The 10 Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
Best Coffee Beans

Best Coffee Beans: We conducted extensive testing on numerous espresso coffee beans and identified the top 10 brands, such as Coffee Bros. Atlas and Volcanica. There’s a certain allure to a finely crafted shot of espresso – from its enticing aroma to its robust flavor and the lingering sensation it leaves on your palate. It transcends the ordinary cup of coffee, offering a unique experience when prepared skillfully. However, there’s a caveat: even with the best espresso machine and a skilled barista, using subpar beans can result in a lackluster, sour, or bland outcome. How can you avoid this disappointment?

Fear not. If there’s one thing I consider myself an expert in, it’s espresso appreciation. In this article, I present reviews of ten of the finest espresso beans, empowering you to craft espresso that delights your senses every day.

The 10 Best Espresso Beans in 2024

Not all coffee beans are created equal when it comes to crafting the perfect espresso. While some may excel in flavor and aroma when brewed as drip coffee or French press, they may fall short in producing that rich, velvety shot of espresso. With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into our top picks for espresso beans in 2024.

1. Best Coffee Beans: Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast

Roast: Medium
Aroma: Caramel
Whole bean or ground: Available in both options
Tasting notes: Strawberry, vanilla, sugarcane
Origin: Ethiopia, Colombia

Finding the perfect espresso roast involves a delicate balance of sweetness, boldness, and skillful caramelization, and it doesn’t always require a dark roast. Coffee Bros. demonstrates this beautifully with their medium-roast espresso blend, earning it the top spot on my list. Our team at Home Grounds unanimously agrees on its excellence after numerous tastings.

Driven by their passion for coffee, Coffee Bros. delivers a blend crafted by a skilled head roaster who understands the nuances of espresso roasting. Comprising 100% Arabica beans sourced from Colombia and Ethiopia, this blend offers a delightful sweetness paired with unexpected complexity. With discernible flavors of sugarcane, strawberry, and vanilla, this espresso promises a truly remarkable experience that sets it apart from the rest. That’s why I hold it in such high regard.

2. Best Coffee Beans: Atlas Espresso Of The Month Club

Roast: Varied
Whole or Ground: Available in both options
Tasting Notes: Varied
Origin: Varied (Always Single Origin)

Exciting news for espresso aficionados: our beloved coffee club now caters specifically to those who savor the art of espresso brewing!

Atlas Coffee Club has introduced a subscription tailored exclusively for espresso enthusiasts. Curated with precision, each month’s selection features single-origin specialty coffee meticulously chosen and roasted for optimal espresso extraction. Eager to experience it firsthand, I delved into this offering. True to Atlas’s signature style, each shipment includes a delightful postcard detailing information about the farmer, origin, and unique characteristics of the coffee—a thoughtful touch that never fails to please.

Best Coffee Beans: What sets Atlas apart is not only their dedication to sourcing coffee ethically and sustainably but also their commitment to supporting coffee farmers and their communities by paying above Fairtrade prices. This resonates deeply with me as a conscientious coffee enthusiast.

As for logistics, subscribers have the flexibility to customize the frequency and quantity of each shipment, leaving the bean selection in the capable hands of Atlas’s experts. Rest assured, every batch is freshly roasted the day before shipping, ensuring maximum flavor upon arrival. And with their “Coffee Match Guarantee,” subscribers can explore worry-free—if a particular coffee doesn’t meet expectations, the next month’s shipment is on the house. While I haven’t personally tested this guarantee, my admiration for Atlas’s offerings remains unwavering.

3. Best Coffee Beans: Volcanica Coffee Tanzania Peaberry

Roast: Medium
Whole or Ground: Available in whole bean
Tasting Notes: Lemongrass, plum, light nougat, overall sweetness
Origin: Africa

Forget Lavazza Super Crema; it’s time to elevate your espresso game with peaberry coffee beans! This high-end gem is a must-try for any espresso enthusiast—it’s a game-changer, trust me.

So, why the hype?

