Zzzzzz…. Sounds like someone needs an espresso coffee!
Espresso coffees are small, mighty coffees that provide a quick hit of caffeine. Knocks the socks of Red Bull and a whole lot more delicious, we’d say.
But espresso coffee isn’t all high-kicking and fist-punching. It is also an art, and a very beautiful one too. Thick and syrupy with a bubble-flecked crema, espresso is the height of Italian sophistication. Espresso can sound daunting, but don’t panic; it’s just another way of preparing coffee.
What is an espresso?
But what is an espresso? Put simply, an espresso is a small cup of coffee made under high pressure. The frothy crema is key, too; no good espresso exists without a biscotti-coloured crema crowning its top.
Espressos are the genesis of most coffee shop staples. From lattes and cappuccinos to a liqueur-kissed corretto, most good coffees start with a top-tasting espresso.
Or start a bit before, to be precise. Because no top-tasting espresso can be top without good beans. Beans that are roasted right and ground to perfection. Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at the best coffee to use for your espresso!
So much more than ‘strong’
Take a contemplative sip of an espresso, and you won’t just look jaw-droppingly cool. You will also experience a playground of flavour that goes way beyond strength. Your espresso will be concentrated and intense, with a maple syrup-like body thick from all the natural coffee oils. There should be a hint of intensity and a lingering, oh-so-sweet aftertaste, too.
Seriously, it defines science that something so small can pack this much flavour!
What is the best roast for espresso?
Two answers here.
First: whatever takes your fancy
Second: medium/dark is a great way to go
Medium/dark coffees are ideal for espresso coffee. They spend slightly longer in the roaster so have more of their natural acidity roasted away, which helps your little cup find its balance. Darker roasts also pair better with milk and are perfectly suited to lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites. Creamy milk with the caramelly, chocolaty nuttiness of a dark roast? Yes please!
Another dark roast plus-point: they are often seen as being a bit easier to work with. Beans that spend longer in the roaster are more soluble and dissolve more easily in your hot water.
In no way, shape or form are we putting an ‘out-of-bounds’ banner over light roasts. Try a lighter roast in an espresso and you will find floral flavours still dancing with the character of the original bean. Just bear in mind that you will need less water if you’re trying a light roast in your espresso. Remember what we said about darker roasted beans being more soluble? Well, light roasts are – you guessed it! – less soluble. Why? It’s because the beans spend less time in the roaster and so maintain more of their natural moisture. This makes them denser and less porous, and thirsty for a splash more water.
Espresso Roast: what’s it all about?
You might have heard coffee geeks natter on about ‘espresso roasts‘. This might sound techie, but it’s easy to understand. Contrary to what many people think, espresso roast isn’t a specific sort of coffee bean. The beans used are exactly the same: it’s the roasting that’s different. But not all that different. An espresso roast is simply a roast recipe that roasts beans often darker or for longer, so they’re just right for espresso. This creates a more soluble coffee that extracts quickly and helps you to steer clear of sour flavours.
You can use espresso roasts in other brew devices, too. Just remember that pre-ground espresso roasts will be ground specifically for espresso. Don’t go putting powdery espresso grounds in your V60!
What kind of grind?
If you’re thinking, whoa, slow down, you lost me there, then don’t fret. Grinding is easy to get your head around.
It’s super important that you get the right grind size for your device. Each device needs a slightly different grind size, with an espresso machine taking the least coarse. We’d recommend grinding like soft sugar as this gives the coffee more surface area and allows more water to come into contact with the grounds. Water then runs through the grounds at the right speed. If the grounds are too coarse, water will flood through the gaps, and your espresso will taste under-extracted and sour. If the grinds are to fine, the opposite will occur; bitter and burnt tasting over-extracted-ness!
Let’s see some coffee!
Our Two Chimps range includes hand-roasted ethical coffees just calling for a mini espresso cup! Take Canoeing in a Cornish Pasty, for instance; its caramel sweetness and marmalade zing are just right for espresso brewing. Or, if it’s decaf you’re after, take a sip of The Waving Goldfish. We can’t get enough of its smooth, biscuity loveliness!
There you have it: ground and gorgeous! Now, we’d say it’s caffè espresso time…
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