Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

Best Espresso Beans In 2022 | Reviews & Top-Picks

best espresso beans, hero image - cup of caffeine

Ah, espresso, the nectar of gods. There’s no better way to jump-start your day or relax after a long meal than a great shot of espresso.

The Italian word espresso translates into ‘when something is forced out.’ As it uses high pressure to push near-boiling water through compacted, finely ground coffee beans to extract their flavor into a “shot” of liquid.

Espresso is the most complex among all coffee drinks. Making a great espresso requires the right pressure, the right equipment, and the right espresso beans.

When you pick the best coffee beans for your espresso, you will most likely get the most out of your espresso drink.

So, now without further ado, let’s look at the best espresso beans so you can be on your way to enjoying cup after cup of the thick stuff. 

“Espresso is a miracle of chemistry in a cup.”
Andrea Illy

At A Glance View Our Top Picks!

Read Also –> Best Espresso Scale

Our Picks For The Best Espresso Coffee Beans

With so many options to wade through, choosing the right coffee beans for espresso can be a bit challenging.

Luckily, I’ve done the hard yards for you and put together a list of the best espresso beans. You’re welcome.

Read on to find out which one is best for you!

1. Lavazza Super Crema Medium Roast Blend – Best Overall

Specs: Brand: Lavazza Store | Roast Level: Medium Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Natural | Weight: 2.2 Pounds

If you’re looking for exceptional coffee then Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Roast is our top recommendation with a mild flavor and strong crema. Lavazza is a renowned brand associated with coffee since 1895 (the early days of espresso). Lavazza Group is also listed as the top reputable Italian brand in the food category. 

Starting off with the beans Lavazza Super Crema contains a welcoming 80/20 blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. Where the Arabica beans come from Central America, India, Brazil, and Colombia while the contrasting Robusta beans arrive from Vietnam and Indonesia. You’ve truly got a blend of high-quality multicultural coffee all in a single cup.

The beans present inside Lavazza Super Crema are medium-dark roasted by pro roasters at their roasting facility in Turin, Italy. Even better, the coffee is dry, not oily. It has a sweet, mild taste with deep notes of honey, hazelnuts, brown sugar, and maybe even smoke. Although, the Robusta gives them a bit of acidity, still, their caffeine level is comparatively low due to the pre-described 80/20 ratio.

According to Lavazza, this choice can be best used by an espresso machine. But if you don’t have an espresso maker yet don’t worry I’ve also discovered this super crema blend great with drip makers and french press. However, that’s not the preferred option though.

Coming on the downside, for large coffee roasters it’s kinda more difficult to monitor the freshness of the beans, and sometimes even the quality of raw materials. Although for Lavazza this issue is rare, sometimes they might be on the wrong side too. As the beans are coming from Italy, it may take a while for the beans to get to you. So, don’t delay in utilizing them!

Reasons To Buy

  • Toffee & Fudge
  • Rich, Smooth & Creamy
  • Low acidity & zero bitterness
  • Reasonably Priced

Reasons To Avoid

  • Freshness falls off quickly
  • Can’t reseal the package
  • Reports of rocks inside the bag

2. Stumptown, Hair Bender, Medium-Dark Roast – Runner-Up

Specs: Brand: Stumptown Coffee Roasters | Roast Level: Medium-Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Single Origin | Weight: 12 Ounces

Headquartered in Oregon -Portland, United States, Stumptown is well-known for sourcing, roasting, and serving quality beans from the best farms in the world.

This Stumptown Hair Bender Blend got its name via a long-shuttered beauty parlor that was home to the first Stumptown cafe. Surprisingly it’s the first-ever blend of Stumptown coffee introduced by Duane Sorenson and the recipe hasn’t changed since. The beans come from three major growing regions; Central and South America, East Africa, and Indonesia. After sourcing, the beans are medium to dark roasted at their roasting facility in Portland.

The beans’ flavor profile contains a little bit of everything. You’ll experience the volcanic brightness of Indonesian coffee on top of the fruity characters of Latin American coffee and some deep earthy notes of citrus & dark chocolate from the beans from Africa.

