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The 2024 Guide • Bean Ground

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Want to know what we think are the best coffee beans for espresso in 2024? You’ve landed on the right page. Our newest comprehensive guide dives into everything you need to elevate your at-home espresso game. 

In this post, we explore what makes certain beans ideal for espresso, from their unique flavor profiles to the importance of the right roast style. 

You’ll learn tips on maintaining freshness, whether blended or single-origin is better, how grind size impacts flavor, and more insider secrets to help you unlock cafe-quality espresso from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Have I piqued your interest? Go and grab a coffee, and let’s crack on!

Our Top Picks At A Glance:

Espresso Beans Beans Origin Roast Type Flavor Profile
> Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee Ethiopia Light-Medium Complex flavors of wild berry and lemon
> Coffee Bros Espresso Roast Ethiopia & Colombia Medium Strawberry, sugar cane, vanilla
> Illy Classico Espresso Ground Blend for growers worldwide Medium Hints of chocolate, caramel, orange, and jasmine
> Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Colombia, Guatemala & Sumatra Dark Rich notes of cocoa and cinnamon
> Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Not specified Light-Medium Hazelnut and brown sugar aromas with notes of honey
> Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso Africa, Indonesia, Central & South America Medium Silky and complex, wild berry syrup with a smooth cocoa finish.

What’s So Special About Espresso Beans?

You might be wondering, “Why not just use any coffee bean for espresso?” Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. True, you can technically make espresso from any coffee bean.

However, most coffee enthusiasts opt for a specific espresso blend. 

This choice isn’t just a fluke; there’s a method to the madness. When it comes to a full-bodied espresso, you want beans that deliver a rich, complex flavor and a gorgeous crema on top. Espresso blends are crafted to achieve the ideal balance and flavor profile that stands up to the espresso brewing process. 

They’re designed to deliver that rich, bold taste espresso lovers crave

So, while your regular beans can work in a pinch, an espresso blend is the secret behind that classic café-style shot.

Tradition Plays A Role

Now, let’s talk tradition.

Espresso isn’t just a drink; it’s a cultural icon. And with it comes a love for dark roast beans. Why? Because they pack a punch. Dark roasts have this robust, slightly bitter taste that defines a classic Italian espresso that we have all grown to love.

But hey, it’s not just about going dark. It’s about finding beans that have been roasted to perfection, bringing out flavors that make your morning espresso a ritual to savor.

The Cost-Effectiveness of Espresso Blends

In the fast-paced world of coffee shops and cafes, espresso blends play a vital yet underappreciated role in operations. These proprietary mixes of coffee beans from various origins provide cafes with a cost-effective and consistent base for crafting espresso-based drinks.

Unlike single-origin coffees that showcase specific flavor profiles from individual farms or regions, espresso roast coffee blends combine beans sourced from multiple locales.

This cost-effective reliability makes blends tailored for espresso the backbone of many cafes. They deliver a familiar, well-rounded espresso shot efficiently cup after cup, providing a foundation for everything from macchiatos to cappuccinos.

stumptown coffee espresso shot example

Dark vs. Medium Roast for Espresso

When you’re standing in front of a shelf full of coffee beans, the choice between dark and medium roasts can feel like a high-stakes decision.

In the world of espresso, dark roasts have been the go-to for years, offering that classic, bold espresso flavor. They bring out a rich, caramelized sweetness, perfect for cutting through milk in a latte or cappuccino.

But let’s not overlook medium roasts – they’re the rising stars in the espresso scene. Medium roast beans hold onto more of their original flavors, giving you a more nuanced cup.

Identifying the Right Roast Level

When trying to decide on a specific roast for your espresso, start with the end in mind. If you love your espresso, a medium roast can bring a delightful complexity to your cup.

But, if you’re a fan of milky drinks, a dark roast might be your best bet – it’ll stand up to the creaminess without getting lost.

And remember, the best part of being a home barista is experimentation. Mix it up, try different whole bean coffee and various roast profiles, and find what sings to your palate.

