best espresso beans

September 30

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Best Espresso Beans of 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

The smell and taste of a freshly brewed coffee can do wonders to our senses. If you want to have the best espresso shot, you have to use the best espresso beans.

Even if you use the most expensive espresso machine in the market, the taste and aroma will always depend on your espresso beans.

Since there is an abundance of espresso beans in the market, we are here to help you find the one that will satisfy your taste buds.

Best Espresso Beans Reviews

1. Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast

Starbucks is synonymous with good coffee, and this espresso roast is no exemption. With this, you can enjoy the distinct and rich taste of espresso even at home.

Product Highlights

The dark roast beans from this espresso blend came from the Asia Pacific and Latin America. It has an intense flavor combined with a caramelly sweetness.

It also tastes perfect even when mixed with steamed milk or used as a base for your cappuccino or latte.

These dark roast beans are not exclusive to an espresso machine. You can also use them with a drip machine, French press, or a pour-over.

This blend is roasted to keep a small amount of oil crucial in producing the crema and added flavor vital for an excellent espresso shot.

The Espresso Roast is Starbucks’ darkest variety with a concentrated flavor that is perfect for perking you up in the morning.

There’s a bit of caramel sweetness and a hint of spiciness to its taste that will complement any sweet pastry.

The fact that Starbucks has been using this blend since 1975 only shows how excellent this product is.

What We Like

The strong taste and aroma of the Espresso Roast with a touch of caramel sweetness and spice is perfect for people who love the strong caffeine flavor.

Having this blend at home allows you to have your espresso shot anytime you feel like it. There’s no need to go out and line up to get your daily dose of espresso.

As Starbucks promotes it, this blend is not exclusive to espresso shots alone; you can also use it for other coffee drink variations.

What We Don’t Like

The oil covering on the beans can clog the filters on the espresso machine. When this happens, the coffee grounds may solidify and fail to produce coffee.

The complex taste of espresso is not as defined in this blend and may be too dark for some coffee lovers.

PROS

  • Reasonably priced
  • Great espresso base
  • Has a rich and caramelly flavor
  • Perfect pastry partner
  • Great perk-up coffee

CONS

  • A bit oily
  • Tastes bitter for some

2. Koffee Kult Dark Roast Espresso

This family-owned and operated company originated in Hollywood, Florida, USA. The company has been roasting different bean varieties since 2011.

If you are looking for something new in your coffee, Koffee Kult ensures to increase your coffee cravings.

Product Highlights

This exceptional dark roast blend from Koffee Kult is dark brown and has no visible oil on its beans. It has a bold and robust flavor but with a clean and smooth profile.

All coffee blends from Koffee Kult uses 100% Arabica organic beans from different parts of the world, like Columbia, Sumatra, and Guatemala.

These perfectly roasted imported beans ensure that you get unique and fresh-tasting coffee every time with a well-balanced acidity.

You can also smell the whole beans’ incredible aroma from the time you open the package while grinding, and especially while brewing.

Every cup of the Koffee Kult’s dark roast blend offers a hint of cocoa and cinnamon with its heavy body and bright, long finish.

Koffee Kult Dark Roast offers the perfect espresso shot for that morning kick. You can also combine it with steamed milk for great tasting cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes.

What We Like

You can easily differentiate the various coffee blends from Koffee Kult with their unique and witty branding.

This Dark Roast blend is the perfect choice for people who love dark and robust coffee with an incredible aroma.

These whole aromatic beans come in a resealable bag with an easy to open pull tab. There’s a valve at the back for removing the excess air inside the bag, keeping it fresh.

What We Don’t Like

Some consumers claim that there’s a rock among the beans that causes damage to their coffee machines.

Others say that it tastes more like a medium roast than dark (as it claims to be) and lacks the kick usually found in espresso shots.

PROS

  • Smooth
  • No burnt taste
  • Smells good
  • Resealable packaging
  • No bitter taste

CONS

  • Dry beans
  • Taste like medium roast

3. Verena Street Shot Tower Dark Espresso

Verena Street is a family-owned and operated company founded in 2010. The brand is a namesake of the founders’ childhood neighborhood in Iowa, USA.

