Best Espresso Coffee Beans

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Top Espresso Coffee Beans

When it comes to pulling the perfect espresso shot at home, it all starts with great coffee beans. Not just any old bag of coffee off the store shelves will do.

In this article, we’ll review 15 of the best espresso coffee beans available to buy this year. Then we’ll throw in a helpful buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions section at the end.

We’ll drop so much java knowledge in the following easy-to-read sections that if you weren’t already an espresso aficionado — welcome to the club! (And, if you were already in the club, it’s your turn to bring donuts.)

Product Ranking

Chances are good that if you’ve ever enjoyed an after-dinner coffee at an Italian restaurant — it was Lavazza. These beans are blended and roasted in Italy.

The Super Crema is our best choice because it’s a unique and aromatic blend of coffee beans. As the name suggests, you’ll enjoy velvety crema in every shot. 

With notes of hazelnut and brown sugar, what’s not to love?

Key Features:

  • Blended & roasted in Italy
  • Produced in a nut-free facility
  • Mild & creamy medium roast
  • Naturally sweet with no bitterness

Specifications:

  • Brand: Lavazza
  • Size: 5.5 x 3.2 x 15 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

For our premium pick, we had to go with Kicking Horse’s Cliff Hanger Espresso. It’s both silky and complex — a swoon-worthy blend. 

Roasted in Canada, this medium roast gives off the rich aroma of blackcurrants, milk chocolate, and warm brown sugar. Then the super smooth espresso follows up with flavor notes of bright fruit and heavenly cocoa

Bliss.

Key Features:

  • USDA Organic
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Fairtrade
  • Kosher
  • Shade-grown

Specifications:

  • Brand: Kicking Horse Coffee
  • Size: 11.8 x 11.8 x 10.1 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

Sometimes life calls for a good budget-friendly espresso purchase. And that’s when our friends over at Eight O’Clock Coffee truly deliver.

Their dark Italian Espresso roast will have you and your wallet smiling. That’s why they get awarded “Best Value” on this list!

You won’t be disappointed by the strong aroma and flavor notes of caramel and chocolate.

Key Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Freshness-sealed bags
  • Kosher
  • Bold & full-bodied

Specifications:

  • Brand: Eight O’Clock Coffee
  • Size: 4.1 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

If you’re looking for a rich body with a sweet and creamy complexity — call off the search party! Verena Street is ready to hook you up with the coffee beans of your dreams.Shot tower espresso is made from dark roasted Arabica beans. It’s smooth yet full in body and flavor with no shortage of crema.

Key Features:

  • Dark roast
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Rainforest alliance certified
  • Kosher
  • Smooth yet full

Specifications:

  • Brand: Verena Street
  • Size: 4 x 3 x 7 inches
  • Weight: 11 ounces
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

This light roast will perk you up so much in the morning that you may be tempted to drop your friends a mischievous wink.

Enjoy this small-batch blonde roast with its vibrant citrus tones and playful hints of milk chocolate. The silky smoothness will have you light on your feet all day long. 

Key Features:

  • Light roast
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Single-origin
  • Small batch roast
  • Resealable bag w/airtight zipper

Specifications:

  • Brand: Wink Coffee
  • Size: 5 x 3.2 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

This classic Italian espresso from Cafe Don Pablo is very special. The Arabica beans are a special blend of Colombian Supremo and Sumatra Mandheling. Resulting in an irresistibly deep, complex flavor — now that’s smooth!

Low acidity and no bitterness make this coffee good for sipping on at any time of day. Enjoy the flavor notes of dark chocolate with mild earthy tones throughout.

Key Features:

  • Low acidity
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Dark roast
  • Non-GMO
  • Sharing certified

Specifications:

  • Brand: Cafe Don Pablo
  • Size: 5.5 x 4 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

Another excellent option from the Lavazza coffee team, the Gran Crema is a rich-bodied medium roast. Their espresso roast is best suited to an espresso machine, but it’s also nice for Moka pot, drip coffee maker, or even French press.

However you choose to brew it, prepare your palate for velvety sips of dark chocolate and spices. The flavor of freshly-baked goods dripping with honey will tickle your tastebuds awake.

Key Features:

  • Blended & roasted in Italy
  • Flavor notes baked goods
  • Non-GMO
  • Arabica/Robusta blend

Specifications:

  • Brand: Lavazza
  • Size: 5.7 x 3.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

It’s called Pete’s espresso blend because it is indeed preferred by Pete the coffee buyer and CEO of San Francisco Bay Coffee! Try it and see if you agree with Pete’s preference for this dark medium roast. 

Darker than their regular roast, but lighter than a French roast, these beans are a unique blend of Central and South American. Perfect for espresso or anyone who enjoys a powerful cup of coffee!

And wait until you get a load of these flavor notes! Baker’s chocolate, vanilla bean, and a hint of orange — rounded off with a creamy finish. Wow.

Key Features:

  • Family-owned
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Medium-dark roast
  • Kosher
  • Sustainably grown

Specifications:

  • Brand: San Francisco Bay Coffee
  • Size: 4.1 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

Brew up a cup of indestructible espresso with the AK-47 medium roast from Black Rifle Coffee. Enjoy the nutty aroma and the fact that your purchase supports a veteran-owned company.

This medium roast holds complex citrus and dark chocolate flavors in its whole beans. It’s full-bodied and might be the long-lost cup of wake-up you’ve been searching for.

Key Features:

  • Owned by American veterans
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Medium roast
  • Small-batch roasted

Specifications:

  • Brand: Black Rifle Coffee Company
  • Size: 5 x 3.2 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

In the mood for a hand-crafted artisan roast? But, of course! This medium-dark roast from Jo Coffee is organic, fairtrade, and kosher certified. That means every rich sip is also backed by sustainability!

