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Any love for "traditional" Italian beans?


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However, on pulling a couple of shots it was clear that they are fresh and of good quality:

IMG_20200613_131905848.thumb.jpg.f794bb51be6b82b57f83e55c28bf3534.jpg

20 minutes later, and I can still taste this! I pulled two shots on the Pontevecchio, and settled on 14.5g in / 22g out. So, so strong, but so smooth. Tobacco, figs, treacle. I'm looking forward to a week of drinking this, but it certainly wouldn't convert any modern single origin fans to darker, Italian espresso. Might try their Silver blend next.

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Sooooooo....sod it...had to try it.... A cheap 14g (completely non precision) basket and a rattling 58mm tamper I bought ages ago for the Gaggia Classic, 1kg bag of Kimbo Superiore (roast date 2n

Personally, for me, the whole coffee experience started straight with Italian espressos without sugar (thanks to my father's habits) and perhaps it is my taste buds which are way too accommodated afte

Yes that is for 40 hours per week although I am apparently slightly out of date as that was the value for 2017. It is now on €600 per month (€8820 per year). Other countries in Europe have even lower

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There's a great Italian Coffee thread currently going on at Home Barista, about chasing a particular taste: https://www.home-barista.com/coffees/hunt-for-best-italian-roasted-coffee-beans-t64387.html

As well as encouraging me to bring the brew ratio even closer to 1:1, it has brought to my attention that most of my recent Italian beans have been from the South of Italy. I'm now really keen to  seek out some examples of the Northern Italian style, which the thread seems to broadly describe as more lightly roasted. In particular, some of the Hausbrandt blends are praised.

Apart from patchy availability on eBay and Amazon, it can be difficult to source this type of coffee - does anybody know of a particular shop where I can get this sort of coffee? 

I have looked at Espresso International and they have a wide selection, but the minimum order is £50, and I don't think I could keep 3kg of beans sitting around going stale (or taking up precious real estate in the freezer)!

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It's time I got around to trying some illy. Having watched the famous Illy documentary...

 ...I had always meant to get some. I've tried some Lavazza Espresso Italiano recently, and was really not impressed by it - dark, dull and flat. Illy seems to view itself as the superior coffee giant, so I was curious. The best roast date I could find was 20/11/19, purchased a mere 7 months later, although I was confident that they'd "behave fresh" for at least the first couple of days.IMG_20200620_073444676.thumb.jpg.ec4119e239dc8941469d25602bf45909.jpg

Checking out the beans I was optimistic - matte, mid brown and entirely uniform. No Robusta, and apparently a blend of 9 (NINE!) Arabicas - the good ol' forgotten art of Miscela!

After a slightly fast first shot, I soon had a good espresso:IMG_20200620_080904522.thumb.jpg.f375130a6a9f16f5c07e83211cf607db.jpg

Using a recipe somewhere around 16g in 22g out, this stuff is incredibly sweet-tasting. It is a completely different product from the dark roasted Robusta blends I have had previously, and whilst it lacks their voluminous, velvety punch it tastes a lot closer to the fresh, light coffee we know and love. It's a little one dimensional, but this really allows the sweet, balanced, chocolatey taste to shine.IMG_20200620_121945373.thumb.jpg.fd3682a3e8ce7221f4ddcf45695271a2.jpg

I would not hesitate to buy this again, and with people coming over for a socially distanced gathering today, I expect to it to be a crowd pleaser that will be gone before the end of the weekend. At £5/250g on offer, it's just not cheap enough to really tempt any fresh/local devotees away from their regular beans. For anybody interested in 'Traditional Italian' however, it's definitely a cut above the average Bar blend, and I can see why Illy speak so highly of themselves!

 

Edited by CoolingFlush
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Screenshot_20200607-130755.thumb.png.fc536b36e46f8c2dac5a26deee18455a.pngCan anybody who has tried them warn me off these Lidl beans? I am due to buy some quality coffee tomorrow from a local roster, but being in lockdown I have struggled to access Italian made beans, and I see these are imported from somewhere in Lucca.

