Is a cup of espresso coffee the highlight of your day? If you’re a coffee aficionado, you’re always on the lookout for the best espresso beans for that perfect cup.
Say no more. Because we understand how important quality espresso beans are, we bring you 10 of the best beans you should look into for that ultimate espresso experience. Before we get started, let’s cover the basics with a better understanding of what makes espresso different from regular coffee.
Are Coffee Beans and Espresso Beans the Same?
Espresso is coffee but with a twist. Essentially, espresso employs a method for creating more concentrated coffee by pouring boiling water with pressure on coffee beans. Espresso beans are roasted, ground, and brewed to provide coffee lovers a unique flavor that has more depth. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them stand out:
Beans for espresso are roasted longer to achieve a more toasted and deeper flavor. In the process, the beans lose their acidity and provide a higher concentration of coffee.
Compared to other coffee grinds, an espresso’s grind is much finer. This is due to the intensive way that beans are boiled. Regular coffee grind, in comparison, exhibits a smoother texture because they are boiled for a relatively shorter time.
True espresso requires a special brewing process achieved with an espresso machine. Alternatively, you can also use an AeroPress, a French press, or prepare it via stovetop Moka pot.
Best Espresso Beans You Should Check Out
The best espresso is a perfect combination of bitterness, acidity, and sweetness. Finding espresso beans that combine these aspects beautifully is challenging which is why we’ve come up with a list of the 10 espresso beans you should check out.
Kicking Horse Coffee by Cliff Hanger Espresso – Best For Aroma and Flavor
Cliff Hanger’s Kicking Horse espresso beans feature cocoa tones with a smooth, bold flavor. You’ll notice notes of blackcurrant, brown sugar, and chocolate in their aroma.
Cliff Hanger gets its arabica beans from Africa, Indonesia, South, and Central America which are then roasted in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Additionally, their production methods are 100% organic and aligned with Fairtrade International’s ethical and environmental standards.
Peet’s Coffee Espresso Forte Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee – Best For Caffeine and Crema
Based on the legacy of founder Alfredo Peet, the Espresso Forte features dark roast beans with bright flavors, smooth crema, and hazelnut.
These Arabica beans come from the Indo-Pacific regions as well as South and Central America. The result is a blend that is sweet and stout with no bitterness.
Peet’s signature rich flavor is derived from the hand roasting of beans in small batches. Each product comes with a quality guarantee and kosher certification.
Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso Whole Bean Coffee – Best For Aroma
Coffee Bean Direct’s Italian Roast Espresso is a dark roast with tasting notes of smoky molasses and cocoa for a bright and bold taste. This is a rich gourmet coffee blend with an unmistakable flavor.
Coffee Bean Direct sources their beans from Kenya, Brazil, Sumatra, and other regions. Along with their Italian Roast blend, they also offer other espresso beans: a decaf version, Medium Roast, Six beans, and a Super Dark variety. Their espresso beans are available as whole beans, or coarse and finely ground.
They recommend enjoying their products iced or with a French press, AeroPress, or poured over.
Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso – Best For Flavor
Black Cat Espresso is Intelligentsia’s flagship blend since the company opened its doors over 25 years ago. Its dark chocolate, brown sugar, and cherry notes demonstrate the cleanliness, sweetness, and complexity that Intelligentsia is known for.
The brand is proud of its direct and fair trade practices which have allowed it to closely partner with coffee farmers for the best beans. They meticulously and continuously collect data, gather insights, and employ best practices in working with their partners for the best beans and blends.
Koffee Kult Eye Cracker Espresso Beans – Best For A Balanced Acidity
Since 2010, Koffee Kult has been a pioneer in Florida’s coffee culture. The company employs artisan roasters who hand roast their coffee blends. When searching for the best espresso, their Eye Cracker Espresso Beans with black and white packaging is a classic choice.
What’s so special about them? Their medium roast beans provide a smooth medium blend with balanced acidity. These espresso beans’ unique taste comes from the best 2% of beans shipped from Colombia, Kenya, and Brazil. Its bright, bold flavors come from an infusion of tangerine, cherry, and caramel with a dash of lemon.
Koffee Kult uses its operations to sustainable farming methods and farms that compensate women equally and directly.
JO ESPRESSO – Medium Dark Roast – Best Medium Dark Roast
Looking for the best medium-dark espresso beans? Well, Jo’s Espresso may be the next best thing for your coffee routine. Its cupping notes provide a taste of dark chocolate and rich crema.
Their beans are non-GMO, USDA certified organic, and fair trade certified. You can be assured that the coffee you drink is environmentally friendly and made from the top 2% of high-quality arabica beans. Jo Espresso is also a member of the Specialty Coffee Association.
Lifeboost Coffee Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee – Best Low Acidity Option
- Roast: Medium
- Origin: Central America
- Aroma: Coffee
- Tasting Notes: Undertones of caramel and chocolate with a touch of fruitiness and slight sweetness
- Bean Type: Whole bean, single-origin
- Certified organic, pesticide-free, third-party tested, non-GMO, fair trade practices, low acidity
Since regular coffee is highly acidic and can cause discomfort and stomach problems, it can be an issue for coffee drinkers with sensitive stomachs. Lifeboost Coffee offers beans with low acidity so coffee lovers can enjoy their espressos without any side effects.
These medium roast beans from the mountains of Central America are handpicked in bird-friendly farms and are USDA-certified organic. Their beans are grown in the shade, fermented for 26 hours, washed in spring water, then dried under the sun until they have the perfect humidity content.
Additionally, the beans are tested by a third-party agency for pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and 400 more toxins.
