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Best espresso beans

The Best Espresso Beans? Top 10 Picks + Extras!

Nothing compares to the tingle a sip of espresso leaves on your palate. And what makes every espresso drink so appealing are the best espresso beans that they’re made with!

Preview
Our Top Pick
Eight O'Clock Coffee Dark Italian Espresso,...
Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso,...
Best Flavor
Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend,...
Verena Street 11 Ounce Espresso Beans, Shot...
Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso,...
User Rating
Price
$
$$
$$
$
-
Organic
Origin
Italy
Africa, Central and South America
Italy
North America
South America, India, Central America and Africa
Roast type
Medium
Medium
Medium
Darl
Dark
Flavor notes
Caramel, chocolate, mint
Milk chocolate and sugar cane, tart red currant, with a honeyed berry body
Druid fruit, almond, honey
Smooth caramel & chocolate
Cocoa, smoky, molasses
Our Top Pick
Preview
Eight O'Clock Coffee Dark Italian Espresso,...
User Rating
Price
$
Organic
Origin
Italy
Roast type
Medium
Flavor notes
Caramel, chocolate, mint
More Information
Preview
Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso,...
User Rating
Price
$$
Organic
Origin
Africa, Central and South America
Roast type
Medium
Flavor notes
Milk chocolate and sugar cane, tart red currant, with a honeyed berry body
More Information
Best Flavor
Preview
Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend,...
User Rating
Price
$$
Organic
Origin
Italy
Roast type
Medium
Flavor notes
Druid fruit, almond, honey
More Information
Preview
Verena Street 11 Ounce Espresso Beans, Shot...
User Rating
Price
$
Organic
Origin
North America
Roast type
Darl
Flavor notes
Smooth caramel & chocolate
More Information
Preview
Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso,...
User Rating
Price
-
Organic
Origin
South America, India, Central America and Africa
Roast type
Dark
Flavor notes
Cocoa, smoky, molasses
More Information

Yet, if your first-class, automatic espresso machine produces coffee that’s bland, sour and weak, you are not enjoying those cups as much as you would want to, right?

No matter how awesome your espresso machine is, you won’t get the desired results without the most optimal beans.

But you don’t know where and what kind of beans to look for?

Well, that’s why we’ve prepared this carefully selected list of the best beans that will meet any espresso lovers’ demands and solve the mystery of insipid espresso.

Fruity, sweet, decaf and chocolaty flavors – you’ll find all of this and more in the list below!

The Top 10 Espresso Beans That You Have To Try!

If your goal is to excel in the art of making authentic espresso cups, you have to pay attention to the blend, flavor, and the roast of your beans.

Thus, the following list of whole espresso beans that we’ve hand-picked ourselves can take you where you wanna be.

Also, note that we’re only listing espresso beans, not just any beans like you might come across in other reviews across the web!

Eight O'Clock Whole Bean Coffee

1. Eight O'Clock Dark Italian Espresso Whole Bean Coffee 

Overall rating: Superb
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: Italian
Roast: Medium
Notes: Mint, chocolate, caramel

These are our favorite traditional Italian espresso beans and they’re the top-rated product in the Espresso beans category, for good reason!

Espresso snobs who are into authentic flavor, richness, and full-bodied finish of typical Italian espresso will totally love the Eight O’Clock beans!

They’re low in acidity and without any chemical or bitter taste for an optimal espresso experience.

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Now, in terms of taste, these Eight O’Clock coffee beans taste like mint and chocolate with a dash of caramel – yummy!

Not only that, but these espresso beans are also made of 100% Arabica beans and they’re Kosher-certified too.

In a nutshell, the Eight O’Clock coffee represents a balance between pleasing natural sweetness and remarkable taste hardly anyone can copy.


Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso

2. Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: Yes
Origin: Africa, Central and South America
Roast: Medium
Notes: Milk chocolate and sugar cane, tart red currant, with a honeyed berry body

The Kicking Horse medium-roast organic espresso beans will knock you off your feet with their sweet vanilla, dark chocolate, smoky aroma, and audacious, lingering finish.

Now, these high-quality espresso beans come from specific regions in Africa, South and Central America.

This is where they’re grown in a sustainable way that’s also socially and environmentally responsible.

