We’ve researched the best espresso beans on Amazon to make the selection process easier for you. Espresso accounts for a large portion of coffee beverages, but there seems to be some confusion about what makes an espresso…an espresso.
To put it simply, espresso is a type of coffee. The major difference lies in the way that the coffee is brewed—under high pressure in an espresso machine. The near-boiling water temperature and quick brewing time are also factored in. However, the key difference is that espresso is brewed under much higher pressure than regular coffee.
Additionally, the type of beans used to brew espresso also play a factor. Espresso beans are usually a darker roast and yield a rich, smooth, and full-bodied cup of espresso topped with a thick crema. Espresso also contains more caffeine per ounce than coffee.
There are a lot of qualities that constitute good espresso. However, we came to our conclusions based on roast, origin, type, and other factors we will touch on below.
- Espresso Beans Comparison Table
- Reviews: Top 7 Espresso Beans on Amazon
- 1. Best Dark Roast Pick-Verena Street Shot Tower Espresso Beans
- 2. Best Medium Roast Pick-Lavazza Gran Espresso Whole Bean Coffee Blend
- 3. Best Light Roast Pick-Wink Coffee Blonde Espresso Beans
- 4. Jo Coffee Medium Dark Roast Espresso Beans
- 5. Coffee Bean Direct Super Dark Espresso Beans
- 6. San Francisco Bay Decaf Espresso Beans
- 7. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Dark Roast Espresso Beans
- Espresso Beans Buyer’s Guide
- How to Select the Best Espresso Beans
- Types of Espresso Beans
- Frequently Asked Questions
Espresso Beans Comparison Table
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Reviews: Top 7 Espresso Beans on Amazon
Everyone takes their coffee a different way: black, heavy crema, two packets of sugar, and so on. It’s the same with espresso—each espresso drinker has his or her specific preferences.
We’ve reviewed a variety of espresso beans. Then we narrowed down the selections to the very best across multiple types of espresso.
Most people choose their coffee based on roast alone. However, there are several other factors that you should consider when selecting the right espresso beans. Some of these factors include the roasting method, type of coffee bean, various notes and aromas, and more.
You’ll find the perfect espresso beans on this list no matter how you take your espresso.
It’s no surprise that most espresso beans come in a dark roast. The darker the roast, the higher the caffeine content. Our best dark roast pick goes to the Verena Street Shot Tower Espresso Beans because of the multiple origins of the beans and the freshness of each batch.
Each bag of Verena Street’s dark roast contains 2 pounds of 100% freshly roasted Arabica beans. These are the most popular type of coffee beans.
In fact, Arabica beans make up approximately 60% of coffee beans in the world. Arabica beans are preferred in espresso because they have a good balance of sweetness and bitterness with chocolatey, nutty, and fruity notes.
They’re also certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance and certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union.
High-quality coffee beans like these ones are roasted in small batches, ensuring the freshest cups of espresso. Verena Street also keeps minimum inventory, so the time between roasting and consuming is as short as possible to ensure freshness.
Each cup of espresso made with these fresh beans packs a rich body and sweet cream. A good cup of espresso should be smooth, versatile, and creamy—the Verena Street dark roast espresso beans check all these boxes.
What makes this dark roast different from other espresso beans is that Verena Street sources their beans from multiple origins. Their multi-origin espresso beans combine a unique blend of natural bean characteristics.
Therefore, it yields a flavor that can’t be duplicated in single-origin espresso. However, we would like to see Verena Street disclose where they source their Arabica beans.
To achieve a fuller body and more complex taste, Verena Street mixes at least 3 bean profiles and roasts each bean type at different levels. This is an extra step that most espresso beans don’t have, but by doing so, the result is craft-roasted espresso beans that yield a one-of-a-kind flavor.
If you want the freshest cup of dark espresso with a unique flavor profile, then this may be a great fit for you.
- Roasted in small batches to ensure freshness and quality.
- 100% Arabica beans that are Rainforest Alliance Certified.
