Reasons to look for good espresso beans
“Argh! I wish I had the time for a strong cup of joe in the morning!”
If you’ve ever caught yourself saying this, then it might be time to switch to espressos.
The espresso was invented in Venice during the early 20th century when Luigi Bezzera was experimenting with coffee, finding ways to brew the drink faster. And when Bezerra added pressurized steam to his coffee machine, he found that it not only did the process cut brewing time in half but also made a much stronger and more potent coffee drink.
The word “espresso” in Italian literally translates to “fast” in English. Modern-day espressos are strong, smooth, tasty, and can be made in less than a minute. And while in the past, you needed to have large and expensive espresso machines to make the drink, modern technology has seen the creation of many at-home espresso machines that are much more practical and accessible.
Since many people out there have made the switch to espresso and have espresso machines at home, the hunt for quality espresso beans is now much harder. With so many brands and companies releasing new espresso beans left and right, it’s easy for people to get overwhelmed by the choices.
When buying espresso beans, we highly recommend that you factor in all the characteristics of the coffee. This includes the flavor, the grind, how they were farmed, where they were farmed, and much more. When you take all these aspects into account, you’ll find yourself buying a truly high-quality bag of coffee beans that perfectly fits your tastes!
Starbucks Espresso Roast Espresso Beans
Anyone looking to brew high-quality, cafe-grade espressos will enjoy this blend. You can’t go wrong with these Starbucks beans that feature dark-roasted Arabica beans with a bold flavor, perfect for your morning boost.
- Value for money:
Our list kicks off with one of the best overall options out there. After all, how can you go wrong with Starbucks coffee beans? Starbucks is arguably one of the most popular coffee shops worldwide, and they are known for using high-quality coffee beans that deliver bold and distinct flavors.
This espresso blend features dark roasted whole beans. So, while you will need a coffee grinder to brew yourself a cup of coffee, the result will be a bold, dark, and strong espresso packed with flavor.
This blend has molasses and caramel flavor notes, and since it’s a dark roast, it is full of oils that produce a beautiful crema on your espresso.
Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Espresso Beans
If you’re looking to brew cafe-grade, high-quality espressos in the morning, this is the right pick for you. It features beans from Honduras with a medium-dark roast, perfect for a rich and bold espresso shot.
- Value for money:
If you truly want a high-quality espresso, you’re going to need to buy premium coffee beans. This blend of beans from Subtle Earth features sustainably sourced, organic, and boldly flavored Arabica beans from Honduras.
This blend features whole beans, which is ideal for high-quality espressos. To brew yourself a cup, all you have to do is grind the coffee, load it in your espresso machine and start brewing. This takes a bit more effort compared to brewing pre-ground beans, but the small details make all the difference when brewing coffee.
With these beans, you can expect a rich and chocolatey flavor, which is typical for beans that come from this region. And since it’s organic and sustainably sourced, you can buy this coffee, you can rest assured that it was harvested with sustainable practices, leaving a minimal carbon footprint.
Death Wish Coffee Co. Dark Roast Espresso Beans
Anyone who needs a strong kick in the morning to wake them up will enjoy this blend. It’s a whole-bean blend that contains dark roasted coffee with high caffeine content and rich flavor profile.
- Value for money:
Some of us need a very strong and heavy caffeine fix in the morning. If you’re one of the people who needs an extra kick-up in the morning, we recommend this Death Wish Whole Bean Blend. Remember, taking in large amounts of caffeine can affect your sleep patterns and can potentially result in developing anxiety, so remember to take in a responsible and safe amount of caffeine.
This Death Wish Blend is incredibly strong, which is what it is known for. And while it has high caffeine content, it isn’t hard to drink at all. An espresso with these beans has a chocolatey, rich flavor that fits very well in an espresso.
If you experience palpitations and other symptoms when you have too much caffeine, we recommend you stay away from this coffee. However, for those with a high caffeine tolerance, this could be a great blend of espresso beans designed to deliver a strong kick while also producing a rich and bold flavor profile.
