Espresso, the product of a preparation process that evolved in Italy over the first half of the 20th century, has experienced tremendous change over the past 100 or so years: from the dark, almost burnt taste of the original espresso, to the lighter touch of café crema in the 1950s and back around to dark, smoky Ye Olde World Italian style made popular in the 1990s.
As a result, it’s not unusual to find many different opinions on espresso and espresso options. You’ll find, for instance, that those who were introduced to it in the 1990s prefer espressos that are dark, deep and bold similar to the traditional Italian style beverage. While today’s younger, mostly urban consumers include brighter single origins with cleaner bodies among their favorites.
What’s Espresso Anyway?
Stockton Graham & Co.’s customers know that espresso is not a type of bean or a roast level, but rather a method of preparing coffee. In essence, espresso is created by forcing hot water under extreme pressure through ground coffee to extract the heart of the coffee’s flavor. To help develop standards, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) defines the beverage as “a 25-35 millilitre beverage prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee through which clean water heated to 195-205 degrees is passed through for 20-30 seconds.”
With that said, virtually any roasted coffee can be prepared as an espresso; although certain varietals, blends and roast levels achieve better results. And the coffee you use as your house espresso will depend to a great extent on your brand, your store concept and your customers’ tastes.
Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we understand that up to 40% of the profits you make at your store will come from milk-based espresso options like lattes, cappuccinos and frappes. And after roasting coffee for over 20 years, we know that no two business owners are alike in their espresso preferences. While some prefer the sweet, bright notes of a Latin America coffee others gravitate to rich, thick-bodied blends of Indonesian varietals.
What’s more, if your store tends to sell more milk-based espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll want to consider a coffee that is designed to maintain its flavor in large amounts of milk. However, if your customers tend to prefer single shots, then we would recommend a different coffee for your house espresso.
And, of course, if your store is organic, you’ll also want a coffee that is organic certified like our Organic Fair Trade Guatemala San Juan Utapa, our Organic Mexico Chiapas or our Organic Sumatra Mandheling Triple Picked.
That’s why we offer a broad range of espresso options from sustainable single origins to custom blends. Here are just a few of our more popular offerings:
Papua New Guinea: This single origin espresso presents upfront flavors of dried plums and apricots, balanced by a syrupy body with a sweet and tangy finish. Papua New Guinea or PNG, as we call it, can be quite versatile allowing for a variety uses. At a shorter volume this makes for a distinct fruit forward espresso shot, while longer pulls balance the fruity nature with a milk chocolate sweetness to complement in-house cappuccinos and lattes. We recommend you use 18-21 grams of coffee for each 1.5 – 2 ounce extracted shot.
Seda Dulce: A single origin espresso option that utilizes two roast levels of the same Brazilian varietal. Created with the straight shot aficionado in mind, this espresso produces a quick burst of honeyed acidity followed by layers of sweet milk chocolate that give way to a buttery smooth finish. We recommend that you use 18 grams of coffee for each 1 – 1.5 ounce extracted shot.
Midnight Lotus: Our flagship espresso. Proven to complement a wide variety of milk based drinks while pleasing even the most discerning straight shot fanatics. This blend balances dried cocoa and fruity tanginess with a creamy body that has been the foundation of many a successful coffee bar. Its versatility is unmatched. We recommend 17 – 19 grams of coffee for each 1.5 – 2.5 ounce extracted shot.
Milano Blend: This is our take on the classic Italian style of espresso. Bittersweet gourmet chocolate finishes with hints of smoke and cedar. It is a smooth and complex blend with plenty of flavor to cut through even the largest to-go milk beverages. We recommend 18 grams of coffee for each 2 – 2.5 ounce extracted shot.
Organic San Remo Blend: An organic option that features ample crema loaded with caramel sweetness and rich dark chocolate flavors are balanced against a creamy smooth body. This coffee performs well in all sizes of milk-based drinks, as well as alone in a demitasse. Tasters comment that this espresso’s sweet and rich flavors linger with layers of sweetness long after the last sip. We recommend 17 grams of coffee for each 1.75 – 2.25 ounce extracted shot.
Your Own Blend
Our roastmaster Brandon Riggs and our sales representatives spend a great deal of time with new and current customers alike to understand your taste preferences and business needs so we can recommend espresso options that best suit your needs.
For most customers, one or two of our coffees will fit the bill. But there are times when a one-of-a-kind house espresso is more appropriate, and we work with customers to meet those unique needs. This often involves several meetings at our Raleigh, NC coffee roasting facility where you can taste multiple coffees prepared using various methods. We also travel to your business location to learn more about your equipment, level of barista training and customer base. This gives us the insight we need to create the best custom espresso option for you.
Of course, when our roastmaster develops a new espresso, he evaluates taste and flavor in accordance with standards developed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), The World Barista Championship (WBC) and The United States Barista Championship (USBC). These standards focus primarily on roast level, brewing procedure and flavor profile; for best results, we strongly encourage our customers to employ these methods of evaluation and brewing in your own store.
To discuss your store’s espresso options, call a Stockton Graham & Co. sales representative at 800 835 5943.