Best Espresso Beans | (Flavors and Qualities Compared!)

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Johny Morrisson


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♡ Written by Humans for Humans

The right Espresso beans can make or break your homemade shot, transforming it from bitter sludge to liquid perfection.

Whether you prefer a bold Italian roast, a fruity medium blend, a decaf option, or a delightful blend of Arabica and Robusta you’re sure to find your new favorite among Best Espresso Beans.

10 Best Espresso Coffee beans

Why Trust Us?

In my pursuit of the best espresso coffee, I’ve tested countless beans in my home brewing experiments. I prioritize unbiasedness and judge beans on multiple criteria – flavor, aroma, crema, and more. You can trust my picks for crafting cafe-caliber shots.

Is there a difference between Espresso and regular Coffee beans?

Espresso and regular coffee beans are typically derived from the same coffee plant species, so there’s no inherent difference in the beans themselves.

However, roasters create specific espresso blends to bring out flavors that pair well with the short and pressurized brewing process.

Espresso blends are usually a complex mix of beans from different regions, often containing Latin American beans for body and smoothness along with beans from Africa and Indonesia for a depth of flavor and a thicker crema layer.

The beans are typically roasted darker to bring out bold, rich notes that stand up to the high-pressure extraction of an espresso machine.

How does Espresso blend taste?

While there’s no one specific taste of espresso blends, you can expect sweet notes of chocolate and caramel, often with a touch of nuttiness and slight bitterness.

Espresso blends are usually bold and intense to stand up to dilution with milk. The creamy sweetness of milk complements and balances the strong espresso flavors.

Overall, espresso blends strike a balance between bold intensity and sweet, nuanced flavors for a complex sensory experience.

Things to Consider While Choosing the Best Espresso Beans

Single Origin or blend

When it comes to choosing the best espresso beans, the debate between single origin and blends is a significant one.

Espresso blends, comprised of beans from various regions, are often preferred for their versatility compared to single origin coffee.

Blending different beans allows roasters to create a harmonious flavor profile that’s well-suited for the intense extraction of espresso. The diverse origins contribute unique characteristics, resulting in a balanced and rich taste.

For example, beans from Latin America like Brazil and Colombia provide smooth, creamy, and nutty notes, while beans from Asia Pacific regions like Indonesia and India offer full-bodied, Smoky, and Earthy flavors.

Single-origin beans can showcase unique flavors from a specific farm or region and are perfect for slow brewing methods like Pour-over.

However, they are not ideal for espresso because they don’t extract as well under high pressure and lack the body and crema needed for espresso’s signature thick texture.

Most of the beans I have mentioned in the list are a blend of Beans from Latin or Central America and the Asia Pacific region. However, for those who appreciate the purity of single-origin beans, Wink Coffee Blonde Roast is a delightful option.

Arabica Vs Robusta

Arabica beans are celebrated for their complex flavor profiles marked by sweet notes, high acidity, and fragrant aromas.

Arabica beans are more vibrant and bright, lending a complex and refined taste to the espresso. They also have a lower caffeine content compared to Robusta beans.

However, Arabica on its own can lack the body and crema needed for excellent espresso.

Robusta beans, on the other hand, are known for their robust and bold flavors. They tend to have a more pronounced bitterness and contribute to a thicker crema and a more full-bodied espresso.

That’s why most Italian blends contain a balance of both Arabica and Robust beans. The Arabica gives the nuanced flavors while the Robusta lends the rich mouthfeel and frothy crema.

Lavazza Super Crema and Death Wish Espresso are two expertly crafted blends of Arabica and Robusta beans. All other options are 100% Arabica, which is a good choice for coffee drinkers who prefer a smooth and mellow flavor profile.

Which roast is best for espresso?

The perfect roast for espresso is often a matter of personal preference, but medium and dark roasts are perfect for creating a delightful espresso experience.

Dark roasts bring a rich and bold intensity to your espresso. They feature robust, smoky, and often slightly sweet profiles that can be particularly appealing to those who enjoy a more potent and full-bodied espresso shot. Peet’s Coffee is my favorite dark roast for Espresso.

For me, a medium roast strikes an ideal balance, maintaining some bright notes while achieving the bold flavor I want in my espresso. That’s why I love Lavazza Super Crema and Illy Classico Medium roast blends.

Light roasts, while wonderful for other brewing methods, may not deliver the desired depth and body in an espresso shot. However, I have mentioned Wink Coffee Blonde Roast in the list if you want to try!

Check The Roast date for Freshness

The freshness of the roast date is paramount when it comes to crafting the perfect espresso. Freshly roasted beans contain a myriad of aromatic compounds and oils that contribute to the complex flavor profile of espresso.

