There’s nothing better than using freshly-roasted coffee beans to brew a cup of coffee.
Not only will you be able to capture all the delicious flavors of the coffee, but you’ll also be able to have more control in how you make your coffee from start to finish.
Newsflash: espresso coffee is not just about bitterness like it used to be assumed it was – these days the best espresso beans in the world give you a ton of different complex flavors.
What are the benefits of using espresso beans?
If you make espresso, use espresso beans because they provide you with the chance to make use of coffee-brewing methods that require high pressured water. And, the secret to making delicious espresso is high-pressure water and heat!
Espresso beans need to be able to withstand the pressure so that their delicious flavors can be extracted.
But, your coffee cup is more than just about how your coffee tastes – coffee needs to be responsibly produced and sourced. We’re not asking a lot from the best espresso coffee beans on the market, we promise – here are five that won’t let you (or the planet) down.
What could be more convenient than purchasing espresso coffee beans online? The five coffee beans that we’ve featured in our table can all be ordered from Amazon so that you can quickly enjoy your caffeine fix, but which one is best for you? Should you choose Arabica or Robusta beans? Is a medium or darker roast worth it?
To answer those questions and help you find the best espresso coffee beans, let’s look at the five coffees in more detail, starting with one that ticks all the right boxes for espresso fans.
- 1 Best Espresso Beans – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
- 1.1 Best Overall: Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso
- 1.2 Runner Up: Lavazza Gran Riserva Whole Bean Coffee Blend
- 1.3 Alternative: illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee
- 1.4 Alternative: Verena Street 2 Pound Espresso Beans
- 1.5 Alternative: Intgelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso
- 2 Espresso Beans FAQ
- 3 Can I use regular coffee for espresso?
- 4 Conclusion
Best Espresso Beans – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Best Overall: Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso
Your coffee is much more than just a caffeine fix. Kicking Horse Coffee will make you realize that, because these espresso beans are kind to the environment while ensuring quality in every cup. Ready to have a taste?
Let’s look at all this coffee’s features.
- Ethically produced
- Roasted in the rocky mountains
- Kosher and organic
- These coffee beans will help you achieve a smooth and chocolatey blend of coffee. They have been described as being complex and silky.
- If versatility is what you look for when it comes to making your own coffee at home, you’ll love that you can use these beans for pour-over, cold brew, espresso, drip machine, and French press brewing methods.
- Not only are these coffee beans delicious, but they were grown ethically and in both an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
- They are perfect for (almost) every lifestyle choice – they’re safe to consume if you’re following an organic or Kosher lifestyle, and they’re also fairtrade.
- While these coffee beans hail from Central and South America, Indonesia, and Africa, they have been roasted in the rocky mountains below the Canadian Rocky Mountain peaks.
- Some people who have purchased this coffee have stated that it seems a bit dark for a medium roast.
- Others have reported that espresso coffee made with these beans left an acidic aftertaste in their mouths.
- The beans are very aromatic when you open the bag, which will have you raring to make yourself a delicious cup of coffee!
- On Amazon, some happy customers who purchased this coffee have said it has great flavor and no bitterness.
- People have also reported that these espresso beans produced a lovely thick foam on top that was sweet. This is advantageous because sometimes people complain of espresso crema being bitter.
If you want to improve the kind of espressos you drink, these are the beans to help you achieve that. As a bonus, they’re also healthy for the environment.
Runner Up: Lavazza Gran Riserva Whole Bean Coffee Blend
This Lavazza dark espresso roast comes in a colorful purple and blue pack that’s bright and appealing – and the coffee inside it is, too. Let’s unpack it to reveal what’s inside.
- Nutty and syrup flavors
- Arabica and Robusta beans
- Safe for people allergic to nuts
- These coffee beans have been blended and roasted in Italy. They have a rich aroma and their flavor consists of notes of walnuts and maple syrup. Perfect for people who want a touch of sweetness in their coffee!
- These Arabica beans come from the highlands of Central and South America, and have been blended with Robusta beans. The blend is beneficial because it ensures that all the delicious flavors of both coffees can enter the cup. Sometimes Arabica-only coffee blends can benefit from the richness of Robusta being combined to them.
- Their taste profile is listed as dark and bold, which sounds perfect for a strong cup of espresso.
- One of the drawbacks about these beans is that they are not very versatile when it comes to how you can use them. They are best for use in an espresso machine, but if you’re serious about espressos and have your own coffee maker this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
- Some people who have purchased this coffee from Amazon have complained that they received old batches of it that were past their expiry date.
- People who have purchased these beans have said that they enjoy all the flavors without experiencing any burnt undertones.
- These beans are safe to consume if you’re allergic to nuts because, even though they provide nutty undertones, they’ve been made in a nut-free facility.
- The beans are not oily, which prevents them from becoming stuck in your espresso machine’s grinder and being difficult to clean.
- People say that they are happy with the price of these beans as they offer supreme quality without costing as much as other popular beans on the market.
If you want the best espresso coffee beans on the market, look no further than these by Lavazza.
Alternative: illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee
Want to drink the world’s most ethical coffee?
Then you need to get your hands on this illy coffee.