Best Coffee Beans: Let’s dive into the details. Unlike most coffee cherries that contain two beans, peaberry coffee cherries boast just one, allowing them to absorb all the nutrients for an intensified flavor profile. Volcanica Coffee’s single-estate microlot Tanzanian Peaberry exemplifies this uniqueness perfectly. Its medium roast accentuates the fruity nuances typical of the region, dialing them up to maximum intensity. Upon tasting, I was greeted by delightful sweetness, with prominent notes of plum and nougat. While I didn’t quite detect the advertised lemongrass acidity, taste preferences can vary, after all. However, what truly stood out was its lusciously rich and buttery body—an ideal companion for my morning espresso ritual.

4. Best Coffee Beans: Driftaway Coffee

Roast: Varies
Whole or Ground: Available in either
Tasting Notes: Varies
Origin(s): Various

For espresso enthusiasts who relish the adventure of discovering new flavors and origins, a customized coffee subscription is a dream come true. Driftaway Coffee tops my list for its exceptional single-origin beans, commitment to sustainable sourcing, and enticing membership perks.

When I signed up for a Driftaway subscription to put it to the test, I received a fascinating kit for a blind coffee tasting—an experience I found both intriguing and informative. Unsure of where to begin, I appreciated the opportunity to consult with a coffee expert who provided invaluable guidance through the process. It was not only enjoyable but also educational, offering insights into the diverse world of coffee flavors.

For a limited time, readers of Home Grounds can enjoy an exclusive offer of 50% OFF the first box of any new subscription, along with complimentary shipping. Simply enter the code HG50 at checkout!

The blind taste test is designed to unveil your preferred flavor profile—whether it’s fruity, balanced, classic, bold, or extra bold. However, my own blind test yielded surprising results, challenging my preconceived notions about my taste preferences. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that classic, bold, and extra bold profiles are particularly well-suited for espresso. But if you’re inclined towards a lighter roast shot, feel free to explore. Over the course of two months testing their subscription service, Driftaway consistently delivered specialty-grade coffees tailored to my preferences. In conclusion, I found it to be an excellent way to venture into new coffee experiences while staying true to what you know and love.

5. Best Coffee Beans: Temple Dharma

Roast: Medium
Whole or Ground: Available in either
Tasting Notes: Cocoa, caramel, nuts
Origin(s): Costa Rica, Brazil, and Ethiopia

The Dharma Blend from Temple Coffee Roasters, offered through Trade Coffee, is a beloved choice among espresso enthusiasts. It presents a delightful combination of familiar flavors like chocolate, nuts, and caramel, with a subtle hint of sweet berries for added intrigue.

Crafted from beans sourced from three distinct origins – Costa Rica, Brazil, and Ethiopia – each employing a different processing method, this blend offers a rich tapestry of taste. The honey-processed Costa Rican beans bring forth natural sweetness with notes of almonds and hazelnuts. Meanwhile, the washed Brazilian beans contribute a deep, chocolaty sweetness and a robust body. Finally, the natural Ethiopian beans infuse the blend with a vibrant fruity essence, elevating it beyond the ordinary espresso experience.

Whether you prefer indulging in espresso shots, relishing an Americano, or delighting in a creamy latte, Temple Dharma promises a satisfying coffee experience throughout the day. Its exceptional quality is underscored by its impressive rating of 92 from Coffee Review in 2021.

6. Best Coffee Beans: Lifeboost Coffee

Roast: Dark
Whole or Ground: Available in whole bean
Tasting Notes: Rich and Slightly Sweet
Origin: Nicaragua

Best Coffee Beans: Lifeboost Coffee is on a mission to deliver wholesome, organic, and ethically sourced coffee beans from Nicaraguan growers to coffee enthusiasts worldwide. True to their commitment, they’ve earned praise for their dedication to quality and sustainability. I’ve previously explored Lifeboost coffees in our roundups focusing on low acidity and the healthiest coffee options. However, their recent release of beans tailored for espresso deserves recognition here. It’s a rarity to find espresso beans that not only excel in taste but also prioritize health.

This brand boasts an array of labels, all of which contribute to its appeal: 100% certified organic, spring-water washed, sun-dried, mycotoxin-free, sustainably sourced, and hand-roasted.

