Best Espresso Beans Reviews – How to Choose Coffee Beans for Espresso

The decadent taste of espresso is rich and satisfying and one of the most incredible flavors to experience. Finding the right beans and learning how to create delicious brews is the best way to perfect and enjoy the fantastic taste of espresso.

This article will share the best ways to choose high-quality coffee beans to create the best espresso experience.

What Are Espresso Coffee Beans?

Espresso beans are distinctly different from regular coffee beans for a few reasons. They are specially blended and roasted to create a better espresso, which is significantly different from brewing coffee. Typically, medium to dark roast coffee is better for creating a delicious brew.

Espresso is prepared using pressure for extraction, while other methods steep the beans in water to produce coffee. An espresso machine uses a high-pressure method that can range between 9-15 bars within a short time for extraction, resulting in a cup of one to two oz.

making-espresso

You can absolutely use any finely ground coffee for espresso, but not all of them taste good. Due to this brewing process, the coffee is highly intense and concentrated. The choice of beans is important because you may either yield a pleasant shot with the flavor you enjoy or an undrinkable cup with insane bitterness or sourness.

No worries, we will share our best espresso bean brands below for your reference, and share some tips for choosing the best espresso coffee in the later part.

Best Coffee Beans for Espresso – Top 8 Espresso Beans Reviews

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The following products are considered the top coffee beans for espresso. Each brand offers a multitude of characteristics, including fair trade, the quality of flavor profile, and the origin of the beans. If you are not sure what flavor is best for you, what do those certificates mean, we explained in our ultimate guide for choosing coffee beans.

1. Lifeboost Espresso Organic – Best Organic Choice

lifeboost-espresso-beans
  • Roast: Dark Roast
  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Chocolate, caramel, low acid

Lifeboost Espresso is the best organic choice for espresso beans. The product is certified USDA organic and fairly traded. These single-origin beans are 100% Arabica and grown in a mountainous region with lots of shade. All beans are hand-picked before they are rinsed and sun-dried.

These beans offer a well-balanced flavor and a fantastic aroma that is intense and energetic. The beans are non-GMO, low acid, and grown in a bird-friendly habitat. You’ll find sweet cocoa in the undertones of this coffee, as well as a slight wood or smoky hint of flavor.

What makes this espresso blend our top choice for organic beans? Each batch of beans is rigorously tested for over 400 toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, and mycotoxins. They are grown and harvested in the mountains of Nicaragua, in a region that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

This blend is highly recommended as a unique espresso bean blend, offering a rich taste in every shot, with just the right hint of sweetness to make a great impression. These beans are one of the top varieties grown in the specific region. Lifeboost Espresso Organic is an ideal option for all espresso makers and one of the top single-origin beans.

2. Cooper’s Cask Espresso – Best Single Origin Espresso Beans

coopers espresso coffee
  • Roast: Medium to Dark Roast
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Origin: Kenya, Ethiopian and Brazil
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Brazilian Coffee: Brown sugar, orange, black cherry; Kenyan Coffee: Baked peaches; Ethiopian Coffee: Lemon tart, honey, floral nectar.

Cooper’s Cask Espresso offers three 8oz bags of premium Brazil and Ethiopian single origin beans of the highest quality. These single-origin beans offer a unique flavor profile that offers delicious tasting notes. You’ll discover a variety of undertones and flavors in each bag of coffee.

This small batch is USDA-certified organic and based in Rhode Island. The company roasts its beans differently from other US-based roasters, using Whiskey and Rum barrels to create a gourmet line of coffee. All coffee beans are rated as grade one quality, and in addition to espresso, they are suitable for a cold brew.

Every batch you order is prepared fresh, so you’ll have ample time to prepare your favorite shot of espresso within the ideal window of 7-21 days.

The Ethiopian coffee beans offer tones that include a floral touch, with tart lemon and raw honey. Brown sugar, sweet orange, and hints of black cherry are notes you’ll enjoy from the Brazilian coffee beans.Kenyan beans are deliciously dark and sweet, with a smooth taste and syrup-like quality in flavor. Each order includes a wealth of information, so you’ll know precisely how your beans are grown, harvested, and roasted.

