Not long ago I was buying a small bag of beans over at my local supermarket. These days I buy a lot of my beans from Quackenbush, my local roaster, but I still do buy beans at Safeway from time to time if I’m running low or if I want to try something different that doesn’t cost much.
In any event I bought about a quarter pound of a Kona Coffee Blend (pure arabica) from Safeway while it was on sale and I brought it home to try it out. At the time I was new to buying whole beans (still am to some extent) and I didn’t really know what it was good for and what it wasn’t.
I ended up having the store grind it for me at a fine espresso size and then when I went home I decided to use it in my stovetop espresso maker. Let me just say it was magnificent although I’m not sure if it was as good as it could have been because since that time I’ve figured out my own preferred method for grinding beans for the Moka pot and I probably would have gotten a fresher batch of beans had I bought it from a roaster.
Who knows how long those beans sat on the store shelf or in a Safeway truck before they ever made it to my kitchen. :/
In any event since that time I’ve learned a lot more about beans and espresso and home brewing techniques. Traditional espresso is usually a mix of mostly arabica beans with a bit of robusta. The roast is usually nearly as dark as you can get it without charring the bean. Also the age of the roast is quite young. Meaning, not much time has past between roasting the beans and brewing the grind.
Even still all rules can be broken so long as you understand what you are doing.
100% arabica Kona coffee can be used for making excellent espresso. I had some myself a couple months back and it would be even better today if I did it again. Instead of buying lightly roasted Kona beans from the supermarket that were probably aged longer than one might like I would buy a darker roast of Kona coffee from a reputable roaster that can ensure their beans are fresh.
Of course if you don’t have the palate to tell the difference then none of this matters but to most espresso junkies it’s worth taking the extra step.
Making espresso is the technique – it’s not the ingredients that count.
Kona coffee is some of the best coffee in the world and many people prefer it to all other regions. There’s nothing to stop you from using Kona or Kona blend coffees while making your morning espresso.
For my next batch of Kona I’ll be trying out the espresso roasts of Koa. They’re not local to me for sure but they specialize in Hawaiian Coffee and they can guarantee their coffee beans are about as fresh as you can get without roasting them yourself.