Espresso is a special type of coffee. It’s made under great pressure, coming out with a distinctive taste and texture. It’s also one of the most versatile forms of coffee. Most coffee shops deal with espresso-based drinks. If you’re brewing up this type of coffee at home, there is typically something of an upfront cost for equipment. If you’ve gone through all that work to get set up pulling the perfect espresso, why settle for mediocre beans? We’ve scoured the market to find the very best espresso beans and summed it up in this review, so you can make an informed choice. These are some of the best espresso coffee beans, but which one is for you?
This is a medium roast blend of coffee, which is a little different for espresso. A medium roast coffee carries a lot of distinctive flavors. These are roasted out of an espresso blend of coffee. Are you looking for a coffee with the rich and interesting tastes you would associate with a French press? Then this Kicking Horse espresso might be for you.
Its origin is spread between Africa, Indonesia, and Central and South America. While some people prefer a single origin, having a distinctive array isn’t the worst thing in the world for the blend. You can expect a smooth taste and chocolatey notes in this cup.
The Kicking Horse espresso is roasted in the Rocky Mountains. Is the scenic view of the roasters your prime factor in deciding which coffee to brew? Then this might be for you. The view your coffee roasters enjoy might not actually change the quality of a cup, but it doesn’t hurt.
This is another whole bean blend of espresso, so you can expect it to taste pretty fresh when the time comes to grind it. The Allegro Organic Espresso Roast is a little closer to a traditional espresso than the Kicking Horse entry.
This espresso is a darker roast, though still technically medium. You could call it a dark medium roast, which might seem like splitting hairs but it is actually pretty accurate. You’ll get a smooth taste with a darker blend. The medium roast section of this bean’s identity gives it the distinctive flavor notes.
This one has notes of chocolate and caramel blended in. This gives you a nice distinctive taste from your espresso. It is also sourced from Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified farms, which is always a bonus.
This Café Don Pablo espresso blend is a particularly interesting bag. The packaging itself goes for the farm look of showing off the raw product, rather than the minimal design preferred by most expresso bags. Thankfully though, you’re not buying it for the graphic design.
This coffee has a bold and distinctive taste. It also has all the certifications that you need to know you’re getting high-quality beans without sacrificing on ethics. This is USDA organic certified, along with being GMO-free. It’s about as organic as it gets.
The Café Don blend is a medium roast, which gives you that richer flavor in your espresso. Its origin is Honduras, so you’re getting a unified single-origin coffee. The farms that it comes from are all part of the Sharing Certified Program. This is an organic, healthy coffee that has just about every moral certification going.
Groundwork Organic espresso is another great choice for organic beans. This one does things a bit differently though. For starters, it comes in a can, and it consists of a diverse blend of beans roasted together for a perfect balance of flavors. The coffee itself is a medium roast for rich flavor. It is a blend of various origins rather than single but does have a strong and distinct flavor with berry notes.
If you’re interested in the Groundwork’s organic credentials, then you’re in luck. It is certified as kosher and non-GMO. The growers are certified organic. The beans are not grown with any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. It’s hard to get more organic than this.
The Organic Coffee company can be relied on for all organic produce since it’s kind of in the name.
This particular coffee is a dark roast which is typical for an espresso. Dark Roasts make the best espresso coffee beans. This is because they’re roasted in a way that stops the flavor from becoming overwhelming. This particular blend uses only Arabica beans. It’s also certified USDA organic, and entirely kosher.
Sumatran coffee is a unique style that is great for medium roasts. This coffee carries the strong flavors you’d associate with medium roasts. Although, it is without the occasionally overpowering flavors of other origins. Sumatran coffee is typically smooth and full-bodied. The Organic Hurricane blend is no exception.
Death Wish is fairly notorious for claiming to be the strongest coffee in the world. While it initially looks to be a marketing gimmick, some creative use of beans might just make this true. Still, the actual strength is largely going to come down to your brewing method.
