1. The beans must be ESPRESSO ROAST
You can buy many different roasts of coffee beans. Basically, the longer you cook them, the darker the roast and the stronger the taste. (Note, darker roasts don’t necessarily provide more caffeine). If you put your typical “morning brew” beans into your espresso machine, it will tast terrible… at least most people think so. You need to purchase beans that are roasted especially for espresso drinks. Just look for “ESPRESSO ROAST” on the label. Also, don’t cheap out on beans – buy them from a good coffee shop. You can learn more about how coffee is roasted on wikipedia.
2. The beans must be FRESH
Your espresso will be about a million times better if you start with fresh beans. By fresh, I mean that you bought them within a week or so of grinding them for your espresso, and that they weren’t sitting on the coffee shop shelf for too long before that. Store your beans in a dry, dark place – not in the freezer or out in the sunlight.
3. The beans must be WHOLE BEANS
Never grind your beans until you’re ready to pull the espresso shots. As soon as they’re ground, the beans begin to release their lovely coffee aroma and oils. If you grind them too soon, you’ll lose some of that flavor and richness. Ideally, wait no more than 2 minutes between grinding and initiating the espresso shots. See our video on grinding espresso beans with a burr grinder.
Mommy, where do espresso beans come from?
Step 1: Coffee Plant Seeds are Green Coffee Beans
“A coffee bean is the seed of the coffee plant (the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry). Even though they are seeds, they are referred to as ‘beans’ because of their resemblance. The fruits, coffee cherries or coffee berries, most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together.”
Step 2: The Green Coffee Beans are Roasted
Roasting coffee transforms the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans into roasted coffee products. The roasting process is what produces the characteristic flavor of coffee by causing the green coffee beans to expand and to change in color, taste, smell, and density. Unroasted beans contain similar acids, protein, and caffeine as those that have been roasted, but lack the taste. It takes heat to speed up the Maillard and other chemical reactions that develop and enhance the flavor.