Italian coffee is synonymous with quality. It’s no secret that most Italian coffee manufacturers are at the very least decent, simply because the market is so competitive that anything less wouldn’t manage to survive for very long.
But when a coffee company not only survives but thrives and expands on the Italian market for decades upon decades - you know you’re dealing with a high-quality brand.
Have you heard of the coffee brand Kimbo? It may not be the most renowned outside Italy, but it has its staunch following, and it does so for a reason.
In Italy, Kimbo coffee is nigh-synonymous with authentic Neapolitan coffee and that makes it HUGE.
The successful story of Kimbo, one of the prime Italian coffee manufacturers, began in 1963 and has only grown stronger over the years. Today, it ranks as #2 among all Italian manufacturers when it comes to packaged coffee.
So what is it that has managed to turn this once upon a time a small family enterprise into a coffee giant (and should you give it your time of day?).
The History of Kimbo S.p.A
Kimbo was born in Naples. That by itself already meant that the Rubino Brothers, who founded the company, made it destined for either long-lasting success or quick crash and burn. Naples has long been regarded as “the espresso capital of the world”, and a sub-par product wasn’t likely to last long here.
But the Rubino Brothers had an ace up their sleeves. They weren’t just coffee connoisseurs. They were innovators. Their product wasn’t simply about delivering the best possible taste to the consumer. It was about delivering the best possible taste in a convenient packaging that would make storing and transporting quality coffee an easy affair, without sacrificing either aromas or flavors.
For this purpose, they established Cafe de Brasil spa in 1963 and started using the innovative vacuum packaging for their coffee. Soon enough the allure of not just having a great cup of Italian espresso on the spot, but having the ability to take it with you everywhere turned Rubino Brothers’ small enterprise into one of the most important and renowned coffee roasting establishments not only in Italy but across the continent.
Sensing that the iron should be struck while hot, Rubino Brothers capitalized on the reputation of Neapolitan coffee traditions as a whole, and the reputation Cafe de Brasil had managed to acquire and expanded the manufacturing.
By 1994 Cafe de Brasil was #2 in the entirety of the Italian market when it came to packaged coffee, and has staunchly maintained that spot ever since.
What made Kimbo (as the company is known internationally) the giant it is today (the Kimbo Melito factory in Naples extends over 40,000 sq. miles) is its staunch adherence to traditions.
It’s the understanding that what made the Rubino Brothers’ family enterprise into a household name was the reputation of Neapolitan coffee in the world, and the brothers’ promise to make the once exclusive product accessible, transportable, and consistent in quality, regardless of where you purchased it.
The luxurious taste of authentic Neapolitan espresso is what you get from Kimbo coffee, regardless of the grind and roast you choose. The flavors are different, but the quality always stays the same.
And quality is what keeps bringing Italians back to Kimbo coffee over and over, cementing its place on top of the Italian coffee market.
What Makes Kimbo Coffee Products Special?
To maintain the quality of its coffee beans, Kimbo S.p.A keeps a very careful eye on the coffee production process from the first (planting) to the very last (roasting) step.
Kimbo's green coffee selection process lasted quite some time until the company was able to find the quality and flavors they were looking for. Kimbo sources the raw materials mainly from South America, but with a few additions from Asian farms as well. Some of the farms responsible for Kimbo’s green coffee beans have been providing raw materials to the company for decades.
The coffee trees are carefully cultivated and kept under the watchful eye of experienced farmers who know the exact specifics of what Kimbo expects from their product. Once the coffee cherries are bright red and ready to be harvested, they are carefully selected and dried in the sun. Once they’re properly dry, the green beans inside them are carefully extracted, cleaned of any residual flesh, packaged, and “rested” in storage, until the time comes to export them to Italy.
This painstaking process is only half the manufacturing process. The real painstaking part starts once the green beans arrive home.
The team of Cafe de Brasil experts is responsible for ensuring the beans are roasted correctly, with both Arabica and Robusta coffee flavors properly developed during the process.
Once the experts have given their seal of approval, the coffee gets roasted for appropriate selections.
The process requires three steps:
- The beans are dehydrated to fully eliminate all remaining moisture;
- The beans are roasted at the temperature of 320°F to 482°F between 8 to 12 minutes, depending on how dark the roast is supposed to be;
- The roasted beans are cooled at room temperature to fully allow the aroma and flavors to set.
The process is carefully controlled at each step by expert roasters who have a full understanding of what roast fits the beans they’re working with.
What Does Kimbo Coffee Taste Like?
Before the green beans even reach the roasting process, Kimbo coffee experts must put their seal of approval on them.
This is a manual process.
Each batch of green coffee goes through a careful selection process when the experts carefully inspect the coffee quality via taste-testing. Only if their noses and taste buds are satisfied, will the raw material get sent to roasting.
Two types of coffee beans are involved in the process: Arabica and Robusta, both familiar names to coffee aficionados.
Quality Arabica is supposed to have a sweet but intense aroma, while Robusta is supposed to be more bitter with spicy notes.
Kimbo coffee selection includes both pure Arabica and blends for more signature flavors. Each blend goes through - again - an expert that’s supposed to determine how well the beans balance each other out, and if the result is consistent with the quality Kimbo strives to maintain. Whether the blend veers toward sweet or acidic, it's supposed to be intensely aromatic, with a rich and complex flavor profile, with well-expressed spicy undertones.