What’s the significance of these labels? Simply put, they signify that you’re savoring top-tier, health-conscious coffee beans that are cultivated with care for the environment, your well-being, and the livelihoods of local coffee farmers. It’s a cup of coffee that not only tastes great but also leaves you feeling good about your choice.

Featuring 100% certified organic, fair-trade Arabica beans from Nicaragua, Lifeboost’s dark-roasted offering is tailor-made for espresso brewing. It delivers a robust and full-bodied profile, with subtle hints of caramel and chocolate, complemented by a delicate sweetness. Despite its intensity, it maintains an alluring aroma that enhances the overall coffee experience.

7. Best Coffee Beans: Peet’s Arabian Mocha Sanani

Roast: Dark
Whole or Ground: Available in both whole bean and various pre-ground options
Tasting Notes: Full-bodied with hints of cocoa & dates
Origin: Africa, Arabia

When Alfred Peet opened his coffee bar in Berkeley, California in 1966, he revolutionized not just how coffee was brewed, but also how it was perceived. This marked the onset of the “second wave” of coffee culture in America, introducing coffee aficionados to specialty dark-roasted coffees, as well as European brewing techniques and beloved beverages like espresso, latte, and cappuccino.

Best Coffee Beans: Selecting from Peet’s range of offerings was a bit of a conundrum for me. They’re known for their special, limited-edition roasts, freshly crafted in small batches. However, I couldn’t overlook the appeal of their Arabian Mocha Sanani as a staple choice. Having sampled The Arabian Mocha myself and experienced its excellence in the espresso method, I felt compelled to feature this blend, crafted from 100% Arabica beans sourced from Africa and Arabia, as Peet’s representative.

Despite the association of the term “mocha” with the popular coffee-chocolate combination, it actually derives from Mocha, a port city on the Red Sea known for its distinct coffee flavor profile. This blend reflects those characteristics with subtle notes of cocoa and chocolate, offering a delightful sensory experience.

Peet’s commitment to freshness is evident in their roasting process, which occurs only after an order is placed, ensuring that each batch is shipped within four hours of roasting.

These freshly-roasted 100% Arabica beans from Africa and Arabia are ideal for espresso, French press, or Moka pot brewing methods, although they also shine in a pour-over setup. The enticing notes of chocolate and dates contribute to a complex, spicy aroma that enhances the overall coffee experience.

8. Best Coffee Beans: Stumptown Hair Bender

Roast: Dark
Whole or Ground: Whole Bean
Tasting Notes: Sweet, balanced
Origin: Indonesia, Latin America, Africa

Stumptown Coffee, hailing from Portland, Oregon, stands as a flagbearer of the “third wave” of coffee culture. This movement places a profound emphasis on coffee origin, cultivation, and processing methods, with a keen eye on quality and sustainability – principles I wholeheartedly endorse, and I believe you should too.

The third wave of coffee is as much a response to subpar coffee as it is a celebration of exceptional coffee.

Hair Bender, named in homage to the beauty parlor that once occupied the space where Stumptown’s inaugural roaster now stands, marks the genesis of founder Duane Sorenson’s coffee journey. Upon my initial brewing of Hair Bender, I failed to detect the advertised tasting notes. However, upon adjusting my coffee grounds and honing in on the proper espresso level, I was able to unlock the blend’s full potential. The result was a delightful interplay of rich Indonesian textures and fruity undertones characteristic of Latin American beans. The predominant flavors of citrus and dark chocolate create a harmonious blend of tartness and bitterness, achieving a delightful equilibrium.

This blend combines coffees sourced from Indonesia, South America, and Africa, creating a robust flavor profile that tantalizes the palate. It serves as the house blend for espresso brewed in every Stumptown coffee shop, boasting a dark roast that culminates in a crisp finish.

9. Best Coffee Beans: Out Of The Grey Indian Monsoon French

Roast: Dark
Whole or Ground: Either
Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, smoky, orange, peach
Origin(s): India

For an espresso experience unlike any other, consider the dark roast Monsoon Malabar coffee from Out of the Grey. I have a soft spot for Out of the Grey coffee because they’re a small-batch roaster dedicated to sourcing specialty beans from around the globe. Supporting small-scale production is something the entire Home Grounds team stands behind whenever feasible.

