Delicious Espresso Starts with the Bean – Choosing the Right Coffee Beans

So, you know how to make an espresso with your moka pot, but what kind of coffee beans do you use?

Let’s be sure to eliminate an assumption that I had for longer than I’d like to admit… There is no such thing as an “Espresso Bean, Espresso Roast or Espresso Blend.” There are specific roasts and blends that might be a better fit for making espresso, but to those companies that advertise “Espresso Beans”, shame on them.

Alright. Now that we have that out of the way. Here is some background on how to choose quality coffee beans to use with your stovetop espresso maker.

The first and most important characteristic to consider is freshness. It does not matter if you are buying pre-ground beans in a can, pre-ground beans in a bag or whole beans. Try to buy the freshest coffee possible.

Pre-Ground or Whole Beans

A delicious cup of espresso starts with grinding your own beans. By grinding the beans immediately before use (or even a couple days before), you’ll preserve the finer nuances of flavor within the beans. After the beans are ground, they rapidly lose their quality. (I will talk about grinders in a future posting.)

Daily grinding definitely is not for everyone. Heck, grinding is messy, the grinders can be expensive, they are noisy and it’s one more gadget to take up space in the pantry. For some people (sometimes myself included), it is worth going through the extra work. For the less obsessed and more reasonable people of the world, there’s pre-ground beans.

A great cup of espresso can be had from pre-ground beans as long as you make a little extra effort to preserve the freshness (there’s that word again). A clean, airtight container will keep pre-ground coffee beans fresh for about a week – two weeks is pushing it.

“But I keep my coffee in the fridge. That definitely preserves the freshness for 3 or 4 weeks.”

Nope, don’t fool yourself. I’ve tried the fridge, the freezer, those vacuum-sealers and always come to the same conclusion – 2 weeks tops. If you are a casual espresso drinker, I suggest buying half-pound quantities of whole beans and asking the store where you bought them to grind the beans for you. You will pay a little bit more, but you will always be using fresh espresso beans.

Arabica, Robusta, Medium Roast, Dark Roast – Huh???

Everyone has a different preference when it comes to the bean they prefer their espresso made with. A friend of mine only uses medium-roasted beans with his pump-espresso machine and dark-roasted beans in his stovetop espresso maker.  The more espresso you drink, the more your preferences will develop.

My suggestion?

Start with a Medium-Roasted Arabica bean. This bean has a very nice, complex flavor to it. Try to determine what you like about the flavor and what flavors you’d like more of. Prefer a little bit more acidity? Buy a lighter roasted bean next. Want a bolder flavor? Go for the dark-roast.

Have a preferred coffee bean for your espressos?  Leave a comment telling us what you enjoy.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>