Do you love espresso coffee and wonder if you could brew a cup of espresso as good as they do at your favorite coffee shop?
In this post, I review the top espresso beans to try at home in 2019.
If there was a coffee kingdom, espresso would rule it for sure.
Finding a great espresso bean blend is the crux of every great coffee drink you'll ever make at home. Without it, you're basically drinking muddy water, or warm milk (bedtime, anyone?)
It's rich. It's velvety. Best of all, it's strong as heck!
Add some excitement to your morning cup with the best espresso beans you can start with for home brewing!
Illy Ground Espresso Coffee Dark Roast
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Lavazza - Caffe Espresso
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Mystic Monk Coffee: Espresso Classico Whole Bean
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Nicoletti Coffee Espresso Roast Beans
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Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso
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What Are Espresso Beans?
Espresso is an Italian-origin coffee drink.
It is brewed by forcing a small amount of almost boiling water under pressure through the finely ground coffee beans.
True Italian espresso is thick, strong and flavorful. And, if done right, it has a creamy foam on top of it, called crema.
You can drink espresso by itself.
But espresso is also a base for world-favorite coffee drinks like cappuccino, latte, flat white, Americano, latte macchiato, mocha and more.
A single shot of espresso has about 40 mg of caffeine per ounce whereas a brewed cup only has around 10 mg caffeine per ounce.
By concentration, espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee, but no one drinks just an ounce of coffee... 🙂 That's why espresso drinks can have less caffeine than drip coffee.
The quality and taste of espresso depend on two factors: roasted beans and brewing method.
What Makes a Good Espresso Blend?
There are SO many espresso bean brands out there. Many brands market their coffee as the preferred espresso blend.
What actually makes an espresso brand the best? I have super strong opinions about my coffee and espresso beans, and there are a few things I look for in a great espresso blend (no pun intended)...
Espresso is usually strong and bitter in taste. Most espresso producers sell 70/30 or 80/20 espresso blends.
Watch out! Some dishonest manufacturers make espresso blends from 100% cheap Robusta beans so that they can make a buck.
You really want a solid, 100% Arabica espresso blend. The taste of the latter espresso will be more smooth compared to blends with Robusta.
Most coffee professionals (I'm so professional 😉 ) would agree that a good espresso blend has the following features:
Little quantity of water
Sweetness, acidity and bitterness balanced with an emphasis of acidity
Blends well with milk-based and water-based coffee drinks
Where Can I Buy a Good Espresso Blend?
Since espresso is one of the world's most popular coffee drinks, great espresso beans are not hard to find no matter where you live.
First of all, you can check out the selection of coffee beans and ground coffee in your local grocery store or supermarket. While not the best of the best, you can find solid espresso beans in your local grocery these days, and probably get them on sale.
Most coffee shops sell espresso blends as well. Highly recommended that for a coffee drink base as important as espresso that you get your espresso beans from a local roaster or specialty and boutique coffee shop.
You'll probably pay a little more for crafted espresso beans from a top-rated coffee-shop compared to a mass-produced coffee from a grocery store, but it's totally worth it if you really like coffee.
In case there is a local roaster in your city, it's a good idea to try their espresso blend specifically. The taste and aroma of espresso largely depend on the freshness of a given batch.
If you buy your espresso blend from a local roaster, you can get the freshest coffee possible. And that's really why you're paying more.
Listen. And listen carefully. Today, great roasters can ship espresso beans. We forget about the power of the internet, but seriously, you can have the absolute best espresso sent to you nowadays, usually vac-packed for freshness.
I do this all the time. I'm high maintenance like that. But then again, I LOVE my espresso.
If you're an espresso amateur (and that's why you're here), it takes time to find our what flavors and the strength of espresso beans you like best.
Coffee subscription services often include espresso blends and are a great way for you to try out a bunch of different kinds of espresso beans. They're usually great quality. Consider trying this out to taste-test.
With a subscription, you can get samples of different types of coffee delivered to you and choose what you like best of all.
How to Brew True Italian Espresso at Home?
You can make a cup of tasty true Italian espresso when you have the right espresso beans, the right machine, and a good understanding of what you are doing.
I get into how to brew true Italian espresso at home more fully in another article, but here are the general steps to make the best espresso with your best espresso beans at home:
As a result, you should get a small cup of coffee with a dark, hazel-brown foam and a very fine texture.
