Verena Street Shot Tower Espresso

I’ll say up front that it’s possible my experience with this coffee is one-off. And I certainly hope it is. But it’s a horrible enough experience that I’m steering clear of them in the future.

To preface, I was recently laid off, so in a bid to cut some costs, I decided to take on lesser-priced coffee compared to what I typically get from Messenger Coffee. And my nearby Hy-Vee is where I’ve gone in the past. So when I saw Verena Street in the Hy-Vee app, and saw it was on sale for $8 for 11oz (not 12 oz, unfortunately, not that would’ve helped much here), I decided to give it a try. Especially since the 2lb bags can be had for only a little more than a 12oz bag of Messenger.


Now Verena Street’s Shot Tower Espresso is dark and oily, like the previously-reviewed Pitch Black Espresso from Black-Out Coffee. And it has the flavor notes of charcoal and smoke that I also noted with Pitch Black.

Only my experience with Verena Street was worse. Way, way worse. To say I’m livid is a massive understatement.

I’m writing this not even 48 hours after I bought the bag. I got 4 lattes out of the entire 11oz bag. More of the coffee grinds went into my trash can than were used to pull a shot. The reason: any attempt to grind fine enough for espresso created grinds that clumped up and blocked up my grinder. And the 4 lattes I did get out of it were mediocre at best simply because I couldn’t get my grinder dialed in.

It was just impossible.

(For immediate reference, my grinder is the Compak K3 Touch, which has 58mm flat burs.)

The morning after I bough the bag, it took me nearly an hour to get something workable, fighting with my grinder the entire time, burning through probably a hundred grams of beans in the process, if not more. It was a royal pain in the ass… And for each of the other three lattes, it was much the same. Fight with the grinder to at least get something mediocre.

This morning I even took apart my grinder and cleaned it out. And that helped. I got close to getting it dialed in, and figured I’d just adjust things with each next grind. Only I never got that chance. Because only for this morning, cleaning the grinder helped. Only. for. this morning.

This afternoon it was back to the same experience of fighting the grinder to get something… mediocre. Six (6) hours is all the grinder was sitting. Just. Six. Hours. And something happened with the latent grinds in the grinder…

Now my grinder isn’t exactly “high end”. Yeah it’s definitely not the cheapest thing on the shelf. But there are other grinders that are far better than mine, and far pricier. But it’s price is due to it being made for espresso, able to grind super fine for espresso or Turkish coffee. And if a coffee bean is advertised as “espresso”, I should be able to put it through any grinder made for espresso, whether it has flat burs or conical burs (mine is flat), and grind it to the fineness needed to pull a shot of espresso on an espresso machine.

But this bean is way, way too oily to do that. It’ll clump up inside your grinder in such a way that nothing will flow out. At least on a flat-bur grinder. If I still had my conical bur Breville Smart Grinder, I probably could’ve been fine. Probably…

But for the most part, trying to do a fine grind with an oily bean will lead to a bad time.

Don’t call your blend an espresso blend if it can’t be ground fine for espresso. The experience alone means this isn’t even worth a 0/5.