TJ Shade Grown Espresso Blend Coffee

If you really (and I do mean really) love coffee, then the ultimate coffee taste of course is an espresso.

Every day, I wake up, take a shower and immediately start thinking about making my morning “Cap”. I wouldn’t get out of bed otherwise.

If you are one of these “coffee freak” types too you may own, as I do a “pump” espresso machine that you put and tamp grounds into to make your own espresso. Just saying the “Keurig pod” coffee machine people are not as DIY as us pump machine owners. So if you make yourself espresso drinks at home in some type of machine that you put ground coffee in obviously the most important thing is starting with very good coffee for making Espresso, naturally.

Generally I buy espresso roast beans (whole bean) by the pound or half pound. I buy coffee here in NYC at Fairway or Zabars or Porto Rico Imports, and grind the beans myself every other day or so, so its always pretty freshly ground which is ideal. If I was less lazy I’d grind coffee just before I made every cup, which would be far better. As soon as you grind coffee it starts to lose a bit of its flavor and aroma.

Still I saw this bag of ground espresso on the TJ “new product” shelf a few months back and thought I’d try it, even though its already ground into an espresso grind. Its called TRADER JOE’S “SHADE GROWN GROUND ESPRESSO BLEND”. It comes in a vacuum sealed aluminum bag with an attractive hand drawn design and lettering. Nice. Opening the bag, you will get that wonderful “just ground coffee” smell!

The bag says, “Our espresso blend comes from shade grown, hand picked,  100% Arabica beans.  The coffee beans come from a family owned plantation with farms located Matagalpa, Nicauragua. It is rich in flavor with attractive notes of nuts and cacao”. I couldnt have said it better myself. This is really good stuff!

It reminds me of the well loved ”Cafe Bustelo” but a bit darker roast, and it’s clearly a much finer quality coffee of course. A 14 oz. bag of Ground Espresso Blend sells for $8, at the time of this writing (Fall 2017). Which is not a bad deal for about $9.25/lb for a single estate blend from Nicaragua.

If you make your own espresso either in a machine where you tamp the coffee into a porta-filter (I have this exact one called “Cafe Prestige” pictured at right, which is a good basic espresso machine which I bought a few years back for just $100). Or if you make your own espresso perhaps using a “Moka” express type maker for the top of the stove, I think you will really enjoy trying this ground espresso to make the coffee. In fact, if you want to “get into” making your own espresso on the cheap, this little Moka style make I found on Amazon is only $16 for a 2-cup model, which might be a good “starter kit” where maybe later you might get a fancy electric machine – once you get hooked on making espresso at home! Which you probably will.

The bag says: “For Espresso Brewing: This grind is already set up for any type of machine. For a double shot use 1 1/2 tablespoons. Strengh of shots may vary by machine”. If you make your own shots you know there’s a period of trial and error and a little testing till  you get it just right for your taste. For me, I use two slightly rounded standard espresso scoops in my double-shot basket and tamp it lightly but firmly till its completely even on top. This makes me a nice double shot strong enough for the small  amount of foamed milk I use for a “Cap” every morning.

Bottom line, if you like espresso roast coffee, try this. I think you will enjoy it as much as I do.







3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anita K
    Jan 30, 2018 @ 09:52:25

    Thanks for this review! I just tried after reading this, Thrillist, and Serious Eats’ reviews of TJ’s coffees. Fellow espresso connoisseur, here, and since I can no longer access very special (and cheap) Ethiopian, local market beans, I am on the hunt for a delicious, affordable cuppa Joe I can brew on my stovetop Moka, or rarely in my fancy pump machine.
    This coffee smells delicious, presents a much finer grind than I can achieve in my dinky Cuisinart, and gives a beautiful color. While it’s definitely smoother than Bustelo, which I buy in a pinch, it has a bit of a “during taste” (not an after taste) that I don’t like. I just want to taste espresso. Can you help me describe that taste and also recommend other inexpensive espresso grounds worth sampling?


    • promacnyc
      Jun 05, 2018 @ 19:54:51

      Hi Anita. Thank you for leaving a Comment. Other than buying and grinding some whole espresso beans, I would try the Italian brands, that one can find sold in the U.S.. Illy is good but its is pretty expensive. Lavazza is also a good Italian coffee brand which is less expensive. I found this deal on Amazon on 4 Lavazza bricks for about $20, which works out to about $10 / lb.
      Which is about the price point of the whole beans I have of late been buying at Whole Foods (generally an Espresso or Dark Italian Roast) in very small amounts (less than 1/4 lb) and grinding them in the commercial machine there the “espresso” grind, one notch below the Turkish grind


  2. Brett
    Mar 18, 2018 @ 19:06:47

    I think the best $45 I’ve ever spent was on a tiny little espresso pump I bought on Amazon last year. There are a whole bunch of them now, for around that price. I’m not even sure why anyone would bother monkeying around with a Moka pot or a clunky espresso machine…I’m telling you, that lil’ pump churns out espresso as good as one of the insanely huge and expensive ones at coffeeshops, complete with a beautiful crema. Cleans super easy too.

    The exact same one I bought is no longer sold by the seller for some reason, but I’ve had no issues with it. If you like espresso, go find yourself a hand pump 🙂


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