The deep rich nutty, and caramelized aroma of a brilliant cup of espresso is enough to take one away to the most romantic cafes of France, or a boardwalk in beautiful Italy, to one’s favorite memory out of a coffee shop in New York.
First invented by Angelo Moriondo in 1884, modern technology has made this Italian import accessible worldwide to many in their very own homes. This begs the question if just about anyone can make espresso in their homes now, does that mean just about any coffee bean works for espresso?
While espresso can be made from a variety of roasts and with a variety of beans, espresso aficionados may desire to know what are the best coffee beans for espresso?
What are espresso coffee beans?
While there are two primary beans grown for coffee and espresso. Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. Each in a myriad of roasts, one cannot simply throw any old bean into a grinder and brew it as an espresso. The best coffee beans for espresso are often a medium-dark to dark roast variety and a quality of bean that will stand up to the high-pressure brewing process of espresso.
Attempting to make an espresso with a grind of regular coffee beans will likely produce a strange, sour, and tart coffee drink much different from the anticipated rich, caramel, and complex espresso expected. Espresso beans are rich in oil. Adding body and flavor and contributing to the rich crema found on top of a well-brewed espresso. The correct coffee bean is essential in producing bold and complex flavors that define espresso drinks.
Top 5 Espresso Beans – Top Rated Espresso Beans
Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the very best coffee beans for espresso in a range of roasts and prices that can be found on Amazon.
- Lavazza Crema e Aroma Whole Bean Coffee
- Kicking Horse Whole Bean Coffee
- Illy Classico Whole Bean Medium Roast
- Eight O’Clock Whole Bean Coffee
- Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee
1. Best Espresso Beans – Lavazza Crema e Aroma Whole Bean Coffee Review
Lavazza is synonymous with coffee and espresso in Italy, and its household name is well earned Established in 1895. Lavazza has produced quality, value, and accessibility in its brand to reach the international heights of prestige it enjoys today over 120 years into its existence
Lavazza’s Crema e Aroma is a medium roast blend, comprised of 30% Arabica beans from South America and 70% Robusta beans from the African Highlands. It is best brewed with a machine, in the straight style. The beans of this particular blend are not super oily because they have been roasted uniformly. This is good news for espresso lovers with an automatic grinder as it won’t clog their machines; the Crema e Aroma will also work well in a French press or drip.
The Crema e Aroma is amongst one of the best coffee beans for espresso for living up to its name and hitting the espresso lover with its full-bodied rich and nutty aroma almost immediately upon opening the bag, fully releasing as it grinds. This aroma is then carried through in the smooth, rounded texture and rich, almost buttery flavor. This is a solid choice for anyone looking for rich espresso and who enjoys their espresso straight
2. Best Organic Espresso Beans – Kicking Horse Whole Bean Coffee Review
If you are looking for an espresso bean from a company that offers substance in its mission statement and branding pledging to work ethically for the people producing the beans and the planet while also providing quality espresso, Kicking Horse may be right up your alley.
The beans from Kicking Horse Coffee are sourced from Indonesia and South America while being roasted in the Rocky Mountains region of Canada. The company is dedicated to producing organic coffee beans while committing to fair trade and climate-sensitive practices.
The whole beans in the Kick-Ass Dark Roast are 100% Arabica, and their dark roast leaves them with the more oily texture that may be most considered a recognizable espresso bean trait. The Kick-Ass blend boasts a chocolate, coconut flavor with some sweetness. It is both bold and rich in texture fitting for those who enjoy their straight espresso strong in the morning.
Kicking Horse Kick Ass Dark Roast can be used in a machine or prepared with a slow drip or French Press. Its richness and boldness are ideal for those seeking value, in dollars, and in best company practices. This is the best ground espresso coffee, and one of the best beans for espresso!
3. Best Coffee For Espresso Machine – Illy Classico Whole Bean Medium Roast
Illy is another classic Italian coffee company that has soared to international recognition and renown. Founded in 1933, illy has specialized particularly in the making of espresso for nearly a century. The company produces espresso machines and coffee wares while also offering whole beans and coffee grinds in their signature airtight containers
The Classico or Classic Roast is a medium roast made from 100% Arabica beans, illy prides itself on its single blend, the same signature blend they have used for over 80 years. Each batch appears to be picked by experts before roasting, as this whole bean truly delivers incredible balance in weight, texture, and flavor.