- Can be used in multiple coffee brewing techniques.
- Dark roast can be bitter.
- Origins of Arabica beans are unknown.
- Beans are slightly oily, so espresso machine users must clean equipment more frequently.
Our best medium roast selection goes to the Lavazza Gran Espresso Beans. They are roasted and blended in Italy. While Arabica beans are the standard for coffee beans, authentic Italian espresso is highly sought after.
Traditional Italian espresso contains a lower coffee-to-water ratio, no bitter taste, is made quickly, and always has a crema on top. Lavazza’s espresso beans bring those authentic Italian qualities to espresso drinkers anywhere.
Each 2.2-pound bag contains medium roast espresso beans originating from South America and Africa, yet roasted and blended in true European fashion.
The unique flavor profile includes notes of dark chocolate, barrel-aging, and various spices—the spicy notes come from the African Robusta espresso beans.
Lavazza’s Gran Espresso isn’t your average type of espresso beans. Most coffee drinkers are used to Arabica coffee beans. However, this medium roast espresso follows the Italian tradition.
The founder of Lavazza invented coffee blending. It’s the art of combining coffee beans from multiple regions.
The medium roast also follows the Italian tradition of being fresh, sweet, and topped with a thick crema. Lavazza espresso drinkers can experience a rich, full-bodied flavor in every cup.
These espresso beans are best used with an espresso machine. We would like to see this medium roast have more versatility and compatibility with other brewing methods.
- Authentic Italian qualities.
- Blend contains coffee beans from South America and Africa for a unique mix of flavors and notes.
- Has a 5 out of 5 aroma level.
- Designed for espresso machine use, so not as versatile as other espresso beans.
- Not Rainforest Alliance Certified, which is the standard in coffee beans to ensure sustainable sourcing.
- Spicy aroma may not be palatable for some espresso drinkers.
Our best light roast pick goes to the Wink Coffee Blonde Espresso Beans. Each batch is micro-roasted in small amounts. This makes a huge difference in the freshness of each cup as micro-roasting espresso beans ensures quality and consistency across each batch.
Each bag of Wink Coffee’s light roast contains 2.2 pounds of 100% Arabica beans. These espresso beans are also Rainforest Alliance Certified, so they’re sustainably sourced.
We also love the versatility of these espresso beans. Whether you use an espresso machine, French press, or other type of coffee maker, these espresso beans are likely compatible.
If you’re new to espresso, this may be a good way to ease your way in. Lighter roasts have slightly less caffeine, yet the beans are still full of flavor.
This blend contains notes of citrus and brown sugar, making for a subtle sweet flavor. Wink Coffee fire roasts each batch in the Texas Hill Country, so the blonde roast still has the classic rich and chocolate body that espresso is known for.
The Wink Coffee Blonde Espresso Beans are a great fit for low-caffeine espresso drinkers, but light roast coffee isn’t for everyone. Light roast beans are also naturally more acidic than the average medium roast coffee.
- Compatible with many coffee makers.
- 100% Arabica beans grown in the Colombian Andes.
- Fire-roasted in small batches.
- Light roast beans are more acidic.
- Contains less caffeine.
- Premium price.
If you’re looking for a middle ground between medium and dark roast, look no further than the Jo Coffee Medium Dark Roast Espresso Beans. These espresso beans are artisan quality at an affordable price.
Each 12-ounce bag contains heavy notes of dark chocolate and finishes with a thick crema. Unlike other coffee blends, Jo Coffee doesn’t add any flavors. The richness in each cup is naturally flavored by the top 2% of all Arabica beans.
It’s common for espresso beans to be Rainforest Alliance Certified, but Fair Trade Certification takes it up a notch. Since Fair Trade Certification focuses on social and economic sustainability, Jo espresso beans allows consumers to make conscious coffee purchases.
Jo espresso also has other certifications, including Kosher. They are also organic and non-GMO. If you are health conscious, this medium dark roast espresso may be a great fit for you.