Freshly roasted beans contain a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), and it contributes to the formation of crema.

Over time, coffee beans lose their flavorful aroma and trapped carbon dioxide, which is why old beans lack aroma and produce bland espresso shots without crema.

Ground coffee loses freshness even more quickly than Whole coffee beans. That’s why I never recommend buying ground coffee for Espresso.

Typically, espresso aficionados aim to brew with beans that are between 7 and 30 days post-roast. This range allows the beans to degas, develop flavor complexity, and maintain the signature crema that crowns a well-pulled shot.

1. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Blend
(Best for Crema)

Lavazza Super Crema makes the ideal companion for espresso aficionados seeking the best crema crowning each shot. You’ll immediately notice the flawlessly roasted beans and irresistible aromas of hazelnut and brown sugar that signal superb espresso is on the way.

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Blend
FeaturesLavazza Super Crema
OriginLatin America and Asia
Tasting NotesHazelnut and brown sugar
Type of Beans60% Arabica and 40% Robusta
Type of RoastMedium

Unlike some roasts that leave a bitter aftertaste, Lavazza Super Crema imparts notes of chocolate and caramel for a perfectly balanced cup every time.

The blend of 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta creates a complex yet mild profile and very thick crema.

I must say these beans are specifically tailored for espresso – they didn’t shine as much in my French press.

The best thing; Lavazza provides this authentic cafe-caliber espresso experience at a very wallet-friendly price point.

2. illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee
(Best Tasting Italian Espresso Beans)

Illy Classico offers espresso perfection for those seeking the smoothest Italian cafe-style shot loaded with balanced aromatics. Illy spends meticulous resources sourcing each harvest, choosing only the finest 100% Arabica beans from 9 regions to include in their signature Classico blend.

Illy Classico Espresso Beans
FeaturesIlly Classico
OriginSourced Worldwide
Tasting NotesRich and balanced with notes of caramel and chocolate
Type of Beans100% Arabica
Type of RoastMedium

Their meticulous medium roast highlights caramel sweetness with delicate orange blossom and jasmine notes.

Illy’s specialized pressurized metal packaging preserves the ethnic complexity of their blend while sealing in aromas and oils for unmatched freshness you can taste.

However, the refined mellow flavor may not satisfy those seeking an intense dark roasted jolt. And the premium whole beans do come at a steep price. But for aficionados who appreciate complexity over brute strength, Illy Classico provides the best experience.

3. Peet’s Coffee Espresso Forte
(Best Dark Roast Espresso beans)

Peet’s Espresso Forte is the perfect choice for espresso lovers who crave a rich, chocolatey flavor without the acidity. These beans are handcrafted by Peet’s roastmasters specifically for espresso’s demanding brewing style, and roasted to perfection to create a velvety elixir with a massive body and endless depth.

Peets Coffee Espresso Forte Beans
FeaturesPeet’s Coffee Espresso Forte
OriginIndo-Pacific and Latin America
Tasting NotesBright tang, smooth crema, and hazelnut nuance
Type of Beans100% Arabica
Type of RoastDark

Unlike other dark roasts offering only superficial char, Forte imparts nuanced tasting notes harmonizing earthy Indo-Pacific coffee with bright Central American beans.

The blend’s robust character perfectly balances cacao against citrus for a lively yet syrupy Espresso shot.

While some may find it slightly intense compared to mellow medium roasts, Forte hits the spot for those desiring strong Espresso or Milk Based Latte and Cappuccino drinks.

4. Purity Coffee EASE Dark Roast
(Healthiest Low Acid Organic)

If you’re an espresso lover with acid sensitivity who wants indulgent dark roast flavor minus the stomach upset, Purity EASE Dark Roast brings guilt-free richness. You’ll immediately notice flawlessly fresh scents evoking the world’s premium organic harvests, minus the acidity.

Purity Coffee EASE Dark Roast Beans
FeaturesPurity Coffee EASE Dark Roast
OriginCentral and Latin America
Tasting NotesRoasted walnut, dark chocolate, brown spice
Type of Beans100% Arabica
Type of RoastDark

What makes Purity stand out is their unwavering commitment to purity at every step. Their beans are third-party tested for mold, mycotoxins, and pesticides to ensure only defect-free, organic goodness makes it into your cup.

They specially formulate their roast to maximize antioxidant phenolic compounds while lowering acidity for improved digestion. However, these health benefits do come at a steep price.

Some may find the flavors slightly less assertive than a traditional dark espresso roast. But for those who value organic, chemical-free coffee along with low acid, Purity delivers a precise intensity.

