Italian Roast vs. French Roast

We’ve found that we generally prefer medium roasted coffees because we’re able to taste a more diverse palette of flavors in a specific coffee blend. However, we know that there are die-hard devotees of dark roasted coffee and we were recently asked what the difference was between French Roast and Italian Roast.

They’re both roasted quite darkly, so that they have an oily sheen to them after the roasting process is complete. With a French Roast, the temperature of the roast is high enough that these oils are brought to the surface and will impart a roasted flavor to the produced coffee or espresso. Aromas can vary from berry to citrus. Italian Roast is much darker and oilier than a French Roast and often preferred in Italy.

If a coffee is described as being a French or Italian roast, it isn’t because they were grown or roasted in these countries, just that the roaster utilized this generalized roast level for that blend of beans. You can read more about roasting in our article It Starts with Great Coffee.

What is your preferred roast or blend and why? We’d love to hear about some of your favorites!

New! Rancilio Silvia V.3.0

Rancilio has souped up their semi-automatic espresso machine, the Silvia. Improvements are mostly aesthetic — the portafilter handle is now fashioned similar to their commercial machines and the knob for the steam/hot water has been upgraded — but the steam wand itself is a marked functional improvement with its increased range of motion and an option three-hole tip upgrade.

Watch Gail as she shows us the features of the Rancilio Silvia, version 3.

Recipe: Rib-Eye Steaks with Espresso-Chile Rub

Following in the tasty footsteps of the flank steak marinade we wrote about a few months ago, this rub recipe is a great inspiration for your summer grilling parties.

Serves: 4 (generously)
Preparation time: 30 minutes (including meat standing time)
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons dark-roast coffee or espresso beans
  • 1 tablespoon ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 rib-eye steaks, each about 8 ounces and 1-inch thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
In a spice mill, pulse the cumin seed and coffee beans until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl, add the remaining rub ingredients and stir to combine.

Lightly brush the steaks with oil and season evenly with the rub, pressing the rub into the meat. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat.

Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the steaks over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. (If flare-ups occur, move the steaks temporarily to indirect high heat.) Remove from the grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe: Detroit Free Press

Would You Like Eggs with That?

Years ago, we frequented a small town cafe that would steam up the eggs for their delicious breakfast sandwiches using the steam wand on their espresso machine. They were fluffy and tasty and so we thought that we should try this ourselves — with arguably great results!

Watch Gail steam up airy n’ fluffy scrambled eggs in a frothing pitcher, using the steam wand on a Rocket Cellini semi-automatic espresso machine.

How Green is Your Coffee?

As the national obsession with greening our lives grows, examining how the things we love impact the environment has become a common topic of discussion. Up now: How green are different coffee beans?

The folks over at Greenopia devised a Leaf Awards rating system that is used to evaluate a coffee company’s overall greenness by gauging its percentage of organic, ethically sourced, naturally decaffeinated, eco-friendly packaged and efficiently produced and transported  beans. They also looked for sustainability and environmental impact reporting. They then assessed 25 different brands from all over the US to determine how they measure up.

We can’t help but feel the findings a bit disheartening: Of the brands they evaluated, nearly half of them didn’t rank at all! Coffee that we love by the likes of Illy or Lavazza didn’t get a single leaf, while large American brands like Starbucks or Stumptown got just a couple of leaves.

One ranking that shined was Bellevue-based Kalani Organica, coming in at 3 leaves! We have a personal connection to this truly lovely coffee: In the mid-to-late ’90′s, we cut our barista teeth slinging java at the Speakeasy Cafe in Seattle’s Belltown district. The cafe was a devout supporter and server of Kalani Organica until the cafe was closed by a fire in 2002 — despite the fact that we regularly had small competitive roasters try to convince us to switch. We stuck with Kalani because of the founder Karen’s commitment to organic, ethically-sourced coffee — something that is talked about a lot these days but wasn’t seen as particularly important 15 years ago. We’re thrilled that her work is getting recognized and hope that a rating like this will help expand Kalani’s availability around the country.