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Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Off the Shelf...  
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Bitches_Brew
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Bitches_Brew
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Posted Sun Feb 26, 2012, 10:39am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

As I said, I get 30 shots per pound.  I dose 15 grams.  But for the sake of discussion, let's say that I waste 75 grams (the equivalent of five doubles).  25 shots/lb. = 83.333  At $15/lb., $1.00 per shot would equal 15 shots/lb.  So . . . I don't think so.

Posted February 26, 2012 link

i understand you use 15g, but you also gave an 18g example. congrats, getting 30 shots per pound is extraordinary. the other extreme would be.... 3-4g waste per shot. 2-3 shot dial in. let's say 150g waste (depending on number of shots) off the top of the 450g bag. 300g/18g per shot=16.666 which would be "closer to" a dollar.

my point is, it really varies on your grinder technique (single dose vs full hopper) and how many grams of coffee your grinder retains. not to mention how well/fast you get it dialed in. also, don't forget about the occasional triple and spill. after factoring in all those things it's really hard to come up with a price per shot that works for everyone.

 
"You can write down how to make the perfect cup of coffee. But to make it really good, you have to play something fictional, you have to dress up, you have to think, This is the most important thing."
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Sun Feb 26, 2012, 11:08am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

As much as I love these intellectual discussions of ours, Michael, even IF it did cost a dollar-a-shot (which I do not concur with, but for the sake of argument . . . ), the idea of the OP was that he is saving money by buying (e.g.) Illy, and freezing that, rather than buying fresh roast coffee and freezing that.  I can't speak for Indiana, but here in California, Illy whole bean retails for at Safeway for $18.49 for an 8.8 ounce tin (250g.) -- as opposed to $13.99 for 16 oz/454 grams, delivered to my door -- and that is certainly over a buck!

 
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GrantT
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GrantT
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:08am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

...here in the States, I can get five 1-pound bags shipped to me in a US Priority Mail Flat Rate box coast-to-coast for $10.

Posted February 26, 2012 link

Uhm....doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of "fresh roasted".  I would order one pound of fresh roasted...sometimes 2...use it over a week or so, then order another pound or two, trying to time it so it showed up just as the last one was running out (repeat process indefinitely).

Anyways...probably need some clarification on a few things as the discussion is really going places I never intended (probably due to lack of information on my part).  Nuance, intention etc never comes across easily in many cases.

First off, in Canada, you do not get great beans delivered to your door for $10/lb.  You get great beans delivered to your door for around $20lb...maybe $17 on a good day.  Believe me, I've tried them all from across the entire country and even ordered from the US.  If anyone can point me to where I could get them for less, I would be happy to try/buy.  Canada is much sparser in population than the US over a huge land mass...everything here is more expensive as a result...getting the raw product, shipping the finished product, etc. etc.

There are local roasters that make FANTASTIC espresso which I have used many times (http://transcendcoffee.com being one) but my last order was $36.00 for two 380g (not full pounds!!) bags.  By the time I got the grinder dialed in, and between grinder waste between shots, you can see how it becomes a more expensive proposition being NOB.  Another example....I can order Black Cat in Canada....if you don't mind paying $75 for 3lbs.

Anyways...you are also excluding a major point...there is GREAT italian off-the-shelf espresso available....it just dies quickly once opened.  This has been a topic of discussion at home-barista.com numerous times...anyone who just writes it off completely perhaps needs to experiment a bit.  Reading appreciation threads on italian espsresso's is what got me started playing with them more...

Anyways, the purpose of this was to work with and extract the best espresso possible from Italian off the shelf espresso...not a fresh roast vs. bagged discussion.   And not only for getting away from on-line ordering, but just also because I enjoy "italian" espressos...when they are not stale!  I'm also not JUST talking Illy/Danesi coffees (typically, the most expensive ones on the shelf).  There are numerous Italian off-the-shelf espresso's that are MUCH cheaper.  My recent find is one called "Kimbo" Extra Cream...a Arabica/Robusta blend that simply produces an amazing smooth "italian style" espresso.

The reason I tried this one is that in our little Italy area, there is a cafe that you line up for an hour to get coffee and italian treats.  Everyone raves about their coffee's and they are good.  I found out the Kimbo Extra Cream is their house bean.  In the attached Italian supermarket, they sell Kimbo extra cream for $16.99 a kilos...or roughly $7.70 a pound.

Anyways...if you take a romp over the home-barista, there are some interesting threads on "stale" italian espresso's as well...it's not a dead-end area...written off by some, but appreciated by others.

And...if things continue, I can go purchase 8-9 kilos, and never be a day without decent espresso (perhaps not the best, but good enough for me!) for less!

Here's an interesting thread on the topic....

