Best Espresso Beans 2023 | Which Ones Fit You and How To Choose Them

John Newbranch
Post date 05.13.2023

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In this article I have gathered the best espresso beans on the market for every occasion.

Working as a barista you get to know a lot about coffee beans in general.

But since most of my customers were espresso lovers I have always been most in tune with coffee beans that are used for espresso.

So I coupled my years of experience with a few weeks of researching brands and reading customer reviews to create this list of Best Espresso Beans that you can easily get your hands on.

Looking for the best allround option? Go for the Partners Coffee Elevate.


Need ideas on what to do with the beans beside a simple espresso? be sure to check out my list of Top Espresso Drinks.


Here Is What This Article Will Cover


What’s the Difference Between Espresso Beans and Regular Coffee beans?

(Spoiler! Nothing. They are simply prepared differently)

Everyone reading this knows what coffee beans are but not everyone knows what makes espresso beans different. 

Roast:

Coffee beans in general are classified from least roasted to most roasted as light, medium and dark roast where espresso beans are often the last one.

Oils:

Espresso beans tend to have a more oily exterior than regular coffee beans due to a darker roast. 

Grind:

To extract those oils the espresso beans are ground more finely than regular beans.

So you could say that espresso beans don’t actually differ that much from regular coffee beans. instead it’s how they are prepared that makes the difference.


If you want tips on what machines to use for your espresso beans be sure to check out my articles on the Best Coffee Machines.


The Best Espresso Beans:

For Beginners – Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliffhanger Espresso

  • Great Taste for Beginners
  • Delicious Taste of Cacao and Berries
  • Versatile
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The Cliffhanger espresso is a great option from Kicking horse coffee. It’s an organic medium roast blend from Central America, Africa, Latin America and Indonesia. 

I chose this one for beginners since it is a medium roast, versatile and full of aromas

A medium roast is perfect for people who are new to espresso because you don’t get the bitterness you do from darker roasts and not as much acidity as lighter roasts.

The Cliffhanger beans aren’t just kinder on your tongue, they’re also packed with a lot of taste. Cacao and berries are the most prominent ones. A great taste package for any newcomer in the espresso business.

Once you grind the beans you can throw them into an espresso machine, pour over, french press and cold brewer. So no matter what you are into, these beans will work great.


Best Budget – Illy Classico Espresso Ground Coffee

  • Very affordable
  • Well balanced medium roasted arabica
  • Great reviews on amazon
  • subtle notes of caramel and jasmine
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If you are somewhat into espresso beans then you will have heard of Illy. They are one of the most popular brands out there and can be found in many coffee shops all over the US.

The Classico is a well balanced, medium roasted arabica. It has a very recognisable espresso taste that I think most of you will be familiar with. If you are looking for that typically dark, bitter taste that almost overwhelms you, look elsewhere.

Instead the Classico is described as typically Italian with an earthy taste overlaid with a hint of citrus. 

The branding claims notes of caramel, orange blossom and jasmine. But I find it is most often described as having more subtle fruity flavors with a low bitter taste. 

The price for this can almost be deceiving since I would almost put it at the same level as many of the more expensive brands. Don’t believe me? Check out the reviews on amazon.

All in all great tasting, pre ground beans at a price point most of us can afford. If you want to get into home espresso making this would be a pretty safe first bet. 


For Home – Partners Coffee Elevate

  • Great daily driver
  • Single origin
  • Iteresting and delicious taste, including pecan
  • Works for most types of coffee
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The Partners Coffee Elevate is a true crowd pleaser. People describe this thing as “comfortable and well balanced” which I would say is coffee lingo for a jack of all trades.

It has some interesting tastes and aromas of red apple, caramel and pecan pie and a low  acidity level. Elevate beans work just as great as espresso shots or mixed with milk. 

They are affordable, easy to make and give a constantly delicious taste every time. Perfect for your everyday espresso experience.

Partners Coffee is single origin and they even write the name of the farm and the neighboring farms on the packaging which I think is great.

These can work as allround beans as well, not just espresso. So you can use the same beans for your personal espresso as your regular coffee machine for the family.


For Mocha Pots – Peet’s Cofee Major Dickason’s Blend

  • Reputable Brand
  • Smooth and rich flavor
  • Works well with milk
  • Known as a hard hitting blend
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Peet’s Coffee is a brand that has been around for over 50 years and has gained a reputation for producing high-quality coffee. And their Major Dickason’s blend is the most popular variant.