Strange brags aside, this is a coffee that emulates the type of taste that people think of as a ‘strong’ coffee. It is dark roasted. Most people associate the taste of a dark roast with strength. Although, dark roasted coffees actually have the least caffeine. This blend gets around this by using Robusta beans rather than Arabica. This allows it to both have extra caffeine and the dark roast taste that most associate with caffeine. Something of a strange combination.
If you’re after a roast that really tastes like dark espresso, then this is a great choice. It is a bit of a novelty with its overwhelming caffeine, but you might get a taste for it.
This Mayorga coffee makes one of the best cups of espresso. Plus it has all of the organic details that you want from a bag of beans. It has notes of vanilla inside, with a slightly sweet taste that is perfect for the high-pressure espresso format.
This is a dark roast, which is good since they make the best coffee beans for espresso. (At least traditionally) Although, it does have quite a low acidity for a dark roast. This gives it a smooth taste that goes down easily. It makes a pleasant and drinkable espresso.
It’s also made from 100% Arabica beans, USDA Organic certified, contains no GMOs and it’s kosher. The Mayorga espresso is produced ethically from small-batch farms. These farms are paid a fair wage and regularly inspected. If you’re after a socially and environmentally conscious cup of coffee that doesn’t sacrifice taste, then this is a great pick.
Lavazza is a fairly big name in coffee beans. This is their organic variety, so you can be sure you’re getting the purest product with few contaminants in there.
This blend is specially formulated for espresso. While it can be used elsewhere, its flavor profile matches what you would want from an espresso. It is an Italian roasted coffee, which tends to be the preferred espresso process. This is kind of easy to figure out since espresso is at home in Italy.
This Lavazza blend is USDA Organic certified, along with UTZ and Euro Lead organic certification, and it is sustainably grown. This is quite the list of qualifications for a simple bag of coffee. If you want something with that traditional espresso taste, then this is a good call.
This is another blend from Mayorga. This time it is their organic Roastmaster’s blend.
Just like their other bags, this one follows the same sourcing principles. Specifically, it’s made from 100% Arabica beans and is USDA Organic certified. This espresso contains no GMOs and it’s kosher. The coffee is grown in sustainable and ethical farms. There isn’t anything else this coffee can do to convince you it’s coming from the best place possible.
This is another medium roast coffee, but its flavor profile is on the darker side. This gives it a rich taste full of flavor, but without that becoming overpowered by the strong and intense form of espresso.
This Bean Company Roast is as organic as they come, but it has a distinct dark flavor. If you’re after an espresso roast with that signature dark coffee flavor, then this is a good choice for you.
It has a bold earthy taste, with a full body. This is roasted in the Italian method for espresso, giving it a very dark taste. On top of this, it is certified as organic by both the COOF and USDA. The beans used are 100% Arabica, and they’re hand-roasted in small matches to ensure the coffee is both fresh and consistent in its taste.
Are Mammoth’s organic? In any case, this coffee from the Mt Whitney Roasters is. It also has a great flavor profile and is free from the contaminants you’d find in most cups.
This coffee is made from a South American and Sumatran blend. This gives it the bold flavors you expect from a medium roast with a strong enough body to hold up it the pressures of pulling a shot of espresso. The cup itself has hints of lemon, with a nutty and dark taste. This is a complex body of flavors stuffed into the small serving of espresso.
This coffee is roasted in small batches, from 100% Arabica beans. Ensuring that its taste is up to scratch with every single bag.
This JO blend is a really popular choice for brewing traditional tasting espresso with added flavors. It marries that classic taste with the intense aspects that drive many to go for a lighter roast. This is a dark roast, but it carries strong flavors of dark chocolate and a full crema that you’d associate with a lighter blend.
This blend tastes great, but it also does some good. It is Fair Trade certified, as well as USDA organic certified, it’s even kosher certified. This should put your mind at ease about what it is that you’re drinking. The coffee itself is whole bean and 100% Arabica, so you can be confident you’re getting a high-quality bag.
This is a great choice of coffee if you’re looking for a middle ground between traditional Italian roasts and the more flavourful medium roasts.
