Bean Selection For Making Espresso.

Published: 18th January 2012
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When it comes to espresso coffee making there are several important factors; the grinder, the type and quality of espresso coffee maker and the technique used by the operator/barista. That being said there is no one factor more important than the selection of the coffee beans which are used in the brewing process. Here we will discuss the different species of beans and how to select a blend. This will enable those espresso coffee makers at home to develope the same quality drink or even better than they may find at their local coffee house.
The first requirement for an amazing shot of espresso is the freshness of the beans. The key here is to find a roaster who is nearby and roasts daily or to find one on line who will deliver or ship the day of or the day after roasting. Only buy enough beans to last for a maximum of two weeks and grind them as needed on a per cup basis. Grinding a pound of coffee ahead of time completely defeats the purpose of buying the freshest roasted beans available. Unused beans must also be stored in an air tight container that is UV protected.
There are three species of coffee beans and they are the Arabica, Robusta and Liberica.
Accounting for seventy five percent of the world useage the arbica is considered the highest quality and most desirable. The Arabica bean comes from many regions around the world and is known for its mild yet rich flavors which vary from region to region. It also delivers great aroma and body.
The Robusta which is used primarily for drip and instant types of coffee is more intense and has what some would say is a very undesireable bitterness. The premium or highest quality Robusta beans are also used in blends with the Arabica. These beans have approximately twice the amount of caffeine as the Arabica and when blended enhance the production of crema along with a caffeine jolt. In these blends the amount of Robusta is usually kept below twenty percent.
The last bean variety is the Liberica. It is very similar to the Robusta in quality and characteristics and very limited in usage relative to the Arabica and the Robusta.
The blending of coffee is really where one can acquire all the characteristics desired to meet your individual taste. In order to select the perfect blend it is recommended that one first chooses a base and starts by sampling single origin Arabica beans. These beans should be sampled from the various roasters and regions around the world until you have found the one that suits you best. Although these are beans of the same species the characteristics (flavor, acidity, aroma and body) vary greatly from roaster to roaster and region to region.
Once you have chosen your base you can determine what characteristic may be missing and begin the blending process. With the help of your roaster and his knowledge of the products he carries you can choose an additional bean to add to the mix. Try several combinations while keeping notes along the way until you reach your perfect cup. By starting with a base and adding only one new bean variety (beans from a different origin) at a time you can monitor the effect of each change. Blends can have from two to seven different varieties but many feel that anything over five is pressing the limit. Donít be afraid trying some Robusta just make sure it is premium quality and also keep the percentage down.
It may seem like a major endeavor but the end results will definetly be worth it. Not only will you enjoy many different espresso coffees along the way you will ultimately have your own personal blend with your signature on it. Once you have perfected your blend and enjoy it for awhile you may be surprised to find that you want to start over and create another masterpiece. Now you have another creation to enjoy and share with family and friends.
Assuming you have a quality grinder, an espresso maker and are now using your perfect blend, about the only thing left for the espresso coffee makers at home is to try your hand at roasting. We will be covering this in a future article.

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