Best Espresso Beans: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Reviewed by Urban Bean Coffee Team

on July 18, 2021

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One of the most important parts of brewing a good espresso shot is the right beans.

If you choose the wrong ones, the espresso can be watery and acidic. And if the beans are stale, you can forget about a dense crema. This is why it's so difficult to find the best espresso beans.

We've studied over twenty espresso bean offers from different producers. We selected favorites based on customer reviews, and then we brewed espresso using these beans and evaluated the taste.

The freshness of the coffee was an important point for us.

That is why we have chosen beans that can be ordered directly from roasters, as well as beans from companies that send their products to online stores in small batches.

Let's take a look at the best espresso beans according to the Urban Bean Coffee team.


OUR TOP PICK

Lifeboost Coffee

Lifeboost espresso beans

These beans have the perfect amount of oils. Your espresso will have a consistent taste and excellent crema. Also, these beans are great for making lattes and cappuccinos.

Key Features

No pesticides, chemicals, GMOs, or mycotoxins

It is full bodied flavor with a great aroma and the packaging is natural and adorable

• Guaranteed single-origin 


BEST DARK ROAST

Koa Coffee

Koa Coffee Peaberry Kona Dark Roast

Koa Coffee produces premium Hawaiian Coffee - Hand picked, expertly roasted.

Key Features

When you drink a cup of Kona coffee, you are drinking an exclusive coffee that comprises only 1% of all the coffee grown in the world
• Voted ‘best in America’ by Forbes 
 Used only high-grade Arabica Kona coffee


BEST LIGHT ROAST

Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Espresso Beans

This coffee is an excellent choice for those who love an acidic taste. Don't be intimidated by the light roast—it might become your favorite.

Key Features

Distinctively floral- and fruit-toned coffees from traditional varieties of Arabica long grown in the region

The best Ethiopia dry-processed coffee tends to be medium-bodied and brilliantly acidy

Cappuccino it tastes like berry yogurt with chocolate notes


Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

What's the best espresso beans? Let’s jump to find whole bean espresso roasts for each taste, including 100% arabica, single origin, flavored, italian roasts etc. Without further ado, here are the best coffee for espresso:

1. Lifeboost Coffee - Best Espresso Beans

These are the best coffee beans in the world from Nicaragua, cultivated without the use of pesticides, so the beans are low acid. They're perfect for people with digestion problems or tooth decay.

Editor's Rating: 9.5

Lifeboost espresso beans

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Single Origin 100% Arabica
  • Beans Origin: Mountains of Nicaragua
  • Type of Roast: Medium Roast
  • Flavor profiles: Dark Chocolate and Sweet Shades of Brown Sugar
  • Whole or Ground: Whole and Ground Beans Available
  • Key Feature: USDA Organic Coffee With Low Acidity

Growing the beans in shade preserves the natural ecosystem and gives the coffee a rich aroma and complex taste with light notes of caramel and fruit. Shade also slows the maturation process of the coffee fruit, so the coffee matures more dimensionally and absorbs all the necessary nutrients.

In addition, the trees contribute to air purification, strengthen the soil against erosion, and increase the bird population. Lifeboost's hand-selected beans are the most environmentally friendly product on the coffee market.

But to get the best coffee beans for espresso, you need to prepare them properly. Lifeboost uses special technology to collect, dry, and rest the beans. All beans are picked by hand to get the highest-quality espresso mixture.

The beans are then medium-roasted. You will get a drink with a smooth and delicious taste and notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit.


2. Koa Coffee - Best Dark Roast

KOA Coffee produces premium Hawaiian Kona coffee beans that has a pronounced taste and citrus-like acidity.

Editor's Rating: 9.2

Koa Coffee Espresso Beans

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Blend of Kona Coffee Varieties
  • Beans Origin: Hawaii
  • Type of Roast: Vienna Roast (Medium-Dark Roast)
  • Flavor profiles: Sweet Creamy Flavor With a Hint of Coconut
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee

This medium-dark roast espresso blend is characterized by a rich, soft taste with hints of cream with coconut. Long-lasting aftertaste are also present. The delicate, sweetish aroma of the drink vaguely resembles cocoa with milk.

This particular premium grade of Kona coffee is a worthy leader among the best Hawaiian coffees. It is grown by small farms on the Big Island of Hawaii, mainly on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano in the Kona region. This region has an ideal climate for growing coffee. Fertile volcanic soils allow farmers to grow flawless coffee without any kind of fertilizer.

If you are just starting your journey to explore the world of premium coffee, Kona coffee is a great place to begin.


3. Volcanica - Best Light Roast

Feel free to experiment. This light-medium roast coffee will perfectly reveal the acidity of citrus fruits and wild berries in an espresso.