This coffee comes from Café Altura, which uses some unique systems to get a great tasting coffee. These beans are Arabica, but they’re also shade-grown! This is an extra little detail to the beans used, and one that should make you confident that this is a consistently tasty cup.
The Café Altura coffee is roasted in small batches to give it a full taste. It is brewed to a dark roast, so you should get a relatively traditional espresso taste from this. It doesn’t have the fanciest notes or details to it, but if you’re after a solid everyday choice than this is a great option.
Peak performance coffee has a name that invokes that health-conscious side of organic foods. Although, the coffee itself has a great taste outside of the health benefits. This is a medium roast coffee, so you can expect a full flavor in your espresso with strong notes.
This particular blend is a single-origin coffee, this gives it a definitive and strong taste. It’s also completely organic. Free from pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, pretty much all -cides are ruled out from this growing process.
This is a Guatemalan origin coffee, so you can expect a medium taste with some strong flavors. If you’re passionate about getting pure coffee, then the Peak Performance High Altitude blend is a fantastic choice. This is about as organic as it gets.
It has a slightly sweet taste with chocolatey notes, there is also a slight taste of berries to this interesting blend. It’s a medium to dark roast, which is about perfect for giving an espresso both a rich full taste and that dark taste.
It gets this taste from fully Arabica beans. While not single-origin, all the beans are sourced from Guatemala and Ethiopia. A duo-origin gives the Bizzy coffee a unique and full taste.
It’s USDA Organic Certified, and ethically sourced. This coffee has a darker taste, but you can be sure it’s doing good.
White Night coffee is a light roast, which is a first on this list of the best espresso reviews! Light roast coffees have the most intense flavors and the strongest caffeine content. This makes them a different choice for espresso, but definitely an interesting one.
This coffee has a lighter taste with some notes of cherries and cocoa. This light roast is going to give it the most intense flavor, especially once it’s subject to the pressure of an espresso maker.
White Knight coffee is fair trade and organic. Along with this, it is roasted in an environmentally friendly roaster in the US, sustainably produced and packaged. This minimizes the footprint of your coffee habit as much as physically possible.
This is a great choice for those adventurous enough to try this bold flavor.
This Java Planet roast is another dark espresso, but not one without its charms. Dark roasts do make the best coffee beans for espresso, so this isn’t to the blend’s detriment.
As a dark roast, it produces an espresso with a traditional taste. This comes with a rich crema and smooth body for a classical experience. All of the beans are roasted in small batches, which gives them a reliably full flavor.
This is an organic coffee, so it is USDA certified as being chemical, pesticide, and GMO-free. There is nothing unpalatable being added to this roast of coffee. It’s also grown in the shade and at a high-altitude making it a combination of some pretty impressive beans.
Valhalla Java Whole bean produces an espresso blend that they claim harnesses the Power of Odin! Or possibly it’s a good caffeine kick with a nice taste.
This is a bold tasting coffee that brings a similar caffeine punch to the Death Wish brand. It has a slight sweetness and a smokey taste. This is a stronger coffee, so you might have to watch how many espressos you drink of it.
It is also Fair Trade and USDA certified as organic. You can trust that you’re not putting anything into your body that you shouldn’t. If you’re after a strong tasting coffee for your espresso, then this is a great place to start.
That is a lot of choices when it comes to picking the best coffee for an espresso machine. So where do you start? These are all great choices, but if you want to narrow it down a little bit you need to think about what exactly you want. This can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with some of the qualities, like the roast of the beans and just what some of those organic labels mean. We’ve broken down some of the basics so you can make an informed choice!
Regular Vs Organic Espresso
What exactly is the difference between organic and regular coffee?
Well, it comes down to the same differences between organic produce and regular produce in just about any other foodstuff. Coffee is one of the world’s most widely grown plants, an awful lot of it gets harvested, roasted, and drank every day. To accommodate this huge demand, farmers have come up with quite a few ways to make things easier.
These vary from farming techniques to chemicals that aren’t so good for your coffee. The industrial pesticides and fungicides that are used exist to make growing easier. More coffee can be grown quicker since they prevent the plants from becoming contaminated by other crops. This is good for profits, bad for taste.