Product Highlights

This dark roast Shot Tower Espresso from Verena Street came from high-quality coffee beans bought from farms recognized by the Rainforest Alliance Certified.

These whole espresso beans originated from farms in Indonesia, Central, and South America.

Buying the beans from these farms is the company’s way of supporting sustainable farming to protect the farmers, environment, and wildlife.

Verena Street’s whole coffee beans have a Kosher certification from the Orthodox Union. It means that this product does not contain chemicals, dairy, or other flavorings.

The company roasts its beans in small batches to ensure that it can release its maximum flavor and aroma while maintaining its freshness.

These espresso coffee beans made from 100% Arabica offer a smooth texture and intense aftertaste. Its full body flavor and aroma provide a sweet and creamy mixture.

Each cup of this Shot Tower Espresso gives a hint of chocolatey, nutty, and velvety notes that will make you long for more.

What We Like

What’s impressive about the Shot Tower Espresso is its Kosher certification as proof that you will only drink pure coffee without any added chemicals or flavorings.

The dark roasted coffee beans provide a smooth and full body profile low on acid but have an intense taste and aroma.

The Shot Tower Espresso’s strong coffee flavor is a perfect hot drink and tastes excellent as iced coffee.

What We Don’t Like

Some consumers complain of inconsistent levels of bean roasting as some look darker than the others.

It also has a bitter taste when made into espresso and is better suited as a drip coffee for some users.

PROS

  • Smells great
  • Has a bold flavor
  • Reasonably priced
  • Smooth profile
  • Perfect for lattes

CONS

  • Oily
  • Lightweight

4. Lavazza Qualita Rossa Italian Expresso

Lavazza is Italy’s favorite coffee brand, and Qualita Rossa is its medium roast coffee ground brew.

This family-owned company has been roasting for more than 120 years using premium quality coffee beans blended to perfection.

Product Highlights

Qualita Rossa is 70% Brazilian Arabica mixed with 30% African Robusta javas. It has a hint of chocolaty flavor, sharp aroma, and a lingering aftertaste.

The coffee’s body and chocolate flavor come from the African Robusta beans. The Brazilian Arabica coffee beans provide the aroma and more body to your drink.

The medium roast blend of Qualita Rossa is perfect with milk-based drinks paired with biscotti, croissants, and other bread.

It has a warm, golden cream color with notes of chocolate and dried fruit that will surely energize your day.

You can be sure that each Lavazza coffee bag is imported from Italy, where the roasting process is completed.

Lavazza supports sustainable farming for everyone’s protection from coffee producers to its employees and consumers.

What We Like

You don’t need a particular brewing machine to use this Lavazza medium roast grounds; you can prepare it using various devices and methods, like:

  • Espresso machine
  • Drip coffee machine
  • French press
  • Pour-over
  • Cold-brew
  • Moka pot

What We Don’t Like

Some consumers expect a more robust espresso flavor from this Lavazza blend. Other coffee lovers say that it has a bitter taste and high acidity level.

PROS

  • Has a rich flavor
  • Smooth finish
  • Fruity notes
  • Great aftertaste
  • Balanced medium-strong blend

CONS

  • Lacks flavor
  • Mild brew

5. Hair Bender Blend Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Stumptown Coffee is focused on sustainability, as proven by its B Corp status achieved in 2018. It’s a recognition given to businesses with high-performance levels socially and economically.

The company is headquartered in Portland and has been in the roasting business for almost 20 years.

Product Highlights

Hair Bender is Stumptown’s first and original blend. It is also the brand’s most popular coffee variety.

This complex blend features coffees from three regions known for growing high-quality beans—East Africa, Indonesia, Central, and South America.

Each cup of this medium roast blend offers a bold and robust flavor with complex hints of caramel, milk chocolate, and sweet citrus.

With every sip, you can taste the satisfying fudge and sweet cherry flavors in this caffeinated coffee.

Stumptown ensures that its coffee beans are expertly roasted according to its blends to bring out every bean’s maximum flavor.