The taste of Major Dickason’s Blend is robust and full-bodied. The coffee beans used in this blend are sourced from different regions (Latin America and the Pacific) and are roasted to perfection. This gives the beans a rich flavor with a hint of sweetness. 

It is worth mentioning that the taste is not for everyone however. This is known as a very hard hitting blend. So if that’s not your cup of tea (or espresso), I would recommend using this in cappuccino or flat whites.

For me and a lot of other coffee aficionados however, this taste is exactly what we are looking for. So If you are into that this is a guaranteed must have for your moka pot.


For Jura – Lifeboost Optimist Light Roast

  • Single origin
  • Claimes health boost
  • distinct taste
  • Slightly acidic
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Now the idea behind these beans is that they should not just provide you with amazing taste, but also a bunch of health benefits. They obviously won’t cure cancer or anything but they are Non-GMO, chemical free and fair trade. 

The reason people include these beans as great alternatives for jura machines is because they are high quality and mycotoxin free. Mycotoxin is a mold that impacts the taste and is most common amongst lower quality beans.  

Since Jura machines are high quality machines that are great at extracting every inch of flavor, you want to invest in higher quality beans as well.

The other thing that is great with the Lifeboost Optimist Light Roast is that they are single origin beans. So instead of a bunch of different beans mixing together to create a more general “coffee taste”, single origin beans let you enjoy the distinct taste of one single coffee bean.


For Lattes – Peet’s Coffee Big Bang Medium Roast

  • Ethiopian origin, great for Latte
  • Unique taste
  • 100% Arabica
  • Fresh Roast
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As mentioned above, Peet’s Coffee is a brand that has been around for over 50 years and has gained a reputation for producing high-quality coffee 

Ethiopian coffee is in general my favorite for anything with milk. Good Ethiopian beans have a fruity taste with a hint of berry and chocolate, great for Lattes. And that is definitely the case with the Big Bang Medium Roast.

This medium roast makes these beans perfect for lattes giving you a distinct rich flavor with a hint of tropical fruits. A unique taste thanks to the mixing of multiple different ethiopian beans.


For Crema – Lavazza Super Crema

  • Produces an amazing crema
  • Avoids bitter taste
  • Rich and deep taste
  • Arabica/Robusta blend
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I can’t think of anything better than achieving that perfect crema on top of a freshly brewed espresso. And if crema is what you want, the Lavazza Super Crema is what you need.

These brilliantly selected beans are roasted in a unique way to give you an amazing taste with hints of honey, almonds and roasted hazelnuts. 

The Super Crema beans come from a mix of countries including VIetnam, Colombia and Brazil and are an Arabica/Robusta blend of 60 to 40. 

Something people tend to enjoy with the Lavazza Super Crema beans is that they lack that bitter aftertaste so common in espresso, making them a good entry level espresso bean as well.


For Automatic Espresso Machine – Sightglass Organic Crown Point

  • Organic
  • Perfect when paired with milk
  • Well liked company
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Sightglass is a really interesting company. They make organic coffee right in San Francisco and have hundreds of thousands of positive reviews from people all over the world.

Their Organic Crown Point blend is seasonally roasted which means that the mix alters slightly with seasons. People often describe the taste as “comforting and rich”. More precisely it has hints of fruit, butterscotch and roasted milk chocolate.

I chose this one as my top pick for an automatic espresso machine since these coffee beans work well with all the drinks that you might want to make with an automatic espresso machine.

It was even specifically crafted to pair nicely with milk in Lattes and Cappuccinos. And thousands of reviews from customers seem to agree.


For Breville – Stumptown Holler Mountain Whole Bean

  • Direct trade and Organic
  • Works for espresso and regular brew
  • Works well with milk
  • Acidic as espresso shop
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Stumptown is a well liked company in the coffee business, whether that’s their beans or their coffee shops around Portland.

The Holler Mountain beans are a mix of Latin American and East African beans that pair wonderfully. Although most people claim that the primary taste and aroma is citrus, there are also clear hints of nuts and apricot. 

The great divider for this bean is the quite prominent acidity. Now I am a fan of the acid taste so I would enjoy this. But if you don’t like the acid taste, stick to using this in Lattes or Cappuccinos since the taste pairs well with milk.

So why use this in a Breville espresso machine then?

Well it’s a creamy and consistent medium roast that is well mixed to give you a combination of chocolate and fruity sensation. 

I enjoy making both espresso shots and milkier espresso drinks in my Breville Barista Touch. And this seems like one of the perfect beans for both jobs. 