One drawback, however, is the oiliness of these beans. Oilier beans tend to clog coffee grinders and some espresso machines. You may have to clean your equipment more often if oily beans are a problem for you.
- Fair Trade certified makes for a conscious purchase.
- 100% Arabica coffee beans are Certified Organic and non-GMO.
- Handcrafted artisan roast is gourmet quality at an affordable price.
- Contains only 12 ounces per bag.
- Not certified by the Rainforest Alliance.
- These beans may be oily, limiting their compatibility with certain brewing methods.
These espresso beans take dark roast to the next level. Coffee Bean Direct’s Super Dark Espresso Beans are just that—super dark. Coffee Bean Direct makes a wide variety of coffee types and roasts, and this is the darkest roast out of their entire selection.
We also like that this blend utilizes coffee beans from around the world. The super dark espresso incorporates specifically chosen beans from South America and India. This custom blend is made from beans that are hand-picked to yield the darkest roast and the heaviest body of espresso.
Each cup of espresso features notes of molasses, licorice, and baker’s chocolate. Aromas include nutty and bittersweet. These espresso beans are also oily, making them perfect for brewing strong-tasting espresso. However, oily beans may clog coffee grinders.
Coffee Bean Direct takes maximum precautions to ensure freshness. Each batch is slow-roasted to bring out the full dark flavor, and then packaged immediately so the beans are as fresh as possible when they arrive at your doorstep. The packaging is also optimized for peak freshness.
A drawback about these espresso beans is that they must be purchased in bulk. While this saves money on the price-per-pound, it may be inconvenient for small households who don’t go through espresso beans that quickly.
Being super dark, these espresso beans may have a strong bitter flavor. Coffee Bean Direct also describes these beans as medium-high acidic. Experienced coffee drinkers may have an acquired taste for super dark roast espresso. However, this may not be the best fit for new espresso drinkers.
- Bulk purchasing , which saves money.
- Super dark roast is ideal for dark coffee drinkers.
- Roasting and packaging processes are optimized for freshness.
- Oily beans may clog coffee grinders.
- May be too dark for some espresso drinkers.
- Must be purchased 5 pounds at a time.
Coffee lovers switch to decaf coffee for many reasons. However, good decaf is often hard to find, despite the growing demand for coffee with less caffeine.
San Francisco Bay meets that demand with flying colors. Their 2-pound bag of decaf espresso beans are 100% Arabica, Kosher certified, and fairly traded.
One thing worth noting about these espresso beans is that they’re caffeine-free, but not flavor-free. Each cup contains creamy, smoky, and nutty notes. The roast is also medium-dark, which is a nice balance between acidic and bitter.
Coffee beans naturally contain caffeine. This means that these espresso beans must be decaffeinated.
San Francisco Bay uses the Swiss water process to remove 99.9% of the caffeine without any chemicals. This is one of the best ways to decaffeinate coffee without sacrificing flavor.
This decaf espresso is also versatile. It can be used with at-home machines and coffee grinders.
These espresso beans can also be used to make decaf cappuccinos, lattes, and other mixed coffee drinks that are typically blended with caffeinated espresso.
While this choice is a great fit for decaf drinkers, many espresso drinkers prefer caffeinated drinks. We would also prefer if San Francisco Bay certified their espresso as sustainably sourced, as the coffee industry can harshly impact the environment.
- Approximately 99.9% caffeine-free.
- Swiss water process utilized for decaffeination.
- 100% Arabica beans.
- May contain artificial flavors, which can mask the natural flavor of espresso.
- Decaf coffee isn’t for everyone.
- Not certified as sustainably sourced.
Cafe Don Pablo is a family-owned coffee roasting company. They’re well-known for making artisan coffee at affordable prices.
Each 2-pound bag of their dark espresso blend contains 100% Arabica beans. They are small-batch roasted to preserve freshness.
The Classic Italian Espresso blend gets an 8 out of 10 in body fullness and 9 out of 10 in richness. This dark roast also makes for a thick crema on top.
