After more than 15 years of professional barista experience and owning my own coffee shop, one question consistently arises: “What Type of Coffee is Best for Espresso?” The Best Coffee Beans for Espresso? As you’re aware, crafting the ideal espresso relies on a delicate balance of flavors and aromas extracted from coffee beans.
The secret to getting that ideal cup of coffee lies in choosing espresso coffee beans. I’ve identified specific different coffee bean types that shine when it comes to espresso through considerable testing and tasting.
I’ll highlight my best choices in this article and discuss why I believe they make espresso that is tasty and well-balanced. I’ll also offer advice on how to choose, store, and grind coffee beans by coffee grinder to improve your pure espresso experience coffee.
What Type of Coffee is Best for Espresso?
When choosing espresso beans, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Origin: Beans grown at high altitudes with rich volcanic soil tend to have the most intense flavors. The top regions are Ethiopia, Kenya, Guatemala, Sumatra, and Costa Rica.
- Processing method: The dry or washed processing method affects flavor. Dry processed (natural) beans have more body and fruitiness. Washed beans are brighter and cleaner. A blend is ideal.
- Espresso roast coffee level: Dark roast coffee reduces acidity and adds caramelized sweetness. Lighter roasts preserve the origin character. A medium roast strikes the right balance.
- Varietal: Popular Arabica coffee varieties like Bourbon and Typica offer complex, balanced flavors. Robusta provides more crema and body.
- Freshness: Freshly roasted beans within 2 weeks of use make the fullest, most flavorful espresso.
Keeping these factors in mind, below are my top bean recommendations for making the best espresso coffee at home.
My Top Picks for Espresso Beans
Selecting the best coffee for Moka pot is crucial when aiming for cafe-quality espresso drinks at home. After extensive tasting and testing, I’ve identified three favorite types of coffee beans suitable for espresso that consistently impress: Lavazza Super Crema, Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, and Blue Bottle Three Africans.
Lavazza Super Crema is an Italian espresso blend with notes of honey and almond. Peet’s Major Dickason features a rich, smooth body and chocolate undertones. Blue Bottle Three Africans offers a bright, balanced profile with flavors like lemon and ginger.
Read on as I share more details about these diverse and delicious espresso bean blends and why they make my top three list.
Lavazza Super Crema
My number one choice is Lavazza’s Super Crema Italian whole beans coffee. This blend contains Arabica coffee beans from Central and South America along with some Robusta.
I love the rich, velvety crema and mouthfeel this coffee produces. The blend has notes of honey, almonds, and dried fruit. There’s complexity and nuance while maintaining a smooth, well-rounded flavor.
The medium dark roast draws out the natural sweetness of the beans. This allows the original flavors to come through while mellowing any harsh acidity.
Lavazza Super Crema is widely available online or at grocery stores. It’s an affordable option that punches above its price point in quality.
Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend
A longtime favorite of mine is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend. This medium roast for espresso mix includes beans from East Africa and Latin America.
It brews a shot with lush body, balanced acidity, and captivating aroma. I taste fruit tones of cherry and blueberry layered with warm spices and brown sugar.
The blend is named after Peet’s original coffee buyer who helped source and perfect the components. It’s excellent for daily drinking, especially if you like some brighter notes.
Peet’s has cafes throughout the U.S. but also sells beans online. Major Dickason’s is one of their most popular offerings.
Blue Bottle Three Africans
For single-origin espresso, Blue Bottle’s Three Africans is stellar. It showcases Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Rwandan beans for a complex and wildly unique cup.
The beans are dried with skin contact to develop fruity, wine-like flavors not found elsewhere. You can expect ripe tangerine and berry notes backed by floral aromatics. The mouthfeel is tea-like and smooth.
Because it’s single origin, this coffee does best as ristretto shots. The shortened pull highlights its delicate nature. It makes for an adventurous espresso experience!
You can order Three Africans beans online from California-based Blue Bottle or find their cafes in select U.S. cities.
Tips for Selecting and Preparing Espresso Beans
To get the most flavor out of your beans, follow these best practices:
- Look for a “roasted on” date and use within 2 weeks of roasting. Stay away from beans sitting in bins for months.
- Patronize specialty roasters who provide details about the coffee’s fiber content and tasting notes, indicating care and quality.
- Store coffee in an airtight container away from light, air, moisture, and unpleasant odors.
- Grind beans right before brewing if possible. The ideal espresso grind looks like fine table salt.
- Dial in your grinder by timing shots and adjusting the grind size to hit 25-30 seconds for a double shot.
- Purge old grinds, distribute evenly, and tamp consistently each shot for optimal extraction.
- Clean equipment regularly and describe the espresso machine every 3-6 months following manufacturer instructions.
With high-quality beans coffee for espresso and proper handling, you can make restaurant-worthy espresso drinks at home! Explore different origins and roasts to find your perfect match.
- Look for Arabica beans grown at high altitudes in volcanic soil for complex flavor. Add some Robusta for extra crema.
- Medium roasts around Full City produce balanced acidity and sweetness. Very dark roasts risk bitter flavors.
- Freshly roasted beans within 2 weeks of use are essential. Store in airtight containers away from moisture and light.
- Grind beans immediately before brewing. Time shots and adjust grinding to optimize extraction.
- Weigh out and distribute grounds evenly in the portafilter. Apply consistent 30 lbs of tamping pressure.
- Clean equipment and descale machine regularly to prevent buildup affecting flavor.
- Recommended beans: Lavazza Super Crema, Peet’s Major Dickason’s, and Blue Bottle Three Africans.
Making incredible espresso is all about technique paired with quality coffee beans. Follow these tips to improve your shots whether using a commercial machine or espresso at-home setup. Now go pull yourself the perfect espresso, and satisfy the passion of coffee lovers!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?
Arabica coffee beans have more flavor complexity with sweeter, fruitier notes. Robusta has harsher, earthier tones but contributes crema and body. Top-quality espresso blends use mainly Arabica coffee with some Robusta coffee.
Do darker roasted beans have more caffeine?
No, caffeine content depends on the bean variety and origin. Darker roasts actually have slightly less caffeine as more is burned off during roasting. The bolder flavor can seem more caffeinated though.
How fine should grounds be for espresso?
Ideally like fine salt with no visible particulates. Too coarse and the shot extracts quickly with a weak flavor. Too fine and it extracts slowly leading to over-extraction. Dialing in the grind is key for a balanced espresso taste.
How can I get thick crema on my espresso?
Use beans within 14 days of roasting. Grind the right coffee beans before brewing. Use a fine but not powdery grind. Distribute grounds evenly and tamp consistently. Brew shots at 195-205°F. Robusta beans also boost crema volume and texture.
What causes sour or bitter-tasting espresso shots?
Under-extracted sour shots of espresso result from too coarse grind size or too low brewing temperature or pressure. Over-extracted bitter shots come from too fine grind, too hot water, or brewing too long. Taste and adjust your parameters.
How often should I clean my espresso machine?
Backflush with plain water weekly. Use espresso machine cleaner monthly. Describe every 3-6 months based on your local water hardness. Always follow manufacturer guidelines and safety warnings.
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