The company is committed to perfecting its roasting skills, with countless hours of research and experimenting, to produce award-winning, ethically sourced beans. 

3. Volcanica Espresso Roast – Classic Italian Espresso Choice

Volcanica Espresso Roast
  • Roast: Dark roast
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Caramel, Spice, light acidity

If you’re a fan of the classic Italian espresso shot, you’ll love the Volcanica Espresso Roast blend of beans. This brand is perfect for an automatic espresso machine and offers high-quality whole Arabica beans with a beautiful blend of caramel tones and a spicy touch to the aroma.

The Volcanica beans are low in acid, and dark roasted, so you can enjoy a deliciously rich cup of espresso with fantastic taste in every brew. All batches are freshly roasted immediately before they are shipped, so you’re guaranteed to experience the best in freshness and quality.

Volcanica only sources coffee beans grown at a high altitude, from a single origin or region. All beans are grown in excellent conditions, and beans are carefully roasted and prepared with little or no sugar, no allergens, and low calories. It’s one of the top choices of espresso beans for health and diet-conscious espresso drinkers.

The company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. They are committed to creating an excellent product that everyone can enjoy, including people who may avoid other coffee or espresso drinks due to higher acidic levels. The family-owned business began as a small roasting shop and has since grown into a successful coffee company.

4. Illy Classico Espresso Ground Coffee – Best for Any Machines

Illy Classico Espresso Ground Coffee
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: caramel, orange blossom, jasmine.

Illy is well-known for its delicious classic Italian espresso flavors, available in a fine grind or whole beans. Illy’s Classico Espresso pre-ground beans are pressurized, so you’ll enjoy the freshly ground experience without any loss of quality or flavor. All-natural flavors are sealed to protect the quality of the aroma and sweet tones, so you’ll always have an excellent shot.

Illy is committed to sustainable coffee bean growing and harvesting, focusing on sourcing from socially and environmentally ethical farms and operations. All operations are powered using renewable energy and resources, reducing the carbon footprint and impact on the planet. The company has earned a stellar reputation for achieving a high-quality product with values.

The company combines the traditional practice of Italian bean roasting with cutting-edge science to create an excellent result. The medium roast offers a smooth and full-bodied flavor that is decadent with tones of cocoa and caramel.

You’ll find this fine grind product is ideally suited for all types of espresso machines, both manual and automatic. Illy’s line of espresso beans are available in fine grind or whole beans, so you can grind them at home for freshness before you brew.

5. Intelligentsia Black Cat – Best Espresso Blend

Intelligentsia Black Cat
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Origin: Brazil, Costa Rica
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Dark Chocolate, Ripe Cherry and Brown Sugar

If you’re looking for a traditional espresso blend, the Intelligentsia Black Cat offers a delicious dark roast that captures the rich tones of ripe cherry, dark chocolate, and brown sugar. It’s the ultimate espresso to sip with your choice of scone, a slice of cake, or pastry.

Intelligentsia practices direct trade to ensure they source their coffee beans as directly as possible, cutting out unnecessary intermediaries or exporters. The company establishes a strong partnership with growers directly and closely observing, monitoring operations to ensure quality beans and farming techniques.

The company started in 1995 and has since become one of the top leaders in the industry, offering specialized beans and blends for a wide range of espresso and coffee brewing techniques. They appeal to many severe espresso drinkers due to their commitment to quality and overall high quality.

This espresso bean product pairs well with your favorite dessert, offering the best decadent, full-bodied flavor and perfect for brewing and extraction in any espresso machine.

6. Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt Whole Bean Coffee – Best with Milk

Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt
  • Roast: French Roast (Dark Roasted espresso beans)
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Origin: Colombia, Brazil
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Earthy, molasses, smoke, and tobacco

Koffee Kult dark roast is one of the most robust, rich espresso beans on the market, offering a super dark French roast blend that’s low in acid and pungent in taste. The aroma is exquisite, tempting the senses for a taste of this incredible brew. It’s a gourmet whole bean blend that’s perfect for the espresso maker at home or in the café.

This incredible blend of beans combines Colombian and Brazilian roasts, creating an exceptional medium-dark roast blend. It’s specially created for espresso, though you’ll enjoy these beans for the French press, pour-over coffee, or drip machine. It’s the ideal gift for coffee and espresso enthusiasts.

