While there are dozens of coffee beans in the world, espresso sets itself apart with its intense, rich flavor. Whether it’s the pungent and earthy notes or the taste bud awakening acidity, espresso has a unique flavor profile that coffee lovers can’t get enough of.
However, espresso is only the best when it’s made with the best espresso coffee beans. After all, even the most skilled barista can’t make a great cup of espresso with poor-quality beans.
So, what are the best espresso beans? Keep reading to find out our top picks.
The Top 10 Best Espresso Beans That Will Make Your Taste Buds Tingle
Lifeboost has made quite the name for itself in the coffee world, and its dark roast is no exception. These beans are ethically sourced from Nicaragua, roasted to a perfect medium-dark, and have low acidity. This means that you’ll get a rich and flavorful espresso without any of the bitterness.
The Lifeboost Dark Roast is a particularly dark espresso with strong chocolate and caramel notes. There’s also a hint of brown sugar zest that rounds out the flavor profile nicely. Milk-based drinks will beautifully hold onto these flavors, making for a truly delicious cup of espresso.
Note that since these beans require fine grinding, they may be somewhat oily and clump together. However, the ample crema more than makes up for this small inconvenience. Your taste buds will thank you for using these beans the next time you make espresso.
- Excellent crema for a truly delicious cup of espresso
- Low acidity means no bitterness or teeth-staining
- Deep, rich, chocolate and caramel flavors with a hint of brown sugar
- Smooth overall taste
- May be too dark for some espresso lovers
- Can be difficult to grind due to oiliness
The “third wave” coffee movement has introduced many Americans to the joys of small-batch, artisanal coffee. Stumptown Coffee Roasters, one of the pioneers of this movement, is known for its high-quality beans and excellent espresso.
The Hair Bender Espresso Beans are a perfect example of why Stumptown has such a great reputation. These beans are a mix of Brazilian, Ethiopian, and Indonesian coffee beans, giving them a truly unique flavor profile. You’ll taste notes of dark chocolate, toffee, and even a hint of orange zest.
This espresso is also incredibly smooth, with very little bitterness. That makes it the perfect choice for those who want to enjoy the flavor of espresso without being overwhelmed. Whether you’re new to espresso or a seasoned pro, these beans will make a great cup of coffee.
- Sweet and balanced flavor profile
- Notes of dark chocolate, toffee, and orange zest
- Crisp and clean finish
- Sustainable and ethically sourced
- On the expensive side
- Some may find the flavor profile too complex
Sugar cane, vanilla, and strawberry may sound like an odd combination for coffee, but Coffee Bros. has managed to make it work. These espresso beans have a unique flavor profile that’s both sweet and savory.
At the same time, these beans have a rich and full body that makes for a truly delicious cup of espresso. Milk-based drinks will especially benefit from the added sweetness and creaminess that these beans provide.
Coffee Bros. is also a sustainable and ethical company, which is always a bonus. These espresso beans are roasted in small batches to ensure quality control. You’ll be able to taste the difference when you use these beans the next time you make espresso.
- Compelling flavor profile of sugar cane, vanilla, and strawberry
- Rich and full body for a delicious cup of espresso
- Sustainable and ethical company
- 100% Arabica beans
- May be too sweet for some espresso lovers
Volcanica Coffee is known for its exotic and hard-to-find beans, and the Volcanica Espresso Dark Roast is no exception. These beans hail from Guatemala and are roasted to a beautiful medium-dark, giving them rich and complex flavor profiles.
When brewed, these beans create a truly delicious espresso with chocolate, caramel, and even spicy notes. The espresso is also relatively smooth, with just a hint of acidity to keep things interesting.
Despite their oily appearance, these beans are actually quite easy to grind. This makes them a great option for beginner baristas or those who don’t want to spend a lot of time prepping their espresso. Plus, the good crema and flavor make this coffee worth the extra effort.