5. DEATH WISH COFFEE Espresso Roast
(Strongest Espresso Beans)

If you’re a hardcore coffee extremist seeking the ultimate overloaded espresso rush, Death Wish Espresso Roast delivers the brute strength your morning ritual craves. You’ll be astounded by the skull-rattling intensity of caffeine bursting from the very first sip of Death Wish’s nearly-dangerous brew.

Death Wish Espresso Roast beans
FeaturesDeath Wish Espresso Roast
OriginAsia Pacific and Central America
Tasting NotesNotes of Caramelized Sugar, Cocoa and Cherries.
Type of BeansA blend of Arbaica and Robusta
Type of RoastDark

Unlike timid blends, Death Wish maxes out on expertly sourced high-octane Arabica and Robusta beans, then roasts them to audacious perfection.

While some may find the assertive bitterness and mushroomy earthiness overwhelming, I frequently indulge in Death Wish’s daunting blend when I desire an extra dose of caffeine.

I find it pairs perfectly with a splash of milk or creamer, beautifully mellowing those rougher edges.

6.  Starbucks Dark roast
(Best Espresso Beans for Lattes)

For diehard Starbucks fans craving that iconic bold, bittersweet espresso flavor at home, Starbucks’ own Dark Roast whole beans bring the cafe experience to your kitchen. It combines the notes of molasses and caramel with rich coffee flavors for perfect Latte and Cappuccino drinks.

Starbucks Espresso Roast Beans
FeaturesStarbucks Espresso Roast
OriginAsia Pacific and Latin America
Tasting NotesNotes of rich molasses and caramel
Type of Beans100% Arabica Coffee
Type of RoastDark

Unlike some roasts that turn sharply bitter, Starbucks’ nuanced beans balance indulgent cocoa against smooth caramel sweetness for easily drinkable espresso shots.

Brew it as a straight double shot or steam it into a silky latte, these beans unleash the Starbucks cafe ambiance into your own kitchen.

While Starbucks lacks some of the complex flavors of coffee it’s a good wallet-friendly option for indulgent latte drinks.

7. Wink Coffee Single Origin Light Roast
(Best Blonde Espresso Beans)

If you love velvety espresso with vibrant fruitiness instead of a harsh bite, Wink Coffee’s Blonde Espresso beans make waking up a breeze. You’ll be delighted by the impossibly sweet, citrusy aroma and gentle flavor of evoking ripe strawberries and brown sugar.

Wink Coffee Single Origin Light Roast Beans
FeaturesWink Coffee Blonde Roast
OriginColombian Andes
Tasting NotesSilky smooth light roast with vibrant citrus, hints of chocolate, and a pleasant nuttiness
Type of Beans100% Arabica Coffee
Type of RoastLight

Sourced sustainably from Colombia’s lush mountains, Wink’s specialty light roast will fill your kitchen with impossibly sweet, citrusy aromas.

Unlike some roasts with acrid bitterness, Wink’s beans balance delicate fruit against lively brown sugar for flawlessly smooth espresso. The chocolaty body and clean finish prove you can enjoy a mellow taste without the rough edge.

Those who like dark roasts may find it too gentle. But for nuanced aroma and no bitterness, Wink’s Blonde Espresso is a revelation.

8. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Italian Espresso
(Rich and Complex Taste)

Cafe Don Pablo Italian Espresso will be your new favorite beans for crafting rich, authentic espresso drinks at home. These specially blended Arabica beans sourced from Colombia and Sumatra are expertly roasted to bring out the deepest, most complex flavors.

Cafe Don Pablo Espresso Beans
FeaturesCafe Don Pablo
OriginColombia and Sumatra
Tasting NotesNotes of dark chocolate and mild earthy tones
Type of Beans100% Arabica Coffee
Type of RoastMedium Dark Rost

The medium-dark roast highlights notes of dark chocolate and earthiness for an intense yet smooth flavor without bitterness.

You’ll love these high-quality whole beans that produce the full body and ample crema that lets you know your shot was pulled perfectly. The beans are grown in nutrient-rich volcanic soil and Don Pablo uses only the largest, most desirable beans for a superior flavor.

The beans are slow-roasted in small batches to reach optimal flavor. With artisan roasting guided by sight, smell, and sound, the natural sugars are caramelized just right.

9. Kicking Horse Swiss Water Process
(Best Decaf Espresso Beans)

If you love dark roast coffee but need to cut caffeine, Kicking Horse’s Swiss Water Process decaf beans are for you. These organic, fair-trade Arabica beans retain their bold, rich flavor after decaffeination. The result is a heavenly deep, dark coffee taste without bitterness, acidity, or the caffeine crash.

