A brand new semester started today for most college students. I technically don’t start until tomorrow because I only have Tuesday/Thursday classes (11:00 – 6:15 with a break 12:30 – 2). What a better way to start your day than with a nice cup of coffee?

Ever since I received my espresso maker for Christmas (steam operated, not pump so I make low-quality drinks compared to coffee houses), I’ve been doing research and becoming more knowledgable. For starters, you never want to buy ground coffee. As soon as the beans are grinded, they instantly start losing their freshness. Trust me, once you’ve been exposed to fresh coffee, you’ll think Folgers and Maxwell House taste like crap. I’ve learn when a place offers free coffee (like a brunch line or hotel complimentary breakfast) not to take any because they use stale coffee (mainly without knowing and it’s cheaper).

Even buying the whole beans in a grocery store isn’t a better option. Sure, it’s “fresher” than the packaged ground coffee, but who knows how long those beans have been sitting in the store. I haven’t tried the brand-name packaged whole beans (like Seattle’s Best or Folger’s), but I bet they have been sitting the bags for a few weeks at least.

For the best quality, you don’t want to grind the beans until right before you make the coffee. When I was grinder shopping, I had so much trouble finding a grinder that produced a fine enough grind for my espresso maker. When someone makes espresso, it isn’t referring to a type of bean. Espresso refers to the grind of the bean. It is a very fine grind compared to drip coffee. Drip coffee is what most Americans make at home – place coffee grinds in a paper filter, insert it into the machine, add water, and let the water drip through the filter and into your pot (hence, drip coffee). The coffee grounds for drip coffee is a little more “chunkier” while espresso grind is similar to a powder. After trying several grinders, I finally settled on the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. Expensive, yes but it gets the job done. I’ve spent two whole weeks researching and checking customer reviews of grinders out there. This is the best one you are going to get for espresso makers.

You also want to buy whole beans as close to the roasting date as possible. Now, unless you have a local coffee shop, you probably won’t be able to find out the roasting date on most beans.