There’s nothing like a fresh cup of espresso to wake you up in the morning or when the afternoon slump hits. There are hundreds of espresso and coffee beans on the market nowadays, but which ones will give you the best tasting cup of espresso?
We tested ten espresso beans and found Lavazza’s Top-Class Espresso to be the best whole bean coffee blend! Lavazza’s Top-Class Espresso is a combination that makes the top spot on our list because it’s the perfect medium roast, has delicious hazelnut and chocolate flavors, and it’s affordable.
While Lavazza’s Top-Class Espresso is our top choice for espresso beans in 2022, keep reading to learn how we felt about the nine other products we tested.
At a Glance: The 10 Best Espresso Beans
Not all espresso beans will produce the same cup of espresso. Below you’ll find the ten best espresso beans to try in 2022.
- Lavazza Top-Class Espresso (Our Top Choice)
- Caffe Vergnano
- Illy Espresso
- Koffee Kult Thunderbolt
- Kicking Horse Coffee
- Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic
- Death Wish Coffee
- Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso
The Lavazza Company started in Turin, Italy, in 1895 and has become one of the most successful coffee roasters today. As one of the most successful coffee companies globally, it’s no surprise that they make one of the best espresso products.
Lavazza Top-Class Espresso is a blend. They make this espresso from 50% Arabica and 50% Robusta coffee beans like Java and Kaapi Royale. Every bean they use in this blend they get from sustainable farms in the highlands of Central and South America.
This coffee blend is unique and delicious because they thoroughly wash the Arabica coffee beans, not the Robusta. The Robusta coffee beans are only semi-washed, retaining a delightful flavor.
While most people opt for a dark roast coffee bean when making espresso, they don’t always produce the best flavor. Lavazza Top-Class Espresso is a medium roast blend with a robust flavor that doesn’t feel too overpowering.
We love that the Lavazza Top-Class Espresso comes with a balanced flavor profile. As you enjoy your cup of espresso, you’ll taste hints of dark chocolate and cinnamon.
Next on our top ten list of best espresso beans is this delicious espresso blend, Espresso Crema by Caffe Vergnano 1882. Each combination is a little different, with the composition of Arabica and Robusta beans varying.
With the Espresso Crema, you’ll have a perfect blend that creates a wonderful medium roast coffee for espresso. Caffe Vergnano 1882 sources all its coffee beans from Central and South America and Asia.
This espresso blend consists of 80% Arabica coffee beans from Central and South America and 20% Robusta beans from Asia. They make sure to roast the coffee beans in small batches to help evenly roast each bean, creating a balanced and smooth flavor with every sip.
It retains its crema well, even if it isn’t as thick as Lavazza espresso, which adds a pleasant texture to the beverage. The Espresso Crema has a strong smell, but it’s not overpowering to drink. The aroma is enough to get your mouth watering.
If you love a sweeter espresso, then you’ll love this one. The flavor profile is sweet and has hints of chocolate.
Illy is known for its high-quality coffee beans sourced worldwide and roasted to perfection. The beans are roasted using a unique patented process that allows for a more even roast, resulting in a smooth, flavorful cup of coffee.
Illy Espresso offers several espresso products that are worth checking out, but the Classico Espresso is one of the best. This is another medium roast coffee that makes a tasty cup of espresso.
The Classico Espresso is a 100% Arabica coffee. The company uses nine varieties of Arabica beans to create a unique and perfect flavor. The beans they use come from India, Ethiopia, Brazil, Guatemala, and other Central and South American countries.
The one thing that sets this product apart from the first two is that it comes pre-ground instead of in whole beans. We love the Illy Classico Espresso because it’s all-natural and they use no preservatives.
Once you open the bag, you’ll need to use it quickly or ensure that you’re storing it properly so as not to lose freshness and flavor. The flavor profile has orange blossom, jasmine, and caramel.
If you’re looking for a truly unique espresso, then Lifeboost is one you need to consider. Several things make this one stand out amongst the other delicious espresso brands, the main one being its origin.
Lifeboost is a single-origin product made with 100% Arabica coffee beans. While many other companies get their coffee beans from Central and South America or Asia, Lifeboost sources exclusively from Nicaragua via fair trade.
This dark roast product is ideal for espresso. All Lifeboost’s coffee beans are grown in a shaded mountain area. We love that no pesticides are used during the farming process, and all the beans are handpicked and hand washed.