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Also, these espresso coffee beans are ideal for all kinds of brewing methods – from cold brew to French press and drip machine.

They’re also roasted in the area just below the mighty Rocky Mountains.

Last but not least, the Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger coffee beans are 100% organic, shade-grown, fair trade and kosher-friendly.


Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend

3. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean Coffee Blend 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: Italian
Roast: Medium
Notes: Honey, almond, dried fruit

The next entry on our list comes from none other than Lavazza and unsurprisingly these espresso beans are roasted and blended in Italy.

The Lavazza Super Crema Espresso is light, sweet and these beans are actually a blend consisting of 80% Arabica and 20% of Robusta beans.

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Also, these beans are medium-roasted and they offer an intense aroma.

On top of that, there’s no bitter aftertaste thanks to the gentle hints of dried fruity, almond, and honey notes.

And thanks to the velvety, thick and compact crema of these Lavazza beans, it’s easy to make some fancy espresso drinks with the addition of whipped cream.


Verena Street 11 Ounce Espresso Beans

4. Verena Street Espresso Beans 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: Yes
Origin: North America
Roast: Dark
Notes: Chocolate, smooth caramel

The Verena Street espresso beans offer a remarkably full taste, body, and aroma in every single cup.

They’re made of 100% Arabica beans and they feature a sweet chocolate undertone with zero bitterness.

Now, each batch of these beans is roasted and packaged by the family-owned Verena Street brand in Iowa (US).

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The organic and Kosher-certified Verena Street beans are also low in acidity, making them just perfect for a delicious cup of espresso.

Speaking of which, these beans are great for making fine-grind espresso or coarse-grind drip coffee.

And these Verena Street beans are sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified that testify their sustainability.


Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso

5. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso Whole Beans 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: South America, India, Central America and Africa
Roast: Dark
Notes: Cocoa, smoky, molasses

These Italian-style espresso beans offer delicious artisan goodness with a honeyed toasty aroma.

Basically, the Coffee Bean Direct espresso beans are a great option for coffee lovers who prefer low acidity and smooth texture in their cup.

Although this brand gets its beans from various places across the globe, they actually precision roast their coffee beans on a daily basis.

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Also, they come with a well-balanced flavor that’s strong yet sweet, with a hint of cocoa and molasses.

And to add that extra bit of nice and smooth crema, these Coffee Bean Direct beans are an Arabica-Robusta blend.

Lastly, note that they can be considered as somewhat oily coffee beans.

Nonetheless, if you are on the hunt for a full-bodied, rich espresso or a cup of ice coffee, this is the way to go.


Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee

6. Don Pablo Classic Italian Espresso 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: Yes
Origin: South America
Roast: Dark
Notes: Dark chocolate, sweet cherry, mild earthy tones

Up next we have the brilliant Cafe Don Pablo gourmet espresso roast that has a complex and low-in-acidity, full-bodied flavor with a smooth texture.

Now, the beans used are 100% pure Arabica and non-GMO since they’re fully organic.

Also, these beans come from farms in Colombia (South America) as they’re grown in nutrient-rich soil.

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Apart from that, there’s no bitter taste, while the delicate notes are complemented by dark chocolate and subtle earthy undertones.

And it’s worth noting that these beans are ideal for brewing both in a drip and espresso machine – they can even be used in a French press!

They’re also sweetened with natural caramelized sugars so the Don Pablo beans retain their freshness and intense flavor longer.


Starbucks Espresso Roast Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

7. Starbucks Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: Multi-region
Roast: Dark
Notes: Caramelly sweet

Courtesy of the immensely popular coffee & coffeehouse chain, the Starbucks espresso beans offer a superbly rich and full-bodied flavor.

Taste-wise, these beans are robust, surprisingly sweet and bold with a dash of caramel to make it even better.

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Now, these espresso beans grind and blend effortlessly, providing the intensity of authentic espresso with no bitterness.

With their espresso roast Starbucks offers has a pack of beans that represent the perfect combination of aroma, flavor, body and acidity that many espresso aficionados value greatly.


JO ESPRESSO: 12 oz, Medium Dark Roast Espresso Coffee

8. JO ESPRESSO Whole Bean Coffee 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: Yes
Origin: USA
Roast: Medium-dark
Notes: Heavy dark chocolate, rich crema

Here we have the JO ESPRESSO whole beans that feature professional cupping notes.