Some say this coffee is sweet, rich, and well-balanced while others say it’s nothing more than a smooth, creamy drink. However, I let you be the judge of how it tastes like. Much like Lavazza, you can enjoy this blend with all brewing methods but I prefer to use it straight for espresso and not for milk-based drinks.

Reasons To Buy

  • Rich, Complex & Creamy
  • Freshly Roasted Coffee
  • Blend of popular beans
  • Works with all brewing methods

Reasons To Avoid

  • A bit of complexity in aftertaste
  • Bitter notes here and there

3. Lifeboost Organic Dark Roast Coffee – Best Low-Acidic

Specs: Brand: Lifeboost | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Non-GMO verified | Weight: 12 Ounces

We cannot leave Lifeboost out of the discussion for the best espresso beans. The beans are 100% Arabica, ethically sourced from the mountains of Nicaragua. After being handpicked the coffee beans are spring water rinsed, and then dried in the hot Central American sun. 

From the mountains of Central America to your espresso brewer, no chemicals or pesticides even touch these beans. There are a lot of labels with this brand, so be patient and just listen: USDA Organic certified, Non-GMO verified, Third-party tested,  Mycotoxin free, sustainably sourced, and Fair Trade. 

This Lifeboost Dark Roast is an outstanding coffee with a velvety touch and rich aroma. One of the most interesting features I discovered with Lifeboost is its low pH. The acidity level is exceptionally low making these beans gentle on your teeth and stomach. If you are facing issues with heartburn or any sickness caused by a strong coffee, at least give Lifeboost Dark Roast a try. 

The flavor profile is sweet and packs a mighty punch, that’ll end up becoming the fuel to keep your coffee addiction going. Moreover, both whole beans and pre-grounded options are available with the bag. 

As long as you have Lifeboost, stay confident that you’re getting a quality cup of espresso each time.

Reasons to buy

  • Smooth flavor
  • Low pH
  • Velvety touch & rich crema
  • Organic/Fair Trade certified

Reasons to avoid

  • Somewhat pricey
  • A bit oily surface

4. Death Wish Organic Whole Bean Coffee – Strongest Espresso Beans

Specs: Brand: Death Wish Coffee Co. | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Double the Caffeine | Weight: 16 Ounces

Many people think that the term Death Wish is kind of a marketing gimmick played by the Death Wish team to grab the attention of new buyers. Regardless of what you think of Death Wish Coffee, there’s no denying the fact that you’ll experience a strong caffeine kick with every sip you take in. With almost double the amount of caffeine most beans have, this Death Wish dark roast coffee will give you that energy shot you need to start in the mornings.

This Death Wish Whole Bean Dark Roast is a mix of super-strong and pure robusta and Arabica beans sourced from all over the world. Sourcing is more or less the same as other coffee companies do but the real magic begins with the roasting. Their unique dark-roasting process uses time and temperature to maximize the kick to a new level.

The resulting espresso is smooth, spicy, and quite acidic. There are almost no signs of bitterness; instead, you might even taste some cherry and chocolate notes from its origin inside them. Is it good for espresso? According to our analysis, a dark roast is what is demanded the most by espresso lovers, and that’s exactly where Death Wish doesn’t disappoint.

It’s always risky trying out a new coffee, so if you feel like you are not on board with this Death Wish dark roast, feel free to demand a refund and the whole amount will be refunded back to you, with no questions asked.

On the flip side, I think this brew can be too much for our casual drinkers and may even feel a bit burnt to those who are new to dark roasts. They are also among the priciest beans on the list, but for those who prefer higher caffeine content, it’s worth the price tag.

Reasons to buy

  • Highest caffeine content
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Non- acidic & Intense Flavor
  • Dark Roast with no bitterness

Reasons to avoid

  • Slightly pricer
  • Some noted a smoky aftertaste

5. Volcanica Dark Roast Espresso Coffee – Best Versatile Beans

Specs: Brand: Volcanica Coffee | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Rainforest Alliance Certified | Weight: 16 Ounces

Volcanica is a gourmet coffee company and offers the best dark roast coffees on the market. From Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Volcanica’s coffee beans span the full spectrum of origins and flavors. You can choose coffee with different eco-friendly certifications, roast levels, and grind sizes. Volcanica cares about its customers and offers a great satisfaction guarantee.