Its freshly roasted whole beans are packed and sealed to stay fresh for 90 days. However, opened bags must be consumed within two weeks to get the best results.

What We Like

The most noticeable feature of the Hair Bender is the various fruit hints you can taste, depending on the drink’s temperature.

It’s a versatile blend that is perfect for espresso and coffee with its thick body, rich crema, and the chocolate aftertaste.

The smell of the beans may not be that overpowering out from the bag, but it offers a bold and robust taste that will pump your adrenaline.

What We Don’t Like

Some consumers are looking for more variations when it comes to its aftertaste. Others also noticed some occasional bitter notes with the drink.

PROS

  • Smooth profile
  • Caramel notes
  • Rich crema
  • Full body
  • Low acid level

CONS

  • Not organic
  • Hints of sourness

Buyer’s Guide

Using the best espresso machine does not guarantee a great-tasting coffee unless you have the best beans to match.

We all know that espresso is the purest form of brew that can give you that morning boost. It is also one of the best ways to check the bean’s quality.

A good espresso also makes an excellent foundation for lattes and other creative brews by adding milk or cream.

However, searching for the best may be confusing and overwhelming due to its vast selection.

Don’t fret as we are here to provide you with the factors you need to consider before deciding on buying espresso beans.

1. Freshness

Freshly-packed beans will always be the best option. Fresh coffee offers a distinct flavor that every coffee lover will surely love.

Stale food products affect their quality and flavor; the same principle goes with coffee beans.

The roasting process reduces the flavor in the coffee beans and continues to diminish as the days pass.

This is the reason why it is vital to check on the bean’s roasted date to ensure its freshness.

The best tasting coffee beans are the ones roasted within the last seven to 14 days. Anything beyond that time frame will have a lesser flavor and aroma.

Every time you grind freshly roasted beans, you can be sure of having a rich and potent coffee flavor.

2. Roast Type

A good batch of espresso beans is usually under the medium or dark roast variety. Lightly roasted beans have a more distinct fruity flavor and higher acidity level.

Roasting breaks down the fruity compounds of the coffee beans. The bitter compounds increase as you roast the beans longer.

Here are the various coffee roast types and a brief description of each.

  • Light Roast or The First Crack

This bean variety is nicknamed “the first crack” because it’s the early stage where the beans expand and crack.

During this stage, the beans are dry and pale. It will also taste more acidic without any roasted hint to its flavor.

  • Medium Roast

The medium roast bean variety may still look dry but offers a sweeter character. Its exposure to longer roasting creates more flavors to the beans with less acid.

Medium roast beans offer a noticeable bitterness with the perfect balance of acidity, aroma, and flavors. It has no visible oil, but you can smell a more aromatic scent.

  • Medium-Dark Roast

Medium-dark roast beans are dark brown with a noticeable oil on its surface. The longer roasting time destroys its acidity as it brings out the bean’s aroma.

Overall, it has a rich and full profile with deep flavors and a hint of bittersweet aftertaste.

  • Dark Roast or The Second Crack

Dark roasted beans are easy to recognize; they have a black and shiny surface with an oily look and feel.

It has a distinct bitterness and thick, spicy notes left on your tongue. These beans are not acidic, but you can feel its oiliness as it passes your throat.

3. Origin

Origin means the country or region where the coffee beans grew. Since it’s an agricultural product, coffee farmers from different areas have varied growing conditions.

The climate and temperature in each country significantly affect the flavor of the coffee beans.

Presently, Brazil produces the most considerable amount of coffee beans worldwide, especially Arabica, for more than 150 years.

Vietnam follows Brazil when it comes to coffee production. This Asian country produces and exports Robusta beans, which are cheaper than Arabica.

The third-largest coffee producer in the world is Colombia. It mostly produces Arabica beans, which are lighter and sweeter than Robusta.

Indonesia’s mountainous regions make it a perfect coffee plantation for both Arabica and Robusta beans, known for their full-body with low acidity profiles.

Ethiopia makes it to the fifth spot with its rich coffee culture. The Arabica beans from this country are known for their deep, spicy, and chocolatey flavors with a distinct floral aroma.

