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If you’re new to the coffee world, you might not realize how prevalent espresso is in your daily coffee consumption.
Aside from the classic dark and intense shot of energy, espresso is also the base for many other coffee drinks like a cappuccino. Hence why it’s important to start from the bottom and get the espresso beans right for the brew to be top-notch.
In this article, I will show you the 15 best espresso beans in the market to help you make up your mind before getting a new batch of espresso beans.
Take this advice from a coffee enthusiast to jazz up your espresso brews going forward.
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Do You Need Special Coffee Beans For Espresso?
So, can you use any type of coffee beans for espresso or do they have to be specifically marketed espresso coffee beans or meet any other prerequisites?
Here’s a piece of good news. Generally, you can pretty much go all out with any type of coffee beans you can get your hand on to make an espresso shot.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some that simply work better for the intense and concentrated brew than others.
Many coffee brands go the extra mile to make sure that the final espresso shot tastes as remarkably “espresso” as possible, so those labels aren’t just for marketing.
What Defines A Great Espresso Bean?
You can take the easy-going way by picking beans for espresso labeled as “espresso roast” or “espresso-style” and call it a day hoping for the best.
As I’ve said above, they’ve been blended and roasted in a way that the flavor compounds can be best brought out by the espresso brewing method.
But, your choices aren’t limited to just those specific types of beans. If you’re looking for the best coffee to make espresso, keep these 2 factors in mind:
A blend of both Arabica and Robusta is considered the traditional take to make a balanced espresso shot that has both the mildness and sweetness of the former and the earthiness and boldness of the latter.
A bit of Robusta beans in the mix also boast a more pronounced crema and better partner with the sweet sugar and cream.
But the specialty coffee community these days prefers 100% Arabica beans for their premium complex flavor profile and quality consistency, especially those that are single-origin. So if you want to truly recreate a third-wave coffee experience at home, pay attention to that.
Should espresso coffee be dark roasted?
It’s recommended that a darker roast is more suitable for espresso beans as the lower level of acidity and the higher level of oiliness make the brew stronger in taste and fuller in body, capturing the essence of espresso.
Though it’s the general guideline that most baristas follow, no one’s gatekeeping you from venturing out and experimenting with lighter and fruitier roasted beans.
Some coffee lovers use medium roasts for espresso for their balanced flavors and acidity and brighter notes than dark-roast coffee.
Whatever you do, just make sure to check the roast date and use fresh beans.
Whole Vs Pre-Ground Beans
If you’re thinking of getting ground coffee, don’t.
The best coffee beans for your espresso you can get your hands on might not be single-origin, certified organic, dark roast coffee, have a super crema, a hot chocolate flavor tone, or sourced from a prestigious coffee company.
But it’d better be whole-bean beans instead of pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground beans can’t preserve freshness as well as whole-bean beans, so their peak quality doesn’t last as long as the latter.
And you certainly can’t let stale beans get in the way of making the best coffee ever.
Lifeboost Espresso Organic Coffee
Our best pick for espresso beans is the Lifeboost Espresso Organic Coffee.
Lifeboost has long been known for going the extra mile by supplying ultra-low acid coffee beans that are stomach-friendly with no GMOs and 3rd-party-tested for mycotoxins.
In addition, its coffee beans are also Fair Trade with no middlemen, organically grown and procured, and single-origin for the highest and most consistent brew quality. So you can expect the brand to do the same for this espresso coffee.
The Arabica beans are hand-picked from the shady and high altitudes of Mount Kilambe in Nicaragua, a coffee-growing region in Central America popular for its hard-to-surpass flavor complexities and balanced quality.
These espresso beans, in particular, have picked up the fruity and caramel flavor notes from the local greenery.
Overall, you can expect rich and dark flavors of the espresso blend with sweet dark chocolate undertones yet none of the bitterness and very low acidity.
This is also the darkest roast that Lifeboost offers, so it should pair well with milk and sugar to make milky espresso-based coffee drinks such as Americano, latte, and cappuccino.
Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Classic Italian Espresso Medium-Dark Roast
This is another brand that made it onto our list of best low-acid coffee and actually came on top.
This time Cafe Don Pablo brings its Classic Italian Espresso Medium-Dark Roast to the espresso game.