Editor's Rating: 9.0

Volcanica Espresso Beans

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Single Origin 100% Arabica Beans
  • Beans Origin: Ethiopia
  • Type of Roast: Medium-Light
  • Flavor profiles: Citrus Fruits and Berries
  • Whole or Ground: Whole and Ground Beans Available

Yirgacheffe coffee has a unique taste that is considered the best in Ethiopia. This coffee is used by many coffee shops around the world, including big brands like Starbucks and Coffee Beanery. It is mainly used for preparing milk-based drinks, although it is also pleasant to drink as an espresso.

Yirgacheffe's unique taste is a result of peculiarities in soil and moisture where it's grown. Pure espresso brewed with these espresso coffee beans has a bright floral aroma and good body with a slight acidity.

This coffee blends perfectly with milk, and in a cappuccino it tastes like berry yogurt with chocolate notes.

A good starting point for brewing this coffee in a home espresso machine is a 1:2 double-yield ratio (for every gram of ground coffee, two grams of finished brew are produced) in 25 seconds at 199.5°F (93°C).


4. Lion Coffee - Best French Roast Espresso Beans

This intense French dark roast coffee has a rich taste with hints of dark chocolate, spices, and roasted nuts. It has practically no acidity, and the body of the espresso is full with a delicious cocoa aftertaste.

Editor's Rating: 8.7

French-Roast-Espresso-Beans

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Single Origin 100% Arabica
  • Beans Origin: Hawaii
  • Type of Roast: French Roast (Darkest)
  • Flavor profiles: Dark chocolate, Spices and Roasted Nuts
  • Whole or Ground: Whole and Ground Beans Available

The coffee is roasted by Lion Coffee from the best Arabica beans according to strict standards.

Coffee enthusiasts prefer to brew espresso using this coffee. The result is a dense, thick, strong drink. In addition, this coffee goes well with dairy products. Lattes and cappuccinos are especially tasty—their aftertaste is simply amazing.

Lion Coffee French Roast does not have the specific bitterness of a typical French roast, so it's great for drinking every day. We highly recommend it to anyone who likes dark roasts and strong coffee.


5. Coffee Bros. - Best on Amazon

These are the finest espresso-roasted 100% Arabica beans. An espresso brewed with these beans reveals juicy berry and nutty-caramel notes, and always-fresh supplies will let you fully enjoy the aroma.

Editor's Rating: 8.5

Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Blend of Arabica Beans
  • Beans Origin: Colombia, Ethiopia
  • Type of Roast: Special Espresso Roast
  • Flavor profiles: Strawberry and Vanilla
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee

The taste profile of this coffee is exactly as described by Coffee Bros.—very balanced with a light, fruity, sweet flavor notes.

Coffee Bros. pays great attention to the roasting process, and for espresso, this is one of the main factors affecting taste. Coffee Bros. roasts the beans perfectly so you can taste strawberries, sugar cane, and vanilla.

The taste is also influenced by country of origin. This sophisticated blend uses 100% Arabica beans from Colombia and Ethiopia.

Colombia is the largest producer of washed Arabica in the world. Columbia coffee has an acidic potential which is transformed into softness when roasted. Meanwhile, Ethiopia grows an extraordinary genetic diversity of coffee plants. Ethiopian coffee is sweeter and more fruity and floral than Colombian coffee.

Coffee Bros. has combined these two varieties and created an excellent blend that gives a balanced and smooth taste in your cup of espresso.


6. Lavazza Super Crema - Best for Crema 

Lavazza is good at creating Arabica-Robusta blends and puts all its products through many stages of selection and sorting.

Editor's Rating: 8.2

Lavazza Super Crema

Specifications:

  • Type of Beans: Blend of Arabica and Robusta Beans
  • Beans Origin: Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Vietnam
  • Type of Roast: Medium Roast
  • Flavor profiles: Hazelnut, Dried Fruits, and Honey
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee

This blend will surprise you with its soft, velvety taste, hints of chocolate, and long-lasting aftertaste of roasted nuts. It's a medium roast, so the beans are suitable for most drinks.

Lavazza harvests its Arabica beans from India, Colombia, and Brazil and its Robusta beans from Vietnam and India. The result is a blend that has become a fan favorite due to its soft character and notes of hazelnuts, and honey.

Thanks to the addition of robusta, Lavazza Super Crema can be considered the best budget espresso beans.

Lavazza has been producing the best coffee for espresso for more than 120 years. The tradition of making an espresso is passed down from generation to generation.

However, there is also a drawback - unlike local coffee roasters, in large companies it is more difficult to monitor the freshness of coffee, and sometimes the quality of raw materials. This is rare for Lavazza, but sometimes they can be wrong too.


Best Espresso Beans Buying Guide

What Information Will Be Helpful When Choosing Coffee for Espresso?

