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Salimbene Superbar Beans Crema and Taste Test

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who wrote:
How come you don't mention Salimbene coffee from Naples as the winner of Best Italian Roast for 2015, in a blind tasting by "Crema" Magazine, a European coffee magazine for espresso lovers. For the first time its available in the USA on Amazon.com.
I let them know that I'd check it out, which I have now done.

I purchased a 2.2 lb (1 kg) bag of Salimbene Superbar beans through Amazon.com at my own expense. According to the packaging, the beans are roasted at Cafee Salimbene in Naples, Italy, the city from which espresso coffee originates. The beans cost $39.85, which works out at $18.11/lb, one of the more expensive beans I have bought, and the most expensive beans I have reviewed to date.

The packaging and logo is understated with a vacuum-seal valve. The packaging notes that the blend is 80% Arabica beans. The labeling on the packaging states:
A rich, finely textured, almond-reddish coloured crema seals down into the cup the aromas of this harmoniously structured blend. The real, good Italian Espresso blend with a rich body and lingering taste thanks to the presence of highest quality washed Robustas. Salimbene's Superbar is made of coffee beans grown in 8 countries from Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

Upon opening the package, I observed that the roast is a dark roast, but not to the extent that the oils are being extruded from the beans, a critical characteristic for making espresso crema: beans that are roasted very dark to the point that the oils make the beans slick and wet often fail to produce good crema when making espresso, especially when using a less-expensive domestic espresso machine.

Salimbene Superbar Coffee Beans
Salimbene Superbar Coffee Beans
The beans were not noticeably aromatic. I'm sure we've all gotten ecstatically heady breathing in deeply the aroma of roasted coffee beans, but that is not the kind of hit you are going to get with these beans. The aroma is quite subtle.

I ground 4 tablespoons of the beans in my Breville Smart Grinder at the normal fine grind setting that I use for making espresso and extracted a shot into a glass demitasse so that the results of the crema produced were easily visible.


The beans did in fact produce a good level of crema. (See video below)

Salimbene coffee espresso crema
Salimbene coffee espresso crema
The taste profile of the espresso was pleasantly mild in its bitterness. Bitterness is an essential component of the taste profile of espresso coffee, but in poorer blends can be overwhelming and unappealing, often leaving an unappealing and lingering aftertaste. Not so with these Salimbene beans: a perfect balance of constrained bitterness - that does not even become apparent at first taste - and mild levels of contrasting sweetness. A perfect balance! No wonder the roast won the blind-tasting mentioned in the message I received.

I wholeheartedly recommend these beans. If the price point is too high for you, however, I have several other recommendations for you to consider, and perhaps you can treat the Salimbene beans as a special occasion treat to impress guests.

Salimbene Superbar beans can be purchased at Amazon.com

See all my coffee bean reviews


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