While the beans come from Nicaragua, Lifeboost roasts all their coffee beans in the United States. Even after making the journey from Central America, they’re hand-roasted to ensure they’re even.
The flavor profile of Lifeboost Espresso is complex. You’ll taste hints of caramel, chocolate, and some fruitiness. The flavor is bold without being too overpowering. If you love a strong espresso, this is a great option.
Stumptown is a Portland-based coffee roaster, but their coffee beans are roasted in their facility in Mississippi.
If you’re looking for a delicious cup of espresso, Stumptown is a great option. Their beans are of the highest quality, and the company is committed to sustainable practices.
For a good reason, Stumptown’s Hair Bender espresso blend is one of their most popular products. This medium roast coffee blend uses 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced from popular coffee-growing regions worldwide.
Their blend of coffee beans comes from Central and South America, Indonesia, and East Africa. Even though the product is 100% Arabica beans, the fact they’re from various farms around the world help create the flavor.
As you drink your Stumptown espresso, you’ll taste several flavors. While there are a few, they all work well together to create a genuinely unique flavor profile. The Hair Bender espresso features tastes of dark chocolate, citrus, caramel, and raisin.
Koffee Kult is a small-batch, artisanal coffee roaster that takes its coffee seriously. Their ThunderBolt espresso is one of the boldest espresso products on this list. So, if you love a super-strong cup of espresso, this product is for you.
The Koffee Kult makes their ThunderBolt espresso with 100% Arabica coffee beans. This family-owned coffee company works with farmers in Brazil and Colombia to ensure they get the bold flavor they strive to create. heir
Each batch of coffee from the company, including this dark roast blend, is roasted in small batches to ensure an even flavor. Thunderbolt is one of their most popular blends, and they describe it as being “smooth like chocolate with a touch of lightning.”
When making this robust cup of espresso, you’ll have several tasting notes. Unlike many others that include a chocolatey flavor, you’ll have a full-bodied espresso with hints of molasses, tobacco, and an Earthy flavor.
When purchasing this espresso, you can choose pre-ground coffee beans or the whole bean. It would be best if you ground them at home for espresso, but it’s nice to have the option.
Kicking Horse Coffee is a Canadian company that specializes in producing delicious coffee. The espresso we’re talking about is a lovely dark roast, Kosher, fair trade, and certified organic.
Kicking Horse’s 454 Horsepower coffee is a full-bodied dark roast with a unique flavor. The beans used in this particular product are 100% Arabica, stemming from Central and South America. Their beans come from Peru and Nicaragua, to be more specific.
Each batch of 454 Horsepower is roasted in small amounts. Small batch roasting is a great technique to preserve the flavor and ensure everything is roasted evenly.
As you’re brewing your espresso, you’ll be hit with a rich smell right away. The aroma of the espresso features hints of chocolate and nutmeg. While the scent features a chocolatey and sweet profile, the tasting notes are quite different.
Once your espresso is cool enough to sip on, you’ll immediately taste the boldness and richness of the product. The flavor profile features an Earthy and licorice taste.
Intelligentsia is a famous coffee brand, and its Black Cat Classic Espresso is excellent. It’s the only espresso blend from the company, and they take great pride in producing high-quality coffee beans.
This dark roast coffee is a direct trade product of 100% Arabica coffee beans. They source their coffee beans from popular regions worldwide, but the Black Cat beans come directly from Ethiopia and Columbia.
The aroma and flavor profile of the Black Cat Classic Espresso will take your senses on a journey. The espresso smells like dark chocolate and molasses, which will make any home smell delicious.
As for the flavor, while there are hints of chocolate and molasses, they’re not the primary flavors. You’ll taste grape, honeydew melon, and caramel with this blend.
Something to note about Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso is that they go with the seasons. While they do their best to make each batch the exact same, they’ll use those if certain beans are fresher one harvest.
Death Wish Coffee is known as the world’s most robust coffee. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who are sensitive to caffeine. If you prefer a super strong espresso, then Death Wish may be the perfect one for you. It has double the caffeine content of regular espresso.
Even though Robusta coffee beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica, Death Wish Coffee is made with a combination of Robusta and Arabica. All the beans used in their products come from India and Peru.
This dark roast coffee is perfect for espresso because it’s full-bodied and will wake you up. When you purchase the coffee, it comes pre-ground for you. Be sure to store this properly to ensure the longest-lasting freshness!
