Lavazza Coffee Guide
A1 Coffee, June 2014
Shopping for espresso coffee beans can be a baffling experience unless you already know what you’re looking for. We only stock one major brand of coffee beans – Lavazza – and there are still a large number of different blends to choose from.
We therefore decided to put together this easy-to-follow guide to help you choose the right Lavazza coffee for you. Please note this isn’t an advert or a buyers’ guide, simply an explanation of the origins, flavour and suitability of the range of Lavazza coffee beans.
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter whether you are buying coffee beans for use in your coffee shop or just to enjoy at home, the principal is the same – if it tastes good to you, it should taste good to your customers too. The only thing to factor in is the price – you may be prepared to pay that little bit more for what you drink at home, for obvious reasons.
Another point to make before we describe these great Lavazza coffees is that taste can’t be measured. We are often asked whether one blend tastes better than another, and the answer always has to be that taste is a subjective thing, what one person loves another may dislike and vice versa. We can of course use quality as a guide, but as an example, my personal favourite and the blend often recommended by Lavazza is not the most expensive in their range. We’ll therefore stick with the facts rather than try to tell you how great we think it tastes to us.
Lavazza coffee beans are broadly split into two different categories, those in red bags and those in blue bags. Lavazza red tends to be found more in cash and carries, supermarkets and high street shops. Lavazza blue is a more premium range aimed at coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and so on. We only sell the Lavazza blue range so we’ll only be talking about those in this article.
Lavazza Super Crema
Super Crema has always been our best selling coffee beans as it offers the best balance between price and quality. It’s also a bit of an all-rounder in that you can make pretty much any type of coffee with it and it will still work. Make an espresso with it and you’ll get a thick crema (as the name would suggest), but try a long latte with two sugars and a shot of caramel syrup and it will still taste of coffee, unlike some other blends that get overpowered.
Super Crema is blended from washed Brazilian coffee beans to give it depth, and other varieties from Central America and Indonesia, to give it the creamy texture it’s known for. It’s medium roasted as you’d expect, so it’s neither too mild nor burnt and bitter. If you’re looking for Lavazza coffee beans, we would always recommend this blend unless you have a specific reason to be using anything else.
Lavazza Grand Espresso
This is one of the best sellers here in the UK. It’s blended from Central American, Highland South American and Asian beans to give it a balanced flavour and is medium roasted to produce a coffee that has a stronger than average taste. There are hints of spice and chocolate, brought out by the roasting process. Like all Lavazza blue coffee beans, it’s suitable for making pretty much all espresso-based coffee drinks, but is particularly suited to straight espresso or macchiatos.
Lavazza don’t have a Fairtrade coffee in their range, preferring instead to have control over where the money is going and doing it their own way. Lavazza Tierra is a sustainable development project combining product quality with improved living conditions for the three small-scale coffee growing communities involved.
What they’ve done is single out three disadvantaged coffee producing communities in Honduras, Colombia and Peru and then provides technical assistance to help make their farms sustainable. The communities are in medium to high altitude areas and produce only Arabica beans, resulting in a blend that, on paper at least, is about as good as it gets. The Tierra beans instead of being Fairtrade still have that feel-good factor thanks to this initiative, and this is reinforced by their use of 30% Rainforest Alliance certified beans in the Tierra blend.
Lavazza’s own description of this blend is that it’s composed of Central and South American Arabica mild beans with the aroma and intense, liquorish flavours of Central American coffee beans combined with the delicate acidic aroma of South American beans. Mellow and thick crema.
Most opinion out there on coffee forums and social media seems to agree that it’s got a dark and high-roasted taste to it that suits drinks like macchiatos, flat whites and cortados in particular. If you’re looking for an espresso, the Super Crema will do the job just as well but at a lower price, unless of course its ethical credentials are more important to you. It’s a seriously good coffee but has split opinion amongst coffee drinkers over its taste, so we’d recommend you try it first before committing to larger quantities in case it’s not your cup of tea (apologies).