For Delonghi – Lifeboost Luxuriance Espresso Beans 

  • Amazing taste of chocolate, orange zest and toffee
  • Single origin from Nicaragua
  • Non-GMO and chemical free
  • Fair trade and USDA organic
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Lifeboost has some of my favorite espresso beans out there. And one of them happens to be their Luxuriance Espresso Beans.

First of all this isn’t a blend. Instead these beans all come from the mountains of Nicaragua. That means you get the specific and distinct flavor profile from one type of bean instead of a bunch of different beans mixing together to create a more general “coffee taste”.

In this case that flavor profile is chocolate, orange zest and toffee with an intense aroma. It is a bold flavor with a medium to low acidity.

The dark roast is what makes this one of my favorite, if not my favorite, premium beans. It is roasted just enough to be a smooth, balanced espresso without too much bitterness. 

All in all it is easy to make amazing coffee with these beans right at home. Making them the best espresso beans for your Delonghi machine.


Decaf – Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee

  • Sooth flavor with low acidity
  • Non-GMO and chemical free
  • Fair trade and USDA organic
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Lifeboost is a great company that specializes in making the healthiest coffee out there by bringing you Non-GMO, chemical free and fair trade coffee beans.

These medium roasted beans give you a smooth flavor with low acidity. They are even third party tested for mycotoxins which is mold that can ruin the taste of the coffee and cause stomach issues.

The Medium Roast Decaf gives you that great espresso experience lifeboost is known for, without the caffeine.


Organic – Stumptown Holler Mountain

  • Direct trade and Organic
  • Works for espresso and regular brew
  • Works well with milk
  • Acidic as espresso shop
Check on Amazon

Stumptown is a well liked company in the coffee business, whether that’s their beans or their coffee shop around Portland.

The Holler Mountain beans are a mix of Latin American and East African beans that pair wonderfully. Although most people claim that the primary taste and aroma is citrus, there are also clear hints of nuts and apricot. 

The great divider for this bean is the quite prominent acidity. Now I am a fan of the acid taste so I would enjoy this. But if you don’t like the acid taste, stick to using this in Lattes or Cappuccinos since the taste and aroma fits well with milk.

So why use this in a Breville espresso machine then?

Well it’s a creamy and consistent medium roast that is well mixed to give you a combination of chocolate and fruity sensation. 

I am a fan of making espresso shots as well as Lattes and Cappuccinos in my Breville Barista Touch. And these seem like one of the best espresso beans for both applications. 


Q&A

What Type of Beans are Best for Espresso?

Medium-dark roasted arabica beans of single origin, preferably Ethiopia or Nicaragua, are my favorite.

But everyone is different so here are a few quick tips on what to look for when choosing the best beans for espresso:

Roast:

In general, the darker the roast the more soluble the coffee will be. This means that it is easier to get a good result. However darker roasts taste more bitter and ashy. On the other hand you have lighter roasts which are more acidic and harder to extract but retain more of that origin flavor.

With this in mind I would recommend lighter roasts for espresso shots (if you want to put in a bit of extra work) and darker roasts for milkier drinks such as Lattes.

If you are still unsure I would go for a medium-dark roast since that is a good middle ground.

Origin:

Single origin or blend? I would say that it depends on your skill level. If you are new to making espresso go for a blend, they are easier to get right.

But if you know what you are doing or like the challenge, go for a single origin. They are easier to screw up but have a wonderfully unique taste if you get them right.

Varieties:

The Arabica and Robusta debate has been going on since the dawn of time so I wont get too deep into that debate.

Instead I would say that you should start off with an Arabica/Robusta blend since they both have they’re strong points. In fact, single variety is more of an American thing since even the Intalians don’t care too much for single variety espresso beans. 

What Beans do Italians Use for Espresso?

Italians drink a Arabica and Robusta blend to get the best of both worlds in terms of crema and taste. 

What Age of Beans are Best for Espresso?

Between 7-21 days

Are oily beans better for espresso?

Not necessarily, too oily beans can even be problematic for both taste and machine/grinder.

Best Coffee Beans for Coffee Machine

Lifeboost Luxuriance Espresso Beans or Stumptown Holler Mountain Whole Bean are my recommendations.

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AUTHOR

John has been in the game of blending and brewing for years now. Originally from Sweden, he has worked as a barista at coffee shops in the US and as a bar manager at a smoothie and juice bar in Paris. Now he is the main editor for Blend Brew Enjoy where he puts all his passion and effort into helping people find their love for coffee and smoothies.