Trader-Joes-Organic-Espresso-Bean-1 Only recently have I discovered that Trader Joe’s has a pretty decent coffee and espresso bean selection. Not huge by any means, but neatly tucked adjacent to the beer and wine section you can find an assortment of whole bean and grind at typically reasonable TJ prices.

Call me old school, but I do like grinding fresh beans. The aroma! It’s part of my morning routine, and unlike others (ahem), I have not succumbed to the robotic capsule temptation of the all-in-one super-matic wonders.

A Fair Trade Certified Product

So I was pleased when I randomly picked out an Espresso bean for $6.99 that turned out great espresso, caps, and lattes. The name is a little unwieldy, “Organic Five Country Espresso Blend”. It’s a dark roast. The container lid is stamped “Fair Trade Certified”. According to the package:

Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Certified Coffees help contribute to a better way of life to famers and their families. Fair Trade guarantees small-scale growers a fair price fr their harvest, giving them access to better housing, healthcare and education. By choosing Fair Trade Coffee from Trader Joe’s, you are supporting economic independence for coffee farming families, and getting a great tasting cup o’ Joe to boot.

As the name implies, the beans originate from five countries, in this case: El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru & Sumatra. Why and in what proportion I have no idea. Perhaps it has more to do with supply, and pricing than anything else.

The Beans

I absolutely love the aroma when I opened the nitrogen flushed can… swoooosh… air filled with fresh (very fresh) wafts of coffee beans. I know a lot of people love a lot of things first thing in the morning, but this has to rank up there.

The beans are nicely oiled, but not too much — more than Illy beans I’ve tried in the past which were quite dull by comparison, and with less aroma. Perhaps it helps that Trader Joe’s turns over so much inventory?

Grinding and Brewing

I’ve had a relatively smooth experience grinding and brewing espresso shots with these beans. Two things I’ve noticed that have differed from my Illy beans. First, on rare occasion (twice so far) my Rancilio Rocky grinder has jammed slightly I think due to the oily bean. It was not major. I only had to shake the grinder slightly and knock the beans to get them flowing again through the hopper.

Also, I had to make a minor adjustment to the grind level, using a slightly finer (by 2 notches) grind than I typically use with Illy.

Scoring the Flavor

One word: super. Especially given the price. Fantastico!

These are bold beans, so keep that in mind if you prefer a milder approach. This is a perfect bean for a Latte or Cappuccino as the flavor does not get lost in the milk. Also I found espresso shots on their own to have a nice kick, with no bad aftertaste. I can drink them easily without any sweetner.

Crema is just ok. I didn’t get a whole lot, but everything else was on the mark. Definitely recommended!

Photogenic beans in my Rocky Rancilio ready to go

Crema is just ok, but don’t let that fool you… flavor is bold, yet smooth.

Espresso shot ready for some frother milk to complete a morning cap.

Ahhh, a nice morning wake up call… not my best micro-foam on this one, but most enjoyable!

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.