There is nothing quite like a rich, perfectly brewed espresso to start your morning. The quality of the coffee beans you choose can make or break your shot and determine whether you get that ideal buzz or a lackluster drink. While it may seem like most coffee beans would do in an espresso machine, using the wrong beans can lead to over-extracted, bitter tastes or under-developed flavor profiles that miss the mark. In this post, I will share what makes certain coffee beans stand out for espresso and my top recommendations to keep on hand for brewing cafe-quality shots right at home. Read on to discover the hidden secrets of the best coffee beans for espresso right in your kitchen.
What Is Unique About Coffee Beans For Espresso?
Before diving into the best coffee beans for espresso, let’s first understand what makes these beans different from others. Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee that requires a specific brewing method to extract rich and robust flavors. This means that the beans used must be able to withstand high pressure, heat, and water for a short amount of time without losing their flavor.
Espresso beans are typically roasted darker than other coffee beans, giving them a strong and intense flavor. They also tend to have a higher oil content which helps in creating that sought-after crema on top of the shot. The size, shape, and consistency of the bean also play a crucial role in how they react during the brewing process.
Arabica Vs Robusta
When it comes to coffee beans, the two main varieties are Arabica and Robusta. While both can be used for espresso, some significant differences between them make one more suitable for this brewing method.
- Arabica: Also known as the “high-quality” bean, Arabica is grown at higher altitudes and has a more complex flavor profile. It has a lower caffeine content and is known for its sweetness, acidity, and aromatic notes. Arabica beans are considered the best coffee beans for espresso due to their balance of flavor and ability to produce a well-rounded shot.
- Robusta: Grown at lower altitudes, Robusta beans have a stronger and more bitter taste compared to Arabica beans. They have a higher caffeine content and are often used in blends to add body and crema to espresso shots. However, they can be overbearing when used on their own.
What Do I Need to Consider When Picking Out an Espresso Blend?
When choosing the best coffee beans for espresso, there are a few factors to keep in mind to ensure you get the perfect shot every time.
- Roast Level: As mentioned earlier, espresso beans are typically roasted darker than other coffee beans. However, there is still some variation in roast levels, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Dark roasts tend to have a bolder and more intense flavor, while medium roasts offer a balance between acidity and sweetness.
- Origin: The region where the beans are grown can have a significant impact on their flavor profile. Most espresso blends use beans from multiple regions to create a well-rounded taste. However, some single-origin beans like Colombian or Ethiopian can also make for excellent espresso shots.
Experiment with different origins to find your perfect pick.
- Blend vs Single-origin: As mentioned before, blends are more commonly used for espresso shots due to their ability to create a well-rounded flavor. However, some single-origin beans can also work well as espresso. It all comes down to personal preference and finding the right balance of flavors.
Top Picks For The Best Coffee Beans For Espresso
Now that we understand what makes coffee beans suitable for espresso let’s take a look at my top picks for the best coffee beans for espresso.
Coffee Bros Espresso Blend (Medium Roast)
Intelligentsia’s flagship espresso blend, the Black Cat Classic, has remained a staple since 1995. Crafted with Brazilian coffees, this blend offers a modern twist on the traditional Italian espresso, boasting a lighter-roast profile. Indulge in the rich flavors of chocolate and molasses that Black Cat delivers.
ILLY – The Best Italian Coffee For Espresso
ILLY is a household name for its traditional Italian espresso blends. This medium roast blend is made from 100% Arabica beans, delivering a smooth and balanced flavor with hints of caramel, chocolate, and dried fruit. The brand’s signature illy blend offers consistent quality in every cup.
Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Blend
If you are looking for a bolder and more intense espresso, then the Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Blend is the perfect pick. This blend is made from a combination of Latin American and Indonesian coffees and offers notes of dark chocolate, caramelized sugar, and toasted nuts.
Lavazza Espresso Italiano: The Best Espresso Beans
For a classic Italian espresso experience, Lavazza Espresso Italiano is a top choice. This blend uses 100% Arabica beans from Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras to create a smooth yet robust flavor with hints of chocolate and caramel. It produces a thick crema and has a slightly sweet finish.
Lavazza: Best Coffee Beans For Super Automatic Espresso Machines
If you have a super-automatic espresso machine, then the Lavazza Super Crema blend is a perfect match. This blend is specifically crafted for super-automatic machines and offers a creamy texture with notes of honey, almonds, and dried fruit.
Trade Coffee Subscription For Espresso
If you want to explore different coffee beans for espresso without committing to a full bag, then a Trade Coffee subscription is the way to go. Their team of experts handpicks and roasts different blends from top roasters every month, ensuring you always have high-quality beans on hand for your espresso shots.
Other Pitfalls To Avoid When Buying The Best Espresso Beans
When searching for the best coffee beans for espresso, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. These include:
- Buying pre-ground beans: Pre-ground beans may be convenient, but they lose their flavor and aroma much faster than whole beans. For the freshest and most flavorful espresso shots, invest in a grinder and grind your beans just before brewing.
- Not adjusting the grind size: Different brewing methods require different grind sizes, and espresso is no exception. Be sure to adjust the grind size on your grinder for a finer texture specifically for espresso shots.
- Storing beans incorrectly: Coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container away from heat, light, and moisture to preserve their freshness and flavor. Avoid keeping them in the fridge or freezer, as this can cause moisture to form on the beans and affect their taste.
In conclusion, finding the best coffee beans for espresso ultimately comes down to personal preference. Experimenting with different blends, origins, and roast levels can help you discover your perfect shot. Just remember to invest in a good grinder, adjust your grind size accordingly, and store your beans correctly for the best espresso experience.
FAQ: Coffee Beans For Espresso
Do coffee beans matter for espresso?
Uncover the secrets behind the tantalizing taste of espresso. Espresso beans undergo a unique roasting and grinding process, designed to perfectly complement the experience of using an espresso machine.
Which country makes the best coffee beans for espresso?
While Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia are renowned coffee producers, Ethiopia and Costa Rica have claimed the spotlight for their exceptional beans. Unlock the secret to a truly delightful espresso experience by perfecting the art of roasting these magnificent beans.
What coffee beans are best for espresso milk drinks?
Discover the Perfect Coffee Beans for Your Favorite Milk-Based Espressos: Flat White, Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha, Macchiato, Piccolo. Experience the Ultimate Combination of Flavor and Milk with our Darker Roasts. Our Eight-O-Eight Blend is expertly crafted to enhance your milk-based drinks, allowing you to savor every sip.
Can coffee beans be too fine for espresso?
Original Espresso is perfect for those seeking a bold and intense flavor. Achieving the perfect grind is crucial, as a coarse grind will result in a weak and bitter taste while a too fine grind may lead to a clogged filter and no coffee at all.
Bobby Kelly is a bartender at Molly Magees, an Irish pub in Mountain View. He’s been working there for two years and has developed a following among the regulars. Bobby is known for his friendly demeanor and great drink specials. He loves interacting with customers and making them feel welcome. When he’s not at work, Bobby enjoys spending time with his friends and family.