Here’s the deal: When it comes to espresso, there is nothing more important than the beans.
An expensive machine is not going to make up for low-quality beans. While it can help, it just can’t fix a bad bean.
When you pair high-quality espresso coffee beans with a high-quality espresso machine, that’s when you reach the espresso lover’s nirvana.
Always searching for the best flavors and blends, I recently came across the best beans I’ve ever used! They are absolutely perfect to make my morning latte. I have been searching and searching for a good all-around espresso bean that is dark roasted, has a bold flavor, full-bodied, but smooth with just a hint of the good kind of bitterness.
I usually go for locally-roasted beans, but they can be hit or miss and buying in small batches can get expensive over time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the freshness of a quality roasted bean and I refuse to sacrifice the flavor profile and fresh taste I’m used to, but I knew there had to be some other great tasting options that I didn’t have to run out to buy every few days.
I really just needed a standard go-to bean that I love and Koffee Kult Dark Roast is that bean.
If you’re like me, then finding a solid, consistent, larger batch bean supply is big deal and I’m happy to share what I’ve discovered.
I’ve put together a list of four bean choices that are great for morning espresso. Kicking Horse makes a badass espresso bean that packs a punch, Lavazza’s beans create an amazingly thick crema and Coffee Bean Direct offers a milder bean for less developed palates. You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.
If you are just starting out with brewing home espresso, Koffee Kult is good one to get your feet wet with and establish a good baseline for what quality espresso tastes like. As you learn more, branch out and try different beans. Lavazza is a solid option to try next, so you can taste an Italian-style bean that produces a thick crema. Not to be missed.
Like I said, this is my go-to bean. It smells like rich, spicy, nutty, espresso bliss. You can tell just by looking at it and smelling it that Koffee Kult really takes care with roasting their beans.
When you open the bag and pour it into your grinder, you notice a dark and glossy coating on the bean, almost like it is sweating. This should make you smile. This is exactly what you want to see. I have purchased some beans that look dry, brittle and simply not even close to the quality of these beans.
The Koffee Kult beans are 100% arabica, fair trade and organic. It is a blend from some of the best coffee producing regions in the world, Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra.
While there is a big trend in single origin coffee right now, you just won’t get the same complexity of flavors as a traditional blend. Espresso beans are traditionally blended to extract the best from each region to make an extraordinary cup of espresso. The roaster at this artisan company has over 25 years of experience and it shows.
This may sound odd, but I walk through my kitchen multiple times a day and just sniff the bag. The fragrance is so spot on, it’s hard not to. This bean has over 800+ good reviews on Amazon for a reason. With that many rave reviews, you know it’s going to make you want to jump out of bed in the morning to whip up a cappuccino or latte.
Try a bag and let me know what you think. I’d be thrilled to hear if you enjoy it as much as I have been lately.
Founded by Luigi Lavazza in 1895 in the city of Turin, Italy, Lavazza has been distributing the finest espresso coffee beans for more than a century, which gives them some serious street cred. Each Lavazza whole bean coffee bag is filled with some of the best espresso coffee beans on the market.
Lavazza uses a mixture of 80% sweet arabicas and 20% robustas, the combination being luscious and full of flavor, with a thick, velvety crema, which holds up well for both lattes and cappuccinos.
The beans themselves are the perfect medium to dark brown shade and evenly roasted. The flavors are distinctly European in taste, less fruity than most, certainly chocolate based and more rich in flavor. Each sip is like enjoying a cup on the streets of Rome in Italy.
There are several bean options, but the “Super Crema” is just awesome for straight espresso shots, though all of the varieties Lavazza offers are top-quality and delicious.
These beans received a killer rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon, where a 2.2 lb pound bag is currently available.
Kicking Horse coffee is currently Canada’s #1 organic fair trade coffee, which is pretty cool and pretty serious. In this industry Fair Trade basically means a percentage of the sale on each bag is donated to coffee harvesters from developing countries. This helps make the coffee industry more sustainable and improves the lives of small, micro growers. The organic seal of approval also ensures you are getting a quality, conscientiously-farmed product.
A espresso lover who knows good tasting espresso from mediocre espresso will be surprised by the subtleties of flavor and richness of the Kicking Horse beans. They offer a range of different flavors: Cliffhanger Espresso Medium, Kick Ass Dark for regular coffee, and Three Sister’s Medium, also for regular coffee brewing.