With a 30-day cash back policy, you can enjoy their beans risk-free and can have your purchase refunded if you are dissatisfied with the product for any reason.
Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee – Best For High Caffeine
Does your all-nighter call for an extra dose of caffeine? Death Wish Coffee, or what the manufacturers describe as the world’s strongest coffee, is all you need.
Certified kosher and USDA organic, these are a blend of slow-roasted arabica and robusta beans which have double the usual caffeine.
You don’t have to worry about any bitterness either because these dark roast beans have hints of cocoa and cherry. To ensure quality, they roast the beans in small batches no larger than 65 pounds at a time.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Hair Bender Whole Bean Coffee – Best Balanced
The Hair Bender from Stumptown Coffee Roasters is Stumptown’s first and most popular product created by founder Duane Sorenson. It features an ideal balance of sweetness, citrus, dark chocolate, and raisin undertones. The complexity and clarity of their blend are inspired by rich textures from Indonesia complemented by classic flavors from Africa and Latin America. It’s a classic espresso blend that is popular among cafes.
Stumptown has been around for almost 20 years. They are proud of being a sustainable coffee company that is committed to the welfare of the environment, its producers, and the communities it operates in.
Coffee Bros Espresso Roast
In 2019, brothers Nick and Dan Hunnewell decided to pursue their dream of introducing better coffee on Amazon. The result was the Espresso Roast from the Coffee Bros. The beans can be easily brewed with an espresso machine, AeroPress, French press, or by stovetop.
Handpicked in small batches, Coffee Bros delivers medium roasted arabica beans from Ethiopia and Columbia. Their beans feature vibrant notes of vanilla, strawberry, and sugarcane. You’ll savor its smooth light flavors and mild fruity essence with hardly any bitterness.
With the right ratio, time, and temperature, these 10 espresso beans should deliver the depth of flavor and richness that the drink is well-known for.
A Complete Buyer’s Guide: What Beans Make the Best Espresso?
With so many varieties, blends, and products, choosing the right coffee beans can be a challenging task. Here are some considerations that can help you find the perfect brew.
The roast will determine the flavor of your beans and how strong your coffee will be. If you are more used to subtle flavors, opt for a lighter roast. On the other hand, if you like your coffee with a kick, pick beans with darker roasts. If you want a more balanced cup, a medium roast is a good option.
As you can tell from our list of espresso beans, most beans are either arabica or robusta. Arabica coffee is named after arabica coffee plants that originally came from Ethiopia. Robusta refers to coffee plants that are indigenous to central Africa. Most of the world’s coffee comes from arabica plants with as many as 75% of the world’s coffee producers relying on them.
Between the two, arabica offers greater quality with lower caffeine levels. This makes coffee taste less bitter. However, it is twice as expensive as robusta. If you prefer more creaminess in your expresso, robusta is your bean of choice.
Your freshly roasted espresso beans will lose their flavor in time so you should always check the label to see how fresh the beans are and how to store them. In general, coffee beans are at their best when consumed within seven to 14 days.
Espresso beans are obtained from a single source or are a blend of two or more origins. Single-origin beans will give you a stronger or milder taste depending on the country they come from. If you want a more balanced taste, look for origin blends. Different nations across the world are hosts to different kinds of beans so you can imagine how many types of beans there are.
Pre-Ground or Whole Beans
Pre-ground beans are quicker to brew so you can get your coffee fix faster and get going. Keep in mind, however, that pre-ground beans have a shorter shelf life and quickly lose their flavor after grinding.
The flavor of whole beans lasts longer but requires more effort since you need to grind them every time before brewing.
Pick top-quality espresso beans that were sustainably produced. It doesn’t cost extra to ensure that the manufacturer you support has organic products with fair trade practices. Here are some certifications you can look for before making a purchase.
- UTZ-certified (ensures that sustainable farming practices were employed)
- Fair trade certified (means that the product meets certain standards for safe working conditions, sustainable livelihoods, community development, and protection for the environment)
- Rainforest Alliance Certified (represented by a picture of a frog, the seal means that the product supports social, environmental, and economic sustainability standards)
- Shade Grown (coffee grown in the shade is healthier because it requires minimal to zero chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides)
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s address some common questions from coffee lovers across America.
How Many Espresso Shots Should You Consume In A Day?
Although the caffeine requirement of every person is different, too much espresso can lead to insomnia, heart problems, and other health issues. A study found that four shots of espresso could be the right amount for a healthy heart. If you want to have more than four cups, don’t go beyond six servings.
Why Is Espresso Better Than Drip Coffee?
Espresso brings out the essence of coffee better. The ingredients are blended and processed in such a way that it produces a richer and smoother flavor.
How Do Espresso Beans Get Ruined?
Espresso beans have a limited shelf life before they lose their freshness and flavor. Over time, they become moist and attract mold. To prolong the life of your beans, refrigerate or store them in a dry place at room temperature.
What Is the Best Coffee Bean
s in the World?
The best coffee bean will be dictated by your tastes and preferences. There is no “one best coffee bean,” only opinions on what other people like. The search for the best coffee bean entails a personal journey of discovery on the kind of coffee you enjoy most.
Brewing a perfect cup of espresso is an art cultivated through time. It may take some trial and error as well as effort, but the blissful and rich flavors are always worth it.
About the Author
Keren is a regular contributor at Twigs Cafe. When Keren is not actually tapping away at her keyboard, you’ll find her staring into space or drinking copious amounts of coffee.
But make no mistake, she's hard at work even then. Come close enough and you’ll hear the whooshing noise of countless words as they go whizzing by - in her head of course.