Understanding Espresso Beans
Many people that are just beginning to explore the world of gourmet coffees and espresso beans, make the mistake of thinking that they must seek out coffee beans specifically labeled as "espresso" beans in order to brew a proper cappuccino or espresso beverage. The fact of the matter is that any type of bean can be used to brew a pot or cup of espresso, and it simply depends upon the preferences of the individual as to which type to choose.
To begin to understand espresso beans it is important to understand coffee beans on the whole. The vast majority of coffee beverages consumed each day are the result of the beans which are the heart of the berries on coffee plants. These are picked and then shipped in their “green” stages to a roaster who will then roast them for a variety of time spans to create the distinct coffee flavors.
The longer the roasting period the darker the resulting coffee is going to be, but someone making a pot of espresso could actually use a light roasted coffee if desired. Today, many people choose the “French” or dark roasts for their espresso drinks, and this is because they want a much more potent flavor, but it is entirely a matter of personal preference or taste.
The thing about espresso beans, or any beans used for espresso, is that they must be very finely ground in order to generate the best results. This is because most methods for making espresso use pressure to force water through the ground coffee, and this means that it must be “tamped” into the filter where the water being forced through will get the great flavor and leave the bitterness behind.
The grinding of espresso or coffee beans is something that is often taken for granted, but it can actually become a “make or break” moment for a bag of great beans. Why? Because the cones used to grind coffee can often come into a lot of friction with the beans they are grinding, they can then create enough heat to destroy the oils in the beans. It is the oils that give the coffee its wonderful aroma and flavor, and for this reason anyone hoping to make superior cups of espresso should ensure that very limited amounts of heat occur when grinding their beans.
So, after a cook has determined the beans and roast they want, and found a good way to finely grind their beans without a lot of excess heat created, they must then determine how they want to use the beans to make their coffee. Modern cooks have two primary choices – they can use an electronic machine that can create a large amount of espresso coffee, or they can use a traditional stove top moka pot to make their espresso. The thing to remember about the brewing is that most processes should require only one tablespoon of ground coffee to create a one to two ounce cup of better coffee. If the method used is not producing the desired results it is usually a simple matter of selecting a different espresso bean or roast and trying again.
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