage industry for almost 10 years in different countries. I am looking forward to learn new things on this forum to expand my food and beverage knowledge as well as sharing my experiences that I gained in my journey!
       
      Have a good day! ☺️ 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...