Squeezing Espresso from a Dog

Okay the title makes me sound like a psychopath.  I was attempting a play on words – this post is about making espresso with Alterra’s Blue Heeler organic blend.

I love Blue Heeler.  Along with Cafe Voltaire, Delta Mud, Black and Tan, and Alterra’s Favorite, they make up my day-to-day Alterra fare.  But I’ve never tried making espresso from it before.  Here’s my take:

It took me two tries to get a decent pull.  It could be my technique but the first time, it started well:  nice reddish-brown espresso slowly oozing into the cup.  About halfway through the shot, however, the color turned light tan and the consistency went to hell.

The second pull started more slowly, with dark brown coming first, then the red-clay colored syrup which lasted almost the entire cup to be finished by golden-brown.  By all accounts, a great pull.  When I looked at the color from the side, I noticed that (a) the heart had already faded and (b) there was more crema than liquid.  Ooookkayyy…

Since it smelled good, I decided to drink it anyway.  The crema faded very quickly.  The upper part of the espresso was weak and watery with hints of Blue Heeler flavor.  The middle was actually pretty good – essentially a very strong cup of Blue Heeler coffee.  The bottom was classic espresso acidity with the traditional buttery-sweet finish.

I have mixed feelings about this:  Few of my choice coffees deliver that bright espresso acidity that I like but this certainly isn’t an “espresso” coffee – the crema doesn’t stay in suspension, the texture is horrible, and the top of the shot is weak and watery.  Do I sacrifice the traditional attributes of espresso to enjoy the last drops of the shot?  Or do I leave my espresso machine dark and neglected while I enjoy the rest of my bag of Blue Heeler in a French Press or auto-drip?  Hmm…



  1. #1 by Chadwick on July 11, 2010 - 7:34 AM

    I don’t remember at Alterra, but is it possible to pick up a small bag of something else to handle your espresso needs (and hopefully in a quantity that runs out about when your Blue Heeler does)?

  2. #2 by Joshua on July 11, 2010 - 8:51 AM

    Alterra doesn’t do anything smaller tan 1 pound, but Stone Creek has sample packages which I find intriguing when looking for something new and different.

    • #3 by Chadwick on July 11, 2010 - 11:22 PM

      Might be worth considering.

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