Three good beginner espressos please

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

#1: Post by signguy »

I'll be receiving my new espresso machine & grinder tomorrow. There are two coffee roasters in my town, so I'll definitely buy some of their beans. I'd also like to have a benchmark or two that I can use to compare the local beans to. I would welcome any & all suggestions on beans to buy over the internet.
1) Your dropdead best choice, possibly too expensive to brew every day. (kinda like Johnny Walker Blue Label)
2) Your every day brew, (more in the Dewars- Johnny Red class)

Thanks for the input.

John

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RegulatorJohnson

#2: Post by RegulatorJohnson »

hi .

you will get lots of suggestions.

but i think that starting out with a coffee you can get easily and also regularly is best. freshness is paramount so the local roaster is probably the best choice for now. use the same beans, notice how they change as they age/stale they will go through flavor changes as they age.

mail order costs lots of money and if you are learning you will learn more with the same beans over a long period of time as opposed to changing beans often.

later on as you become more skilled and learn your machine you can move on to other beans and know that the one pound you have of the ethiopian harar horse will not go to waste, not only that you will know that you have helped it reach its full potential.

if you just go and buy some spendy beans and waste most of them dialing in your tamp and machine, technique, etc. you may end up wasting a lot of those precious beans on sink shots that gush and chokers that dont even make a drop.

im not saying dont try the good stuff , im saying there is a lot to learn initially, as far as technique, using the same beans during this period will teach you more than using different beans during your initial learning curve.

thanks for your time.

jon
jon stovall
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lparsons21

#3: Post by lparsons21 »

Hi John,

I see in another thread that you've joined the 'Alex Revolution'! Good choice, I love mine.

Now to beans, I agree with all that has been said about it.

To add to that, when you've tried the local roaster and some on the internet, start reading about roasting your own. There are a few advantages to doing it.

1. You get to play with roast level. I tend to lighter roasts that emphasize the natural flavors of the particular bean over the roasted taste. Most roasters that I dealt with had a roast level that they preferred for a particular bean.

2. Green beans are very cheap compared to roasted. Figure about $5/lb average for great beans from a great source, maybe cheaper if you are willing to gamble on the beans.

3. It is easy to do. From dog bowl and heatgun to commercially produced home roasters, pricing from about zero to $700 and everything in between, all are easy and simple to learn and enjoy.

Do some reading at sweetmarias.com, an excellent source for roasting information and products.
Lloyd

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another_jim
Team HB

#4: Post by another_jim »

There's disagreements about the best way to start. Many people will tell you to concentrate on getting a consistent 27 to 30 second, 2 ounce, lots of crema shot, time after time, using just one coffee. I personally think this might be good for someone starting out as a barista in a cafe, but that it's pretty gradgrind for someone who wants to enjoy the coffee. I would advise using lots of coffees, making 10 and 60 seconds shots (this will happen pretty automatically as you adjust the grinder), tasting them all carefully, paying attention ot the colors, textures and flavors, and trying to make sense of the variations you get. Consistency is important; but it's more important to know what the possibilities are, and which one to aim for.
Jim Schulman

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HB
Admin

#5: Post by HB »

Only three? To avoid playing favorites, I'll pick one from each of the five HB sponsors: Counter Culture Coffee Toscano, Intelligentsia Coffee Kid O's Organic, Rocket Coffee Roasters Dark Star, Caffe Fresco Ambrosia, and Paradise Roasters Yirgacheffe. This forum's FAQs and Favorites points to other threads you may find interesting, e.g., Single Origin training wheels and Good coffees I've had recently.
Dan Kehn

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jesawdy

#6: Post by jesawdy »

HB wrote:Intelligentsia Coffee Kid O's Organic
Any reason for Kid O over Black Cat? I haven't tried Kid O yet, just finished my first pound of Black Cat, it didn't seem particularly fussy in any way.
Jeff Sawdy

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HB
Admin

#7: Post by HB »

Oh, they both are good choices, but I limited myself to one per roaster. :wink:
Dan Kehn

2xlp

#8: Post by 2xlp »

I'd go with Ambrosia from Caffe Fresco -- its rather forgiving on temp -- you can pull it a bit high or low and its still pretty good. Some of the other coffees mentioned need a bit more finesse in pulling right.

I also think the Dark Malinial SO from gimme coffee makes a good straight shot that is very forgiving to temp.

I'm going to strongly advocate you not home roast yet. Give it a year. Home roasting is fun and rewarding, but it introduces a ton of new variables on its own. Get exceedingly comfortable and proficient at pulling a shot, then think about home roasting. To add, beans cost ~ $5/lb green, but you lose ~25% mass. $5 for .77lb beans is still a good price -- but that + the energy cost + your time and there's no real savings per-pound : its a hobby and a fun one. But not a money saver.

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prof_stack
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#9: Post by prof_stack »

2xlp wrote:I'm going to strongly advocate you not home roast yet. Give it a year. Home roasting is fun and rewarding, but it introduces a ton of new variables on its own. Get exceedingly comfortable and proficient at pulling a shot, then think about home roasting. To add, beans cost ~ $5/lb green, but you lose ~25% mass. $5 for .77lb beans is still a good price -- but that + the energy cost + your time and there's no real savings per-pound : its a hobby and a fun one. But not a money saver.
I mostly agree with this. Roasting became my hobby two years ago after homebrewing beer for 20 years lost its hops and fizz, so to speak.

I lose 15-20% mass each roast, depending on how far I take it. Roasting is ridiculously easy and the freshness of the beans is the clincher. Start cheap with a hot-air popper and learn the craft from there, adding equipment and technique when you are comfortable to do so. Money saver? Probably not, but then buying a fancy espresso machine is not cheap...

You'll be hooked once you grind the beans for the first time. Its addictive, so watch out! :lol:
LMWDP #010

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edwa

#10: Post by edwa »

It looks like you've received a lot of wise advice.

I would add that by trying a variety of beans you should be able to dial in your taste preferences. An example would be your question of why Kid O over Black Cat. My tastes prefer the nuttier taste of Kid O to the dark chocolate of Black Cat. As mentioned earlier the downside is shipping costs, they add up. I've been really fortunate to find a roaster practically in my backyard who makes a Decaf that I love. West Coast Roasting's Decaf Espresso Torro (wcrcompany.com), although his Decaf is not listed yet on the website. I believe Coffeegeek did a write up on the roaster. Another local is Supreme Bean's Organic Dolce Terra. I hear Intelligentsia is soon opening a place in L.A. I'll have to wait and see if it costs any less to get them there though I suspect they'll still be roasted in Chicago (?).

I'm still going through the long list of roasters mentioned on this site but have been keeping a list of preferences to narrow the list of favorites. I can see how this would lead to wanting to better learn the attributes of individual beans and create your own blend. I figure one step at a time and the demands of life will draw the limit line.