I’ve been buying roasted beans weekly from Greg, who runs Trystero out of his garage in Atwater, for about six months and I told him I’d try to write up a short article about his coffee roasting for FTC. I am now pretty confident in the work he does, and the “product,” and so feel on pretty firm ground recommending his beans, at least to espresso drinkers. These are not like commercial beans you get at TJ or Costco, Starbucks or Peets or even the higher end shops like Intelligentsia. [So-called espresso beans in most outlets are over-roasted, burnt junk. And the beans that aren’t burnt are usually pretty old, so taste and liveliness are compromised.]
In fact, though I’ve been making espresso at home on a Pasquini for more than 20 years, I felt I never received the full benefit from the machine until I used Greg’s beans. (I also bought beans from Pasquini as well, and felt they were overpriced. Until last year, I would sometimes buy them anyway, but their last bag was stale and tasteless and I told myself “never again.” They weren’t burnt, but they weren’t flavorful.)
Greg runs the roasting process in such a way that you can pick up the coffee less than a day after it’s been roasted, and mostly less than eight or ten hours after roasting. So the modifier “fresh” is actually meaningful when it comes to these beans and that freshness, plus the type and quality of the bean and the roasting, make all the difference. I will say it is something of a pain to drive from where we live to pick up the bags of coffee every Wednesday (between 10 and 1, I think), but the taste and richness of the espresso are way better than anything I’ve had in so-called upscale coffee shops here in the states, and better too than anything I tasted in any Italian espresso bar (in the regions of Milano, Firenze, Roma.) So, to me, the drive is worth it.
I’m sure there is coffee in Italy that is the equal of what I’ve been able to get out of Greg’s roasting, but I’ve never tasted it.
I think it might be helpful to those interested in this posting to understand that I’m only speaking to the espresso roast of certain coffees; American-style coffee is, as they say, a whole different ball game. But for espresso drinkers, make sure you ask him for the espresso roast (which is not that dark, but darker than “regular”), what he calls “++”; there is a subtle but significant difference in the roast that makes a big difference when the coffee comes out of the machine.
When you go to his website, Greg usually lists half a dozen or so choices – sometimes from the Pacific, but mostly from Central and South America and from Ethiopia. As a rule, the American beans generally carry a heavier chocolate element, along with more citrus. We find the Ethiopians (and the Pacific, when available) make the most interesting, full-bodied, complex and flavorful espressos, less acidic and more aromatic. If you have a choice between the wet and dry process beans, you may find the dry process more complex and interesting.
We have found his coffees amazingly consistent, though some variation from week to week is unavoidable even with the same bean and same level of roast. But if you’re interested in a whole new level of taste from your espresso machine, you might try Trystero. Every person who’s had our espresso with Greg’s beans says it’s the best they’ve ever tasted.