Espressos

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: Taiwan Roasters

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: Taiwan Roasters

When we put out our call for classic espresso blends for our June 2019 report, we were not prepared for the overwhelming response: We received 54 samples from roasters based in North America and 46 from roasters based in Asia, all in Taiwan. The magnitude of the response was, perhaps, due to our openness. We […]

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: North American Roasters

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: North American Roasters

Once a year, we ask roasters to submit coffees roasted for espresso for a special tasting with an outside lab partner, always focused around a specific theme. In recent years, we’ve covered natural-process and single-origin espresso from the Americas; in 2015, we reported on “open-source” espresso blends, documenting the growing trend of openly revealing blend […]

Natural-Process Espressos: Fruit and Chocolate Exalted

Natural-Process Espressos: Fruit and Chocolate Exalted

I recently led a tasting of fine coffees at a consumer event. Only one of these coffees was natural-processed, i.e., had been prepared at the mill by drying the coffee seeds or beans inside the whole fruit. The other samples were all washed coffees, processed by drying the beans after the fruit skin and flesh […]

New-World Espressos: Single-Origin Espressos from the Americas

New-World Espressos: Single-Origin Espressos from the Americas

We were not sure what to expect when we scheduled this month’s tasting of single-origin espressos from coffees grown in the New World (meaning coffees from the Americas rather than from Africa or the Pacific). Would we receive a run of light-roasted, brightly acidy, perhaps sharp espressos of the style that seems to have become […]

By November 3, 2016 |Reviews Tasting Report
Open Source Espresso Blends

Open Source Espresso Blends

With this espresso tasting we focus on what appears to be a new trend in espresso blending – the open disclosure to customer and competitor of the identity of the specific green coffees that compose a blend, as opposed to the deliberate secrecy around blending that has prevailed in the coffee industry for decades. The […]

Three New Capsule Espresso Systems

Three New Capsule Espresso Systems

Convenience-first single-serve coffee brewing devices are on a roll in North America, fueled by the success of the Keurig and its K-cup capsules. In Europe, where espresso rules, the Nespresso espresso system has had similar blockbuster success. Both systems use rigid capsules rather than tea-bag-like paper pods that characterized earlier (and less commercially successful) single-serve […]

Lighter and Brighter: Single-Origin Espressos

Lighter and Brighter: Single-Origin Espressos

Coffees from a single farm or cooperative roasted for espresso preparation – aka “single-origin” or simply “SO” espressos – are now a familiar presence on high-end coffee menus and counters in North America, and in many East Asian countries as well. But it was not so long ago that the argument ran that a single […]

Single-Origin Espressos

Single-Origin Espressos

The practice of roasting a coffee from a single farm or cooperative for espresso brewing is a tactic that appears to be carrying the day at the higher end of the North American specialty coffee world. The old argument against single-origin espressos and in favor of blends ran: Put a single, unblended coffee under the […]

Tall-Drink Espressos: Best Blends for Big Milk

Tall-Drink Espressos: Best Blends for Big Milk

One old-time coffee generalization certainly got shot down by this month’s reviews: the notion that the way to get pronounced espresso flavor in large (i.e. caffè latte-sized) volumes of hot milk is to roast the hell out of the coffees. The idea used to be that the burned pungency of darker roasted coffees would cut […]

By September 2, 2010 |Reviews Tasting Report
American Espresso Blends: Boutique and Bigger

American Espresso Blends: Boutique and Bigger

Specialty espresso is currently in the throes of a creative explosion. I think of it as “post-Italian” espresso, a dynamic community of baristas, blender/roasters and motivated aficionados remaking espresso as a global connoisseur’s beverage with passionately contested barista competitions, non-traditional brewing innovations, and freshly conceived blend designs. The goal of this month’s tasting reviews was […]

Convenience First: Espresso Pods and Capsules

Convenience First: Espresso Pods and Capsules

It is no surprise that over the last decade the more moneyed elements of the coffee industry have been trying to figure out how to simplify espresso brewing to the point that a consumer can produce a properly rich, smooth-tasting espresso shot without struggling through a complicated process that can be as daunting as upgrading […]

By January 19, 2009 |Reviews Tasting Report
Single-Origin Espressos 2008

Single-Origin Espressos 2008

Those new to espresso connoisseurship may be surprised to learn that producing this dense, aromatic beverage from coffee of a single origin rather than from a blend of coffees from different origins is a mildly controversial practice. Traditionalists argue that the espresso system extracts flavor-bearing components from coffee so efficiently that a single coffee from […]

Italy Seen from America: Nine (Genuine) Italian and Three American Espressos

Italy Seen from America: Nine (Genuine) Italian and Three American Espressos

Italians must both wonder and cringe when they observe the amazing globe-trotting journey of espresso, a beverage system so quintessentially (and once so exclusively) Italian. Setting aside the implied stereotype that associates Italian-Americans with gangsters, the scene in an early episode of The Sopranos in which Silvio encounters a Starbucks-style espresso bar for the first […]

Better Than You Think: Decaffeinated Espressos

Better Than You Think: Decaffeinated Espressos

The term “decaffeinated espresso” gets even more snickers from coffee insiders than do allusions to ordinary decaffeinated coffee. The assumption seems to be that espresso is such a strong intensification of coffee-ness that drinking a decaffeinated version of it is a particularly perverse contradiction. In fact, decaffeination and espresso can be surprisingly well suited to […]

Readers’ Choice Espressos

Readers’ Choice Espressos

Well, special readers. The majority of the espressos reviewed this month were nominated by the roasting companies that produced them. I assume that a roaster knows what his best products are, so it also may be logical to expect these espressos to impress. Most did. Of the twenty-eight we tasted, nine scored 90 points or […]

Better than Ever: Boutique Espressos

Better than Ever: Boutique Espressos

What’s a boutique espresso? How about a coffee designed for espresso brewing produced by a very small roasting company for local customers ranging from neighbors to nearby cafes and kiosks. In my most rigorously Platonic version of this definition, the people doing the roasting are ex-baristas (professional espresso machine operators) who got fed up with […]

Nice Going: Readers’ Choice Espressos

Nice Going: Readers’ Choice Espressos

Coffee Review readers appear to have good taste in espressos. Of the fifteen espressos tested for this review, all were nominated by Coffee Review readers. Of those fifteen, seven achieved scores of 90 or over, and two more hovered in the 88/89 range. This success rate is considerably higher than typically achieved when I simply […]

By September 7, 2005 |Reviews Tasting Report
Progressive Crema: Organic and Fair-Trade Espresso Blends

Progressive Crema: Organic and Fair-Trade Espresso Blends

Here are three things you need to understand to fully appreciate the achievement embodied in the exceptional espresso blends reviewed this month: First, the espresso brewing system produces its best results from coffees that are balanced but complex. Typically, it takes a minimum of three different coffees, often as many as five, to produce an […]

Boutique Espressos

Boutique Espressos

In the 60s we used to talk about instant karma, meaning one minute you’re criticizing someone’s taste in bellbottoms and the next you’re walking into the adjoining room and finding someone else knocking your flower-print shirt. My current episode of foot-in-the-mouth karma took a month, not quite instant, but definitely a quick turnaround from a […]

The Aficionado’s Pacific Northwest Espressos

The Aficionado’s Pacific Northwest Espressos

If the Pacific Northwest has become identified with coffee generally, it has become even more identified with espresso. Though the espresso machine and its culture first romanced America via the Italian neighborhoods of New York and San Francisco, it only became fully Americanized in the Northwest in the 1980s. The basic Italian vocabulary of frothed […]

By February 16, 2004 |Reviews Tasting Report