There are zero artificial flavors added since these beans produce rich crema with an elegant and crisp finish that’s perfected by strong undertones of heavy dark chocolate on their own!

Now, they boast several noteworthy certificates such as USDA and fair-trade and Kosher.

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Also, these espresso beans are completely non-GMO, free of any gluten and they’re 100% organic for maximum sustainability.

And for optimal quality and taste, JO Coffee apparently buys beans only from the top 2% raw organic Arabica providers on the planet.


Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Italian Roast Espresso Coffee

9. Fresh Roasted Coffee Italian Roast Espresso 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: N/A
Roast: Dark
Notes: Dense and bittersweet red fruits

This Italian espresso roast features naturally sweet red fruit aromas, that make these beans one of the more fruity entries on our list.

The Fresh Roasted Coffee espresso beans also carry a heavy-bodied espresso taste with fruity, wine-like acidity and clean finish that those of you who have a sweet tooth will truly appreciate.

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These freshly roasted, environmentally-friendly 100% Arabica beans also pair well with espresso drip coffee makers alike.

However, you can make a yummy cup of iced coffee using the cold brew method as well!

Lastly, these coffee beans have plenty of certificates including the Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic and Fair Trade.


Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso High Caffeine Whole Bean Coffee

10. Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso Beans 

Overall rating: Great
Flavor rating: Great
Organic: No
Origin: South America, Africa, Indonesia, India
Roast: Dark
Notes: Rich crema and velvety elegance with dark chocolate overtones

Stone Street Coffee’s dark roast, 100% Arabica, 5-bean blend espresso beans are dubbed “serious coffee for serious New Yorkers” by the manufacturer.

Although you can definitely enjoy the robust and high-caffeine nature of these espresso beans even if you aren’t from New Yorker.

Now, these beans make for superb, strong shots of espresso that you can use to make other espresso-based drinks, such as latte and cappuccino.

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These beans also have zero acidity and bitterness to further solidify their velvety notes.

In fact, these espresso beans also come with subtle and sweet dark chocolate undertones with no artificial flavors.

Eventually, if you dream of full-bodied, specialty-grade espresso with thick velvety and rich crema, Stone Street Coffee’s espresso beans are the way to go.

Espresso Beans – Buyer’s Guide!

There are several things that are worth taking into consideration before you order a batch of espresso beans!

Here they are:

Pre-Ground or Whole Beans?

Most of the espresso beans that we’ve listed above typically come in 2 forms – whole or pre-ground.

Sure, getting a bag of espresso grounds seems like a no-brainer as you can start brewing immediately without having to grind them.

But do you value convenience over longer-lasting freshness?

Pre-ground coffee beans don’t retain freshness as well as whole beans!

Thus, if you’d like to have more control over how fresh your espresso beans are, your best bet is to go for whole beans.

By doing so you’ll be able to grind them yourself, with or without a coffee bean grinder, right before you brew delicious espresso.

The Quality of Packaging (Or Lack of)

The packaging of the beans that you’re buying will determine whether they get stale quicker or not.

Ideally, you’d want to buy espresso beans that are packed in an opaque, airtight bag or canister.

Basically, a container that’s properly sealed and that fends off oxidation.

Another thing to look for on the bag or container are things like flavor notes, roasting date, brand info etc.

Best espresso beans, single-origin vs blends

Single-Origin vs a Blend?

As you might’ve noticed, some espresso beans are single-origin while others are a blend of different beans.

Essentially, going for a single-origin product equals predictability as you know that you’re getting only one particular type of beans e.g. 100% Arabica.

Blending coffee beans gives you a more complete coffee experience, so to speak.

Blends, on the other hand, offer much greater variety in terms of flavor and taste that might vary from sweet to bitter and even earthy.

In the end, it’s all down to personal preference:

Do you want the characteristics of pure Arabica (i.e. single-origin) or do you fancy an intriguing Arabica-Robusta blend?

The answer to this question will not only determine the flavor profile of your espresso but also how strong the caffeine kick will be!

