Espresso Bean Recommendation

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.

#1: Post by danbo »

Hi all, I've been having a frustrating experience with my espresso lately so after many bags worth of sour espresso I'm coming to you guys, hat in hand, for some help.

I used to pull decent shots on my Gaggia Classic using a local roaster's beans. Then I moved across the country, sold my Gaggia, and lost my roaster. On arriving at the new place, I was quick to splurge on a nice, gently used Pasquini Livia G4 (same as Bezzera BZ13) and a Niche grinder to recreate some of the comforts of home.

That was two months ago now, and (pretty much) ever since then, I've been drinking sour, tastes like lemon, burns your tongue espresso. Okay, they're not all that bad but even my best pulls were on the brighter side, and with some beans I can't extract them nearly enough no matter what I do.

Now I'm relatively new to the espresso game, new to this machine, and new to the roasters in the area. What I want to do is reduce the number of variables I'm working with and figured I should start with a trusted/well-known bean that has brew instructions and reliable tasting notes so I can start to diagnose what's going on here.

So, all that said, I'm hoping ya'll can recommend a bean for me to try so I'm at least not questioning that. I'm in the Bay area but don't mind ordering online. I clearly am not a fan of the brighter espressos so I'm looking for something more in the sweet, chocolatey, nutty realm and ideally something that the espresso folks here are familiar with because I'm sure I'll be back for help dialing it in.


Beans I've tried (All were at most 1 week after roast when I bought them):
  • Verve Streetlevel - Tastes like lemon
  • Peet's (don't remember the name of the roast) - Really enjoyed the americano they served me, but could not get good espresso
  • Dana Street Roasting Espresso Blend - The first few days I got some decent pulls out of this but it was a lighter roast than I like and after the first few days
Changes I've Made:
  • Changed water between tap, distilled, and distilled w/ potassium bicarbonate
  • Backflushed the machine and cleaned the shower head with Cafiza - This seemed to make my symptoms worse
  • Adjusting indicated temp between 200-212
  • Played with grind setting until I was getting 45 + second pulls that were super bitter but still had the tell tale sourness

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#2: Post by Jeff »

I don't think it's your coffee.

Streetlevel never impressed me as a "bright" coffee and Peet's coffees tend to run dark to very dark.

Are you letting your machine heat up for 40 minutes or more before pulling shots? How are you managing the group temperature?

danbo (original poster)

#3: Post by danbo (original poster) »

I don't disagree that it's not the coffee, but I just wanted to start with that so I have a known good source and know what to expect in terms of taste.

I usually allow the machine to come up to temp for roughly 30 minutes (it has a heated group head with a recommended preheat time of 10-15 minutes), and don't have any flushing routine. I haven't measured my water at the group yet, but I ordered a ThermoPop last night after posting this with the intention of using the styrofoam cup method to try to get a reading.


#4: Post by tennisman03110 »

Red Bird Espresso. I've not had it, but it's often recommended for questions like yours.

chanty 77

#5: Post by chanty 77 »

I typically only drink medium to medium-dark roasts because that's my preference. I, at this time; own a Gaggia Classic espresso machine and a Vario grinder. I've found two roasts over the last number of months that seem to work well and have that chocolatey, smooth vibe. That would be Nossa Teodoro and Caffe Lusso GMC. Both, especially the Teodoro seems to be so forgiving. Now, I drink solely cappuccinos and have to have a flavor PUNCH coming out of the approximately 4oz. of steamed milk with thick froth on top. Teodoro is very reasonable at $30 for 2 lbs. and with code HBDEAL20, get 20% off, bringing it down to $24 for 2 lbs! Shipping costs might depend on what you order. I believe my 2 lbs. order will have a $8.15 shipping cost coming in a padded envelope. The 2 lbs. comes in one bag. These are two of my favorites thus far.


#6: Post by jmotzi »

danbo wrote:...I usually allow the machine to come up to temp for roughly 30 minutes (it has a heated group head with a recommended preheat time of 10-15 minutes), and don't have any flushing routine...
It's been a very long time since I had my Gaggia Classic, but I think I can remember :)

30 minute warmup should be good. Flush water until the heating light goes on. Put your portafilter in place and begin the shot just after the heating light goes out. This will give you the most consistency in temperature since you'll always be pulling the shot at full temperature..

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danbo (original poster)

#7: Post by danbo (original poster) »

jmotzi wrote:It's been a very long time since I had my Gaggia Classic, but I think I can remember :)
I actually had my Gaggia process down pretty well but I've since switched to this new machine (Pasquini Livia G4) which is one of the variables in the chain.

Hopefully being able to measure my water temperature will help rule out or confirm that issue

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#8: Post by jgood »

I believe it's a HX machine so I would look at the guidance in the "How To" section on Heat Exchangers.

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#9: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Artisan Quick Start Guide

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#10: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Actually they have quite a few. Try them all to compare.
Artisan Quick Start Guide