Espresso is an art; and to make it perfect, one has to put the basics right. The right beans, the right roast, the perfect grind, and at last, the espresso machine. With just the perfect gear, you won’t get the best taste, but rather with the right combination of each phase, especially, the selection of the beans, you can achieve that.
Within this article, we will introduce you to the best espresso beans for your amazing cup of Joe.
Beans roasted for espresso in particular are roasted longer than usual so that the various oils and flavors in the beans are brought to the surface. These attributes add to the taste of your espresso drink. Espresso is a coffee that is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground and compacted coffee beans.
A fresh cup of espresso should be a creamy explosion to the taste buds but the taste depends actually on your beans. Even having an expensive automatic espresso machine doesn’t mean you are sure to have a great cup. Rather, one must be careful about choosing the right espresso beans. So apart from our best coffee beans bucket list, we are sharing the best coffee beans for espresso, so that you can make that lovely espresso without any hiccups.
The Best Espresso Beans For Coffee Aficionados
1. Spirit Animal Coffee’s Catuai and Bourbon
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) consistently scores Spirit Animal coffee over 90 in its overall evaluation. The crop is produced in an environmentally sustainable manner, and collaborative partnerships with the producers help uplift local communities.
Origin: Tres Cruces, Honduras Roast: Light Tasting Notes: Jasmine, Tropical Fruit Cocktail
This exotic coffee is produced in Honduras and brought to you at your home for your enjoyment! The Tres Cruises plantation in the Lempira region of Honduras freshly produces this coffee. It is grown at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level.
The fresh mountain air and cool temperatures produce exotic Honduran coffee of the highest quality. In fact, the product quality is so supreme that it was rated the Best Overall Honduran Coffee of 2021! It is thoroughly tested and free of mycotoxin, mold, and other toxins. Only the top 1% of all produced beans are selected for Spirit Animal Coffee’s bags, giving you a premium coffee to enjoy.
The flavor of the coffee is deep and rich. It prominently features creamy chocolate with a praline finish. Aromatic undertones of jasmine lend an irresistible fragrance to each brew. The hints of tropical fruits subtly add freshness and vibrance to each sip of the Catai and Bourbon.
Who is this for?
The Catuai and Bourbon variant is perfect for those who enjoy light roasts, typically having higher caffeine content. The delicious flavor profile with notes of jasmine and fruits will leave you craving for more!
Also Read: Best Light Roast Coffee Brands
2. Volcanica Coffee Company’s Tanzanian Peaberry
Dried fruit and Chocolate undertones give depth to the flavor profile, and the Orange adds a citrus freshness!
Origin: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania Roast: Medium Tasting Notes: Dried Fruit, Savory Chocolate, Orange
The Tanzanian Peaberry is Volcanica Coffee’s perfect medium roast option. It is grown on the Nitin Estate in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Peaberry beans are only found in 5% of the total crop harvested, typically. These coffee beans are completely spherical, instead of having a flat side, as we are familiar with. This is because each cherry, on average, contains two seeds that are separated, while peaberry cherries contain a single, spherical bean.
The Peaberry beans add an extra dimension of flavor to the taste of the coffee. They pack flavor as all of the nutrients of the cherry are absorbed by a single coffee bean, instead of them being split between two seeds.
The coffee is single-origin and has a precise pH of 5.3. It is naturally washed and sun-dried without using artificial processes to bring authentic flavor to each cup! The coffee is entirely Kosher certified and sustainably produced.
Each sip of the Tanzanian Peaberry has a rich body with superb acidity. This intense flavor is coupled with a fragrant aroma and mellowy winy overtones.
If you are not great with acidity, try our article about the Best Low Acid Coffee Beans.
Who is this for?
Coffee lovers who like medium Peaberry roasts are sure to love the Tanzanian Peaberry! With hints of citric freshness and chocolate, its rich flavor will have you coming back for more!