We love that this coffee is organic and free trade. It’s a coffee that you will love and can feel good about drinking.
The flavor is a significant component in choosing an espresso. Death Wish Coffee’s espresso is the perfect flavor combination of chocolate and cherry. It’s not too sweet and still has a good amount of fruity flavor without being too fruit-forward.
Last but certainly not least is Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso. This product from Coffee Bean Direct is a dark Italian roast coffee with a complex flavor and aroma profile with only medium acidity levels.
This dark roast coffee is in between a balanced and heavy-bodied espresso, making it an excellent choice for almost all espresso drinkers. Coffee Bean Direct sources all its coffee beans from the Americas and Africa.
The primary countries they get their products from are Kenya, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Sumatra. The Italian Roast Espresso combines Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from the above regions to make their popular espresso blend.
The smell of this espresso is decadent. You’ll smell hints of various nuts, cocoa, and dried fruits. Once you pour the espresso, you’ll see how silky it is. You’ll be able to taste the caramelized sugar, chocolate, and wine notes.
Even though the roast is dark, and many people consider it to be almost a heavy-bodied espresso, some people find that it’s a little too soft for them once brewed.
What Makes The Best Espresso Beans?
Many elements go into making excellent espresso beans. Some of the things that influence the quality of espresso beans are:
- Growing regions
- Single-Origin vs. Espresso Blend
- Arabica vs. Robusta
- Whole beans vs. pre-ground
The best regions for espresso beans are typically those with rich volcanic soils. Some of the most notable include Ethiopia, Brazil, and Indonesia. The beans from these regions tend to be very flavorful, produce an excellent espresso cup, and are a top choice for espresso lovers.
Single-Origin Vs. Espresso Blend
Single-origin coffee is made from beans that all come from the same place. With single-origin coffee, you know precisely where your beans come from. Knowing where your coffee beans come from can be important to coffee drinkers for a few reasons.
First, it allows you to trace the beans back to their source, which can be important for quality control and safety.
Second, it gives you a better understanding of how the coffee was grown and processed, which can impact the flavor of the coffee.
Finally, single-origin coffee often has a distinctive flavor that differs from coffee made from a blend of beans from various regions or farms.
Espresso blends are a mix of beans from different sources. Blends are created for several reasons, but the most common is to create a coffee with a more consistent flavor. It also allows the roaster to create more balanced and predictable flavors in their coffee.
Neither is necessarily better than the other. Some people prefer single-origin, while others prefer a blend.
Arabica vs. Robusta
There are two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta, which account for most coffee beans produced. Liberica is in third place in importance but falls much more behind the rest of the pack.
Arabica beans are considered higher quality than Robusta and have a less bitter flavor. People describe this coffee as being smoother and having more complex flavors, which can be appealing to coffee drinkers.
However, Arabica is also more expensive and challenging to produce. Arabica coffee beans are native to Ethiopia and were first cultivated in Arabia. They make up about 60% of the world’s coffee production.
Robusta beans are more caffeinated and have a more robust flavor than Arabica beans. These beans tend to be more affordable for producers and were first cultivated in India. These coffee beans are native to Central and Western Africa nowadays. They make up about 40% of the world’s coffee production.
If you’re looking for a higher-quality cup of coffee with a more pleasant flavor, go for Arabica. If you’re looking for a cheaper option with robust flavor, go for Robusta.
Whole Bean vs. Pre-ground
When shopping for espresso beans, you can choose between whole beans and pre-ground. Many people believe they’re interchangeable, but that’s not the case. Each one is better for different uses. Whole beans are great for grinding at home and making espresso, while pre-ground is better for coffee.
Whole beans have already been roasted, and when you purchase them, you’re ready to grind them before brewing. Pre-ground is already roasted, ground, and prepared to brew. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to know which one is right for you, depending on your coffee needs.
Whole bean coffee has a longer shelf life than pre-ground coffee because it has not been exposed to oxygen. Therefore, whole beans will retain their flavor for longer than pre-ground beans.
Whole bean coffee also allows you to grind the beans to your preference, resulting in a better-tasting cup of coffee. However, whole bean coffee can be more difficult to grind and brew, so it is best suited for those willing to put in the extra effort.
