Trader Joe’s Shade Ground GROUND ESPRESSO COFFEE Blend

If you really, really love the taste of coffee I think the ultimate of that is of course drinking some espresso.

Every day after I wake up, I jump in the shower and start thinking about making my morning “Cap” (cappuccino that is) in my (budget) espresso machine. I might not get out of bed otherwise. If you are one of these “coffee freak” types as well you may own as I do, some kind of Espresso Machine, the manual kind where you put ground coffee into to make your own espresso otherwise known as “pulling a shot”. Just saying the “Keurig or pod” coffee people are not as DIY as us manual espresso owners, who get our hands dirty and grind coffee beans and tamp them into a portafilter to brew and espresso drink. 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 whole espresso roast beans. I usually buy coffee (here in NYC) at Whole Foods, Fairway or Zabars or Porto Rico Imports, and grind the beans myself every other day or so, so its always pretty freshly ground. This is ideal. If I was less lazy I’d grind coffee every day just before I made every cup, which would be better still. The instant you grind coffee beans up the coffee is at peak flavo. It starts to lose a bit of its flavor and aroma in the next hour or so. So I usually don’t buy ground coffee. 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 as the vacuum seal is broken!

The bag states, “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”.

It’s pretty good. Frankly this reminds me of the well loved ”Cafe Bustelo” very popular here in NYC especially beloved by our Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. This is a bit darker roast perhaps than Bustelo and it’s probably a bit better coffee, being from one estate in Nicaragua – and don’t get me wrong, I love Cafe Bustelo. Its a classic taste I grew up on.

A 14 oz. bag of TJ’s 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 style coffe” perhaps using a “Moka” express type maker for the top of the stove, I think you will really enjoy trying this ground espresso. 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.

UPDATE: There is now a really good espresso blend in a whole bean – TJ’s Organic Five Country Espresso Blend


6 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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  5. Stefano Giovannini
    Sep 02, 2022 @ 09:14:16

    Trader Joe’s now has a tall, slim can of Italian fine ground coffee for espresso. Roasted and ground in Italy, standard 250 g capacity. It is really good. It is a medium-dark roast. $7.99 a can. Pricier than Lavazza Oro (gold can) I buy on Amazon, and that’s my favorite coffee. but I like to switch around after a while. A moka pot does not produce espresso, as the pressure is much lower than the 9 bar required for espresso. I got a hand grinder and tried some small batch coffees, but in the end, I like Lavazza Oro better, it is smoother but still strong. Anyway, a manager at TJ, who seemed knowledgeable about coffee, told me the TJ Italian Espresso can be significantly better than this shade-grown espresso coffee blend. I did not try this, but I have really impressed with the cam.



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