What makes this dark roast different is that the espresso beans are sourced from local farms. They are slow-roasted to bring out the vibrant flavors.
Regardless of how you brew your espresso—machine, drip, pour-over, etc.—you can enjoy these versatile espresso beans using your preferred method.
These dark roast espresso beans are compatible with virtually every method of brewing espresso. Cafe Don Pablo includes directions on how to use these espresso beans with multiple methods. Therefore, you know the proper steps to take depending on the equipment you use to make espresso.
Cafe Don Pablo is making great strides towards sustainability as they’re Sharing Certified. However, we’d like to see them achieve their Rainforest Alliance Certification.
- 100% non-GMO Arabica coffee beans.
- Gourmet slow-roasted beans for maximum flavor.
- Sharing Certified to balance the economic relationship between farmers and sellers.
- Not Rainforest Alliance Certified.
- Slow roasted coffee may taste burnt.
- No unique notes or aromas and type of bean is unknown.
Espresso Beans Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the best espresso beans isn’t as easy as it seems. There are so many different types on the market, making it overwhelming when you’re looking for the right ones. Here’s a quick 2-minute video that shows you how to grind espresso beans using a coffee grinder:
How to Select the Best Espresso Beans
Many people believe that once you try a good espresso, you’ll never go back to regular coffee. In order to brew great-tasting espresso at home, you need high-quality espresso beans. You’ll also need a high-quality espresso machine.
In order to achieve the taste, experience, and caffeine-level you want, here are some of the qualities to look for in espresso beans.
Like regular coffee beans, espresso beans are generally divided into three main roast profiles: Light, Medium, and Dark.
There’s also Medium-Dark and Super Dark, but the three above are the most common roasts of espresso beans. In fact, dark-roasted espresso beans are the most popular because they contain the highest amount of caffeine.
The roast profile of espresso beans also affects the flavor, oiliness, acidity, and caffeine content.
Dark Roasts Have More Caffeine
Dark roast is the standard for espresso beans. This is because they’re generally higher in caffeine than other roasts.
They also make for a bold, bitter taste. Dark roast espresso beans are roasted longer, so the flavor can be smokier, richer, and fuller. In some cases, very dark roasted espresso beans can have a burnt flavor.
One drawback of dark roast espresso beans is that they tend to be oilier than other roasts. During the roasting process, moisture is extracted from the espresso beans. Since dark roast beans are roasted for the longest period of time, they yield the most moisture which results in an oily texture.
If you use a manual coffee grinder or an espresso bean with a built-in grinder, the oily beans may clog your equipment. This simply means you have to clean the grinder or machine more frequently.
Medium Roasts Have a Balanced Taste
Medium roast espresso beans capture the perfect balance between light and dark roast. Light roasts tend to be acidic while dark roasts tend to be oily. Medium roasts can be somewhat acidic and oily, but not to the degree of light and dark roasts, respectively.
The flavor of medium roast beans is fuller and less acidic than light roasts, but not too intense like some dark roasts. If you want a happy middle ground, then medium roast espresso beans may be a good fit for you.
Light Roasts are More Acidic
Like the name suggests, light roast espresso beans are roasted for the shortest period of time. This gives very little opportunity for the light roast beans to produce moisture, so this is the driest option.
The drier the espresso bean, the more acidic it is. Most of us associate acidic flavors with sour lemon, for instance. With espresso, acidity refers to the natural earthy flavor of the beans before they’re roasted.
Light roast beans are roasted for less time, but they still retain their natural earthiness (a.k.a. acidity) which hasn’t been cooked away. These espresso beans are generally perceived as inferior to medium or dark roast espresso beans, since those roasts are less acidic than light roasts.
One of the most important parts, if not the most important, is how espresso beans taste when brewed. You may have heard coffee connoisseurs use the following descriptors: notes, aromas, crema, rich, full-bodied, etc. These descriptions can tell you a lot about espresso beans.
Espresso beans could meet all of your other requirements. However, enjoying the flavor plays a huge role in whether you’ve found the right beans or not.
