Sunday, April 18, 2010
PRODUCT REVIEW: Archer Farms Pre-Ground Espresso
Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that Target had their own house brand of pre-ground espresso beans. Targets are everywhere, while places that carry Illy are... not. Better still, the grounds were contained in the same metal tin as Illy. Similar size, shape and price. Everything seemed to indicate that Target was targeting Illy quite directly.
Usually store brands are at least comparable to the name brands, and since I'm still getting used to my new espresso machine (read: screwing up shots) I figured saving a few bucks was worth it for the sake of experimentation, even if the final product wasn't quite up to snuff.
So, I was already going into this with low expectations, and I'm happy to report that Archer Farms espresso missed even those. First off, it's not the slightest bit comparable to Illy. The blend is way off. It's more acidic and not in a good way. The texture of the grinds is also different. Illy has a powderyness to it, along with the slightly larger bits of coffee. Archer Farms is certainly super-fine, but is completely missing that powder texture.
This is the only thing that explains my problems with the shot. I tamped my shot, began the pull, and water flowed through the shot like shit through a goose. I got slightly strong, bad, coffee. I assumed that I had simply tamped too lightly. It happens. Did it again, with a deliberate, strong tamp. Same thing. Next step, doubling my tamp pressure. I pushed down with at least sixty pounds of force. Same thing.
I blew through five shots. Every one was the same, regardless of what I did. This grind is nowhere near Illy and completely useless for espresso. The package is a complete lie. I would imagine that if you had a moka pot, Aeropress, or even French press, then this would work fine. But in a real espresso machine, that applies real pressure, this is laughably off the mark.
Archer Farms Ground Espresso: NOT RECOMMENDED