Illy’s Classico beans are not oily, so they will do well in automatic grinders. The flavor has a delicious hint of chocolate and caramel. While the overall weight of Classico seems light, the texture still manages to feel rich and smooth on the palette illy Classico is for the espresso drinker that craves great flavor and a sense of balance.
4. Best Italian Espresso Beans – Eight O’Clock Whole Bean Coffee
Eight O’Clock Coffee is the oldest of the coffee companies on this list, having been founded in 1859 While Eight O’Clock Coffee is perhaps lesser-known today than some of the modem day giants like Starbucks. Lavazza, or illy this American company, once held over a quarter of the market share in 1930. Today, the brand continues to provide high-quality whole coffee beans at a great value.
Eight O’Clock Dark Italian Espresso is comprised of 100% Arabica beans and is roasted under the supervision of master roasters in Maryland, USA. Though a dark roast, this whole bean does not present with the oily texture typical or expected of the espresso bean, making it a good option to grind in automatic machines. The aroma of the Eight O’Clock Dark Italian espresso bean and grind is rich and nutty with hints of deep cocoa.
If you are seeking an espresso that is bold and robust, with notes of chocolate, the Eight O’Clock Dark Italian Espresso offers a surprising flavor for the value. These are the strongest coffee beans, and the best coffee beans for cappuccino.
5. Best Whole Bean Espresso – Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee Review
Starbucks is the largest coffee brand and company in the world. Boasting locations on nearly every continent in the world (although to be fair, Antarctica is a tough market for anyone). When ordering a cup of coffee or espresso, it would be hard not to think of Starbucks.
Since its founding in 1971, this Seattle-based company has seen a massive expansion in its products, services, and locations. Starbucks has also committed itself to practices that ensure the coffees they produce come from ethical sources and sustainable practices.
Starbucks was founded in 1971, but really only began to pursue the perfection of their Espresso Whole Bean roast in 1975. Since then, they have developed a signature blend that boasts a sweet caramel expression enjoyed in their locations around the world and with the ability to ship straight to your home.
The whole beans of the Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast are oily, so it is not advised to grind them frequently in an automatic grinder. This whole bean boasts bold flavor in a well-balanced coffee bean. Starbucks has accomplished creating something rich sweet, and nutty with just a hint of bitterness in its Espresso Roast.
This particular blend is also a versatile espresso that can be made straight or used for espresso drinks with cream and milk. Offering a taste of the expected palette of espresso, and value Starbucks has achieved great success with this blend. This is the best coffee beans for espresso, and the top espresso beans! That wraps up our espresso bean review, now lets move onto the buyers guide.
Buyers Guide – Coffee Beans For Espresso
How do I choose coffee beans for espresso?
Choosing the best coffee beans for espresso is a matter of personal choice for most people as there is no ‘one size fits all’ blend or roast in the world. Espresso is not unlike coffee in that the variety of blends and roasts prevail to grant each person their own preferences.
There are some guidelines to consider when selecting whole coffee beans for your espresso; however, you appreciate your espresso served. Espresso beans that will be used for an espresso drink that utilizes cream like a cappuccino or milk, as in lattes, would do well to be of a darker roast. The boldness and robust flavors of these beans will be balanced by the cream and milk elements of these drinks.
For those who enjoy their espresso straight, with little to no additives (as some will sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of their crema), a medium roast would be best
Espresso beans should be well roasted but not over-roasted Look for a coffee bean that is uniform in its roasting process and not burnt. Burnt roasts will create a bitter or tangy accent to your espresso drinks that are not ideal.
Almost all of the larger companies, illy Lavazza and Starbucks, have some form of branding or marketing that designates their commitment to offering ethically sourced coffee beans and sustainable practices to contribute positively to our climate. This is a matter of personal choice but is usually easily discoverable on a company’s information and landing pages online if this is an important aspect of your purchasing habits and demands.
What coffee beans does Starbucks use for espresso?
