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Are Illy Beans Good For Making Espresso?

The debate continues to rage on down through the ages; are Illy beans good for making espresso? Ok, maybe there isn't really much of a debate "raging", but there are a few people who do raise the question from time to time with me so I thought I'd lay this thing to rest once and for all.

Why Illy Beans?

Everyone has their own favorite coffee bean, both for making regular coffee and for making espresso. Normally I see people use different beans for coffee than they do for espresso. That's perfectly normal. Personally I use the same brand for both (though I might use slightly different blends - I'll explain that later).

It's totally and wholly a personal choice that everyone has to make for themselves. After all, you're the one who gets to drink the stuff - you should choose what to drink!

So What's The Problem?

Here's the thing. Most people tend to choose a Robusta bean for their espresso bean of choice. Why is that? Because Robusta beans have a higher caffeine content then Arabica beans. And let's face it, if you're swigging down espresso, you want it to be as strong as possible. Otherwise you'd just drink coffee!

Ironically, Arabica beans are considered much higher quality than Robusta beans. Which leads many people to choose Arabica beans for their coffee and Robusta beans for their espresso.

No problem.

Well, there is a little problem. Illy beans are Arabica beans.

...hence the debate; should you use them to make espresso?

Here's How I See It

I love Illy beans. They are without a doubt the best beans on the market. More expensive than your average bean or Starbucks brand, they are nonetheless not terribly expensive (a can costs about $15 bucks at the WholeFoods Grocery Store near my house or about $9 bucks if you order online below and wait for them to be mailed to you).

Yes, they are Arabica and hence have less caffeine content, but they do produce a Dark Roast bean that works great as an espresso blend.

So I use their medium bean for making coffee and their dark roast bean for my espresso. It's a win win.

At the end of the day, I really think you should go with whatever you like. But do yourself a favor and pick up a can of Illy Dark Roast and give it a try in your espresso maker tonight. You'll be very glad you did, and then you can join me in the Illy-Avengers Club! We should have jackets made...

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