The Kicking Horse Cliffhanger espresso beans received a rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5 on Amazon, where you can order a pouch.
This is my favorite for when I want to change up my rotation and really impress family and friends.
Founded a decade ago in New Jersey, the Coffee Bean Direct company has a strong reputation for distributing finely crafted espresso coffee beans with especially nuanced flavor profiles.
Not only does Coffee Bean Direct fill each bag with espresso coffee beans roasted according to the company’s uniquely popular roast guidelines, but the company also ensures that the espresso coffee beans stay fresh longer by roasting them immediately prior to packaging. The beans are also slow-roasted, which makes them even more flavorful and densely aromatic.
This bean received an exceptional rating of 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon with over 400 reviews (that’s a lot!), where a 5 lb pound bag is currently available for sale.
Cafe de Loja is an Ecuadorian coffee that is known for being hand-picked and grown in the highlands at about 6,000 feet. Why is this important? Arabica beans thrive at higher elevations and the slow growth of the plant makes for a richer coffee.
The owner of CDL is a local and still involved in education and training for the community, which is pretty cool. This coffee is the opposite of the Folgers tins you find dominating supermarket shelves. It is locally-owned, niche and the quality is really high.
What you’ll notice with this particular bean is the complex, medium to full bodied flavor with notes of fruity fullness. It also doesn’t leave an acidic bitter aftertaste, and is smooth from the first sip to the end of the cup. This is thanks to careful roasting and a good deal of attention hat goes to not over-roasting and burning the bean.
Verena Street is a small independent and family owned roastery in Dubuque, Iowa. They source their Arabica beans through the Rainforest Alliance, which is a group of farmers and buyers committed to wildlife and environmental sustainability. Fun fact, their company is named after the street their grandparents lived on when they were children. Sweet, right?
Their blends are made up of single-origin beans roasted slowly and to optimal flavor-releasing levels to ensure a dense and complex profile.
We are fans of the Shot Tower Espresso: the beans are dark, slightly oily and super aromatic. What we love about this blend is that it is smooth but full, with a sweet and creamy flavor and a rich aftertaste. This is great for fine grind set ups and makes for an especially easy to drink latte or cappuccino.
Blackwelder is a total hipster micro-roastery based out of California, but their beans taste luxurious and rich and live up to the hype generated by their slick, black, minimalist packaging.
They also tout that their owners taste each and every batch they roast and are committed to a perfect product in every bag, which I really respect. Blackwelder is truly a craft roaster and their blends are not mass-produced and over-roasted as a result.
The espresso blend is a medium-dark roast combining beans from Latin American and Indonesia. The flavor profile is smooth but intense above all with a round caramel flavor and low acidity. This isn’t a bitter blend and it’s an easy daily drinker for both new and experienced palates.
Nicoletti is a Brooklyn-based roaster that ships within 24 hours of roasting to ensure every bag is really super fresh, which is a pretty cool thing to be able to claim.
This roast is pretty light with a 75% Arabic and 25% Robusta blend. It’s great for super-automatic machines, which can find dark roasts and especially oily beans problematic. So Jura and high-end Gaggia users, this is a great option for you.
The taste of this bean is smooth, fresh and light. It has little to no bitterness and offers a thick and luxurious crema, which is true to Italian-style espresso. In comparison to the Lavazza beans they have a lower bitterness/acidic flavor profile.
The Caffee Appassionato is a shade grown roast, which in this case means that it is grown in shady conditions to protect local migratory bird populations. The beans are sourced from organic farmers in Indonesia and Central America and meet the Smithsonian’s highest levels of standards.
Like some of the other beans on this list, these beans are 100% slow roasted Arabica and deliver a full-bodied flavor with low acidity. They are smooth and low on tannins, which make them a quick universal favorite.
Larry’s beans are organic, fair-trade, and like the Caffe Appassionato beans, they are shade-grown.
The Espresso No. 17 blend is thick with undertones of dark chocolate and cream. It has a nice toasted finish and is complex, like a great whiskey. Beans are Arabica and there’s no sourness to the finish.
You may have the best espresso machine in the world, but if you use mediocre espresso coffee beans, you won’t be able to truly enjoy the capability of your machine. I hope our reviews of three of our favorite espresso beans will help you select a quality product for your morning espresso fix!
Chatting about coffee is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better.
I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!