Best Supermarket Coffees for Espresso

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Fake Coffee Nerd
Posts: 41
Joined: 4 months ago

#1: Post by Fake Coffee Nerd »

I've been drinking mostly filter coffee (Kalita or drip). I order my beans from online roasters and definitely taste a difference between fresh beans and older, store-bought ones.

Now that I'm just getting into espresso, I feel like it would be a shame to waste my nice beans on my lack of skills dialing in etc. On top of that, I buy light-medium roasted beans for filter coffee and I don't think I would enjoy those as espresso.

That being said, are there any supermarket brands that sell whole beans that would taste decent as straight espresso and/or in milk drinks (not even sure which I'll prefer at this point lol)?

I should point out that I'm extremely sensitive to bitterness.

Thanks in advance.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB
Posts: 13812
Joined: 19 years ago

#2: Post by another_jim »

All Arabica blends tend to be stale. Your best shot for getting your feet wet is an Italian blend with robusta, where staleness is a virtue. Lavazza is the most likely one you'll see in a supermarket. Amazon sells many of them at around $25 per kilo, which os $11 per pound.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6623
Joined: 19 years ago

#3: Post by Jeff »

If you don't enjoy bitterness, you're unlikely to enjoy a classic Italian blend, even from a top roaster in the style.

Learning to pull espresso on stale beans is an exercise in futility. Between problems with being able to build pressure and tasting off if you do get a good shot, I'd avoid it as false ecomomy.

I'd suggest a medium-ish blend from a reputable roaster, probably with a Brazilian base that will tend to have the classic chocolate and nuts flavors coming from the beans without needing a darker roast and its associated bitterness. I'm not well-versed in these coffees, but I have enjoyed George Howell's Alchemy in the past year. You can buy a larger bag, portion, and freeze to hit the shipping included level. Lots of threads on freezing. One of the easiest approaches is using small Mason-style jars, filled completely with beans.

Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster)
Posts: 41
Joined: 4 months ago

#4: Post by Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster) »

Are there any Lavazzas that aren't roasted very dark?

Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster)
Posts: 41
Joined: 4 months ago

#5: Post by Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster) »

That's a good point about learning on stale beans.

I've heard mixed opinions on freezing beans. Is there any way to avoid them collecting condensation when they're taken out of the freezer?

User avatar
baldheadracing
Team HB
Posts: 6175
Joined: 9 years ago

#6: Post by baldheadracing »

Fake Coffee Nerd wrote:I should point out that I'm extremely sensitive to bitterness.
Sugar will be your friend with supermarket - and very traditional Italian - roasts. A very, very little bit of salt will tame the bitterness that darker roasts must have; James Hoffmann even made a video adding salt to coffee.

I use the same roast for all prep methods, although I will use more developed roasts for milk drinks. (Steaming milk (properly) makes milk, and thus the milk drink, taste sweeter.)
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6623
Joined: 19 years ago

#7: Post by Jeff »

I portion into a week's worth or so and them in a resealable container on the countertop, out of sunlight and heat. When I remember, I'll put out the cold beans the night before and open them in the morning. Sometimes I forget.

mgwolf
Supporter ♡
Posts: 822
Joined: 18 years ago

#8: Post by mgwolf »

If you're near a Whole Foods, try La Colombe Nizza or Monaco, both medium roast comfort coffees.

Coffee_hound
Posts: 27
Joined: 1 year ago

#9: Post by Coffee_hound »

I think major brand Italian roasts can make good espresso and if you are making milk drinks I think the difference between fresh roast and traditional Italian blends is less noticeable.
If you search the site you will find a long thread from a couple years ago on best Italian blend that will give you good info on possible blends worth trying. For a smooth Northern Italian blend I thought Caffe Cartapani Cinquestelle was good. For the Lavazza blends Super Crema was my top choice though I prefer the Cinquestelle. Both are available on Amazon.

Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster)
Posts: 41
Joined: 4 months ago

#10: Post by Fake Coffee Nerd (original poster) replying to Coffee_hound »

Thanks for the suggestions. Does the Cinquestelle have a roast date on the bag? If so, how far off the roast date did you receive yours?