Tag Archives: starbuckssucks

A brief word on Espresso

Espresso (not Expresso)…gotta get that in as many times as I can. Many new folks on their first roasts post photos of a very dark, Starbucks like roast. Let me get it out of the way now, that this is not a crime and not bad in any way. Deciding to learn to home roast takes time, and even a beginners first roast that was taken a little too far will most likely be better that Starbucks!.  Inevitably, there is a follow up comment on forums to try it as Espresso.
So, my question is why?
Here’s my 2 cents on subject. I think everyone knows that espresso (not expresso) is not a roast profile, or a specific bean. It’s a process – a method of production and you can put any roast profile you want through it. Yes, a darker bean is more soluble than a light roast, but still…we all know what Starbucks espresso tastes like…so why would we voluntarily want to brew that at home?
I light roast can make a wonderful espresso (albeit, I’ve only ever had one I liked), but like *any* brewing method, you will need to dial in the grind and brew time params accordingly. I brew mostly espresso at home (Gaggia Classic and a Bezzera BZ10). The single biggest leap in quality after the grinders and machines was when I started just roasting for the flavor profiles, and not worrying about dark/light. I blended beans for the balance of aroma, body, sweetness, chocolate, etc. that I was after. When I was done, I had not only the espresso I wanted, but a damn good cup of coffee period.
Full City+ Roast

Full City+ Roast from the FreshRoast SR700

Ultimately, you drink what you like, and that’s the great thing about being competent in food prep…you eat/drink what you like all the time. So, if a dark roast for espresso is something you like, brew it up and don’t look back. But, don’t assume that a dark roast will work as brewed espresso.
Of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong (apologies to Dennis Miller).

Laughing Man Coffee & Tea

I finally got down to Tribeca to Hugh Jackman’s place Laughing Man Coffee & Tea.  If you saw his documentary “Dukale’s Dream”, this is the place that came out of the coffee journey he documented.

Laughing Man Coffee & Tea

Laughing Man Coffee & Tea

Located at 184 Duane St (there is now another location further West by the water as well), the place is tiny and had a healthy line on a Saturday at noon.  One might expect this give the fame of the founder, but they make a very good cup of coffee!  And, it seems there’s a good supply of “regulars” as the baristas acknowledged several folks as they walked in the door.

I had a flat white, a favorite in Australia, Hugh’s native land…how could I not (Hugh even has a note on the chalk board behind the bar suggesting it’s his favorite.)


The espresso, a blend of Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Costa Rica (according to the barrista) shines through nicely.  The winey pop of the Dukale’s Ethiopian comes through the milk very well.  It is honestly one of the better milk based drinks from a bar I’ve had in New York.

Even though the inside is tiny, just outside is a small city project called Street Seats.  If the weather is nice, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy your coffee.  It’s an easy walk from either the 1,2,3 or A,C Chambers Street stops.  If you are in the area, give it a try.

Home Roast Sumatra

Sumatra Iskandar won some awards this year.  So I picked up a few pounds to home roast.

Roasted with FreshRoast SR700 to Full City+

Roasted with FreshRoast SR700 to Full City+

This batch was roasted 20 sec into a rolling second crack.  It came out excellent.  Brewed as a single origin espresso, it had all the body you would expect.  It was thick and syrupy, with mild sweetness and a touch of acidic tang to wake up the mouth.  I regularly use 25% Sumatra in my “go-to” espresso blend, and this bean again showed me why I do it.

As an Aeropress brew, this was also outstanding.  The cup was exceptionally smooth and not bitter at all.  The sweetness was perhaps more pronounced than in the espresso preparation and the aroma had chocolate notes to it.  The thickness of the body noted in the espresso preparation was also very noticeable.


Home Roasting – Never Buying Roasted Beans Again

I’m now 2 weeks into my home roasting adventure, and I’m never buying pre-roasted beans again.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s small batch roasters out there that are insanely good.  But, for less than 1/2 the price, and still making mistakes, I’m producing product that I would happily stand up against some of the best cafes in town.  The crema is thick and colorful.  And, possibly most important, the shots taste almost exactly as they smell.  The blend I’m working with is producing balanced caramel sweetness with bakers chocolate flavors, and it’s thick and luxurious.

Full City+ Roast

Full City+ Roast from the FreshRoast SR700

The aroma of fresh roasted coffee is through the roof, the taste completely ridonculous (sic) – a religious experience.  Home roasting coffee guarantees all this never is out of reach.  Did I mention the cost savings?  It costs me roughly 1/2 as much to be home roasting my own coffee.  If you are a serious coffee drinker, you could probably pay for a vacation every year with the money you save.

If you saw the precious post, you saw that I’m using a FreshRoast SR700.  The one consistent knock on the FreshRoast machines in reviews around the internet is batch size – too small.  Yes, you can only roast 4oz at a time (final yield about 3.2oz per batch).  But, the flip side is that each roast is about 10-14 minutes.  So, you have almost a pound with an hour of home roasting.  Let’s be honest here…is it really such a terrible thing to spend an hour home roasting coffee?  You can geek out as much as you want on the science of it.  Analyze each roast.  Tweak recipes.  Oh, and did I mention the cost savings (again)?  Buy some exotic beans.  Try some new coffees!