Best for Espresso
Peet’s Coffee Dark Roast Espresso Beans
If you’re looking for that signature espresso taste, we highly recommend this bag of coffee beans. The beans are hand-roasted and specifically designed to be used for espressos, producing a beautiful crema and complex flavor profile.
- Value for money:
One of the premier features of this coffee is that it’s specifically designed for espresso. So, if you have an espresso machine at home and are unsure when it comes to the right beans, you can’t go wrong with Peet’s Coffee Espresso Forte.
A signature feature of this blend is that it’s 100% Arabica beans. So, you’ll be getting a bold and rich flavor with chocolatey and hazelnut notes in the flavor profile. And since it’s a dark roast, this coffee is ideal for espresso shots and will produce a beautiful crema on top.
These coffee beans are meticulously hand-roasted to ensure they are just the right color for your coffee. The coffee is also roasted in small batches, which allows roasters to pay close attention to each and every batch, ensuring high-quality coffee beans that any coffee lover would enjoy.
Best for cold brew
Stone Street Coffee Company Cold Brew Coffee Beans
Anyone looking to start cold brewing their coffee would enjoy these beans. Since they’re espresso beans, they give off a rich and bold flavor, but Stone Street formulated these beans to provide a smooth and strong kick, making them great for cold brew.
- Value for money:
You don’t need an espresso machine to use espresso beans, and this Stone Cold Street blend proves that. This bag features dark-roasted, whole bean coffee beans that would be great for espressos. However, these beans are formulated to be the perfect companion for a cold brew.
So, if you’re looking for that signature espresso taste but would prefer it were served cold, this is the one for you. One downside to this coffee is that since they are whole beans, you would need a coffee grinder to get the right ground for a quality cold brew.
This is an Arabica blend, so it features a bold and dark flavor profile. When used for cold brew, these beans produce a smooth, balanced, and low-acidity drink that could be the perfect fix for a hot day!
Best for Lattes
Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Espresso Beans
Any coffee drinker who likes mixing their espressos with milk will enjoy this blend. Since it has a fruity and slightly spicy flavor profile, it works very well when mixed in with rich and fat milk.
- Value for money:
The espresso shot is the base for many different coffee drinks out there. And if you plan on brewing espressos for lattes, this could be just the right pick for you. This Lavazza Espresso blend features medium roast beans, so you can expect a slightly more acidic and fruity flavor from these beans.
The fruity notes blend very well with milk, which is why many people use these beans for making their own lattes at home. These beans are specifically grown for espresso machines, but they can work fine on just about any coffee maker. But since they are whole beans, you will need to buy a separate coffee grinder for the task.
Since it’s a medium roast, the flavors won’t be as bold or rich, so it isn’t ideal for those who want that pure espresso taste. And since it has less oil, it won’t produce that much crema, but that isn’t too important when making yourself a latte.
Best for super-automatic machine
Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Beans
If you have a super-automatic espresso machine at home, these are the right beans for you. With a balanced fruity and creamy flavor profile, these make for great coffee beans for a strong espresso in the morning.
- Value for money:
There are many coffee connoisseurs and experts out there who prefer using fully manual espresso machines. This gives them much more control over their pull. However, if you’re just a casual coffee lover who enjoys a strong cup of joe, you might be better off with a super-automatic machine.
And if you already have a super-automatic espresso machine at home, this is a great choice for you. The blend consists of whole beans, so you’re going to need a coffee grinder to brew your morning drinks. However, since they are whole beans, they make for a much richer and fresher flavor.
The beans in this back have a medium roast. So, you’ll be getting a much brighter, lighter, and creamier flavor. Medium roasts are more acidic too, so expect more fruity notes when you make your espresso shots with this blend.
Eight O’Clock Coffee Central Highlands Espresso Coffee
If you need high-quality espresso beans on a budget, this is a great choice. While they are affordable, these espresso beans have a rich and bold flavor that is perfect for dark espressos.