This Volcanica Whole Bean Espresso Dark Roast has a remarkable taste. It features a complex, spicy aroma with a dense caramel-like sweetness that engages all your senses one by one. It is mainly used for preparing espresso, although it is also pleasant to drink as milk-based drinks. Volcanica roasts your coffee on demand and then immediately packs and seals to assure you get the freshest brew.

Surprisingly, this Volcanica Blend is used by many popular shops around the world, including coffee giants like Starbucks and McCafé, etc.

Volcanica doesn’t only taste good it does good too, they donate 1% of their retail sales to the charity in water projects. These donations are sent directly to community-owned water projects in developing countries. These sustainable water projects include rainwater harvesting, filtration systems, and the construction of wells.

Reasons to buy

  • Well-balanced, Smooth
  • Focus on Sustainability
  • 1% of sales donated to charity

Reasons to avoid

  • Less traditional flavor
  • Ground beans go stale faster

6. Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso – Best Medium Roast Espresso Beans

Specs: Brand: Lavazza | Roast Level: Medium Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Fair Trade, Organic | Weight: 35.2 Ounces

In the field of caffeinated drinks, Kicking Horse is another great alternative to Death Wish but on the lighter side. Kicking Horse has a strong reputation for roasting some of the finest organic beans and they have also won awards regarding their Fair Trade organic products.

Their 100% certified Arabica beans are sourced from Indonesia, Africa, and Latin America. After carefully sourcing, Kicking Horse roasts them to medium color at their roasting facility near British Columbia’s Rocky Mountains. The tasting profile is more on the unusual side, with a bright, complex, fruity taste and milk chocolate sweetness.

Although the beans are more suited towards espresso, they can be used by other brewing methods too like French Press, Pour-over, V60, and Cold Brew. Even better, the prices are also not very high, you can get a 2.2 pounds bag at just $28! Now that’s a deal.

Their branding & naming is something that makes them stand out from the crowd. Roasted in rocky mountains, this particular blend focuses on “handing on”, with a climbing theme called cliff hanger. Probably there’s some kind of logic behind all this fuss and to find it out how about giving Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger a try?

Reasons to buy

  • Bright and Complex
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Affordable
  • Fair Trade and 100% Arabica

Reasons to avoid

  • No size or grind options
  • Could be considered boring by some!

7. illy Intenso Ground Espresso Coffee – Best Italian Espresso Beans

Specs: Brand: illy store | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Sustainably Sourced | Weight: 8.82 Ounces

Founded in 1933, illycaffè is recognized eighth time the most ethical company by Ethisphere. If you are in search of the best pre-ground espresso beans then this one is our top recommendation. Let’s take a deep dive into what makes it so special.

Firstly, it’s a traditional Italian roast that’s been in the Italian coffee market for years. It’s the same coffee with the same taste used by the world barista champions almost 16 years ago. Secondly, the beans arrive pre-grounded in a pressurized can to lock in the lovely aromas and oils. Buyers can choose both between a medium and a dark roast; for espressos, our recommendation would probably be a dark roast but those unfamiliar with strong coffee may choose the medium roast blend too.

Rather than being medium or coarse grounded this illy Intenso Ground Espresso is served finely grounded. Fine ground beans result in optimal extraction with the espresso machines. On the flip side, depending on the espresso machine you’re using, it may cause clogging issues because it’s simply too fine. It’s always wise to read instructions of your brewer pretty well, so you don’t have to figure it out the hard way.

To sum up, whether you want a small shot of espresso or a longer drink, illy Intenso has definitely something special for you.

Reasons to buy

  • Bold and consistent
  • Toasty notes
  • No need of grinder
  • Works with all brewers

Reasons to avoid

  • Too Expensive
  • May cause clogging issues

8. Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans – Alternative for Death Wish

Specs: Brand: Koffee Kult Store | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Fair Trade | Weight: 32 Ounces

Established in 2010 in Hollywood, South Florida, Koffee Kult is one of the most respected coffee roasters in the United States. Like most coffee companies this one is a ‘blend’. The beans used by Kult are 100% Arabica and sourced from top growing regions of South America, especially Columbia and Brazil.

