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My palate is still developing and so is my gear. For now I'm happy just to get a consistent espresso in the right proportions which doesn't taste foul. I'd go so far as to say I don't want my mouth bursting with unusual flavours until I've cracked ye olde fashioned espresso which I've regularly had in French cafes over the years. On that basis, I'm working through the perceived stale offerings of the average supermarket stocked beans, and wondered if anyone had any other recommendations for the usual run of glossy packed beans? Here's my thoughts so far: Illy: It's far too expensive so it can stay on the shelf. Six quid odd for 250g in Waitrose - is this a joke? Lavazza (I can only find the beans in the black bag not the supposedly better blue one): The wife and I found this one pleasant enough and not bitter. £3.50 a bag isn't bad. Percol (black and beyond): Much the same as the Lavattza in that it's not bitter and pleasant enough to drink. £3.75 a bag isn't bad either. Taylors of Harrogate - I tried two different types of bean. Both were bitter and pretty horrid really. Each pack was definitely espresso beans, so how they've managed to earn their place on the shelves amongst the Italian big boys is beyond me. Asda's cheap own brand - 10 second gusher per double shot, no matter how hard I tamped, so a waste of money. Actually it wasn't much money - couple of quid a bag. Once bitten... Starbucks. Now this is what appears to be a newer offering, compared to what I bought in tins a couple of years ago. This one is fairtrade and Asda had knocked the price down from nearly a fiver a bag to three quid, yesterday. It's so strong I'm at a loss as to who could like it. I first knocked the usual bean dose down from 16g to 14g, but even that over-extracted and took an age to get through. I then knocked the grinder back a bit and tamped less, but it still took ages and was still so strong I might as well have smoked it. So, whilst my early coffee experiments are no doubt akin to eating toffee with the wrapper on, the three and a half quid bags of Lavazza or Percol are ahead of the pack at present. Shaun