That’s because Robusta beans contain more caffeine than Arabica, so a blend should be stronger (caffeine-wise) than pure Arabica.

The Freshness Factor

Nothing beats freshly roasted and freshly packed coffee beans, period.

Thus, always check the roasting date on the package.

Coffee beans stay fresh for about 14 days (2 weeks) after they’ve been roasted!

This means that the beans will carry the most aroma and flavor during those 2 weeks.

After that, the distinctive notes and tones start diminishing and your coffee is on its way to becoming stale.

So please, always check when the beans were roasted and if there’s no roasting date then you better avoid them.

Another thing to keep in mind is to properly store the coffee beans by putting them in an opaque airtight container that you keep in a dark and cool place.

Dark vs Medium Roast

Although most espresso beans are roasted longer (dark roast), there are some dark-medium or medium roasts as well.

However, genuine espresso beans are meant to be roasted longer to achieve that beautiful crema with a full-bodied and low-acid espresso flavor.

Thus, if you want to brew traditional espresso, then opt for a dark roast!

Dark roast beans look quite shiny compared to other roast types because they are oilier i.e. oily coffee beans.

But if you’d like to taste more of the delicate notes of the espresso beans, then you can try a medium roast.

Also, medium roast beans tend to have a more balanced and well-rounded flavor profile.

Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso High Caffeine Whole Bean Coffee

Are Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans The Same?

Yes, they’re both coffee beans after all.

It’s just that espresso beans are typically dark roast and they’re meant to be used in an espresso machine for best results.

Still, do you see the difference between a shot of espresso and a cup of black coffee?

Then you already know that espresso beans and coffee beans differ based on their purpose:

Espresso beans are more geared towards brewing in an espresso machine as opposed to using them in a regular drip coffee maker!

Now, technically they are both coffee and you can make espresso using regular coffee beans.

On the other hand, you can brew black coffee with espresso beans – but they will never be the same anyway.

The main difference is that espresso beans are more robust (i.e. they can sustain the high-pressurized water in espresso machines) and they’re typically darker roasts.

Thus, espresso cups provide a stronger and sometimes even a bit of a bitter flavor.

Nonetheless, when making traditional espresso, the right gear to use is and always will be an espresso machine.

That’s because it extracts the coffee by using hot water and high pressure.

It also creates a lush layer of crema at the top, while the grind is supposed to be fine.

Espresso machines utilize very high-pressure and short contact with water, while drip coffee machines rely on gravity and a longer contact with water!

With drip coffee, the grind is usually coarser than its espresso counterpart.

And you have two additional main brewing methods available – pour-over or French press.

The result of using a French press or a pour-over? A milder taste with no crema.

Apparently, these are the key differences between espresso and brewed coffee and it all starts with the different kinds of beans used.

What’s The Key Difference Between Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans Then?

The main difference is that espresso beans typically are roasted longer (i.e. dark roast) while “standard” coffee beans can be any kind of roast.

When you see a bag of coffee beans labeled as ‘espresso beans‘ it simply means that these beans are meant to be used in an espresso machine for the best results.

But the writing on the bag doesn’t have to dictate how you brew these beans…

You can use espresso beans in a drip coffee maker and “regular” coffee beans in an espresso machine… it’s all down to personal preference!

In the end, they’re all coffee beans in the end and espresso beans just stand for a particular roast type.

Espresso beans are typically a dark roast, while coffee beans can be any roast – light, medium and dark.

There’s a very important reason for this since darker roasts are optimal for quick coffee extraction methods like espresso.

While lighter roasts tend to be better when it comes to using a slower extraction technique like when brewing filter coffee.

That’s why the most flavorful espresso beans are generally medium-to-dark roast – medium roast espresso beans are not as common for a reason!

The most important aspect (apart from a good espresso machine) for a quality espresso shot are: 1) fine grind and 2) dark roast i.e. espresso beans!

Ideally, espresso beans should be of high enough quality to sustain the high-pressurized water that’s exerted on them in an espresso machine.

Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso High Caffeine Whole Bean Coffee

What Roast is Best for Espresso?

If you want an authentic cup of espresso then medium to dark roast works best.

Generally speaking, lighter roasts aren’t preferred for brewing traditional espresso.

Why?

Because light roast beans usually don’t extract well and are generally trickier to work with.