- Blends 9 Arabica coffees
- Awarded most ethical coffee
- Pressurized bag
- This coffee is made up of nine of the best Arabica coffees in the world. The company has spent almost a decade refining and perfecting their signature blend.
- This Classico Roast has a sweet flavor with notes of blossom, jasmine, and caramel.
- Illy has been on the top of Ethisphere’s list of the world’s most ethical coffee for seven years in a row. This is no easy feat as Ethisphere assesses companies with over 200 questions related to things like their environmental and social practices, diversity, as well as culture so that it can find the most ethical companies in different industries around the world.
- This coffee comes in a pressurized pack that keeps it fresh and full of flavor when it reaches your doorstep.
- Some people who have purchased this coffee have stated that it’s too expensive.
- People who have purchased this coffee have said that it gives them a consistent cup of coffee every single day. This is actually one of the best things about this coffee brand, so if you like your coffee made in exactly the same way every day this is one coffee that won’t disappoint you.
If you’re after quality then it’s worth it, especially if you love your coffee on a regular basis and don’t want to settle for less.
Alternative: Verena Street 2 Pound Espresso Beans
Named after the street in which its founders grew up, Verena Street offers authentic coffee that will not disappoint. Here’s what you should know about it.
- Can be used fine or coarse
- Rainforest Alliance Certified
- Rich and smooth
- This coffee provides you with a rich, full cup that’s also smooth.
- You can use these beans to make fine espresso or coarse drip coffee.
- The coffee beans have been sourced in a sustainable manner from farms that are Rainforest Alliance Certified. This is not only beneficial for the farmers involved, but it’s also healthy for the environment and wildlife.
- These beans are Kosher certified.
- They have been roasted and packed in Iowa.
- Some people have reported that the beans are very oily.
- It’s also worth mentioning that the product doesn’t specify the type of bean that’s used to make this coffee, even though it’s known that the coffee is roasted in Iowa.
- The company ensures that it roasts its coffees in smaller batches and this ensures that they always have the freshest, most flavorful beans available for customers.
This Verena Street coffee is the perfect way to do your bit for the environment while enjoying a delicious cup of espresso coffee.
Alternative: Intgelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso
This Black Cat coffee is perfect for you if you want a coffee that’s full of flavor and clean – not just when it comes to how you drink it but also when it comes to the company’s practices. Here’s everything you need to know about this coffee.
- Direct trade
- Sweet flavors of cherry and chocolate
- Informative website
- This coffee is perfect for you if you want a complex, sweet, and clean brew.
- You’ll be able to enjoy a delicious range of flavors in this coffee, such as dark chocolate, brown sugar, and ripe cherry. Delicious!
- The company is focused on direct trade. This ensures that they remove unnecessary exporters and importers from their coffee production while also teaming up with their coffee growers to ensure better quality.
- This coffee is roasted in Los Angeles and Chicago, but is produced in Costa Rica and Brazil.
- Some people have stated that there was no roast date on the packs of coffee they ordered.
- Others have reported that the coffee they received was not fresh.
- You can discover a wealth of information about the coffee by visiting the Intelligentsia website. Find out about the growing conditions of the coffee, like at what elevations the coffee beans are grown, and more. This is fantastic because it offers coffee drinkers more transparency than what they have been used to in the past.
Having a delicious cup of espresso is not just about the coffee’s taste but where it comes from and how it was produced. With this coffee, you’re ensured of more transparency and can benefit from the company’s direct trade practices.
Espresso Beans FAQ
You love espresso but do you need to purchase espresso beans or can any coffee work just as well? Here’s what you need to know about purchasing the best coffee beans for espresso and why it’s important to do so if you love espresso.
What beans are used for espresso?
While you might assume that espresso beans are special kinds of coffee beans, the truth is that they’re just regular coffee beans that have been roasted in a certain way in order to enable you to make the best espresso with them!
Espresso beans basically have all the traits that are required for making tasty espresso, such as when it comes to how they are roasted, in order to enhance the espresso coffee brewing method.
The best beans to use for making espresso coffee are those that are medium-roasted or dark-roasted. The reason for this is because of how espresso coffees need to have darker, deeper flavors which will be extracted from the water really quickly during the brewing process.
These types of beans also have lots of oils, and these help to produce a richer foam on top. As you know, that foam, or crema, can really take an espresso to a higher level!
Here’s a bit of info about medium and dark roasts you should know about:
Coffee that’s medium-roasted will ensure that the beans contain the unique flavors that were produced when the coffee was grown, but it will also have a deeper, more caramel sweetness to it.
This occurs because it’s roasted for a bit longer than a light roast. As we’ve seen in our reviews, those caramel flavors are really popular in espresso beans!
Dark-roasted coffee means that the beans are roasted for even longer in order to produce more flavor from the roasting process, such as chocolatey, nutty, and smokey flavors. These contribute to that deep, dark, and slightly bitter taste that espresso is known for having.
Are espresso beans and coffee beans the same?
Although you might think that coffee beans are all the same, there are some differences between regular beans and espresso beans. Coffee beans that are marked as “espresso” will usually be of a darker roast. This also makes them much stronger in flavor.
