What Is The Best Espresso Coffee Brand?

By John Beans on May 8, 2021

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No other coffee drink has the same wonderful aroma, dense body, and rich aftertaste as espresso.

However, a lot depends on which coffee you use for espresso.

To select the best espresso beans, our experts tested dozens of coffee brands.

Here are the beans that made really tasty espresso:

BEST CHOICE

Lifeboost Coffee

Try natural coffee beans for espresso without chemicals and grown in the highlands under the shade of trees. We made sure that with LifeBoost you can make truly delicious espresso.

Lifeboost espresso beans

The Best Espresso Beans 2021

If you want to get started by reading our reviews of the best espresso coffee beans, you can click the name of the coffee brand below to jump to that review:

Are Coffee Beans and Espresso Beans the Same?

The beans are the same, but the difference is that espresso beans are selected and roasted differently than beans used for other types of coffee.

For a long time, special blends have been used for espresso. These blends include coffee from different countries or different varieties. For example, Arabica and Robusta might be blended.

Espresso blends are created for two reasons:

1. To obtain a stable taste.

Espresso blends have an advantage over single-origin coffee: a stable taste achieved by blending coffee that is harvested at different times of the year. This allows you to get a consistent espresso flavor regardless of the season.

2. To save money.

To reduce the cost of coffee, you can add Robusta to Arabica beans. Of course, you also have to find the right ratio to get a good taste.

Many coffee shops use Arabica-Robusta blends for espresso and espresso-based drinks.

However, as the specialty coffee industry has developed, people have begun to appreciate the unique flavor characteristics of specific coffees. This has led to an increase in the use of single-origin coffee for espresso.

Single-origin coffee uses beans from a single farm, processing station, region, or country.

Espresso made from single-origin beans can be bright and interesting. However, the taste of such coffee will change over time with each new crop or due to the aging that occurs while green coffee is stored in warehouses.

In our article, you will find both reviews of both blends and single-origin coffees that work well for espresso.

What Roast Is Best For Espresso?

The roast used for espresso beans can vary, but medium and dark roasts are preferred.

The choice of roast is all about the difference between brewing in an espresso machine and brewing with other methods. The extraction of coffee during espresso brewing is short—it lasts just a few seconds—and less water interacts with the ground beans in an espresso machine than in other coffee makers.

Dark-roasted coffee has a greater ability to release soluble substances into water than light-roasted coffee does, so it can give espresso a great aroma even with a short extraction time. A dark roast results in a rich espresso with a dense crema and low acidity.

Espresso made from light-roasted coffee will in most cases be acidic and undersaturated—a light roast needs a longer brewing time than espresso allows. It is for this reason that light roasts are preferred for immersion brewing methods such as pour-over.

If you prefer a medium roast for your espresso, you should increase the water temperature and adjust the grind before brewing.

Using dark-roasted beans for espresso is just a guideline that will make it easier for you to get a rich espresso. In the coffee industry, experiments are welcome. For example, if you prefer a lungo (long espresso), maybe trying a light roast would be a good idea.

Scott Rao, author of The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea advises his audience not to take the roast of espresso coffee too seriously. Try different coffees, change the brewing parameters, and let your taste guide you.

How Long after Roasting Are Espresso Beans at Their Best?

Coffee's taste peaks between 3 and 14 days from the date of roasting, so we advise using your beans during this timeframe.

If you want to buy coffee that was roasted three or four weeks ago, that's fine too, just don't buy much at once—you'll need to use it up quickly. If a more than a month and a half has passed, it's best not to use the coffee—your espresso will be empty and disappointing. Over time, coffee loses its taste and aroma, and its caffeine content decreases.

Here we can give you two tips:

1. Buy whole-bean coffee.

Whole beans stay fresh longer than ground coffee. So if you have an espresso grinder, buy whole-bean coffee and grind the beans yourself for the best shot of espresso.

If you still want to buy ground coffee, only buy as much as you can use within a few days. Ground coffee in an open package loses its freshness in a matter of hours.

2. Buy directly from roasters.

When you buy coffee from a grocery store or online retailer, you can't know how often the coffee has been lying around in a warehouse. It's likely that you'll get stale coffee.

The solution is to order coffee from roasters. Every state has local roasters that offer freshly roasted coffee and can even deliver it to your home.

In this guide, we've only selected brands that deliver fresh beans to their customers.

Our Top Picks

BEST ESPRESSO BEANS

Lifeboost espresso beans

Lifeboost Coffee

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.


Cream and Coconut

Koa Coffee Espresso Beans

Koa Coffee

This is a blend of two varieties of Kona coffee beans. Thanks to the Viennese roast, Grande Domaine Kona has less bitterness and more sweet notes than other coffees.


Citrus Fruits and Berries

Volcanica Espresso Beans

Volcanica Coffee

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.


Spices and Roasted Nuts

French-Roast-Espresso-Beans

Lion Coffee

This French roast coffee is ideal for those who like espresso with tobacco, malt, and roasted nut notes, and without acidity.


Strawberry and Vanilla

Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast

Coffee Bros.

This coffee is a specially selected espresso blend that's also specially roasted. Espresso brewed with these beans reveals notes of strawberry and vanilla, and the always-fresh beans will allow you to fully enjoy the aroma.

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: Dark 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 dark-roasted, perfect for espresso. You will get a drink with a smooth and delicious taste and notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit.

2. Koa Coffee - Top Espresso Coffee Beans

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 Medium Roast Espresso Coffee Beans

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 professional 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 hand-picked 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 Espresso Beans For Cold Brew

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 Espresso Beans 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 beans 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.

Sources:

  1. How to Make Espresso at Home: A Starter Guide - New York Times
  2. 7 Tips For Picking The Best Coffee Beans For Espresso - Coffee Bros.

The Team That Worked On This Review

Patty-Cramer-Editor-Coffee-Consultant-at-MyFriendsCoffee

Editor & Coffee Consultant

Patty Cramer

I'm the coffee consultant at MyFriendsCoffee. I've been in the coffee business for over 21 years and still have a passion for coffee. My most important skill is that I know how to organize work processes.

John Beans Editor & Founder

Resident Editor-in-Chief

John Beans

I’m the resident Editor-in-Chief of MyFriendsCoffee. For more than 5 years I tried a large variety of coffees from different brands and master 7 ways to brew coffee and am not going to stop there. I switched my first coffee maker with a professional espresso machine and now my kitchen is filled with various coffee equipment.

Tessa Dixon – Beginner Barista & Content Creator

BArista

Tessa Dixon

I was born in Seattle, and this city has a strong connection to coffee culture, so it's no wonder I decided to become a barista! I’ve learned many ways of making coffee and now I know how to make any coffee delicious.