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Espresso Blending for home roasting coffee

 - - Espresso does NOT have to be a really dark roast!
 - - Espresso does NOT have to taste good as drip-brew; it just has to taste good as Espresso!
 - - Espresso exaggerates every characteristic of a coffee.If a coffee is bright, the espresso will scream with brightness. A lot of coffees make an interesting shot of espresso on their own, and this is how you start.  Pull a straight shot of everything you roast, and take notes about the taste.  When you have a list of notes on different coffees, you are ready to start the blend.  Espresso is a highly personal experience, a creation of art, and tweaking your own blend to perfection will please you in a way no other espresso blend will. 

·         South America: This typically makes up the base and provides lots of crema and a normal coffee flavor.  I would suggest a Brazil Mogiana or a Peru, but a Colombia will get the job done. I would roast this component 20 seconds into the 2nd cracks, but you can go darker.

·         Africa: This gives you the fruity character to the espresso, but the fruit can easily overpower the blend, so usually keep this to 25% or less.  Including both natural-processed and washed process coffees in your blend will give you best results, so using a natural processed African is preferable.  Ethiopia Harrar my favorite choice, but any Ethiopia will work, as will Tanzania or another fruity African or even a natural process Central American such as El Salvador.  You want to roast this about the same level that you would if you were drinking it as coffee (keep it light -- out of the 2nd cracks).  If you find the fruit or brightness is too overwhelming, you can roast it a few seconds darker to mask it.

·         Indonesia: If you're going to be adding milk to the espresso, you need something with kick.  This is where an earthy Sumatra 10-15 seconds into the 2nd cracks will come in handy.  Other options include Uganda or any other semi-washed-process Indonesian.

·         Central America: These coffees typically are not great shots of espresso because the acidity is overpowering, but some El Salvadors, Costa Ricas, Guatemalas, and Puerto Ricos are the exception, and contribute a complementary acidity and cocoa tone to the blend when used in moderation.  Guatemala roasted 10 seconds into the 2nd cracks would be my top choice.

·         Robusta: Pick a high quality robusta from India or Java, and roast it about 10 seconds into the 2nd cracks.Use it no more than 10% in your blend. It is used to add caffeine, but more importantly, to add a rustic kick that will shine through the milk of a latte. A substitute for this category would include Indian Monsooned Malabar and any Aged Coffee.

 

Espresso 1 - simple and multi-purpose
70% South American
10% African
10% Robusta or Indonesia
10% Central American

Espresso 2 - smooth and flavorful for drinking straight
40% South American
30% Indonesian
20% African
10% Central American

Espresso 3 - extra kick for lattes
50% South American
20% Indonesian
10% Robusta
20% African

Espresso 4 -gourmet cocoa
30% South American
50% Yemen
20% Central American or India

Espresso 5 - powerful and exotic
50% Indonesian (10 seconds of 2nd cracks)
35% Pulped Natural Central American (just to 2nd cracks)
15% India Monsooned Malabar (10 seconds of 2nd cracks)

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Now it's exciting to test your espresso when fresh, but don't be afraid to use stale coffees in your research either.  Espresso tends to be at its prime around 7 days after being roasted.  I personally prefer my espresso around 3 weeks old because as the oils emerge, the more complexity exists -- I have had 3 month old espresso shots that were remarkably good.  You do lose crema and some sweetness as it ages.
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How do you taste espresso?  In your nasal cavity!  That's right -- a good shot of espresso will make your mouth happy, with a caramelly velvety NOT bitter flavor, but the real test if after you swallow.  That is when the bubbles should go up into the back of your nasal cavity where it will linger for a few minutes longer as a reminder of what a great espresso blend you just invented.