Koffee Kult focuses on small-batch roasting and immediately packs their whole beans after roasting. They even claim to ship within hours of roasting. This Koffee Kult Dark Roast Espresso Blend is rich, smooth, organic and acidity is ultra-low. You may notice hints of bitterness with this dark roast but chances are rare. To completely avoid bitterness make sure to grind your beans the right way (like not too fine), tamping pressure must also be mediocre while the brew time should be short as well.

Once you open the bag its exotic smell spreads literally everywhere. You’ll have no other choice than to get out of bed just for the smell. Same goes for the delicious taste too. The resulting brew is rich, crispy, and a bit nutty.  Koffee Kult Dark Roast Beans are best for espresso but can also be prepared by French Press, Drip brewer, or with a pour-over.

Koffee Kult also prides itself on producing fair trade organic coffee, they make sure to keep track that the farmers are paid a respectable wage.

Reasons to buy

  • Smells & Tastes awesome
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Uses Resealable bags
  • Follows Fair Trade practices

Reasons to avoid

  • A bitter follow-up
  • Maybe simple for some

9. Cafe Don Pablo Classic Italian Espresso Medium-Dark Roast – Best Economical

Specs: Brand: Cafe Don Pablo | Roast Level: Medium-Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Certified Organic | Weight: 32 Ounces

Cafe Don Pablo is an artisanal coffee roaster and is the most economical option on our list. Their special roasting technique eliminates all the bitterness from the beans serving you a balanced drink.

This Classic Espresso Medium-Dark Roast is a deep Italian roast featuring nutty Colombian and spicy Sumatran Mandheling beans. Being on the lighter side of dark roast, there is no lacking of flavor observed with these beans. The coffee is rich, smooth, and bold and that’s exactly what you are paying for. Don Pablo does the job really well. Give it a shot!

There may be a slight disappointment for dark roast fans as it features a mild and mute taste. But if you go the extra mile by messing with the grinder, you may succeed in achieving somewhat close results—as long as you do it the right way! If you’re new to dark roast and prefer delicate notes with an earthy taste, Don Pablo Italian Roast is definitely the move.

Overall, with a decent price tag, this one is good value for the money. 

Reasons to buy

  • Low acidity
  • Refundable
  • Value for the money
  • Works best as an espresso

Reasons to avoid

  • Lacks aroma
  • Muted flavor

10. Intelligentsia, Black Cat Classic Espresso – Runner-up for Medium Roast

Specs: Brand: Intelligentsia | Roast Level: Medium Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: Direct Trade | Weight: 12 Ounces

Intelligentsia is a legendary player in the American Specialty Coffee industry. They make direct-trade practices and receive high-quality beans consequently. This Black Cat Espresso is considered a celebrity as far as espresso blends go.

First of all, as it’s a blend their flavor profile slightly changes from season to season. However, here is an overview of generally how the flavors taste like. It comes medium roasted and has a syrupy mouthfeel featuring more sweetness than most espresso blends out there. It has flavors of dark chocolate, almond, cherry, and molasses. The acidity level is low making it a great choice for people with sensitive stomachs or teeth issues.

Those who are trying this blend for the very first time may have to do some techniques with their espresso brewers in order to bring out all the flavors in just the right way. Once you crack the process down you’ll get an espresso-like no other. 

Reasons to buy

  • Sweet with bright acidity
  • Pair nicely with milk
  • Both whole beans and ground
  • Great Packaging

Reasons to avoid

  • Prices can be lowered
  • Some noticed no odor at all

11. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso – Great value for Money

Specs: Brand: Coffee Bean Direct | Roast Level: Dark Roast | Caffeine Content: Caffeinated | Specialty: USDA Organic | Weight: 80 Ounces

If you go through your coffee quickly and are looking to buy more in bulk without sacrificing both money and quality then look no further than Coffee Bean Direct. Their blend involves beans from Brazil, Costa Rica, Sumatra, and India. After sourcing, the beans are slow-roasted to perfection immediately before packaging, to preserve maximum freshness and flavor.

This Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast is a dark roast available in 6 different sizes with an 80 oz bag the largest option. The aroma is exceptional with notes of cocoa powder and smoky molasses. Even better, the beans are versatile to any brewing method.

The reason why I placed it at the end of our review is the variation observed in the consistency of the roast, presenting a bitter aftertaste. Its flavor and bean intensity aren’t much impressive compared to other high-end competitors listed above. However, for bulk buying, this one is no doubt the best option offering a great price range.

Reasons to buy

  • Very affordable
  • Roasted to order
  • So many choices
  • 10 years of roasting experience

Reasons to avoid

  • Flat taste
  • Bitter aftertaste

Go Deeper

We’ll end on this doozy of some geeky stuff. Which is better, single-origin or bends? Arabica or Robusta? Whole vs. Ground? There are some things you should consider when choosing the best espresso beans.

Let’s go a little deeper and find out.

Whole Vs Pre-ground

Most of the brands give two options to customers: whole beans or pre-ground. So which one should you pick? Well, I’m 100% on the whole bean coffee side. Many coffee connoisseurs swear by the whole bean coffee, and there are good reasons behind it.

  1. The main difference is freshness, flavor, and scent. The most significant benefit of having whole bean coffee is the freshest brew every time you make your coffee. The aroma and taste of the freshest cup are incomparable.
  2. Your daily morning ritual turns into a moment that you look forward to each morning. You infuse happy moments into your morning not just with caffeine but also with peace, which pre-ground robs you of.
  3. Another downside of using pre-grounds is that you can only use it with regular drip coffee pots. To make french press coffee, pour-over coffee, home espresso, or other kinds of coffee, you need the right grind size to pair with your coffee brewer to get the most out of all the fresh flavors.

The biggest knocks on whole bean coffee are investing in a quality grinder and a slight learning curve to achieve the right size every time you grind. Most top-of-the-line coffee machines have a built-in grinder, so you won’t have to invest extra.

Do you prefer the convenience of not having to grind your coffee on your own or enjoy the luxury of having the aroma and flavor of the fresh brew? Well, the choice is yours.

best coffee scale for fast and accurate brewing

Single-Origin Or Espresso Blend

Single origins are all the rage among specialty coffee drinkers. With single origins, you can experience amazing flavor diversity. Because each coffee has its distinct flavor profile, it can be interesting to compare different types of coffee side by side.

On the other hand, blends are fairly self-explanatory: they’re combinations of different coffee bean crops. Skilled coffee toasters know how to blend various types of beans and/or origins to create a unique espresso flavor profile. They’re roasted for a bit longer than usual beans, so they taste less bitter and have fewer kinks and surprises (as well as some extra depth). A good coffee blend offers both complexity and balance. Poorly matched beans may result in an overly simplistic taste.

While single-origin coffees offer amazing flavor profiles, they don’t always translate well into espresso drinks. Blends tend to be better at making espresso taste good.

Arabica vs Robusta

The most popular coffee bean varieties are Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica Coffee Beans account for approximately 60 percent of the world’s total coffee production. Arabica tends to have a smoother, sweeter taste, with flavor notes of chocolate and sugar. On the other hand, robustas tend to be less sweet than arabicas and have a strong, harsh, and bitter flavor. They often have an earthier flavor, with grainy or rubber notes.

Most of the coffee you’d see at your local grocery store is robusta because it grows faster than arabica. Still, most popular coffee companies, including Starbucks, boast they use 100% arabica beans. However, simply because Arabica Coffee Beans are a popular choice among shops doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best option for every person. If you want an extra caffeine kick, robustas may be worth trying.

Final Verdict

coffee beans bag open- cup of caffeine

So there you have it: our non-inclusive list of best espresso beans.

Our winner for Best Espresso Coffee Beans is the Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Roast, and it was kind of a no-brainer. It offers an Italian espresso, full-body taste experience with notes of honey, almonds, brown sugar, and maybe even smoke.

I hope this post helps you pick out the best espresso beans for your taste. I believe every individual’s palate is unique, so I have rounded up a couple of different options for you to choose from that suit your palate. Give them a shot!

Happy Caffeinating!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.