The Best Espresso Beans 

 Last Update June 15, 2021

By Jenny Z

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Nothing beats the rich flavor, velvety crema, and smooth taste of espresso when it comes to coffee. But in order to craft the perfect latte, cappuccino, macchiato, cold brew, or lungo, ordinary beans just won't cut it. To create your ideal espresso shot, you'll need to use the right beans for espresso brewing.

If you're a true coffee lover, it's time to ditch your coffee shop addiction and try brewing your own espresso right at home! In this guide to espresso beans, we'll break down everything you'll need to know to make a great espresso drink and highlight a few of the best espresso beans on the market today.

What is espresso, and what are espresso coffee beans?

Espresso beans are coffee beans designed specifically for creating espresso, a small shot of concentrated coffee made by forcing hot water through finely-ground beans at high pressure. In general, espresso has a stronger flavor and a more syrupy consistency than the coffee made using a drip coffee maker, French press, or pour-over method.

While sipping a plain cup of espresso is commonplace in coffee-loving European countries like France and Italy, it's far less common in the United States. Instead, most American coffee drinkers use espresso to make coffee drinks like lattes, americanos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites. A solo, the term for a single shot of espresso, measures around one ounce with a doppio, the term for a double shot measure around two ounces.

Are espresso beans different from coffee beans?

Ask any coffee connoisseur about ground coffee and ground espresso beans, and they'll tell you that there's a big difference between the two. While both are made from whole bean coffee, espresso is made with a much finer grind than most coffee grinds used to create a regular cup of coffee. This sand-like texture allows for fast extraction with maximum flavor retention.

Additionally, coffee for espresso is typically roasted longer than traditional coffee. This helps reduce acidity and release the natural oils in the beans for a more full-bodied, heavy flavor. As a result, roasted espresso beans create a more intense coffee flavor with less acidity and a well-rounded finish that brings out all the complex flavors in a good coffee or espresso blend.

Can you use regular coffee beans to make espresso?

While you can use traditional coffee grounds to make espresso, it won't provide the same rich flavor experience. Because the coffee bean used to make drip coffee isn't ground as finely, your espresso machine won't be able to extract as much oil and flavor as it would with a true espresso grind. If you're out of your usual espresso blend and need to use plain coffee, try to stick with a medium to dark made from Arabica or Robusta beans.

What beans make the best espresso?

The best coffee beans for espresso are medium-dark to dark roasts. In addition to providing a full body and rich, delicious coffee flavor, they're rich in oils that produce a nice, velvety crema. Most espresso blends are made using Arabica and Robusta beans that are dark roasted for a deep, toasty flavor. While some espresso blends are made from light and medium roasts, these are typically labeled as 'blonde espresso' and have a softer, more balanced taste that works well in milk-based drinks.

If you're a serious coffee lover, it's worth investing in a coffee grinder or an espresso machine with a built-in grinder. While pre-ground espresso roasts are more convenient, grinding your own espresso from whole bean coffee creates a fresher, more complex flavor. Remember, when using a coffee grinder to make espresso, you'll need to adjust the grind size to a fine grind that's better suited for your espresso machine.

9 Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

Allegro Coffee Organic Espresso Blend Sierra Medium Dark Roast 

Allegro Coffee Organic Espresso Blend Sierra Medium Dark Roast

Allegro Coffee's Organic Espresso Sierra Whole Coffee Bean is an intense, full-bodied medium-dark roast that's specially designed to make a delicious cup of high-quality espresso. The versatile espresso bean blend is made with 100% USDA organic, Non-GMO Project verified Arabica beans that are sustainably sourced from small coffee farms in Latin America and Indonesia. Thanks to its high-quality beans and a slow roasting process, the beans feature layered flavor notes of rich dark chocolate and luscious caramel.


  • Roast: Medium roast
  • Aroma: Dark Chocolate, Caramel
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Rich and lusciously full-bodied
  • Origin: Latin America and Indonesia
  • Certification: Organic, rainforest alliance, NON-GMO verified 
Kicking Horse Coffee Cliff Hanger Espresso Medium Roast

If you're looking for the best espresso beans at an affordable price, you can't go wrong with these Cliff Hanger Espresso Medium Roast Whole Beans from Kicking Horse Coffee. The shade-grown Arabica beans are USDA-certified organic, fair trade, kosher and ideal for making your morning espresso. The silky, complex blend features tasting notes of chocolate and wild berry and an aroma reminiscent of milk chocolate and brown sugar that's sure to please even the pickiest of coffee connoisseurs.

If you're a fan of the bold flavor of this Cliff Hanger Espresso blend, you'll love the other best-selling blends from Kicking Horse, like their medium roast Smart Ass or Three Sisters blends and their dark roast 454 Horsepower, Kick-Ass, and Grizzly Claw blends too!


  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma: Blackcurrant, milk chocolate, and brown sugar.
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Silky and complex, wild berry syrup with a smooth cocoa finish
  • Origin: Africa, Indonesia, Central & South America
  • Certification: Organic biologique, organic, fair trade
Organic Coffee Co. Hurricane Decaf Espresso Beans

Love the espresso flavor but want to avoid the jitters, insomnia, and the inevitable crash of caffeine? Try these Hurricane Espresso Decaf Espresso whole beans from Organic Coffee Co. in your next cup of joe or espresso-based coffee drink. The sustainably sourced, USDA-certified organic Arabica beans offer a lower caffeine content than other dark roasts while providing the same rich, full-bodied flavor you love. They're suitable for use in any coffee maker, including espresso machines, drip machines, French presses, Aeropress, and pour-over methods.


