Prefer your morning coffee to be supercharge in the form of espresso? Finding the right bean can be tough though, so here’s a guide to 5 of the best coffee beans for espresso out there to help you cut through the caffeine-charged noise.
How are espresso beans different to other coffee beans?
The best espresso beans begin with oils as the whole espresso brewing process is different from any other. A regular brewer will pass hot water through ground beans where the water picks oils that it filters from the beans. You end up with an aromatic and tasty blend of java oils and water that are ready to be consumed. The only negative thing about the mixture is that it is loose and the coffee concentration is minimal when compared to what you get with an espresso.
Why stop at espresso? Learn how to make iced coffee at home with our guide
The process of brewing espresso aims at taking full advantage of the oils infusion in the water. When very hot water at high pressure is used, they force the oils to bind into a glue-like substance. You end up with a milk-like substance since the oil molecules do not get fully mixed with the water. This creamy part is referred to as crema and any quality espresso will have it, which shows that only quality beans were used, and that they were processed in the right way.
To get the best espresso, there are many aspects to consider. The first one is the beans themselves. These beans should be hand-picked and although this seems like a tiring process, it is worth all the work. The reason these beans need to be hand-picked is that not all of them can produce a great cup of espresso coffee. This is because some beans don’t produce enough oils to make the perfect espresso. The higher the content of oil a bean produces while roasting, the better espresso coffee it will give out.
That is not all that is considered. These beans must have a magnificent flavor as well. For most professional coffee shops, they opt to use either dark or very dark roast beans in preparing their espressos. However, roasting the bean for too long makes it lose it natural flavor, and this is why the best espressos come from light to medium-light roast beans that are known to produce more oils. A light to medium-light roast bean will increase the coffee flavor while giving it extra character. On the other hand, a medium to medium-dark roast bean turns out sweeter and with a stronger aroma. Darker roasts produce more oils but they tend to be very bitter and without a flavor, and what you will be left with is the roast’s taste and not the bean.
Everyone has their own distinct preference when it comes to espresso flavors and taste. It all goes down to what you prefer; whether it is light, medium, dark, or very dark roasts. If you are still unable to decide on what to settle for, this buyer’s guide will help you make the decision. It will make sure that your next espresso is the best thing you have ever tasted.
If it is your first time buying coffee beans, you might be overwhelmed trying to determine what to buy and what to avoid. To ensure you get the absolute best beans, consider the following aspects.
Not all coffee beans are the same
Every bean type belongs to its own unique classification and you need to familiarize yourself with the various types in order to have an easier time while buying coffee beans. There are Milds, which are Arabica beans that are grown in high altitudes, and these make the best espresso coffee. Another type is Brazils Arabica grown at low altitudes and it is not the same as Milds in terms of quality. It also costs less than Milds. Both these beans are grown in Brazil. There is another bean type called Robusta. These beans are harvested from the Robusta plant and are not considered the best for espressos as they lack flavor and aroma.
Raw beans and roasts differ in characteristics and qualities
Normally, raw beans smell like grass, and they feel soft when touched. They get shipped in burlap sacks and can be used for roasting coffee. However, if you would rather buy roasts, go for another type.
One such type is cinnamon or light roast, which, just like the name suggests, are lightly roasted. These tend to give very acidic and bitter tasting coffee that has a lot of caffeine. The name cinnamon doesn’t mean it tastes that way; it just has the same color as cinnamon.
The other beans are the medium roast also known as American roast or house, and they are medium-roasted. They are not highly priced also, and these are what will normally prepare espressos. The dark roasts or city medium tend to be darker in color with less caffeine content. This makes them less bitter and acidic, and they are sweeter than the American roast.
The next class of beans is the French type, also known as city roasts, and they are darker than the city medium. These tend to be oily and have a dark brown color. The last class is the Italian, fully city, and espresso roast, which has the darkest color than the rest. These are usually used to prepare espressos.
How to spot good espresso beans
The first thing to use is your eyes. However, if you are not familiar with coffee, ask a credible roaster to suggest the best espressos to you. Always remember that coffee is not supposed to appear like charcoal in color. Darker roasts should appear oily and shiny.
If you want sweet coffee, go for darker coffee beans. These tend to have caramelized natural sugars. During the roasting process, caffeine and acid content tend to get burnt out along with the bean, which is why darker beans will have a sweeter taste. As for lighter coffee beans, they are more acidic and thus, bitter in taste.
If you are an espresso enthusiast, go for darker roasts as they will give you sweet coffee that doesn’t have a nasty aftertaste.
What about blended coffee and flavored beans?