This probably says more about my lack of taste than anything else but I really enjoy these! Compared to others you’ve tasted through this thread, I think you’ll find them similar to some of the lighter, more matte beans you’ve tried.

I don’t have a great espresso set-up but find I can make consistent, quaffable drinks with this. Solid as espresso with plenty of crema (I assume crema size is proportional to roast level as well as freshness?) and nice with milk.

If you decide to give them a go next time they’re available I recommend spending the extra £1 on the Tradizionale over the Magnifico robusta blend. The latter was too smoky and harsh for me.
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After reading this I’m getting an old school Italian espresso blend next. I do believe that unless there are ‘off’ notes as you might categorise them in wine/whisky tasting then it’s just personal preference surely?

I get that some of these blends will be a bit of a gamble because they might be low cost/low quality and burnt to cover the flaws, but there’s got to be some cheap reliable workmanlike ones out there.

To carry on the whisky analogy from earlier, I think there’s a time and a place for everything. I’d much rather have a simplistic cheap bourbon on a Thursday after a hard day at work and for guests than waste some obscure, unique and challenging single malt I spent a small fortune on.

I also get that people can be very defensive of their hobbies and what they consider to be essential! But at the end of the day we’re all down our own rabbit holes and the lines between objective and subjective are blurred somewhat.

... Not to mention I have an inherent distrust of anything that’s trendy.

 

Edited by TRatcliffe
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On 13/06/2020 at 13:53, CoolingFlush said:

However, on pulling a couple of shots it was clear that they are fresh and of good quality:

IMG_20200613_131905848.thumb.jpg.f794bb51be6b82b57f83e55c28bf3534.jpg

20 minutes later, and I can still taste this! I pulled two shots on the Pontevecchio, and settled on 14.5g in / 22g out. So, so strong, but so smooth. Tobacco, figs, treacle. I'm looking forward to a week of drinking this, but it certainly wouldn't convert any modern single origin fans to darker, Italian espresso. Might try their Silver blend next.

I think I’m going to take a punt on the Ginevra beans after this. Don’t worry I won’t hold you personally responsible if I don’t like it. I really like the look of their espresso cups too. 

Does anyone have any experience with Lucaffe? Seen them in a few places online.

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2 hours ago, TRatcliffe said:

I’d much rather have a simplistic cheap bourbon on a Thursday...

This stuck a chord with me - I do really value the simplicity and reliability of the best Italian beans, both in terms of getting a tasty shot with minimal effort on a Monday at 6AM, and in terms of freeing me from responsibility towards a precious product, like your unique and challenging single malt. I do love to try fresh, high scoring single origins a lot of the time, and I realise that not all of them are necessarily challenging, demanding products, but I appreciate having (the good) Italian beans as a comfortable, familiar destination, to reset my palette and renew my curiosity for something more distinctive.

Again, this is all totally subjective personal taste and I'm just diving into this little niche for as long as it feeds my love of coffee.

2 hours ago, TRatcliffe said:

I think I’m going to take a punt on the Ginevra beans after this

Go for it! I think I have pretty explicitly described what they are, so full disclosure, you will not be detecting any lingering hints of green apple or sea buckthorn! I only got to try them because they have an outlet down the road from me, but I will definitely buy their Black blend again.

- No experience of Lucaffe, sorry.

Edited by CoolingFlush
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  • 4 weeks later...

Has anyone had any luck with freshly roasted italian style (dark arabica+robusta) beans suitable for ristrettos? Not looking for anything complex, perfectly happy with simple rich, heavy, and sweet ristrettos with the very faintest hint of acidity.

I've tried kimbo extreme and saquella gran gusto which despite being a year away from their best before date, tasted VERY stale. Swore to myself that I wouldn't throw any more money at beans without a roast date.