Pienaroma is the most expensive blend of Lavazza coffee beans that we have at A1 Coffee and it’s certainly something pretty special. What they’ve done with this one is blend together just two varieties – Arabica beans from the very best high altitude Brazilian plantations, and more fragrant and mild Arabicas from the highlands of Central America. This satisfies those who only want 100% Arabica beans in their coffee, and also results in a blend that is really velvety smooth and quite mild with very low acidity.
According to our customers and to what is said on coffee forums, Lavazza Pienaroma is best suited to milky coffee drinks rather than espressos and short coffees. This is of course a matter of personal taste as we have used it to make espresso and found it to be at least as good as the Super Crema. It does work very well with milk though, so if you want to make a really outstanding latte, it’s definitely one to consider.
Lavazza Crema e Aroma
This is broadly similar in taste and price to Super Crema with a slightly lighter and fruitier aftertaste. Like many blends, it’s made using Robusta and Arabica beans. Unlike some other blends however, the Robusta beans are of a very high quality while the Arabicas are a mix of both washed and unwashed beans.
We’ve found this to be the nearest to Super Crema in the Lavazza range with a really classy flavour that you’d expect from a far more expensive blend. It’s got quite a heavy taste, presumably due to the presence of the Robusta, and is therefore a good choice for coffees served with flavouring syrups, and also for iced coffee. Again, this one is medium roasted.
Lavazza Gold Selection
In coffee terms, Gold Selection is something pretty special. We’ve used this many times and found it to be the best quality coffee in the Lavazza range. Common opinion out there online seems to back this up, and we know that Lavazza themselves recommend this coffee highly and with good reason. Like the Super Crema, you can do pretty much anything to it and it will still come out tasting of good coffee – even if you’re loading it with lots of milk and sugar, flavouring syrups and so on, the flavour of the coffee is never overpowered. The great balance with this one is that it also tastes good as an espresso, though it does work particularly well with milk.
The beans themselves are a mixture of natural and washed coffee beans grown on selected plantations in Brazil, Central America and Asia. These plantations have been selected for their production of sweet coffees, resulting in a rounded and well balanced flavour. Lavazza say there is a chocolaty aftertaste with this which doesn’t really do it justice – the slight taste of chocolate is there but it’s one of those that you really have to try to appreciate it. Not the most expensive in the range, but as a result, it could well be the best value.
Not such a heavy body as the Crema e Aroma or Tierra, and again, medium roasted like most Lavazza blends.
Lavazza Top Class
This one has a flavour that we’ve found to be about halfway between the Tierra and the Gold Selection, in that it has a chocolaty aftertaste along with a heavier body and stronger taste than the Super Crema. It’s what a lot of people describe as a ‘continental flavour’ (whatever that is!) and is definitely one of the strongest in the Lavazza range.
The beans are sourced from far and wide with this one, with sweeter beans coming from Asia and the milds coming from both Central America and Brazil. It’s medium roasted and seems to be best suited to shorter coffee drinks including ristretto, espresso, flat white, cortado and macchiato. We have a lot of customers who have spent time in Italy, Spain and Greece in the past who insist on Top Class as it’s nearer to the taste that they’ve become used to overseas.
Lavazza Dek Beans
Always left until last in any list of coffee descriptions, this is a little unfair in the case of Lavazza Dek as, despite being a decaf and brushed aside by coffee enthusiasts, is a genuinely great coffee in its’ own right.
Lavazza Dek is a water-processed decaffeinated coffee, meaning it’s not been through a decaf process that uses nasty chemicals, and it’s therefore not got the unpleasant aftertaste that used to give decaf such a bad name. It’s also made using 100% Arabica coffee beans, so it produces a good crema and has the aroma and taste that goes with a premium brand coffee. The Arabica content means it’s particularly well suited for espresso-based drinks with a high milk content such as lattes and cappuccino, and also works well with flavouring syrups.
We hope this list of descriptions goes some way to helping you choose the right Lavazza coffee beans for you. Remember you can always call us if you want more information, and feel free to read this in conjunction with other guides published online to help you build us a balanced picture. We hope you’ll soon be enjoying Lavazza coffee!