THE BREW DOG BLOG
What Makes A Coffee Good For Espresso?
Often I have customers buying coffee ask for my recommendation based off their brew method. If they don’t ask, I will inquire as to the brew method in use and their personal taste in coffee for myself, so I might pick the best coffee I can.
Pour over, french press, espresso; all of these methods will make the same coffee sing in a different way, and any coffee could be used for any method. In my opinion, there isn’t really any coffee that is specifically a ‘pour over coffee’ or an ‘espresso coffee’ in thus case. With some skill and the right tools, any coffee can be brewed any way with great tasting results (results of which may vary depending on the quality of coffee used).
Now, it is true that some coffee’s will present in subjectively, maybe even objectively, better ways when brewed via certain methods, and we’ll get into that below.
Certain areas of the world tend to produce coffees that have similar flavor profiles. For instance, Ethiopian coffees tend to have very fruit forward and acidic profiles, while Indonesian coffees usually have chocolate and nut forward flavors.
Immediately one might think the Indonesian coffee would be better for espresso, due to it’s heavier profile and chocolaty taste. While not wrong, on the other hand the Ethiopian coffee would present an experience just as valid, and a whole lot more wild.
The Indonesian might reminisce of a more ‘traditional’ coffee taste, while the Ethiopian will be more tea like, perhaps, or tropical even. Personally I would prefer the Ethiopian, yet many would differ for perfect valid reasons.
In the case of latte’s, however, anything bigger than about eight ounces will start to mask the intricacies of the Ethiopian espresso. The Indonesian will most likely still be quite noticeable up to about twelve ounces. Adding extra shots will always help, but again the Indonesian coffee will most likely be more present in any quantity of milk.
If we’re talking drip coffee and pour overs, that’s rather subjective. Personally, I find heavy bodied, more developed coffees (with profiles like a typical Indonesian) to be very enjoyable on drip/filter coffee, but less so with manual brews like pour overs; in the case of pour overs I’ll take the Ethiopian over the Indonesian just about every single time.
As for straight espresso? Again, that’s rather subjective. A lot of people love the more traditional taste of coffee, that being the ‘strong’, bold, and dark flavor profile coffee is so well known for.
In recent years, however, larger amounts of people are discovering the other world coffee has to offer. This world is bright, flavorful, and intricate, full of wild tastes and experiences usually found only in more exotic coffees and processes.
If open to new experiences, coffee will showcase vibrant wine and tea like profiles, reminiscent of favors like Pino Noir, bergamot, sassafras, litchi and more.
So, What You’re Saying is…?
Basically, it’s up to you to decide what makes a coffee good for espresso. There is so specific ‘espresso coffee’. If you love the sparkle of bright acidity and punchy flavors, then finding that light roast single origin is exactly what you’re looking for.
But if you want an easy drinking, comforting sip of chocolate and vanilla tobacco, then that heavier, more developed coffee or blend will satiate in the best way possible.
Coffee is one of the most complex foods we have on the planet, which leads me to believe that perfect cup is out there, simply waiting to be found.