3. Koa Coffee’s Kona Estate Dark Roast
The taste of dark chocolate really shines through, and the rustic woodiness of exotic spices beautifully complements it. The aroma that permeates the room while grinding the whole beans is enough to make your day!
Origin: The Kona region, Hawaii Islands Roast: Dark Tasting Notes: Dark Chocolate, Exotic Wood
Koa Coffee is grown in the Kona Coffee Belt in Hawaii, producing the best authentic Hawaiian Kona. The slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, two active volcanoes, are richly fertile for coffee production. This specialty coffee variant comes in the form of whole beans.
The ‘Estate’ in the name of the coffee establishes that it is a single origin. All beans in the bag are grown on the same farm. This creates a consistency in the flavor profile across all brews made from the same bag.
The dark roast lowers the caffeine content compared to lighter roasts. Consequently, this coffee can be enjoyed through the evening or even before bed! The coffee is smooth and mellow to taste. The dark roast brings out a rich flavor and fragrant aroma.
Who is this for?
Those who enjoy smooth, dark roast coffees are sure to love the Estate Kona! Koa Coffee’s signature dark roast is wonderfully balanced, with savory notes of dark chocolate.
4. Lifeboost Premium Espresso Coffee
Each brew of the coffee creates a balanced, well-rounded cup. The flavor is bold, with undertones of chocolate and caramel. These balance the bitterness of a dark roast and provide a sweetness to the flavor profile. Hints of tropical fruits add to an inviting aroma!
Origin: Nicaragua, Central America Roast: Dark Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Caramel, Fruit
This Premium Espresso from Lifeboost is a must-try for dark coffee enthusiasts! The highest quality beans are selected for the preparation of this coffee. The coffee cherries are handpicked and then fermented for 26 hours. This helps remove the skin while still protecting the seeds.
Next, the seeds are washed in the fresh, clear river waters and then naturally dried in the sun. The roasting is done precisely such that the humidity content of the beans is 11.5%. This ensures that the beans are thoroughly roasted until dark but not burnt. Finally, the beans ‘rest’ for 30 days. At this time, the flavor of the coffee is infused into them for you to enjoy!
The produce is organically grown. No pesticides are used in the production process, bringing you naturally cultivated coffee that is USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Organic Certified. The coffee is of the Arabica and Maragogipe varieties and is tested to be free of over 400 toxins!
Who is this for?
Coffee lovers who prefer dark roasts will love the Premium Espresso from Lifeboost! It has a bitter finish due to its dark roast and works excellent as espresso and lattes!
5. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Beans
Origin: Central America, Brazil and Indonesia Roast: Medium-Dark
Another great pick for a great-tasting espresso is from Lavazza. The mild Central American beans are blended with sweet Indonesian beans and then the Brazilian beans are added to make the resulting drink smooth. All in all, Lavazza super crema is a balanced batch of beans with a full rich taste that is naturally sweet and creamy.
These are Medium-Dark roast, making them less oily and a perfect fit for super-automatic espresso machines. If you are a fan of specialty drinks like Latte or Cappuccino, try this and you will be a die-hard fan. These are rich dark brown in color and have an excellent aroma if you love to smell your coffee.
Who is this for?
Lavazza is a great answer for people who love the mild, smooth and balanced taste, and are into making milk-based drinks that involve adding whipped cream and other fancy material.
6. Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso
Origin: Africa, Indonesia, Central & South America Roast: Medium
Blend of pure Arabica beans from the house of Kicking horse that is Organic, Kosher, and Fair Trade certified. The beans are picked carefully to give you an amazing coffee experience. If you use a super-automatic, this one is great to go as you have lesser oils with a medium roast that doesn’t clog the machine.
Kicking Horse has long been in the coffee business for years and really knows what it takes to produce great-tasting blends. If you are a die-hard coffee lover, then you might already have tasted the various blends from this brand. If not, then do it, man, you still have to gain the coffee experience.
This blend is a nice pick as espresso beans and is equally good as French press beans.
Who is this for?