Choosing a coffee for this roundup wasn’t a walk in the park. The Monsoon Malabar stands out for its distinctive processing method. So, I opted to include it in the espresso lineup. But what exactly is the process? After harvesting, the green coffee beans are exposed to moisture-laden winds for extended periods. This technique aims to replicate the conditions aboard wooden trade ships that transported green coffee from India to Europe – inadvertently giving rise to the original Monsoon Malabar.

The outcome is a coffee with minimal acidity and a subtle earthy character that lends itself beautifully to espresso. And yes, when I sampled it, it was indeed delightful. However, it’s worth noting that this coffee tends towards the darker side, so it’s best enjoyed by those who appreciate earthy, robust flavors in their espresso.

Upon pulling a shot with these beans, I encountered rich dark chocolate tones alongside brighter hints of orange zest. This coffee boasts a substantial body, a syrupy mouthfeel, and a lingering finish. If you’re partial to such flavor notes, then this single origin coffee is an ideal addition to your espresso repertoire.

10. Best Coffee Beans: Koa Coffee Estate 100% Kona Coffee

Roast: Dark
Whole or Ground: Whole Bean coffee
Tasting Notes: Chocolate, ripe fruit, toasted nut
Origin: Hawaii

Now, I understand that some of you might have expected to see Death Wish Coffee on this list. However, allow me to present a compelling alternative. In the past, Kona coffee wasn’t typically associated with espresso due to its complex flavors, often showcased through lighter roasts. But times are changing, and I’m pleased to confirm this shift.

Leading producers like Koa are now venturing into dark roasts, and the results are nothing short of impressive. It’s no surprise when you start with such premium beans.

I’ve selected the Koa Coffee Estate beans because they embody the classic Hawaiian flavors of milk chocolate and ripe fruit. Upon my first sip, I also detected a subtle hint of toasted nut, likely a result of the darker roast. Objectively speaking, its relatively low acidity and robust mouthfeel make it an excellent candidate for espresso. And personally, any Koa coffee gets a thumbs up from me, with the dark Estate roast serving as a prime example of delicious espresso.

How To Choose:

Here’s the honest truth: selecting espresso coffee beans isn’t just about personal preference. While your taste preferences matter, there’s more to consider. There’s a science behind finding the perfect beans for brewing espresso.

So, here are the key factors to consider when searching for the ideal espresso beans for you:

Is There a Distinction Between Espresso and Regular Coffee Beans?

Best Coffee Beans: While single origin beans might not be the best choice for espresso, dark roast beans are typically preferred for crafting classic espresso, or at least a darker-medium roast. Blonde roasts are also sometimes recommended for espresso, but there’s a caveat to consider. Scott Rao, renowned author of “The Professional Barista’s Handbook” and other coffee-related books, points out that the coffee-to-water ratio in an espresso maker creates a cooler brewing environment compared to methods like pour over or drip brewing. This difference in temperature affects the extraction process, potentially leading to under-extraction and a sour, thin flavor profile.

The lower brewing temperatures of espresso can accentuate sourness, prompting roasters to opt for darker roasts to counterbalance it. However, some roasters may compromise on bean quality to cut costs, relying on the dark roasting process to mask any lackluster flavors.

One solution to this dilemma is to consider single-origin beans, which can offer unique flavor profiles. Alternatively, a well-crafted blend of beans from different regions can strike a perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness in your espresso. And remember, always check the roast date when purchasing coffee beans to ensure freshness.

Single-Origin or Espresso Blend: Which is Better?

Best Coffee Beans: Crafting an exceptional espresso is an art form, and blending offers skilled coffee roasters the chance to masterfully balance flavors. With the short brewing time and lower temperatures of an espresso machine, a diverse blend of coffees can shine, combining fruity, earthy, acidic, and bitter notes for a harmonious taste experience. While single-origin coffee allows you to explore and refine your palate for specific flavor profiles, when it comes to espresso, blends often hold the upper hand.

The first consideration when evaluating blends is the origin of the coffee beans. Almost all single-origin espresso beans are sourced from Arabica trees, known for their high quality and complex flavors. Arabica beans are cultivated across various regions worldwide, each imparting its distinct characteristics to the final brew.