When it comes to deciding which type of coffee bean to purchase, it depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you want the freshest cup of coffee possible, the whole bean is the way to go. If you are looking for convenience and a lower price tag, pre-ground is the better option.
There are three roasts you can choose from. Light, medium, and dark roasts all have different flavors and which one you’ll use is dependent on your preference.
The lightest roast is called a blonde roast, often described as “bright,” where it gets its blonde name. The beans in light roasts are roasted for a shorter period which helps to preserve more of the delicate flavors in the beans. They typically have a more herbal and fruity flavor.
These qualities result in a coffee with a lighter body than darker roasts and a snappier acidity. Because light roasts have less oil on the surface of their beans, the original flavor of the beans is preserved to a greater extent.
Similarly, lighter roast retains most of the caffeine content from their coffee beans. It also has the highest acidity of any of the roast varieties. Light roast coffees don’t have a lot of caramelized sugars since they’re not fully roasted.
A medium roast will produce a coffee with a more well-rounded flavor. The beans are roasted for longer than a light roast, which brings out more of the robust flavors present in the bean.
Medium roast coffee has a little darker brown color than light roasts. It shares the quality of a light roast coffee quality where there’s not any oil left on the beans.
This fact can lead both medium and light coffee to increased antioxidant capacity in coffee drinkers.
However, the extra time that medium roast coffee undergoes makes it lose some of its delicate natural flavors and replaces them with flavor from the roasting process.
Medium roasts have a medium amount of caffeine, acidity, and aroma. Some roasts can be considered medium-dark, which lean more toward darker roast qualities than lighter ones.
The darkest roast will produce a coffee with a more intense flavor. The beans are roasted for an even longer time, intensifying the flavors to a greater degree, and they’re very dark in color. In general, the darker the roast, the stronger the taste of the coffee will be.
Dark roast coffee will have an oily sheen because the beans have a much longer time to break down and are often roasted at higher temperatures. Beans lose moisture and density and will have a distinctly smokey taste due to the roasting process.
Dark roasts have the least amount of caffeine and will have the least amount of natural coffee bean flavor. Some coffee purists prefer a French roast, which is darker than a dark roast and has a bold flavor that is just a hair away from being burnt coffee.
Espresso Brewing Tips
When choosing the best espresso beans, it is vital to consider the flavor profile you are looking for.
Some beans are more chocolatey, while others are more fruity or have a nutty flavor. It all depends on your personal preference. Learning what flavor profile you prefer will ensure you’re happy with your cup of espresso.
For espresso, grinding the coffee beans yourself is best. This allows you to have the freshest and boldest flavor possible from your beans.
You’ll want to grind the beans very fine when using whole beans. If you’re in a bind and using pre-ground beans, make sure they’re not too fine, or the espresso will taste weak.
Steps On How To Brew Espresso
If you’ve never brewed espresso on your own before, the task can seem daunting. Brewing espresso is simple once you get the hang of it. Here’s everything you need to do to have a delicious cup of espresso in no time:
- Start with fresh beans: The newer the beans, the better the espresso will taste. It would be best if you could buy beans from a local store and then grind them yourself, but if you need to order online, you can still do this and grind them yourself.
- Use filtered water: Espresso is mostly water, so it’s essential to use good quality water. Filtered water will make a big difference in the taste of your espresso compared to unfiltered.
- Preheat your espresso machine: Preheating your espresso machine ensures that extraction happens at the proper temperature.
- Use a dark roast espresso bean: Darker roasts have more flavor and give you a better-tasting espresso, but if you only have a medium roast, you can still work with it.
- Grind the Beans superfine: The grind size can significantly impact the taste of your espresso. A finer grind will extract more flavor, which you’re looking for in a great cup of espresso.
- Use the proper amount of coffee: Too much coffee can make your espresso bitter, while too little can weaken it. Start with two tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water and adjust to taste.
- Don’t forget to clean your espresso machine: Regular cleaning will help keep your device in top shape and produce better-tasting espresso.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, check out our article on how to make espresso with other brewing methods.
Not all espresso beans are created equal. If you want one of the best cups of espresso you’ll ever have, you can’t go wrong with Lavazza’s Top-Class Espresso. We love that it’s a medium roast, a great blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, and has hints of dark chocolate.
This espresso blend produces a robust flavor profile that you won’t be unhappy with. Even if this one doesn’t sound like the one for you, you can’t go wrong with the other nine on this list.