+44 (0)20 7202 2620

What makes a good espresso

At DR Wakefield, we are committed to bringing high-quality green beans to roasters and retailers across the globe. One thing we've noticed throughout our 43 years in business is that coffee fills identical roles across many different cultures. To some, it makes for a pleasant, midday break. To others, it's a post-meal tradition and something that brings the family together. To many, it's an integral part of their daily routine.  Just as these rituals are shared among various cultures, so too are the basic rules of what constitutes good, high-quality coffee, and, more specifically, some coffee brewers' pride and joy – espresso.  

Here's what makes an exceptional espresso. Strive to find one that includes all of these elements, as they maintain the integrity of this traditional treat. The beans used Typically, it takes approximately 50 coffee beans to make a single shot of espresso. Many professional baristas may argue that Arabica coffee beans make the best espresso, although this is up for debate. A gourmet washed Robusta can make an equally beautiful cup, with Italians especially known for using these varieties. Freshness Espresso is meant to be enjoyed immediately. If yours has been sat for too long, the crema may be lacking. 

Additionally, the ideal temperature, flavour and richness will be compromised. A deft hand It takes skill, a deft hand and attention to detail to make the perfect espresso.  Several critical steps are required, and they must be executed with expert care for the finished product to come out right.  Calibrating the grind, tamping the right amount of coffee into the filter and closely watching the time is all part of the intricate process. In the end, the taste and consistency of your espresso often comes down to the skill of the barista who's made it. The texture The ideal texture of an espresso is smooth and velvety. You'll know it when you see it – even before you take your first sip. Look for a natural layer of caramel-coloured crema floating atop a thick, full-bodied liquid. That's how you can identify a high-quality espresso almost immediately. 

A sustainable source Fresh, beautiful coffee is all for naught if it comes at the expense of workers' quality of life. As with all coffee, the best espresso is sourced responsibly. Farmers and harvesters are treated fairly and paid well – after all, without them, your morning pick-me-up would be non-existent.  In addition, it comes from an environmentally sustainable source, where the earth is respected and the local ecosystem remains, overall, undisturbed. Although these aspects may not affect the taste of your espresso, they'll sure make you feel better while drinking it. Your own personal taste Though there are many things which make an espresso technically good, ultimately your favourite blend will be determined by personal taste. 

Indeed, it's pretty subjective and the reason for this goes beyond varying preferences.  In actuality, each individual person tastes flavours in a totally unique way, because taste is determined by physiology and no two palates will be the same. Flavours and sensations like sweet or bitter hit our tongues differently, affecting the overall experience. Get out there and try a few different examples – you'll find each one has its own subtle flavour profile, but the joy a well-made espresso brings will arguably be similar every time.