Notes and Aromas
Tasting espresso is much like tasting wine. Notes are the subtle flavors you taste when drinking espresso, while aromas are the scents you may smell from the espresso itself.
Some of the most common espresso notes are chocolatey, nutty, and fruity. Espresso flavors may also be described as sweet, bitter and earthy.
Almost all espresso roasts are associated with chocolate notes, but dark roast is usually described as bitter while light roast as earthy.
Aromas are similar to notes because espresso often tastes how it smells. Some aromas used to describe various espresso beans include floral, spicy, smoky, complex, and herbal.
Depending on the origin of the espresso beans, notes and aromas may vary. For example, espresso beans from South America tend to give off a floral aroma while African espresso beans can have a fruity aroma.
Body and Crema
The body of espresso is where terms like rich, full, velvety, smooth, and heavy come into play. This describes the way the espresso feels in your mouth, also referred to as mouthfeel.
Again, drinking espresso is much like drinking wine—espresso incites different sensations in the mouth depending on the type of beans used.
If espresso beans result in a rich, full-bodied cup of espresso, that likely means it’s a thick beverage. This can also refer to the thickness of the crema on top.
The ability of espresso beans to produce a good crema is also associated with descriptors like velvety and smooth.
Origin or Region
The origin or geographic region of espresso beans use to be the primary indicator used to describe the characteristics of the espresso.
For instance, most coffee beans are produced in Ethiopia. This African origin is associated with fruity and floral flavors. Another example is Italian coffee beans, which has long been associated with dark roasted espresso.
Now, it’s common to use espresso beans from all over the world, just not Ethiopia and Italy. In some cases, espresso beans from multiple origins are blended together to create unique flavor profiles.
Single-origin or single-roast beans are traditional. If espresso beans are only from one region, such as Colombia, then they are considered single-origin espresso beans.
Some espresso drinkers prefer single-origin espresso beans to fully taste the notes and flavors from that region.
However, blended espresso beans coming from multiple origins are gaining popularity.
The opposite of single-origin beans are multi-origin or omni-roast beans. Rather than brew espresso beans exclusively from one place, coffee makers have started to mix espresso beans from multiple origins.
Sourcing espresso beans from numerous regions gives the brewed espresso a unique flavor that coffee makers believe can’t be achieved with single-origin beans.
While single-origin beans are traditional and a great place to start if you’re new to espresso, experimenting with multi-origin espresso is a great way to expand your espresso palette.
Almost all espresso beans are roasted. Some are raw or unroasted, but this results in an overly acidic and earthy flavor. For a truly rich espresso, roasted beans are recommended.
Different roasting methods can yield various results. Light, medium, and dark roast profiles are usually roasted at different temperatures, but there are innovative ways that espresso beans are roasted today.
Like tomatoes, the fire-roasted method is gaining traction among espresso beans. Traditional espresso beans are roasted over a wood fire, but they can also be fire-roasted with gas.
This roasting method adds a smoky flavor to the espresso. Depending on how long the beans are fire-roasted, this can also make for bold or acidic espresso.
When espresso beans are roasted in large batches, it’s difficult for the producer to ensure quality, consistency, and freshness across each batch. This is why small-batch roasting is so beneficial for espresso drinkers—it leaves less room for error.
Small-batch roasting is an extra step that quality coffee bean vendors take to ensure that every bag of espresso beans is as good as the last. Consistency is key with espresso beans. This roasting method can make a huge difference in how fresh and consistent the product is across multiple purchases.
Coffee is one industry where sustainability is largely important. Conscious consumers are growing aware of the importance in regards to the environment where the coffee beans are grown and to the people who make the espresso beans.
There are several certifications that indicate whether espresso beans are sustainably harvested in social and environmental ways.
If espresso beans are socially sustainable, they may be Fair Trade Certified. This means that coffee bean farmers and their communities are held to livable standards. This includes fair wages and even environmental protections.