In contrast, Robusta beans, while generally considered inferior to Arabica, offer higher caffeine content and a more pronounced bitterness. Interestingly, these traits can be advantageous in espresso making. Some espresso blends incorporate a small percentage, typically around 20 to 25%, of Robusta beans to enhance body and intensity. Additionally, for those seeking a stronger caffeine kick, Robusta beans present a compelling option. If you’re interested in exploring further, you can delve into the nuances of different coffee bean types. On a separate note, if you’re curious about decaffeinated espresso options, you can find more information here.

Coffee Growing Regions: Exploring Flavor Profiles

The world’s coffee growing regions each contribute unique flavors and aromas to the beans they produce. While individual factors such as climate and soil composition vary from plantation to plantation, overarching regional characteristics define the taste experience:

Sumatra stands out as an ideal choice for DARK ROAST enthusiasts. Utilizing the wet hulling process, Sumatran coffee develops an earthy, mushroom-like flavor profile that persists even through the deepest French roasts. If you appreciate the smoky allure of a Portobello mushroom seared over charcoal, Sumatran coffee may be just your cup of joe.

South and Central American coffees are favored for MEDIUM ROAST preparations. These beans typically exhibit lively acidity, accompanied by vibrant fruit and floral undertones. With proper grinding and meticulous temperature control in your espresso machine, you can extract a superb shot of espresso using Colombian or Guatemalan beans. Brazilian coffee, known for its lighter, sweeter flavor profile, complements bolder espresso beans exceptionally well in blends.

Africa contributes a distinct minerality to its coffees, partly derived from its soil and climate, and further intensified by the dry-processing method wherein beans are sun-dried. This process concentrates DARKER FLAVORS in the coffee, with hints of chocolate and fruit—particularly evident in Ethiopian varieties—yielding a sophisticated, well-balanced espresso.

Indonesia is renowned for its volcanic soil, imparting a characteristic tingle to the coffee’s aftertaste alongside its rich, bold flavor and harmonious acidity. Even in a medium-dark roast, Indonesian beans boast the body and depth necessary to produce exceptional espresso shots.

Tips for Brewing Espresso at Home

Best Coffee Beans: When brewing espresso at home, regardless of the coffee you choose, keep these pointers in mind to optimize your brewing experience. Firstly, ensure you have a quality home espresso machine. This may seem obvious, but it’s an essential foundation for crafting great espresso.

Next, pay attention to your grind size. For espresso, a fine grind is imperative. High-quality espresso machines demand finely ground coffee, and investing in a top-notch espresso grinder is key. Finer grinds facilitate faster extraction, compensating for the lower brewing temperature and aiding in flavor balance.

Examining Crema for Grind Consistency

To gauge whether your espresso grind is adequate, observe the crema, that luscious golden layer atop your brew. If the crema appears thin or contains large bubbles, it’s a sign that your grind may be too coarse. Adjusting to a finer grind can help rectify this issue. Automatic espresso machines with integrated grinders typically offer settings for such adjustments.

While pre-ground espresso is not the optimal choice, it’s preferable to overly coarse grinds. Pre-ground beans can also serve as instant espresso powder in a pinch.

Mastering the Tamping Technique

Proper tamping is as crucial as achieving the right grind size. Tamping influences the flow rate of water through the coffee puck during extraction. Applying around 30 pounds of pressure ensures that the grinds are densely packed, promoting optimal extraction. Inadequate pressure leads to rapid water flow, compromising flavor extraction.

Implementing Pre-Infusion

Quality super-automatic espresso machines often feature a pre-infusion cycle. This process mimics the bloom observed in pour-over coffee, wetting the coffee grinds and releasing trapped CO2. Beyond degassing, pre-infusion regulates the flow rate through the grinds by causing them to expand upon contact with water. This controlled expansion slows water flow, facilitating more thorough extraction

Verdict:

In my opinion, the top choice for crafting the finest espresso is the Espresso Roast from Coffee Bros. This roaster demonstrates exceptional skill in roasting and blending, resulting in a shot of espresso that’s both sweet and nuanced. It embodies the quintessential characteristics of a well-crafted espresso, making it a favorite among discerning espresso enthusiasts.

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