Home coffee roasting: Espresso blend

Most of the coffee I drink, I brew in a French press. But I do also have a relatively low-end espresso machine, which I use several days a week when I need a caffeinated afternoon pick-me-up. Of course, this means I don’t go through espresso as quickly as I do “regular” coffee. In some ways, it’s the perfect role for home-roasted coffee, since I can make a batch as small as I want. But I wanted to make sure I had reasonable control over the roasting process before I started playing with all the variables involved in espresso.

Of course, there’s no reason espresso coffee has to be a blend; single origin espressos are becoming more and more common. Blends are classic, though, so I wanted to give it a try. Not a mélange of different roasts like my previous blends, but a mix of beans from different origins combined while green, and then roasted together.

As usual, I consulted Sweet Maria’s as a starting point, learning about the effect of different origins on different aspects of the shot: body, crema, flavour, aroma. As they recommend, I based the blend mostly on Brazilian beans (70% of the total), with 15% dry-processed Ethiopian and 15% robusta. (I figured there wasn’t a lot else I was going to do with it!) Since I was looking for a fairly “classic” flavour profile, I roasted it to Full City+. Not the absolute darkest roast I’ve ever done, but pretty close. Even at that, it wasn’t as dark as many commercial espresso blends.

The resulting shot had a little less body than I like, but a balanced flavour. (I can’t judge crema properly in my machine, since it uses a pressurized portafilter.) The robusta played especially well in it, reminding me of the Lavazza coffee I used to drink, but with an otherwise much fresher taste. Overall, it was a very enjoyable espresso.

With all the variables that go into a shot of espresso, it may be foolish of me to blend and roast my own. But since I’m just a casual espresso drinker anyway (and don’t have the funds to upgrade to a better machine), I don’t mind the minimal effort of home-roasting. And as always, I know I’m getting the freshest coffee possible.

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