Espresso roast is a common sight on the shelves of coffee retailers everywhere, but is there anything to these magic beans that make them suited only to the production of espresso?
Well, as any hardcore coffee enthusiast is well aware, there’s nothing in the beans that makes them “espresso beans” particularly, they could be used just as well to make regular coffee. The term espresso does not refer to any particular bean or roasting profile necessarily, it is all in the technique of making it, but there are certainly properties associated with certain beans that make them popular with espresso drinkers.
Espresso is usually taken without milk and sweetener, so any bitterness will be blatant and so usually the darker roasts are used, as they are generally sweeter if brewed correctly. It is usually the highest quality beans that go into an espresso too, as inferiority manifests itself more obviously in a little shot of the strong stuff than in a cup of drip coffee made with cream and sugar.
Unfortunately there are companies that put together espresso roasts as a marketing ploy, so the integrity of the place you’re getting the beans from is key to working out what you’re getting. If you trust your dealer, then the espresso roast may well be an interesting blend put together with thought and care, but if you’re getting it anywhere other than a reputable coffee seller, you might well be disappointed.
While it is possible that the blend in a bag labelled ‘espresso roast’ is a blend of high quality beans selected for their flavor and properties, it is more likely that it contains a mixture of cheap beans with the high quality ones, giving bad espresso and only there to beef up the shelf space of that particular brand.
To keep this to a minimum, try to buy your coffee from people you trust, although the people you trust most likely won’t even sell anything labelled in such a way and many of them will be roasting the beans in house anyway.
It would be remiss to write about what doesn’t get you a good espresso without giving you some tips on what else to look for.
Firstly, the most important thing to look for when buying any beans is freshness. If you’re buying old coffee, you’re losing quality, so check the dates on the packet, a coffee producer selling fresh beans is one who knows what it’s doing. Usually with espresso you’re looking for dark Arabica roasts that are shiny, not dull, and a little oily. Many roasters will stamp the date the beans were roasted right on the bag so you know it’s fresh.
There are regional differences though, and although you’ll get a dark roast in California, on the East Coast you’ll often get light roast espressos and in Italy they generally prefer medium roast, so don’t be afraid to experiment, you might find you just happen to live in the wrong area for your coffee tastes – but don’t worry, good espresso is worth emigrating for.
Gathering Grounds Cafe 116 S 11th St. Klamath Falls, OR 97601 541-887-8403