  • Roast: Dark
  • Aroma: Milk chocolate, brown spice, and dark berries
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Full-bodied, vibrant cup with a calm aftertaste
  • Origin: Central America
Jo Coffee Medium-Dark Roast Organic Arabica Espresso Beans

Jo Coffee offers some of the best espresso beans, like these organic, fair-trade certified, kosher Arabica dark roast beans. They're made using the top 2% of specialty-grade beans for an intense taste and rich crema that's far superior to the average espresso roast. Artisan coffee roasters freshly roast each batch in Jo Coffee's micro-roastery with no preservatives or flavoring added. While its heavy dark chocolate notes and elegant finish make it ideal for espresso, the whole beans also make great coffee in your everyday drip machine.


  • Roast: Medium-dark
  • Aroma: Rich crema, dark chocolate
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Earthy and tangy.
  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Certification: Organic, Fair-trade, Kosher
Mayorga Cafe Cubano Dark Roast Blend

Mayorga's Cafe Cubano Dark Roast Coffee is made from a blend of high-quality, slow-roasted 100% Arabica beans that are shade-grown in Peru, Honduras, and/or Nicaragua. As a result, the Cuban-style dark roast blend has a smooth, syrupy feel, enticing aroma, and complex flavor profile with hints of vanilla and smoky molasses. The sustainably sourced beans come from quality-inspected, certified organic small farmers and cooperatives, ensuring they're grown and harvested using practices that support the coffee producers, their local community, and the rainforest environment where they're grown.


  • Roast: Dark
  • Aroma: Bold, sweet
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Hints of vanilla and sweet, syrupy smokiness, with a smooth and bold finish with low acidity.
  • Origin: PerĂº, Honduras, and/or Nicaragua
  • Certification: Organic, NON-GMO
Subtle Earth Organic Medium-Dark Roast Honduran Marcala

This velvety Medium-Dark Roast Honduran Marcala Whole Bean Coffee from Subtle Earth Organic Coffee is an excellent choice for making both rich coffee and espresso. Subtle Earth's slow-roasting method helps the high-altitude Honduran beans retain their full-body, clean finish and rich flavor. In addition, the slight caramelization of the beans' natural sugars helps provide the espresso roast with a sweet, pleasant aftertaste and a lower acidity level than most medium-dark roasts. Its intricate flavor profile of smooth milk chocolate, rick honey, caramel, and cocoa powder will keep you coming back cup after cup.


  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma: Rich and chocolatey
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: Full body with a deep, rich, chocolaty flavor
  • Origin: Honduras
  • Certification: Organic
Organic Light Roast Whole Bean Coffee

It doesn't get much better when it comes to single-origin coffee than Top Shelf Grind Organic Light Roast. Not to mention they are shade-grown at 7000 meters above sea level with the highest care and attention, making this espresso bean the liquid gold that can boost your overall health and well-being. This USDA organic certified whole beans is rich in antioxidants and offers a unique note of chocolate, black tea, and honey.


  • Roast: Light roast
  • Aroma: Sweet chocolatey
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: chocolate, black tea, and honey
  • Origin: Peru
  • Certification: organic, fair trade and kosher

Death Wish Coffee Co. Whole Bean Coffee

Best For Strong Coffee lovers

Death Wish Coffee Co. Whole Bean Coffee

Looking for espresso beans with more caffeine than your average roast? Death Wish Coffee Co.'s Whole Bean Coffee packs a serious caffeine punch! According to the coffee company, their beans make for the "world's strongest coffee," with nearly double the caffeine strength of other beans. The unique combination of premium Arabica and Robusta beans makes for a delicious taste with subtle cherry and chocolate notes. But Death Wish Coffee Co.'s beans aren't just great-tasting, they're organic, fair-trade, and sustainably produced too!


  • Roast: Dark
  • Aroma: Chocolate
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: A smooth, subtle, never bitter cherry and chocolate
  • Origin: India and Peru
  • Certification: Organic
Vermont Coffee Company Medium Roast

If you are looking for a feel-good espresso bean, look no further than Vermont Coffee Company Medium Roast. Their coffee beans are roasted with 100% renewable energy. The electricity comes from wind and local dairy farms, making them one of the first coffee roasters in the Nation to roast with 100% renewable biogas. The big and bold medium roast coffee features a smooth, full-bodied blend with notes of brown sugar, citrus, and spice.


  • Roast: Medium
  • Aroma: Brown sugar, citrus, and spice
  • Whole or Ground: Whole Bean Coffee
  • Tasting Notes: semi-sweet chocolate
  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Certification: Organic

Jenny is a health-conscious, organic and natural lifestyle influencer with a Bachelor's degree in science. With years of experience working in food sciences with organic products and health & nutrition companies - she firmly believes that a natural lifestyle is healthier for you and better for the environment as well.

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