4. Whole or Ground Beans

We are all familiar with these coffee bean types and may be wondering which is better from the other.

Pre-ground beans allow you to prepare your coffee in less time. You’ll also save money by not buying a separate grinder.

However, coffee undergoes a degassing process after roasting. It releases different gases, especially carbon dioxide, that formed inside the bean while it’s roasted.

Degassing is crucial, so you can efficiently bring out all the flavors from the beans when grinding.

On the other hand, the process continues as the days pass, which causes the beans to lose their flavor and aroma.

For pre-ground coffee, the degassing process is quicker when you have smaller coffee particles.

Freshly ground coffee beans still produce the best flavor and aroma, but you have to use an excellent grinder.

You can buy small portions of pre-ground coffee and keep it inside a sealed container. Avoid light exposure and extreme hot or cold temperatures.

5. Coffee Bean Type

Coffee manufacturers only use two popular coffee bean types—Arabica and Robusta.

  • Arabica

Arabica coffee beans are more popular around the world than the Robusta beans.

Although it originated from Ethiopia, Arab scholars first brewed the beans, giving birth to coffee, hence the name Arabica.

Arabica beans have high fats and sugar content, giving it a little sweet flavor, including hints of caramel, chocolate, and nuts. It has a soft and smooth texture with an intense aroma.

Some drinkers also notice indications of fruits and berries to their taste, along with a slight bitterness and acidity.

  • Robusta

Robusta coffee beans taste bitter and have a hard and grainy texture. Originating from Africa, this second most popular coffee bean specie makes up 40% of coffee production worldwide.

It is mainly grown in Asia, with Vietnam as the highest producer along with Africa and Indonesia.

Robusta beans are mainly used in instant coffees and added to Arabica beans when creating espresso blends.

It has an earthy taste with a bitter and rubbery flavor and a nutty aftertaste. It may taste like bitter dark chocolate when brewed.

Robusta beans have higher caffeine and less sugar content, giving it a more potent and harsher flavor.

Thus, a small percentage of these beans are added to Arabica beans to enhance the espresso blend.

Espresso Beans FAQs

1. Does espresso need special beans?

It may sometimes get confusing if you see different labels between coffee beans and espresso beans.

In reality, espresso does not use different or unique beans, but they vary in their brewing method.

Seeing the espresso label on a coffee bag is just the manufacturer’s recommendation on how to bring out the maximum flavor of the coffee beans.

2. Are espresso beans and coffee beans the same?

Yes. Espresso and coffee beans are the same, but they sometimes use different coffee bean species.

They either have Arabica or Robusta beans or a combination of both. Their preparation methods may also differ from the other.

An espresso bean is sometimes roasted longer, finely ground, and prepared using an espresso machine.

3. Which coffee beans are best for espresso?

When looking for the best beans for espresso, the darker ones are better than regular beans.

We have discussed different coffee roast types, and we have indicated three dark coffee roast varieties.

From these three choices, the best option for espresso is the medium-dark roast. It offers the perfect flavor and aroma for a single shot espresso.

It is also a good foundation for making cappuccinos and lattes.

4. Can regular coffee beans be used for espresso?

As mentioned earlier, espresso is the preparation method. So, to answer the question, yes, you can use dark roasted coffee beans to make espresso.

However, you must grind the coffee beans correctly and use the right gear or machine to create an espresso drink.

5. Why is espresso so strong?

Espresso is the preparation method.

An espresso shot may look more potent than a regular brewed coffee because it’s highly concentrated.

An espresso shot will also taste bitter than brewed coffee, but its strength lies in how the beans are roasted.

Final Verdict

Choosing the best espresso beans for your morning adrenaline kick is a matter of personal preference.

You can choose one of the blends we have mentioned above to get the energy you need for your daily activities.

To get you started, we recommend trying the organic Koffee Kult Dark Roast first. It has an exceptional full flavor and low acid content without the bitter taste.

Not only will you get premium quality coffee beans, but it will also help coffee farmers in receiving a reasonable wage.


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