Choosing the best coffee beans for espresso isn’t as hard as you might think. In a previous article, I pointed out that there isn’t a particular espresso bean solely made for the purpose of espresso shots. Making the perfect espresso is reliant more on the coffee grind used as well as the roast.
Most of the whole coffee beans for espresso are dark to medium roasts, but lighter roasts can also be used (known as a city roast). However, it’s the dark and medium roasts that are preferred among coffee drinkers. You’ll find that it’s the dark to medium roasts which are the most commonly used espresso bean of choice in high street coffee shops.
So when you see bags of whole coffee labeled as espresso beans, those beans aren’t unique beans grown for use in your espresso machine; they’ve just been roasted to the particular brand’s espresso roast, albeit dark, medium, or a light roast.
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Personally, I prefer medium or dark roasted coffee beans for my espresso. However, I do find that the dark coffee roasts struggle to produce a good crema if the beans aren’t fresh or of good quality. That being said, you can still get crema from a dark roast, but if the beans are shiny, very dark, or look wet due to being over-roasted because the oils have been forced through the outer shell, you’ll struggle with getting a good crema.
To Get The BEST Crema…
To get the best crema on your espresso as well as a decent overall shot of espresso, you’ll want coffee beans that look almost dry on the surface and a little bit glossy like they’ve been sweating slightly (you want the oils to be locked inside and not lost due to over-roasting).
The best coffee beans for espresso are going to be the ones that have been purchased locally from an independent coffee roaster with a roast date, so you know just how fresh your beans are.
But for many of us (including me), this can be a challenge. If you’re lucky, you can contact a roaster, and they will mail order your fresh coffee beans, but from my experience, this can be costly, and all of the roasters I have used in the past have been pricey.
But there are a few exceptions. Take a look at these coffee subscriptions and get coffee delivered to your door.
Best Coffee For Espresso Top Picks
So for everyday coffee drinkers like you and me, online vendors like Amazon are a great option. With that said, the trick to buying coffee beans for espresso from Amazon is to choose the most popular beans; why I hear you ask?
Well, if you buy coffee beans from a brand that isn’t popular, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with some old espresso beans that have been sat on a shelf gathering dust. Due to the low turnover, these whole beans have probably been roasted months or even years before they even reach your espresso maker. You’ll want to get your hands on the freshest coffee beans you can!
So bearing that in mind, below, I have picked out some of my best coffee beans for espresso that I have purchased before and still do. Currently, I have the Kicking Horse set up as a subscription, so I get a regular delivery straight to my door directly from Amazon.
Koffee Kult Coffee Beans (Dark Roast)
If you’re looking for a dark roast for your espresso that hasn’t been over-roasted, leading to an oily bean, the Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans have been excellent so far for me. They haven’t been over oily, and I manage to get a superb crema with the Koffee Kult Dark Roast every time.
When you open the bag for the first time, you’ll notice that the coffee beans have just enough of a glossy shine, not wet or over oily, but they look like they’ve been sweating. This is precisely what you’re looking for when buying coffee beans for espresso.
The Koffee Kult dark roast beans are an ethically sourced blend of beans from Guatemala, Columbia, and Sumatra, all of which are well-known for producing some coffee beans for espresso, so you know you’re getting the best. Try a bag of Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans, and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso (Medium Roast)
These are some of the best beans for espresso in recent months that I’ve tried; I can’t seem to get enough of this. It tastes great. Any coffee lover who enjoys a regular espresso will be able to pick out the richness and subtleties of flavor found in the Kicking Horse espresso beans.
At the time of writing, the Kicking Horse Coffee brand was one of Canada’s number one Fair Trade coffee producers (1). Fair Trade in the world of coffee means that a small percentage of each bag of coffee sold gets donated to coffee harvesters from third-world countries.
The Kicking Horse coffee beans are roasted in Canada. They are a mix of beans from Indonesia, Africa, and Central & South America, producing a great-tasting cup with a unique chocolaty smooth mouthfeel.
Lavazza Super Crema Espresso (Espresso Roast)
If you love a good-sized crema on your espresso shot the Lavazza Coffee Super Crema Espresso coffee beans might be what you need. Lavazza uses a blend of 20% Robusta beans and 80% of Arabica beans with a mixture of sweet Indonesian, smooth Brazilian, and Central American varieties. For more information, read my previous article on Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.
These whole beans are some of the best coffee beans for espresso, and they’ve been roasted to a dark through to a slightly medium shade giving a dry yet slightly oily bean which is perfect for home espresso machines. Also, don’t worry about clogging your espresso machine because these beans are not overly oily.
The Lavazza Super Crema Espresso coffee beans are a favorite in Europe. They have a slightly fruity taste with a chocolatey hint, and as I said, they are one of the best for producing a thick, velvety crema.