I'm a coffee fan, pure and simple. I'm not an expert. Through my growing obsession with making and consuming espresso, I've met a few, and I've read articles and blogs by many.
The real experts are chemical scientists, and cupping professionals with decades of tasting experience, that's not me. I just know what tastes good to me.
I had a drive-through espresso business a few years back, but location and my dislike for getting up at 4:30AM convinced me to hang it up after 6 months. While I was in the business, I learned a ton, but more about how much I didn't know, and how much there is to know. I also learned that I really like making espresso, but for myself and friends at my convenience. I'm a night owl, so coffee time at home is much closer to noon.
I have been fortunate enough to travel to Italy a few times, and sample the espresso where it originated. It's amazing. You can get an espresso at any gas station along the highway, and it's wonderful. Everyone over there must be born knowing how to make perfect espresso. I've been told that a lot of the coffee used in Italy is roasted by Illy. I learned to make espresso on a La Pavoni manual-lever machine by using Illy pre-ground beans, so I could get the tamp fine-tuned. I really like Illy coffee, it's consistent, sweet, rich, but pricey here in the U.S., so I started looking for local roasters. There are plenty to be found here in Seattle, the american coffee capitol. I also started reading books and blogs on all things espresso, from which I learned that the fresher roasted the beans, the better the flavor.
I drink short double breve' lattes or breve' cappuccinos, the half and half just makes the flavor pop somehow. Could it be the extra fat? My friends that drink non-fat espresso drinks say that it's like a coffee milkshake. My favorite beans used to be Cafe D'arte', served at my favorite drive-up stand, before I started making espresso at home. I drank venti double lattes then, and that stand made them so well that they tasted like you had put sugar in them,though you hadn't. This has become my goal: to make rich, sweet tasting espresso, with no bitterness at all.
My current favorite roaster is Borogove Coffee. My wife discovered them at a small town drive-up booth. The owner of the stand was so enthusiastic about it that he gave her some beans to take home for free. She had explained that her husband is coffee mad. Borogove's Gitano Espresso blend is uniquely addictive. I literally can't go without it. I travel with a pound or more, and a grinder. I don't know how they do it, or what's in it, I've just got to have it. I am being totally selfish in my promotion of their product, to be sure. I have a recurring nightmare in which they go out of business, and I can't get it any more. (shudder) So I get everyone I can to taste it, and I leave sample bags with friends hoping they'll get hooked, and my future will be safe.
Happy extracting, more to come soon,