- Beautiful medium-dark roast with rich flavor profile
- Delicious chocolate, caramel, and spicy notes
- Available as whole beans or pre-ground
- Reasonably priced
- Some might find the flavor too strong
- More of a medium roast than a dark roast
Earlier, we talked about the “third wave” of coffee and how it’s led to the rise of small-batch, artisanal coffee roasters. However, before the third wave there was the “second wave” that introduced Americans to higher-quality coffee.
Peet’s Coffee was one of the leaders of this movement, and its Arabian Mocha Sanani is a perfect example of why. These beans are sourced from Yemen and Ethiopia, giving them a rich and complex flavor profile.
While these beans make a great cup of espresso, they’re also perfect for those who want to experiment with different brewing methods. Whether you use a French press, pour-over, or even a cold brew coffee maker, you’ll be able to enjoy the unique flavor of these beans.
- Fresh beans roasted only after your order is placed
- Complex flavor profile with notes of dark chocolate, caramel, and spice
- Full-bodied and well balanced
- Intense aroma that will fill your kitchen
- More expensive than most other beans on this list
- May be too intense for some coffee drinkers
Decaffeinated espresso lovers rejoice! Lavazza Dek is a high-quality, decaffeinated espresso blend that will give you all the flavor of espresso without the caffeine jitters.
These beans are a mix of Brazilian Arabica and Indian Robusta coffee beans, giving them a rich and full flavor. You’ll taste chocolate and caramel notes with just a touch of acidity. The finish is smooth and clean, making this a perfect decaf espresso for those who want to enjoy the flavor without the caffeine.
Using a natural decaffeination process, these beans are some of the best decaf espresso beans you’ll find on the market. You won’t have to sacrifice flavor for the lack of caffeine, making this a great choice for those who want to enjoy espresso at any time of day.
- Rich and full-flavored espresso
- Smooth and clean finish
- Naturally decaffeinated
- Good crema
- Some may find the flavor profile too simple
- Package is not resealable
Illy is one of the most well-known names in the coffee world, and for good reason. This Italian company has been making coffee for over 80 years, and it shows in the quality of its beans.
The Classico Whole Bean Coffee is a perfect example of Illy’s expertise. These beans are a mix of Arabica coffees from Brazil, Colombia, India, and Ethiopia. That means that you’ll get a complex and well-rounded espresso with a variety of different flavor notes.
The espresso made from these beans is smooth and balanced, with chocolate and floral aromas. There’s also a slight acidity that helps to round out the flavor profile. This is an espresso that can be enjoyed on its own or used as the base for other drinks.
- Smooth and well-balanced espresso with a variety of different flavor notes
- Chocolate and floral aromas with a slight acidity
- An authentic Italian espresso
- May be too light for some espresso lovers
- Some grinders have difficulty with the beans
Choosing The Right Espresso Beans: A Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to choosing the best espresso beans, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. Here are a few factors to consider before making your purchase:
- Roast type: There are three main types of roasts – light, medium, and dark. The roast you choose will largely depend on your personal preferences. Those who like a stronger coffee will prefer a dark roast, while those who want a more balanced cup may prefer a medium roast.
- Aroma: The best espresso beans will have a pleasing aroma that’ll make your mouth water. Depending on the bean, this could be anything from nutty to fruity.
- Flavor: Of course, you’ll want to choose beans that have a flavor you enjoy. Be sure to read the tasting notes to get an idea of what to expect.
- Body: The body is the mouthfeel of the coffee and can range from light to heavy. If you’re unsure, opt for a medium-bodied espresso.
- Acidity: Acidity is another important flavor factor to consider. Coffee with high acidity will have a bright, tangy flavor, while a low acidity coffee will be more mellow.
- Price: While you don’t want to skimp on quality, you also don’t want to spend more than you need to. Choose an option that’s within your budget.
The best espresso beans are the ones that suit your taste preferences. If you like a light roast, opt for the Illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee. If you prefer a dark roast, go for the Lifeboost Dark Roast. And if you like your coffee on the sweeter side, the Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast is a great choice.
No matter which beans you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy your homemade espresso. Just be sure to grind them fresh for the best results.