These 100% Arabica beans are a blend of the mild large-sized Colombian Supremo and the rich and mouthful Sumatra Mandheling. The result is a very deep, full-bodied, and smooth brew with layers of flavor complexities.
This medium-dark coffee is also GMO-free and low-acid, perfect for coffee drinkers with sensitive stomachs.
Other than using this Italian espresso bean for making espresso, you can also play around with this blend with your drip-machine, Pour-Overs, and French Press. Grind coarser coffee beans to make Cold Brew in the summer as well.
Lavazza Super Crema Medium Espresso Roast
If you prioritize the crema most of all, this type of espresso whole bean coffee from the brand Lavazza, Super Crema, can give you that and more.
Most espresso blends that contain both Arabica and Robusta beans opt for either an 80/20 or 90/10 ratio.
That way, they can make the most out of the mild and light taste of Arabica beans yet still retain Robusta’s characteristics to make a pronounced crema layer and balance the sweetness in espresso-based drinks.
But Lavazza goes above and beyond to make that crema popping with a 60/40 ratio of Arabica to Robusta. The larger percentage of Robusta coffee beans also means you should expect earthier and grainer profiles from this blend.
Though a classic shot of espresso can be a bit bold for some, this is perfect for pairing with sugar and cream and every espresso-based beverage you can dream of.
Other than the rich crema, you can expect medium-light classic Italian espresso flavors with a full body and aromatic and nutty notes of roasted hazelnut and brown sugar.
Koffee Kult Dark Roast
Koffee Kult knows how to gather a “kult following” with its selections of exquisite coffee beans, including the dark roast that’s famous for its smoothness, cleanness, and richness in flavors with little to no bitterness.
That’s enough “ness” in one sentence. So how did the brand make its business happen?
100% gourmet Arabica beans are sourced from 3 big coffee-growing regions in the world, Brazil, Colombia, and Sumatra. They are then roasted in small batches to a dark profile with no visible shiny oils on the bean surface despite the dark brown color.
Prepare a brew with your espresso machine or Pour-Overs and enjoy a bold cup of Joe with a heavy yet smooth body, cozy flavors of cocoa and cinnamon, luscious dark chocolate undertone, and a long-lasting bittersweet finish.
Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso Medium Roast
If you missed out on my review of this cheeky coffee brand, Kicking Horse Coffee, don’t worry. Here’s a summary.
Kicking Horse Coffee is the number 1 Organic and Fair Trade roaster in Canada for 13 consecutive years! So rest assured that 100% of its coffee is certified Fair Trade, organic, and Kosher, including the 2 roasts I’m about to introduce next.
The brand’s coffees are also generally milder in acidity, for coffee lovers looking for more low-acid espresso beans options.
Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso is a medium roasted blend sourced from big coffee-growing regions around the world, Indonesia and Central and South America.
The brew from these espresso beans is silky smooth with chocolaty undertones, sweet notes of wild berry syrup, and a bold yet fulfilling cocoa finish.
You can also get a kick out of the smell of the coffee which is aromatic of blackcurrant, buttery milk chocolate, and sweet brown sugar.
Other than experimenting with your espresso machine, you can also use the Cliff Hanger Espresso to make a classic black drip, a full-bodied cup of French Press, or a clean Pour-Over.
Kicking Horse 454 Horse Power Dark Roast
If you’re a fan of something darker and earthier, grab a dark-roasted 454 Horse Power from the same supplier.
Like many other roasts of Kicking Horse Coffee, 454 Horse Power also contains an interesting blend of beans. This blend, in particular, is sourced from the tropical climate and high altitudes in Indonesia.
The “champion roast” boasts a very velvety and smooth-sailing texture, a heavy body, earthy and toasty sweet tobacco-like flavors, and an aromatic black licorice finish.
Don’t forget to look forward to the nutty notes of cacao nibs, nutmeg, and roasted hazelnuts as well.
Other than espresso, this balanced dark roast is also a suitable candidate for your French Press, Drip, and Pour-Over coffee makers.
Starbucks Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee Espresso Roast
You probably didn’t expect a giant coffee chain like Starbucks to appear in this lineup of roasteries and bean suppliers.