What sets this espresso blend apart from other products is its perfect blending with milk and dairy products. The boldness of the brew works well to create amazing lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and other espresso-based drinks.

Koffee Kult is a beautiful brand that consistently delivers a consistent, high-quality brew. Every cup offers a perfectly crisp and sweet finish with every sip.

7. Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast

Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Origin: Shara, Yirgacheffe Ethiopia & Colombia
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Strawberry, Vanilla, Sugar cane

This espresso blend is the mastermind of Coffee Brothers, and a family-owned business started in 2019, focusing on creating and roasting fantastic coffee beans. The espresso roast is committed to working closely with coffee-growing regions and preparing the roasts by hand directly.

The owners also invite their customers to contact them directly, as they have first-hand involvement with every small-batch roasted for your pleasure. Each blend offers a beautiful aroma and flavors, including sugar cane, strawberry and fruit tones, and vanilla. It’s a brand that attracts the taste buds from the aroma alone.

All of the company’s products are made from 100% Arabica coffee beans known for their robust flavor and up to twice the strength.

8. Stumptown Hair Bender

Stumptown Hair Bender
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Espresso Blend
  • Origin: Africa, Latin America, Indonesia
  • Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee 
  • Taste Notes: Citrus, Dark Chocolate, Raisin

The Hair Bender blend is a truly excellent medium roast espresso bean, offering a complex, rich taste that combines a wealth of flavors from Africa and Latin America. Citrus and dark chocolate are strong notes you’ll experience when you indulge in this fantastic brew. You can also grind it to medium grind for your drip coffee maker and it’s superb as well.

Stumptown is committed to sustainability by selecting the finest beans and using ethical farming methods and harvesting. The company regularly supports the environment by making regular contributions and establishing relationships with the producers directly. They achieved the B Corp status in 2018 due to their intense efforts to lead in ethical, sustainable practices.

Starting 20 years ago, Stumptown has since expanded to worldwide sourcing of high-quality beans. All espresso and coffee beans are provided with the date of the roast, so you can carefully plan your home brewing and extraction methods within the 7-21 day window.

Tips For Choosing the Best Espresso Coffee Beans

When you look for the best espresso beans for your brew, you’ll want to keep a few essential factors in mind. The quality, taste, and origin of your espresso beans all play a role in the quality of your drink and how well it tastes. The following characteristics are vital in deciding which espresso beans are best for your brew.

Select Fresh Espresso Beans

Freshly roasted beans are the best and produce the ideal cup of espresso. Ideally, you’ll want to choose beans between 7-21 days after they are roasted, as this produces the creamy layer on top of an espresso called Crema. This layer is made of CO2 microbubbles and soluble oils, which are formed during the espresso brewing process.

Typically, the crema layer is stirred into the shot of espresso to enhance its flavor. Crema gives espresso its signature taste and mouthfeel, and without it, the shot tends to taste like a strong coffee. When you choose freshly roasted beans, you’re improving the quality of the cream layer and the overall taste of the shot.

If you choose a roast too fresh (under seven days), the CO2 released from the beans will interfere with the extraction. After 21 days, the CO2 will not be present, and less crema layer will appear on the espresso shot.

Roast Level – What’s the Best Roast for Espresso?

What sets espresso apart from coffee? Espresso is uniquely different because of the brewing process. While all types of coffee beans will essentially work with this brewing and extraction method, selecting a high-quality blend designed especially for espresso is ideal. As mentioned above, darker roasts tend to be the favored choice for most espresso makers.

dark-roast-sumatran-coffee

Darker roasts are better for several reasons:

Easier Extraction

A darker roast coffee bean tends to be less dense and has a lower moisture content. These characteristics make dark roasts ideal for the extraction process within a short brewing time frame. You may find various dark roast blends or other beans that include several sources to create a unique combination.

When you choose a dark roast, you’re more likely to see the same results every time. This factor is significant for anyone new to creating espresso. Darker coffees tend to change less as they age, whereas lighter roasts vary considerably, so you’ll experience a more noticeable shift in flavor.