Oh, and when you see coffees that are labelled “espresso roast,” this doesn’t mean that the actual beans are meant for espressos, just that they’ve been dark-roasted and are therefore suitable for the espresso brewing method.
Another difference between beans that will be used for espresso versus other coffee types is that they will have to be finely ground so that they can dissolve in the water faster to release all the flavor from the coffee.
This is why you need to use a fine or extra-fine coffee grind size when making espresso.
When it comes to espresso’s caffeine content, it’s a myth to think that it has more caffeine than other coffee. According to the USDA, a 1.5-ounce shot of espresso contains between 90 and 100mg of caffeine, while a regular cup of drip coffee will have about 128mg!
It might surprise you to find out that it’s not the roast of the coffee that makes it have more or less caffeine! To find out more about this topic, read, “Does Roasting Coffee Affect Caffeine Content?”
Can I use regular coffee for espresso?
If you don’t have beans specifically for making espresso, you can use some regular coffee beans that you have in the kitchen. But you will probably be disappointed by the result.
The reason for this is because the regular coffee beans won’t provide you with all the flavor you want in your espresso coffee. The coffee will probably come out tasting a bit sour or weak. This is why it’s so important to choose medium-to-dark espresso roasts.
If you’re tempted to try to make espresso with a lighter roast, you have been warned that it won’t taste very good. But why, exactly?
It comes down to the nature of the coffee beans when they’re lightly roasted instead of left for longer to roast. They are less porous than dark-roasted beans and this means that their compounds will be extracted in the water at a slower rate.
This is why they require a coffee-brewing method that is slower, such as the pour-over or drip method. These methods allow the water and coffee to be in contact with each other together for longer, therefore extracting all that lovely flavor from the beans.
When you brew espresso, you don’t have a lot of time in which to add lots of flavor into the coffee – bear in mind an espresso will brew in 20 to 30 seconds! – which is why you want that quick release from a medium or dark roasted coffee.
So, now you know: stick to medium or dark roasts if you want to make a delicious espresso that hits all the right flavor notes.
What bean does Starbucks use for espresso?
If you love drinking espresso coffee from Starbucks on a regular basis, you might wonder how they make it taste so wonderful. Starbucks uses Arabica beans to make their espresso.
They have what’s called an Espresso Roast that’s been in business for decades, but they keep tweaking and perfection it in order to ensure that the flavors are sweet, a bit acidic, and deep.
The beans are always freshly ground and ethically sourced.
But why are Arabica coffee beans so popular, and such a solid choice for espresso coffees?
They are known for offering a smoother taste and they also prevent the bitterness that can sometimes be caused by Robusta beans.
Arabica coffee is also usually the first choice when it comes to making espresso coffee because it allows for subtle flavors, such as nutty, chocolatey, and fruity notes. These flavors don’t usually shine through with Robusta coffee beans.
That said, to make a classic Italian espresso you can’t ignore the benefits of using Robusta coffee beans. This is because they produce a lovely foam, or crema, on the surface of the coffee that is desirable for how it boosts the coffee’s flavor.
This is why some of the best coffee for espresso will make use of both Arabica and Robusta beans. An example is the Lavazza beans that we featured on our list of the top espresso beans on the market. Flavors from both types of beans help to add more balance to how the coffee tastes.
Are dark chocolate espresso beans healthy?
Coffee’s health benefits usually make the news headlines. You’ve probably heard about the health benefits that are associated with consuming coffee, such as that it can decrease your risk of health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.
Based on coffee’s health benefits, you might wonder if the darker the coffee is the better, because it could have more health properties. Is this really so?
The truth is that lighter coffee roasts are actually healthier for you. This is because they are roasted for shorter periods of time than darker roasts. When coffee beans are roasted, they are exposed to the air and this, along with high levels of heat, can result in oxidation (via Health).
That said, there are health benefits that have been linked to darker coffee roasts.
Studies (via Molecular Nutrition and Food Research) have found that dark roasts are more effective when it comes to decreasing one’s body weight, restoring red blood cells’ Vitamin E, as well as the cells’ glutathione concentrations.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that’s known for decreasing oxidative stress and cell damage.
However, if you’re wondering if you should choose darker coffee roasts to ensure you consume more caffeine, the truth is that roasting coffee beans doesn’t change their caffeine levels.
As mentioned earlier, the amount of caffeine that the coffee beans have before being roasted is how much they’ll have once they’ve been roasted. The good news is that coffee generally has good amounts of caffeine so you can reap the benefits of it.
Espresso coffee is a delicious brew that’s full of flavor and aroma. If you’re an espresso lover, you’ll know that not all coffee beans will provide you with the best-tasting cup of espresso. That’s why you need to invest in the best espresso beans that you can find.
As you probably already know, there are loads of espresso coffee beans on the market, but now that you’ve read our espresso bean reviews you know which ones are worth it to help you feel like a barista at home.
We’ve also provided you with information you need to help you make the most delicious coffee at home, such as when it comes to choosing between regular and espresso beans.
Although espresso beans are coffee beans, their darker roast means that they will boost the flavor of your espresso. Why would you want anything less?