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What Coffee Beans to Use for Espresso?

Coffee is among the most popular beverages around the globe. There are a variety of coffee drinks to discover whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a coffee newbie. One of the most popular coffee drinks that is known for its strength, intense flavors, thickness, and high caffeine content is espresso coffee. Espresso is made by forcing hot water that’s under pressure through some finely grounded coffee beans. One of the secrets to a perfect shot of espresso is using the best coffee beans.

espresso coffee beans

Coffee beans that are used to make espresso are usually known as espresso beans. There are two main types of coffee beans – Robusta and Arabica. Arabica coffee beans are mostly used to make espresso as a result of their higher quality. However, some espresso blends also contain Robusta coffee beans. Espresso beans are coffee beans that are roasted more, ground finer, and brewed using an espresso machine or an AeroPress.

This article will discuss the best espresso beans, tips on choosing the best espresso beans, and everything else you need to know about the coffee beans to use for your espresso. Let’s get started.


What Coffee Beans to Use for Espresso

As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of coffee beans – Robusta and Arabica beans. Espresso coffee is mostly made using Arabica coffee beans, though some espresso blends also use Robusta coffee beans. Usually, Arabica coffee beans are known as the “high quality” coffee beans as a result of their smooth taste as well as lack of bitterness that is common in Robusta beans. However, Robusta coffee beans also play an important role in your espresso since they have intense flavors, and can produce more and thicker crema. Furthermore, when Robusta coffee beans are roasted dark, the difference in quality between them and Arabica beans becomes less pronounced. Generally, most espresso beans are a careful blend of 85 to 90% Arabica and 10 to 15% Robusta beans.

With that said, the best coffee beans for your espresso are the dark roasts. The roasting process is what differentiates the taste, aroma, and flavor of coffee beans. The general rule for making espresso is to use darker roasts since, at this stage, the beans have a fuller body, less acidity, and an oily sheen that helps produce crema in espresso, and rich flavors. Light and medium roasts won’t give you perfect espresso. Additionally, when choosing coffee beans for espresso, go for those with hints of dark chocolate, as well as brown sugar.


Grinding Coffee Beans for Espresso

The grind size of the coffee beans also plays a huge role in brewing espresso. The best grind size for espresso is the fine grind. Espresso is made by forcing hot water which is under high pressure through some finely ground coffee beans. The ideal brewing time for a shot of espresso is between 20 to 30 seconds. Therefore, a too fine grind will lead to over-extraction since more time is used to pass the hot water through the coffee grounds. On the other hand, a coarse grind will lead to watery espresso as a result of under-extraction.

If your espresso shot (30 grams of espresso) comes out before 25 seconds, try making your grind size finer. If your espresso shot takes more than 30 seconds to pull out, try making your grind size coarser. Equally important, if your espresso shot pulls on time but tastes harsh, try making your grounds coarser and increase the dose.


Best Coffee Beans for Espresso

Here is a list of the five best coffee beans for espresso:

  • Stumptown Hairbender Espresso Beans
  • Kicking Horse 454 Coffee
  • Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt
  • Intelligentsia Black Cat Analog Espresso
  • Peet’s Arabian Mocha Sanani


Tips on Choosing the Best Espresso Beans

Here are some general guidelines to follow when choosing the best espresso beans.

  • Buy freshly roasted coffee beans for a perfect shot of espresso. You can do this by checking the expiration date of the coffee beans to determine how long the beans have been on the shelf. Additionally, another good indicator of freshness in beans is the oily sheen
  • Buy small quantities of freshly roasted coffee beans to avoid them going stale in your pantry
  • Always purchase whole beans to grind them by yourself when you’re ready to brew your espresso. This is because ground coffee loses flavor, and aroma fast as a result of oxidation
  • Buy high-quality coffee beans since the quality of the beans affects the taste, flavor, and aroma of your coffee beans
  • Go for an espresso roast which is a dark to medium coffee roast. Dark roasts will give you more body, rich flavor notes, a hint of sweetness, and less acidity
  • Keep in mind that Arabica coffee beans make delicious espresso. Additionally, a 10-15% blend of Robusta beans with 85-90% of Arabica coffee beans also gives you perfect espresso and more crema


Factors that Make a Perfect Shot of Espresso

Perfect Espresso Look

A perfect shot of espresso should be golden with a thick crema of about 1/4 to 1/3. Additionally, the crema should have honey-like or brown-colored threads in it. Crema in espresso coffee enhances the drink’s taste.

Perfect Espresso Taste

A perfect shot of espresso should have a sweet tone that resembles that of rich caramel. The perfect taste results from the correct grind size, correct extraction time, right water temperature, as well as quality and fresh coffee beans. Espresso coffee should neither taste sour nor have intense bitterness.

Perfect Espresso Aroma

The espresso aroma is the first thing that you experience when you’re about to drink your espresso. The aroma is one of the determinants of whether your espresso tastes good or bad. There shouldn’t be any hints of burnt, foul, or chemical odor. For example, any hints of burnt rubber indicate low-quality coffee beans.



To brew a perfect cup of espresso, you’ll need high-quality and freshly roasted coffee beans. You can either use Arabica coffee beans or Robusta blends for your espresso. When it comes to the type of coffee roast to use, espresso beans are always roasted dark. Additionally, keep in mind that regular coffee beans cannot achieve a great espresso flavor.