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

G

 
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Location: Houston
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:22am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

GrantT Said:

Two things I hate about espresso is that I get tired of paying premium $$ for good freshly roasted espresso beans (which often I find not that good), and the repeated hassle of ordering, shipping etc.  I also get really peeved at the waste factor as I keep having to adjust grinder settings if I change brands etc.  I also hate that my grinder (Macap M4D) has a built-in waste factor by retaining grinds in the chute path...more waste if I really want to push out the stale grinds between shots that are long apart.

So, I keep being drawn back to the "stale" on-the-shelf  beans (not always that cheap) in an effort to economize and to experiment.  I am always looking for cheap quality (with many things...food, wine, coffee, etc as well).  I also like the convenience of being able to purchase locally and buy more beans in advance so I always have an extra bag around...i.e. would be nice to buy 3-4 kilos and just have them stored.

The problem I kept running into with the "bulk" Italian espresso's (Danesi, Illy, etc.) is not that they are stale when initially opened, but that they stale VERY, VERY quickly AFTER they are opened.  Immediately after opening the bag, they are very good - grind and extract very well, and I can get quite a few good shots in if used quickly (within two days).  After that...they die!

I have been carefully experimenting with different methods of storing these "aged" espresso's, and recently have been very successful at opening the bag or tin, immediately pouring the beans directly into small canning jars (small is important), and then immediately freezing them.  I found that if I create 8-10 small jars per kilo it works well.  Each jar is packed tightly with the beans to avoid air space.

I can then open them as needed and they seem to avoid the staling problem this way.  I rarely have to adjust the grinder up at all.  I tried larger batches (4-6 larger jars per bag) but by the time I got to the end of each jar, they were staling.  By splitting them at least 8-10 ways (each jar filled to packed tight to avoid air), I seem to have crossed over to a good place for storing them successfully.

Interested in any thoughts etc...

Grant

Posted February 24, 2012 link

+1 on Jason's posts...except I think his opinion is worth a lot more than $0.02.  Anyhow, it sounds to me like roasting your own beans (OP) would solve all your problems.

 
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GrantT
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:27am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

emradguy Said:

+1 on Jason's posts...except I think his opinion is worth a lot more than $0.02.  Anyhow, it sounds to me like roasting your own beans (OP) would solve all your problems.

Posted February 27, 2012 link

Like I mentioned...home-roasted for a couple years...got really tired of the hassle/time.  Still requires ordering, roasting/blending etc.  For home use to avoid staling, you have to roast continuously.  PITA.  Some of us have more important things to worry about I am afraid...I wish I had more time for hobbies etc.  Been looking at LARGER roasters (thinking I would roast for me, and sell the extra to help pay for things), but having WINTER is Canada forces you indoors, which creates a myriad of issues with large roasters.

What you make sound so simple is not in reality.  This comes from EXPERIENCE....

G

 
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GrantT
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GrantT
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:34am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

As I said, I get 30 shots per pound.  I dose 15 grams.  But for the sake of discussion, let's say that I waste 75 grams (the equivalent of five doubles).  25 shots/lb. = 83.333  At $15/lb., $1.00 per shot would equal 15 shots/lb.  So . . . I don't think so.

Posted February 26, 2012 link

You have the grinder to be able to do that with miminal waste....are you happy with the K30 Vario?  I'm saving to get a better grinder...the Compaq K10 Fresh or the Mahl K30 Vario are on my short-list.  Would greatly help with my grinder waste, but they are both around the $2000 range here...so that of course "ups the cost" per shot.  My Macap is brutal with waste...

G

 
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:40am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

yeah, you did say that, my bad, sorry.  however, if you're tired of roasting and don't have the time...and are tired of buying beans online...and don't want to spend the money for good beans...what are we to suggest?  hmmn...how about finding a coffee you like from someone who allows you to set up a recurring order, so you don't have to interact with the ordering process? Peet's comes to mind, but they're probably too expensive for you and I don't know about their shipping to Canada...and their beans, although very good, are not the greatest for home espresso.

about all else I can offer you is a good luck wish.

 
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GrantT
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GrantT
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:56am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

emradguy Said:

...and don't want to spend the money for good beans...what are we to suggest?

Posted February 27, 2012 link

Nothing...if you have nothing to add on "Italian Off the Sheld Espresso experimentation", no need to say anything at all.  You obviously are stuck on the "they suck" track.  When's the last time you tried them, pulled properly and not stale?

Economics was one point of this thread, but another is that while some people immediately write off the shipped italian espresso as not "good beans", others may disagree.  Go read the thread link I supplied.  Like I ALSO said....I am experimenting, and am actually HAPPY with the results to date...I'm not really looking for suggestions or comparisons as it relates to home-roasting, fresh-roasted comparisons etc.  This thread is about experimenting with italian.