For those who want more information on choosing espresso coffee, we've prepared this buying guide.

What to Look For in an Espresso Blend

Espresso blends can be divided into two types: blends of Arabica varieties, and Arabica-Robust blends.

For espresso connoisseurs who want a high caffeine content and more bitterness, we recommend buying Arabica-Robusta blends. Typically, these blends have 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta, but this ratio can vary.

Several varieties of Arabica can be blended to create new flavors. Some people want acidic coffee; others want more bitter coffee. Combining several varieties of Arabica allows roasters to create unique aromas and tastes in each blend.

The taste and aroma of coffee beans are influenced by the climatic conditions in which the beans are grown. Therefore, beans from different countries and plantations are used for blends. Let's talk about the taste of coffee based on country of origin.

Country of Origin

The environment and characteristics of the area in which beans are grown affect espresso’s taste. In other words, the taste of coffee depends on the soil, humidity, terrain, nearby forests or bodies of water, average temperature, elevation, etc. These factors are unique to specific regions in specific countries.

Brazil — This country is the biggest coffee bean producer in the world. Coffee beans from Brazil are appreciated for their even, balanced taste—most varieties can be safely recommended to those who are just starting their journey as a coffee connoisseur. Depending on the beans' region of origin, nutty, floral, and chocolate notes can be found in the espresso's aroma.

Colombia — For the coffee lover, Columbia is primarily about fine coffees. The subtle aroma and taste of Colombian coffee have made it the benchmark for aesthetes. Compliance with coffee-growing technologies is strictly controlled by the National Federation of Coffee Growers. Also, Colombia has abandoned the cultivation of Robusta and for centuries has been engaged in the production of Arabica.

Costa Rica — Harmonious tastes and pleasant aromas with light vanilla or fruity notes have made Costa Rican coffee famous all over the world. This Central American country specializes in Arabica—the cultivation of Robusta is actually prohibited.

Nicaragua — Nicaraguan coffee is another outstanding example of coffee production. The country's coffee has become famous for its mild-yet-rich taste. The aroma of Arabica from Nicaragua is so distinctive that some connoisseurs recognize the country of origin from aroma alone. And Nicaraguan coffee has a unique taste due to how it's grown—local farmers cultivate shade-grown coffee under tall trees.

Ethiopia — In the homeland of coffee, there are varieties with amazing aromas that cannot be confused with anything else. Sometimes you can clearly distinguish notes of spiced herbs. According to connoisseurs, fruity and floral notes are also found in the taste of Ethiopian coffee. And the best varieties stand out from other good coffees because of Ethiopian coffee's distinctive wine shades.

Indonesia — Coffee is grown in many Asian countries, but Indonesia is the undisputed leader in the production of fine varieties. This country cultivates expensive high-quality Arabica with a bright aroma and spiced notes. The best varieties of Indonesian coffee are from Sumatra.

Grind Size

If you choose pre-ground coffee for espresso, make sure to buy finely ground coffee. It should be like fine table salt.

Whether you get a good espresso shot depends heavily on grind size.

If the grind is too fine, over-extraction will occur and the espresso will taste too bitter. Conversely, if the grind is too coarse, under-extraction will occur and the espresso will be sour and weak.

Conclusion

We've covered the best espresso beans in our reviews.

Whether you choose single-origin coffee or an espresso blend is entirely up to your personal preference.

But if you are just starting to learn the art of making espresso, we recommend that you choose a dark-roast coffee. It will give a richer flavor and aroma.

Our top choice is Lifeboost Coffee. This certified-organic low-acid coffee will become your guide for the best espresso shot.

FAQ

Can the coffee beans for espresso be used for drip coffee?

If you use dark roasted beans in a drip coffee maker, you will taste a chocolatey bitterness. Lighter roasts, in which the roaster works to unleash the full potential of the beans and their natural acidity, are more suitable for a drip coffee maker. In theory, light roasts can also be used for espresso, but the drink will be incomplete with a predominantly acidic flavor.

Are coffee beans and espresso beans the same?

The beans are the same, but the difference is that beans for espresso take longer to roast and/or are roasted at a higher temperature than beans for other types of coffee. You can still use other types of roasts with an espresso machine.

How can I find the best taste profile for espresso?

Only by tasting and experimenting. Try different blends that vary by region, roast, acidity, and Arabica/Robusta content. Buy small quantities of freshly roasted coffee from Central America, Africa, South America, and Indonesia to see the differences. Also, try asking roasters about the composition of their blends.

Can you use regular coffee beans with an espresso machine?

Yes, you can use any coffee beans to make espresso. You don’t always have to use a specific espresso roast. Espresso is all about taste, and espresso experts usually choose either a medium roast or a dark roast. But many coffee aficionados do prefer to use specially selected espresso blends that provide a unique taste.