Starbucks uses 100% Arabica beans, cultivated at high altitudes, according to its website. These are the primary variety that quite nearly every brand and company uses, although Starbucks does boast that they are dedicated to producing high quality by using these beans alone.
The high acidity of Arabica beans and the locations from which they are produced allows Starbucks to retain a level of complexity in their coffees and coffee products that are signature to their brand.
Is espresso stronger than coffee?
Espresso is technically stronger than coffee in regard to the caffeine to liquid ratio. However, this is entirely dependent on the amount of espresso or coffee comparable to consumption. While there are approximately 64 milligrams of caffeine per ounce of espresso, the average size of an espresso shot is only one ounce.
Most coffee drinkers will consume 12 to 16 ounces per cup of coffee, which boasts approximately 11 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. All told, a single 12 ounce serving of coffee is 132 milligrams of caffeine, while a 16-ounce serving is 176 milligrams of caffeine.
An average cup of espresso is around two to three ounces. A two-ounce single serving of espresso is approximately 128 milligrams of caffeine, while a three-ounce serving is closer to 192 milligrams of caffeine.
Espresso is stronger than coffee in pure caffeine to volume ratios but is often consumed in far smaller quantities. Another complex layer to the way that espresso is consumed in our societies today is that espresso is often added to a coffee drink. Many cafes and coffee shops offer the option to add shots of espresso to an already brewed coffee drink.
Do you need special coffee beans for espresso?
One does not necessarily require special coffee beans to make a cup of espresso, although it is more beneficial to the outcome and flavors if one takes care to research and select coffee beans that are suitable for an espresso drink.
Curating a perfect cup of espresso for one’s individual likes and desires is a very personal choice, although there are guidelines that will lead to better outcomes. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, taking any blend or roast of coffee and grinding it to create an espresso may produce bitter, sour, and less than desirable results.
The most important aspects of creating a delicious cup of espresso will be the quality of the blend of coffee beans, the roasting variety to one’s personal taste, and the quality of water used to brew the espresso. Most commonly, one should look to use a medium-dark or dark roast to curate a good cup of espresso or espresso drink.
Many of the long-standing coffee companies, especially those found on our list, produce medium roasts specifically for this purpose. For decades and some bordering for over a century, these experts have produced some of the finest coffee beans for your espresso drinks. They have done this through years of research, experimentation, and quality checks. While there is absolutely not a 100% need to seek out special coffee beans for espresso, there is certainly a market that proves the benefit of doing so.
Is espresso a bean or a grind?
When asking the question of what the best coffee beans for espresso might be. It is difficult to determine if when we say ‘espresso” if we are speaking about a specific ‘Espresso Bean” or the “Espresso Drink ’ There are also certain brands that produce an espresso oriented or espresso specialized coffee grounds.
Espresso can be a type of whole coffee bean offered by a producer or manufacturer. Espresso can also be a grinded or grounded coffee bean. Ultimately, no matter how one purchases their espresso coffee for brewing, it will have to be ground to produce the espresso drinks that are consumed at its end. To that end, espresso is both a bean and a grind
Espresso coffee beans, and espresso drinks, whether straight or made with milk and cream, have a long, storied history. Many of the companies that produce espresso coffee beans and share them with the world have their own long and renowned histories as well.
However you enjoy your espresso, and wherever you are in your espresso journey, newbie or expert, we hope you’ve found this article to be useful in finding out about new espresso blends and coffee beans that you may not have looked at before or validating your espresso aficionado beliefs previous to this.
It is a wonder that such a small cup of liquid caffeine could have such a deep, rich, and complex history to it. However, it also appears to be fitting to the many flavors and profiles that exist of the different espresso beans, grinds, and drinks available to the world now. It has come a very long way since first invented by Angelo Moriondo in 1884, and it has traveled very far from the borders of Italy, where espresso remains a mainstay of Italian culture and life.
We hope that your journey on finding the perfect cup of espresso has been helped along its way by some of the information found here. While each person, and each cup of espresso, maybe an ever-evolving and indeterminate process, we hope that gaining some knowledge of the espresso bean and its role in your journey has been particularly useful. Thank you for reading this article, and may the expressions of your experiences with espresso be as deep, rich, and smooth as your next cup.