Favorite ground espresso?

We just bought a serious espresso maker after our old Breville died -it wasn’t even that old, and I thought it was ridiculous that nobody would repair a $200 machine when all it needed was a new gasket! So we decided to invest.

The new machine a Rancilio Silvia) is pleasingly heavyweight and was recommended by the one local espresso machine repair person I could find who works on consumer-level machines. However, I have been reason that ideally the water should take 25 - 30 seconds to pass through the coffee grounds, so I guess our coffee grinder (which grinds only finely enough to take maybe 12 seconds for the water to pass through) doesn’t really grind finely enough for espresso.

I guess I’m not against the idea of replacing the grinder (although it - a KitchenAid that we’ve had for maybe 7 years? - is also pleasingly heavyweight and can be repaired), but before I do that, I want to know whether the fineness of the grind is the issue. So I guess we should buy some ground espresso and experiment. We like dark roasts and usually grind fresh every morning, and have been buying whole bean from Costco, which is nice and fresh. Where can we get quality, reasonably priced freshly ground espresso? Bonus if it’s local to Chicago.

I like Megaglia d’Oro and Cafe Bustelo, among the ones that are pretty ubiquitous and available in supermarkets etc.

With my Silvia, I found I really needed a top notch burr grinder to get the fineness I needed. I finally sprang for the Rancilio Rocky, with its 50+ settings. I ended around a setting around 43 or 44 or so, which when matched with proper amount of ground beans and proper tamping pressure, gave me godshots a decent percent of the time. I generally aimed for a brew time of 22-26 seconds to get what I wanted. I had a magnetic digital timer stuck on the Silvia to ensure that!

A Silvia is a fantastic brew machine, and in my own obsessed mind ought to be paired with a grinder that can deliver.

I never found preground espresso to be satisfactory for my fussy tastes. ;-D

Have you tried grounding the coffee twice?

A friend who used to run a cafe that roasted its own coffee says that is a really bad idea - you will clog the grinder and the result won’t be usable, anyway.

Yeah, we may very well end up springing for a different grinder, too. But first I want to make sure that’s actually the issue before I blow another chunk of change on a grinder!

If there are any local coffee shops that sell beans (which is certainly true if you are in Chicago), I’d buy from them at whatever grind they recommend. If they are really nice, you could probably even take in a few baggies and split a pound into various grinds. As you say, that will help you determine if the grind is the issue.

I understand. But you can’t make great espresso without a grinder that makes it fine enough.

Right, I know. But I want to see whether the grind is the issue before I blow more money! That espresso maker was expensive. (I consider it basically the vacation we never got to take last year.)

Let me know how it goes. I spent years obsessing about Silvia and Rocky, getting them to work together for the making of godshots. Right now I’m into cold brew but still love a fine espresso or ristretto.

Well, I went out this morning and bought a $2.99 packet of Bustelo, figuring that was probably the simplest and cheapest way to run a test. I am guessing you would turn up your nose at Bustelo, but it made a significantly more robust espresso than the quality Chiapas organic dark roast we have been ordering from Costco.

So I guess we’re buying a new grinder after all…I will console myself about the expenditure with the knowledge that especially for something we use daily, any equipment we acquire will pay for itself in relatively short order over buying coffee from a cafe. Sigh.

Cafe Bustelo is the best. I have tried other types, but I always seem to go back to Cafe Bustelo. Inexpensive but tastes great.

Nothing wrong with pre-grinding if it’s the right bean and you use it fresh. so much of espresso success is the right bean. Starbucks espresso beans did NOT work for me. I found a local roaster whose beans were divine.

And spend the $$$ on a decent grinder. Daily use will wear out lesser ones, I went through a bunch of supposedly higher end ones until I went with Rocky.

I saw going to say, you can buy pre-ground Italian coffee that has been vacuum-packed, in either “brick” form or metal canisters. Then you don’t have to grind it yourself nor buy it a shot at a time from a cafe. Illy, Lavazza are major brands.

Sure, but it’s a lot more expensive than the whole-bean we have been buying, and not as fresh. It’s not a big deal to grind with the right equipment, and the grinder we already have works fine for French press, etc. It just doesn’t grind finely enough for espresso.

Bustelo is lovely. It’s made from robusta rather than arabica beans, and perhaps may be considered “inferior” for that reason by some, but I love its rich, deep flavor. It’s not for everyone’s taste, but I love it. I remember my first time in Miami being in just some cheap Cuban cafe for a sandwich and an coffee and I was so completely surprised with how much I loved the coffee that I had to get a second one right there.