- Value for money:
Coffee beans can be expensive. And if you want a true and pure espresso it’s best to shell out the extra money for premium coffee beans. But if you’re just a casual drinker who prefers the strength and flavor of espressos, this is a great bag of beans you can get on a tight budget.
Despite being an affordable option, this coffee from Eight O’Clock features dark roasted whole beans ready to give off an extremely bold and distinct flavor profile. Connoisseurs have noted that these beans also contain a very lively acidic flavor, which can really fit well with a shot of espresso.
Another great reason to buy these beans is that they are sustainably sourced. Not only does Eight O’Clock dedicate itself to ethical farming practices, but they are also committed to reducing their environmental impact.
Best for espresso machine
Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Roast Espresso Beans
This coffee is great for those of you who enjoy classic bold flavor profiles. Due to the slow-roasting process that the brand uses, this coffee has a unique and rich flavor that works incredibly well with espresso machines.
- Value for money:
This Mayorga Organics bag of coffee is arguably one of the best beans on the market today. At first glance, you can tell the beans are of high quality because of the deep color in the roast and the quality of the packaging.
This bag features Cuban-style dark roasted Arabica beans. The result is a slightly smokey, sweet, and bold flavor with minimal acidity. If you aren’t a fan of fruity notes in your coffee, this could be a great pick for you.
One of the reasons the flavor from the coffee is so bold and rich is because of their slow roasting process. This really brings out the flavors, oils, and rich aromas of the coffee bean, making it a great pick for anyone with an espresso machine.
Best medium-dark roast
San Francisco Bay Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee
If you need a well-balanced flavor profile that combines the best features of light and dark roasts, this is the right pick for you. On top of the bold and deep chocolatey flavors, you’ll also be getting subtle orange notes that result in a perfectly rounded blend.
- Value for money:
If you need a mix of the bold flavors of a dark roast and fruity notes of a light one, then this is the right blend for you. It features a medium-dark roast which works very well with espressos as you still get that deep and rich flavor with subtle orange notes to give a more rounded taste.
It features whole beans, so you’ll need a coffee grinder on hand. But don’t worry the extra hassle results in a fresher and richer flavor that every coffee lover deserves. This blend only uses 100% Arabica beans, so you are assured of the rich and bold flavor that defines an espresso shot.
Keep in mind that these are fairly oily beans. While that results in a beautiful crema, the oils can also clog up espresso machines. For the best results, we recommend always cleaning your machines before and after every use.
What to look for in good espresso beans
To make the search for the right espresso beans easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of important things to consider when buying coffee beans.
A key deciding factor for people looking for espresso beans is flavor. And one of the most important aspects of a coffee bean’s flavor is its country of origin. Different countries will have different amounts of rainfall, soil chemistry, climate conditions, and more. All of these things go into the flavor of the final coffee bean.
There are many countries in the world that produce coffee beans. However, some of the world’s best coffee comes from a region known as the “Coffee Belt”. This region contains over 50 countries that hug the equator and are considered some of the best coffee producers in the world. When hunting for a quality bag of espresso beans, it would help to keep an eye out for coffee made from this region.
And while a large number of countries from the region grow coffee beans, there are a couple of stand-out countries that are known for top-quality beans. These countries include Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Hawaii.
For most bags of espresso beans, manufacturers add a blend of either Brazilian or Indonesian beans mixed with other beans depending on the brand. Sometimes, there are espresso beans that include beans grown in Columbia, which is usually reserved for the most premium options.
Whole bean vs pre-ground beans
Another factor to consider is whether the bean is pre-ground or not. Most of the time, coffee enthusiasts recommend buying whole beans for espressos. Freshly ground beans produce a much bolder and more distinct flavor, which is why many coffee shops only stock up on whole beans and grind them right before making a drink.