Don’t hang with suspense, try the Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger to get you out to action with its Silky and Complex wild berry syrup tasting notes; aroma of brown sugar and milk chocolate. So if you are one of them loving these parameters, this one is for you!
7. Subtle Earth
- Certified Organic by CCOF - 100% Arabica Coffee - GMO Free
- 2LB - Whole Bean - Medium-Dark Roast
- Rich and chocolatey with profound depth of flavor, velvety...
- Origin: Honduras, Sharing Certified Program
Origin: Honduras Roast: Medium-Dark
With amazing customer service and utmost care for beans, this single-origin Arabica bean is a deserving pick in our espresso beans collection. These beans are grown in the Marcala region known for its fertile soil and high elevation. The coffee is roasted medium-high so that it remains in low acid content levels.
It’s organic, has a full-body, with deep rich chocolaty flavor. The most dominating notes of this coffee are honey and chocolate. You might also get a hint of hazelnut, but very mild. The aroma is surely going to wake you up from the bed.
Who is this for?
For people in love with chocolates, caramel, and hints of honey are going to love it. It’s a smooth and full-body bean with a deep aftertaste.
8. Peet’s French Roast
One of the things that makes Peet’s coffee great is that over the past four decades they have stayed true to their original principle of producing coffee; fresh beans and superior quality.
Origin: Latin America Roast: Dark Roast
Peet’s French Roast is crafted specifically with espresso in mind. It has a bold flavor that is rich and complex. The first sip has a hint of bitterness that is replaced by a mixture of exploding tastes.
And by roasting their beans using highly skilled roasters instead of computerized roasting to ensure the highest quality and consistency achievable they get a tick in our book. From then till now people have been falling head over heels in love with this brand for the simple fact, they just produce fantastic coffee. Peet’s French roast has a stout body, with hints of wood smoky and burnt caramel.
If you like your espresso flavorful and potent, Peet’s coffee might be the one for you. Some people have a preference for coffee that isn’t as strong with such an intrusive taste in that case this might not be the coffee for you. This coffee was very flavorful and our taste buds dance to the tune of quality coffee.
Who is this for?
Great for people obsessed with strong and bold espresso tongue and who love woody burnt smoke.
9. Illy’s Ground Espresso Coffee (Grounds)
Try a variety pack from one of the most trusted brands for coffee beans.
Origin: Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, and Costa Rica Roast: Medium
If you found Peet’s to be a little too strong, another great choice for espresso is Illy’s Coffee. Made with 100-percent Arabica coffee, Illy has become associated with excellence. Arabica coffee is known to make milder, less bitter coffee.
Caffeine itself has a bitter taste and Arabica beans contain less caffeine than any other commercially cultivated species of coffee making some believe Arabica is better tasting in many ways. This coffee is also available in ground form to provide optimal extraction.
The package we are talking about here contains:
- 8.8 oz of Medium Roast Beans
- 8.8 oz of Dark Roast Beans
- 8.8 oz of Decaf Medium Roast Beans
So you would be tasting three different variants of Illy coffee for espresso. Illy is a known brand and so you won’t have to worry about any bad experience.
Who is this for?
Beans sourced from 6 different channels are finely picked and blended to create a perfectly balanced and delightfully distinct taste.
Also Read: Best Guatemalan Coffee Beans
10. Bean Box Gourmet Dark Roast Sampler
Try some random coffee from the carefully selected ones by BeanBox.
It’s a 6-month coffee subscription by the Bean Box that sends a variety of 4 roasts every month in a gift package. You’d be free for 6 months of coffee beans buying task. The variety includes top-notch roasters in Seattle’s area which are freshly roasted just before the shipping. You are going to enjoy single-origin beans as well as perfectly crafted blends too.
Every month you’d be experiencing a batch from different roasters with ‘How to Brew Perfect’ instructions marked on the packages. So you’d travel much of Seattle’s Cafes without stepping out from the comfort of your home. You can even give this as a gift for a coffee lover and it will remind him/her until the end of the subscription.