Since lightly roasted coffee beans tend to be a bit denser with a bit more moisture, it will make the extraction process difficult, as it was prepared with a shorter roasting time. If you want to use a lighter roast, you can adapt the process with a higher temperature and a finer grind.

Darker Roasts Blend Better with Milk

You’ll find that darker roasts offer a strong flavor, which works perfectly when creating milk-based lattes, cappuccino, and other espresso-based drinks. The natural undertones of these beans tend to compliment the richness of milk and similar non-dairy milk beverages, such as coconut, soy, oat, and almond milk. Even the Americano without milk tastes quite different from drip coffee with a more robust flavor.

It’s a Tradition and the Preferred Choice for Espresso

Ideally, choosing darker roasts is the preference for most baristas. Due to the tradition of using dark roast for espresso, the taste buds of the old-school espresso enthusiasts are familiar with that flavor already.

If you don’t prefer the dark roast taste, excellent medium or medium-dark roasts are specially blended for espresso. Darker coffees also blend better with milk and non-dairy beverages, and they offer enhanced flavor notes, including nuts, chocolate, and hints of caramel. If you want some adventures, light roasts also work.

Single Origin or Espresso Blends?

coffee-map

Single-origin coffee is a popular choice for espresso and coffee drinkers, though blends make a bold statement, offering a better consistency in flavor for espresso drinkers. Blends are still dominant in the espresso world.

Many blends are made especially for espresso extraction. You will often find central American beans blends with African beans, as they offer fruit notes and work well with milk-based drinks. Specific bean blends from Asian regions create a nice espresso beverage. And like the other blends, they offer a good-tasting cup or shot every time.

Besides blends from different regions, some roasters blend in robusta beans for a bolder flavor. In general, Arabica beans are considered higher quality coffee. You probably noticed the best espresso beans on the list above are 100% Arabica beans.

Single-origin beans are an excellent option to experiment with custom blends for a unique taste.

Whole Beans or Pre-ground Coffee?

Intelligentsia-Frequency-Blend

Freshly roasted espresso beans are always best, and choosing whole beans is a better option to pre-ground. You’ll need to invest in an espresso grinder, and there are many great products available for purchase. Some espresso machines come with a grinder, which makes this process easier.

Before buying espresso whole beans or espresso grounds, check your filter basket and remove it from the portafilter. Check to see if your machine uses a single wall (hundreds of holes) or a double wall basket containing one hole.

A single wall or unpressurized basket works best with freshly ground whole beans. You’ll notice a nice layer of crema and a rich, authentic flavor if you find the perfect fine grind. If you use espresso ground coffee with an unpressurized basket, in most cases, you may not pull a perfect shot of espresso since it is very picky for grind size.

The double-wall basket is more forgiving, which requires less experience and precision of the grind size. So you can pull a great espresso shot with crema using pre-ground coffee. However, it’s less authentic.

For all espresso machines, whole beans that are freshly ground are ideal for high-quality flavor and crema.

Choose a Quality Brand or Roaster

When you select your roasted beans, you’ll find that your taste becomes more discerning over time. You’ll also find that certain brands or roasters provide the details of their farming, equipment, and roasting operations, so you’ll have a good idea of how well their land is cared for and how well they pay their employees.

Long before the beans are harvested or brewed, you’ll want to know as much about the source of your product as possible. Are the farmers and employees paid a fair wage? Does the company ship the beans in environmental containers or packages? What steps are taken to ensure that each roast is made the best way possible to preserve its quality?

Ethical Farmers and Roasters

Choosing ethical coffee beans not only supports an ethical operation and fair treatment of farmers and workers, but it also guarantees an excellent product. Ethical products and companies make a significant impact on our planet and people’s lives around the world. When you select espresso beans roasted with these values, you’ll be investing in a great cause and quality product.

The Verdict

Lifeboost Espresso Organic is our winner. We chose this brand due to its high commitment to become one of the top organic, sustainable, ethically sourced, and quality espresso bean products on the global market. Lifeboost is a leader in perfecting the take and experience of espresso beans while creating a delicious and healthy product.

Many coffee and espresso drinkers favor this product for its overall quality and raving reviews from trusted sources and experts, establishing this company as a first-class source for exceptional espresso beans.