What you buy in a mixed bag is blended coffee. Sometimes, good coffee gets blended with a cheap one to give an inexpensive product that is of good quality. These blends usually make espressos.
Most flavored beans can be found in supermarkets but not in the finest cafes since they are of low quality, and the flavors are just used to mask the inferior quality of the beans.
Below is a review of the best espresso beans in the market:
1. Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans
The beans originate from Columbia, Guatemala, and Sumatra, countries that are reputable for producing the finest beans globally. They then get roasted in the United States where they meet the set food standards. For more flavor, the beans are made to the second crank while roasting before getting released into the cooling bin. This leaves them with a bold flavor.
This coffee has a rich taste and is full of a pleasant aroma that will leave you yearning for another cup. Its heaviness could be as a result of the beans used. Koffee Kult only uses 100% Arabica beans, ensuring you don’t get the slightest hint of bitterness in your coffee.
These beans can either be used for drip coffee machines, french presses, pour over machines, and espresso machines, and the outcome is always a pleasant tasting coffee that you can brew hot or cold. Expect an intense flavor that comes with only a tiny sweet undertaste. If you love coffee, you will agree that this is how this beverage should taste like.
Koffee Kult roasts its beans in small batches, thus ensuring every single bean roasts thoroughly and stays fresh for longer. Another great thing about these beans is that they are fairly priced. These are the perfect coffee beans for those people who love dark roasts that have a sweet flavor and at a reasonable price.
• Their price is pocket-friendly
• They have a great flavor
• Their bag comes with an easy to pour lip
• Presence of rocks in the coffee that can ruin your grinder blades if they go unnoticed
• The bag is difficult to seal after opening
2. Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger
The product is indigenous to Indonesia, Africa, and Central & South America. They are organic, medium roast, fair trade beans that will give you a smooth, chocolaty coffee in your cup. What will make you appreciate a cup of coffee made from the Kicking Horse beans is that it will be smooth and bold at the same time due to its Rocky Mountain roasting.
The fact that this product is 100% organic shows just how committed this company is in providing you the finest coffee that is not only delicious but also fresh and loaded with flavor. They claim that they roast these coffee beans to perfection and at 3,000 ft above sea level.
• Dark tasting with a stronger flavor than the other blends
• Despite being a decaf, it gives coffee that has a bold taste and kicks
• It is rich in flavor with a hint of mocha or chocolate
• The beans are usually very oily and dark
• Though it has a good scent once opened, it loses most of this aroma after brewing
3. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso
These beans are dry enough to be used easily in an espresso machine. The ground beans will give you a long-lasting crema flavor, making it ideal for espressos. You can use Lavazza for fine or coarse grinding.
This product is used commonly in Italian restaurants and coffee shops as they appreciate good coffee and these beans produce just that. They tend to be medium to dark brown color, which makes them produce sweet non-acidic coffee full of crema. The beans are evenly roasted and come with a heavenly aroma when ground.
• Not oily, making it great for your machine
• They are lightly roasted with a sweet flavor
• Has a European taste once brewed with no hints of fruitiness
• You could buy an old stock of this product
4. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso
These come as whole beans for increased shelf-life and freshness. They get roasted slowly to ensure their flavor is preserved. It is a blend of Italian roasted beans. These beans tend to be oily, black, heavy, and full of flavor, making them suitable for espressos and iced coffee. The smooth taste and low acid content of this coffee make it a great product.
• Smooth and less acidic, although it is a dark roast
• Makes great espressos
• Tastes better when ground at a medium level
• Has enough caffeine to give you a kick without any jitters
• They are very oily
5. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee
These are 100% whole Arabica beans made by combining Colombia Supremo and Sumatra Mandheling. They are found in 2-pound bags. If you love the chocolate taste, you will be pleased to know that these have a cherry and chocolate taste and although it is a decaf, it still has a strong taste of caffeine.
To grind these beans, you can use a dip machine, French press, espresso machine, or electric percolator.
• Its acidic blend goes down very well
• It is rich and medium bodied
• It doesn’t have a bitter taste or aftertaste
• Its fruity flavors don’t mess with your espresso
• It has a light flavor
• You have to grind the whole beans, which could be hard work
These beans are all great for espressos for their numerous positives. However, Lavazza Super Crema Espresso takes the day. These beans offer a smooth and lasting crema flavor that is great for espressos. You can also choose to use the fine or coarse grinding setting. The beans will give you a sweet flavor since they are less acidic. The even roasting process ensures that these beans have a great aroma once roasted. You can also brew this coffee in any machine. If you love a good cup of coffee, this is your best option.