Well, Starbucks sells coffee beans for home baristas as well and we need to give credit where credit’s due. The coffee is good so of course, I have to include it.
This Kosher-certified Espresso Roast contains 100% premium Arabica whole bean coffee that’s ethically sourced from multiple coffee regions in the world, from Latin America to the Asia Pacific. The interesting flavor combinations and complexities are guaranteed.
Grab this dark roast espresso blend if you’re into caramel flavor notes. These whole-bean coffee beans, once ground and brewed, can produce a full-bodied and deep cup of coffee with hints of sweetness from molasses and rich caramelized sugar, excellent for espresso.
The robust and bold flavor profiles also pair well with the drip coffee maker, Pour-Overs, French Press, and Moka Pot.
Jo Coffee Perfected Jo Espresso Medium Dark Roast
Here is another medium-dark roast espresso beans option for coffee lovers looking for both flavor balance and intensity and prioritizing quality.
Jo Coffee is known for only directly sourcing the top 2% specialty grade of organic Arabica beans from all over the world with its team of dedicated experts.
Jo Espresso is also USDA certified organic, Fair Trade certified, Kosher certified, and hand-roasted in small batches by artisan coffee roasters.
So you can expect the best quality espresso beans from the brand and know that your consumption has helped support the livelihood of coffee farmers with minimized effects on the local environment.
The medium-dark Jo Espresso is deep and powerful with rich tones of dark chocolate and a smooth finish with no artificial flavors added. You can also look forward to a very pronounced layer of crema when you brew espresso.
You can also use this espresso whole bean coffee for making a drip, French Press, or Pour-Over cup as well.
Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso
Looking for more toasty dark roast alternatives? Try these whole bean coffee beans: Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso.
Coffee Bean Direct has 10 years of experience in sourcing the best coffee beans and roasting practices to deliver a wide variety of fresh beans to the hands of home baristas.
The Italian Roast Espresso is a signature blend of both the mildly sweet Arabica and the earthier Robusta beans sourced from the Americas and India.
This is the traditional artisan Italian blend of roasted espresso beans that bring out the best espresso flavors and pair extremely well with milk and sugar.
With your espresso machine, you can expect a full-bodied shot of espresso with notes of smoky molasses, sweet honey, and aromatic cocoa powder.
That’s not all. This dark-roast can offer you flexibility with any brewing method you have in mind, from drip coffee makers to percolators, and don’t forget your Keurig machine.
Peet’s Coffee Espresso Forte Dark Roast
Here’s another large coffee chain making its appearance on this list of the best espresso beans, Peet’s Coffee.
The brand has specially crafted Peet’s Espresso, the first blend they created specifically for pulling the best espresso shots due to how much more demanding this brew method is compared to others.
Espresso Forte is a blend of whole bean coffee that perfectly balances the bold and earthy depth of the Indo-Pacific and the robust and bright spiciness of the coffee in the Americas.
Despite being a dark roast, it’s not too dark, not bitter, and balanced with a medium body and a luscious layer of crema.
Enjoy your creamy and nutty cup of espresso, French Press, or Pour-Over with a distinct chocolate truffle undertone, heightened by notes of lemon curd and the aroma of hazelnut.
Peet’s Coffee Arabian Mocha Sanani
Another type of espresso beans that you should thank Peet’s Coffee for is the dark-roast Arabian Mocha Sanani. This whole bean coffee is for coffee lovers who are looking for the consistent flavor quality of single-origin beans.
Sourced from the mountains of Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, one of the earliest origins of the coffee plants, the mocha variety here struggles to produce from the wild, limited, and poor growing conditions in the low altitudes.
Yet it has persisted for centuries to supply rich and ripe coffee cherries that have absorbed the flavor notes of the surrounding nature.
It’s then processed organically by hand to produce a type of coffee that’s irregular in form, size, and color yet brews the best espresso and exquisitely consistent flavor profile.
Compared to the previously mentioned blend from the same brand, the Arabian Mocha Sanani is fuller-bodied, spicy, and deep and bittersweet of date and chocolate, with a complex and pungent aroma reminiscent of a type of spicy wine.
Like the previous blend, you can also make a straight-forward French Press or a clean Pour-Over with these espresso beans.