However, these chemicals can go overboard. When used to such extreme decrees to maximize the coffee yield from the land, they affect the taste. So much of the taste of your coffee depends on how you brew it and store it, but the beans themselves are the most important factor. Beans that have been allowed to grow in the natural way, free from chemicals, are going to taste better. The non-organic varieties will have traces of the chemicals used in their growth. These aren’t the types of notes you want to detect in your coffee.
The various certifications mentioned above are bodies that regulate organic labels. With these certifications, you can be sure that you’re getting entirely organic coffee that is free from these contaminants.
Whole Beans Vs Ground Coffee Explained
If you’re new to homemaking espresso, you may be wondering whether you should be using whole bean coffee or pre-ground.
The difference is pretty simple, one is beans and the other is ground-up beans. Although the details are pretty important for making a great cup of coffee.
Ground coffee is just whole bean coffee that has already been ground. By letting the manufacturer take care of this step though, you’re making a few sacrifices. Coffee spoils much quicker if you’re using ground coffee, you have about a week until you should stop drinking it. You also have a lot less control over the grind itself. Getting the coarseness of your grind correct is vital for preparing coffee properly for use in each method of brewing. Ground coffee is going to taste great when you first buy it, but it doesn’t have the same longevity.
Whole bean coffee will taste fresher for longer and give you more control over the grind. With it, you can ensure things are just right for your method of making coffee. The main drawback of this method is that you’re going to need your own grinder. Otherwise, you’re stuck with entire beans that don’t exactly fit into your espresso machine.
For espresso, freshly ground coffee is going to give you the best results. The coffee ground for use in an espresso machine needs to be very fine. This is quite a bit finer than most pre-ground coffee is, since espresso is a lot less dominant of a brewing method than a standard filter coffee machine.
Coffee Roasts from Light to Dark
The roast of each blend of coffee is a term that you’ve likely seen thrown around but might not exactly understand. The process of turning coffee from a plant into a warm and nice drink is a long one, and roasting is what makes coffee what it is. It is this roasting process that brings out the flavor and the taste. As such, knowing to what degree your coffee has been roasted is going to tell you a lot about its flavor.
A lightly roasted coffee will have the most intense flavors and the highest caffeine content. This coffee has been roasted the least and retains more of its natural characteristics. A medium roast coffee will still have strong flavors, but will overall be a smoother and more balanced cup. This type is a good middle ground between the intense light roasts and the darker roasts.
A darker roast coffee is one that tastes the most of that earthy, smoky, roasting process. These coffee beans are really dark and have the least caffeine. Traditionally, dark roasts were used for espresso coffee. However, this is not a rule and many have found medium roasts and even the occasional light roast to be a great tasting espresso.
It is important to keep in mind that these labels aren’t universal. There isn’t an independent agreed-upon definition for each of these terms. So you will find that different manufacturers have different standards for what each roast actually is.
Abstract labeling would be a bit frustrating for consumers. Because of this, most coffee producers tend to do a good job of self-regulating. There are some borderline cases, such as some of the darker medium roasts in this list. These could arguably be medium or dark depending on the producer. However, you can largely tell what a coffee is going to be like from this roast information.
While the exact specification for each roast varies, it should give you a clear picture of the type of coffee you’re going to be brewing with.
Freshness Packaging and Storage
Not all packaging is created equal. Coffee sold to you in a vacuum-sealed pack that allows air to get out (but not in) is going to taste fresh. Some beans in an old wet sack probably won’t. The most actual packaging isn’t this extreme, but it does make a difference in the quality of your coffee.
If you’re looking for the best espresso coffee beans, you’ve got to keep things like this in mind. Bad packaging can ruin a great blend of coffee before it even reaches your door. You should look for packaging that is going to keep the coffee fresh. Subject the packaging to the same standards that you’d set for storing your own coffee.
Once you have the coffee at home, storage in-between cups is key to maintain that fresh and strong taste. You need to store it away from air, moisture, and direct light. All of these things can lead to your coffee going sour quicker than it needs too.