Speaking of sipping, the subtle undertones of heavy dark chocolate paired with crema and an elegant finish? Heavenly. If you’re a fan of even darker roasts for your espresso, check out their Wild Jo blend.

Key Features:

  • USDA certified organic
  • Fairtrade certified
  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher certified
  • 100% Arabica beans

Specifications:

  • Brand: Jo Coffee
  • Size: 4.1 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

For those among us looking to get into an intense espresso, Blackwelder delivers. Their high-quality medium-dark roast comes from gourmet coffee beans.

Beans from Latin America and Indonesia, artisan roasted in small batches to produce a creamy, bitter-free blend. With tasting notes of complex caramel, this espresso will chase all your worries away.

Key Features:

  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Small batch roasted
  • Easily-resealable bag with freshness valve
  • No bitterness, low acidity
  • Family-owned

Specifications:

  • Brand: Blackwelder Coffee
  • Size: 4.1 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

You drink a lot of coffee. So, when you buy coffee?

You want your fresh-roasted beans in bulk. Olde Brooklyn Coffee understands you. This five-pound bag of extra strong coffee was small-batch roasted in New York. 

It’s a lot of whole bean goodness for a low price tag. One caveat?

The Italian dark roast is dark, so it has a bit of that burnt taste to it. Probably not the best choice of espresso if you want to sip it straight, but performs marvelously in a milky latte.

Key Features:

  • Small batch roasted
  • Budget-friendly
  • Dark roast
  • Airtight sealed bags w/valves

Specifications:

  • Brand: Olde Brooklyn Coffee
  • Size: 5 x 4 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

This premium blend by Bustelo is as supreme as the name suggests. Their espresso-style gourmet whole beans are full-bodied enough to stand up to mixing with cream and sugar (if desired!). 

In fact, Bustelo is very popular with fans of Cuban Cafe Con Leche. Pull a shot with your espresso machine and combine it with warm milk or whipped cream for a delightful afternoon pick-me-up.

Key Features:

  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Rich, full-bodied flavor
  • Guaranteed fresh

Specifications:

  • Brand: Cafe Bustelo
  • Size: 2.4 x 3.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

Looking for something super fresh? 

Then train your eyes to look for this phrase — “roast to order.” 

Nicoletti small-batch roasts every bag of their whole beans to order. This guarantees your espresso is as fresh as possible when it arrives in your welcoming arms.

Key Features:

  • Small batch roasted
  • Roasted to order in Brooklyn, NY
  • Light roast

Specifications:

  • Brand: Nicoletti Coffee
  • Size: 5.7 x 3.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Whole Bean
Product Ranking

Kirkland, like Olde Brooklyn Coffee, understands that some of us wish to buy our beans in bulk. Snag this steal of a deal, it’s two packs of two-pound bags of coffee — that’s four pounds!

If you feel your blood pressure rising a little over the idea of four pounds of coffee, never fear! Harvard studies found that our beloved beverage doesn’t raise blood pressure in regular coffee drinkers. (But those who are new or not used to coffee may experience a rise in blood pressure.)

Key Features:

  • Dark roast
  • Fairtrade
  • Custom roasted by Starbucks
  • Deliciously robust

Specifications:

  • Brand: Kirkland
  • Size: 4.1 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches
  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Whole Bean

Buying Guide & FAQ

What Is Espresso?

First, let’s set the record straight on what espresso is not. It’s not a type of bean, nor is it a type of roast.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. The term espresso refers to a brewing process. That’s all, folks!

A concentrated coffee, made from superfine grounds. Hot pressured water is forced through the grounds for ~20-60 seconds. It’s fast, it’s quick, it’s espresso!

What Should Espresso Taste Like?

A perfectly-pulled shot of Espresso should taste rich and sweet. Mmm. With a lovely layer of crema on top. No bitterness, no burnt or ashy flavor, and definitely not sour. 

To “hit me with your best shot,” so to speak, you should strive to use freshly ground coffee. It should also be the freshest roast you can find! 

Depending on the beans you select for your espresso, the tasting notes could be fruity, floral, chocolatey, or a combination of these.

Espresso vs. Drip Coffee

The differences between these two methods of coffee preparation are significant. For espresso, you need that extra fine grind, but for drip coffee, coarser is better.

When you make an espresso, it’s a fast process. Drip coffee brews a whole pot, so you’re looking at a matter of minutes over a matter of seconds like with a single shot.

Espresso contains more caffeine per volume than drip coffee. If you only have one 1-ounce shot, it’ll be less caffeine than an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee. But if you have multiple shots of espresso — zing!

How to Make the Perfect Shot in 3 Easy Steps

Here’s how to pull your ideal espresso shot every time:

  1. Grind carefully. You want to grind your coffee fresh every day. You’ll need 8-10 grams of grounds per shot. Use the setting for espresso on your grinder. It should be fine, but not too fine. Aim for the same coarseness as granulated sugar. 
  2. Don’t skip the tamp. A key step in the process. Press the tamper over your portafilter and apply pressure. Don’t forget the edges. You’re finished when the tamper stops moving.
  3. Time it right. Aim for between 20 and 30 seconds when pulling your shots. Use a timer, this will help you gauge if you got steps 1 & 2 correctly. If your shot comes out too quickly, your tamp didn’t pack the grounds tight enough. If your shot is taking too long, you possibly ground your beans too fine.

Adjust grinds and tamps, play around with your extraction times, and above all else — enjoy that liquid gold!

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