If you want very good espresso, try this: Esplanad Espresso Blend from Café Esplanad, the legendary café/bakery/roastery in downtown Helsinki, Finland.
This blend brought back many fond memories from twenty years ago, when me and my Wife were studying in Helsinki. On Sundays, we would often go to Café Esplanad, to enjoy the great tea and coffee, and the huge (around 9″?!) cinnamon rolls.
Esplanad tells us that their Espresso Blend is a ”Classic espresso roast” that’s made from 50% Brazilian, 40% Colombian, and 10% Indian beans. The company also offers the following ”flavour notes:” roasted walnuts, dark chocolate.
Now, I’m not sure about this, but I would assume that the 10% Indian is Robusta. The remaining 90% must be a blend of different Arabicas. The bag note, the bouquet, and the actual flavor profile are very similar to those in Pascucci Golden Sack—which, by the way, is 10% Robusta and 90% Arabicas. This is great, especially if you consider the fact that nowadays many ”espresso” blends made in different countries do not actually seem to resemble real Italian espressos at all. For example, in my opinion, many Scandinavian ”espressos” are roasted way too dark. This one was different, though: the presentation, the roast (around 3/5), the aroma, and the flavors were pure Italy. Very nice!
At first, though, it took me some head-scrathing to figure out what this blend was about. As I opened the bag and brewed this in my moka pot, the basic flavor profile was very much like in any basic Italian espresso. At the same time, however, I detected a funny sidenote. Cardboard? Really? At other times, there was also a piercing, dark note which reminded me of raw rubber. I’m pretty sure this was the robusta. Strange as it may sound, I actually liked it quite a bit.
But after the beans had been exposed to air for a while, the ”cardboard” and ”rubber” flavors dissipated completely. After this, the blend was all about the familiar aromas and flavors of the best Italian coffees: dark chocolate, confectionery and almonds. These different aspects were in perfect balance. The overall experience was naturally sweet, bitter and almondy at the same time, just like my beloved Golden Sack.
All in all, Esplanad Espresso Blend is a delightful espresso in the classic Italian style. It is probably not the most unique coffee blend on the planet, or something that would knock your socks off. But what it does, it does really well. I can highly recommend it to anyone!