It’s all part of the coffee adventure!

Arabica vs. Robusta for Espresso

In the coffee world, Arabica and Robusta are like two different genres of music. Arabica beans are the classical music of coffee – elegant, refined, and full of complex flavors. They’re generally sweeter, with hints of fruits and berries, and they carry a smoother, more delicate profile.

Now, Robusta? Think of it as rock and roll – bold, strong, and packing a caffeine punch. Robusta beans are less about subtle flavors and more about intensity and depth.

They often have a nuttier, earthier taste, and when it comes to espresso, they bring a thick, creamy crema that’s hard to beat.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Arabica and robusta:

Espresso Arabica Robusta
Flavor Profile Sweeter, with fruity notes Stronger, earthier tones
Acidity Higher, with more nuanced tones Lower, more straightforward
Crema Production Less crema, more delicate More crema, thicker texture
Caffeine Content Generally lower Higher caffeine levels
Ideal Use Straight shots, light roasts Intense blends, dark roasts
Price Usually more expensive More affordable

Making the Right Choice for You Shot of Espresso

Arabica is your go-to if you’re after a complex, aromatic cup of espresso. It’s perfect for savoring as a straight shot where you can appreciate its complex character.

On the other hand, if you need that robust, full-bodied kick to start your day or to power through an afternoon slump, Robusta’s got your back.

And here’s a tip: don’t be afraid to blend. A mix of Arabica and Robusta can give you the best of both worlds – the sophistication of Arabica with the strength and crema of Robusta.

When it comes to whole-bean roast coffee, it’s all about finding what harmony works for you in that espresso cup.

6 Best Coffee Beans for Espresso Crema

Below are some top contenders that we found to make exceptionally balanced espresso.

We are sure these custom picks will elevate your espresso experience, whether you’re a seasoned barista or just starting your coffee journey.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee (Light-Medium Roast)

Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

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This USDA organic washed Yirgacheffe spotlights Ethiopia’s distinctive coffee heritage, with beans grown by generations of farmers embracing traditional techniques. 

The resulting light-medium roast carries delicately smooth yet complex flavors of wild berry and lemon. As the acclaimed birthplace of coffee, Ethiopian beans offer an unparalleled experience – especially this floral, citrusy Yirgacheffe. 

Whether enjoyed black or with a splash of milk, its pleasant acidity and aroma encapsulate why smaller Ethiopian regions like Yirgacheffe and Sidamo remain the pinnacle for specialty coffee lovers seeking transportive, terroir-driven taste. 

Sip this exquisite single origin and taste the pride.

What We Love

  • Single-origin beans with complex flavors.
  • Organic and fairly traded.
  • Grown using traditional techniques.
  • Nice acidity and aroma.

Take Note

  • Needs careful brewing to maximize the taste.
  • Lacks body of darker roasts.
  • Smaller growing region limits supply.

Coffee Bros Espresso Roast (Medium Roast Profile)

Coffee Bros Espresso Roast

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Coffee connoisseurs, meet your new daily ritual – Coffee Bros’ Espresso Roast, a medium-roasted blend of 100% specialty-grade Arabica beans from Ethiopian and Colombian farms at 1,860 – 2,300 meters altitude. One sip of this meticulously sourced coffee transports you with vibrant strawberry, vanilla, and sugar cane notes. 

The smooth yet robust body achieved by an Agtron reading of 64.8 stands up fantastically to milk. Traceable to small farms focused on flavor, you can taste the craft in every freshly roasted batch. 

This complex, sweet espresso elevates any drink, from your morning Red Eye to an afternoon cappuccino pick-me-up. For an exhilarating coffee experience full of flavor and creativity, Coffee Bros delivers the goods.

What We Love

  • Sweet, fruity, complex flavor.
  • Smooth, medium body.
  • Freshly roasted for optimal taste.
  • Traceable to small farms.

Take Note

  • Higher price point.
  • Flavor nuances fade quicker after roasting due to freshness.

