ltalians know their espresso…

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Gennaro at San Marco Caffeteria in Naples, Italy

Quick post this afternoon, but first a little background info.  My wife and I have run a charitable coffee roasting business, Roast for Change, since 2010.  I love coffee, and my hobby became a small business.  We donate all the profits and a portion of every sale (usually in excess of our profit!) to  support mission work.

A couple of years later I started travelling to Italy occasionally for work and I developed a great appreciation for espresso.  The espresso in Naples (Napoli) is very different than most of what I’ve had in the USA, but that’s a different blog post for future consideration.  In short, it’s amazing.   Perhaps you can see where this is leading, but less than a year after starting my travels to Italy, we scored a great deal on a Rancilio S27 espresso machine.  It could have been a 75 pound boat anchor, but with a little love and patience, it is now creating wonderful espressos.

Then today, it finally happened.  Last week I was approached by one of our Italian colleagues.  It seems they could not find good espresso beans in Pittsburgh that they could use in the machine they had in their office area.  Would it be possible for me to try?  Could I sell them some ground espresso beans?  They were suffering with very week coffee, and heard I sell good coffee and like espresso.  I was flattered, but a little worried, for several reasons.

First – I can taste a difference in espresso beans within 15 minutes after they’re ground.  How would our roast hold up when it is used hours or days after I grind it?  Second – espresso machines can be finicky to get right; I find I adjust my grind mid week as the whole beans age.  Third – these are Italians!  They’ve had Neopolitan espresso.  That’s a little intimidating, especially knowing they won’t taste the coffee at it’s best!

So I offered to give them a sample.  I delivered it today, and wondered for a few hours how well it would be received.  Then it happened.  I got the first email: “The grind is perfect.  The flavor is exactly how I like it.  How much is a pound?”  Yes!  We negotiated to a 1/2 pound, only because I’m not sure how it will hold up over an extended period, but it was a small piece of validation to satisfy a discriminating palette with our coffee.  I look forward to their opinions of future blends; I’ve found my espresso test group!   Sometimes, it’s the little things that make us happy.

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