Do I need to restrict myself to beans marked ESPRESSO

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

Hello, this question might seem easy, but after all my research ive never gotten a clear answer. I have found a lot of conflicting information tho. When buying beans, do i need to buy espresso beans? or can i use regular coffee beans? Is consensus just too ignore the espresso marking on the package? Or will beans not branded espresso make an bad espresso?

Thanks very much!

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#2: Post by another_jim »

The basic fact is that espresso exaggerates the extreme sour and bitter flavors at the expense of sweet, baked, and caramel flavors. Many espresso blends counteract this by emphasizing these "midrange flavors."

You can also emphasize the midrange flavors in the shot preparation by using techniques that create very high extractions -- fine grinds, lungo shots, stable shot temperatures, long preinfusions. These techniques require added skills and high end equipment.

Finally, people's tolerance for extreme flavors varies.

The best way is to experiment by trying a variety of coffees to see which work best for your taste. Especially, taste your way through the entire spectrum by trying some very mild, old school Italian espresso blends with robustas, some very "edgy" lighter roasted third wave (aka Scandinavian) coffees, and some more traditional, medium roasted high end specific espresso blends for middle of the road shots.
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#3: Post by Nunas »

Not really an oddball question at all. When I started out I had the same thoughts. First, there is no such thing as an espresso roast or even espresso beans. Nobody agrees on all the names for roasts, but most will agree that 'espresso' isn't one of them. As for the beans, you'll not find a variety called 'espresso'. There is such a thing as a blend intended for or best for espresso...most of the major sellers have them. Also, some SO (single origin) beans are recommended for espresso. But you can use nearly anything...try a bunch and settle on what you like. Espresso is a process for making coffee called espresso (and there are variations), which in turn can be drunk as is (espresso) or used as a base for other drinks. Traditional espresso is made from dark roast beans often labeled Italian or French. But, the trend has moved towards lighter roasts, some call third wave. I don't know what second wave was :lol:

Have a look on Sweet Marias web site; they used to have some information about this. Also, they used to (and probably still do) indicate what beans are more suitable for espresso. Likewise, if you go to Bruman Coffee Traders site and look at the tasting notes for each of the green beans, you'll see descriptions like, 'this bean would be good as an SO for espresso', or 'this bean would be good in an espresso blend'. In the roasting notes if they say it is best as a light roast, then chances are it isn't best for making espresso. But, often they will say something like 'roasted light it is good for a morning cup while roaster darker it would make a good espresso'. You may not be roasting, but if you look at what beans are recommended for what use, you'll begin to get the idea.

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#4: Post by brianl »

I would first master medium/dark roasts before moving on to light roasts. I started with lights and it made everything so much harder. They don't need to say espresso, just be a nice deep brown color. Otherwise, what Jim says is spot on.

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#5: Post by Samcanadian replying to brianl »

This is the best advice I've seen so far in regards to making the jump to lighter bean espresso shots. Anything you thought you nailed with your medium-dark roasts will need to be honed in the further you get up the scale. This is true with my equipment anyway, and I find that I might just have to settle for the middle of the road mediums (that luckily I prefer anyway) in my daily routine until I upgrade equipment.

It's a fascinating hobby. I'm only several months in and I'm already starting to take a bit of pride in the output from my humble equipment.

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#6: Post by CwD »

I think something nice about the cliff-like learning curve of ultra light SO espresso is that you don't fall into bad habits with shot prep that'd make enjoyable but sub-optimal espresso with more easily extractable beans but get you nowhere fast on the most difficult to work with ones. Really forces you to do everything right when you won't be forgiven for skimping on a step.