Kimbo coffee selection offers a wide selection of whole beans, ground coffee, filter coffee, and even espresso capsules in a variety of roasts and flavors.
How to Make Espresso with Kimbo Coffee:
So you’ve decided to spoil your tastebuds with the taste of real Italian espresso every morning and your choice has fallen onto Kimbo coffee selection because it comes in multiple forms and roasts, and you have a high chance of finding the flavor profile you like, as well as the grind that’s compatible with the coffee maker you’ve got at home.
Now the big question: how do you brew the coffee to extract the flavors right and get a real espresso?
Unsurprisingly, if you’ve got an espresso machine then brewing the Italian espresso the right way will be the easiest.
See, there’s a trick to brewing the espresso in a way that allows coffee flavors to fully bloom. If you don’t know about it, you’ll still very likely get a good cup of coffee on your hand, as long as you’re using high-quality grinds and the right espresso roast from a quality manufacturer (yes, like Kimbo, see what I did there!).
But if you know the trick, then you’ll be making the Italian espresso the way they make it at coffee bars in Italy. And if you’ve ever had a taste of Italian espresso brewed right - you know it’s worth putting a little extra effort in.
See, the big secret is that when it comes to Italian espresso, getting the right flavor is not just about measuring out the right coffee to water ratio. It’s about keeping the water at the right temperature, as well. And the right temperature is between 195-215°F, i.e., before it reaches the boiling point.
The big upside of having a professional espresso machine is that the machine does the temperature regulation for you. It’s usually kept at around 190-196°F, for most espresso machines, even the simplest ones. If you’ve gone fancy and have an espresso machine that allows you to regulate the thermostat, then you get to control the temperature throughout the entire process and the question of how to make espresso comes down to the easy part: choose the right roast, measure out your coffee, and you’re good.
Authentic Italian espresso isn’t supposed to taste sour. If you’ve yet to try Kimbo coffee with your espresso machine, you should start with a medium-dark or standard Arabica dark roast, since there’s a lesser chance of a darker roast going sour, but the flavor won’t be overly intense.
For a truly Italian espresso, you’ll need a decent amount of coffee (between 7-9g) and little water (25-35ml). Diluted coffee isn’t Italian espresso. Dilute it after brewing if you want an Americano, but make the proper espresso first.
How to make espresso with Kimbo Coffee on the stovetop:
Yes, it’s possible to brew espresso on the stovetop. Or at least, it’s possible to brew an authentic substitute, since Italians do it too!
You just need a device called Moka pot or Makinetta to do it.
Moka pot is known as a stovetop espresso maker because when brewed right, the coffee it produces is concentrated and flavorful, similar to a shot of espresso.
No, it’s not quite espresso. But it’s the best you can get when using a stovetop.
The big difference is that you don’t get to control the water temperature when you’re brewing coffee in a Moka pot. But as long as you keep the coffee to water ratio the same, the final result will be close enough to Italian espresso. This is the way coffee is brewed in Italian households, and as we’ve already mentioned, Italians can be very picky about their coffee. Moka pots wouldn’t be as popular as they are if they couldn’t brew coffee that tastes right.
The trick to making Moka pot espresso is to choose the right grind and the right roast.
Espresso machines work best with finely ground coffee (i.e., the standard espresso grind) because a fine grind allows the water to pass faster and brew espresso quickly. You can use finely ground coffee with a Moka pot, but you’d get better results with a medium or a medium-fine grind, as the brewing process is longer and the flavors are being extracted slower. The easiest way to get the grind optimal for your Moka pot would be to get Kimbo coffee whole beans and grind them yourself. But, again, an espresso grind will still work fine if you don’t have a coffee grinder on your hands.
As for the roast, the general rule of thumb is that the darker the roast, the more flavorful the coffee brewed in the Moka pot. Light or even medium roast flavor simply won’t be able to fully bloom.
How to make espresso with a pour-over:
If you’re using a Hario V60 coffee maker (or another filter coffee device), then you have a big advantage. You can control the temperature of the water you’ll be using.
This will allow you to make a brew that’s very close to authentic Italian espresso. As long as you’ve got the right grind and right roast, of course.
Medium roast is the best roast for making espresso with a filter. The pour-over technique can be hard for an untrained hand, and even those with experience may fail to properly extract flavors from other roasts. Blond (light) roasts may prevent optimal extraction with pour-over failing to fully develop flavors. Darker roasts run a risk of easy over-extraction when instead of properly developing, the taste gets bitter and “burnt”.
(Though there are certain baristas who believe that there’s no such thing as over-extraction, so if you like coffee on the bitter side, you can try using darker roasts).
As for the grind, it can get even more particular. Filter devices require a specific grind, even coarser than Moka pots, which is why standard espresso grind may not turn out best (again, the risk of over-extraction. You can either grind your own coffee or try browsing through the Kimbo filter coffee selection to find the flavor profile that suits your tastes best.
After that, it's all about patience. You’ll need to measure out ground coffee in a filter and pour your hot (but not boiling, around 200°F!) water over it in several increments, with around 30-second intervals in-between. The coffee to water ratio should be around 1:10.
How to make espresso with Kimbo coffee capsules:
Believe it or not, you can make an espresso-like brew with capsules even if you don’t have a Nespresso machine.Take your chosen Kimbo capsule, gently pierce the top, place it in a mug, and pour about 50ml of hot water over it. Let the coffee pot steep, keeping a careful eye on it, and periodically stir. It should take around 6-8 minutes to make an espresso-like brew.