The drink made of high-quality coffee beans should smell like flowers, fruits, toasted bread, and chocolate.
The taste of true espresso should be substantial and velvet-like. Bitterness and sourness of the drink should be well-balanced.
There are even contests in Italy where baristas compete to make the best espresso.
If you're serious about brewing your own espresso, and getting the most out of your best espresso beans, you really should invest in a quality espresso machine for home.
But! If you don't have one, check out detailed advice on how to make a perfect cup of espresso below without an espresso machine:
I picked the best, most accessible espresso beans for you to start brewing. Here are my top 5 espresso bean blends to try in 2019:
Illy Ground Espresso Coffee Dark Roast is the kind of coffee that can give you a full body taste and classic espresso aroma in every cup. illy is one of the most popular coffee brands around the world, so you must have tried their espresso at some point. Since this blend is 100% Arabica, the taste will be smooth and well-balanced. I know that this one is ground, but it's a relly good, accessible espresso bean blend.
- Well-balanced smooth taste
- Dark roast ensures full-bodied aroma with notes of cocoa and dried fruit
- Air-free, pressurized package enhances and seals in the precious aromas and oils.
- No bitterness
- Price above average
- Already ground 🙁
- But small batches and stay-fresh container help with freshness
Lavazza - Caffe Espresso is one of the best espresso blends you can find. Lavazza has over 120-year history of making coffee most picky coffee snobs call perfect. This blend is a powder-like grind of fragrant medium roast coffee suitable for different coffee makers. This type of espresso blend is perfect for lattes, cappuccinos and other milk-based coffee drinks.
- fine grind coffee fit for different coffeemakers
- Smooth and rich caramel taste
- Perfect fit for milk-based coffee drinks
- Strong but not bitter
- Low acidity
- Thin but consistent espresso crema
- Too weak for dark roast espresso fans
- Price higher than average
Mystic Monk Coffee: Espresso Classico Whole Bean is one of the best espresso blends grown and processed in America. Mystic Monk coffee is roasted by monks in the Rocky Mountains, which adds a bit of mystery to your coffee cup. This gourmet Arabica is a northern Italian style espresso blend. Smooth and never bitter, this coffee will let you enjoy multi-layered fruit fragrances in every cup.
- Smooth taste
- Syrupy crema and body
- Caramel and dark chocolate aroma
- Fruity aftertaste
- Perfectly hermetic packaging
- Strong and robust
- Tastes well in milk-based coffee drinks and iced coffee
- No roast date on the package
- Slightly bitter
Nicoletti Coffee Espresso is a blend consisting of 75% Arabica and 25% Robusta. This low-acidity blend has what it takes to bring joy to a coffee lover: great flavor, fresh taste, mildness and great espresso crema. I appreciate its chocolate and nuts finish as well.
- Freshly roasted (shipped within 24 hours from roasting)
- Suitable for commercial-grade and home espresso machines, as well as Moka stovetop coffee makers
- Well-balanced flavor and low acidity
- Perfectly consistent when brewed
- Great crema
- Chocolate and nuts finish
- Great for milk-based drinks
- Reasonable price
- Not all coffee drinkers like light roast
- Light roasted coffee does not taste well in cold drinks
Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso is a powerful mix for those who need their caffeine fix badly. Roasting in small batches and multistage grinding ensure that the taste and flavor of the coffee beans are preserved perfectly in every batch.
- Smooth and rich taste
- Distinct lasting flavor
- No bitterness
- High caffeine content
- Great for making Italian-style espressos
- Amazing taste in cold brew
- High caffeine content might cause jitteriness in some people
- Might be too sweet compared to popular espresso blends
- Not the world's strongest coffee to be honest 😉
My Top Pick: Illy Ground Espresso Coffee Dark Roast
Illy Ground Espresso Coffee Dark Roast is my top pick when it comes to true Italian espresso blends. I believe that this coffee is the most authentic Italian espresso blend you can find at the grocery store.
It is well-balanced and not bitter.
It has a thick consistent crema and a wonderful aroma that fills your heart with joy. Perfectly ground, it fits practically any brewing style.
What I love most about it is that illy has that classic full taste without anything extra. This is a great starter espresso bean roast that will get you a consistent coffee shop taste every time.