Whole beans maintain their freshness for much longer than pre-ground beans. So, if you do plan on buying pre-ground espresso beans, we recommend getting small batches and checking their packaging date to ensure you get the full flavor of the coffee.
One of the downsides of whole beans is that you need to have a coffee grinder to make your cup of joe. There are many coffee grinders on the market and some are available on a tight budget. But if you aren’t too keen on shelling out money for a coffee grinder, then we suggest just getting pre-ground coffee beans.
But if you’re really after the full and natural flavor of an espresso shot, we recommend getting whole beans and grinding them right before you make your coffee.
Arabica vs Robusta
Two words you’ll often find when searching for good espresso beans are Arabica and Robusta. These are simply two varieties of coffee that most manufacturers use. There are dozens of coffee varieties out there, but Arabica and Robusta are by far the most popular.
Most of the affordable coffee you find is Robusta. Robusta beans are much easier to grow, which is why most manufacturers use them. However, other brands such as Starbucks pride themselves on only using Arabica beans in their blend. While Arabica beans are definitely considered the “premium” option by many coffee drinkers, just because a bag of beans has “Arabica” on it doesn’t mean it’s automatically better.
The right beans for you largely depend on your preference. Robusta beans are more bitter and have a more acidic flavor, which is actually the preferred flavor for many coffee drinkers. However, if you want a bolder, less acidic, and less caffeinated cup of coffee, we recommend getting Arabica beans.
The type of roast largely affects the flavor of coffee beans. Again, there is no “best” option when it comes to roasts because every coffee drinker has their own unique tastes.
Dark roasts and medium-dark roasts are the preferred picks for espressos. They contain a lot of natural oils that result in a beautiful crema forming in your coffee. Dark roasts have a bolder more cacao-like flavor. And while many people assume that darker beans have more caffeine, it’s actually the opposite. The darker the roast, the less caffeine, and acidity.
Medium roasts are also a great pick for espressos. They still have a bold flavor but have more fruity and acidic notes in them. These beans are less oily, so if your espresso machine gets clogged by the oils of dark roast coffee beans, it might be best to get medium roast espresso beans instead.
Light roasts are the most acidic type of coffee beans out there. They produce a very earthy and fruity flavor, largely because they are heated for the least amount of time. We recommend steering clear of these beans when making espressos as you they lack the boldness and oils needed for a quality espresso.
Lastly, it’s very important to only buy beans from sustainable companies. Farming coffee beans take a lot of hard work and resources. Sustainable companies will ensure that they are leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible when growing, harvesting, and processing coffee beans.
And since farmers toil for long hours each and every day to ensure that you brew a high-quality cup of coffee, make sure to buy from companies that treat their farmers well. A company with sustainable practices usually produces better-tasting coffee that won’t leave you feeling guilty.
What espresso beans do coffee shops use?
Each coffee shop uses different coffee blends for its drinks. However, many of them prefer using Arabica beans for espresso because of its bolder flavor.
Is espresso stronger than regular coffee?
Generally, an espresso shot will be stronger than a cup of coffee. But keep in mind, espresso has more caffeine when compared ounce for ounce. For one ounce of espresso, there is approximately 63mg of caffeine. With regular coffee, there can be anywhere from 13mg to 68mg per ounce. Espressos are usually stronger than regular coffee, but that largely depends on the way it was brewed and the type of beans.
Can you use any kind of beans for espresso?
Yes, you can generally use any type of coffee beans for espresso. However, most experts and coffee connoisseurs recommend using darker roasted beans that are very finely ground. That way, you get to extract the full, bold, and strong flavor of the coffee, which is what makes espresso shots famous.
And that ends our list of the top 10 best espresso beans in 2021. Now, all that’s left for you to do is choose the right one based on your own tastes and preferences.
Choosing the right espresso beans can be hard. There are many brands, varieties, blends, and roasts to choose from, which can sometimes be overwhelming. But as long as take the time to really understand what you want out of an espresso, you’ll find that choosing the right beans is easier than you think!