Espresso

So a buddy of mine gave me his espresso maker. Though it’s nothing like Chris, er, Dr. Tilling’s machine (we can’t all live high on the hog!), it should do the trick.

I do not yet have a conical burr grinder, which I’ve been told is the way to go, so I’ll have to go pre-ground (all you purists will just have to cringe or stop reading!).

Any suggestions on what pre-ground espresso makes a decent shot? Keep in mind, if I am going to buy/maintain an iPhone I can’t afford high-dollar espresso! I’m not looking for great espresso, just decent. I’ll add enough milk and sugar to cover any imperfections (hopefully!).

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

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12 thoughts on “Espresso

  1. You really need fresh beans to make good espresso and you need to play with the grind to get it right for your machine and even the ambient temp and humidity. I would at least buy some from a good local roaster who is willing to grind (although they’ll cringe). You”ll have good espresso for a day or maybe two anyway. I know your standards aren’t high but it’s pretty dreadful with stale coffee (anything that’s been ground for more than a day). It’s strong drink and magnifies everything.
    Jeff

  2. Jeff: I know–freshly-ground beans make the difference. Whenever I get a grinder, I’ll keep some on hand. For now, however, I just want some decent grounds to get the hang of making espresso.

    “I know your standards aren’t high” — 🙂

  3. Hey Jason – glad to hear you’re hoping for some good espresso 🙂 But I agree with Jeff – get some from a local roaster, or else from a local cafe that uses beans from a good roaster – personally I wouldn’t bother attempting espresso with ground coffee from a supermarket! 🙂

  4. Matthew: Hoping is the key word! 😉 If I were to buy some freshly ground beans from a roaster, and they only last a day or two, wouldn’t that be a waste? If it’s a few days old, does it really make it that bad?

  5. Coffee purest please don’t read. Just grind enough beans to last 5 days, and make your espresso. That’s what I do, I don’t own a coffee grinder I bought an iPad instead. Check out stomptowncoffee.com they will mail you top of the line coffee beans, and even grind them for you if you like.

  6. Hmm… well you’re right that conical burr grinders are the way to go, but you could always go for a cheap blade-grinder as an interim measure – they can still do an okay job, and I’m sure you could get one for just a few dollars on ebay

  7. Jason, these guys have way to high of standards for coffee/espresso! I used to just put the espresso they sold at Wal-Mart in there and it got the job done. I have drank espresso from a lot of different coffee shops and I have never had it taste good… some were just more tolerable than others. However, if you need to know a place in the Metroplex to buy really good coffee/espresso beans, find your nearest Whole Foods Market. I went to one in Dallas, but I can’t remember exactly where it was. They have a huge selection of beans and you can grind them in the store. By the way, don’t look at anything else when you go in that supermarket… it is meant for rich people, not seminary students!

  8. Brian: Yes, they do! 😉 I plan to go the purist route once I get the equipment, but for now, it’s going to be what I can afford! And, I’ve never set foot in a Whole Foods Market. I could feel the gazes of the more affluent looking down upon me from outside! 🙂

  9. Jason, in your situation I would look into getting either a Hario Skerton Hand-crank Coffee Mill or a vintage Zassenhaus (since the company went bankrupt and was sold the quality hasn’t been the same). Both of these grinders use a burr set to grind the coffee (which provides greater consistency), opposed to the whirly blade which makes a terribly uneven grind. I can choke out my espresso machine with the finest setting on my Zassenhaus, so it is more than capable of grinding for an espresso machine. The Hario retails for 38.00 at Sweet Maria’s (which is also a great place to get unroasted/green beans). It takes alot of elbow grease, but it is the best alternative on a budget, and in my opinion it is a better alternative than buying pre-ground coffee.

    I may have written something on this over at my blog (I have several posts related to roasting, latte art, etc). If you are interested search “coffee” on my site.

    Cheers!

  10. Adam: Thanks for the info. I still don’t know what I want to do, because it seems that for the most part quality espresso (made at home anyway) is an investment. I would like to get the hang of it before I pour a lot of money into it. I am sure many would say that until you invest in good equipment and beans, you won’t know what good espresso is!

  11. Jason, you’re welcome. I hear you, and it can get to be an expensive hobby (just ask my wife). I went down the espresso rabbit hole many years ago, and I can’t go back now. The only problem is that it will be difficult to get the hang of espresso preparation until you put a burr grinder into the equation. The hand crank grinders are the fairly inexpensive, and really do a very nice job (better than most electric grinder 3 times their cost). What kind of machine do you have?

    I also found that roasting my own has been a great cost-saving experience. I use a metal mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, and a heat gun (total cost 35 bucks). Green coffee is usually about $5 a lb, and you can’t get much fresher (or cheaper) than something that you roasted yourself.

    Good luck with your coffee quest!

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