However, if you like espresso-based drinks such as lattes and Americanos, the light roast beans will do.

Remember – although solubility matters when making espresso, so does the acidity!

Thus, if you want to “tame” the acidity while still retaining the texture that is easy to work with, then darker roasts will help with both.

In a nutshell – light roast gives a sour and less bitter taste, while dark roasts taste nutty.

Just make sure not to over-roast, as this may give a burnt taste to your espresso that’ll make you go “blah”!

Best espresso beans, a coffee mug and beans forming a pulse

How The Coffee Beans Impact The Taste of an Espresso?

Oh, the beans that you’re using play a major role in how good (or bad) your espresso will taste!

The way your espresso tastes largely depends on the type of beans you are using, period.

Typically your best bet would be to go for a blend of Arabica coffee beans as they contribute to a smooth and slightly sour taste.

Colombian Arabica beans tend to be milder and more balanced that should appeal to most coffee lovers.

But don’t worry if you already have espresso beans from a different region – different beans from different countries all have their charm i.e. unique flavor profile.

Thus, you can still enjoy a truly satisfying, aromatic flavor of your morning shots.

However, another very important thing that can have an effect on your espresso is properly storing the coffee beans!

What About The Preferred Roast To Achieve The Typical Espresso Taste?

Opt for a darker roast if you want an authentic cup of espresso.

Pressed, dark-roasted beans with bold and a bit bitter taste are the key to that traditional and delicious espresso drink.

So instead of using regular coffee beans, go for specialty-grade espresso beans when preparing espresso.

Best espresso beans, an open bag of coffee beans

How Does the Origin of the Coffee Beans Affect the Taste and Flavor?

The origin of the coffee beans that you’re using is what defines their flavor.

Here are the main factors that will determine the taste of your espresso in relation to the place of origin:

  • Soil chemistry
  • Rainfall
  • Altitude
  • Shade

Now, there are dozens of countries out there with coffee plantations.

However, only a few of them are among the more widespread espresso bean providers, including:

South America

  • Colombia – These beans offer a medium-bodied and balanced, yet rich taste with obvious caramel tones, nutty notes and even citrus-like acidity.
  • medium-bodied with a rich taste and citrus-like acidity.
  • Brazil – The typical Brazilian coffee beans flavor is generally described as having a heavy body with somewhat nutty notes.

Africa

  • Kenya – Kenyan coffee beans are known for their slight tart sweetness and very savory flavor.
  • Ethiopia – This is supposedly where the beloved Arabica beans originate from and these beans come in various flavors including blueberry, jasmine flower and bergamot notes.

Southeast Asia

  • Indonesia – Indonesian espresso beans are quite common since they’re rich and full-bodied with dark chocolate, spicy and earthy notes, rustic sweetness and a woody (or even spicy) aroma.

US (Pacific Ocean)

  • Hawaii – These beans are also known as Kona and they tend to have a mild, sweet, clean and bright profile with notes such as berry, brown sugar, citrus and even milk chocolate.

However, it’s worth noting that most espresso beans out there are actually blends of various beans from different regions.

So if you want to try espresso beans from a particular region (i.e. Indonesia) then you have to look for single-origin coffee beans.

Conclusion

So, based on origin, notes, ratings and price the best espresso beans currently that we totally recommend are the Eight O'Clock Whole Bean Dark Italian Espresso beans .

Now, it’s worth mentioning that dark roasts are, in general, meant for experienced espresso artisans as they give that typical espresso taste.

If you are a newbie though, perhaps lighter to medium roasts will work better for you – especially when you have a good espresso machine.

Either way, you won’t get anything but a bland, barely enduring taste if you are using low-quality espresso beans (that’s why we’ve compiled the list of the best espresso beans above!)

That’s because low-quality beans simply can’t stand the pressure espresso machines use.

And we wanted to help you find the best espresso beans for you so that you can enjoy your authentic espresso morning shots the right way!

In a world of average Joe coffee drinks, it’s always a good idea to brew some traditional espresso.

Now – have you noticed a difference between regular coffee and espresso beans?

Do you prefer lighter or darker roasts?

We would love to hear your impressions so don’t forget to leave a comment in a section below!

Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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