Meet Our Beans: A guide to finding your favorite coffee.
It’s a common problem in the Land of Latte: you’ve just splurged on your dream machine but can’t figure out which of our espresso blends you should try. And who can blame you? If you’ve never tried the coffees we offer, figuring out which one will best satisfy your tongue can be a bit tricky. So we’ve gathered a few folks here at WholeLatteLove that have the palates and communication skills to give you the low down on what to expect from our best selling blends.
To give them a level playing field, these coffees were brewed as 25-second double shots in our beloved Rancilio S24 after being ground in a Mazzer Mini Electronic Type B. Then each of our 3 panelists tasted the shot and waxed poetic about the brew’s acidity, flavor characteristics, and body.
Coffees tested: Illy Regular, Lavazza Super Crema, Malabar Gold, Café La Semeuse Espresso, Java Joe’s Espresso Deluxe, Lavazza Gold Selection, and Torrefazione Settebello.
Let’s take a moment to meet our judges, shall we? Although their names have been changed to avoid the paparazzi that will no doubt be on their tails after the debut of this article, their backgrounds remain unchanged.
Liz – Liz is one of our product description mavens and has parlayed her love of coffee into a writing career centered around the brew.
Miranda – A fresh face from our marketing department, Miranda’s expertise lies in telling all of us exactly how she wants us to make her coffee drinks.
Jack – A former manager of 5 different coffee shops and an espresso machine guru, Jack is known for his great shots and fabulous latte art.
Illy Whole Bean Regular – Medium Roast
Liz – Illy has a medium body that rolls around really nicely in your mouth. The flavor goes from a pleasant brightness and medium acidity to an almost caramel undertone that really stays on your tongue.
Miranda – I like this coffee because it’s a medium roast, so it’s not too “in your face”. You’re right about the sweeter taste at the end and I like that too.
Jack – I’ve really gotten the best results with Illy when I pull the shot a little long – 27 seconds or so. It helps the sweeter flavors come through. I think this is a great coffee to drink as a straight espresso.
The Low Down – Illy is a medium roasted and medium bodied coffee with a slightly sweet aftertaste that shines in straight espresso shots.
Lavazza Super Crema – Medium/Dark Roast
Jack – One of the things that really stands out about Super Crema is its really heavy body. It has a sort of rich, nutty note to it as well.
Liz – I totally agree with both of those things – it’s a fairly complex coffee though. I almost feel like there’s a little earthiness to it as well – almost Sumatran.
Miranda – I have to say that Super Crema is one of the best espressos to use as the base for milk-based drinks. It totally holds its own in milk and – like you were saying – the nutty flavor is a perfect complement for that.
The Low Down – Super Crema’s heavy body and slightly nutty flavor cuts right through milk, making it perfect for cappuccinos and lattes.
Malabar Gold – Medium Roast
Liz – Malabar is really one of my favorite coffees. You can get such a thick, rich crema from it – sometimes I feel like I just want to put my mouth under the portafilter and drink it straight from the spouts!
Miranda – Even though I don’t usually drink espresso straight, Malabar is really tasty in and of itself. But it’s really versatile too – americanos, cappuccinos, whatever you want – it’s always good.
Jack - Malabar is another coffee that has an earthy feel to it, but it’s complemented with just a bit of acidity, which is why it’s so good with water or milk too.
The Low Down –With its thick crema and low acidity, Malabar Gold is excellent as a straight shot, but holds its own in milk-based drinks as well.
Café La Semeuse Espresso– Dark Roast
Miranda – Café La Semeuse is served at a lot of restaurants, so it has a kind of universal appeal. I like to use it in my americanos, but it has a fairly subtle flavor, so I don’t add too much water.
Jack - You’re right – it is a very well balanced coffee and has a slight hint of acidity to it, so I can see how it appeals to a wide base of coffee drinkers.
Liz – This coffee is almost a paradox to me – it has a really great crema and is unbelievably smooth, but at the same time it has a very light body. It’s unique in that aspect.
The Low Down – The subtle flavor that defines Café La Semeuse is best enjoyed straight or in americanos.
Java Joe’s Espresso Deluxe – Dark Roast
Liz – The malt flavor in this coffee is absolutely amazing – you really can’t miss it. This is the coffee I love to build my americanos with because it’s flavor doesn’t get lost at all.
Jack – You can get a really thick crema from this coffee too, but it doesn’t rely on a sweet flavor to compensate for its brightness. Like you said, the malt flavor really comes through and that’s what makes it so different. I would personally rather drink it straight than any other way.
Miranda – It’s funny that the two of you have different recommendations on how to drink Espresso Deluxe – I was just thinking how much I love it in my lattes. I think our different ideas on how to use it show that it’s an “every day” kind of coffee and not just something for special occasions, which is what I would normally think of with a microroasted coffee like this.
The Low Down – Espresso Deluxe has a rich malt flavor and medium body that make it bold enough to stand on its own and versatile enough to carry through americanos, cappuccinos, and lattes with ease.
Lavazza Gold Selection- Medium/Light Roast
Jack – Gold Selection is another great coffee for straight espresso shots. It has a nice, medium body and a sweet finish that just lingers a little bit. It has a great aftertaste.
Liz – – This is one of the lightest blends Lavazza offers so it’s a little bit different than their other blends. One of the things I notice right off the bat is that it has a low acidity to it, so the body and sweetness – like you mentioned – are really at the forefront when you taste it.
Miranda – I tend to prefer medium roasted coffees to darker ones if I’m going to drink a plain shot and because it also has that sweet finish to it, it’s definitely one of my favorites for straight espressos.
The Low Down – Its exceptional aftertaste and mild sweetness make Gold Selection an easy choice for straight shots of espresso.
Torrefazione Settebello - Dark Roast
Miranda – Just opening a bag of Settebello is exciting to me – there’s a chocolate scent to the beans right out of the bag. There’s a definite nutty flavor to it when it’s brewed too, which I really like in milk based drinks.
Liz –I was surprised at how light the body of this coffee is, but its nutty flavor and pleasant tanginess really give it some gusto.
Jack – This is another one of those espressos that I find is a bit sweeter if you extend the extraction time by a second or two. That nutty note you ladies were discussing seems to linger a bit longer if you pull it at 26 or 27 seconds.
The Low Down – Settebello’s rich and tangy flavor is an excellent addition to cappuccinos and lattes.
Although this is just a sampling of the espressos we offer, it should give you a good basis for deciding what will please your palate. The best place to start is to identify the types of drinks you’ll be making most often – then you can use the guide above to determine which coffees perform the best in that setting. However, I would encourage you to try something that might be a little out of the ordinary for you. It’s all about personal preference and the only failsafe way to truly know what you’ll like is to try it.