Have since tried Waitrose Italian beans (I know, contrary to the above, but I ran out of beans and had to resort to a supermarket dash). Weirdly, got the best result from them vs kimbo and saquella. They did however seem to go stale very quickly (picked them up on a Sunday, not tasting very good by Thursday despite sealing in a ziplock bag).

Following that, picked up a bag of Black Cat's Chocolate Point. Am a bit disappointed as I find it too bright and acidic and probably lighter roasted than what I'm after.

Hence my question.

Has anyone say got experience with Coffee Compass Mediterranean Mocha or Hill and Valley blends as a comparison?

 

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14 hours ago, islandlad said:

Has anyone say got experience with Coffee Compass Mediterranean Mocha or Hill and Valley blends as a comparison?

I think a lot of people here will have experience of these beans. If nobody is forthcoming, have a search on the forum. CC tend to roast on the darker side.

 

14 hours ago, islandlad said:

Following that, picked up a bag of Black Cat's Chocolate Point.

I too have a kg of Chocolate Point at the moment - I think it makes a great espresso, but I agree, it is very lightly roasted and gives a relatively bright shot (within the scale of "traditional Italian" espresso). Her it is next to some Ginevra, for colour comparison:IMG_20200627_132222036.thumb.jpg.799914c8c0de5126ed993351102bebde.jpg

Managed to get these sort of shots from Chocolate Point:20200705_202341-COLLAGE.thumb.jpg.3d7c8c63426bd260b562218d02a08380.jpg

The other coffee I have going on at the moment is Kimbo Prestige, with a roast date of 18/10/19, use by 7/4/21!! (I watched the Whole Latte Love Kimbo video before deciding to try this particular one). This makes a good shot, but it's pretty dark and plain, not to much else to say about it. 

Very light beans, very dark beans - you might see where this is going...

Yes, against all my instincts, this week I have been drinking a 60/40 blend of Chocolate Point and Kimbo Prestige, and it's pretty good! I will drink the remainder of the Chocolate Point straight, but it has been a nice little experiment.

To get back to your original question, freshness in Italian roasted coffees is the biggest obstacle to getting a good shot, although generally you can get a few days of good shots from old beans if they're packaged in a protective gas. I split them into 4 x 250g's and freeze 3 of them, on opening. In terms of taste, it will be personal to you, which blends you prefer. I find that most of the overly dark Italian roasts improve greatly as a ristretto - slightly under extracted to mute the bitterness and accentuate any acidity they may have hiding away!

 

Edited by CoolingFlush
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@islandlad - Do like CC, you can’t really go wrong with their medium roast espresso range if you like chocolate flavours.

Mediterranean Mocha was nice, but the Brighton Lanes blend was the winner with me and my wife last year for espresso/milk drinks when we had it.

They offer a discount for forum members as well 👍

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 20/06/2020 at 13:04, CoolingFlush said:

It's time I got around to trying some illy. Having watched the famous Illy documentary...

 ...I had always meant to get some. I've tried some Lavazza Espresso Italiano recently, and was really not impressed by it - dark, dull and flat. Illy seems to view itself as the superior coffee giant, so I was curious. The best roast date I could find was 20/11/19, purchased a mere 7 months later, although I was confident that they'd "behave fresh" for at least the first couple of days.IMG_20200620_073444676.thumb.jpg.ec4119e239dc8941469d25602bf45909.jpg

Checking out the beans I was optimistic - matte, mid brown and entirely uniform. No Robusta, and apparently a blend of 9 (NINE!) Arabicas - the good ol' forgotten art of Miscela!