Lion Coffee French Roast
It’s not an article about the best espresso beans without at least one mention of a French Roast.
Today, I’ll introduce you to Lion Coffee, one of America’s oldest major coffee companies. Since its move to Hawaii in the late 1970s, Lion Coffee has made a household name for itself in the local coffee scene.
And the brand certainly didn’t disappoint with its allergen-free dark French roast made with 100% premium hand-picked single-origin Arabica beans to make a flavorful and rich cup of espresso that is Hawaii-inspired.
Expect little to no acidity and a much lower caffeine content than lighter roasts. Yet it still manages to retain the strong taste profiles of coffee, including a thick body, dark chocolate flavors, and aromatic notes of roasted nuts and spices and everything nice.
Other than brewing this espresso bean for its fundamental purpose, play around with the French Press and Pour-Overs as well. Fans of the French Roast definitely cannot miss out on such an intense delicacy from Hawaii.
Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee Medium Roast
If you’re looking for a more balanced and brighter medium-roast brew from this list of mostly dark roasts, give Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee a try.
Kona coffee is often known and highly regarded for its earthy and uniquely sweet flavors with hints of almond, vanilla, and caramel in both the taste and the aroma.
This 100% all-natural artificial chemical-free Kona coffee can give you just that, despite not being certified organic. It’s sourced from an authentic single coffee estate, which means the coffee is grown on a single same farm with no external blends to guarantee the best consistency in brew flavors, aroma, and quality.
The medium roast also gives more balance to the acidity, caffeine, and boldness in taste. It gives you the chance to taste the brightness of Kona coffee better, while not taking away the superbly deep experience of espresso.
Coffee Bros Espresso Roast
Coffee Bros is determined to turn the coffee situation on Amazon around, and one of its prime candidates made it to our list of the best espresso beans in the market.
The Espresso Roast boasts 100% of Arabica coffee that’s sourced from the high altitudes of Ethiopia and Colombia. The former is where the first Arabica coffee plant was first discovered, or so the story goes, and the latter is one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, just behind Brazil and Vietnam.
Colombian coffee is loved for its mildness in both taste and acidity, whereas Ethiopia prides itself on its large variety of coffee plants and bolder more complex flavor profiles.
This combination makes an interesting blend of espresso which is then heightened by Coffee Bros’ roasting practices to draw out the natural sweetness and flavor compounds in Arabica beans.
Many coffee roasters opt for over-roasting the beans so that they’re charred and bitter to conceal the staleness and low quality of the beans.
Therefore, Coffee Bros specifically tone down the roast to highlight the fruity notes of strawberry, sugar cane, and vanilla in the final coffee brew.
Feel free to use the Espresso Roast for brewing methods somewhat similar to the espresso machine, such as the French Press, Moka Pot, or AeroPress.
Death Wish Coffee Dark Roast
Marketed as the “world’s strongest coffee”, it’s not super strange to see Death Wish Coffee in this line-up.
If you want a cup of espresso with an extra kick of energy to stay awake in the morning, Death Wish Coffee’s OG Dark Roast is the way to go.
It contains a blend of both premium Arabica and Robusta beans to boost the caffeine content and boasts earthier flavor profiles. That doesn’t mean you won’t get to enjoy the fun and exciting fruity notes of black cherry and the comforting yet bold taste of dark chocolate.
And rest assured that these beans are USDA certified organic and Fair Trade certified, so you know you’re supporting the right cause and making a difference in the coffee production industry with every purchase.
Try their bold blend for yourself with espresso machines, auto-drip makers, Pour-Overs, or French Presses to discover whether their statement is just a hit or miss.
If the espresso blend doesn’t hit you as hard as you expect, feel free to demand a refund and find another espresso blend on our list to fall in love with.
To Wrap Up
Those are the 15 best espresso beans in the market, in my opinion. If you’re just starting out with making espresso coffee at home, go with our topic, Lifeboost Espresso Organic Coffee, flavorful yet low-acid with a lot of flexibility in other brewing methods. Otherwise, feel free to pick any from our list based on your taste preferences and brewing capabilities.
And, getting good beans is just the first step to excellent espresso. Trials and errors are your friends to mastering the craft of this simple yet delightful brew.