Trader Joe's Barista Espresso

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by roastaroma »

Though normally I don't use Trader Joe's coffees for espresso, these are not normal times -- and I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of their blends produces (for me) more than acceptable results. That is, if one ever has a hankering for a reverse-engineered Lavazza at a good price. TJ's Barista Espresso is a blend of whole Arabica beans from Central & South America & Cherry-A Robusta beans from India, which comes in a 13-oz. nitrogen flushed bag for $5.99.

While I'm no expert at tasting notes, one can expect hints of chocolate, nuts, caramel, and citrus, and yes, the beguiling burnt rubber that transports you back to Piazza San Marco or wherever you last had Italian espresso in situ. One detail on the bag might be misleading: I would not call it "light to medium roast" as it's closer to Full City, with traces of oil on the beans. Darker than Stumptown Hairbender, which I consider true medium. For $6 it's a deal. This blend is now in my regular rotation, esp. for cappuccinos -- a good change of pace from my usual 100% Arabica.
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#2: Post by espresso_newb »

More details please!
  • Dose
  • Brew Temp
  • Grind relative to Lavazza

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#3: Post by Pressino »

I just picked up a 13 oz bag of the stuff on a whim. At $5.99 I wasn't expecting too much and was very pleased with the result after I got it dialed in. Produces a full bodied creamy espresso with smokey hazelnut overtones that might or might not appeal to straight-up espresso drinkers, but which IMO made a very tasty Northern Italian cap. 17.5g into 2 ounce shot glass over about 35 seconds seems to work well. TJ's labels their coffee "Best By" and this one said 07/12/22, so who knows when it was roasted (might have been over 3 months ago), but doesn't taste at all stale, so kudos on the way they package it. :!:

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#4: Post by jfrescki »

Thanks for the post. Since I'm regularly at TJ's, it's certainly worth a try.
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#5: Post by Balthazar_B »

I figured for 6 bucks you couldn't hardly lose, and picked up a bag of TJBE yesterday. I brewed a couple of singles and a double this morning.

Few notes:
  • Compared to other medium-dark blends we've been drinking recently, this one requires a tighter grind at the same dosages (we use 8.3g for singles, 17g for doubles).
  • We pulled these as normales (approx 2-to-1 ratios) and had them in cappuccinos. As others have noted, they work well in milk drinks. Lever-pulled with temps in the low 191-194 F range.
  • In terms of flavor profile, this mimics very much any number of nutty-chocolatey coffees we've purchased and brewed at breakfast while traveling in Italy. Pleasant-tasting without any real defects, though nothing in the flavor profile that will knock your socks off, either. To be confirmed, but as a straight shot, it'll probably be like any number of autogrill espressos we've had on the road. In terms of comparison to American roasters, although it's been a very long time since we've had it, TJBE kind of reminds us of Nicoletti at its best (with the latter being pretty variable in quality, as we recall).
  • One thing to be aware of: TJBE has a *very* pronounced caffeine kick. Even more so than the various high-robusta Saka blends we've been drinking lately, and that's saying something. It's most definitely a mood elevator...
  • While this won't find a place in our regular rotation, assuming its flavor qualities remain predictable, it's good to know we can rely on it in a pinch.
TL;DR: Budget-minded folks who prefer darker roasts and require a strong jolt in their morning milk drinks should try this one out. At 6 bucks for 13oz, it's a bargain. At twice that it wouldn't be.
- John

LMWDP # 577


#6: Post by jrham12 »

Is this something they have in-store that is not listed on their website? I went to their website to see if my local TJ's carried it and couldn't find it...


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#7: Post by Balthazar_B »

They definitely stock it in-store in my area. Don't know if there are geographic variables on what TJ's carries where.

FWIW, at their online site, it's not listed as something avaailable at my nearby market. But they limit what they show to featured products (i.e., what they want to move out of inventory as quickly as possible). So you'll have to visit one of their stores to see whether it's on the shelf or not.
- John

LMWDP # 577

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#8: Post by MNate »

I saw some in our Minnesota TJs this week and grabbed one so I'll give it a go this week. It is nice to know of an emergency bean.

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#9: Post by mgwolf »

I looked for this recently at TJ's and found a different espresso blend (don't remember the name) which is 100% Arabica. It is fairly dark with oil on the beans, a bit harsh, and not bad as a cappuccino. It reminded me of generic Italian coffee. I also recently tried Wolf Coffee's Espresso Roast (in Sonoma, CA) which is also 100% Arabica and much better than TJ's (also costs more, LOL). Tasted Italian and is quite nice.

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#10: Post by Balthazar_B »

mgwolf wrote:I looked for this recently at TJ's and found a different espresso blend (don't remember the name) which is 100% Arabica.
One of their round canister blends?

Their Barista Espresso blend is packaged in a standard sealed 12 oz -- actually 369g -- coffee bag. IIRC, it was their only coffee product packaged that way, leading me to suspect that it's sourced from other than their standard channel. The roaster is not identified on the packaging, though, and would be interesting to know who it is. Wonder if it's from the same origin as Moreno Caffe Crema (an Aldi Nord espresso blend which is apparently an Arabica-Robusta blend). If so, TJ's is setting a nice markup, as Caffe Crema retails for just €8.69/kilo.

Would also be interesting to know the Robusta/Arabica proportions. Would guess as much as about 30-40% Robusta, judging from the aroma and caffeine kick, and experience from the various Saka blends we've been drinking.
- John

LMWDP # 577