After a slightly fast first shot, I soon had a good espresso:IMG_20200620_080904522.thumb.jpg.f375130a6a9f16f5c07e83211cf607db.jpg

Using a recipe somewhere around 16g in 22g out, this stuff is incredibly sweet-tasting. It is a completely different product from the dark roasted Robusta blends I have had previously, and whilst it lacks their voluminous, velvety punch it tastes a lot closer to the fresh, light coffee we know and love. It's a little one dimensional, but this really allows the sweet, balanced, chocolatey taste to shine.IMG_20200620_121945373.thumb.jpg.fd3682a3e8ce7221f4ddcf45695271a2.jpg

I would not hesitate to buy this again, and with people coming over for a socially distanced gathering today, I expect to it to be a crowd pleaser that will be gone before the end of the weekend. At £5/250g on offer, it's just not cheap enough to really tempt any fresh/local devotees away from their regular beans. For anybody interested in 'Traditional Italian' however, it's definitely a cut above the average Bar blend, and I can see why Illy speak so highly of themselves!

 

It was tin of Illy that got me going on the coffee espress..

I liked it, really liked it tbh and would be happy to have some again. 

I did notice they aged quickly though.

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  • 2 months later...

I thought I would post a quick update, with this thread having been quiet for a few months. 

In one sense, I feel like I have now explored Italian espresso pretty completely, and don't want to keep repeating myself ad infinitum. With that said though, I still like to have some simple, reliable Italian beans in my house AT ALL TIMES! It's just that they have now become more of as commodity than a novelty.

During full lockdown, one of my usual sources, TK Maxx was shut down, and for a month or so after it returned, they weren't doing fresh/food products. A few weeks ago however, they seemed to have a sudden influx of fresh Italian and Spanish espresso.

The first one I had was Saquella Gran Gusto, which had been roasted the previous month.Screenshot_2020-10-18-07-56-58-462_com.android.chrome.thumb.jpg.3ce67d9bbcb7c603688b6b9bd94acc51.jpg

This was the archetypal "fit and forget" Italian espresso; it just banged out 1kg worth of rich, creamy ristrettos, with zero input from me! The taste was basic, linear, smooth cocoa "coffee" taste. In spite of that, I think that this would be the blend I'd recommend if trying to sell the Italian espresso at home experience - so easy and dependable.

The other one I've tried recently is Attibassi Sublime 100% Arabica.

Screenshot_2020-10-18-07-57-18-424_com.android.chrome.thumb.jpg.bfb50b1a6a9f65ce712ceb26d3216d2e.jpgThis one was also just a month past roast. I was apprehensive about having no robusta whatsoever (!), but this gives a really bright, balanced espresso. This is one I'd recommend for an Italo-skeptic espresso drinker; it has some nice acidity, and is closer to speciality coffee than you might think.IMG_20201018_075257.thumb.jpg.526c5eae1fb7458d8f62665791b015d4.jpg

On the topic of Arabia/Robusta, I joined in with James Hoffman's World's Largest Coffee Tasting, and had the  extreme displeasure of cupping the Ugandan Robusta featured in that! Before the reveal, I assumed that they had put in some lowest quality commercial Kenco or something, but to find that this was supposedly some of the best Robusta available was quite enlightening. I've always been ready to defend Robusta, and genuinely do appreciate it's judicious use (<20%) in Italian coffee, but I've had to adjust my opinion slightly, to say that Robusta on its own is truly disgusting!

One final thing I'd noticed last week, was this piece about why Espresso still costs €1 in Italy https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/10/why-does-espresso-still-cost-1-euro-in-italy-price/

Ciao!

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I like coffee in Italy. As an analogy I view it like I view Yorkshire Gold tea. Just really hits the spot, with no challenging flavours. I still like quality leaf teas, but I strongly dislike Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong....the hipster 3rd wave teas. Might be interesting, might be different but it tastes like shit to me. Other people like it, and I'm not going to tell them they dont like it, or that they are wrong. That would be bigotry.

Every now and again I long for that warm, spicy Italian ristretto taste, but ironically to get it you either have to luck out at TKMaxx, or pay more for it from a European supplier like Maxicoffee than you would for quality UK roasted beans.

For my tastebuds I find the espresso method to be highly unsuited to highly flavoured beans. Its bearable if you dilute it with milk, but on it's own it's a cup of gash.

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