Illy Classico Espresso Ground (Medium Roast Profile)

Illy Classico Espresso Ground

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For over eight decades, illy has perfected a signature espresso celebrating the pinnacle of coffee’s potential. Their Classico blend spotlights premium Arabica’s complexity, balanced with lingering hints of chocolate and orange. 

Meticulously sourced from sustainably-minded growers worldwide, illy selects only the finest 1% of beans, seamlessly blended and preserved via patented pressurized tins. This dedication shines through in the cup’s richness. 

An aromatic escape with each sip, it transforms any preparation into a contemporary yet classic Italian-style experience. Smooth and nuanced, the Classico blend remains the ultimate standard for blends – a timeless expression of coffee at its best.

What We Love

  • Complex yet balanced flavor.
  • Selective bean sourcing for quality.
  • Sustainable and ethical sourcing practices.
  • Packaging preserves freshness well.

Take Note

  • More costly than average blends.
  • It needs proper espresso preparation for the best flavor.

Koffee Kult Coffee Beans (Dark Roast Profile)

Koffee Kult Coffee Beans

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Looking for an artfully crafted dark roast brimming with flavor? Enter Koffee Kult. Their small-batch beans blend rich notes of cocoa and cinnamon for a smooth, heavy-bodied brew with a bright finish. 

Ethically sourced from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra, their obsessive dedication shows through from the hand-roasting to the packaging date prominently displayed. Connoisseurs praise the aroma and balanced acidity that sets it apart from bitter dark roasts. 

Whether you sip it black or craft lattes, this aromatic, flavorful blend makes each cup a bold yet accessible coffee experience. Koffee Kult sticks to the basics – exceptional beans and exemplary roasting – for a satisfying cup.

What We Love

  • Bold, smooth flavor.
  • Hand-roasted for consistency.
  • Prominently displayed roast dates.
  • Sourced from premier growing regions.

Take Note

  • Pricier than average grocery store coffee.
  • It needs proper brewing to avoid slight bitterness.

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso (Light-Medium Roast)

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso

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Lavazza’s beloved Super Crema blend celebrates the Italian coffee-drinking tradition with its mildly sweet yet robust flavor. A balanced dance of smooth Arabica and intense Robusta beans produces a medium roast with a creamy texture and zero bitterness. 

Its enticing hazelnut and brown sugar aromas fill any kitchen while notes of honey resonate through every velvety sip. Whether enjoyed black or with steamed milk, the Super Crema is crafted to extract a rich, lingering crema when pulled as an espresso shot. 

For those seeking an authentic, everyday espresso that excels at bringing people together over quality coffee, Lavazza delivers the full experience. Simply open, grind, brew, and let the good times roll.

What We Love

  • Balanced Arabica and Robusta bean blend.
  • Sweet aromas and smooth flavor.
  • Reliably pulls a thick, lasting crema.
  • Family-owned Italian heritage.

Take Note

  • It contains some Robusta beans.
  • It needs a good espresso machine for full-flavor extraction.

Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso (Medium Roast)

Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso

BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Seeking an organic, fair trade coffee that packs a flavorful punch? Enter Kicking Horse’s Cliff Hanger Espresso. This chocolaty, smooth blend spotlights certified beans toasted to perfection in a conscientious medium roast. 

Its container brims with the scent of wild berries and brown sugar, translating into a cup with pretty currant notes undergirded with cocoa’s subtle bitterness. 

An accessible profile lending itself wonderfully to milk drinks, the Cliff Hanger’s complexity delights straight up, too. Whether enjoyed as a bracing morning shot or an afternoon cappuccino, Kicking Horse delivers wakeful flavor and principled sourcing in one righteous package.

What We Love

  • Organic and fairly traded.
  • Medium roast allows fruity notes to shine.
  • Makes smooth, nuanced milk drinks.
  • The strong intoxicating smell from the bag.

Take Note

  • Beans lack oiliness for maximized crema.
  • Lighter-bodied than some espresso blends.

