Monday, April 16, 2007

Espresso Coffee

I'm a real fan of espresso coffee.

That can sometimes be a problem living in Cushing, Oklahoma. In this part of the country people like their coffee weak, tepid, and flavorless. The local grocery store does sell one type of espresso -- a Folger's premium type coffee. It's actually not all that bad but lacks that strong bitter/sweet flavor of a good espresso coffee. And, I can't help but think "I'm drinking Folger's" when I drink it.

It would probably help is I had a good espresso machine. I have one that does the job, but just barely. It's a Mr. Coffee Espresso Coffee Machine that I got at Wal-Mart for something under $30.

When I first moved to Cushing there was one coffee shop that served espresso. But they refused to brew shots. A shot is an ounce or ounce and a half. They had an espresso machine that was set up push 8 oz of water through a scoop of ground coffee. Once it's been diluted that badly there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

I can get some decent espresso whenever I visit Stillwater or Tulsa, I'm not far from either of them. But my car broke down and I'm not going to be going to either place for a while and was running out of coffee. So I ordered some Sultan Turkish Coffee at Amazon. $24 for a pack of three 14 oz cans, with free shipping if you buy something else to get the cost over $25. You can also by one can of it at Amazon, for $7 plus shipping. The one can purchase is through Sultan's so it doesn't qualify for the free shippin. You end up paying an extra $1 a can for the free shipping.

I havn't opened the can yet to see if it's really a Turkish grind. Turkish grind is even finer than an espresso grind and I think makes even better espresso coffee than your typical espresso roast and grind. We'll see if this brand comes through for me soon, when I run out of that old Folger's Expresso Coffee and I open a can of the Sultan's.

Some other posts on espresso coffee.

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4 Comments:

Blogger J Gibby said...

If your goal is a quality cup of home espresso, you'll never achieve it with a Mr Coffee espresso maker and a can of pre-ground coffee.

There are two key elements to a good home cup of espresso: a good espresso maker, and good beans. Both of which are going to cost you. But, if you love coffee, it's worth it.

Mr. Coffee style espresso makers really only make a strong cup of drip coffee. They can't generate the steam and pressure needed to make real espresso.

A good espresso maker will cost you around $500 (CAN) A key indicator of it's quality will be it's weight. The machine itself will be heavy and the handle where you put the coffee will be heavy. It'll have a good sized resevoir for water. (Both for making coffee or steaming milk for cappucino, if your into that)

Italy seems to make good espresso makers. I had a Saeco until i blew out the pump (read the instructions). Weighed something like 20lbs. Made an astonishingly good cup of espresso with a nice crema (the thin layer of foam on the espresso--another key indicator of quality.)

But it's all for naught if you're using crappy coffee. Anything cheap and out of a tin will taste like it's cheap and out of a tin. When i was trying to reduce my monthly nut, I did try some of the more expensive tins, and they can be passable. In the end i decided it just wasn't worth it.

Buy whole beans and grind it yourself as you need it. Ten bucks for a spice grinder. I'm a lazy fuck and I find it quicker, less messy than spooning out pre-ground coffee.

Look for the darkest roast bean that you can find. I've done the gamut here, from cheap grocery store packaged whole beans, to specialty coffee shops, fair market coffee shops, even places that roasted their own green beans. In the end, even the cheapest whole bean at the grocery store will beat a tin of Premium Folgers.

I've settled for Starbucks Italian Roast. ($10.45/lb online) It's vacuum packed so you don't have to worry how long it's been sitting in the bin and you can stock up on it to keep at home without it going stale. You can even buy it online (although the cheapest shipping costs are $6).

Whatever you may think of their hegemony over the coffee market, they sell good beans, with the darkest roast i've found. The Italian roast is bold, but with a hint less bitterness of the French or Espresso roast.

Even in your mister coffee (or a filter drip coffee maker) you'll find the difference dramatic. Just don't be skimpy with the coffee.

Turkish coffee is a whole other animal. It is a finer grind, but it's not meant to be filtered. You cook it in the water with sugar and cardamom and drink it grinds and all (after it's settled, of course. Sort of like cowboy coffee with a turban.) I've never tried it for espresso. (It comes in a tin.)

Oh, and water. If you've got crappy local water, get a cheap water filter. It actually does make a difference.

I could go on but my comment is now longer than your post. Good luck in your search for the perfect cup of espresso.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

Thanks.

I used to use a grinder, long ago I used a french drip pot and used to grind coffee myself, very fine.

I still have it, but I've missplaced it since my last move.

Somehow I just can't make myself fork over the dollars for a serious machine though, although I know getting the steam at the right pressure and all is important.

You can tell the Mr. Coffee has serious problems just becuase the coffee comes out lukewarm. I like drinking it lukewarm anyway, but know the steam should be retaining it's heat better than that.

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