Another common sustainable practice is with the Rainforest Alliance Certification. This sustainable certification helps protect farmers, communities, and the land where the espresso beans are harvested.
While this factor isn’t directly related to taste, it’s something to consider as we all share the same planet where our favorite espresso beans are grown.
Types of Espresso Beans
Espresso beans are usually treated as though light, medium, and dark make up all the available types, but that’s not the case.
The different types of espresso beans also depend on the type of plant that grows the coffee beans. The two main types of espresso beans are: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica Espresso Beans
You’ve likely heard of Arabica coffee beans before, and you may have noticed some of our reviews highlight the espresso beans that are 100% Arabica.
Arabica is by far the most popular type of bean for both espresso and regular coffee. It comes from the Coffea Arabica plant, which is native to Ethiopia and explains why Ethiopian coffee is well-liked.
This is also where geographic factors like altitude and shade come in. Arabica coffee is grown at higher altitudes and under shade. The higher altitude results in a richer espresso because there is less oxygen, which slows down the process and allows the flavor to become highly concentrated.
Shade is also important in growing Arabica beans. Shade-grown coffee is known to taste better and be more environmentally responsible.
When it comes to the types of espresso beans, Arabica is considered to be superior. If you want rich, flavorful espresso, then Arabica is a great choice.
Robusta Espresso Beans
The other main type of espresso beans are Robusta, which accounts for 20-40% of the world’s coffee production. It comes from the Coffea Canephora plant.
This type of coffee bean is grown under different conditions than Arabica beans because Robusta can be grown at low altitudes and in sunlight. Robusta grows faster and with more oxygen than Arabica beans so the espresso may taste more earthy, more acidic, and less rich.
However, espresso made with Robusta beans typically contain more caffeine and are known to produce a great crema.
When it comes down to taste, Robusta is known to produce burnt-tasting coffee. It’s even be described as rubbery.
For these reasons, Robusta isn’t a popular type of espresso bean to brew on its own. When blended with other types of espresso beans, like Arabica, it can boost the caffeine content and add a thick crema.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the best espresso beans?
A: This depends on your taste preferences. Generally, Arabica espresso beans are considered superior to other types of beans.
However, as we’ve explained, there are many different factors that go into what constitutes a good espresso—roast profile, origin, flavor, and more. Medium roast Arabica espresso beans are best for balance. Dark roast Arabica espresso beans are best for rich, full-bodied beverages.
Q: How long do espresso beans last?
A: Espresso beans taste the best when they’re fresh. Fortunately, whole espresso beans are fresh longer than pre-ground beans.
Each bag of espresso beans will have its own best-by date on the packaging. This can vary from a few weeks to several months.
To ensure freshness, always store your espresso beans in airtight containers. You can also try to purchase your espresso beans in smaller quantities for the freshest results.
Q: How to grind espresso beans?
A: Depending on your brewing method, you may have to grind your espresso beans before you can brew espresso. If you have a super-automatic espresso machine, you most likely can put the whole beans into the machine and it will grind the beans for you.
Otherwise, you will need a grinder. Each grinder comes with its own instructions, so follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Generally, you want to grind espresso beans so that they’re finer than granulated sugar.
Q: How do I make espresso with espresso beans?
A: If you have an at-home espresso machine, brewing espresso with espresso beans will be easy. You can use espresso beans with some automatic and most manual espresso machines.
For authentic espresso, we recommend high-pressure machines. You can also use espresso beans to brew espresso using a variety of methods: drip coffee makers, pour-over coffee makers, french press coffee makers, etc. However, these methods usually lack the important element of added pressure, so they may not produce authentic espresso.
Espresso has been around for over a century. During that time, it’s evolved and expanded into various different types of espresso—all with their unique traits, flavors, and distinctions. So choosing the best espresso beans largely depends on your taste preferences.
We hope that after reading our detailed espresso bean reviews and comprehensive buying guide, you’ll have all the information you need to select the best espresso beans on Amazon that are perfect for your taste preferences.