I've DONE the fresh-roasted route.  I've DONE the home-roasting....and you know what, when it comes down to it, I think there are a some misconceptions about the quality capable of off the shelf product.  People believe what they read...and most read that "fresh roasted" is the only way to go....I am simply exploring that concept...and so far, I think it is not necessarily true for all uses of espresso.  There are a lot of espresso "snobs" that THINK a certain way about it...and that's OK too.  (p.s.  I do consider myself a "snob").

Funny thing is...lot of those "snobs" take their fresh roasted espresso, and then bury it in 16oz of milk too!

I'm open to the experimenting.  That is all.

G

 
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MARIOBARBA
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MARIOBARBA
Joined: 26 Sep 2011
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

I totally sympathize G, I recently bought a 12oz bag of Counter Culture Appollo 7.0 locally in Montreal for just under 18$ (it lists for 12$ on their website) and it was already 10 days past roast.  I, like you, have been experimenting over the last 6 months with both italian and NA coffees.  I cut my teeth on Italian espresso in Italian bars and thus my taste for espresso is definitely first wave.  I thought I might give the NA roasters a shot to see what all the fuss here and over at HB was about and like you have not found anything to change my tastes.  I too am frustrated with the fact that there are only two places I have found that you can get fresh espresso shipped for less than 16$/lb (Social and Reunion Island) and the others jump up quite a bit from there (20$/lb and up) so I too find myself trying different different Italina coffees looking for the perfect shot.  

This may be a great place for us to share ideas and notes about the different Italian blends and how best to store them.

My storage strategy is similar to yours.  Once I open a 1kg bag I fill a Vacuvin container to the brim (I highly recommend this product as it delays ageing quite a bit) and whatever doesn't fit goes into 1L mason jars and into my chest freezer.  This seems to work well for me but I should try the smaller jars as you suggest.

As for different coffees, I just finished a bag of the Kimbo you mentioned less than a month ago and thought it was OK for the price (paid 20$ for the 1kg bag) a tad too dark for my taste.  I also tried Lavazza Tierra and didn't like it, too acidic for my tastes.  I have tried Lavazza Top class which I liked and recently a can of Miscela D'oro which was horrible (I think the can may have been defective because I didn't hear the whoosh that you get when the vacuum seal is broken).  I have yet to try Danesi, how do you like it?

If you haven't already, I recommend Reunion Island's Bullet espresso.  You can get a kilo shipped for less than 30$ and it is quite good
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:14pm
Subject: Re: Off the Shelf Espresso Experimentation
 

gotcha now.  It seems I totally misunderstood your initial point...probably due to my preconceived notion that most threads are started here by people looking for advice, and in part due to my (bad) habit of not reading every thread as thoroughly/carefully as I ought to.

I think many of us believe that freezing beans puts them in a relative time warp, so that we can order them freshly roasted in "bulk" and have them still be relatively fresh weeks later when we're ready to use them.  That may be in part why we don't mind online ordering of high volumes and don't feel shipping costs are extravagant.  Also, most of us aren;'t in Canada and don't have to deal with the higher shipping costs you do (honestly wish I could help you there).

To answer your question about vacuum packed "on the shelf" Italian beans such as Illy.  I have to admit it's been several years since I've tried them, and I am certainly a much, much better home barista now than then.  Until you mentioned it, I hadn't really though much about whether they're good or not since then, but looking back, I do remember liking some of the micro-roasters products more at the time I last tried Illy's beans (which is why I buy what I buy today).  I've never tried Danesi's beans or any other "on the shelf" beans.  I guess my point on this note is, no, I can't say I think they suck.  But..it's because of my past experience that I find myself in line for the micro roasters products...and on that note, I pretty much have a great go to coffee (which I would guess costs much more than you think is worth), so my drive to try others is primarily for the sake of variety.  For me, spending a few bucks more for something I either know to be really good or has been recommended to me by people whose opinion I respect isn't much of an issue.  Now, if Illy or other "on the shelf" roasters make it to the HB list of favorites, I'll consider trying it again, but for now, I'm enjoying trying micros on that list that are new to me.  

This is not to say I gladly throw money down the drain but, rather, I'm willing to pay a "confidence tax" (or maybe some might say it's an "idiot tax" ???).  However, I'm definitely not a bargain hunter.  I go to the grocery store and buy what I like.  I do all of the shopping and cooking at my house, and I like "the good stuff", but I couldn't tell you the price break between dry aged pasture grazed beef and american wagyu and run of the mill USDA prime.  I can tell you how much the imported English butter from Devon is either, but I like it on toast and buy it only for use at the table (I use a more generic butter for cooking).  Anyhow, sorry for the digression, but I think it illustrates my position.

So I guess, in that regard, you and I are on opposite ends of the "willing to spend" spectrum for coffee beans.

 
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