Who is this for?
For people who don’t like to indulge in finding coffee again and again but want to discover new taste palates, this subscription goes for them!
You might like: Best Coffee Subscription Services
What Makes A Bean An ‘Espresso Bean’
The coffee beans are actually all the same at the start. The process is what actually makes the results different. The beans undergo roasting then grinding and after that, they undergo the process of extraction involving high pressure and heat.
So, a bean can be said to be an espresso bean when it can complement this kind of drink. Coffee and espresso can be made from the same kind of beans, but for an exquisite espresso, the beans are roasted longer than usual and after that, they are fine grind for the extraction process. Most of the espresso beans will be Arabica with medium to dark roast for a strong flavorful cup.
The reason behind the beans being medium to dark roast is to prevent the espresso from being sour. The coffee to water ratio in espresso extraction is around 3-to-1 and so, the brew doesn’t get as hot as in other methods resulting in under extraction and sour flavor. This is why we need medium to dark roast coffee beans to prevent under extraction and sour flavor.
How To Buy The Best Espresso Beans
Don’t worry as we won’t give you a big bunch of explanations to pick the right espresso beans. Instead, just focus on the following parameters when buying the beans:
The most preferred roast for espresso coffee is from medium-dark to dark roast. The lighter roasts result in weaker and sour espresso shots.
Whole vs Ground Coffee
If you don’t want to grind or don’t have a burr coffee grinder at home, get the ground coffee or else go for whole beans. The whole beans are preferred because grinding just before brewing advances your coffee experience as the oils and aroma don’t fade away.
Try to buy the beans as fresh as possible. The best way to get the freshest espresso beans is to shop from a local roaster. If that’s not possible, check the packing date to be between 2 weeks to 2 months at max.
Arabica or Robusta
Obviously, Arabica beans, as they are the better when we compare them from Robusta.
Single Origin or Blend
I personally prefer single-origin as that tends to actually tell you which origin produces what kind of coffee whereas blends become permutations and combinations resulting in numerous combinations and the whole life to try every taste. That makes the topic very complex, so I suggest it be easy with single origins.
This single attribute changes many characteristics of coffee beans. The reason behind this is a different temperature, climate, soil, exposure, and water. Everything has a contribution and so the results are different. Like say, the coffee from Asia has a rich and delicious texture; African beans are complex with fruity flavors; whereas North and South American beans are sweet and simple in flavors. We suggest reading more about origins and try each one to get closer to things practically.
Roasting Beans for Espresso
Do take into note that if you are roasting at home, then for an espresso, the bar of medium to dark roasts is preferred. The reason behind the use of dark roasts is they have the lowest acidity and the most natural oils that help in the formation of crema, that amazing yellowish-brown layer on the top. They also have the full body for a yet stronger taste of espresso.
Sometimes, few machines get clogged by the use of dark beans because of the presence of more natural oils. To avoid this, switching to medium-dark or medium roast beans is a better alternative. It will give some more flavors of beans with mid-range acidity.
Grinding Beans for Espresso
Grinding the beans to the perfect size for espresso is another most important aspect that should not be taken lightly. Though in practice, it’s not the same size that fits all as grind size depends on the machine as well as the preferred taste of the drinking person. So we conclude the grind to be fine like a mix of powdered sugar and fine beach sand, but do bear in mind the following points –
- Grinding too fine can block the filter as it would start passing through it
- Grinding a little coarse would block or slow the pushing of water through grounds that create crema resulting in an under-extracted espresso
All in all, read the manual of your espresso machine as that details a lot of things, and after that experiment in the fine settings to get the desired cup of espresso.
There are many espresso beans and brands out there; these are just some of the brands we enjoyed. In addition to finding the right espresso bean for you, you might want a few tips in storing your coffee beans. It is very important to keep away from moisture, light, air, and heat. This will ensure that your coffee is kept fresher longer. An air-tight glass or ceramic container is preferable and should be kept in a cool, dry dark place.