Going Beyond the Coffee Beans

In the quest for the ultimate espresso, it’s not just about the beans themselves. This section delves into the often overlooked yet crucial elements that contribute significantly to your espresso’s quality and taste.

Let’s explore these key factors that go beyond just choosing the right kind of coffee beans.

The Importance of Freshness

Freshness is king when it comes to espresso beans. Using freshly roasted beans for your espresso is like capturing a moment in time – the flavors are vivid, the aromas are intoxicating, and the crema? Oh, it’s just heavenly.

The ideal time to enjoy your espresso beans is about 1 to 4 weeks after they’ve been roasted. Once they’ve left the coffee roasters, this window is when the beans are at their peak, ready to give you an espresso shot that’s not just a drink but a full sensory experience.

Here are some key reasons freshness matters:

  • Espresso highlights the nuanced, volatile flavor compounds in coffee beans. These start to fade quickly after roasting.
  • Stale beans lack the oils needed to produce that gorgeous caramel-colored crema on your shot.
  • The carbon dioxide released from fresh beans is essential for your espresso machine’s extraction pressure.
  • Roasted coffee beans are perishable – they steadily lose aromas and degrade in flavor as oxygen and moisture take their toll.
  • Freezing can extend shelf life a bit, but frozen/thawed beans won’t taste as bright or lively.

So, for the ultimate espresso that sings with flavor notes, opt for beans roasted within the last few weeks. And store them properly to lock in that just-roasted freshness!

Taste the difference good timing makes.

Single-Origin vs. Blends for Espresso

Now, let’s take a closer look at single-origin and blended beans.

Imagine single-origin specialty coffee beans are perfect for espresso purists who love to explore distinct taste profiles. On the other hand, blends often mean a more rounded, versatile cup, perfect for those who enjoy exploring a variety of flavors. 

Whether you lean towards the distinct personality of single-origin or the balance of a good espresso blend, there’s a whole world of espresso experiences waiting for you.

Practical Tips for Brewing Espresso at Home

In this section, I’ll share some practical tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years to help you brew that perfect cup of espresso right in your own kitchen. 

If you want to know more about how to master the perfect crema on your espresso, make sure to check out this article > How To Make Perfect Espresso Crema?

Grind Size and Technique

Getting the grind right is crucial.

For espresso, you want a fine grind, almost like powdered sugar, but not quite as powdery. This fine grind is vital for extracting all the rich flavors and oils during the quick, high-pressure espresso brewing process.

But remember, different espresso equipment might require slight adjustments. If you’re using a traditional espresso machine, go for a very fine grind.

For those with a more forgiving, pressurized portafilter, you can get away with a slightly coarser grind. A good rule of thumb? Start fine and adjust based on the taste and flow of your espresso shot.

Too slow and bitter? Go coarser. Too fast and sour? Go finer.

Equipment Considerations

Now, let’s talk about your toolkit – the espresso machine and other required gear. If you’re serious about your home espresso game, investing in a good quality espresso machine is key. You don’t need to break the bank, but look for a machine with good temperature stability and pressure control.

And let’s not forget the grinder – it’s just as important as the machine.

A good burr grinder is preferable for its consistent grind size. Beyond that, a trusty tamper, a milk frothing jug for those lattes and cappuccinos, and a scale for precise measurements will set you up nicely.

I like to think of my espresso setup as a personal coffee lab – where precision meets art, and each cup is a new experiment.

Conclusion

So there you have it, our hand-picked selection of some of the best espresso beans for 2024. We’ve explored everything from the unique characteristics of espresso beans to the nuances of roast types and the intriguing differences between Arabica and Robusta.

We’ve even delved into practical tips for brewing that perfect cup at home. Remember, the world of espresso is vast and varied, and there’s always something new to discover.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different coffee beans for espresso. Each bean, each roast, and each blend has its own story to tell in your cup. 

Maybe you’ll find a new favorite in a single-origin Arabica, or perhaps a robust Robusta blend will surprise you. The beauty of espresso is that it’s a personal experience – your perfect new espresso shot maybe just a brew away.

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