Kicking Horse Swiss Water Process Decaf Beans
FeaturesKicking Horse Decaf
OriginCentral and Latin America
Tasting NotesDeep, dark, and delicious
Type of Beans100% Arabica Coffee
Type of RoastDark

The flavor is full-bodied and robust, not weak or watery like some decafs. You’ll be amazed it’s actually decaf when you taste the complex, cocoa and toasted nut notes. The Swiss water process removes caffeine while maintaining the heavenly flavor.

Kicking Horse only uses ethically sourced beans, empowering farmers through fair trade and organic farming. Their dedication shows in the high quality. They’ve been expertly roasting in the Rockies for over 25 years, with a focus on people, partnerships, and sustainability.

You may find it a little weaker, but that’s the case with every other decaf. Some of the flavors do get lost in the decaffeination process.

10. Allegro Mocha Java Coffee Beans
(Best Chocolate Espresso Beans)

If you crave rich mocha flavor in your espresso shots, Allegro Coffee’s Mocha Java blend will satisfy your taste buds. Expertly crafted from the finest beans of East Africa, and Indonesia, these medium roast beans brew a cup with luscious berry and chocolate notes topped off with warming spice.

Allegro Mocha Java Coffee Beans
FeaturesAllegro Mocha Java Coffee
OriginCentral and Latin America
Tasting NotesDeep, dark, and delicious
Type of Beans100% Arabica Coffee
Type of RoastDark

As a mocha java aficionado, I love the lush body and smooth finish – no harshness or burnt aftertaste here. The flavor is surprisingly complex for a lower acidity roast, with delicate dark chocolate undertones.

While a few felt it could have a stronger chocolate presence, but I love the fact it doesn’t have overpowering mocha taste.

If you like just a hint of earthiness with your morning chocolate, this is sure to be your new favorite cup of joe.

Allegro has been ethically sourcing and roasting specialty coffee, with a commitment to quality and sustainability. Allegro has been ethically sourcing and roasting specialty coffee and tea since 1977, with a commitment to quality and sustainability.

Tips for brewing a perfect Espresso Shot

You can buy the best perfect beans present in the World, but they are useless if you don’t know how to brew them properly.

Here are a few tips for brewing a perfect shot of Espresso.

The Best Grind size for Espresso

The best grind size for espresso is typically fine and consistent, resembling table salt or powdered sugar.

The fine grind size provides enough resistance to slow down the water’s flow rate, allowing for an optimal 25-30 seconds of extraction time.

The grind size for espresso also depends on the roast and body of the coffee beans. For darker roasts, a medium-fine grind is ideal, while for medium or lighter roasts, a fine or extra-fine grind is recommended.

Espresso grind

Whenever you buy new coffee beans it’s very important to dial in the grind size. Here’s a detailed guide on dialing in Espresso

Tamping

Learning proper tamping techniques is critical for creating quality espresso shots.

Tamping ensures the grounds are evenly distributed and packed to the right density.

If the grounds are not tamped firmly enough, the water will channel through weak spots rather than fully saturating all the coffee particles.

To tamp properly, apply even pressure to flatten the surface of the coffee grounds and fill in any empty spaces. Apply enough pressure until the grounds push back at you, but not so much that you restrict the flow of water.

Tamping espresso

Final thoughts

As we explored some of the best espresso beans available, it became clear that excellence comes in many flavors and aromas.

Whether you prefer the bold intensity of dark roasts, the nuanced complexities of single-origin beans, or the tried-and-true blends that have stood the test of time, there’s an espresso bean to suit your discerning palate.

While the “best” espresso coffee beans may vary depending on individual preferences, Lavazza and Illy Classico are my personal favorites.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite espresso bean I should try next!

FAQs

Can you make espresso with any type of coffee bean?

Technically, yes, you can make espresso with any type of coffee bean.
However, there’s a crucial “but” to consider. Espresso is not just about the bean itself; it’s about the specific characteristics of the coffee, including its roast level, oiliness, body, grind size, and blend.

Do espresso blends have more caffeine? 

Typically, yes. Espresso blends often contain robusta beans, which have higher caffeine content compared to arabica beans.
However, the exact caffeine content varies depending on the blend’s origin, composition, and the roast levels of the beans.

What are Expresso Beans?

Espresso is often misspelled as “expresso”, but there is no such thing as “expresso beans”.

Why is there no crema on my espresso?

Using old, stale coffee beans is one of the biggest reasons your espresso lacks crema. Using the wrong grind size could also be the reason, A grind that is too coarse prevents the full extraction and crema development you need.
If you want the best Crema always buy a fresh batch of Arabica and Robusta beans.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About, bringing passion and expertise to the world of coffee.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.